Back On The Wagon: An Ode To Resolution Season.

Back On The Wagon: An Ode To Resolution Season.

Body Community Love Motivation + Inspiration Shift Of Power Work

It’s January 12th, 2014. Four years ago almost to the day. I’m sitting at the doctor’s office and I’m terrified to go in.

On a routine visit to a brand-new health practitioner who’s highly recommended by a friend, I find myself sitting in his eggshell-white waiting room filling out my paperwork and trying to keep from fidgeting. The receptionist is as sweet as can be, the vibe calm and friendly, and the multicolored bowl of lollipops sitting on the counter remind me of my childhood – back when I loved going to the doctor and I was self-aware in the best way possible.

The fidgety anxiety is not about a condition, not about a vibe – heck, it’s not even about the needles or the fact I haven’t seen a doctor in way too long. Even though I’m loving how I feel in my own skin, even though I am healthy and happy as can be, the reason my stomach won’t stop flip-flopping is because…for the first time in a very long time, I’m going to have to step on the scale.

~

It’s officially the end of what I like to call Resolution Season: that time of year people start to slowly forget their workouts, loosen their wallets, leave their closets in disarray – the time of year we generally start to “slip up.”

While most people simply assume this is due to lack of interest or motivation, I argue that what sends us spiraling is not the act itself – it’s the idea of what it SHOULD be.

Our ties to the Safe and Solid Endpoint are what really get us. The idea that there is some omnipresent rightest right, some all-powerful magic number, some goal that could be gone in the blink of an eye or glance at a figure…

And so the very second we veer from the path – well, it’s almost like those long-standing family arguments that never end up getting resolved. Both parties have been betrayed by their definitions of what love SHOULD be, what relationships SHOULD be like. God forbid they’re nuanced. God forbid sometimes we just don’t get along. Who even cares about the actual person anymore; we have our own fabricated notions of who they are to keep us up at night.

We wind up tightly and twist into knots, again and again, until one day we don’t even know where the untangling would begin.

I used to be double-knot-tied to my weight and that fluctuation on the scale, a memory that was triggered when I stepped into the doctor’s office that day and started to get upset at the fact that I remembered what it was like to get upset at a number. I used to be diligent about counting my calories, logging my workouts, making sure that I stayed within that self-defined coveted range between too much and not enough.

And then when the counting and logging got too out of hand, I landed on another tactic: avoid your body altogether, because if you don’t focus on it, it cannot betray you.

Thank goodness for that self-awareness I cultivated as a kid, because one day, all of a sudden, I just got…tired. I got TIRED of it ALL. It got exhausting, and I realized that by trying to avoid getting stuck in that place where my body dictated my happiness – by working so hard to cling so tight to the idea of freedom, the definition of what it would look like to love myself – I was holding myself captive and completely missing how happy the body I was in could actually make me feel, right in that very second.

We do the same thing with money, with exercise, with kindness even. Holding ourselves to a standard of perfection – even if it’s a standard we’ve defined by ourselves for ourselves. Isn’t that all resolutions are, really? Attempts to alter the definitions we’ve fallen into in the past? We define our resolutions at the beginning of the year, sometimes merely settling on a endpoint, sometimes going so far as to meticulously plan every step of the way for seemingly less-than-friendly navigation. We hang onto ideas of what things should be, so if and when they start to look different, we automatically associate them with failure.

Different is never failure. It’s just…different. Resolving to eat clean and then “cheating” on veggies with your main men Ben & Jerry one night is not a failure. Snapping at your coworker or best friend or child when you promised to be nicer this year is not a failure. Missing a day or two or even three (gasp!) of the gym, or logging a lackluster workout, or “accidentally” spending more than you should on those shoes (and shirt, and jeans, and trendy ear climber thingies) is not anywhere near a failure.

It’s become our default reaction to say we’ll get back on the wagon…
…but what if we got rid of the wagon altogether?

What if we realized that what truly makes us happy is fluid and constantly in flux?


As you move out of Resolution Season and into the rest of your life in 2018, I encourage you to remind yourself what it is about whatever you are doing that makes you feel fulfilled and happy. If your current definition and strategy is not accomplishing those things, then maybe it’s time to give yourself a break.

There will always be moments of the unexpected. Every thought is information. Every moment is a learning experience. Every decision is a building block. Sometimes we just don’t utilize them as such.

When we stop defining what happiness, success, health, or virtue must LOOK like, we actually allow ourselves room to experience things and figure out what is true to who we are, not who we THINK we should be.

