Thursday, October 18, 2012

My Regrets & What I Am Going To Do About It

If we fail to give our best personal self and undivided time to those who are truly important to us, one day we will regret it.

Let us resolve to cherish those we love by spending meaningful time with them, doing things together, and cultivating treasured memories.
(President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Of Regrets and Resolutions, October 6, 2012.)

Yesterday was a particularly hard day. Many little things reminded me that I had not given my undivided attention to those I love.

I forgot to feed Megan breakfast. Samuel needs a haircut. Essie didn't practice her piano enough. Paul ate dinner by himself.

I am a tortured person.

I think in recipes. I think in blog posts. My mind writes posts all day long. Recipes stream in and out of my head. If they stay in my head, I can't do anything else. They occupy the greater space of my mind and overtake my logical thinking until I write it down. I have to have a mental dumping ground for my thoughts, or I can get nowhere.

Which is why I must own at least twenty spiral-bound notebooks. Filled with notes.

This constant streaming of thoughts can get me in trouble. If you watched me clean my kitchen, or make a meal, you would see my torture. Clean five minutes, find a notebook and hurriedly scribble down notes. Clean for five more minutes. More notes. Find my kids and tell them they need to eat something. Scribble. Make my kids something to eat, and while they are talking to me, thoughts occur. Scribble.

While I am scribbling I can't hear anything around me. I don't even know what is going on. When I wake up from scribbling I can actually recall what my child just said to me. And I am always surprised. I was deaf while I was scribbling, and they were talking, and somehow my mind was able to record it. Save it for when I stopped scribbling and am conscious again. I will be able to answer their question, or respond to whatever it was they had to say.

This constant stream of thoughts can be exhausting. I would love to be able to turn my brain off. Where, or where is that off switch!? Maybe then I could have a normal conversation with people. Including my children.

The computer. It is like a sedative. The mute button. An off switch. If I am not careful, I can be on the computer for too long, because it mutes my brain. While I am writing, it creates the greatest sense of relief. I can focus. I can tune into my mind one hundred percent. This is why I write at 2,3,4, or 5:00 in the morning. When no one talks to me, no one interrupts my thinking.

I don't even write at those times by choice. I wake up with thoughts that have to be written. I can lay there in bed for hours, willing my body to sleep and my mind to quiet. It will not happen unless I write.

If I read something else interesting and educational on the computer, it trains my thoughts. Turns the intensity off for just a few minutes so I don't have to listen to myself anymore. Relief.

It's a trap. Once I sink into the abyss of tech world, it takes courage to turn off the screen and return to reality. Real reality. Courage is facing dirty diapers, dirty dishes, dirty laundry, hungry children, homework, exercise, and yes, even cooking. Courage to face my thoughts. Courage to face loneliness, with the knowledge that my husband is so busy that I won't see him for a week. And then the week after that he will be gone. Flying to Texas for a conference.


What if yesterday was the last sunny day of Autumn?

I woke up to the wind blowing hard against the trees, creating a whistling and whirring sound. I could hear the trees bending and moaning against the pressure of wind.

Sounded like a storm coming in.

And I knew that sleep was over. Only four hours. My mind only gave me four hours of quiet. Why?

I don't want to repeat yesterday's mistake. I spent about four hours on the computer. Two hours writing. One hour reading. Then again in the afternoon, another hour of reading.

And that is the thought that very first entered my mind when I woke up -- what if yesterday was the last sunny day of Autumn?

And you spent it inside.

Whole foods eating has changed me. It's much more than just health, or weight loss, or whatever. I know that now. It has brought back to my physical self, the vitality of childhood. The biggest struggle I had in childhood was trying to pull myself away from being outside.

I lived to be outside.

We had a trampoline, a badminton set, bikes, a basketball hoop, a garden, and a very large yard. Instead of doing homework, I found solace in playing soccer, basketball and badminton, jumping on the tramp, going for a long bike ride, climbing trees, gardening, and just plain running around with my three younger siblings.

If I was inside, I had to be reading. Books and books. My Mom even got so frustrated with my need for reading at one point, that she declared, "You read too much! I am taking you to counseling!"

If I allowed myself, I would have the same trouble as an adult. I would spend my life outside. If I ever came back inside, I would be reading. Books and books.

As adults, we have all learned to train ourselves. Deny ourselves of that longing for clean, fresh air, and warm sunshine. Repress that need to learn, and be mentally alive.

Something about plant-based, whole foods, has made the possibility of denying those needs anymore almost impossible. I feel the need to move. Be active. Run. My mind races so quickly that it needs outlets, and it needs training. Training that can come from reading and listening.

The computer mutes those needs. So I can pretend to be an adult. Pretend that I like holding still. Pretend that I want to be inside, when I really could be outside.

When the end of the day comes. And I recall that I spent a total of four hours on the computer. I want to cry. Scream. Why? Why did I let myself do that, when I could have just listened to my body and ran. Ran around outside, jumped on the trampoline, read books with my kids, studied educational books, or listened to religious talks on my MP4 player. I could have listened to my heart and paid undivided attention to my beautiful children. Who will some day be grown. And gone.

Only at the end of the day does it become clear that I let the computer rob me of the joy of life. The joy of actually physically being with those that I love. Connecting with them. Creating memories with them.

I'm not going to do it anymore. At the end of the day I don't want to look back on the way I have spent my time and then feel like screaming.

Something else plant-based eating has taught me. It's not about self-discipline. It can't be. Or it simply won't last. It's about finding replacements. Crowding out the junk.

Find a new mute button. Or, as Paul says, "channel my passion," don't repress it.

