Tuesday, October 16

Love, Life, and the Mirror

I have been on vacation for some time, and offline to LC for awhile before that. I've really missed my blogging and I hope y'all are doing well.

Recently, I fell in love.

This wasn't nearly such a big deal until I finally met my internet/phone obsession, and spent some serious quality time with him in a remote cabin in the foothills of the Ozarks, and some at home where he and my child fell in like with each other pretty quickly. That shifted it out of being one of those "Yes I totally love him but then again we haven't met so you can't be 100% sure of course" and into, "Why did my house never feel empty until he left it?"

Something happened that has had a fairly radical effect on my self image and how I think about everything, including my eating plan, exercise, goals in life, etc. And that is:

Someone fell in love with me.

I don't mean to be a complete nerd, but somehow, the effects in me of feeling genuinely loved by someone are nothing short of astounding. It is as if for the first time, instead of seeing myself through the eyes of the only adults around me, family who are either apathetic or highly critical, I am seeing myself through the eyes of someone who genuinely loves and cares about me. Someone who expects good things from me, who assumes the best of my intentions and outcomes, and who totally expects me to be treated well -- including by myself.

For the first time, I'm stopping in the middle of a day (or night) and asking myself: why am I doing this? Why am I not sleeping when I need to, pushing and pushing myself? Why am I not eating when I know I need to? Why am I sitting around when there are things I would like to accomplish? Why am I letting my bad behavior toward myself, that has become automatic and unconscious, run my life? Don't I deserve better than this?

In a burst of new enthusiasm (never let it be said that finally getting great sex for the first time in your life, let alone after not having any at all for ten years, isn't a great motivator!), when I got back from vacation, I worked out a daily schedule. You know, the sort totally impossible to keep without a drill sargeant and a stopwatch, but the kind that sounds really good on paper.

Last night I was pondering my interesting results with it so far. Which is kind of like, "I'm completely ignoring it, but intending to get to it Real Soon Now." And I had this typical, automatic thought, "I'm screwing up, and I'll never be getting healthier if I don't do X daily, and ..." and I suddenly realized: you know, that isn't the point.

The point of eating well is not so you get skinnier or stronger. The point of practicing your arts is not so you get better at them. The point of doing these things is the love of doing them. Every moment of life is precious, not because we can take a photo of it, not because of what it means to our future, but because of the life-experience in-the-moment, RIGHT NOW.

I should eat well because eating well is its own reward, in the moment. I should practice my arts because doing so means that I am living the kind of quality in time that make life an enjoyable thing for me. The action of an art, whether it is music or sketching or psi work or a physical discipline, makes those moments of our life different than if we had spent them sitting still, washing dishes, doing taxes, or whatever. Every minute of our day compiles to the end result, and the net result of our days is what makes our habits, our character and even our destiny.

But the living of a day isn't for the destiny, any more than eating low-carb is for some dreamed-of body of the future. Any more than loving others is for promise of heaven or fear of hell: one should 'be good' because being good is its own reward. The living of each moment is a quality opportunity. Not an obligation. Not just something to schedule or plan. Not just something to fill the time. An OPPORTUNITY to live, for that moment, to truly live--in a way that makes us feel fulfilled.

Live well, and the goals take care of themselves.

No matter what goals one may have (and goals are good), the PRACTICE, the in-the-moment, living-it, has to be focused on the appreciation of the moment. The quality of the moment, and of the end result, depend on that "Zen" ability to truly live in the moment.

In other words, if I base my today on my future, only strict and constant self discipline can get me there. But if I base today on my love of today and living well in it, I not only enjoy my day a lot more, but the future brings itself to me--and possibly with better results than I would otherwise have had.

I realized that planning to spend an hour a day with my little girl isn't something I do because I must and because when it's over I can send her to bed without making her feel neglected. It's for the joy of it. Of course! But for some reason I hadn't applied that understanding to everything else in my life. Like eating well, lifting weights, etc.

This brings me back to why I began this blog in the first place. Not because I wanted to lose weight, not because I'm a lowcarb evangelist, not because I needed another blog. But because I was delighted with how wonderful good food could be, how fun and creative it could be to work out new options for it, how exciting it could be to explore a new avenue in my life.

As a matter of course, things like goals and plans and charts and schedules and more eventually dominate most blogs including mine. But as a matter of inspiration, this blog was born because I loved the moments: the moments of discovering new stuff, of creating more new stuff, of cooking something I knew was good for me, of eating something that tasted great AND was good for me. As a side-effect, all that was good for my health and my future.

The point of a mirror is not to show us how we look to ourselves. It is show us how we look to OTHER people. When we look in a mirror and we project all our own fears and doubts and angers upon it, when people around us have contributed their own as well, it's 'through a lens darkly' at best. But when the mirror changes, when it truly shows you how someone else perceives you, and they think you are smart and lovely and creative and kind and overflowing with potential for good things, that's a different reflection altogether.

Suddenly I don't feel so much like, "I gotta do X so someday I won't see this horrible reflection!"

I feel more like, "Hey, that's a reflection of me, a nice person worth treating well. I should do X because it would feel good and I deserve that. How nice it would be to be nice to me. It's nice to be alive."

Every morning I say, "God, thank you for my life."

Maybe all along I should have been reminding myself that the life wasn't just a schedule of obligations which, if I had discipline, would eventually get me to some happier, skinnier, healthier place where then I could allow myself ... something, I'm not sure what. Am I waiting to be happy? Am I placing some barely-defined assumption of happiness on some hopefully thinner future 'when I deserve it'?

Maybe I should have been reminding myself that every moment of life is a gift, an honor, and an opportunity. Not for 'the future' but for THAT moment.

Love is the true motivator. Not fear of bad things, not greed for good things, but genuine love, whether for self, God or others.



Sparky's Girl said...

Congrats on your new love and your new outlook!

Lily T said...

Having someone that loves you in that way really does help the self-esteem and priorities. My husbands always telling me how beautiful I am and after a while I believe him. And the only reason I’m able to justify all the time I devote to weight loss was because he sat me down one day and told me how much it would mean for him that I took care of myself before everything else.

Marshmallow said...

Beautiful post, PJ :-) Congratulations!

Anonymous said...

Of course you found someone who could love you. The miracle is that you could find someone who could love you that you could love back. Congratulations. You are a beautiful intellegent person. I missed you while you were gone.

Oh.2.B.Fit said...

I'm so happy for you PJ!!!
I missed you :)

Cindy Moore said...

"Recently, I fell in love."

I'm so happy for you!!

Anonymous said...

You truly deserve this, and even if you didn't it would still be good..

Sherrie said...

Ahhh so thats why you have been quiet...


Enjoy PJ, you so deserve it!

Big Daddy D said...

It's good to see you back. I've missed your more frequent posting. You're great at expressing yourself. I especially love your introspective posts...