onceafatgirl

Peace is better than chocolate

Archive for the tag “New Year’s Resolutions”

I’ve got time, because it wasn’t really a New Year’s Resolution anyway

For me, getting my food under control was ultimately about growing up. Before that, I was irresponsible, and food let me be that way. It made me not have to feel the consequences of my actions and inactions. Under the right circumstances, vanity and fear of humiliation can be exceptional motivators. As long as I can really feel them. And as long as I am not overwhelmed with shame.

But for me, another part of growing up is recognizing the complexity of life and the world. Only children, and people who refuse to grow up, have the luxury of living in a simple, black and white world.

I have not figured out the details of my not-really-a-resolution yet. I don’t mind. I’m not ashamed. I can change any time, not just at the beginning of the year. I would rather do it right than do it “on time.” Because I want to be more peaceful, but there are other things I want too, and they make peace more complicated.

I want to be a channel for justice. I want to be a witness to the people who seem to be invisible. I want, in my own, small way to make a difference. And that means that I cannot cut ties from what is going on in the world, and in my country. Especially in my country. I believe in being a citizen of the world, but I also firmly believe that charity begins at home. First with me, and then my husband. Then our families and friends. And out in ripples. Virtual concentric circles.

January 2nd marked 11 years of food boundaries for me. (And 5 years of this blog! Whoa! That kinda took me by surprise!) That means every day without exception. And in so many ways, that one commitment 11 years ago changed the way I see the whole world.

Before I learned to put boundaries around my food, I had no boundaries at all. Not with my food, and not with my relationships. I would use and manipulate people, and I would let myself be used and manipulated. It wasn’t conscious. I just didn’t have a frame of reference for how to say no. I didn’t like or respect myself, and I was so preoccupied with trying to control every outcome that how I was affecting people in my life was not even on my radar.

At 28 years old, putting boundaries around my food was just about my food. No sugar or carbs, 3 meals a day, with strict portion control. But that quickly meant that I had to put boundaries around my time. I had to wake up at a certain time to eat breakfast before I left for work. I had to take a break to eat lunch. No, I couldn’t grab a slice to eat while I walked. I had to eat dinner, so I could meet you for coffee, but I had to leave by 8. Even if you needed me. Even if it was important. Dinner was more important. So I ended up having to put boundaries around close relationships. And eventually I had to put boundaries around all relationships, right down to the teller at the bank and the Starbucks barista. (The truth is that on a daily basis, putting boundaries around momentary relationships with strangers like that doesn’t look that different than before, though I would probably say that I am much nicer and feel less entitled, while at the same time being much more likely to ask for exactly what I want. With a smile.) What started as a simple (okay, not so simple) act of taking care of what I was eating, radiated out from me, into all of my interactions in the world.

The truth is, if I want peace alone, I can put myself in a news and politics blackout. I already have a cutoff. I will not watch physical violence. Sometimes, when my husband is watching a video I find disturbing, I leave the room, or ask him to. I do not watch videos of people being killed, tortured, or maimed.

But there is a lot of violence in politics right now. And just because it is not blunt objects, or bullets and blood, I have let my guard down. And it is painful for me. I am sensitive to violence. But I am ultimately in favor of being sensitive to it, because the alternative seems to be desensitization.

There is the complexity. How do I protect myself, while still being available? How do I do with my heart what I do with my food? How do I make sure I am true to myself and who I want to be in the world, without creating a toxic environment in my own head?

I know that I need to up my meditation. Once a day is not enough. But what do I do to limit my intake of those things that fill me with rage? The violence, the hatred, the lies, the corruption, the pettiness, and sometimes just the sheer stupidity?

It’s not like the food. With the food, I can stop seeing it. I can put myself in a blackout, because food that is not mine does not affect me; it’s none of my business. But politics does affect me, and is my business.

To not be political is its own kind of politics, and I cannot, in good conscience be a member of that “party.” It’s not that I don’t know where I stand. It’s that I need to figure out how to stand here with peace and love in my heart.

So for now, I will up my meditation. And while I am meditating, I will ask for the answer to this dilemma. And that answer will come in its own time. But I’m in no hurry. Because it wasn’t really a New Year’s Resolution anyway.

 

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Ask not what 2017 can do for you…

I’ll be blunt. People dying, even people I know and love, does not affect me the way it seems to affect most people. Even when my most beloved Gram (my dad’s mom), and my favorite aunt/godmother passed in 2010, I did my crying when they were alive. I was much more hurt by their suffering than by my own loss. The hardest part for me is coming to terms with all of the ways I failed to show up for my loved ones while they were living. Once the people themselves are gone, I don’t have a lot of grief. 

And as for celebrity deaths, they are barely a blip on my radar. So yes, 2016 was a bad year to be a living icon, but that was really not an issue for me. Did I make some jokes about 2016? Absolutely! And was 2016 a terrible year for me? It was. But not entirely. I married the love of my life (after Gram). I did a lot of writing, and even got an article published. I started jogging 2 miles a day, five days a week. I knit my first adult sweater, and I learned a handful of difficult knitting techniques, like fair isle, and wraps and turns. And I was interviewed for a documentary about people who have maintained long-term weight loss.
That was some great stuff! It was a hard year because I am particularly sensitive, and it was so difficult to escape the mean-spirited, hateful, dishonest, angry, and scary rhetoric of the year’s politics. And there is no end in sight, frankly. So I have decided to take on a resolution this year.

Look, I don’t generally call them resolutions, because now that word is synonymous with “broken promise,” but I often use the new year or my birthday to make some personal changes. Both my food anniversary and my blogiversary are January 2nd. And I started jogging as a commitment the first week in January last year. Plus, I quit smoking on my 35th birthday over 4 years ago now.

Could I make my changes on, say, October 7th? Sure. And do I understand that calendars and time are arbitrary constructs (mostly arbitrary – a year is the time it takes for the Earth to make one trip around the sun, after all) created my humans? Of course I do. But they also hold a collective sense of humanity in them. We might celebrate something called Christmas in the modern world, but as long as there have been humans, they have been noticing the sun slowly go away, and celebrating it slowly coming back. And the New Year may once have begun in March rather than January, but we do generally, as a species, enjoy collectively marking one trip around the sun.

So this year I want to focus on personal peace. Obviously, that is not a new concept for me. Even the tag line for this blog is “Peace is better than chocolate.” But this year I ran into some stumbling blocks in my ongoing quest for inner peace, and I would like to make that my focus in 2017.

If you know me, or regularly read my blog, you know that I believe in, and rely on, specificity. I am not interested in lala conceptual promises. “I am going to try to be more peaceful” is nonsense. It doesn’t mean anything. I believe in being able to measure your results. So I am going to spend the next few days making a plan. It will probably be a mix of actions and abstentions, but whatever it will be, it will be defined and “knowable.” Just like I know when I am in my food boundaries, because I have specific rules. I am either following those rules, or breaking them. Some people call that “strict,” but to me, that “strictness” is a huge relief.

I don’t know what 2017 will look like, obviously. But I do know that what was so hard about 2016 for me was that I was so unprepared for the negativity. And I don’t have to have that excuse anymore. I believe in taking care of myself. I can’t expect anyone else to do that for me. So no matter what 2017 brings, what I plan on bringing to 2017 is my personal peace. And I will do my best to share that peace with you.

Happy New Year! I hope it’s a peaceful one for you and yours!

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