What does it mean when typing “prof” into the Google bar instantly brings one to Ms. Z’s page address? Challenge time of course!! I have three more postings for this theme, I just hope I can get them up in time!!
Today the lovely Professor has wonder-twinned the powers of Gothy Celebrations and Bat Fitting to tasked us with A: Going Outside and B: Practicing Mindful Eating! Let’s talk about it, ya?!
The first challenge has me rediscovering something I used to do and stopped when I got tired and down and way out a while back. Before I had a job and after I got one when I still had random hours, I used to go to this nature park and hike the little trails quite often. I did this almost daily and got a lot of joy out of it, until some other human interjected themselves into my little bit of head space. Simply put, I had finished a rather brisk run down a path and was heading to my car breathing the gasps of those who are proud and happy of what their body just did. A couple that had passed me seemed to forget that open car windows mean other people can hear them, and were having a jolly time remarking on my ass, outfit, and how they were surprised I went out “like that”. Wind in sails–gone. I instantly felt like a big dumb pudding of a person who should not inflict themselves upon this world. Suddenly, something that had given me joy in a time when other joy was hard to find (and a perfect medical cocktail even harder to find and more expensive) was transformed into something else to be put off, afraid of, and even ashamed of.
Now, how freaking silly is that line of thinking? Two people who had no consequence in my existence found me aesthetically unpleasing. Big whoop. I have not even thought of that in a year or so now. I also have not been hiking either. My brain had linked those two things (the event and the place) and when I discarded one, I seemed to mentally gloss over and discard the other alongside.
As soon as I read the words “Go Outside” it came to me though. Like, wow man, I have not been to Oak Park in forever! I should so go! Maybe on weekends after yoga! It is right down the street from my gym even!
These days I am really working on controlling the extant that other’s thoughts, actions, and words have when it comes to influencing me. Will I let the Professor influence me; heck yes I will! So far in my brief (just this past year) slight acquaintance with her, she seems to be level-headed, sincerely likable, quite intelligent, and one heck of a funny person. I would totally buy her a Cider were we to bump into each other in a pub and ask her to talk about art. Will I let random strangers influence me to the extent the have in the past? No longer. What does the opinion of one you do not know, you do not care about or for, and you will probably never see again really matter? Will that be easy? Probably not. With one’s idea of “I have a perfect or better blah blah blah then that person” comes a sense of entitlement to say something about it to some people. I think living in the culture of body shame we do, other people lipping off will never quite go away.
I do believe that I am much better equipped to deal with it now then I was then.
A few posts ago on the above linked Cabinet of Curiosity, there was an article about waving one’s own flag. Being proud of oneself and truly being unapologetic for ones own awesome. I am working on that. I’m not a shy flower when I am angry at someone (my boss tends to wish I was, occasionally); why be shy when I think I am being incredible?
Now, challenge two was Mindful Eating (in case I got too wordy and lost you!). This is something that I have actually been working slowly into my life. I am the daughter of the daughter of the daughter of some large women. It is in our veins to be hardy. Family photos show fat and happy broads all the way back to when our family first graced these shores from the Scottish Highlands. Now, with that being said, my mother has been fat-shamed her entire life. Her father used to call her terrible things because she couldn’t quite be as thin as her sister. Both women dieted, my Aunt was just the most extreme at it…and is to this day. My mother dieted and yo-yo’d and still could not pull off single digit clothing.
I won’t say I was brought up in a culture of dieting in our house. I can’t. My mother made the decision to STOP and try to just be when my daddy moved her to Japan. Then to Italy. She jumped horses and rode in shows competing for blue ribbons for some very rich men. I came along and ruined the first and only cruise she has ever booked because hey, what fun is it to be preggers on a cruise when you can’t drink anything but a glass of wine? Her pictures from this time are not of a skinny lady. But they are of a beautiful woman. A woman I see every time I look in the mirror in fact. I have her face, and my butt is wearing the exact same size she was in those pictures of her in her 20’s and 30’s.
She and Dad moved to Germany where I hung out and drank coffee so full of milk it was as pale as cream with the downstairs neighbor who called me his “granddaughter he never had”. I ran past a house whose yard was full of Schlumpfs (Smurfs) because I thought they would come to life and chase me with their garden tools. I played with neighbors and hunted for Igglys (our neighbors term for Hedgehogs) and never thought about my pudge. It never crossed my mind that I was slightly larger than other girls.
