As of this writing, I am 48 years old, 30 pounds overweight (according to the ‘charts’) with a severe mineral deficiency, a budding yet very slow real estate career and multiple projects that haven’t made me a dime yet. I don’t sound very successful do I?
I am also a mother of 3 grown kids who are pretty fantastic, live 1000 feet from the sands of the Gulf of Mexico, been (mostly) happily married for 25 years and looking forward to, hopefully, retiring with that same man in less than 10 years. While I’m not profiting (yet) off my multiple projects, I have the intelligence, creativity, time and a brief amount of allotted funds to pursue them. My body isn’t perfect but it allows me to go on daily beach walks, weekend bike rides and tennis games and the occasional kayaking adventure. Oh, and that husband of 25 years still thinks I’m beautiful! Does that sound better?
Let’s break down the areas of life where most mom’s success or failure gets measured: Personal, Financial and Domestic. Part 2 of The Success Series will explore Personal Success.
This is your physical, emotional and spiritual self. The one that looks in the mirror notices the wrinkles, the bulges, the grays. This one is especially harsh, especially as we age. Stress loves to stomp on this area of success.
I could go on for pages and pages of how the media has given us distorted images of female beauty, how photo manipulation has created a false perfection, how social media feeds have given an unrealistic view of not only visual beauty but how to attain it. But you know all this.
When we are reaching for the unrealistic we are beyond just missing a physical goal, we are damaging our emotional psyche. We go down a spiral of there must be something wrong with us because other women can look like this. NO.THEY.DO.NOT! Even If you discount women who are naturally thin because of some tweak of genetics (hi, mom!) and look at the models and athletes. It’s their job to look like that. They have trainers and coaches and Photoshop geniuses and the most precious element of all…TIME! They have the time to workout half their day or sit in the makeup chair for hours.
So do you look at your 30 pound overweight body and say, ok, I’m a winner and grab another biscuit? No (well, maybe, cause it’s a biscuit), you figure out what is success to you, right now in your season of life. At 28 I was running most days a week to offset the beer and cookouts every weekend and just trying to get 4-5 uninterrupted hours of sleep a night. At 38 I was getting into cycling, trying to get more years out of my abused knees. I was exploring vegetarianism with coworkers and doing ‘walking meetings.’ Now at 48 calming down my Type-A, overachieving personality is my goal. Stress has wrecked my health so I celebrate 3 minutes of meditation and a 40 minute beach walk as much as I did 5k runs or 30 mile bike rides or hitting a perfect week of allotted diet foods.
Sure, I know my body will move and feel better without those 30 pounds but I’m also over dieting. I’m into health and vitality not diet shakes and weight meetings. My measure of success is waking up without my alarm, feeling good each day, moving my body, eating reasonably which is making sure I feel better at the end of a meal, not worse and loving the people around me.
Why did I spend so much time talking about physical success instead of emotional and spiritual. I firmly believe emotional and physical health are so intertwined it’s almost impossible to separate the two. Feeling like a success in one will spur the success in the other. If life is on a fairly even keel and there are no major upsets, I’m much kinder to myself when I look in the mirror. If my husband and I are getting along and enjoying time together, I feel more confident in his embrace instead of worrying about what I look like or what shouldn’t be jiggling.
I have also found when I’m more compassionate with myself, I’m more compassionate with other women. I listen to what’s going on in their lives instead of judging weight gain or being jealous of weight loss or muscles. Our bodies should be our modes of activity, not invitations to judgement.
Also, emotional eating is a thing. Whether you overeat or undereat, you have to work on the inside or it will wreck the outside. If life is a crazy busy hectic mess of a nightmare right now, work on getting a hold of it. Grab a journal, a friend, your mom, your pastor, your therapist, your Kindle full of self-help books or just step out of your life for a few minutes a day until you feel some semblance of control again. Prioritize your head and heart over your body. You will thank yourself later.
Spiritual is too personal. My faith is not your faith. Your success may be attending church each week while mine may be praying every day. My only advice is if you feel like a spiritual failure, ask yourself who’s measure of success are you looking at? Your mom’s? Your best friend’s? Your pastor’s? Do what your soul needs, whether it’s prayer or meditation or fellowship or learning.
Personal success is just that…personal. Your definition of it will change over time, depending on the season of life you are in. One year it may be a success to carry a growing baby inside your body for 9 months and another it’s to run that marathon you are training for. My 95 year old grandmother is happy to get her 2000 steps a day. Go, Nanny!
So go look in the mirror and show yourself a little compassion. Then go meet a friend and show her a little compassion…maybe while enjoying a biscuit.
Photo: Jessica and I goal planning for 2020 while my grandson (her son) plays in the sand.