Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Unwinding the Threads.

The hardest part about making big changes in the way you've always done things is breaking the old habits. And it's not just that you have to break old habits, it's that so often you have to hold 2 ends of a string and wind your way over and through and under and back through and then flip it a few times to find a different angle. And finally, you end up with one long, unraveled thread which you wind carefully into a ball again so it stays in order. Or so you hope. Sometimes, too, you just break out a pair of scissors and cut the bitch because, truth be told, it's just thread and that damn knot was huge.


Habit: Eating fast food.
Unwinding the thread:
- Think about why you eat fast food. Is it lack of planning? Laziness? Ease? Convenience? Cravings?
- Think about why you want to avoid fast food. The cheap food several times a week is ending up more expensive than you'd realized? It's not that good after all? It's making (keeping) you fat?
- Think about what it would take to avoid fast food. No more drive thrus? No more McDonald's playlands when the kids are wild and it's too damn hot out to do anything else? Could you leave the wallet at home and force yourself to eat there as well?
- Now, think about the alternatives to fast food. Non-fast food restaurants? Cooking at home? Crockpot meals?
- Now, think about the planning involved in those other options. Coupons? Grocery shopping weekly? Meal plans? Budgeting?
Cutting the thread: No more fast food. Period. End of story. No more excuses. If it means you eat PB&J three times in a week for dinner because you failed to plan, well then tough shit.


What am I getting at here, exactly? I'm not sure, except to say that over the past few years we've made some good choices, some bad choices, and some choices that were neither here not there. We pat ourselves on the back for the good and regret the bad, but what about those other ones? The ones that make up the knot of thread we are then forced to work our way through? Well, it turns out those can sometimes be the best because they are the ones we learn the most from. Those are the things we do without knowing how they will end up, and sometimes we regret them and other times we prosper for them.

Lately, it's feeling a little like all those little 'neither here nor there' choices have led us up and down and over and around, but not where we need/want to be. So now we're left with this: do we unravel the thread, or just cut it?


Before you go thinking this is some sort of weird blog confession of an impending divorce or another baby, rest assured it's neither. Nothing that exciting. Just the expression of all the noise that's been in my head lately.


If I were to make a list, which I do sometimes on paper with bright colored pens, it would look a little something like:

- eat better
- exercise more
- patience
- no fast food (for real: the mind dump above is all what's been floating in my mind for months now)
- local, organic, sustainable, grown ourselves
- stop buying into commercialism
- remember to check the Target ad
- forgive self for hypocrytical nature
- follow that damn budget, already
- accept you're not a 'follow the budget' person and live off cash
- plan a vacation, and then take it instead of using Expedia as your lunch-break outlet
- do crafts with the kids
- read with the kids
- play outdoors with the kids
- bake with the kids
- make out with the husband
- bake with the husband
- stop being so lazy
- stop stressing
- stand up for yourself
- be kind

This list is not inclusive of all the noise, nor is it static (ba dun dun! get it? change? static?). It's forever changing and shifting, winding and building more little knots.


For me, the winding is the way. Process is my preference over outcomes, which might go far toward explaining my failure to complete projects, general procrastination, and ever-changing dreams for the future. My husband is less process and more product. Break out the scissors and tell him how it will be. Then, know that whatever you tell him he will argue the opposite (hi, Leo) and then eventually swing back your way. Maybe not fully buying it, but at least window-shopping.

And I? I wield the scissors myself and: SNIP.


Without the unwinding it looks like this:

Habit: Eating fast food.
Snip: Don't.

Habit: Overspending with ye olde debit card.
Snip: Cash living.

Habit: Convenience foods made at home, but still not really healthy.
Snip: Finish what's in the house now, and then stop buying them.
(Did you see, though? I can't get away from process entirely.)


I admit to sometimes wishing that my husband cared less. Not about the big things: me, the kids, money, career, etc. But about the mundane things I want ultimate control over. Like, why do I have to have the husband with an opinion on floor rugs? Why can't he just be the guy who's all, "Sure honey, whatever you want."? And why does he have to do the grocery shopping sometimes? Yes, I appreciate that he grocery shops, but I don't appreciate that he considers 4 pears and 3 apples 'buying fruit'. I could eat that in one day.

I haven't figure out how to meld all this seamlessly: my process, his product, my need for control and his desire not to just let me have it. We're stubborn, the pair of us, and one of us has to be the first to make the move and either find the other end of the thread or break out the scissors. I'll be the one to volunteer to get the groceries, so that I can pile the cart with fresh fruits and veggies and whole grains and meats and dairy and a very select few 'convenience foods'. I'll be the one to convince Luca that pitas, hummus, grapes, and broccoli make a fabulous dinner. I'll be the one to just buy the damn rug, once I've saved up enough cash of course (cash living!).


Sometimes, I sit still and mentally push my to-do and I-wish lists out of my mind. I clear it and I breathe in and when I do that, I always see them: my husband, Luca, and Rohan. I see their apple cheeks and their big smiles and I know without a doubt that we will do whatever we can to create the best life possible for our little family. We'll work our asses off to pay off debt and save and scrimp and yet always find a way to spoil our kids on their birthdays or, maybe more significantly, on some random Tuesday when all they really want is an ice cream cone. We'll clean the same damn mess off the same damn surface day after godforsaken day, just to have a house that feels clean and comfortable and full of warmth and love. We will send them away while we work to be with people who love and cherish and teach them, and with people who enrich them and thus, in turn, enrich us. We will make dinner together and eat in a circle on the living room floor, dipping our pitas into the hummus bowl in the middle. We will read and bake and lay in the grass in the backyard. We will go back to school, change professions, and never stop growing and expanding and creating. Painting our life canvas in tranquil greens and blues, then splashing fuschia over the top.

We will unwind when we need to unwind. We will cut and paste and make life into what works for us and make it better every day.

No comments:


Blog Widget by LinkWithin