It’s hard to believe half of this year is already gone. In some ways, I feel like I’ve come really far, but sometimes, when I look back on the first six months, I pause and say to myself, “That’s it?” Somehow, I feel like I expected everything to be different by this point: the way I look, the way I feel, the way I approach challenges. I don’t know if this is my stealth perfectionism* rearing its ugly head, but I’m going to concentrate on the positives.
The most substantial change, thanks to speckofawesome, was my discovery of the Whole30 and grain-free eating in general, which cured my chronic, agonizing migraines. I’ve thought kind of vaguely before of attempting to stop eating grains, just for weight loss, but never before had the right kind of motivation to try it. Although I’m struggling with it a bit, I’m so thankful for speckofawesome sharing it, and for the Whole9 people for creating it, and to myself for committing to it (if intermittently). I went from daily utter misery back to just plain me. If nothing else positive had already or will come out of this project, that result alone would have been worth everything I put into it.
Although not all of my challenges have produced such a marked behavioral or life change, I believe that all of them aggregated are slowly changing my direction. (I tend to think about everything in visual metaphors, so right now I’m envisioning my life as a sailing ship on variable seas, with a recalcitrant steering wheel that I have to haul on to make any progress.) (Is that weird?)
It’s happening so slowly as to be unnoticeable on a daily basis, but in my last conversation with my therapist, she noted that I seem to have lost some of the daily anxieties that have plagued me for years.
When I thought back, I realized that she’s right, and it’s happened without my awareness. For instance, I’m more aware of what I need on a daily basis or in interactions with other people, instead of being fully focused on what I can do to make another person happy. Four months ago, that was actually my greatest concern no matter what I was doing…and it’s suddenly just swung around 180 degrees. It’s a startling feeling, and I’m exploring this new focus gingerly. I want to be careful to strike a balance between caring what other people need and not allowing those needs to come before my own.
I don’t know if I’ve mentioned before the actual single trigger that inspired this blog and concept. My brother was in town for Christmas, and showing our parents his photographs from a trip he took to the Faroe Islands, where he joined the crew of the Sea Shepherd (the Whale Wars people) on the Steve Irwin for four days, an experience about which he wrote an article for Playboy.
I’ve always been in awe and envious of my brother’s awesome life and experiences–not to mention how hard he works–but somehow this photo session twisted something deep inside me. I wanted to have experiences like that, and incredible photos to show with stories to tell. But I knew I needed to start way down at the bottom, by attacking the root of my complacent, motionless life: my fear.
If my unending list of fears could keep me from doing something as mundane as a phone call, how could I ever make the leap to living a full, even article-worthy life? The idea of challenging one tiny, seemingly insignificant fear at a time bloomed fully formed in my mind that night while I was washing my hair (hygiene: creating blog ideas since 1998).
I don’t know exactly what the life I want to have will look like. But I know some parameters: I want to be a healthy, lovable human being with a family and intriguing interests outside of work and my pets, who actively participates in life. And I think I’m on the right track, by proactively facing down the 90% of life I had been avoiding.
The best I can do is to keep hauling on the wheel until I’m headed in a direction that I like.
*I find it hard to think of myself as a perfectionist, but it’s this furtive unexpected force that causes me to procrastinate. You know: “If I can’t go out and run five miles the first time, then what’s the point in going out to try running at all?” or “I will never write this blog post as well as someone else could write it, so why even bother trying?”