Several weeks ago I made a decision for our family (me). I am no longer going to begrudgingly get up on Sunday mornings when we have the little girls to get to church. Our church offers Saturday evening services and a few weeks ago we tried it and the little girls LOVED it. I loved the time, and the ability to sleep-in a little on Sunday, but…and this is a BIG but for me…Saturday evening services are contemporary. Umm…I don’t do contemporary church services. When it comes to spirituality, I know everyone finds it in their own way, and I do not find it in contemporary church services. Much to the surprise of many, I like my church conservative (gasp!). Not in terms of social issues…I love me a good progressive Lutheran church…but I mean I like to see people all gussied up, I like old school hymns, I like big choirs, large orchestras, and traditional church services. Last night, when the Praise Band (ugh) started singing a modernized version of “Amazing Grace,” my head almost exploded. I am not even kidding.
This past week I’ve been doing some reflecting. You see…I turn 37 this upcoming Tuesday. THIRTY-SEVEN!!! Wait…I’m not saying that with dread like “holy hell I’m turning 37.” I’m singing it with joy like “hells to the yes I’m turning 37!!!” Last year at this time I was FREAKING. OUT. For some reason I was completely wigged out about turning 36. 37 on the other hand? 37 just feels like it’s going to be off the hook.
The past couple weeks have been challenging, however, and not until today did I put it all together. I may have horrible lines between my eyebrows, and it may take much more work to get in the shape I want to be in, and I may be stiff the morning when I get up, I may suffer from injuries more than I would if I were in my 20s, and there are days on which my memory just sucks, but age? Specifically my middle to late (cough, cough) 30s? For me they have brought a lovely mix of enlightenment and wisdom. And today, in particular, it feels a little bit priceless.
In this past week I’ve thought about religion, gossip, dieting, relationships I care about, relationships from which I really need to just continue to withdraw, and the need for me to just relax. The craziest part of adulthood is figuring out that we really…actually…truly have the ability to make our lives what we want to make them. Today I’ve decided that there are some key things I want to accomplish in my 37th year. Things that I think will improve my life exponentially.
You guys. I’ve been dieting almost straight since 2004. 2004 is the year I realized how fat I was and I spent the next two years losing 100 pounds. Since meeting my husband I’ve struggled to maintain the weight I want to be. So I’ve gained some, lost some, gained some, lost some, gained some, and this past summer I went on a weight loss adventure to lose it for good. I lost 30 lbs and was a mere ten from my goal. But I hit a wall…and it may or may not have had something to do with Girl Scout Cookies. The truth is I am SO TIRED of dieting. I’m so tired of counting portions, calories, or points. I’m so tired of thinking double time about what I’ll eat if I have a lunch meeting here, or dinner plans there. I’m so tired of not being able to do this or that. I’m so tired of having to work around this diet plan or that diet plan. A couple weeks ago, when I realized the weight loss adventure was no longer working for my lifestyle, I thought I’d try to go back to weight watchers. But I just can’t do it. A week ago my dear husband sat me down and asked if I couldn’t just stop for awhile. I get so obsessive about it that it becomes all consuming and even he has to be involved in my madness. As an aside…I never do ANY of my obsessing in front of the little girls. NEVER. I don’t want dieting to be anywhere near their radar screens.
This past week I decided I’d had enough. I canceled my membership to the weight loss adventure. I canceled my newly purchased weight watchers membership. I revisited the food list for South Beach, knowing that I feel the best when I just avoid carbs, and I decided to just do what I know is right for me but to allow myself to relax about it. Turns out stopping the dieting is terribly difficult. Holy smokes! I didn’t realize how much headspace has been taken up by dieting until I tried to stop! It’s been a tricky few days but I’m committed to stop the insanity and just do my very best to eat and live in a way that feels healthful. I hope that within a couple months I can actually just live my life without thinking about dieting every five minutes (seconds).
When you’re a control freak like I am, and you are in a complicated relationship that is chalk full of situations over which you have no control (and no say, and no power), it sometimes feels like there is simply no way that it can turn out even kind of okay let alone well. When things get tenuous, as they always do at some point, it can put me in a tailspin. As the years have gone by I’ve gotten better at realizing when I need to step away (or go on meds…one of the two) for my sanity. But it doesn’t mean that I don’t sometimes find myself in a place that is full of fear. What if THIS happens, what if THAT happens, and why don’t they understand?!! This past week we’ve found ourselves in yet another contentious situation and for several days it felt hard to breathe. And then my husband reminded me that as long as I obsess over the wrong-doing, or the injustice, I will be living in fear.
