Did It Once… Do It Again

I’ve always thought of myself as having no willpower whatsoever.
That’s typical of fat folk, by the way. After all, “everybody” will tell us that if we had even a little willpower, we’d eat less, exercise more, and voila (pronounced: “Voy-LAH!”), we’ll become skinny, well-proportioned, automatically beautiful, and unreservedly popular instantly.
(And by “everybody,” I mean well-meaning people directly involved in our lives; well-meaning-but-skinny people directly involved in our lives who are clueless when it comes to the multi-layered issues involved in obesity; not-necessarily-well-meaning-or-snarky people who don’t know us at all; and, most obnoxiously, all types of media, who don’t even care that we exist, except as a huge potential market that they can guilt into buying whatever poopy they want to sell us. We be sheep. And dumb sheep at that.)
Of course. Why did I never see it’s just that easy?
So through that haze, you and I, the fat persons du jour tend to believe the idea that we have no willpower whatsoever, and that whatever fancy enters our weak minds, we will succumb to – after all, we have no power to resist.
Quick quiz:
1) Have you ever been so angry at (insert person who is the target of your wrath) that you could have done physical violence to their mortal being?
1a) Did you?
2) Have you ever been so frustrated at a service provider that you wanted to throw (insert heavy object of your choice) through their front window? (Or their virtual front window, in this age of technology, with a desire to bomb their servers back to the stone age?)
2a) Did you?
3) Have you ever gotten so ticked at your (insert your make and model of vehicle) that you said you’d be better off driving it into (insert body of water of your choice) or off the (insert bridge of your choice, but not the Mighty Mac, ’cause you might damage it and I really love that bridge)?
3a) Did you?
If you answered any of questions 1, 2 or 3 “yes,” congratulations! You’re just as human as the rest of us. (If you answered “no” to all of them, I don’t want to know – you are dead to me.)
(Just kidding. Really. But you do live on a different level of existence than I do...)
If you answered questions 1a, 2a and 3a “no,” congratulations! You have willpower – the ability NOT to act on something your mind brought forth and conceived of, even possibly entertained, or pondered, if only to allow yourself a cartoon moment involving some product labeled “Acme.”
(If you answered “yes” to ANY of questions 1a, 2a or 3a, by the way, please seek professional help immediately. And I DO mean immediately.)
(And yes, I do have some names I could pass along if you need ’em.)
(But not because I answered “yes” to any of questions 1a-3a, just so we’re clear. I have issues, but those ain’t them.)
Isn’t that all willpower is? The ability to NOT act on something our mind could entertain? Allow me to elucidate (thus getting an opportunity to use the word “elucidate,” which is a fun word):
– Ever shown up for an appointment on time? Or a meeting? Or church?
– Ever dropped off / picked up / transported to various and sundry activities your kiddos, and got them there on time?
– Ever done something exactly correct in a timely manner because someone was counting on you? Or because you love them and didn’t want to disappoint them?
– Ever withheld something from your child / pet / other being in your care because you knew that the “something” in question was not only bad for them, but dangerous?
“Yeah, but that’s just common sense.”
Yup. It’s also willpower. The ability to NOT do something when it’s within your power to do it is exercising your will. Ergo, willpower.
So perhaps even us fat folk (or reformed fat folk – my outsides may be different, but my house is still on the same street…) have some willpower. We are not as powerless as others would have us believe, or that we would allow ourselves to believe.
When some folks have the type of surgery I’ve had, a response that they fear (and actually sometimes get) is, “oh – you took the easy way out.” (Which can bring about a question 1 thought, and dance close to a question 1a response…)
I’ve not gotten hit with this one, probably because those close to me know my journey, both the sublime and the unmentionable; the glorious and the downright disgusting. (Aren’t you glad that there are indeed some things that I don’t put out in public? Don’t you wish there were more of them?)
Anyway, a post-surgical patient has to exercise a great deal of willpower, not just to keep losing weight, but also, especially in the case of my type of surgery, to prevent malnutrition and becoming very, very sick. My will comes into play when I keep after my maintenance, taking my calcium and extra vitamins, drinking all my water, and sticking to the types of food I can and must eat, while staying away from others that will cause issues.
