fire

Tough Love Letter

There’s a great quote in one of my favorite Stephen King novels that says “The past is obdurate and protects itself against change.” It is obdurate, refusing to be changed, unrelenting. And here’s the thing – I’ve been letting the past dictate my future for way too long.

Last month’s FitBloggin’ conference included a session that I missed out on – and boy, did I need it. Called “Tough Love” the session focused on “the different ways we can maintain the supportive, judgment-free atmosphere, but build in more real, plain, honest accountability. Because the truth of the matter is, if losing actual weight is your real goal (and maybe it isn’t, but if it IS) then you WILL have to deprive yourself sometime. You WILL have to say no to things. You WILL have to find time in your busy schedule to prepare food and to work out. You WILL have to do all of the hard things that make us want to quit. You WILL have to face the fact that a weekend full of beer and wings is going to slow your progress, and that, no, that 2-pound increase last month is not muscle gain. But hopefully you can do it with BOTH love AND accountability for your tribe.” (courtesy of FitBloggin’ site).

I’m no stranger to letters to myself. Recently, when cleaning out my desk that has followed me through seven years of teaching at the same school, I found a letter I penned near Christmas of 2008. Turns out, (surprise, surprise), I’m battling the same demons today that I was then. I am in need of the real, plain, honest accountability that the Tough Love session focused on. So, here we go, some tough love to me, from me.

Jess,

You have accomplished so much this year, personally and professionally. But, guess what? You’re still feeling inadequate. And why? You know exactly why. You know why you’re here, writing this letter to yourself right now. Because you’re letting pain and hurt dictate the future. Hell, not even the future, the PRESENT. You are letting the past be the obdurate, unchanging predictor of the now.

Let’s make a quick list of some things you’ve done this year, things to be proud of.

  • Found a new job, one that you had hoped for and wanted for a long time. Took a chance and went for it and got it. The fall is going to be you, a handful of middle school kids and a room full of books. That was your vision when you started this whole education journey, and here you are, moving in to it.
  • Entered yoga teacher training. Found joy in a group of people that are also seekers. Will, perhaps, be TEACHING YOGA before the year is out.
  • Sought after a job in the fitness and health community and landed it. Again, before the year is out will be working to help others on their journey to health and wellness.
  • Cured your own migraines with massive changes to the way you eat. DONE. No more medication, no more days in bed, no more days suffering through, trying to get to the point where you can try to sleep to get relief. No more alarms set to wake you up every 4 hours to take more medication that never seemed to work in the first place. It’s been 5 months of no drugs, no prescription refills, no pain. You did that. Not a doctor. You.

So here’s the tough love part. You’ve lost weight this year. You are stronger than you have ever been. But, right now, in this very moment, you are letting your emotions take you off that path. You are letting the way others treat you determine the way that YOU treat you. You are naturally sensitive, feeling, empathetic, introverted. The reactions of others, the decisions they make about you or in regards to you, have always cut a little deeper. In plain words, your heart is on your sleeve and it always has been. And, let’s be honest here, you’ve dealt with some real pieces of work this year. You’re the kind of friend that resembles that cactus we all bought for our first apartment post-college. Low maintenance, always there, not asking too much, not expecting too much. But, if hurt, you’re all thorns. And you’ve been hurt this year. A lot.

Here’s what you need to stop doing. Today. Right now. 

  • Stop skipping your own advice. You are the first to tell others that they have an infinite amount of power within them. You do as well. Stop pretending that you don’t.
  • Stop letting the decisions of others decide who you will be today. You still have the tendency to eat emotionally. To seek being filled by filling yourself with food. Go back to feeling OK with being hungry. 
  • Stop second guessing yourself. If there is one motto you should know by now, it’s trust your gut. It doesn’t fail. 
  • Let go. Great song lyrics = “There’s beauty in the breakdown.” There’s been a lot broken, but there’s been a lot of beauty this year too. Keep finding it, keep seeking.
  • Stop being the cactus friend. If someone over-relies on you and offers little in return, you are not their friend. You are a doormat. Move. On. 

You have goals. Day to day goals, big picture life goals. Stop sacrificing them. You are free. You are not the same person that was once held captive by fear, by her weight, by her lack of wellness. Keep moving forward. Keep finding the fire.

fire

-Jess