Lean in: How to handle a season of refinement
I'm in a season of loving refinement. It'd be so easy to sit back and take the revelations as an opportunity to stir up drama or validate my reasons and excuses for who I am and why I'm not where I'd like to be. Seriously, it'd be so easy. But so unloving. And so un-life changing.
And ladies, I want life change. Aching for it, in fact. There's no reason why other than a stirring in my soul and a soft whisper telling me the time is now. That and God and the universe has decided the time has come. Not a day has gone by in the last month without a truth revealed about areas of my character that still need development or challenges to the way I live or lies I hide behind.
Each of these blows gave me the option of falling headfirst into a lake of tears. Any of them would have been an opportunity to toss in the towel, give up, and have a valid excuse to never try again. But does this girl look like a quitter? I think not!
Today's blow was a good one. Good meaning not so bad, but still eye opening. Apparently I didn't shut our storage freezer all the way after our CostCo run this weekend. I had the honor of trashing $200 of food. And all because I was in too much of a rush to care.
I accepted my stupid move with both frustration and open arms. The both and the and is crucial. Pretending that your feelings don't exist won't do anything but ensure that within a few weeks (or months or years, depending on your personality type), you will have a big old sobbing meltdown and discover that the reason you had to paint your house purple was not because you loved purple and you thought it'd bring a nice pop of color to the neighborhood, but because you never forgave yourself when your dog died of old age under your watch when you were 10.
And, no, I don't have a purple house. It was only an example.
What was I saying?
Oh yes. The universe is calling me to grow. To be a better person to others and myself. And God has blessed each blow to be done lovingly, giving me the opportunity to feel the emotion like a deep wave rolling through me, but then giving me enough peace to allow the emotion to role by.
This is key for change. You have to allow yourself to feel and then move on. Wave goodbye to the emotion and objectively ask yourself "Why?" and "What can I learn here?"
And when you get your answer, lean in for the final refinement. This is key if you want to go from a spec of sand to a beautiful pearl. At least that's what I'm telling myself as I wonder what tomorrow may bring.
Usually the blows are uncomfortable, if not incredibly painful. So I've decided that if I can learn to handle discomfort, I can handle anything, right? For me, the quickest way achieve this is to tackle a physical challenge. And without even needing to think about it, I knew my obsession with food needed to be conquered.
Let's just say that too many of the refining moments this month include my son squeezing my tummy and thighs because "they are so squishy mama. They are fun to squeeze and smush into." ... Ahem. Talk about a nice reminder.
So how do I grow from this revelation and shake loose the food shackle that has very much controlled my life since I was a teenager who couldn't eat for about a week due to emergency surgery? Yup, for that long I've allowed food to dominate almost all of my thoughts. From 15 to about 30 years old, I'd wake up every morning and I'd think, "Good morning Lizzy. What is for breakfast? What time will you eat? What about lunch? Can we fit in a mid morning snack? And dinner? Oh! I hope we get second dinner today! It's going to be so great!" And, God help my husband, if I didn't eat when I had predetermined when I'd eat, I'd fall apart internally. Sure I'd hide my feelings so others couldn't tell that internally I'd transformed into a she-demon because the promised 6pm dinner still hadn't been served by 8:15 at night. I had class and, above all else I was a people pleaser, so I wouldn't dare be rude. (I totally would do that now though! #RecoveredPeoplePleaser)
Something primal must have switched in my brain during that time in the hospital. Or maybe this is normal? Who knows. It was my normal, but not anymore.
I've decided to do something drastic (okay, what I consider drastic. not really drastic) to challenge myself to not let my obsession with food have such a deep grip on me. So I've turned to what many have done before me, a smoothie and cleansing challenge. To be honest, as an RN, I don't even really believe in cleansing. But I can't really say I'm against it without trying it. I wouldn't want to be like all those people who think Harry Potter is stupid before they even read one of the books. Come on now! At least read one book, and then you are entitled to your opinion.
Let me tell you, to go from a girl who had to eat every 3 hours to one who is dreading the next "snack" (gag) on cleansing day, it's uncomfortable.
This is what I've learned:
- Allowing myself to experience hunger shows it doesn't have a hold on me. Let me write this disclaimer because I can feel everyone getting prickly. Dont' worry, I'm not starving myself or anything like that. Health is one of my top priorities. I'm talking about the hunger you get because you are bored in your kitchen or doing the dishes for the 100th time, not the hunger you get when you are legit hungry and ready for a well balanced meal. You should EAT when you are hungry. That's healthy and wonderful. This habit formed hunger is not real. It's a mental game and can be conquered when you finally decide you are willing to get uncomfortable.
-Discomfort is a mental state for about 90% of the game. I feel like I can say this due to the turmoil and unimaginable pain I've faced with acute and chronic illnesses. I won't dive into details because that's a whole different post, but trust me on this one. You can handle more than you think.
-You feel good when you keep a promise you made to yourself. I haven't felt this proud of my actions in a long time. I'm starting to make smaller promises to myself too (like you will make the bed) and then keep the promise, and for some ridiculous reason it makes the biggest difference in my mood and self image for the day.
-Fried eggs on avocado toast with sliced grape tomatoes is a gourmet meal. Schedule into your menu plan for the week. Immediately keep stock of the ingredients so you can make it all the time. It's a straight up Millennial meal, and as an "elder millennial" I demand you try it.
Aren't those good life changing lessons that I would've missed if I would have cried after my boy squeezed my legs for the 100th time that day? Or if I would have told him to stop being a turd and sent him away? The kid was right. Sure, he can develop some tact, but he was right. And I knew it in my gut. And if it wasn't in my gut, then the Ben and Jerry's evidence on my spoon spoke pretty loudly too. And yeah, it was only 11am.
Takeaway: I challenge you to do something that will force those chains off. Maybe you need to deep clean your house and skip to a cleaning schedule for the first time ever (*Raises hand* I said it was a season of refinement, and bless my soul, it's become apparent that I don't know better than home cleaning professionals and it's high time I get off my soap box and just follow one of their Pinterest schedules to see some good results). Or maybe you need to put down your journal, open Microsoft word, and start writing the book you've always wanted to write? Or when someone gives your photography a bad review on instagram, perhaps it's time to invest in that next level up photography course that you are terrified of taking but you know will help your business grow in leaps and bounds?
It's time to level up. A season of refinement is a sign of opportunity! Isn't that exciting people?
How wonderful will it be to turn 43 and look back at your thirty something self with a gentle smile, knowing how far you've come. I want to turn 43 and look at my 33 year old self with the same awe that I now look at my 23 year old self. Who was that twenty something girl? She was a spinning little tornado that rushed through life with joy, vigor, and anxiety. She had no idea that she had a choice to share or not share her opinion (seriously, I thought it was an obligation), and certainly sucked at listening, even though she so badly wanted to connect with everyone.
Who were you in your twenties? Who are you now? And who do you want to be next? The choice is yours, but the change takes discomfort. So start practicing. Find something small, lean in, get uncomfortable, and feel proud.
Thank goodness he is so cute.
(He also called my new haircut ugly, but I asked him what he thought, and he thought about it for days before he came up with his answer, so yeah. My fault. Rookie parenting a little boy move.)