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Saturday, February 11, 2012

Update: New Year's Resolutions.

So, I've not done a single thing to help myself better understand photography or Mandarin Chinese, but one thing has definitely stuck these past six weeks: self improvement. It wasn't something I had really posted about, because it was more of a general, vague idea of a resolution. Improve myself across the board, even if just in small little ways.

For example, when it's 8:30 at night and I'm just now getting dinner on the stove, and I'm tired from work and sore from a workout, if I toss a used paper towel into the trash can from across the kitchen and I miss, I'd typically just leave it there until I find myself on that side of the room, or (disgusting, I know) until the next day. Now, however, I make myself march on over there and pick it up. Laziness, be gone.

To be perfectly honest, we're not nasty pigs or anything. I clean the house every Wednesday, do laundry twice a week, we run the dishes once, sometimes twice a day. But I won't lie. We cut corners. And sometimes my fatigue can get the better of me.

So there's one example.

Another is Romance. Todd and I love each other dearly; we kiss often, cuddle every night, do many things together. But I wanted to add a little bit of that giddy puppy love we had before. So I decided to pepper him with love notes. Little post its tucked here and there; in his wallet, on his rearview mirror, on the next month's page in the calendar, on the bathroom mirror before I leave for work. At first I thought maybe I was going overboard and doing it so often that I removed the specialness from it, but Todd assured me, even finding a note every day made him smile, and made him happy.

So there's another example.

Aside from those types of things, however, an area of focus that kept coming back to me was, quite specifically, me. Jil, as a woman, as a person. I'm trying to lose weight, and the holidays coupled with a serious reduction of work outs (though without a serious reduction of "I'm trianing for a triathlon, I can eat anything!" attitude) and a few bouts of illness really set me back. All the weight I'd lost during the first two months of training came right back with a vengence, and then I gained an additional five pounds. Something had to give.

There was that. Then, when I was in H&M trying on clothes, something else dawned on me. I looked positively shabby. There I was in this glossy store full of size four college girls with perfect hair, accessories and not just clothes, but outfits. Everyone was pulled together. So I got into the dressing room and I stared at myself. I stared. Here is what I saw:

1. Neglected body. Pudgy, disrespected through poor diet though I had been putting it through its triathlon paces. I felt so sorry for it.
2. Neglected face. No blush, no lipstick, just some eyeshadow and mascara that looked like I had put it on 10 hours ago, which was true. And I looked so tired.
3. Neglected hair. It's on the super dry side so I try to never, ever heat style it, only wash it every other day, etc. It was bumpy from being slept on wet, it was lifeless and even though it was clean, it looked dirty. I felt so sorry for it.
4. Neglected clothes. A stretched out cowl necked top that was doing nothing for me. Baggy Gap jeans that only fit well for the first 20 minutes out of the dryer. Nice enough brands but they'd done their duty, they needed replacing.

And you know what? You'd think all that would send me into a tailspin of tears and depression but it didn't. I mean, I wanted to cry, but I sucked it up because all of these things were fixable and I always love problem solving. Also, some things finally dawned on me.

Because I still have weight that I want to lose, I have been considering myself in an in-between state, neither at the start or the end of my journey to a better figure. Therefore I have been neglecting myself. Even worse, I have not considered myself worthy of nice, new things. And that was like a slap in the face. I have not been loving myself and respecting myself the way that I should, the way that I deserve. As a mother to a daughter, that, in my opinion, is especially heinous in the way of setting an example. No matter you weight, no matter your anything, you should never put yourself in a corner. Baby didn't deserve it, and neither do you.

What would I say to Alex if she were older? "Mommy, why are your clothes so frumpy?" "Because Alexandra, since I'm not currently fitting into the ideal I have in my head, I don't deserve to do nice things for myself. Now let's get you dressed for dance class!"

Another thing I realized is that who cares if I buy clothes now and in six months, when I've lost weight, they don't fit? If I love them enough, I'll have them altered. The point is, life is not a destination. It's not just getting into the jeans you wore on your honeymoon, it's not just crossing the finish line of a triathlon or completing a class on photography or Mandarin, it's getting there. I know we all know this, but I think it's surprising how the exact opposite of that truth can seep into our lives and our perceptions of the smaller things in life.

So that's why I've altered my resolutions. Self Improvement is taking over (besides I can't afford a nice camera right now and Chinese is fucking hard). I'm adding some interval strength trainings to my weekly workouts. I'm cutting out all booze during the week and being more vigilant about calorie counting and eating good wholesome foods instead of sandwiches from Melt and homemade breakfast burritos every day.

I bought lipsticks and I'm doing my hair every day, only taking careful consideration of the drier ends of my hair. I bought new clothes. I'm creating ~outfits~ instead of throwing on some old jeans that won't make my muffin top a souffle top and a loose shirt to cover up in case it happens. I'm accessorizing daily now. I'm wearing cute dresses after my nightly shower instead of yoga pants, Todd's flannel shirt and no bra. I'm thinking of myself now. It feels so good. It's so nice doing these little things for myself. I feel so much better about myself too, because instead of demanding change out of myself because I'm worthless as I am now, I am changing myself because I deserve the good life, however I can get it.

In other words, 2012, The Year of the Dragon, is actually turning out to be a little more like The Year of the Jil.

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