New Year’s State of Mind

I love New Year’s. The chance to start over, clean slate, yaddi yaddi. And, as with most things in my life, I set a list of impossible goals. A long list of all the ways I am going to fix me. As I wrote before, I am tired of this mentality. I want to continue to grow, I don’t need to be fixed. However, old habits are hard to break. I like lists and goals, they give me structure and stability. So I am working on creating healthy goals that have true intention behind them, instead of just being reactionary. Because I don’t just want to grow. I want to enjoy myself and my life. I want to live now, not when I become the perfect person. So here is what has been playing across my mind over the last few weeks.

Start Where I Am Seems pretty obvious but I constantly have to remind myself to be okay with where I am. I can’t start where I want to be, or where I think I should be. I can only be here right now. Here is a sum of all my experiences and my choices. So, if I am disappointed in myself for my weight or my lack of stamina, I also need to recognize the joy I experienced baking the cakes and eating them with my family. The times I chose to stay home and write, or spend time with my children and my husband instead of rushing out the door to exercise. This is my life, and it doesn’t always or even often compartmentalize. There is a long list of never ending chores and short time to be with my family and those I love. I’m here because of the decisions I made. But that means my future self will also be based on my choices. That’s a powerful thought. I can make different choices and change my starting point. Every day.

Control My Story This is something that I struggle with all the time. I allow others to define me and then I tend to stay in that box. It’s silly really, but also damaging. I can’t control what people say or do, or even how they choose to perceive me. So many times I don’t do things because I am worried about what people will think. Even joining Weight Watchers had me self conscious. Trying to live up to an idealized version of myself while also not allowing myself to grow out of the way I think others see me is so limiting and definitely unhealthy. It makes me sad and angry. I don’t want to walk around sad and angry all the time. Too often I have heard people tell my story and I don’t even recognize myself in it. I can’t control that. I understand that now. And even though I can’t control what others choose to believe about me, or the way they choose to portray me, I can control me. I know who I am. I know what I am about. I just have to continue to live it. Yes, growing and trying all the time and yes being happy with who I am. I like me. I think I’m funny as hell.

Look Forward, Reach Back I am really bad at accepting any type of help for anything. I see it as a weakness. That’s just foolish. I need help. Everyone does. So whether it is showing up for a Weight Watchers workshop or just asking for someone to help around the house I am determined to self advocate. It is okay if I don’t do it all. Not only should I not have to, but it really is impossible. And I can also help others. I’m not sure exactly what this looks like, but I do want to remember that it doesn’t have to be grand. I can add joy to people’s life whether it is through a kind word, or some action. I want to do something for someone else every single day. I am only setting this goal now, as I think of it. But I think it is a good goal.

Connect This is something I am notoriously horrible at doing. I do not form deep connections with people. I pull back and hide myself away. Some of this is because I am protecting myself, because I just don’t see myself as likable. The more connections I make, the more chance that feeling has to be validated. But then, maybe it also has the chance to be disproven. Not everyone is going to like me. I have to live with that. But if I am controlling my own story, at least for myself, then I might be able to do this. One thing I noticed is that when I do connect with others, I feel so much better. It is just a conversation, but it makes me feel somehow more human. Everyone needs to be seen.

So there it is. These are my resolutions that I am hoping to keep. In some ways I know that they are not great goals in that they will be hard to measure and put together some sort of action plan. Right now, to me they seem more important than lose thirty pounds or take a class. I think if I can get these down, the other stuff will follow.

My Story, My Choices, My Narrative

This year has been like no other for everyone. I have been teaching from home which in some ways I love. I love the teaching part, the connection with the students and the ability to see the whole child and their trajectory. I love being able to pop downstairs and start dinner and not have to be out the door so early. I love being home. I am a homebody. I love catching glimpses of my daughter as she works at her desk, or just listening to her teachers, who are amazing.

