I think everyone has a demarcation in their life- a place they can point to and say, this is the year, I made some changes– ( a kind of that was then and this was now moment) and it has “made all the difference.” Like Frost maybe you seem indifferent but you know that “choice” was a game changer. For me, the moment that spurred change was last year which was fraught with undue stress and my response to it, which was undoubtedly a meltdown of epic proportions. I had too much on my plate at work without going in into too many of the lurid details, and I conducted my life as usual and found myself in a very bad place, because I should have made changes in my life to accommodate the hefty schedule, but being a type A personality I could not let anything go and I suffered the consequences, but I learned a valuable lesson in the process.
I was living a life replete with toxins: physically, emotionally, and mentally. Taking the full summer off for the first time in years, with no summer school, no conferences, no seminars I was able to reflect and begin detoxing my life of harmful poisons and I’m going to share with you, so if you should ever find yourself in a similar place, just know you’re not alone.
So you have probably heard the saying that in order to get rid of a bad habit you have to replace it with a good one. I feel this saying also applies to ridding our bodies of harmful substances that if we are going to purge something bad, that we need to feed our body with something nourishing.
Let me lead with the physical toxins I was putting in my body (since this is the most obvious) as a means to stay awake and alert to get through hours of grading. I was consuming one-two energy drinks a day and usually chasing my morning Monster with a cup of Starbucks coffee. In the evening I had a diet coke or another energy drink. If anybody has ever imbibed too much caffeine they recognize the dangerous side effects, not to mention the harmful chemicals. Sometimes my heart would palpitate so hard, I felt it might just beat out of my chest, I was easily agitated, often dehydrated, and on occasion I experienced numbness or tingling in my hands or feet. If you drink massive amounts of caffeine you recognize these symptoms. Caffeine was my vice; for others it’s alcohol or nicotine, or maybe even prescription drugs.
I can’t say that I have completely kicked my caffeine habit, since I have been drinking iced coffee in the a.m., thanks to Thug Kitchen and their awesome iced coffee recipe: http://thugkitchen.com/post/56332922966/i-know-you-need-caffeine-sometimes-but-dont-even, but one cup seems to be enough, and many of the side effects went away and bonus: I’m saving a butt-load of $$$. I drink more water and sleep when I’m tired. I bring home the grading I can manage reasonably, and the rest is left for the next day. I will probably never escape my type-A personality, because it’s part of who I am ( I still get up at 3:30 to work out) and inherited honestly from my father, but I’m learning how to harness it in a healthy way.
Over the summer I realized I was probably spending too much time on social networking sites like Facebook. You know that saying that the two things you should not broach at a dinner party (religion and politics) well that saying applies to almost every other social setting, IMHO. If you’re like me you know people (many) who either do not understand or don’t care about the rules of social etiquette. Have I broken this rule, sure once or twice perhaps, but if it’s constant and frequent it’s inflammatory and meant to elicit a visceral response. We all have so much emotional stuff we’re carrying around that weighs on us and this is just one more thing and the problem is, not that I don’t mind a lively “informed” debate, but most of the dialog, if we can call it that ends with ad hominem–personal attacks. By adulthood, most people’s religious and political belief systems are so deeply entrenched in their upbringing and personal experiences that they are not going to change their mind unless it comes from some life altering experience or sought out on their own. It’s a tremendous waste of time and energy and I for one am tired of the emotional drain.
I decided to just block news feeds, so I couldn’t see what certain people were posting. I figure if I can’t see them, then I don’t feel the need to respond in kind. With all my extra time and now happier, healthier self I started this blog to use that pent up energy and emotion in a positive way and do something I love: write. Life is far too brief to stew over other peoples’ opinions and actions. This world is filled with people with varying opinions and perspectives. How could it not be? We can’t control how other people feel. I have friends, who most certainly do not share my religious and political viewpoints, some of them I have a clear idea, some I don’t know, but I love them all for different reasons, and they all make me a better person somehow.
The last thing I’m trying to rid myself of is the most difficult, and probably developed pragmatically from a crazy, frenetic life filled with kids, work, and school. I’m trying to stop living a life just going through the motions, and merely moving from one task to the next. My dad always used to say, “slow down and smell the roses.” I kind of think that message was also self talk for him because he has as much difficulty as I do just slowing down.
I thought that if I slowed down I would not be able to check off every item on my “To Do” (hello type-A, rearing its ugly head again) list. I now realize the world will not stop spinning on its axis if we don’t have milk in the house for a day or if students don’t get their essays back immediately. Moreover, I’m finding that being more mindful and intentional in my actions is allowing me to enjoy the little things I might have overlooked in the past. I think as women we often become so caught up raising children, running households and perhaps moving forward in our careers that we forget about nurturing and nourishing ourselves and our relationships with family and friends.
I know ultimately I am a work in progress and can only hope to be better than than the previous versions of myself that’s all any of us can hope to be.