There is no wagon to get back onto – because we never got on in the first place.

We say we’ll get back on the wagon - but what if we got rid of the wagon altogether? Click To Tweet

….oh, and as for the doctor’s office? Cue flashback music…

The nurse practitioner calls me in – a woman close to my age, with beached-blonde hair and an energy that was equivalent to a walking giggle. We chat about her day, where she’s from, bond over our love for cycling classes – and just like that, I’m on that platform.

And I realize, man do I feel fantastic.

I was scared those old definitions and feelings would magically reappear, those ones that told me that trying a stupid new cleanse or stupid new supplement or cutting out a food group for stupid amounts of forever was the road to the weight that was what happy must look like. They didn’t. How could they? I threw away definitions long ago, when I realized that the body and soul I admired most coincided with numbers that fluctuated daily and decisions that didn’t always exist in the rulebook, but sure made me the person I’d always hoped I would become.

The number pops up: far from what my “safe” zone was years and years ago, but right where I know I need and should be in that very moment.

And then, as if to challenge me in a moment of comedic brilliance, a mathematically intended yet emotionally-loaded word pops up next to the number.

Gross.

I smile at the nurse and the irony.

“I think your scale needs to watch its mouth.”

All we can do is laugh. I happily grab a lollipop on my way out.

resolution resolutions

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photo credit: made in chicago museum

On Sameness + Perfection.

On Sameness + Perfection.

Body Love Motivation + Inspiration

WHEN I WAS 12, I read the book The Giver by Lois Lowry. A sort of Brave New World for the tween set, it’s about a confined society in which everything is Just So all the time. It’s a society that’s been converted to “sameness” – a plan that has eradicated pain and strife. Everyone is identical. No one feels. No one judges. No one’s flawed. No experience, no emotion, no hunger for life. Just…predictability.

I think that most of my classmates empathized with the times the main character, Jonas, felt weird for being different (how much more tweeny can you get?). I, however, empathized with how angry Jonah felt when he started to see – really see – how phoney Sameness really was.

~

Perfection is a hoax. The allure of being perfect is the greatest con, the greatest scheme ever devised. Forget about the Photoshop, the glossy pages, the television even. Perfection is a stagnant ideal and a consummation of all we find unsatisfactory. It’s an artifice to fool ourselves into believing that there’s an excuse or that we’re failing. That is perfect, They are perfect is internalized and morphs into This is not perfect. I am not perfect.
Perfection is conditional love. It’s an invisible benchmark and a thick glass ceiling. It’s the expectation and the idealization of the absolutely monotonous. It’s a lonely, one-dimensional load of crap we think we need in order to feel special.

Perfection is a pile of you-know-what from both ends of the spectrum; doesn’t matter how you look at it. We live in a world where the sweetest apples are discarded for a touch of brown, where we inject plastic into the lines we’ve earned from reading novels late into the night, where we over-sterilize and under-appreciate.

And then there are the people who seem to be constantly extolled for their beauty, their wisdom, or their achievements. Their existence is idolized, their lives an exercise in perfection maintenance. And that…that is a huge burden to carry, too. It’s immense, unreasonable pressure to stay at a certain age, look, job and caliber indefinitely. Because what if – no, when – we don’t? What happens when we falter – or maybe just aren’t astonishingly mind-blowing every single second?


Will we still be loved?

 

The word “perfect” has haunted me my entire life. When I was in middle school, I would be called perfect as a taunt. I didn’t have braces. I liked to color-coordinate. I got good grades. My awkward stage was mild. Sounds great, huh? Yeah. Not really. I felt detached and alone. I felt I could not be myself; God forbid I spoke out of turn or mismatched a sock. Just like Jonas in The Giver, I saw how fabricated the idea of perfection was, but didn’t know how to convince people otherwise. There was an immense discomfort in knowing I was looked at as someone who had everything together, and that that was both desired AND detested. Trying to convince people I wasn’t always backfired, since perfection was so ingrained in my identity to others. It was weird for me to be perfect but wrong for me to be flawed.

But the most uncomfortable thing for me was that my biggest taunts were also my highest praise. I was told I was pretty, I was told I was smart, I was told I was sweet, and I was told I was talented. I wasn’t ever forced to be those things – no stage parents in my household – but it was obvious the value they had. Plus, the alternative was scary. When you grow up in a culture that puts people down for fun and thrives off of casual negativity to get through the day, how does anything but perfect seem like a viable option? There was currency in perfection…as well as immunity. I felt that.

