Starve Ego, Feed the Soul Challenge

Day 1: Learning Patience at Starbucks

Today the Starve the ego challenge reminded me that I’m not so important that I can’t wait a few extra minutes…in the Starbucks drive-thru line.

Got 3 more people on board for The Ego Challenge; one gentleman shared how it helped him let go of anxiety and resentment in different situations that day. Powerful!

So my Starbucks experience & opportunity to remember to Starve my Ego and Feed my Soul:

Really? Did I forget for a minute that I’m not so important that I can’t wait a few extra minutes in a drive-thru line at Starbucks? Yup–I sure did. But thanks to The Challenge, by the time I actually reached the pick-up window for my delicioso chai latte I remembered PEOPLE are more important than my impatience or my self-importance.

I decided to run a couple errands between a Fort Worth Chamber event at Riglea Country Club and my next client. I was on my way back to my office in Arlington in rush hour traffic, but was not particularly in a hurry so decided to stop for one of my favorite things in this entire world…a chai latte from Starbucks.

I had plenty of time to get back before the session was scheduled, but still found it mildly annoying when the 2 cars ahead of me sat a bit longer in the drive thru line than I anticipated…ok, so now wondering what the heck that first person could be doing or ordering.

Maybe ordering for her entire office full of co-workers? I strained my eyes to look at the driver. Nope, didn’t look like she was in work clothes of any kind…to work anywhere. But who knows. I sat. And sat.

Ok, now I was wishing I’d looked at my clock. Cars are now piling up behind me in line. What the heck?

I wanted to honk. Then wondered what good that would do. I fantasized that all the cars would start honking so the scrambling baristas inside could hear and finally decide to get off their smoke breaks and return to their stations or whatever.

But I didn’t. Southern manners kicked in. Can’t be rude, right?

Finally the car moved forward, and the next one went through at a normal pace. Finally, my turn. Yea! I rolled forward to the speaker
box and heard the anticipated, “Welcome to Starbucks” so I took my customary deep breath that’s necessary to clearly and slooooowly speak my order to the Texas barista (because here in Texas to get it right they apparently must write it on the cup—yes, spent some time in Seattle so this annoys me, sadly. Again, like it matters in life if they write it or memorize it, lol). But I’m interrupted by “Hold on just one minute.”

Disappointed and now feeling the annoyed feeling creeping back up, I snap my mouth shut. And I wait. And wait. Now I am that car everyone is staring at, wondering what’s taking so long. I wanted to look back at them and say, “This is not my fault! I know what I want to order!” but instead I sat back down in my seat and looked straight ahead so it would be obvious I was waiting on them. Finally the woman’s voice came back..and sounded…sympathetic? Huh? “Oh my gosh, you’re still waiting, aren’t you?” I wanted to say “Duh” or something else not-so-nice. Instead I said a little louder than I normally would,”Yes, I am.” but not in a tone that would call for spit in my latte’.

“I’m so sorry. What can I get you?” Then I finally got to order. And yes, had to repeat my order more than once. I was annoyed full-scale at this point as I drove through. And then something occurred to me:”Oh yeah! I’m Starving my ego today!” And so I quickly thought of a better way to react to the Starbucks lady. I decided as I inched closer to the window that I’d be nice and ask her something like how were things going in there?” because it was probably very busy or something.

Well my choice to restrain my not-so-sweet response to perhaps the sloooooowest 2-car Starbucks wait line ever was rewarded. The barista apologized for forgetting about me and even ended up giving me a free chai latte for my wait! I shared with her that I had wanted to be a little obnoxious but had decided to be “nice as pie” & that she’d proven good karma exists by rewarding my decision with the delicious tall, non-fat, 6-pump, no foam, no water chai latte at 145 degrees.

Day 2: Disagreements and Hurt Feelings

Today the Starve the ego challenge reminded me to admit (and atone) my own role in any disagreements–regardless of the “weight” of my fault vs the other person’s or how “right” I think I am.

It’s not about justification of feelings or interpretations–it’s about being the best “me” no matter what comes my way or how my heart feels in any given moment.

Sooooo…something my boyfriend said hurt my feelings which wasn’t a big deal, I knew he didn’t mean to do so.

But instead of just letting it slide I decided to mention it. And at not the best time! So it didn’t go over so well. I realized I could have presented it in a better manner so not only did I make up for this by admitting that fact but I took it one step further and “guilt cleaned.” Yes, I sometimes turn into Mr. Clean and obsessively clean things when I feel guilty about something. So my boyfriend now has 2 shiny, squeaky clean bathrooms in his house!

