Maximum Effort

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Deadpool has now made itself one of my top three favorite movies of all time. I saw the movie for the second time in the theatre this weekend, which is only the second time I have ever paid to see a movie in the theatre more than once. One of the main mantras that Deadpool uses throughout the movie is Maximum Effort. Maximum Effort usually comes into play when Deadpool faces a particularly challenging situation and not only is it a rough situation, but is usually made even more complicated by some sort of unforeseen setback.

Applying this concept to the everyday, I came to the realization that the only times I have been able to apply Maximum Effort to anything in my own life has been recently, as I have been slowing down.

I spent more than a decade working multiple jobs 60-70 hours a week, going to school full-time, and trying to take care of myself mainly alone. When our plates are that full, we are unable to put Maximum Effort into anything. When we are too busy, too cluttered, overscheduled, we have all we can do just to survive. Clutter, stress, and debt are compounded when we live life at the rate at which it is easier to just buy a new thing than it is to find the thing we already have in the house. You know what I mean – when I was working 70 hours a week, if I could not find, say, the can opener, it was just easier to buy a new one than to find the one that I had and this is how stuff accumulates. This increases our stress levels and the debt we incur necessitating more working hours, and the cycle continues.

Granted, the biggest reason why I was working so many hours back in the day was that I was earning low wages. It is hard to make ends meet when you are making $9 (or less) an hour, which is what I was at before my current employment. Being so overwhelmed literally made it impossible for me to put maximum effort into any aspect of my life other than survival. Nothing received my full attention, not my job, not my schoolwork, not my friends, nothing.

As I have been rewinding real slow and minimizing my life to make time and space for what is truly important to me, I realize that I am now able to put Maximum Effort into things in my life. My job gets Maximum Effort. My home gets Maximum Effort. The activities in which I have decided to engage since retiring from college have received Maximum Effort. When I do have the opportunity to spend time with people, they receive my full attention. My relationships now receive Maximum Effort.

This has been a huge learning curve. Here are a few things I have learned about being able to apply Maximum Effort to my life since I have slowed down:

  • Focus on what’s important. We cannot give maximum effort to anything when we are being pulled in multiple directions. When we prioritize what is important in life, we can focus our energy into giving maximum effort to those people and events that truly give life meaning. What are your priorities? What is important to you? Make a list. Is your everyday life congruent with that list? If not, then you may need to do some rearranging to be sure that you can give maximum effort to that which you truly value. My priority list has three items on it. When I realized that one of those items was not receiving maximum effort, I made a conscious effort to rearrange my daily routine to focus on that item. Not only does this bring me joy, but also it helps to keep me centered.
  • Let go of perfection. This probably sounds like a contradiction in terms. I’m saying to give maximum effort but let go of perfection. If you are perfect, then you can just skip right over this section. I am not perfect, but I am also not in any way advocating for shoddy work. Perfection is a set of unrealistic expectations. Do not get so focused on having the perfect moment, the perfect dinner, the perfect relationship that you fail to enjoy what you do have. Life does not have to be perfect to be beautiful. We can settle for good. We can settle for great. We do not have to have perfect. If you can achieve perfection, wonderful, but often, perfection is a recipe for failure. If we are so focused on achieving this goal called perfection, we often miss the beauty of what is right in front of us.
  • Start where you are and start small. Maximum effort is exhausting, As tiresome as it was to be pulled in multiple directions giving 10% to this and 30% to that, having the sums add up to way more than 100%, it is just as trying to give 100% to one thing. If you are currently being pulled in four different directions and are unable to reduce your obligations, then try to focus on just one area to give maximum effort. You are not a superhero and cannot be all things to all people. Start small.

Being able to give maximum effort to that which is important to me has led me to feel more fulfilled. When we slow down our lives and only focus on what is important, then we have the opportunity to be consciously present in every moment. Sometimes, this moment is the only one we have. Tomorrow is not promised. Today is a gift; that is why it is called the present.

Maximum effort may not have been caught by most moviegoers viewing Deadpool, or if it was, probably not given a second thought. Besides being a great action packed superhero love story that had me in stitches the entire film, Deadpool gives us something to think about, if we can stop laughing long enough to see. This movie was definitely even better the second time around.

My (Super) Hero

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Birthday flowers above.

