Sunday, July 15, 2007

Days 6 and the first half of 7: On Planning, Sleeping, and God.

On Planning

One of the nice things about the summer vacation teachers get is how very few things can get so easily stretched into much greater amounts of time. During the school year, I have approximately 45 minutes between the absolute last time I can hit my snooze button and still be able to shower and the deadline for when I should be racing into school, a coffee cup clutched in one hand and a shopping bag spilling over with pipe cleaners, clown hats, a Lean Cuisine, and an expression on my face that says, "If someone even glances at me this morning before I suck down this coffee, I swear to God I will quit and go to law school and I will leave the P.E. teacher in charge of Seussical the Musical and we all know how it sounded when he tried to karaoke to Kenny Chesney last September so BACK OFF." So in those dark forty-five minutes between blissful sleep and the moment that my veins are laced with sweet, sweet caffeine, there's not a lot of time for silent reflection and thoughts about the day and wholesome bowls of cereal and grapefruit.

But summer is obviously different, and completely abudant with opportunities to sort of stretch out activities. I wake up at 8:00 but lounge in bed until 9:00. Breakfast lasts through the last hour of Today and well into The View until Elizabeth Hasselbeck's voice starts making me grit my teeth and I turn it off. Cleaning and lunchtime are interspersed with breaks to read books, go outside and give pep talks to my mournful looking tomatoes, painting and repainting my nails...and the day just continues in this pattern of lazy idyll until I fall asleep with everything in its place and the smug knowledge that while my little brother is crawling out of bed into his car for his 7:00 am summer job, I will be able to ignore his morning phone call and crawl back under the covers for at least a few more hours before I start feeling guilty.

So I was surprised, after a bout of near perfection on days 1-5, that Day 6 sort of fell apart by a sheer lack of planning and foresight. Saturday is the day most closely resembling a typical school day for me, since I get up at 7:00 to make it to work before 9:00 with the commute. But since I had gotten used to staying up late and sleeping late, too, getting up with the alarm was way hard, which meant I didn't wake up in time to make breakfast which meant I was starving by the time I drove the hour commute back home which meant I didn't want to wait to eat lunch which meant that the leftover pizza and breadsticks came out of the freezer, made a pitstop at the microwave, and contined straight into my mouth. Strike one. Strike two was the small buttered popcorn and Coke at the movies in place of dinner. Strike three was the four pieces of dark chocolate at my desk while I tried to update drivers for a program that had stopped working. So yesterday, with the addition of no water and no exercise because the gym was inexplicably closed, was not a good day. I need to always remember to plan, plan, plan and make getting meals ready and breakfast set out and my clothes picked before the morning to be a priority or else all my good intentions will probably get pushed aside in favor of easier things food. And I don't want that to happen.

On Sleep

Despite all my opportunities for rest and relaxation, I haven't been getting the best of sleep in the past few weeks. I go to bed around midnight, wake up at 2:30 and then stay awake until 4:30 for seemingly no good reason at all. I've been having these bizarre hot flashes as soon as I get into the bed where my neck feels like it's 400 degrees and no amount of undressing or ponytailing or keeping a fan on my neck seems to help. So when I finally can't stand my fake menopause symptoms, I wake up and walk around and read and do stuff for a couple hours until I cool down and then it starts all over again, but at least by the time I can't stand it again it's time to wake up. We got a set of eight lovely pillows for the wedding three years ago, but I guess after three years those pillows couldn't take it anymore because they're all now roughly the consistency of heavy fruitcake and sleeping on one of them feels like being propped up on a concrete block. So I went to the store and got two different kinds of therapeutic designed to keep my head at the right angle and one designed to wick away body heat, and I switched out my bedspread for a lighter quilt and everything seemed to work splendidly last night. So splendidly that I slept straight through my alarm and missed church by a good fifteen minutes this morning. At least I have one issue on my not being able to wake up for work problem fixed, though.

And On Church

Apparently my little requirement on my 30-Day Challenge about going to church raised some eyebrows, because I don't really seem like a churchy kind of girl. And it's true that I'm not, really. I got an email from someone who also pointed out how insane it is to say that showing up at church is somehow going to make me lose more weight, and if that's all there were to this challenge or this blog then I would entirely agree. But I've said all along that this stuff isn't just about fitting into a size 8...if it were I'd have 79 posts worth of food and exercise logs and careful measurements and all that good stuff. But I want to get better in a lot of different ways, and so for me going back to church is part of that.