Balance was virtually impossible.

 

How was it that the very thing I equated with love and worth from my family and mentors was the thing I equated with loneliness and weirdness when it came to my friends and peers?

 

Some would have rebelled. But no – I didn’t want to rebel. I just wanted to relate. So I downplayed my assets and kept them locked away. At the root of it, I feared loss. I wanted to guarantee love, but at the same time wanted to be the full range of myself – which included the dark and messy parts. Please let me be normal, I’d silently beg. Do not love me for my light, because it sometimes gets dark in here and I can’t bear the loss when you realize that.

What was the most interesting is when I started to focus on feeling special instead of focusing on the whether or not others THOUGHT I was special. I let my guard down in front of people. I took myself very seriously but took the world a whole lot less so. I cried over boys and told people who hurt me the way that I felt. I opened up about being melancholy for what seemed like no reason and realized there were way more people like me than there were not. My dark and messy wasn’t all so dark and messy after all. I was just, as Glennon Doyle says, “a feely person in a messy world.” I began to realize that only I could determine my value, and only I could know what was my rightest right. I stopped using the word “perfect” to describe people and things and started to call them “perfect-for-me.” I stopped feeding off “perfect” and living on purpose.

You are not a mess. You are a feely person in a messy world. - @glennondoyle Click To Tweet

I am wary of perfection. The ones who make it their life’s mission to be perfect, I’m onto them. There is something deeper there, there is something hiding and some voice inside that once told them that the only way to be is to be flawless. Because big voices and unique souls and feely people are risky to a messy world that likes to put things in cramped little boxes that are easy to define and file away. Nothing is intriguing when you fit into Sameness.

Whenever I see these people, I want to take them aside and hug them and tell them just to Be. Just BE. Be on purpose. Be a contradiction. Be extreme! Whatever you are and whoever you are, be extremely YOU. At the end of the day, what else is there left? The people who know how to live are absolutely flawless in their quirks and extremes. They’re certainly not afraid to mismatch their socks or disagree with the world.

The idea that perfection gets you a prize is a big fat lie, and the thing is that we ALL KNOW IT deep down. Because those beautiful on-purpose souls, who are extremely and unquestionably themselves, those are the people we’re all ultimately drawn to in the long run. Not the ones who homogenize their lives to be Just So. Because this is not sameness. This is life. In all its extremities and nuances.

What makes you special isn’t someone else’s declaration that you’re special. What makes you special are the exact things that end up making you feel as if you’re living with the entirety of yourself. Find those tiny details and idiosyncrasies that make you you, and use them to support and enhance the extreme You-ness of the way you Be. It isn’t about “perfection” or “flawed” or whatever’s the opposite. It’s about being unquestionably yourself.

Forget about the Sameness, forget about utopia. There is no better person to be, no better place to live, than Oh-So-On-Purpose.


 

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Flawlessly Flawed: The Hoax Of Perfection.

Flawlessly Flawed: The Hoax Of Perfection.

Body Love Motivation + Inspiration Shift Of Power Work

When I was twelve, I read the book The Giver by Lois Lowry. A sort of Brave New World for the tween set, it’s about a confined society in which everything is Just So all the time. A society that’s been converted to “Sameness” – a plan that’s eradicated pain and strife.

Everyone is identical. No one feels. No one judges. Not ONE is flawed. No experience, no emotion, no hunger for life.

Apparently, I needed The Giver to awaken me to this thick sheet of cardboard being pulled over our eyes.


Perfection? It’s a hoax.


The allure of “being perfect” is the greatest con, the greatest scheme ever devised. Forget about the Photoshop, the glossy pages, even the high-def television. Perfection is a stagnant ideal and a consummation of all we find unsatisfactory, even the smallest parts. It’s an artifice to fool ourselves into believing there’s an excuse or that we’re failing. They are perfect, That is perfection is internalized and morphs into I am not perfect, This isn’t perfection.

~

Perfection is a pile of crap from both ends of the spectrum, no matter how you look at it. We live in a world where the sweetest apples are discarded for a touch of brown, where we inject plastic into the lines we’ve earned from reading novels late into the night, where we over-sterilize our doorknobs and under-appreciate our windows. No gray hair must be left unplucked, no thigh dimple dismissed without a vigorous rub of some magic oil that guarantees tightness in ten days or less. There’s too big, too small, and way too undefinable. We’re screwed no matter what we do or who we are.