Turn on my MP4. Listen to books on tape. Jump on the trampoline. Start up a formal exercise program. Go shopping. Read books. Both by myself and with my kids. Crowd out the computer so much that it can no longer take place in my life. And start feeding the true hunger inside me. The hunger for movement, for knowledge, for human connection.

Most of those statements are "results." Aimee let me know that the creative mind will not get anything done if it only thinks in terms of results. It has to have step-by-step actions that lead to results.

So. By 8:00 a.m. I will lock my computer. Turn off my computer. Walk into the kitchen. Into reality.

I will write down on paper the things I want to do that day. Specifics. Action words. A channel for my hunger.

I will live in reality, and create an even more beautiful reality by my choices and my actions. I will pay attention to my thoughts and my hunger for life. I will pay attention to my children and be awake. Because in 60 years I will not wish that I had spent more time on the computer. More time inside.

It will take time. I know I will mess up. Creating new habits. I might have relapses. But I will learn to forgive myself, and most importantly, I will not let the difficulties of 2:00 p.m. rob me of my joy at 6:00 p.m. I will learn to move on, and create happy memories.

At the end of the day. I will choose to be happy.

I will be able to look back on my day, knowing that I lived.


  1. Ahww... now I feel guilty for how much I LOVE reading your blog each day! Beautiful pic of you btw. I have the same problem that you describe. I almost installed some free software that limits your time/access to internet on your computer. What I found works better is keeping a daily word document called "daily links" on my desk-top. Then I open every web page from bloggers and sites that I like (from my blogroll on my blog) and then copy/paste the html link to the daily articles into the daily links word doc. Then I give myself an hour to read whatever I want. But when the hour is up I'm done. If there aren't a lot of other interesting posts the next day then I can go back into my word doc and read past posts. This system also wors really well because then I have a history of what I found intersing and my notes/thoughts/action goals under each link. This way I don't feel like I'm missing out too. I feel like I have captured the interesting things without having to give each my thorough attention. I learn to skim blogs faster and be more efficient, too. Maybe that would help you?
    Oh and I just finished off your pumpkin pie smoothie, DELICIOUS! And so FILLING.. that surprised me.

    1. Oh, I wasn't trying to make anyone feel guilty! As women we already have enough of that in our lives.

      I was mostly trying to share my experience in trying to achieve a better balance. And realize my true priorities for what matters most.

      Yes, that smoothie is filling! I tried to go back and have my Purple Power smoothie that I normally love. But it is made with "summer ingredients." It felt so wrong. Really made me realize how important it is to eat food in their seasons. Berries for summer. Pumpkin and squashes for Autumn. Because the pumpkin smoothie makes me feel so good. Seems to just fit my body perfectly for the autumn season. Strengthens my testimony of the W.o.W.!

    2. I've been thinking a lot about how important it is to eat seasonally. For health, for flavor and for price. I also have been thinking about the W.O.W and how well and simply it describes how we should live/eat.

  2. I hate the computer. Hate it! I totally agree with you. Sometimes at the end of the day I realize I spent way more time staring at the computer screen then really living. It is all about balance, and purposeful living. I admire your decision. I have cut back on the computer quite a bit, and it helps to turn it off during the day. Let me know how it goes - I know you won't regret it!

    1. Turning it off during the day is my key. If it is on then the temptation is to high.

      My son is already throwing a major fit. I cut his computer game time down to less than one hour a day. Change is hard, at first. I sometimes feel like throwing a fit, too!

      But if I allow it, my kids could just be zombies all day. No sense of self-regulation when it comes to screen time, yet.

  3. What a wonderful post. I feel the same way most days. Did I look my children in the eye enough? I could have spent time crafting with the kids but instead I cooked a lot. Not that cooking is bad, but I really love being in the kitchen. But I digress. I have to tell myself "mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children" and that the Proclamation does NOT say, "mothers are primarily responsible for the upkeep of their homes, posting of their blogs, pins on their pinterest board." :) So hard to find a balance@

    1. I love how you put that -- I have never thought of the proclamation in that way. What a great way to remember our priorities as mothers. And it made me laugh -- yes, our main responsibility is not to pin or blog!

  4. As grown ups we have to have regulated computer time whether we like it or not, because eventually the consequences will catch up to us!! Eventually the mortgage is due and there are mouths to feed....But above that how do we progress and stretch ourselves bit by bit? Go a little further than we did last time? I feel that this negative power knows what he is doing when he sucks people in...many of us are guilty of doing it and the time flys so fast when you're online!!! He may not be able to get us to go steal a car but he could get us to rob our own time away from us! How is it going to be for our children... the technology of being online is growing so fast I cannot keep up with it...the phones, the mini laptops with their keyboards just as portable-laser or foldable! I hope this system that we have had our kids on will truly teach them self-regulation skills they can keep for a lifetime. Our boys have to earn their "electronic time". Every chore they do earns 10 minutes with a maximum time of 30 min on schoolnights and Sundays. 60 min on week-ends-means 6 chores! Or course this takes constant monitoring and vigilance. Joe has even lost a friend to wanting to play more video games, his friend stopped coming around when he found another friend that had parents that gave him no limit of how long they are gaming. How is he going to manage when he is married and has to earn a living?
    But the reality is me, myself and I need to constantly moniter myself how much I am on the computer!I find that when everyone is asleep it is even harder since there is no one to pull me back to reality! Another hellpful thing to our family is K9. Not only regulates nudity etc but you can have it turn your internet access off at any time you set it! Very helpful when you have boy teens!

    1. Carolyn, I love your idea of earning electronic time.

      Liked it so much, I even tried it. My kids loved it! Go figure. I loved it, too because they were quite motivated to get their jobs done. And Samuel felt empowered, like he had direct choice as to whether or not he gets to play "Farm Frenzy" and watch Netflix for kids.

      Thanks for sharing what you do! It so helped me.

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