the first week of the rest of my life

Here we are on a brisk Monday afternoon in Bellingham, Washington. The weather app says it’s sunny. I’ll have to take its word for it. Where I live amongst the trees the sun doesn’t rise high enough to visit us in the winter. However, the frost-covered scenery is quite lovely. I hope you also have some beauty to view from where you sit.

Last week I told you I was making a plan to take back my life. That plan included scheduling time in my day for “life giving activities”. The categories are as follows: physical health, mental health, emotional health and spiritual health.

Behold my first report card… But first, I need to tell you something about myself. I love star charts. I can’t help it. It’s in my blood. I home schooled my kids for eight years; I was a children’s Pastor for ten years and I worked as a para-educator for four years. I am fated to always see my progress or lack of it in the form of gold-foiled star stickers on graph paper charts. There’s something so gratifying about seeing all those shiny stars lined up in a row! Don’t despair; it won’t all be self-aggrandizing. As I am quite prone to failure, there will doubtless be weeks of utter humiliation. This week, I suspect, will be the typical showing.

3.5 stars

Three and a half out of five stars. I measured my follow through in the four previously mentioned categories plus an added evaluation for how well I stayed on schedule. Keeping up with the schedule was by far the lowest evaluated line item followed by emotional and mental health. I fared pretty well on both physical and spiritual health. However, there was not a perfect score on the paper.

I plan to elaborate on each of the categories over the coming weeks. This week, I’ll pick an easy one to explain – physical health.

I’m not a fitness nut, quite the opposite. I like to sit and read. I enjoy studying in solitude. I am a fair weather walker and hate to run. I used to like hiking moderate trails but I fear I would struggle to do so now. Oh, and I like food. I really, really like food. I’m 47 years old and overweight. How much overweight? I do not know, as I refuse to step on my scale until I can take my wedding ring on and off without some sort of lubrication. Once my fingers (that part of my person I see most often) don’t look like swollen sausages, I’ll brave the scale. Baby steps. I’m all about the baby steps.

Step one; walk on the treadmill for one hour six days per week. I’m sure most of you are rolling your eyes right now. “That’s it?” you ask. Yes. For now, that’s it. I don’t judge by how fast or how many miles walked. I just want to be moving continually for one hour. Why six, not seven? I take a Sabbath. I’ll write about that more later.

Step two; sleep eight hours per night. I’ve just been listening to podcasts about the health risks of too little sleep. Scary stuff. Look up “Eyes Wide Open” on the Hidden Brain by NPR podcast. I dare you!

Step three; drink more water. I’m starting off trying to get in eight glasses (64 oz.) and plan to work up to ten (80 oz.).

Step four; diet. I hate the ‘D’ word. To me, diet means portion control, several small meals throughout the day, no pasta, bread, sugar and very, very little potatoes or white rice. Ugh! It’s torture.

Right now I am only evaluating myself on step one, walking. Once I have that well established in my life, I’ll add step two then three and sadly, finally, four. This week I walked five out of six days. I’m fairly pleased with this. However, in evaluating why I failed on that last day, I’ve learned something valuable.

Each category has a direct bearing on the others.

My weekly foundation started to crack on day three with my mental health exercise. I was writing about the day Kelley died. It was too soon. I am not ready to go back there. After tears turned to convulsions I stopped writing and I didn’t return to writing until today. But that’s not where it ended. Those cracks in the foundation spread. They destabilized me and affected my pace, making it hard stick to my schedule. That in turn made it hard for me to fit in other exercises. My emotional health exercise is my personal Bible studying and journaling. That got knocked out on day five and six. Walking got taken out on day six. All this to make room for work not done during my day of despondence. One area of failure caused a domino affect, toppling the entire experiment.

I can see the problem clearly but I confess the solution evades my vision. I will have to continue to work on this, try new techniques and get back to you. I know failures are to be expected at times. What I need to find is a way to minimize the damage and stop the fault lines before my whole week crumbles and falls. How do I contain failure in one place and move on into success in the next?

Thank you my friends for exploring these questions with me. Share with me your thoughts. I’ll talk to you next week and perhaps, I may have some answers.

climbing out of the darkness

Here I sit. Writing my first ever blog. I know. I’m a little late to the party. I have thought about and rejected the idea of blogging for years. Mostly, I have avoided blogging because I know myself too well. I know I struggle from a lack of discipline. And I’m vain. There, I said it. My own vanity has kept me from attempting to start a blog these past decades because I don’t want you all to see me start something and not keep up with it. I fear public failure. I dread the shame of falling on my face yet again by my lack of follow-through.

Putting those fears aside, I’m diving in. Something stronger than fear is motivating me. I need to make changes to my life. I need to bring myself back to a state of health. I’ve made a plan to start a journey toward physical, mental, emotional and spiritual fitness. And I need accountability to stick to it. This blog is my form of accountability.

Why now? Well, I’ve recently been blindsided by a family tragedy strong enough to knock me to the ground and leave me gasping for breath as the world spins out of control and I descend into the darkness. (I’ll write more on that later.) What little I was doing to maintain a healthy life came to a screeching halt. I stopped caring about myself. I stopped following healthcare plans. I stopped maintaining a disciplined work schedule. I didn’t care whether I lived or died.

I’m now ready to climb out of my hole, out of the darkness. I’m read to live life in the light.

I’ve made a plan. It starts with a schedule. I tell my kids often, “If it’s not on the calendar, it isn’t real.” So to the calendar I go. In order to address each of the four areas of health I’ve mentioned, I’ve blocked off times in my day for life-giving activities.

For physical health – exercise.

For mental health – writing.

For emotional health – personal Bible study and journaling.

For spiritual health – worship and prayer.

Each week, I will blog on my progress. I’ll share what I discover in my travels towards the light. I’ll confess when I stumble in the darkness. And I hope, that in this exercise in transparency, I can bring encouragement and light to others like me, to those who stumble in the darkness.