Sunday, August 25, 2013

Getting Things in Focus

I'm a natural pessimist. If a disaster is possible, I've already imagined it. If I've done something well, I focus on the part I was least satisfied with. If things are going well, I brace for a change in fortune. Who  knows why I am this way? The challenge is change.

This morning I was reflecting on the fact that September is lurking only seven days into the future. School will begin again soon, and I don't feel refreshed and ready to hit the classroom. What did I do with my summer! Where did all the time go?

It would be easy to beat  myself up for spending so much time solving Sudoku puzzles. What a waste of time. However I'm not going to do that. The summer flew by because an extraordinary number of things was happening, and I rose to many challenges. If I had not kicked back and done some Sudokus and spent that time accomplishing things instead, I would be completely exhausted. It's true there is yard work unfinished, and a quilt project languishing on the  ping-pong table. The windows never got washed and my office could still use some more organizing. It's also true that I was frayed and depleted when summer began. It's true that circumstances were stacked against my getting rested as soon as school ended. So the Sudokus were mini-vacations in the midst of a hectic summer.

Sometimes I think that time is our most precious commodity, and that is when I realize I am fooling myself. Time is elusive, running away from us, and we can't hold on to it. Taking some of that precious commodity every morning to read the Bible, reflect on eternity (where time becomes irrelevant) and making daily resolutions to find new ways to love God far outweighs focusing on time itself. Perhaps keeping focused on what is truly important is the most valuable possession we can own.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

How I Eat, part 5.

This post will focus on when I eat.

In my first post on eating I talked about some bad habits I learned about eating. When growing up, we also had an unfortunate rule. I was taught that it was rude to eat in front of other people without sharing what you have with them. This sounds good--polite in fact--but it has some unfortunate consequences.

1. When you had something to eat and didn't want to share it, you had to go into hiding and eat it alone, feeling very greedy all the while. This is how I consumed most of the candy bars I ever got in my childhood.

2. If someone else had something they wanted to eat, they would fix enough to share with everyone--so you found yourself eating things that other people wanted that you were not planning on eating.

3. When in a group, everyone had to eat when anyone wanted to eat. That meant that I learned to eat, not because I was hungry, but because other people were eating.

4. No one felt comfortable eating something they wanted if anyone present said they didn't want any. So often I would say I would have something to eat too, because if I didn't I knew I would inhibit them from eating something they wanted.

So how did I fix all this?

For number 1: I just fix a snack when I want it and eat it. If I don't want to offer a bite to anyone around, I don't. Everyone else in the family does the same thing, and no one seems to be shy about asking for a bite if you have something particularly tempting.

For number 2: I turn down offers of snacks if it something that I was not planning on eating, and I ask people first if they want me to fix them some of the snack I'm planning on eating, instead of expecting that they will.

For number 3: I tell people I'm not really hungry and to not be offended if I don't eat, or eat very little.

For number 4: In our home, everyone fixes their own breakfast and lunch and eats it when they are ready. Everyone got used to other people eating around them when they were not eating themselves. We all had dinner together, and even then, it was OK if someone wasn't hungry to not eat a full meal.

So when do I eat? When I want to or need to, not every time anyone else is eating.

How I Eat, part 4.

In this post I will explain my attitude towards food. How we think about food is going to affect how we eat and what we eat. It is important to understand that food needs to take a certain amount of our attention--but when the attention is excessive, food may be creating disorder.

Food is nourishment. We need it to stay alive. I don't always get to eat what I want, so when I have to eat something that is less than my best choice, I remind myself that I am getting needed calories and should not be disdainful of that.

Food is a blessing. I regularly thank God that I live in a country where I can go to stores that have food in abundance. I cannot ever recall a time when I went hungry because there was no food to be had. I may have been hungry because I did not plan well and bring food with me, but the problem was temporary and solvable within a reasonable amount of time.

Food is a pleasure. It brings joy when you have food that is high quality and tasty. For several months after some ear surgery, my sense of taste was affected. Almost everything tasted like it had mint in it. I am not a big mint fan. To be deprived of the pleasure of food for a while helped me to appreciate it more when my taste buds returned to normal, but it also taught me that tastiness is an optional gift.

Food is a pathway to health. We can make both good and bad choices in what we decide to eat. I have learned that as I eat healthier, I crave unhealthy foods less. It is like reprogramming my body to desire what is best for it.

Food serves me, not the other way around. I become a slave to food when I must have something my way. I decided to develop a certain distance from food preferences a while ago--a kind of detached indifference. This does not mean that I don't gravitate toward food I like, but that I can look at food I like and decide I don't have to eat it. I am the one in control. The food can wait for me.