Monday, January 23, 2012

stuck in a rut

I have a confession to make.

I’ve crashed and burned. 

It isn’t easy to commit this to writing, since last year I was so proud of myself about finally finding the spark I needed to get up and start exercising and having started to do the work I want to do to within myself.
When you make a public statement about what you’re doing, it’s supposed to make you more accountable and more likely to follow it through. This clearly hasn’t happened for me.

When I started running in December, I knew there was a risk that I wouldn’t stick with it over the Xmas break. I accepted that, and I told myself that I wasn’t going to beat myself up about slacking off for a couple of weeks. I still knew I wanted to do it and I was starting to feel better, even though I had a long way to go. I thought that would be enough to make the feeling last.

Only it didn’t. And it hasn’t been a couple of weeks any more. It’s been over a month. And now I am starting to feel down on myself about it.

It’s school holidays, so nothing is normal and my routines have been disrputed. Slabs had some time off after Xmas and I’d been going to work in my own time, leaving Slabs and Juniordwarf to do their own thing. Now Slabs and I are both back at work and Juniordwarf is shuffling between home days, grandmother days, daycare and vacation care. It’s starting to get complicated.

On the first day of vacation care I had to pack Juniordwarf’s lunch. It felt just like a school morning and all the stresses and anxieties of last year started to come back.

Up until then, despite falling off the wagon, I’d been feeling fairly relaxed. But that day, I could just feel myself sliding back into my old stressed ways.

I feel like I’m edging back towards the familiar.

Someone once described to me the process of change as being like trying to divert a river from its course. The water has forged its course over many years. The longer it has followed the path, the deeper and wider the course is, and the harder it is to make the water flow a different way.

I imagine it slightly differently. 

I see myself picking my way along a steep, deep, dry river course, where water hasn't flowed for a long time, with many loose rocks all the way up the embankment. When I try to make my way out of this channel, the challenge is to find a solid hand hold or a foot hold, rather than a loose rock.

And now, having made such great progress starting to scramble up that river bank, I find more loose rocks than firm hand holds. I feel my grip loosening and my footholds failing. 

Sometimes it seems like it would be easier just to let go and slide back down, in a mini-avalanche of rocks.

There is comfort in the familiar. 

I know that river’s course well. It’s safe and unchanging. There are no surprises and there’s nothing to fear there.

I’ll look back up at how far I got this time and wish I hadn’t let go, but part of me will be secretly relieved that I’m not still perilously clinging on in unfamiliar territory.

I’ll know that from lower down there are no more risks of falling, so I’ll be safe.

I’ll keep working my way along the riverbed, picking out the easy course. Sometimes I might stumble on the loose rocks, but that won’t be as bad as falling from a great height.

But where is the riverbed leading me? Nowhere new. To a place I don’t want to go to any more. Not upward and out of there. 

But upward is the way I want to want to go.

So why won’t I start climbing again? Is it that I’ll simply move along the river bed until I find a place that looks like it might be easier to climb up? Is that what the spark that I got last year was – an easier starting point?

Or will I have to tell myself that there isn’t going to be an easier starting point, and that here is as good a place as any to try again, and begin the climb all over again?

But . . . if I don’t let myself fall now, I won’t have to have that conversation. If I hang on to where I am now, and keep reaching out until I find the next hand hold, then maybe I can keep going.

I just need to find whatever it is that got me started to push me that little bit further so I can find the next thing I need; to stretch my arm out just a little more to grab hold of the next hand hold.

I hope I find it soon.


  1. I enjoyed your post. It’s a lot like college – we should absorb everything we can but ultimately you need to take what you’ve learned and apply it.
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  2. Big hugs lovely. I always love Susan Jeffer's explanation of being the person you want to be, she describes it not as a smooth line because it's impossible to Get It Right, but more a life of correcting when you're not feeling the best, then correcting again. Like a spiky line graph. You're doing an awesome job and I love reading about it. xx

  3. Fighting the inertia demons is a constant battle. As Amy mentioned, we swing wildly from achieving lots to collapsing in a heap - sometimes for months on end in my case. I usually find that the best way to get back into exercise is to start at a lower level, rather than trying to take up where I left off.
    I also find it's good to plan my day in advance. When I was working full-time and doing a research degree part-time, people often asked how I did so much. Mostly I managed by working out, during the day or on the way home, what I was going to do each evening. I suddenly realised last night, after getting very frustrated about not doing much lately, that I now need to spend a little time each evening thinking what I want to do the following day. It will be interesting to see if it works but Day 1 is going well. Yes, I know it's not even 9.30am but usually at this time I'll be slouching around in my jimjams trying to think about what to do. Instead, I'm dressed, have had breakfast, meditated for 20 minutes, done some sewing and am about to hang out a load of washing. That sounds exhausting - I might have to lie down and recover. :)

  4. Maybe start with just going for a walk instead of thinking that you have to run?

  5. Sometimes, surviving and moving forward is more about planting your feet and refusing to move backwards for a bit. That's all you can do, sometimes.

    And here, listen to this.


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