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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

What a beautiful day!! Changing the way I think...

Today there is truly not a cloud in the sky.  It is a brilliant blue and incredible.  I had a great walk around the pond this morning.  The water was lovely, the new bright green grass, the emergence of a variety of colorful flowers.  I enjoyed over 5 trips around the pond and went out on the boardwalks the go through part of the marsh.  I reveled in the red wing black birds, the ducks, the turtles, the frogs, the robins, the pigeons, the fish, the water itself---it is exhilarating to enjoy this amazing creation.  Life is definitely better when you focus on that which is beautiful.  As it says in Philippians 4:8 (NIV) "Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things."

There is great wisdom in Paul's words in the above verse.  People throughout history have conveyed the same sentiment many times--the idea that the things that you focus on can and do effect your life in profound ways.  Throughout Philippians 4, Paul talks of being gentle, living by example, and holding on to faith in Christ.  As I have been moving through an intentional transformation, with some steps forward and some steps back and a few steps sideways, upside down, and inside out, and a couple of episodes of just sitting down...well you get my drift....I am finding that to truly change anything in life, one must change the way your think first.  This is both harder and easier than it sounds.  Harder because we are creatures of habit, and habitual thought patterns require as much commitment to change as our physical habits do. 

In order to quit smoking, having all the strategies in the world are not going to help you quit until you are committed to being a non-smoker.  When I made the final decision to quit smoking before I became a parent, it was unlike any of the other times that I had attempted.  Usually when I said I was going to try to quit, it was a half hearted commitment, usually focused on a good idea, like the desire for better health, the desire to smell better, the desire to not spend so much money,the desire to breathe better, or whatever other of the many reasons that I could have come up with.  But until my commitment was full, until I was just "trying" to quit smoking, until I could get my mind, heart and soul committed to the idea of being a non-smoker (not a former smoker, or someone who had quit smoking), it was only then that I was ready to quit.  You could say I "did it for the kids", but that was not it, no excuse is big enough to warrant a habit change.  It has to be a commitment.  I have known many who "quit for the kids" but then they sneak smokes when the kids aren't looking, they smoke at work but not at home, they didn't really quit smoking, they just quit smoking in front of their kids.  Which is admirable, as kids are less likely to pick up the habit if they do not have significant exposure to it as an okay lifestyle habit. But they have not quit smoking nor have they become a non-smoker. 

Once we decided to adopt, both A and I stopped smoking in the house.  Before we ever had a child living in our home, our indoor home environment had been smoke free for over a year.  And the combination of factors and internal decision making that made it possible for me to truly become a non-smoker did culminate with the arrival of my first son.  I smoked my last cigarette at the airport before boarding a plane to Texas where I would spend a week with my son (we had spend time with him in Texas prior to this so that he would know us and I went out a week ahead of his fly home date so that it would ease his transition some).  Since that cigarette, I have smoked only two cigarettes.  One when A's brother's baby (our niece) was born with massive special needs and a very poor prognosis (the drs were surprised she made it through the birth).  And once when A started drinking openly again in May 2009 after Matt's death (two weeks prior to A's mother's death), and after we had already been through one round of relapse, lies, belligerent meanness, and steps back to recovery in 2008/early 2009.  Neither time was satisfying for me, and so it was not really a decision not to smoke again, I just don't feel the desire to smoke.  I am not an ex-smoker who craves a smoke or has to battle against the desire to light one up.  With my commitment to quit smoking, as it was an internal change, not just an external one.  When I put out that cigarette at the airport, I knew it was my last one.  I barely remember a withdrawl period, I do not remember having strong cravings even during those first few days, and know that any fluttering of a craving or a desire to have a smoke were short lived and not strong. I had gone not from being a smoker to being a smoker who quit, but from being a smoker to being a non-smoker.  It was not the desire to quit that helped me change the habit, but it was the thinking of myself as a non-smoker.

Why am I still jumbo sized when I am an intelligent woman who is well versed in biology and understands how to eat and exercise correctly?  Why do I still carry around nearly double my ideal weight in excess adipose tissue?  Is it a lack of understanding of the health risks associated with carrying around excess weight? no.  Is it a lack of understanding of how carrying this excess effects my daily life and physical ability to move? no--trust me with knees like mine, I understand acutely the physical pain that carrying too much weight causes with each step I take. I do know that I WANT to lose weight, I desire to be a healthy weight, and I know the steps that I need to take.  And I can say and think that I am committed to attaining as healthy weight.  But there is one thing that will always tell you where your ACTUAL commitment is.  What you are Truly, at a spirit level, committed to doing.  And that is reflected by your actions.  I have not lost my excess wight because I am not spiritually, mentally, and physically committed to being a person with a healthy body.  I focus on what I do NOT like about my body or the situations that being in an unhealthy, overweight body bring into my life.  By focusing on what I do not like, I can not focus on the opposite, loving myself and my body.  Until I can see myself and accept myself as a healthy, slim, fit person, it will be harder to change my habits.

Each step towards a healthier, fit, slim body brings me one stop closer to changing those internal habits.  Then my thinking can change increment by increment.  Everytime I make the choice to select a healthy food over a less than healthy food, if I do it because I am focused on my desire to be healthy and to live better, then I am one step closer to changing that internal habit.  If I make that choice because I am fat and an trying to lose weight, then I am NOT one step closer to changing my internal habits.  Even though the external action is the same, and the external choice is the same, the internal, lasting change is not present.  Which is why people can lose a lot of weight, and go off their diet and gain it all back.  They have not changed the way they think about their body, their self image, or their habits. Sometimes even when we start out not focuses on changing the internal, as out body changes, we start to love what we have become, and start to love having a healthier body, and so our internal focus shifts from negative (hating fat and out of shape body) and into a positive habit (loving being healthy).  It is the shift from focusing on the negative and battling against it, to focusing on the positive and reaching towards it. 

Attitude and focus are vital to changing.  This is why working on mental, physical and spiritual aspects of ourselves is vital to enacting lasting change.  Without a connection to God, without the Source bringing energy to my spirit there would be no reason to keep trying to change myself, my community or my world into something better...there would be no reason fro transformation.  And the help that I get from my God in my transformation process is invaluable.  so I will continue to strive to focus in "..whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things."  Because that Spiritual teaching helps make me, my family, my community and my world a better, more excellent, more noble, more true, more right, more pure, more lovely, and more admirable place.

Focus carefully....

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