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I believe

I hung something in my bedroom above the treadmill last month, as Krupke has obviously noticed.

Krupke knows something's up

Right after I moved into my apartment, I went on a decorating bonanza. I signed up for craft store mailing lists and clipped coupons every week to buy picture frames and fabrics at 40% off to hang on my walls. I pretty-fied two and a half walls of my bedroom before I got bored. (And before I got my credit card bill. All that glitter paint and fabric dye adds up!) So, one and a half walls have been as white as the halls of a mental ward for the past year. I’d considered hanging a picture in front of my treadmill of a road disappearing into the horizon or of the M.C. Escher sketch of monks walking an endless path on top of a tower. But after the Hallmark conference, I was glad I saved my money and hung up this piece of swag instead:

She believed she could so she did

I would never have bought this for myself. If anyone had given this to me as a present I would have said, “Oh, that’s nice. Thanks!” and rolled my eyes when they weren’t looking. I prefer the snarky demotivator posters to the motivator posters. I can’t seem to read an inspirational statement without wanting to mock it, no matter how heartfelt and true it might be. Items like this can seem like the adult equivalent of carrying a folder plastered with unicorns and rainbows. (Which I did in 2nd grade, but that’s completely irrelevant.)

However, the little canvas sign was free. And it perfectly matched the green and purple color scheme of my bedroom. And I did need something to stare at as I’m stuck inside running this winter. So I grabbed a hammer and nail and hung it up there right at eye level.

And I’ve been staring at it. A lot. I see it as I’m running intervals or going up hills or just jogging along at a steady pace. Once you’re literate, you can’t look at a piece of writing without automatically reading it in your head. You can’t look at letters and words without interpreting their meaning in your brain. “She believed she could so she did.” It’s been helpful when I’ve wanted to skim a quarter mile off my distance. It’s been good to read as I’ve been thinking of other aspects of my life that have nothing to do with my fastest mile time. It’s been putting ideas in my head, making me think I can do anything and be anything. It’s been, dare I admit it, inspirational.

I’m not stupid. I know believing you can do something doesn’t automatically mean you can. There are a dozen people out there right now who all believe they can be president, but only one of them actually will be. But if you believe you can do something, you substantially increase your odds that you can actually can. If you’re too stupid to know something’s impossible, you might just be able to pull it off. When losing weight, people focus a lot on meal planning and exercise routines. Those things are important, but it’s the belief in yourself that will get you through. No quitting, no giving up. Believe it and then make it happen.

And while I’m still a somewhat cynical person who has urges to mock sentimental wall-hangings, I’m much more optimistic these days. Doing something impossible, like losing half your weight, does that. It makes all those other impossible things seem much more likely. Maybe I will marry Johnny Depp. Except, he smokes, which is gross, so maybe I won’t. But I believe I can keep the weight off and I believe I can run a half-marathon and I believe in myself. And that’s all I need. Well, that, a good pair of running shoes. And a sentimental wall hanging. But no more unicorns!

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27 Comments

Marla • November 26, 2007 at 8:20 am

Definitely, no unicorns! But I think there’s a lot to the theory that we DO believe what we hear over and over and over, and unfortunately for many people we hear damaging messages most often. More than one self-help book recommends repeating positive messages to yourself, in order to replace the bad ones. Just don’t let me catch you looking into a mirror saying “…and by gosh, people LIKE me!”

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CookieMonster • November 26, 2007 at 8:21 am

Hi!

So yea, the sign is a little cheese… but the message rings true, huh? Just what I needed to see this morning as I was sitting here talking myself out of hitting the gym.

Thanks!

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Debbi • November 26, 2007 at 8:35 am

Oh, my, you must cringe every Friday when I post an inspirational quote. Well, almost every Friday, anyway. I love your “believe” quote; it’s also just what I needed to see this morning as I nurse an injury that is preventing me from running, lifting or rowing. I’m actually thinking of buying an exercise bike today to prevent further ass-spreading damage.

