After walking around Boulder for several hours today, turning the words from my earlier post over and over in my mind, I came to a startling conclusion: I am not present in my own life.
On the surface, it would appear this isn’t true – I have lots of friends and activities, as well as a job that carries quite a bit of responsibility and allows me to travel all over the world – but when I’m not working out or directly interacting with someone (and let’s be honest, a lot of my social interactions are via Facebook, which imparts a certain amount of distance and not-present-ness), I’m just not all there. My job is a continuous stream of teleconferences, so I have very few face-to-face encounters. As a result, it’s easy to multitask during meetings – checking my email while someone else is talking, for example – and so I’m not all that present at work. The very nature of electronic life, which ironically allows us so many new connections with people around the world, has at the same time allowed me to become very disconnected from my body and soul. There is no need to physically show up, and thus it becomes very easy not to mentally show up either.
Mindless eating, shopping, playing Facebook games, watching TV – these are all examples of distractions & escapes from life. But…so is meticulously counting calories and paying excessive attention to what I’m eating. Focusing on one thing to the exclusion of all others is another form of escape. There has to be a happy medium!
I’m 43 years old, and I feel like I’ve been sleep-walking through my life for quite awhile. I don’t want to live the next 43 in the same way – and that means making some changes to my lifestyle. No more avoiding real life by obsessing over calories. No more shopping to distract myself from eating. No more spending hours with activities that don’t add value to my life.
Each day I have 24 hours to be the best I can be. Do I want to look back on my life and realize I spent that time amassing over a trillion dollars in Mob Wars? Do I want to be able to say I’ve seen every episode of a reality TV show that makes me feel superior just because I don’t have piles of garbage in my home? Or do I want to be able to say I had a positive impact on those around me and that I’ll be remembered for the person I was and the lives I touched? There’s nothing wrong with using social media to keep in touch with friends and family, or watching a little TV here and there. But if these activities are routinely getting in the way of something more valuable – like working on my goals – that means I’m using them as a distraction and not living in the here and now.
I’m also think I’m going to stop meticulously counting calories – I believe that my body knows what it needs and if I choose high quality, nourishing, delicious foods that make my body sing, and eat with intention instead of as an escape, the rest will take care of itself. Expecting to count calories for the rest of my life is unrealistic – I need to learn how to eat according to my body’s needs and the time to start is now! I’ll check in with the scale periodically to make sure things are going in the right direction and correct as needed. It’s really not about the food anyway – it’s about experiencing each moment and paying attention.
We get one body, one life and one chance to make it count – so from now on, I’m choosing to make the most of each moment – enjoying time with friends and family, meeting and connecting with new people, learning about things I’m interested in, reading the stack of books I never seem to have time for, continuing to improve my health and fitness, and work on building a second career.
I think I’ll be blogging a lot more in the future, both here and at the UnDieting Divas blog, as a way to keep myself present and accounted for. And I’ll be putting a lot more effort into building up the support group and trying to help others be present in their own lives.
Life is short and precious, and I’m going to make the best use of mine that I possibly can!