And then there are the others: those people who seem to be constantly extolled for their beauty, their wisdom, their achievements. Their existence is idolized, their lives an exercise in perfection maintenance. And that…that is a huge burden to carry. It’s immense, unreasonable pressure to stay at a certain age, look, job and caliber indefinitely. Because what if we don’t? What happens when we falter – or maybe just aren’t astonishingly mind-blowing every single second? Will we still be loved?

Perfection is conditional love. It’s an invisible benchmark and a thick glass ceiling. It’s the expectation and the idealization of the absolutely monotonous. It’s a lonely, one-dimensioned load of bullshit, really.

The word “perfect” has haunted me my entire life. When I was in middle school, I would be called perfect as a taunt. I did not have braces, I liked to color-coordinate, I got good grades. Remember those multi-colored capris The Gap sold circa 1999? I owned a pair in every color, with shirt, shoes, and butterfly clips to match, natch. My middle part was striking, my bangs worthy of a New Girl cameo. I was easy to be around and nice to everyone. My awkward stage was mostly just awkward in my mind – or so I’m told.

Sounds great, huh? Yeah. Not really. Being teased about being “perfect” gave me a complex and a pressure unlike anything I’d ever known. I felt detached and alone. I felt I could not be myself; God forbid I spoke out of turn or mismatched a sock. There was an immense discomfort in knowing I was looked at as someone who had everything together. Who was “perfect.”

And then the taunts turned into praise and I just didn’t know what to do with it. Some would have rebelled. But no – I didn’t want to rebel. I just wanted to relate. So I downplayed my assets and kept them locked away. At the root of it, I feared loss. I wanted to guarantee love, and wanted to be normal. Please let me be normal, I’d silently beg. Do not love me for my light, because it sometimes gets dark in here and I can’t bear the loss when you realize that.

If we are what we believe we are, and we are what we tell ourselves we should be, then I guess the silent begging worked. I became a shell of myself, and in a small way I think I liked it for a second there. I am flawed, I seemed to say. Now you can see it on the outside, too. But it didn’t feel good after that hot second – and the reversal of my efforts proved to be even more trying. My attempts to feel good in my body were admirable at best, laughable at worst. I needed to feel good in my soul, first. I needed to stop equating imperfection with submission and perfection with isolation. I needed to just be.

And so I did. Slowly – what seems like so slowly – I owned those parts of myself that were both admired and that people raised eyebrows at, both abnormal and completely innocuous, both snowflake-distinct and Giver-cookie-cutter. I became myself.

~

I am wary of perfection. The ones who make it their life’s mission to be perfect, I’m onto them. There is something deeper there, there is something hiding and some voice inside that once told them that the only way to be is to be flawless. The ones who base their mission on being aces all-around 24/7, I don’t fault them for it – I empathize, because all of us have been conned at one point or another. Oh how I wish they could see how exquisite they all are, right now, even in their struggle – no – journey to finding out who they’re really meant to be in this world.

There is no better person to be, no better place to live, than Oh-So-On-Purpose. Click To Tweet

In The Giver, the conversion to Sameness wipes out each person’s emotional depth. And when the hero of the story is given the task of experiencing that depth, he finds he can’t force it. Because that sort of exquisite uniqueness cannot be forced. It must just be.

And when that happens? Oh my god. Those people are fascinating. Smart. Quick. Funny – no, hilarious – without even knowing it. Those people who are absolutely flawless in their quirks and nuances and extremes, who aren’t afraid to mismatch their socks or disagree with the world, or color coordinate all their outfits down to the shoelace. Those beautiful souls, who are extremely and unquestionably themselves? Those are the people I love, and the people we are all ultimately drawn to in the long run. Not the ones who homogenize their lives to be Just So.

 

Because let’s get real: this is not Sameness. This is life. In all its extremities and nuances. We are all those unquestionably flawlessly flawed people deep inside – we just need to be brave enough to dive deep and get there.


Be on purpose. Be a force – quiet or blazing, whatever you prefer. Whatever you are and whoever you are, be extremely you. At the end of the day, what else is there left? Find those tiny details and idiosyncrasies, and use them to support and enhance the extreme you-ness of YOU. It isn’t about the jarring highs or lows of “perfection.” It is about being unquestionably yourself.

Forget about the hoax, forget about utopia. There is no better person to be, no better place to live, than Oh-So-On-Purpose.

 


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