Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Staying in the moment

Sometimes the most difficult thing for me to do is to stay in the moment.  That could be in both positive and negative situations.  What I do is either project into the future or play the "what if" game with events that have already happened.  Here's a case in point to illustrate what I mean.

Two years ago, I was having lunch off-campus from the high school where I work.  Sometimes I do leave campus for lunch, which I am absolutely permitted to do, either to just have some alone time or to go grab something to eat.  A job at a high school is definitely a stressful one, no matter what your role, and there are times when you just need some quiet time even if you love what you do.  Trust me, it's generally not a job for someone that needs to be in a quiet space all the time.  On a particular day two years ago, that's just want I needed.  I went out to have some lunch and ate it in my car while I listened to NPR to find out what was happening out in the world.  When I was done, I put the lunch in a bag, put on
my seat belt and proceeded to start the car.  The only problem was that it wouldn't start when I attempted to turn the key.  I suspected it was a bad battery.  I tried to find people to jump my car, but no one had cables and all I got when I tried to call people was their voicemail.  I ended up having to call a tow truck so that I could get a jump and then take the car to have it looked at.  In my mind, I was thinking about all the things I was missing at work and about what I did to make this happen in the first place.  Surely it had to be my fault, I thought.  Never mind the fact that I had no idea how old the battery was when I bought this used car.  No, rational thinking was not part of my head conversation in that moment.  And all I wanted to do was eat, even though I had just finished having lunch.  It was just very uncomfortable sitting there, trying to stay in the moment.  In fact, I sort of hated it. I eventually got everything taken care of and, yes, it was the battery.

Now, have I learned anything facing that sort of situation in these two years?  Let's see ... I started out my morning feeling really great with glorious sleep.  I had a nice breakfast and was ready to start my day.  Even the new medication I've been taking has really been helping with no side effects and the added benefit of helping with my leg pain.  While it's still with me, it's much more manageable.  So I practically skipped out to my car (okay, I didn't really skip but didn't the image just pop in your head??).  I went to get it started and, boom, it wouldn't turn over.  The same exact thing happened that I faced two years ago.  I tried for a few minutes but nothing was working.  Thankfully I was at home, so I wasn't stranded anywhere.  I was grateful for that!  I went in the house and calmly tried to remember who lives near me that is up at that time of day that could possibly give me a jump.  I was able to find someone who sent her husband over with his jumper cables and working battery.  While I was waiting for him, I calmly watched Good Morning America, my kitties purred next to me and I just sat in peace.  I wasn't happy about this development, but what could I do?  I didn't go to the thought that I did something wrong and I didn't worry about things out of my control.  I sent an e-mail on my iPhone to my office to let them know what was going on.  In no time, my friend's husband came, I was able to drive over to the place where I had the battery changed and it was still under warranty, so that means it was free to me.  They did have to test it to make sure it wasn't the alternator but I was out of there in about an hour and headed off to work.

This was a big lesson for me in remembering that I don't have to react in an extreme manner and that I actually can sit in the moment.  I wasn't rifling around in the kitchen looking for food to soothe an anxiousness I may have been feeling.  I was as calm as a cucumber.  This doesn't mean I always react so sedately to situations.  It's still very difficult for me to not want to munch on excess food in the evenings.  It's my worst time of day in terms of the food calling me.  In those moments, I need to remember that if I just put one foot in front of the other, I can get through it.  Habits took time to develop, so they will take time to change, too.  I pray that the more times I can get through those dicey moments without succumbing to the enticement of the food, the easier it will become.  Who knows, maybe it will always be a struggle for me, as it is for many people.  I just want to have tools at my disposal to help me get through those moments.  Having the battery die on the car is not the worst thing in the world by far, but it can be anything that sends a person to eat if that's how they've learned to be in the moment.  There could be a really good reason to eat or just out of sheer boredom.  Therein lies the mystery of the call of the food.  As they say in 12-step programs, "It's cunning, baffling and powerful." 


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