Sunday, April 6, 2014

Like the seasons....we leave behind our old selves to become new!

I did some laundry this morning, and it doesn’t really come as any surprise to me, but the mundane act of folding clothes was the catalyst that caused my mind to ponder other thoughts. I REALLY need to stop thinking so much, especially at 6:00 a.m. on a Sunday morning! J  In this particular load of laundry, there was several sweaters and some flannel pajamas, as well as some lighter-weight pieces of clothing. I picked up a heavy turtleneck sweater and thought to myself, “You really should start packing away the winter clothing pretty soon.”  I am anxious for spring to come, but the snow in the backyard at this late date has caused me to delay that process of transitioning the wardrobe from winter to spring.  I put the sweater in a separate pile and proceeded with the jammies. I suppose it’s time to put those away as well.  By the time I was done folding, I had moved the sweater and jammies back into the “wear now” piles.  I’ve been doing the same thing for a couple of weeks now with other pieces.  I’ve been deliberately choosing my favorite heavy-weight blazers/jackets, the cashmere sweaters I got for a bargain at goodwill, the warm turtlenecks…..and wearing them with the “one last time before spring” mentality. The weather hasn’t cooperated and the “one last time” has turned into several.   The same process has been happening with the fashion boots and scarves.  Each week I think, “soon it will be spring…and it will be time to put these things away for several months”…and each week winter lingers on a bit longer…and I get to wear them again.

SO…..I began to think about this…..  and so began the back and forth struggle in my mind about something as trivial as clothing and footwear.  Hmmmm….. Why is it that I am so hesitant to let go….and embrace the changes that spring will bring? After all…. I have been complaining about the winter weather for months now….and I keep longing for longer, warmer days…..and I love wearing the bright colors and floral prints of summer….and I can’t wait to walk and ride my bike…AND….and….and….. The list goes on.  SO…why am I hesitant; why the reluctance????????  After all, I WANT THIS CHANGE…..right????  And so I ponder…

I’ve learned throughout this journey of transformation that God uses “trivial things, people, events, things that happen in the course of the day” as a means of communicating with me; of teaching me things about myself; of showing me that HE is present. My thoughts today have nothing to do with clothing, but everything to do with CHANGE….embracing it….and reluctance to change at the same time.  I’ve always been resistant to change….even when I long for it…..even when I know it will  be wonderful….even though it is necessary for growth…..even when I know it is in my best interest.  In order for something to change, something else has to be left behind or altered.  Life as we know it…won’t be the same any more.  AND….we are often quite comfortable and settled in the old life.

Those heavier clothes have kept me warm; they have covered up those parts of my body that I find unattractive and am insecure about (namely the excess skin and wrinkled flesh); they have given me an extra layer of protection around my body and have protected me from the harsh elements. These are all literal things….tangible things that clothing does for us…..but figuratively, the represent much more for me. For many years, I did that with food…and with my independent, “I’m fine; I can do it myself; leave me alone” attitude. I hid myself away….because it was safe, it was comfortable, I knew how to function in that world. Nothing can hurt me THERE.  So much like those heavy winter clothes and boots. By this point in the winter, I know what tops go with what bottoms; what boots look best with what skirts; what scarves accent what jackets, and which earrings I like paired with which necklace…..Because I’ve been there….done that….gotten positive feedback… comfortable and confident in my choices….and I know how to walk in the chunkier heels of the boots!   SIGH…….   So much like my OLD LIFE…..   I KNEW how to be “Old Theresa.”  I knew how to shop for plus size clothes (heck, it was easy; there was only 2 catalogs that I could choose from, nothing in a store would fit). I knew which shoes to wear (either my black orthopedic slip-ons or my brown. Period). I knew how to THINK….I knew that NO ONE would talk to me, that no would expect anything of me. I didn’t have to deal with things that I do now….like business contracts, the media…and BOYS!  Oh, those wonderful creatures called BOYS!  J   I knew the life….get up…take pain medicine….go to work…pretend to be happy….eat whenever I felt stressed or sad or lonely or was in pain….go home, take more medicine, eat some more,  go bed…and do it all over and over and over again).  And even though life was miserable and I wanted CHANGE, I resisted it for many, many years because I was afraid….and I was reluctant to let go of those things that would have be given up in order for change to happen.   I kept coming up with reasons NOT TO CHANGE….and you know the story,  I got to a point where I either had to change….or I was going to die.
Making changes in one’s life can be very frightening….because we don’t always want to leave the old behind. We want life to be different; but we want to hang on to the past too….we don’t want to let go.  We want to be thinner but we want to eat that donut too. We want to be sober or substance-free, but we don’t want to give up our “old friends” or the feeling of being “high”. We want to have happier relationships, but we don’t want to let go of those people that are dragging us down. We want to be healthier but we don’t want to put in the time it takes to exercise.

 I really want it to be spring….but that tug-of-war with putting the comfortable sweater away is just symbolic of the struggles I deal with….even at this stage in my journey….regarding change.  It’s silly really, because unlike the old habits of my former lifestyle (long gone….for ever………) I will be getting those winter things out again in just a few months.  Ironically, when I do, I’ll wonder why on earth I kept them and what on earth I saw in that sweater in the first place!)   All it’s going to take is one day of 60 plus degree weather, one blooming daffodil, and one bike ride on a sunny day and I’ll be saying to myself, “You silly girl, YOU KNOW you love spring/summer!”  Likewise, when you see your first 5 or 10 pound weight loss, or someone comments on your progress, you’ll wonder…WHY ON EARTH DID YOU WAIT SO LONG….and why would you want to go back…..ever!” 

SO… the next week or so… as I transition to the warm-weather wardrobe, I’ll embrace the change….the insecurities of baring my arms…..the challenge of walking on thinner, higher heels……the aching of the muscles as I get back to the walking/bike riding/gardening and more active lifestyle of summer…..the extra time to put outfits together…..all that trivial, really rather ridiculous, “GIRL STUFF”….. AND…. I’ll continue the process of CHANGE….. and in getting comfortable in the mind and body of “NEW THERESA”  as well as the new opportunities I have ahead to share this story with others.

I’ve said it before…..but be aware, my friends, that the PHYSICAL CHANGES that will occur in your body as a result of your lifestyle changes (whatever they are….your new physique, your improved health, the results of withdrawal from substances or habits…..anything) will be one challenge…..and will likely be the easiest thing to deal with…..but the psychological, emotional, and spiritual changes that will come with transformation will be another completely different story.  Those changes….the process of getting to know the “new you”…..the act of continually leaving behind old thoughts, old friends, old habits…..of facing the new opportunities, new freedom, new joys….and new insecurities… a life-long, daily act of surrender and choosing.   Old things must pass away… that new life can occur. Old habits must die….so that new ones can be born. The old, comfortable way of life must be left behind……so that the new, happier, healthier, kinder and more loving you can be born!!!!!    Let it go….pack it away…..  I think I better go get that bin from the garage and get put those winter sweaters away right now…..the warm jammies…..well, that’s another story!   J   Be happy today……