If we value the pursuit of knowledge, we must be free to follow wherever that search may lead us. ~ Adlai Stevenson

Monday, October 24, 2016

On Loving Myself and Finding Contentment...

My hands that are capable of so much, dirty after an afternoon's hard work

I know we are supposed to love ourselves...but truthfully, I've found that harder in the past than I would like. Yes, there are things I truly like about myself, but love is a whole different level. However, as I have been through so much change this year, I have made peace with myself, and am truly content with where I am and where I am going. I'll warn my readers right up front that this post will be more personal than many I have written.

I'll briefly explain the picture of my hands above. I have always, as long as I can remember, disliked the shape and appearance of my hands. They are wide, short, chunky. But, I was looking at them the other day after working on our roof...dusty, scratched up a little...and I realized they are amazing. I can swing a hammer, pet the cat, sew a ripped seam, sketch, hold my husband's hand, stroke my daughter's hair, and so much more, with these hands. And so, in their practicality, their ability, they are beautiful.

At first, the transformation was simply physical. I began working out, eating "clean" and then "cleaner". I lost 40 pounds between January and last week (not terribly fast, I know).

From last fall to about 1 or 2 months ago
After a while though, it became more than physical. With the strength I was gaining, I felt stronger emotionally and mentally. Exercise helped calm and center me, even when I pushed myself to the brink of exhaustion. [I wish I could say I am not at all shallow, and did not care that I look better, but that would be a lie!]

Pushing myself physically eventually trickled over to pushing myself in other ways. If I could do 500 squats in a crazy bodybuilding gym (which I did, precisely once), what else could I do? On a whim, I applied for a Teaching Associate position, which I have written about here, and got it. I've been teaching Freshman Composition since late August, and I absolutely love my job. I feel like I've found what I am supposed to be doing, at long last, though better late than never, right?

Still, while things changed, and I changed, I didn't feel complete, or particularly content. Life just continued trucking along. But over the past few weeks, there has been a shift. I feel myself shifting. I have more interest in things that slid by the wayside over the past few overly hectic years. I want to read and drink tea, but also to garden, to clean out the rain-gutters, scrub the kitchen floor, cook from scratch and bake bread. I find myself wanting to live more, rather than wanting to avoid living more.

I don't know if I'm making much sense, or what this shift is all about. I just know that I feel much more engaged than I have in years, and part of that is that I am coming to appreciate myself on a much deeper level. And when I am am happy with myself, I want to be happy doing things and being with others.

This weekend especially marked some of that recent change. It was not a special weekend; it was just that I realized that by quitting one job (secretarial), I had freed up time, which is so, so precious. And by doing what I love, and being challenged by it, the time I am spending out of the home has real meaning too. This weekend, I stayed home, purposefully, and just lived. I baked Irish Soda bread; had stock going constantly in the crockpot; measured for and planned out our raised beds for a veggie garden in the spring; ordered seed catalogs (Baker Creek and Fedco, both heirloom-focused companies); made soup and a casserole; re-read from Animal, Vegetable, Miracle while drinking chai; watched movies with my kids; did some sewing; and helped winterize a leaky roof. By the end of the weekend, I felt accomplished and satisfied.

I also veered, purposefully, away from my more rigid eating patterns. I've been dissatisfied, and struggling a little, with them for a while. I don't want to be "on a diet", or endlessly counting and calculating grams of protein. I like good bread, and vegetable soups, and cheese, and beans and rice, as well as chicken, and salad, and Greek yogurt. I enjoy cooking, and sharing that cooking with my family. So I consciously made a decision to slow the weight loss efforts down (yes, even slower), and trust that by eating real food, I will eventually settle where I am supposed to be. I still plan on keeping my workouts up though -- 3 bootcamp workouts most weeks, plus an hour of TRX, and , if I feel like it, a 3+  mile run on the weekend. I like my workouts, the friends I work out with, and I like being strong.

I like where I am, and where I am going. I'm learning, finally, to enjoy the moment, to be present. And that all helps me love myself!

No comments :

Post a Comment

What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.

Thanks for stopping by! I love comments :)