On my birthday, my depressing, uncelebrated, one year older and no farther ahead birthday I drove in to school to prepare for the week and feed the classroom pet. I was listening to the local NPR station and at the time they were playing the Ted Radio Hour and the theme of the show, “Just a Little Nicer,” was compassion. Four or five short bits, all examining compassion from a variety of perspectives. The show was the perfect antidote to the blue funk which had bedeviled me – thought provoking, intelligent dialogue with some very learned and articulate people. Although I didn’t hear the entire show, I heard enough to get me thinking about how bogged down I’ve been in anxiety and worry and second guessing myself. My thoughts have been turned excessively inward and at the same time filtered through a damp morass of negativity. Listening to people talk about compassion – which I consider to be a key virtue of humanity and an attribute I value highly in myself and attempt to model to my children – against the backdrop of my swampy thoughts made me realize just how much I’ve strayed from the path I’d like to be on.
I was both too caught up in myself and too hard on myself to the point of neglecting my health and appearance. I became tired and fat and frumpy. I could hardly take care of myself when I didn’t care for myself. What’s more I was neglecting other relationships as well. I’m far too critical and short tempered. As I thought it over I came to realize that I need to think both more, and less, of myself. I need to value and care for myself much more than I do and to see the positives and successes as well as the negatives and failures. And I need to turn outward and practice more compassion towards others. This seems to happen every so often – I just get tired and lose the ability to be strong and resourceful and collapse inward. Then I have to figure out how to get back up again.
To that end I’ve resolved to make changes to my diet, cutting out harmful things and eating more healthfully, to begin an exercise practice that provides some stress relief as well as physical activity, and to find a cause outside of work and home to which I can contribute in a way that satisfies me. I don’t imagine it will be an easy change to make – habits wouldn’t be habits if they were easy to break – so I’m looking for supportive people and groups to help me.
Coincidentally today my principal confided that he’s put on a bit of weight in the past year and several of us at work have decided to support and challenge each other to make healthier lifestyle choices beginning when we return from the holiday break. Thank you to supporters who have purchased some of the fitness oriented gifts I had on our Amazon wish list. I’m looking forward to putting them to use over the break while I try to create new habits that will sustain and energize me while I continue to face our significant challenges!