This weekend, I totally splurged in honor of my birthday and did something epic three days in a row. It kind of helped that the weather finally warmed up. I have counted less than 20 days since October 24, 2015 that I woke up and did NOT find snow on the ground, so the fact that we have been snow-less for almost a week now has really brightened my mood.

Perhaps the best thing I did over the past three days was to take myself to the movies to see Deadpool.

I have a new favorite super hero.

Daylight savings time this week has totally screwed with me, so I admit to being more sleepy and confused than normal; it took me awhile to realize the satire in the opening credits of the film (I won’t spoil it by giving you particulars). Not to mention, my autoimmune disorder that completely wrecks havoc with my sleep schedule has made it so that I am now awake at 4 am every day. I suppose this is an improvement from being awake from 2 am to 6 am, but still. If I’m awake at 4 am, I better be running a marathon, and in the case of the past week, I have been awake at 4 for health reasons having nothing to do with running.

In fact, my current sleep deprived and grumpy disposition is one of the reasons why I am singing the praises of the movie Deadpool like a hysterical teenager who has had too much Mountain Dew and Pop Rocks.

This flick mirrors my life and it does so in the most hilarious way.

I often try to make light of or joke about things because I am a big proponent of laughing and not crying. Sure, there are times to be serious. I am not a complete jerk. But we have to realize that sometimes you just have to laugh at yourself. Do not take life too seriously. No one gets out alive. Sometimes you need to laugh so that you do not cry. Laughing reminds us we are alive. It helps spread hope.

I am a Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma survivor, and now I have multiple food allergies, multiple medication allergies, and an autoimmune disorder. This is all adult-onset. When I first went into anaphylactic shock in my mid-20s, no one had any idea to what I was having a reaction, as I had no known allergies. I was not one of those kids who grew up with a food allergy. In the 80s? Food allergy? What’s that?

To make the situation even better, my allergies are so severe that I react by touch. A few years ago, when I was teaching pre-school, one of the students spilled their milk on me. Not only did I go into anaphylactic shock, but also I had multiple organs that started to fail and quite literally almost died. They may say, “don’t cry over spilled milk,” and in general, I would agree. I do not cry over spilled milk. I writhe in pain over it.

So the basic plot for Deadpool hit really close to home for me. Here is a man dying of cancer, and the cure leaves him with this awesome mutation that gives him all these super powers, but also results in this really horrible skin condition. He beats cancer (check), gets a skin condition (check), and has super powers in the form of healing (the reverse of my autoimmune disorder, but close enough, so check).

Deadpool spends most of the movie searching for Francis to “cure” him of the superpowers and skin condition much in the way I visit various specialists such as immunologists and dieticians to try to deal with my food allergies and autoimmune disorder. I have got to admit, that Deadpool does all this with a lot more style than I do. No wonder he has his own movie and I don’t.

I have a new favorite (super) hero. I wanna be, I wanna be, I wanna be like Deadpool.

This man’s sense of humor is incredible. If there was ever a person who can laugh over something instead of cry over it, then Deadpool is IT. In the super hero universe, Deadpool is refreshing. Each super hero has their own hard luck story that they have overcome to be this incredible person. Superman’s planet blows up, Batman’s parents get killed, and Spiderman gets bit by this freaky-ass spider, Deadpool gets cancer. Superman is mysterious, Batman is broody, and Spiderman is a little ADHD for me. Deadpool is a breath of fresh air.

The man tells it like it is. When you have some major disease or chronic disorder, people whisper about it. It is not “appropriate” to talk about. Deadpool has no filters. The movie had me in stitches the entire time so much so that I completely forgot I have an autoimmune disorder making my life hell for the 2 hours I was in the theatre. That is no small feat. Like the movie, my autoimmune disorder involves a skin disorder also, so I see my disease every day. Until I am healed and done with this episode I am having, it is continuously in my face, for me, and the rest of the world, to see.

I enjoyed this movie so much that I want to see it again. For the record, there has only been one movie in my lifetime that I have actually paid to see twice in the movie theatre. That movie was the Beatles musical Across The Universe. If Deadpool is still around on my next day off, then this flick could be the second film I pay to see twice in a theatre. We will see how much longer it plays.

I have a new (super) hero.