Wednesday, October 9, 2013

I am a creature of habit.



We are creatures of habit; well, at least I am.  I wake up at the same time (ridiculously early) every day, even on the weekend; I eat the same thing for breakfast (oatmeal) every day; I sit in the same seat at church each week; Purchase pretty much the same grocery list every week; I arrive to work at about the same time each morning (usually 45 minutes to an hour early),  and usually follow the same routine day after day. In some ways routines can be a good thing, especially if they incorporate good, healthy habits. In other ways, they can cause us to be in a rut, stunt our spiritual, mental, and/or emotional growth, or prevent us from experiencing new things, meeting new people, or changing our lives for the better.

Sometimes, though, any little alteration to our routine can “throw us off our game”; at least it does for me from time to time. This morning I woke up and discovered that the cable TV was out of service and my whole routine was off-kilter. I am not a big TV watcher but I turn the news on every morning and for 3 hours, the news is the background ‘noise’ while I do other things. I even know that it’s time to get in the shower when the local sports comes on and the daily trivia question means I better be ready to leave! This morning I was all ‘out of sync” when all I saw was the dreaded BLUE SCREEN and all I heard was the ticking of the clock for several hours.  Yes, I am a “work in progress”…..SIGH.

It’s ironic in a sense that this group is named “WE CAN CHANGE OUR LIVES” because in all honesty, I really struggle with CHANGE. Obviously, my life has changed dramatically, but I still am a creature of habit and I still resist change in many areas of my life. I have lived in four different homes in my adult life and after the initial move-in, I never rearranged the furniture in any of them. It makes me anxious when plans get changed or family traditions for the holidays get altered. I sometimes have difficulty adjusting to the many changes that are inevitable in my job. This kind of thinking hinders me in many ways and really contributed to the destructive/unhealthy behavior, ultimately almost destroying my life. Because I couldn’t adjust to the changes in my life after a job loss, a move away from home, the death of loved ones, a health crisis, and a return to college, I turned to food and isolated myself from others. You know the story by now. My inability to deal with the changes that are inevitable in life nearly cost me my own.  Perhaps you have been thrust into some life changes yourself that you felt like you had no control over….maybe an empty nest or a break-up in a relationship/marriage; perhaps a serious illness or loss of loved one; maybe you lost your job or your home or some other situation or crisis occurred.  How have you handled it? I hope better than I did.

When I realized that I was at ‘rock-bottom’….400+ pounds, unable to walk, unable to stand up long enough to brush my teeth, unable to take care of my basic needs, almost to the point of needing Assisting Living housing, I knew that I HAD BETTER MAKE SOME CHANGES……and soon. Some changes were easier than others. It was rather painless to substitute artificial sweeteners for sugar, to switch to 35 calorie bread instead of regular white, to drink diet soda or flavored water instead of Faygo. Others were a bit more difficult….rice cakes instead of chips???? Are you serious?  Fat free vinaigrette instead of Blue cheese salad dressing? You’ve got to be kidding!  Grilled chicken instead of a Big Mac? Yikes!  Making these changes were tough at first, but after a while, they became “habit” instead of “sacrifice” and now, they are automatic and routine and part of my day-to-day life. Changing one’s eating habits is not easy, but even ‘little changes” can have a big impact and lead to weight loss.

 

 Perhaps you feel the same about exercise or physical activity.  Did you resist it at first…force yourself to walk or go to the gym…but now you actually “miss it” or feel sluggish if you don’t get some exercise?  Maybe it’s the same with saving money, going to church, making time for yourself, studying for a class, or even saying things “I’m sorry”, “I love you ”or “Thank You.”  Maybe you’ve made some little changes in your life….and although they took work and effort in the beginning, you now find that they are just a ‘way of life” and as a result, your overall well-being  is improved and you are happier than ever.

 

I’ve been really working on accepting change as part of life; in fact, in some ways, embracing it and seeking it out, and I’m discovering day-by-day that CHANGE is oftentimes VERY GOOD!  Earlier this week while working at the other campus, I took a ‘different” side street across town on my way to Meijer’s. I didn’t know where it would end up, but on the way I saw a mailbox that was just covered with what appeared to be hundreds of gorgeous blue Morning Glories. They have somehow escaped the early frost and  was just an absolutely beautiful sight. Made me smile all the way home!  Stopped to Meijer’s and found some Pumpkin Pie Spice Sugar Free coffee creamer….never knew it existed….never tried it…and honestly didn’t want to try it because I’ve used French Vanilla creamer in my coffee for as long as I can remember….But I did try it…and for the past 2 mornings, I’ve been delighted by an entirely new coffee experience. A few years ago I never would have even considered trying something new.  I also bought some weird looking fruit. It was specked and was with the plums and peaches. I’ve never seen anything like it before but I bought a few of them anyway…and WOW…they are awesome! I did some research and discovered it is called Pluot…a cross between a plum and an apricot. Low fat, low calorie and very sweet. A few years ago I would not have even purchased fresh fruit (my fruit came in a Hostess pie) let alone try some “strange” fruit.

 

In recent months, CHANGE has been an almost constant thing. I’ve met new people and made new friends (YOU), I have gone places (NYC, who would have thought?) and done things I never dreamed possible (seriously, ride a bike and a Harley and climb dune????). Next Wednesday, if I don’t ‘chicken out”, I’m going on a fly-fishing trip on the Pere Marquette river!  Change, although not always easy, can be very good.  I encourage you today….Try something new.  Get a new haircut. Wear a different color blouse/shirt. Make a new recipe.  Think a DIFFERENT thought. Take a new route home from work.  As I said yesterday… “If we always do….what we’ve always done……Then we’ll always get….what we’ve always got.”  Start today….make the changes that will help you CHANGE YOUR LIFE!!!!!  With a little luck…those positive changes will soon become habit and routine.