It was not until I lived in Japan and hit puberty that I got bit by the diet bug. I would try so hard to restrict what I ate so I could be thin like all the “pretty” girls and then I would fail and binge and binge and binge. Not being able to buy clothing in my size in the Japanese stores would make me feel worthless and low and I would binge further. Magazines, the inevitable school yard bully, and various other outside agents convinced me I was horrid. My version of “dieting” packed on pounds worse than anything else.
It must have killed Mom to see me do that stuff (and later to hear me tell her about it from thousands of miles away on the phone) because she worked so hard on making me love myself. She knew the damage a family could do by providing food issues at an early age; she couldn’t have wanted me to do it to myself. True, food was always plentiful at our house; you simply didn’t know who would stop by for dinner! Friends of my parents, of my brother, and of me would stop by constantly. Mom became “Mom” to a whole host of Air Force wives away from home for the first time, and sometimes away from their husbands while they were on duty in other countries. With that being said, there was never any “Clean your Plate!” rule or “Eat All your Meat or no Pudding” rule or anything like that. There was the two bite rule (take two bites before you say you do not like it and won’t eat it), and that just resulted in two children with no culinary boundaries whatsoever.
As was the case with me not going to the park to hike for almost a year, other people influenced how I saw myself and the food around me. They influenced what I became to think of as a normal way to eat and behave. They perpetuated the myth of the “bad food”. I let this happen. I had the tools at my disposal to not do so (a loving and supportive family), but I did not go down that road. I did not see myself as lovable and willingly let others walk over me, even when I had glimmers of thoughts to the contrary. Many silly thoughts (I wish I were DEAD rather than FAT) were thought and worse, BELIEVED.
So now, after 20 years of on and off hating what I look like and, therefore, who I am (because they are obviously the same) I am done. I am 30. I am married to a man who takes all my crap and loves me anyway. I have two lovely (furry) children. Heck, I am a HOMEOWNER. I have done GROWN UP in my book! I have no more excuses to think that there is a magic fix for any problem I encounter. It is time to start making like the ape I am and using some bloody tools.
Mindful eating is a tool so simple as to be just a natural way of doing things.
According to various articles, it is based on a portion of my very own religious belief system! It is just paying attention to what you are doing; a bit of Buddhist meditation. Mindfully enjoy the nourishment you give your body. Mindfully deconstruct that mixed drink with your palate as it swirls in your mouth. Mindfully listen to your body and be one with it. Your body is not an enemy, or a machine, or a separate thing to be dealt with. It is yours, a gift to you from the womb that grew you. By disrespecting it, the way I have for far too many years, you disrespect she who gave you life. To go further and depending on your belief system, it further disrespects that great being who gave us all this life.
As you are in the moment and listening to your body’s signals, you are also more aware of when you are actually satiated. If you are partaking in alcohol, you are more aware of your level of tipsiness and more inclined to not over indulge.
Indulgence should never become equal to gluttony. Once it has in your mind, you need to reevaluate how you are looking at your relationship with anything.
I WILL be in the moment. I WILL hike. I WILL run with my dogs and do my yard work and explore the lakes of Missouri. If we ever get any, I shall play in the snow. I will cook meals for Sacco and myself using the best ingredients I can and eat what I like of them, and only that much. I will bake lovely sweets and create decadent treats for coworkers with love, not with a horror of calorie counts. I shall have some and then move on.
I will make the rest of my life a life of mindfulness. I had toyed with this idea in the past, but now it just seems to be a way of life and not a thing to add. Just an extra tool for my arsenal of the second third of my life; not a daunting task to slave over and worry about failing at.
This whole shebang also fits nicely into my belief structure for this season. As hope and the sun are reborn and the earth re-awakens from it’s slumber, we should take this time to evaluate where we are at, where we want to be, and WHY we want those things. Mine is a quest to be less shallow. A quest to love myself and SHOW myself that love through properly nourishing and maintaining myself. I have scourged myself enough for not being a magazine model, for being the weird girl, for everything and anything. It is time to renew and regrow along with the Earth and Gods.