I am not willing to let fear dictate ANYTHING I do let alone much of what I do. The people with whom I have the most trouble, both personally and on a larger scale, they are all living lives dictated by fear. I don’t want to wake up worried, I don’t want to behave in a particular manner because I’m scared, and I most certainly don’t want to live with lies that would force me to remember to whom I’ve told what. Fear is not welcome in my 37th year. If I can live without fear, and walk around with my head held high (even in situations that make me feel a little uncomfortable), the times in which I’m left feeling like I can’t breathe will be less frequent.
Last week I found myself in the most bizarre (and disturbing) conversation with someone I don’t know well. I got home and felt like I had to tell SOMEONE. ANYONE. I wrote an email to a woman that I really like, but with whom I’m not too close, and was about to send it but I couldn’t. I saved it as a draft and a couple hours later came back to it. Everything in it was true, I was telling a story and sharing insights, but…it seemed wrong. And then I started to think that if I was having such a hard time simply pushing “send” that maybe it wasn’t such a great idea to do so. I deleted it.
I have lost my appetite for gossip. Maybe it was my experience of a couple weeks ago with the person who wrote something truly awful on Facebook and was unable to realize the power (or horror) of her words. But putting something in writing that’s even partially unkind doesn’t feel right anymore. Now…I do believe in good old fashioned gossiping when it comes to people with whom I went to high school. I mean come on…those people have known me since I wore penny loafers, pinned pants, and big bangs. They have plenty to say about me too. Those people are fair game. But it kind of feels like adulthood is tricky enough without my adding gossip or unkind words to the mix. Oy. I’m going soft.
Side note…when I was in college we had “J-Term.” This was a month long class in the month of January. Everyone took a really easy class in January in an effort to have a month that was light on academics and heavy on partying. One particular year I took “Rhythms” which was a dancing class. It fulfilled a phy-ed requirement. It also happened to be the year that people started wearing WWJD bracelets. Rhythms took place early mornings, Monday through Thursday. One morning, I was hungover (not uncommon), and my dance partner was a football player that my girlfriends and I hung out with from time to time. He was younger than us but was often at the football house parties. He was wearing a WWJD bracelet…so to break the ice I said “ha! Who Wants Jack Daniels?!” He wasn’t amused. In fact he changed dance partners. For the record…I’m pretty sure Jesus would have had a sense of humor…he likely would NOT have taken my comment so seriously.
For more than a year now I’ve been feeling less enamored with our church. When my husband and I were first dating he went to a church and I didn’t (aside from Neiman Marcus…the place my cousin and I refer to as “church”). When we got serious I knew we needed to find a church that we could agree upon. One that we would bring the little girls each Sunday and holiday they were with us. We found a fabulous ELCA church close to the little girls’ school. When we moved to this house we moved less than a half mile from church. The pastor, a fabulously funny and sarcastic guy, married us and we’ve enjoyed the church ever since. Huge choir, huge orchestra (and bell choir!), and people get relatively dressed up. But about a year ago I started to feel less attached. I would attend church but the sermons started to feel less relatable. I loved the music (old hymns), loved feeling like I was at the symphony, but didn’t love much else. Perhaps I was influenced (negatively) by the election. The ballot questions. And the religious contingents who behaved in a manner that I felt was very very different from what Jesus taught by example. Maybe it was then that I started to feel like church didn’t have much to do with my own spirituality at all.
I want the little girls to experience church. I want them to grow up going to church school, church camp, getting confirmed, and more. But for me I want more. As my girlfriend Aych said this evening, yoga is her church. Yoga is amazing and feels spiritual to me. But I think there is more. I know what I want and I know what I don’t want. I want social justice, I want kindness and love, I want acceptance and caring, I guess I want a church that actually holds the teachings of Jesus close to their hearts. That or I want to go to Christmas Eve service every week of the year. But I think I’ve decided to explore some options this year. I feel confident that our church is a great option for our girls, and I will sit through the frigging Praise Band crucifying lovely hymns each week for them (could I bring my iPod and listen to the Hallelujah chorus during service?), but I think it’s time to find something that is equally good for me.
I’ve referenced, ad nauseum, how uptight I can be. Family trait. Etc. Yes…well…now that my job doesn’t suck, and now that my husband and I aren’t on the brink of divorce, and now that I’m happier and more comfortable in my own skin, I think it’s time to…deep breath…RELAX already. Recently, since I’ve upped the amount of yoga I do, I’ve realized just how many aspects of my life are affected by my inability to properly relax. And just how wonderful life might be if I focused on doing just that. Whether it’s dieting, or trying to control things over which I have none, or trying to BE something other than the f-cking awesome broad I already am, it all flies in the face of reason.
The point is…there are things I’ve put so much energy and time and thought into that just don’t do me any good. It’s time to let that sh-t go and have some fun already.
TODAY: What if 37 is the year that everything comes together so the next 37 years are even more magnificent and b-tchin’ than the first.