First, let’s talk briefly about the detox I attempted last week. The plan was to eat only fruits, veggies, eggs and cheese – with a 2-day juice fast thrown in – for one week. I was mostly successful, with two exceptions. By the middle of the second day of juice fasting, I did need to eat. If I were able to just rest or sleep, I definitely could have done two days of fasting. But having to be out and about with the kids made it difficult and I needed a little energy, so I had some apples and cheese. The second exception was Valentine’s Day. We went skiing and I had a turkey sandwich for lunch – which, let me tell you, was a huge success for me when I was surrounded by chips, fries, cookies and candy. We also went out to dinner (I had fajitas without the tortillas) and I shared a piece of cake with my daughter. Completely unnecessary, but it happened. And now that the week is over, I’m still making healthy choices and eating much less. I’ve lost 5 pounds in the past week.
Now, on to this week’s Warrior ramblings. I’ve been thinking a lot about what is stopping me from making changes that I really want to make and I’ve boiled it down to two things: Expectations and Hard Work.
I’ve lived a lot based on what others expect of me. What my husband expects, what my parents expect, what my kids expect. That’s OK to some extent, life is about partnerships and cooperation. But somehow I’ve lost the ability to expect things of myself.
Besides being healthy and being a good parent, another thing I struggle with is career. I am in the very fortunate position of not having to work. But I do want something for myself, something I can do when the kids are grown. And I think writing is that “something.” I’ve dreamed of being a writer since I was in high school, and I was a writer for a few years. I wrote for newspapers, magazines, web sites, and I even published a book. Then I had kids and life happened and it was always something I would “get back to.”
Somewhere along the line, without realizing it was happening, I stopped expecting that I would be a writer again. I blogged and waited, hoping the editors and publishers would come knocking and offer me jobs. But I didn’t pursue it. Writing is hard work. Between raising children and homeschooling and just getting older, I don’t have the same ambition I once had. When I get to the hard part of writing, I don’t push through it because no one is expecting it of me. I don’t need a job. No one cares if I write or not.
Do I care if I write or not? Last night, I was discussing this with a virtual writer’s group. I was asked: “The question is, what is more important to you — the passion for getting words on the page, or being known as a ‘writer’?” I know the answer to that question, and it’s painful. It’s not that I want to be known as a writer, but that I want to be known. To be respected. I want someone to be proud of me. I want to be proud of myself.
And that’s the deepest, most painful part right there. I don’t feel proud of myself. I feel like I let a lot of people down, especially myself. Hence the eternal quest to change. As I wrote years ago in this post, I’ve always felt I was meant for something big. I used to have that expectation of myself, and I let myself down.
I know that I am enough. I know I’ll get comments on this post from people telling me that I am terrific just as I am. I know. But there is that deep-seated need for approval and praise that nags at me. There’s that bit of low self-esteem within my awesomeness. There’s the fact that I’ve given up on the hard work in favor of constantly planning what I will do next to make things change.
So maybe understanding this, admitting it publicly, is kinda like standing up at an AA meeting. Now it’s time for me to put my own personal 12-step plan in motion. Not that I have a personal 12-step plan… But I think the first step is letting go of the perfection. I love to write. I’ve written in journals my whole life. I keep scrapbooks and delight in uncovering my family history. But I sometimes (often?) don’t write because I can’t make it perfect. Or the conditions aren’t perfect. Same with exercising and eating properly. This needs to stop right now.
It’s time to get my own expectations back.