What is my end goal? What do I hope to achieve? Is there an end goal or an expectation for June 21st, when this whole year comes to a close? And will I be angry if I don’t get it?
The absence of answers has bothered me recently and, since this site is about journaling it all out, here I go:
First off, the “no sugar challenge” has been the most socially interactive one thus far. Last night, I went to a dinner party where my lovely hosts had checked the menu ahead against my serious food issues, then warned me off anything with sugar in it. That led to a discussion as to how this is not a typical test for my health, but of a larger study. (Side note: I had an exceptionally lovely time, it felt good to not drink, and few even noticed I wasn’t. Win.) Also, last week I got interviewed about this challenge for Bloomberg’s Material World podcast, which made me ponder the whole point, plus my stubbornness in finishing something just because I star it.
Concurrently, I have a few features I’m psyched about and legit potential for a few big projects ahead, but I have fewer columns than ever and so my workload and income are unstable right now. (I’m seeing this played out in the Gilmore Girls special, which is not supposed to happen!!! I’m not supposed to be doing better than Rory, and my guilty pleasure is the less pleasurable for it.)
And I’m dumbfounded by my romantic situation. I don’t even understand my own attractions: A few weeks ago, a guy I was into – all testosterone and tattoos and an intriguing combination of brain and brawn – talked disparagingly against “finance guys” (he might have used a cruder word than “guys”). But I’m (still) dating (and into) a really smart, witty, and cultured guy… who happens to work in finance and looks great in a suit. A third gentleman (don’t try to follow – it’s all kosher and with a genuine goal of dating one) hates wearing a suit, but knows how to cook on a campfire and loves trees as much as I do. One is very active on social media and thinks talking on the phone is barbaric; another isn’t on any social platforms and actually calls me to make a date. Three guys, three completely intriguing personalities that fulfill different parts of mine.
And those parts all exist within me. I hug trees and buy expensive perfume. I read a lot, but retain little. I’m a white collar white-looking woman from a blue collar immigrant family that I couldn’t be more proud of. I occasionally dine at four-star restaurants where entrees cost more than the entirety of my ensemble. I chant mantras but claim no religion. I am a dorkily domestic, card-carrying feminist.
So there’s some “who the hell am I?” questioning of self happening overall.
But then there’s the body stuff – because try as I like to ignore it (two of the guys up there don’t know yet), my history with my body is a huge part of my past, present, and future, for better and for worse. And I do mean for better, too.
Because I’ve been forced to try different modes of discipline on myself to see how they affect my health, and then keep up with the ones that makes a difference. And I do feel healthier, happier, and more whole because of it.
A point is coming. I promise.
This morning, I was reading Kat Kinsman’s memoir Hi, Anxiety (get it). In Chapter 8, Drugging the Beast, she documents her experience titrating herself off of a nasty medication. Research and journaling got her through a horrifically painful and trying time. As someone who has experienced the nightmare of a powerful drug (read I Didn’t Know I Was Addicted to a Drug Forty Times More Potent Than Heroin…), and who has spent decades logging symptoms, drugs, supplements, diet, exercise, moods, energy levels, social interaction, the weather etc. into journals and, now, fancy apps – a light bulb lit:
Brains-and-brawn-man loaned me Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art, which speaks about Resistance being this great impediment to writers who don’t write, painters who don’t paint, etc. When expressed that I never have a problem just sitting down to get the job done, he expressed surprise. A few weeks ago I did a presentation about my work for a branding company and was asked about how I motivate myself for passion projects. I laughed the question off: I never have enough time or energy for all the “passion projects” I’d like to take on. Cough… this.
That’s what I’m attempting with this year, and this project.
If I can track what I’m testing and how things make me feel, maybe I can remove all of the unhelpful variables in my control and feel better than I do right now in my life overall.
Because in the whole “who am I” muddle, there has also been a lot of “I know exactly who I am”.
- I know what skills I have to offer, and how I can offer them sustainably.
- I know the parameters of what work I will do for money, and what work I will do for passion.
- I know what I am looking to find in a romantic partner. It’s a short and clear list that leaves a lot of room for variety (hence the situations I find myself in I guess).
- I know my core beliefs, what I’ll fight for, and what I can let go of in a fight.
- I know how little I need to be happy, and what I aspire for in long-term happiness.
- I can identify my emotional baggage, and I’m working to move it along.
- I can identify my weaknesses, and I’m working to strengthen them.
- I am good at scrapping all of this to be in the present moment to be happy.
- I am good at scrapping all of this to be in the present moment to mourn.
The things is, knowing all of this doesn’t necessarily make me feel completely fulfilled. And, if I’m honest with myself, while I can handle the insanity that comes with a freelance lifestyle, it’s exhausting me.
So – the point, finally: This year is about getting rid of the fluff. Streamlining. Creating even further focus.
Going off of social media helped me replace the times spent on it with habits that feel better.
Not shopping helped me appreciate the things I bring into my space in a way that feels good in my body.
Now that I’m in my final week of no sugar I’m feeling better about my choices because I’m aware of what those choices are in every single moment of my day.
Because my choices are all I can control.
I can’t control whether or not big projects are going to land, only the work I’m putting into them.
I can’t control whether or not I’m going to fall in love again (and whether or not the next time will be the last time), only what I’m bringing to the interactions I’m having.
I can’t control the future health of my body any more than I’m doing right now with the information and tools I’ve got at hand.
So while I can say I wish for some magical transformation by June 21st, I can only hope that I’ll at least feel clearer, stronger, more confident, and like I spent a year giving myself my all. Because if I get those things – more work, the next relationship, a stronger body – I might not have time and space for this again. And since so much of my life has been about try, test, record, reflect, and move forward, doing something as big and foolish and ridiculous and potentially pointless as an entire year of trying and testing and recording and reflecting and moving forward is pretty much, well…. the only way for me to keep on moving forward at all.