PQ – I love your Friday quotes! I collect my favorite quotes and saved them in a Word document, but that’s different than painting it on canvas and hanging it right in front of my space, you know?

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Rachel • November 26, 2007 at 8:44 am

A friend of mine gave me a bookmark last year with that same quote on it. I have it hanging in front of me at the office. Every once in a while when I’m not believing in myself I read it and it really lifts my spirits.

Personally I think losing the weight was easier than maintaining the loss. However, being a Medium instead of a 2x helps keep me focused everyday. I don’t want to be “that girl” again…I REFUSE!!

PQ…you inspire me everyday :)

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Chris • November 26, 2007 at 9:04 am

Ah, the demotivator posters. I love those. I had this one hanging on my office wall for quite awhile:

PROCRASTINATION – Hard work often pays off over time. But laziness always pays off now.

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Sparker • November 26, 2007 at 9:34 am

Okay I have to make a starting disagreement here- YES TO UNICORNS! At the age of 22, I still get noticably excited at the mention of them, I suppose because I am still a giant five-year-old on the inside.

I think it’s important to still get excited about things that made you happy as a kid, because then it’s harder to lose that sense of whimsy and wonder you automatically have when you’re small. And who couldn’t use a little of that on your average monday?

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hopefulloser • November 26, 2007 at 9:46 am

I’m so with you on not marrying Depp because he smokes. That’s a huge deal breaker. :-)

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K • November 26, 2007 at 9:52 am

I thought your ideas of what to hang there were fabulous! Personally, if I ever have my own treadmill, I am DEFINITELY having the Escher monks since you didn’t. I love Escher.

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Pete Cohen • November 26, 2007 at 10:00 am

That really is such a great entry! We’ve all become a little wary of or disgusted/embarrassed by these simple motivational messagey things, but they really do work! Maybe it’s our reaction to the incredible amount of advertising media we’re forced to consume that we mistrust anything that appears too forthright…

My friend has a ‘Round Tuit’ in her kitchen – so she can never get away with saying ‘I’ll do xyz when I get a *round to-it*’

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JanB • November 26, 2007 at 10:05 am

Yeah! We have the same treadmill. I just went over the 800 mile mark on mine since April. I am amazed because I had it two years and between both my husband and I we only put 147 miles on it in all that time. I look at it as 4 trips from my house to my inlaws house that I could have taken and walked the whole way.

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Erin • November 26, 2007 at 10:05 am

Oh, I want one for in front of my treadmill! This one resonates with me, as much as that thought probably makes you cringe. Any ideas where I could find this and get one for my very own?

PQ – Well, I got mine from Hallmark so my best bet would be that you might find it one of their stores. Every store is an independently owned franchise though, so they don’t all stock the same things. Good luck!

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Lily • November 26, 2007 at 10:20 am

I love motivational wall hangings! They really do help me push through when the going gets tough. However, I do realize that its potency does go away the more you see it. The best visual motivator I’ve had was when I had bought a motivational calendar. Each month is different.

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Sally Parrott Ashbrook • November 26, 2007 at 10:37 am

I remember tearing up the first time I saw this written on a poster. Certainly, I was in a mood, but I think it was also partly that it was written for women explicitly. . . . And I, too, am someone who finds the demotivational wall-hangings hysterical. But there’s a difference between cheesy corporate motivational posters and something that actually reminds you to believe in yourself. Most of us can really use a boost to self, and positive thinking does matter.

PQ – I dig that it says “she” too.

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Lora • November 26, 2007 at 10:52 am

I like the inspirational message! Nice! I did read somewhere Johnny Depp was cutting back on his smoking because of his child. Maybe he needs a sign for himself that reads: He believed he could so he did.

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Mia • November 26, 2007 at 12:06 pm

Have you been reading Schopenhauer’s theory on will and power again?! And you’re right, you CAN do it. However, I hate to break it to you, the part about Johnny is mere fantasy. There’s a difference. Besides, he’s mine! :))

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Reb • November 26, 2007 at 3:40 pm

I have to agree with Sparker – don’t disregard the Unicorn! Of course, my favorite is Pegasus and I strongly believe there are dragons too! Haven’t you been fighting a dragon in getting to where you are?

