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.