In London, when I homeschooled, I knew it would be for a year, and I knew that I would throw all I had at it, for that year. My sister homeschools her children, and always has. She doesn’t have that option of throwing all she has at it, because she has to have something left for the following year. And the following year.
But I had only one year. I had the option. And I took it.
It was wonderful. It was exhausting. Then it was done, and the children were settled into their British schools for the next couple years.
Fast forward a couple years. With the pandemic looming these past couple weeks, schools have been closed indefinitely. Homeschool again!
I love having the children home. But it does take away from my me-time – time I was spending on improving me, right? I usually can still get through a podcast every day, but never uninterrupted, and I have very little time to write, after I’ve finished the podcast. And thought-work? This is the perfect time to practice thought-work, both because the children are stretching me and because the children are watching me.
Today I drove my nephew, Max, who is a student at BYU, to the airport to fly home to be with his family in Minnesota, since BYU shut down entirely, due to the pandemic.
It was over two hours in the car, when we finally got there and then back. And, since Julia was asleep in her carseat much of that time, and the other children were at home reading – well, they were supposed to be reading, and I think they were reading – I had time to think. I had time to ask myself some questions, and to really be curious about my answers. It was refreshing. It was also concerning. Ha ha. I have a lot more thought-work, a lot more prayer, a lot more experience at the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil before I am that version of myself that I see in myself. Do you know what I mean?
And maybe I can take care of specific situations, deal with specific problems or challenges, or whatever. But until I change ME, I still fall short of the highest version of me.
And I don’t dare approach these things from a place of discouragement or disappointment or shame. Again, that may motivate me into changing the situation, at the time. But that will do nothing for changing ME.
Example 1. I want to eat healthier.
- Coming from a place of DISCOURAGEMENT AND SHAME: I ate more chocolate today than vegetables. What is wrong with me? I don’t even like chocolate that much. Why can’t I stop?
- WHERE WILL THIS LEAD: I may be able to stop eating chocolate for a day or two, or even maybe a week or a month or a year. But if I don’t change my tendency to feel guilty, I will, first, find something else to feel guilty about, and eat to buffer that pain of guilt, and, second, go right back to chocolate because it is easily available in our home (thanks Bry…), and in my mind I will think, I might as well give up trying. I can’t seem to do anything right. I might as well eat the chocolate.
- Coming from a place of LOVE AND CURIOSITY: I wonder why I went for the chocolate. I am not usually a chocolate fan, nor do I usually eat things that don’t serve my body well. What am I trying to buffer from? What can I do to show the most love to my body right now?
- WHERE WILL THIS LEAD: I can more easily put the chocolate down right now, and get in the habit of asking my body what it really needs when I go for the chocolate again. I don’t need to binge because I am not depriving myself of something I want, rather I can find out what my body and what my mind really needs.
It is kind of a long process, right? But I think it is worthy of the time. Let’s try another couple.
Example 2. I want to run again. I really found peace in some of the hardest years in my life, running.
- Coming from a place of DISCOURAGEMENT AND SHAME: I was never good at it in the first place. And that was when I was younger. And if the hills in our neighborhood don’t stop me, my thoughts about the hills in our neighborhood will. I’m not sure I should even try.
- WHERE WILL THIS LEAD: I may try running, for a day or two, here and there. But never enough to get good enough to enjoy it again. I will feel embarrassed and discouraged with thoughts stemming from shame.
- Coming from a place of LOVE AND CURIOSITY: Is running what is best for my body right now? And, if so, how will I start – what is my starting point and what in my plan? Where do I want to be in one month? Where do I want to be in three months? Where do I want to be in six months? What can I reasonably do, daily to get there?
- WHERE WILL THIS LEAD: It may lead me to no running, honestly. If I determine, lovingly, that my body would be better served with a different, less jarring exercise, then I will choose a different exercise. But if, after considering and trying a few approaches, I decide my body is up for the challenge again, I will make a reasonable plan, and I will be excited every step of the way – no matter how small the step.
Example 3. I don’t want to pull at my hair anymore.
- Coming from a place of DISCOURAGEMENT AND SHAME: It’s a condition I have, trichotillomania. There is nothing I can do about it. It will only get worse and worse as I get older. And nothing I try will make it any better. I am not strong enough to fight something that is such a part of me.
- WHERE WILL THIS LEAD: I don’t think I will stop trying. I have been trying to stop since I was 8 years old. But each time I fail, I will feel discouraged, dark, hopeless, and even like I am less of a person. The trichotillomania will define me, in my mind, and I will become less social with friends, and less confident with family – even with my own husband. This is a sad sad story, right?
- Coming from a place of LOVE AND CURIOSITY: I’ve tried a lot of ideas that haven’t helped me stop pulling my hair. Or maybe they have? Maybe I could keep a journal of how well a “plan” works, and for how long. Maybe I can use others in the on-line trichotillomania community to get more ideas. And maybe I can share my findings with others who are struggling. There are even family members who have the same condition. Maybe I could be helpful to more than just my own scalp!
- WHERE WILL THIS LEAD: I imagine there are a lot of “falls” ahead before I get a hold on this condition. But each try, each “fall”, will bring me experience. Nothing has gone wrong. It is just more experience. I love the thought from DAY #132 about forgiveness: “Forgive someone, and then keep forgiving them every time you see them. What that means is you work on your emotions every time you see them. You work on your own thinking every time you see them. That’s how you get really good at it. That’s how you own your own power.” This can work with trichotillomania, as well! Do you see? I can work on my own thinking, every time I pull. Every time. That is how I can get really good at stopping myself. That’s how I can own my own power.
I am 100% lovable, just the way I am – chocolate eating, non-running, hair pulling me. I am 100% worthy, just the way I am. And when I want to change something in my life, to make my life’s experience different than it currently is, then let’s do it! But let’s do it, coming from a place of love and acceptance and even excitement.