Friday, June 4, 2010

i only have today

I was talking with a friend of mine today while we sat in the sunshine eating delicious sandwiches, drinking tea and solving all the world's (and our own) problems. She asked me some hard questions about what exactly it is that I am trying to do: what's the meat and potatoes of it? How does it work out in practice?

I understand: it's confusing. I am definitely confused myself. I am muddling through my own distorted thinking (which has been deeply influenced by the culture in which I live) trying to find the truth about myself at the bottom of it all. And something that has been very helpful to me is the acknowledgement that I only have today.

Now, I don't mean that I can't make plans. I don't mean that I can't dream about the future. In fact, it's the opposite of that. Acknowledging that I only have today in fact helps me to make plans and have dreams. And my plans and dreams will not be defined by a dress size or the number on the scale, thanks very much. Just because I carry extra weight does not mean that I do not deserve a bright future.

If I only have today, then I only have to worry about today's emotions. If I only have today, then I only need to worry about what I eat today. I don't need to stress about tomorrow, or that wedding I'm going to soon. If I am worried that I will be fat and unhealthy forever, well, making plans to lose 2lbs a week for the next 40 weeks isn't going to alleviate me of that worry. Also, binging isn't going to alleviate that worry: it's obviously making matters worse. However, choosing nourishing, delicious foods for my body today (which is all I can do) and trusting that those choices are all part of this journey toward full health - emotional, physical and spiritual - makes my tasks seem smaller.

If I feel overwhelmed today and want to stuff it down with food, well then I need to ask myself why. What exactly is overwhelming me? And what else can I say to myself or do for myself that will allow me to feel less overwhelmed? Being overwhelmed doesn't come from nowhere. Neither does anger or stress or frustration. Our emotions have roots. If I am overwhelmed, perhaps I need to sit quietly and feel it. I can take a look around my brain and my heart in that quiet moment and get the reason why. Once I have located the reason, I can make a choice as to how to react to the problem. And sometimes it's simpler than we might think.

For example, I might wake up, take a look in the mirror and feel upset with what I see. This might lead to feelings of anger, or being overwhelmed.

I might then think upon reflection that I feel upset because I am fat, or because I am ugly, or because none of my clothes fit right. I might mistakenly think that those are my problems (being fat and ugly). But that is not why I am upset. Being fat and ugly are not my problems.

I am upset because I have decided that to be a truly beautiful woman is to have perfect hair, a symmetrical face, a size 12 figure and expensive, well-cut clothes. More than that - tanned skin (not this white freckly stuff), nice hands and feet, medium height...this can all be added to the mix. Let's not forget that this imaginary woman also has a fantastic career, a clean home and a happy brood of kids around her. She is not stressed out or disappointed by life, either (ha!). I am upset because I have made decisions in advance about what is acceptable and what is not, and as I do not fit into this imaginary acceptable category, I cannot feel happy.

My husband says I am beautiful every day. Is he a liar? No. He sees my beauty as I am right now; no changes necessary. My friends often tell me I am beautiful. Are they lying too?

And when I tell one of my own friends (none of whom are supermodels) that they look very beautiful, am I lying? Of course not. Sometimes I am struck by how gorgeous they appear - each and every one of them! - because I am seeing their spirit and their personality shining out of their unique faces, and they are stunning to me.

So I've gotten out of bed. I've looked in the mirror and I appear to have been hit by a train. Am I willing to look myself in the eye and say, "You look good actually. You have good eyes with long lashes, a straight nose and strong teeth. You have a mouth and tongue which have the potential to say truthful and kind things. You have arms and hands that can hold your loved ones, or welcome a stranger. You have strong legs that can walk a thousand miles - literally and metaphorically. You have a sharp mind, safe in a head of dark hair. You have a heart that beats every moment, and that can feel and love."

Isn't that enough, for today?


  1. Wow. This is a really powerful post, and I REALLY needed to read it just now. Thank you. You said it beautifully.