Saturday, March 29, 2014

committing myself

I was never a resolution setter growing up - it wasn't something my parents did and as a result, I didn't really get it. In the Boven household, New Years Eve was about throwing a really awesome party (parties that would put 99% of the parties I have thrown or even attended in my life, to utter shame)... the only resolutions being made the next day by anyone in attendance were likely having to do with making better choices when it comes to alcohol.

As I grew up and headed into my tween and teen years, however, I started reading magazines (while most of the things in this list I only WISH I was cool enough to have done, #17 does ring true) like Seventeen. Between that and television, there was always a lot of buzz around these "New Year's resolutions." As my eating disorders took over my mind - affecting how I looked both in reality and through my own eyes looking in the mirror, I took to New Years as a forever starting over spot for my relationship with my body, my body image, and my choices. Some years my resolution was "work out every single day - only eat what you burn" or "eat less than 100 calories a day." Other years it was a little tamer, when I was trying to "fix" myself, and would be more like "be vegetarian" or "run everyday." Something like "love your body" would have been simply laughable unless it was "work out every single day and eat only as many calories as you burn so that you can finally love your body." Magazines like Seventeen and Glamour (my two favorites) weren't about empowering women to love their bodies back then (and I'm pretty sure they likely still aren't even if their articles try to convince us otherwise, if you take a gander at the pictures between the articles).

Making a New Year's resolution never solved any of my problems. It fueled my disease by making me feel like I was doing something "normal" that the rest of the world does. What actually changed my path? Not being able to go to sleep one summer night between my second and third year of college when I had eaten "too much" (probably debatable) but was unable, for some reason, to puke it all back up (the "norm"). I was laying in bed trying to crawl out of my own skin because I was failing at being able to control the one thing I had created so that I was always able to control something. I couldn't crawl out of my own skin (but remembering back makes me think I might have some semblance of an idea of what a meth addict feels like based on their advertising - well played, ladies and gentlemen), and this, for some reason or another, was the thing that broke me. I looked up some treatment centers (was shocked to find out how many existed for eating disorders), and after some really big, deep breaths headed into my parents room - a sobbing, out of control, defeated, mess. My mom hugged me, loved me, validated me and and told me we would head to one in the morning.

I wasn't suddenly cured after that. No one I have ever met has attended Hogwarts, and therefore no one has ever been able to just wave a magic wand (as much as my mom wishes she could have) and make my troubles, worries, and crazy go away. Thankfully. If it wasn't for all that crazy, ridiculous chaos, I wouldn't be me.

I may have gone off on a bit of tangent, however...the point of the story is that New Year's resolutions are not the answer to serious problems or serious life changes (and that we have got to get a handle on what we hold up as beautiful, valued and and important as a society for the sake of millions of little girls). I tried to stop making resolutions for several years, although I'm sure those from my past were always lingering in the back of my mind.

For the last 3 or 4 years, I started making them again. But they have been very different. I don't buy in to the whole "let's wake up one morning and say something radical" and believe that it's actually going to change a fundamental piece of who I am and how I tick. I do think that using the end of a year and the starting of a new one to reflect on how you lived out your values and what is important to you, and how you didn't, is perfectly healthy. I celebrate things like working out six days a week, vacations and traveling, time spent with family, and time spent doing things I love like painting, crafting, reading, and playing video games. I think about the things I kept saying I wanted to do or wished I did more of, but never made happen. I think about what I could do to be a better version of me, by doing things that made me happy more often. I untangle those messy reflections in order to parse out what it is that I need to commit myself to doing in order to make sure that I'm making time for and valuing things that make me feel happy and whole. It's not about sweeping statements like "take more time for myself," "be healthier," or "stop being so crazy" (although that last one is always an aspiration).

naturally, I have a tracker
This year, I put down eleven commitments for 2014. They seem a little silly, but they represent all the things I know I need to put more value on in order to make sure they happen - and I don't just want them to happen so I can say I did them, but I know that I'll be happier if I do. The list includes things like: do arm workouts 3x a week, practice yoga at least twice a week, learn to kick a soccer ball (and maybe even play), walk at least 25 miles a week, read 20 books for fun, read 12 books off of my work book list (one book/month), bake 12 new recipes (one recipe a month), make a quilt, blog (at least once a month), and few others.
one of the new recipes...  
baked maple cinnamon sugar donuts 

They are pretty mundane, but as always, they do change what I prioritize by allowing me to place value on different things. I work out most days of the week, but struggle to make sure I focus on my arms, and I always find myself wishing I did. I find doing yoga incredibly peaceful, stress reducing, and therapeutic and yet I rarely make time for it - I usually end up prioritizing a more cardio heavy workout, instead. I have envied soccer players, including my wife, since I was little, and yet have never really learned how to even kick a ball even though the wifey was a semi-professional soccer player and coached others for many, many years. I already was walking (or running, until the last few months) 20 to 30 miles a week, but wanted to make sure I didn't lose sight of keeping that with other competing priorities. Blogging is likely better for my soul than going to see a therapist, and yet I rarely take the time to write. And now, so I don't belabor the point here (as if I didn't already), I'll stop. 

With April 1 on the horizon, I know I've ignored my blogging commitment. I am constantly writing blogs in my head on my morning walks, but have not made the time get it out of my head. Remembering that it's one of my commitments gave my the time and space this morning to cut my yoga a little short and sprawl out on the couch and get my fingers typing. Now, time to get a few miles in with a stroll up to the store to buy a soccer ball (I think the fateful summer night the wifey's "soccer career ended" almost two years ago, we lost our soccer ball, too) and get to kicking. 

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