Monday, 1 August 2011

Today is the first day of the rest of your life, so whatcha going to do about it?

The last several weeks have been like I have suddenly started running, after standing still and looking around for quite a while. Buying a house has given me a sense of security and certainty that I think I have been longing for for a very long time. We haven't even moved yet but the fact that we have made decisions about what the next wee while will be like and where we will be based and that fact that finally we can feel settled is so amazing. It is as if the certainty of it has allowed me to stop wondering and has provided a firm foundation to spring board off.

I have made so many decisions and had such clarity about life and myself in the last few weeks. Following on from accepting myself and thinking about my future, I have applied to train to be a childbirth educator. It involves study by distance, part time for 2 years. It will mean I can teach antenatal classes and I am hoping it will mean I can still earn an income around family life in the future. For a long time I felt a lot of shame about being so interested in pregnancy, childbirth and women's health in general. It almost seemed obscene. I think a lot of that came from having to wait to try to start a family so not having a concrete excuse for my interest. And then I also started to think it was just because I was desperate to have children and since we had to wait and were dealing with the loss of our first baby, it seemed that it was almost a pathological symptom of obsession and grief. But it turns out it really isn't. I just am really into it all. It is fascinating and so important in a woman's life. The idea of having the privilege to help women learn about the process and support them to be empowered through it just seems such an awesome way to use my teaching skills and my enthusiasm for it. So no more shame.

I also had a confronting conversation with a Mum I know. I was saying how hard I find it to make time and space in my life for God, prayer and reading the Bible. In a very gentle way she encouraged me to face the fact that the way life is right now is not actually temporary. It is not as if by next year or even in the next decade I am going to suddenly find it easier to have some quiet time with God. And so instead of using motherhood as an excuse, I needed to accept this reality and make time. I really needed to hear that. So after some perculation I am trying to read my bible every day, however I can manage it. So this morning it was after the first thing housework and breakfast jobs. Ella and I sat on my bed. She drew on my old Word for Today and told me she was reading her Bible and I had a chance to read mine. It was enough for me to get some truth into me and to remind me of how essential it is. When I was going to sleep last night I really felt that I am almost a Christian in history rather than now. I have been running on Sunday school, a basic faith and my own thoughts. I often prayer and I have seen God work continually in my life, but now it is time to start living the way I want to. No more excuses. Just get on with it.

I have written a lot in the past about perfectionism and what a trap it is for me. So I am well aware that I could walk into legalism and trying to do everything 'right'. I have often avoided setting any goals or expectations for myself just to avoid that trap. But it is no way to live. It is just a holding pattern. Instead of telling myself that I "should" be doing this or that, I am just going to get on with it. No expectations of the how, just do it. I know what I need to know. I just have to do it. Not forever. Just today. And then I will do it tomorrow. Depression has taught me that decisions are not made for eternity and steps are not about the marathon. Just each day. So refreshing. I don't have to have the willpower or energy or enthusiasm for the rest of my life. I don't have to learn anything new, read a book about it, ask someone's advice. I just need to do it.

And I am applying this to other areas of my life. I am a comfort eater and do not have great mental or physical resilience. If I feel low or have a hard day I find it easy to justify treating myself to whatever I feel like eating. Recently this had taken on pretty epic proportions, and not surprisingly, so have I! I had great plans to exercise and eat well when I joined the gym a few months ago, but with illness, busyness and lack of motivation, all the gym membership has done is make me feel bad for not going. Over the years I have learnt lots about exercise and eating well. We have very little unhealthy food in the house. But since having Ella I have learnt the wonders of the drive through and 3pm and 8pm are still the times when I regularly 'treat' myself. At some point treats are no longer a treat when they are a regular event. When I weighed myself on Sunday and I could see a whole new decade of numbers appearing before me I had a rude awakening to reality. This accompanied by the fact that my pants are threatening not to fit, was the shock I needed. If I am challenging myself to get on with it in other areas of my life, then why not this?

So yesterday was the first day of the rest of my life. I am not going on a diet or starting some boot camp exercise programme. Instead I am just going to do what I already know. Eat lots of fresh veges and fruit, palm sized protein at each meal. Cut out the bad fats and processed flower and sugar. And get some exercise each day. Yesterday's exercise involved squats so that Ella could ride the seesaw and some vigorous walking. Hopefully today will entail another walk but with the clouds rolling in, it might be some exercises in the lounge when Ella goes to bed. I can keep telling the story that I can't fit exercise in but I know how that story ends. And instead I am going to start telling a new story.

The new story goes something like this:
I love who I am and I choose to treat myself well. I don't choose to do things which might feel good in the moment but make me feel bad in the long run. I want to live well and I deserve to enjoy my life and live it to the fullest. If I can be a good parent to Ella, then I can be good to myself. I am thirsty and greedy for life and all its potential and I want to be able to make the most of it. So I choose to do what I know I need, even if I don't feel like it. Because I am loved and precious and God delights in me. And there is so much to look forward to.

So that's the new story...

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