Today is the first day I have been home since December 22nd. Literally. We spent the holiday season in Texas visiting family and friends. It is a two-day drive. A long two-day drive, like almost 25 hours in very tight quarters with two kids, loads of suitcases, presents, books and blankets, a dog and a sometimes grumpy cabin-fevered husband two-day drive.
So when I read about the Post a Day Challenge on the 30th, I started to laugh. It just seemed an impossible feat, especially since I was going to be at such a disadvantage right from the start. Do you know how hard it is to sit down and write anything in someone else’s house while four kids run like banshee through the halls, football games blare in the adjacent room, and family members randomly pop-in from time to time just to ask “what are you doing”? Then of course there is the whole no-internet thing while on the road for two days. And the thought of trying to catch-up on any writing while balancing my laptop on my knees in the closet sized bathroom at the dingy Motel 6, so as not to disturb any of the other family members who are trying to sleep, made my stomach turn. (Or maybe it was just the thought of using that dingy bathroom at the Motel 6 that made my stomach turn.) Either way, not exactly how I would want to start a challenge for the new year. Behind.
I’m slightly competitive too. If you were to look up the top 5 scores on any given Wii Fit game at our house you will find my name listed over and over again. I practice while everyone is at school and work just so that I can have the high score. I look at the person next to me on the stair-stepper at the gym to see how fast they are going just so that I can try and beat them in our imaginary race. While at Zumba class I get jealous of the 20-something former highschool dance teamer that actually looks like she is dancing to the music rather than the 30-something duck out of water flapping her wings to random beats in the mirror.
When the alarm went off at 5:30 this morning all I could think about was the piles of laundry that needed attention, the grocery store run that needed to get made so that we can eat something other than peanut butter and jelly for dinner, and getting the Christmas decorations down before our tree spontaneously combusts. The last thing I was thinking about was blogging. Especially not joining a challenge that had already begun. But then, somewhere between school drop-off, getting Luna’s nails trimmed and putting gas in my car I remembered something my mother-in-law said to me this week:
“In order to stay healthy, it’s important to take time out for yourself.”
Now to be perfectly accurate and keep this statement in context of our conversation, you should know that she was talking about diet and exercise, two things that are of utmost importance in her life. She takes great pride in keeping the calories low and the activity high. And her efforts definitely do not go unnoticed. I find this very intimidating, and I told her as much. But for her, diet and exercise are the things that make her feel complete, fuel her happiness, and stimulate her self-esteem. For me, it is just work. I have to literally approach diet and exercise like a job that requires scheduling and self-discipline. No amount of increased adrenaline or firmer thighs will give me a sense of happiness or fulfillment.
What struck me this morning, is that I think I really am okay with that difference between us. I recognize the value of physical health and know that the only way to achieve that is through a sensible diet and consistent exercise, however, in order for me to be healthy, the time I need to take for myself is not at the gym. Writing, music, being creative – those are the things that make me complete, fuel my happiness and stimulate my self-esteem which, of course, makes me more pleasant to be around. That kind of mental health rejuvenates my relationships with my children and my husband because I am not distracted or bitter.
So, although I am a few days behind and blogging might actually make my butt bigger, I decided it was still in my best interest to participate in the Post a Day Challenge. Now if only I could make myself work-out everyday.
*One small victory though – 4 days and counting without salt & vinegar chips.