And, of course there are things I find challenging. Sitting for so long, has helped to increase my weight by a solid twenty pounds, but honestly, I was already on that path. This just added gas. I hate teaching online, because I can’t just pivot or fully implement many ideas. There are things I can do that I couldn’t do in the class, but overall, I would prefer to be in person. I think most kids feel that way as well. Even though I know in person classes are also struggling with challenges, I still wish I was there. But then, maybe they wish they were here. And I miss so much the time with my daughter as we drove to and from school. It seems we see each other less now that we are both home.

I have come to believe that we are exactly where we are supposed to be at any given moment. Sometimes we roll through life on autopilot and just aren’t aware. But I think most people feel the pull of the present. It’s just for me there are so many layers and reasons to not listen and be aware. So many things to hide behind, like the mundane needs of everyday life: cleaning the kitchen, making dinner, paying bills, laundry, etc., etc. And this is painted over with my view of myself and often the way I think other people see me. I say think, because in my greatest moments of clarity I think most people are just thinking about themselves. I have found that the voices in my head that hold me back I attribute to others but they are my thoughts of my own self worth. Mostly. Sometimes I have allowed people to take up real space in my head.

So what does all this mean? Ever on the journey and mindful of my age -always evermore aware of that- I find myself once again in the position of January, wanting to be something that I am not right now. Wanting to be better. For me this often starts with the super artificial and shallow, my weight. The numbers that continue to define me. It is a beast I may never tame. However, how much of my life have I lost or put on hold because I felt that the scale declared that I did not deserve it? In my darkest thoughts, my weight is always proof of my failures but it is not what brings me to such sadness. That is always my belief that I am innately unlikable, unlovable. That I really don’t matter. Believing this, I have morphed into whatever I think people perceive me to be so that I fit and I belong. But really, I feel as thought I fit and belong nowhere. But there is something, a continuous push inside me that just won’t let me fall. That won’t let me cross the line and completely submerge myself into this belief that I carry. And I can lay out multiple examples that support my belief. But that is a road that I no longer want to go down. The thing is, and of course it is the obvious, all of those examples begin and end with the way others think of me. The value I think they give me. And then I take it as my own. This is where that stops. Maybe I will never be the most popular or well loved. But I want to become the most popular and well loved to myself. I hate the cliches, even if they are true, that others won’t love you if you don’t love yourself. Woo fucking hoo. Thanks for that, because when you feel innately worthless that doesn’t really give you much to go on.

So I have been doing this really (okay I wrote dumb, but I deleted it) let’s say out of character thing. I have been cracking jokes to myself and laughing. Out loud. And then I say something like, “Ha! I crack myself up!!!” Okay, it isn’t I love you, but it isn’t hey you’re an asshole either. And, I bought myself a spin bike. We have a love hate relationship, and this post may go longer in the effort to avoid it for another few minutes. Doing this is huge, because it means I wanted it and got it for me. I am hoping other people use it, but I didn’t let that be the deciding factor. And, as long as I was spending money, I joined Weight Watchers. I never wanted to do this before. I thought that if I couldn’t do it on my own that it was further proof that I was damaged. And, well putting myself out there in yet another social setting where I anxiously await the moment for everyone to realize that I am a big old asshole, well that just isn’t any fun.

And I am taking back my narrative. For too long I have done or not done things because that is what I am supposed to be doing. This is who people think I am. The fact that anyone would ever feel entitled to tell someone else their own story is really less a reflection me and more on their own issues. Joining WW is part of this. I’m not the type of person to join anything. Well, maybe I will be. I’m not really sure yet. We’ll see how it goes. And I am going to fully show up as myself every day. That is my commitment to me. I’m not really sure what that means, which I know makes it harder to do, but I’ll figure it out. It will probably constantly change. Here is what I know. I know that I am funny, most of the time. I know that I am working on shedding the parts of myself that either no longer fit or never fit.

I waited fifty three years for someone to show up and make me worthwhile. And nobody did. Not even me. But today I am working on showing up for myself. My life. My choices. My narrative.

Okay, Michelle, let’s begin.