Sunday, February 24, 2013
Who is the most important person in my life? I used to say it was my 2 children. When I re-married my husband got added in. They were all in a bundle. When my children had children I added my grandchildren. But which one was most important? Which one really had priority? I decided it depended on who was most in need, or who had my attention, at any given time.
With that as background, I asked myself what value or activity was most important in my life.
The value answer popped in first: honesty. My life has been filled with lessons on honesty, some learned the hard way when honesty wasn't honored either by myself or someone else. And that extends to the concept of truth. I read tons of books on a variety of subjects because I don't trust any one source to give me total truth.
The next one to pop in was activity, and this is where I started to get into trouble. It's easy to say that keeping my body healthy is a priority. But when I break it down into specifics, my actions don't always match my thoughts.
Working out is high on my list, but if I get home from work late I am quick to put exercise aside in favor of supper (priority: keeping low blood sugar from causing other issues) and resting (supposed priority: not injuring myself by trying to over-stress my tired body). It almost sounds as though spending extra time at work is my priority, although I really don't have much choice about working extra if I want to keep my job. The overtime pay is helpful to have, but it isn't the motivator for staying late.
Eating healthy portions is also high on my list, but if I get home from work late my stomach is truly rumbling and I am inclined to eat too fast, not letting my brain send a message of "enough already" to my appetite. And if my husband (my personal chef, bless him) makes something I especially like, I will also eat too fast. So what is my real priority? My personal pleasure? My physical satisfaction? Why don't I just slow down my eating - use all the old tricks like putting down my fork between bites or chewing each mouthful 20 times?
I dug out my old dictionary (most recent copyright 1964) which defined priority as that which is prior (no help) or that which takes precedence in time, order, or importance. To precede was essentially defined as having the act, right, or privilege to go or occur before something else.
So where did that leave me? It was obvious I had made a choice to move healthy eating or exercising out of the first place on my activity list. But why? I dug into my head to see how I could figure this out.
In the context of the 21st century this concept of a priority really came down to a matter of what choices I make. And my choices were dictated by ??? aha - my old long-buried parent-encouraged striving for perfection. I think that once I make set a priority to be healthy then I must make absolutely every decision according to that one decision. Alterations were not allowed. And missing my goals even one time made me a failure.
One of my closest friends (of 38 years) has a stock phrase she uses when she sees me like this. She says, "Allow yourself to be human." I appreciate her wisdom.
So I have figured that, ultimately, my priority is to be human - the best human I can be at any given time, considering all the circumstances of that time. My priority is to keep trying my best, to start over as many times as I have to, in my quest to care for my body, and to let go of any guilt or self blame or anger when I miss the mark. Back to the old sayings: one day at a time, tomorrow is a new day, today is the first day of the rest of your life. Oh yes, and the best thing about choices is that they can be changed.
Is that profound? Not really. But all seems to be easily forgotten; many of us need to remind ourselves with some frequency. Me especially! And we can incorporate it all in one word: PRIORITIES!