I’m in the middle of reading the book, Life is a Verb: 37 Days to Wake Up, Be Mindful and Live Intentionally. Some of the book is a little rambling (not like I have any room to talk on rambling books. I mean, really.. heh heh), but the author, Patti Digh, really speaks to me in many ways.
The premise of the book comes from her stepfather’s diagnosis with lung cancer—he died 37 days after his diagnosis.
During that 37 days, she learned a lot. She writes the following…. I was “visiting in a place I ought not to be, hearing things I ought not ever hear, and dispensing morphine as if I knew how. He very soon lost the ability to speak, which made it both easier and harder. I was scared and anxious all the time, not knowing what was coming next. There was no manual that I could find, no prescription for what he was feeling and doing, how his insides were eating him up. I couldn’t tell, and very soon into it, he couldn’t tell me either…. We act as if we have all the time in the world – that’s not a new understanding. But the definite-ness of 37 days struck me. So short a time, as if all the regrets of a life would barely have time to register before time was up.”
I was reminded of this quote which I have poster-fied and shared many times. The poster has great meaning for me, because it’s a picture of me at Couer d’Alene, the day before Ironman. The quote:
“Never give up on a dream just because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway.”
In other words, you can start now, and work towards your dreams/goals/ambitions. Or you can sit and do nothing—guess what? Time is just a-ticking anyway. Might as well move forward.
Then there is a part of the book which talks about eradicating the “they” from our lives.
And we all know what this is:
- They do this to me.
- It is their fault that I have failed.
- If only, they would give me: a raise, respect, more time, a promotion, a bigger office.
- They have sabotaged my efforts.
- They don’t include me.
By stating “they” and acknowledging that someone else is to blame for our place in life, we give up our power to the very people who took it from us in the first place.
Alternatively, it may be a different type of “they”—- incidents or outside influences (money, sickness, death of loved ones)—that cause the blame. Don’t get me wrong. All of these are very viable, real-life issues and obstacles, for sure. I am not downplaying or mocking serious issues and obstacles. But here’s a question: do we sometimes give these obstacles more power over us than we should? Do we allow the outside to absolutely control the inside of us?
I don’t know much, but here’s what I know is true:
- Life is not forever. (We’ll qualify this to make room for those of us who believe in an afterlife…. we’ll say “life on this planet is not forever.”)
- Our time is/may be more limited than we think.
- And time is passing… right now.
- We must stop making excuses and live our lives.
I am not completely innocent of this. I have been known to blame many people and situations for many of my past failures.
Back in 2005 I had lost a ton of weight and I was sitting pretty in a size 10 (sometimes a size 8). [I was also fairly unhealthy as I could attribute my weight loss to Phentermine and eating brown food, but that’s neither here nor there.] My father was in a terrible motorcycle accident, which led our family into a downward spiral of stress and tough times. I had to be a nomad between Athens and Savannah during the last semester of law school and prepping for the bar exam. Then I started eating terrible things, picked up the smoking habit again (yes, I am a former smoker!), and put on 25 pounds that I have not taken off since 2005.
Of course, I did not blame my father.
But I blamed the situation. The proverbial “if that accident had not happened, then… I would not have gained this weight back.” When really, I am blaming my own actions on something that has nothing in the world to do with fork-to-mouth habit.
It was 100% my fault that I gained the weight.
Was that time stressful? Sure. But did it require that I pile food on my plate? That I took up my Mexican-margarita habit again?
I can think of a dozen other situations. Of course, everything is the Expert’s fault. (Ahhh, marriage!) But then my horrible bosses in various jobs. My commute. Finances. They. They They. They made me EAT MY WEIGHT IN COOKIES!!!
This blame happened for years.
Until one day, I found triathlon and I began to take responsibility for myself. Don’t get me wrong. I am still a giant work in progress a/k/a Hot Mess. (Seriously, I’m not sure if anyone is more messed up than I am.) I am learning how I can control my own actions–my own eating habits, my relationship with food.
At our core, we must begin to live with intention for ourselves. We must stop blaming someone or something. No more excuses. What do you want to do in 2014? In 2015?
Yes, we are all busy. We are all tired. Stressed. Everyone has their own, unique struggles. But are we simply acknowledging our difficulties or struggles—or are we letting these difficulties or struggles run our lives ? Are we giving these people and situations power over us? Things to think about, for sure.
So a reminder to myself, as much as a challenge to the SBM community:
Here’s to a New Year of taking charge, taking responsibility. May we stop making excuses and instead, make decisions—which in turn will lead to progress (ah, not perfection!). Onward, friends. #justkeepmovingforward Let’s go!
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Ready to Make a Lifestyle Change? Register NOW for Swim Bike Food in January.
If you are interested in an AMAZING experience, please come join us.
Through this group, you will:
1) Learn there are 100 ways to skin a cat (e.g., you can use your food program …and you are welcome to join. However, this will be a paleo-clean-eating based focus. There are vegetarian and vegan options. Additionally, we will focus on incorporating paleo-clean eating into triathlon training. Along with the program, you will have access to the triathlon angle. Though you do not have to be a triathlete, either.)
2) Learn that you are not alone in your food habits, struggles and tribulations;
3) Have access to knowledge and experience through the group including recipe sharing, tips, encouragement, and SOS responses :).
4) See that a relationship with food can be great, as we are all in this together.
Our December group is AMAZING. We’re about 17 days in, feeling great (and losing weight as a nice side-effect). But more importantly, we are all working towards a better relationship with food—-and ourselves. I am very very (very) proud of our group.