Day 3: Saving A Few Bucks or Buying a Smile?

First of all I”d like to preface this post by clarifying that I’m NOT meaning to imply that it is necessary to purchase material things to bring about a moment of happiness in a child’s life. Of course not. Actually, I think quite the opposite and I place a much higher value in helping children to understand that it is what cannot be bought that is most meaningful in life.

But this was a moment of challenge for ME in saying to myself, “Is $5 really that big of a difference for me to say no?” Should I be motivated merely by saving $5?

The 6 year old boy I was with was excited & fascinated by the thought of a remote controlled snake he saw in the museum gift store. He of course had no idea what it cost compared to the other things on the shelf. So at first the inclination was to purchase the lesser expensive item he’d seen first– before being mesmerized by the much cooler toy.

And he was gracious for the lesser item but clearly disappointed that he wasn’t holding the boxed “snake.” And then I asked myself the question about $5 & told him to put the other item back because we were getting the remote controlled snake.

Day 4: Surviving the Marathon

Today’s easy–my ego said “I’m scared of my 1st-ever open-water swim this morning” but I chose to do it anyway. So I’ve been getting more involved with triathlons these past few weeks. I’ve been working out differently and more frequently and I even recently purchased a new triathlon-specific bike! I’m just doing the sprint-level triathlons at this time. The distances vary a bit depending on the race but the event for today was a 600-yard swim in Lake Ray Roberts, a 16 mile bike ride, and 5K run.

I’ve done the swim portion in Olympic-style swimming pools at my first two events but this time it was outside in open water. Not a huge difference, right? Apparently it’s a bigger difference than one might thing, I was told, due to current, choppy waters, colder water temperatures, no pool walls/sides to kick off from, plus a larger group of swimmers competing for space & that means sometimes getting bumped or even kicked in the face.

And oh yeah–did I mention I have a near phobia of open water to begin with? I do! So my brilliant plan was just to push the thought & fear of that portion of the race out of my head whenever possible.

Ok, so probably the worst decision I’ve made in a while! When the blow horn blared to start my wave for the open water swim, I hit the water, thought “Here we go…not too cold” and took off swimming. I can’t remember how or what started it, but it didn’t take long for me to realize I was in a very scary & unfamiliar place…and I started panicking.

I mean, seriously and irrationally panicking. It was as if I’d just gone down with the Titanic and everyone and I was swimming to stay alive with everyone else around me. I kept moving, but no stylish swimming form was present that’s for sure! The sun was glaring on the water which made it near-impossible to see the buoy which served as our marker and turn-around point. I was getting kicked and slapped by swimmers all around me. I felt like I was seriously going to die. I looked around for the safety kayaks and didn’t see them.

Then I decided to flip over onto my back and float-swim that way. Not exactly competitive! But it calmed me down until I could find my way. So I rotated between wimpy-but-surviving back stroke to almost-normal-respectable swimming strokes. And I eventually reached the shore! Alive!

I then completed the rest of the race in pretty good time, finishing fourth in my age group. The official race results haven’t been posted yet but there were hundreds of people there at least so I think I did very well overall for my third-ever sprint tri. I survived!

Day 5: Prioritizing Loved Ones Over Work

I feel immensely fortunate to have a job that doesn’t feel like “work.” To add to that, I have office hours that I determine completely on my own at this time. I see clients and I teach two online college psychology courses for Stevens-Henager College which means I set my office hours, live class sessions, and appointments.

So when something pops up such as a community Cinco de Mayo event that my boyfriend wants to attend with his two little boys, I’m able to schedule around it…so I do.

However, this whole “I make my own schedule” thing is still pretty new to me.

Thanks to my familial influences growing up, I have a pretty ridiculous work ethic. So my initial reaction is NOT to just leave the office earlier than planned or to stop what I’m currently doing to finish it up tomorrow.

But you know what? I’m getting better. I ran into a new friend at the event so had the opportunity to finally exchange numbers and make plans to go bike riding together. And more importantly, I had a blast helping the boys climb all over the Cinco de Mayo fire truck. So much more exciting than working on my budget spreadsheet.

Day 6: Take Time To Smell The Roses

By the way, the challenge is being taken up by more people each day! One ego starver Tweeted that she chose to go to yoga over attending a Cinco de Mayo party yesterday where there would have been…let’s say…less healthy temptations present.

On Day 6, I’m starving my ego and feeding my soul by literally taking time to smell the roses.

And these are my favorite roses in the world because they were planted over the decades by me, my mom, & Nana in the yard where I grew up in my hometown of Blooming Grove, Texas.