So I do gots some willpower. I ain’t gots good grammar (or grampar for that matter), but I gots some willpower. Yay me!
At my last counseling appointment, we were looking at an area of my life that still is difficult – something that I am able to do, something that when I finally get to it, I really do love to do, but so far am dragging my heels on. It’s right there, there are projects overdue, I have all the tools and skills, but I simply don’t do it.
Why the HECK not?
Near as we can suss out, I’m being a little bratesque. I’m not pushing myself, I’m not working on it with focus and effort. I’m not using my willpower.
And, sometimes, knowing that can change everything.
See, I’ve already been down this road. My morning routine, which I’ve discovered is not only essential for my mental health but feeds my soul as well, has grown from something that got thrown under the bus anytime I felt like it, to something that I knew was important but I could do without easily, to something that I knew I needed to do, even sacrificing other things to make it happen…
To today, where I eagerly come to it each morning. Listening to the Daily Audio Bible, spending some quiet time thinking and meditating, then turning to my keyboard and iPad and writing. Some days, it’s just time in the Word and then I move along. Other days, the words flow and God uses them to frame my mind and heart for the path ahead. But each day, to be here, to offer it to Him, is something joyful.
So, I’ve taken a task that wasn’t that important to me – or that I didn’t understand was so important – and made it into something that I’m eager to do… Something that I must do.
And since I did it once, made that kind of a change, I can do it again. I can apply those lessons to another area, another task, another opportunity, and make it work. I know that it’s hard, that it takes time and a lot of effort to make the new behavior stick, but I also know the satisfaction of what comes when it does stick. When it moves beyond obligation or habit, becoming important and essential.
The trick is, as my list of those essentials grows, can I stick with them all? Can I keep each one in the place it should be, not forgetting or shrugging off any of them because it’s too much work or I just don’t feel like it?
As I was writing this, I just got a great visual to help me see how this flows…
I’ve always thought of all the tasks in a day as juggling, trying to keep them all in the air, all moving in the pattern, not dropping any of them, all soaring in time perfectly.
*Pause here to let the lovely vision of objects smoothly floating through the air fill our minds and hearts. Aaaahhhh… inspiring.*
The problem?
I can’t juggle. Not at all. So the image of juggling is one that makes no sense to me – it doesn’t help me navigate the chaos, but rather it intimidates me and makes me want to shut down. But that was the only image I had to see my day with, when it’s filled with multiple tasks and stuff. Throw it all up there, and try to keep it all moving without dropping anything.
*Pause here to let the awful vision of everything crashing to the floor, making a mess, fill our minds and hearts. Arrrrrgggggghhhhh!!!… and don’t think I don’t hear you laughing back there! Stop it!*
So, for this visually-oriented non-juggler, here’s a better picture… a charm bracelet.
I have a day ahead of me – one day, one bracelet. And it’s the only one I get today. On this bracelet are some beautiful things – some are silver objects – tasks that are before me today; some are beautiful jewels, lovely joyful things that are waiting for me today; and some are woven into the structure of the bracelet – things that are a part of every day, and must be in each day’s bracelet.
Here are all these wonderful things, all together, that will make up my day today. And my goal is to not let any of them drop off. Just like when I make a bracelet or a necklace, I make sure that all the links are closed, all the wires tightly wound, the piece finished and ready to wear. It’s everything I have to be aware of today – not trying to keep balls in the air in a certain pattern, but mindful of the jewels and charms of the bracelet, that none of them drop off and get lost.
Now, some of them might get moved to tomorrow’s bracelet – but not because I dropped them, picked them up, and then stuck them on because they were just laying around. No, just as I choose the elements in a piece I make, or in something I write or music I play, I choose where they fit on tomorrow’s bracelet, just in the right place where they will work the best.
The mindful, careful progression of day to day, item to item, link to link. To me, that’s way more amazing than trying to keep all the balls in the air. *shudder*
Can I build my willpower and structure my mind to insure that these jewels that are hung on my day don’t fall off and get lost? I think so.
After all – I did it once… I can do it again.

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