Like you, I am not one for motivational posters, but, maybe that is what I need.

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Barb • November 26, 2007 at 5:45 pm

What a great idea, I love that quote and I am going to use it too, thanks for the inspiration.

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Melanie • November 26, 2007 at 11:19 pm

I very firmly believe in what some call the law of attraction and what Dr. Wayne Dyer calls the power of intention. Whatever you want to call it, it’s powerful. Basically, it’s nothing more than mind over matter and some positive thinking thrown in. If you believe you can achieve something strongly enough you have a much better chance of achieving it than if you doubt yourself. I really hate all the hubbub that’s been going around about the book/DVD The Secret. In the DVD I nearly gagged on all the hokey stuff, but ultimately they’re just preaching the same thing that many people have been practicing for years. Sorry to ramble on, but I do find this topic interesting.

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kathryn • November 27, 2007 at 2:14 am

Ah yes, naff sayings. So easy to ignore and be cynical and superior about. Then one catches you, speaks to you – says something you hadn’t realised about your life. How did they know?

I ignore most, but have found myself with two stuck above my desk. Like you I’ve looked at them countless times. And the words have filtered into my brain and the meaning has marinated away.

And then, slowly and gradually these two sayings became incredibly important to me – they’re part of how I maintain my equilibrium.

It’s a shock for a cynical, sceptic.

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Kris • November 27, 2007 at 10:18 am

I always appreciate your blog – but today’s message was just what I needed. I started out at 401 in July 2006 and was so motivated and had so much hope and faith in myself. I lost over 100 pounds and then started using food for comfort here and there and dropping more of my boundaries, letting those old eating habits creep back. I now weigh 333 and am working on that attitude – that faith again. It truly is the ingredient that makes the difference. Makes it become a lifestyle instead of a diet.

Thanks so much for sharing your journey. You’ve inspired and motivated me again and again.

Kris

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Cyndie • November 27, 2007 at 1:18 pm

I too have lost a significant amount of weight. Once I found a little ‘ditty’ that hit home I held on to it and now have incorporated it into all aspects of my life.

I got it from Jonathan over at JackSprat – it goes something like this: It is hard being overweight. It is hard to eat a healthy. It is hard to exercise everyday. Choose hard.

Now I apply it to anything that I do. A lot of times the ‘hard’ way will get me wwhat I want, the best results. Some idea as your hanging (which I love!) – you can do anything, girl!!!

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Anne • November 27, 2007 at 5:55 pm

I needed to read this. Thanks for the insights and for saying the obvious but easily overlooked truth of this.

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Sara • November 28, 2007 at 2:43 pm

that looks a lot like a kurt halsey style painting

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Jules • December 2, 2007 at 1:06 pm

It’s the simplicity of the message that works. Cheesy, yes – and inspirational too. Seems like losing weight has helped you be more open. As usual, as inspiring post. And what a Krupke is one cut cat.

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Trish • December 2, 2007 at 3:17 pm

I love that quote, first time I have read it today, but now I want it. Great post PQ!

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Will • December 3, 2007 at 10:17 am

I like JackSprat’s ‘Choose hard’ but it’s a bit too bootcampy for me…

*We are what we think*

You know that little voice inside your head that says “go on, eat it!”…”go on have another helping, no one’s looking”… “don’t worry – you’ve blown it already”… “I won’t achieve anything”….

I call it ‘THE DUCK’… it’s like a duck in your head quacking away relentlessly!

So, here’s my Motivational Poster:

SHUT THE DUCK UP!

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Katie • December 4, 2007 at 1:55 pm

I also like that Quote. It can give some motivation

and remind you of how successful you have became in weightloss.

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Jennette Fulda tells stories to the Internet about her life as a smartass, writer, weight-loss inspiration, chronic headache sufferer, and overall nice person (who is silently judging you). She does this at JenFul now, but you can still have fun perusing her past here.

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