Reverb 10 for December 11 – ELEVEN THINGS

December 11 – 11 Things. What are 11 things your life doesn’t need in 2011? How will you go about eliminating them? How will getting rid of these 11 things change your life?

1). Extra weight. Every new year’s “resolution” seems to begin with the scale. Especially if you are female. Even more so if you are subjected to the headlines of magazines like Cosmopolitan, Vogue, Marie Claire, etc as you stand in the grocery store check-out line armed with your arsenal of fruits and vegetables. For me, the difference in 2011 will be that the desire to be a thinner person is no longer intertwined with my complicated notions about body image and self-worth. Extra weight is not something that I will need in 2011 because it’s something I no longer need to hide beneath. In my head, I lump my weight with other taboo subjects that one should avoid discussing in polite conversation like politics, religion, sex, and Voldemort. It’s a topic I avoid in my daily internal monologues. I have hit a key point of no return, though, where I have to joke about myself before someone else beats me to the punch line. Better to have them laughing with you than at you, right? There is just no way to make ____ lbs smaller or invisible or less noticeable. 2010 has been especially difficult with the addition of a daily steroid that makes me feel like some mutant version of myself. You know when pregnant women get caught red-handed with the gallon of ice cream, whining that they can’t help themselves, that it’s the “hormones”? Well, there is actually a good deal of truth to that. It turns out that if you fiddle with those hormonal knobs long enough, you really will have trouble not devouring everything in sight. With this most recent weight gain, I wrestle with blaming the medications I am taking to resolve the health issues I’ve had and blaming myself for not exercising any self-control. As the days draw nearer and nearer to that blank slate known as January 1st, I’ve found that I’m just a bit tired of all the whining and crying and cajoling going on inside my head. It takes more effort to convince myself that it is perfectly acceptable to eat a sleeve of Oreos than it does to complete 30 minutes of physical activity. I’ve flicked that little devil off of my shoulder with a rather satisfying “thwack” and am enjoying watching her hurtle through the air to go bother someone else. Dealing with a chronic medical condition this fall has also hit me with a dose of that “scared straight” mentality, causing me to realize that the metabolic processes and tissues and organs that I can’t see below the pudgy surface really are vulnerable. They are also not so easily replaceable once they’ve malfunctioned. At almost-26, I’ve got two options: embrace the hard physical and mental work it will take to undo the damage I’ve done to my body and embrace the journey that will lead me to a place where I feel wonderful inside and out OR continue to trash my body like a raging rock star in a hotel room and find myself a patient on the nursing unit where I work when my liver, kidneys, or heart say “Forget this! I give up lady!” and walk out on me. How will eliminating the extra weight in 2011 change my life? I’m looking forward to everything that will be more “comfortable” – flying in an airplane, sitting in theater seats, climbing myriad flights of stairs in the hospital…

2). Clothes that I don’t love. It overwhelms me to know that I’ve gotten various sizes of clothing stashed in closets here and there in the house. At first it seems economical to hold onto that item that you just may fit into one day if you lose the weight equivalent to that of a toddler. Over time, though, it just becomes a reminder of failure, something I haven’t done. Eventually, it just seems like some sort of medieval punishment, especially if the garment is something particularly lovely. I will only keep pieces of clothing that I like or love to wear, that fit into my bureau or closet, that fit properly, that make me look and feel my best. I will no longer be haunted by that 90’s denim skirt from the GAP.

3). Miscellaneous “stuff”. How have a I acquired so much stuff!? Is it all even really necessary? I will no longer buy things because it may make my life more convenient. People survived long before Williams-Sonoma invented a million unnecessary kitchen gadgets and I, too, will survive. I will consider buying second-hand for certain things or bartering with friends for goods or services. I will also apply this to books. There is no way I lug the equivalent of the Philadelphia Free Library around with me for the rest of my life. I will use the library or my eReader and only hold on to those tomes that have really made an impression on me. I will donate or sell items that have no value in my life. I will practice mindfulness when I spend money because shopping hardly brings happiness and contentment.

4). I’d like to refrain from eating things that were never foods to begin with. Having completed a Nursing degree, I know that the body functions better and inevitably feels better when it is not accosted with all manner of fake sugar and other alien ingredients. I imagine I’ll feel pretty much like the Energizer Bunny when my blood sugar isn’t on a wild roller coaster ride of high’s and low’s.

5). I have a terribly annoying habit of interrupting people. It’s not a personal thing. I have a problem with enthusiasm and I just can’t contain myself. It needs to go. I’m starting to annoy myself at this point. In 2011, I will focus more on observing and listening and keeping my mouth closed. Enough said. My mom will be thrilled!

6). I could be a little (ok, well, a lot) less critical/judgmental. I’m really working on utilizing the “Golden Rule” in my life with regard to how I think about and treat others, but I have a ways to go yet. I’d like to use those new observation skills I referenced above to make informed opinions about others. I also want to remember that, when interacting with others, I am only glimpsing the tiniest snapshot of their lives.

7). Gone will be the days of over-committing myself. I am only going to go to things or do things that I really enjoy. I will spend more time with the people I truly love who remind me why it’s wonderful to be alive. I will say “no” more often if it means that I can retain my sanity and a normal sleep schedule.

Am I at #11 yet?!

8). I need to stop sleeping as if I am in college all over again. Chuckle all you want, ladies and gentleman, but sleep hygiene is critical to health. I think it’s time I stopped futzing around until some late hour only to regret it in the AM. I want to make the most of the daylight hours. Especially, in the winter when it becomes dark at 4pm.

9). I want to eat fewer meals that I did not prepare myself. Yes, daily meal preparation is tedious enough to make one annoyed at the fact that we have to eat on a regular basis. However, the catharsis I feel when cooking and eating a meal far outweighs the minor annoyances. Afterall, it’s really nice to know where all of the ingredients came from. In the same vein, I’d like a proper breakfast to become part of my daily routine. If I wouldn’t drive my car without gas and oil, I probably shouldn’t force myself to function without a bowl of oatmeal.

10). Any and all grudges will be booted out the door in 2011 as well. I don’t really have any ill feelings that I am harboring at the moment, but I definitely could have made some different decisions with regard to certain relationships.

11). I’d like to be more honest with myself and others in my life in 2011. Bottling feelings deep down in one’s self only creates very ugly, black, dead spots where hurt and shame and anger fester out of the light of day.

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