I moved back to Texas from Washington, D.C. last year. I was enjoying some great professional opportunities but it became apparent my precious Nana would likely not be with us much longer due to a declining muscle disease. I made the decision to forgo my work promotion and $30,000 pay increase to return home–and it was not a difficult one to make!

My Nana’s name is Winona McGraw and she was–and will always be–an amazing and inspirational force not only in my life but so many others. She passed away last January and I of course miss her presence immensely.

Before she passed she told me she’ll still be with me…in the soft summer breeze, in the warm Texas sunshine…in a singing bird perched on a branch…and in the flowers she loved so much.

Today is exactly the type of day Nana loved. Warm, sunny, breezy (ok, maybe a bit too windy for her liking), and peaceful. No doubt she’d have spent the majority of it outside, going for a walk and working in the yard and on her immaculate flower beds (that will never quite look the same without her).

So this day is for you, Nana. I will have to teach my classes tonight but before & after I’m spending my time outside.

Day 7: Forgoing Personal Activity to Support a Client

Professional boundaries are important–such as setting and maintaining solid appointment times. However, I hope I never consider myself so important that I can’t schedule a meeting time last-minute if it doesn’t drastically affect anything or anyone else in my life.

Today I was very much looking forward to a bike ride with friends at the end of the day. Instead, I offered my support to a client who needed it at that particular time.

The meeting went very well and it may have actually prevented the client from making a decision that could have had a negative financial impact.

Time well spent, I think!

Day 8: Tazmanian Devil vs Great Hair Day

Today was an exercise in avoiding vanity. Yes, I chose not to do my hair this morning and used that time to tidy up the living room & kitchen instead.

Ha! It may not seem like that big of a deal, but part of my boyfriend’s house was in complete disarray primarily due to the fact that over the weekend we just dumped our triathlon gear. Then our busy schedules were to blame for keeping the mess in place since then.

I was getting ready for a busy day of clients in the office, meeting with my supervisor, picking up my new triathlon bike, and a Fort Worth Chamber event. So I knew I definitely wouldn’t have time to do my hair later in the day.

But I cleaned up the two rooms so it would be nice and tidy again. I know any mess whatsoever is bothersome & distracting to me, and I know my boyfriend feels the same way. I wanted him to come home to his typical nice, calm home rather than something more similar to a pathway of destruction from the Tasmanian Devil cartoon character.

So my hair in a ponytail served me just fine throughout the day. And I even ended up with a free hour before the Chamber even to flat iron my hair–so it ended up being halfway presentable after all.

Day 9: Lunch for a friend

I was happy to see a text message earlier in the week from a fellow American Counseling Association member. He was going to be in Dallas for a few days and wanted to see if there was a good time to meet up.

My schedule was pretty packed but we made it work! The plan was for him to come to my office and we’d have about two hours to discuss some of our similar advocacy interests. But while he was on his way to our meeting, I had a client running late due to a work conflict.

I know what you might be thinking–charge the client and reschedule. However, this client had been out of town so I thought having the session sooner rather than later was best.

So I had to push my meeting back with my colleague which I felt badly about. So I decided to help compensate by buying us each Chinese food to be delivered during our meeting. (It arrived too early, but was still warm by time we met, lol.)

So, wondering…it’s still a “Starve the ego” moment even if it doubles as a guilt reliever, right?

Day 10: Giving away the gold

Today I participated in a 5K run & 33mile run that was held to kickoff Fort Worth’s new toll road. (And it’s called The Chisolm Trail–how cute is that?)

There were so many people entering the races that an email had been sent out from race officials announcing that they’d reached their maximum number of racers. As a result, there would not be enough finisher medals after a certain number.

They decided to re-open registration a couple weeks or so before the event to allow more people to participate. However, they were informed they would not be getting a finisher’s medal.

Upon finishing the 5K, I received a finishers medal after crossing the finish line. Then I did the 33 mile bike and they were handing them out there as well. I was reaching for mine when I remembered that not everyone would be getting one.

So I told the guy to please give mine to the next person who finished who had a race bib designating that they were late registered–and so would not otherwise get a medal.

I clearly didn’t need more than one medal so this wasn’t a “Starve the ego” moment that was a huge sacrifice or anything. But it’s definitely a good thing that the thought occurred to me in the moment–especially feeling half dead from that long windy bike ride, lol.

Thinking first of others is something I want to keep spreading into more of my thoughts…more areas of my life…more often…and not simply as a newly refreshed “second nature” but because that’s the way I should always be thinking to begin with.

Read Day 11-20

How do you feed your soul? Tell us in the comments section below.