When people say they were raised in the church, it's usually a figure of speech, but I'm at least 40% completely truthful when I say I was raised IN the church. I went to daycare at a church, I spent nights there at choir practice and handbell practice. I hung with my grandma and my great-aunt as they quilted and crocheted and glued and sewed every Monday afternoon for our annual bazaar. My mom worked as our church secretary for seven years, so I was there a lot even if I didn't want to be.

And when you show up to church more than once a week, and when the adults who go there parent you the same way your mom and dad do, and when you eat meals there and make your friends there and get married there, church becomes a vital part of your life even if Jesus doesn't. And that's kind of how it was for me; I loved the traditions and the liturgy and the music and the people at church, but I never quite bought into the New Testament. And I didn't know where I stood on Jesus and Heaven and how all it took was belief in salvation to actually get into Heaven.

So, since the OBVIOUS choice for anyone doubting their faith was to marry a minister of that very faith, that's exactly what I did. And so I became a minister's fiancee and wife and went to church every Sunday without fail. And as my marriage got worse and worse and we separated and I had to start telling people who asked, "I'm getting a divorce. He cheated. He's a minister. Yes, that's weird." And so in the process of getting angry at my husband and extricating my life from his, I started also really getting mad at all the other hypocrisy that existed in Christianity and the people who claimed to love God and do his work.

So basically, for me, going back to church is a way for me to figure out whether being mad at my husband needs to translate at being mad at God, too. Because I want to believe in something. I think you need to. The greatest people in the world...the Gandhis and the Mother Teresas and the Dalai Lamas all believe in something. I haven't quite figured out whether or not that something needs to also come with the Methodist potluck after the late service and The Bible and Jesus and all that, but I'm working on it. And I made sure to start attending a church that is working for social change as well as healing through faith, because that's important to me. I like being part of a body of people who want to work together for the environment, for gay rights, for urban renewal...all that bleeding heart stuff that really gets me excited and fueled to take on the rest of the week.

So do I think that praying to Jesus is going to magically reduce my ass? Nah. And I don't even know if reaching out to God as a way to gain strength to exercise and eat right is even a viable option for me like it was the first time I lost weight. I just needed something I could do that felt familiar but also is going to challenge me to interact and think and grow into a more responsible, proactive path in my life, and that's why I decided to go back to church.

Except not today because of the terrific therapeutic pillows. So since cleanliness is next to Godliness I'll have to do that to make up for it. Then our first softball game tonight, wherein I will prove that I am a horrible, horrible athlete.

Wish us luck!


a n d i said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
a n d i said...

I just wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed your posts (I'm still reading), and I'll definitely be coming back. Good luck on your journey! =)

Melissa said...

Good for you for going back to church if that's what you need. Like you said, people go for all sorts of reasons. Only you know what's best for you. I tried the same thing, before I got married - Left church after high school and went back to see if I was missing something but found that the church didn't support my bleeding heart values so I decided it wasn't for me. You are the captain of your own ship, as my grandfather once told me. Sail on.

Lori said...

First of all, they make pillows with wicking action?

I must have skipped class on that day.

It's funny you mention religion and church in your blog today. I have had a lot of conversations with myself (and it's quite ugly when we interrupt each other) about God, religion, faith, etc. I'm working on a post about it for tomorrow or the next day. But I think we do need to work on all of us, not just what foods we eat and how much/little we exercise. It is a holistic package for us.

And I envy your summers. Not the school year but definitely your summers. ;-) I hope you did well with the game.

A Happy Wife said...

I've been thinking alot lately about my own spirituality and finding ways I can connect more to that part of myself. I think that thoughts like this go hand in hand with trying to improve yourself, you want to improve ALL areas. There's certainly nothing wrong with wanting to see if church can add something meaningful to your life, particularly since that community was a participant in forming who you have become.

I've been looking into things that fill me up emotionally/spirituality too. I do think that to some degree my weight issues come from trying to fill up a void inside of me. I used food to fill that void. I use my marriage to fill that void. But now it's time to dig a little deeper and fill that void with something else. Spirituality maybe. Self esteem definitely.

It's good to know that others struggle with similar issues.