Clutter and my Mind’s Eye

Lately I have felt as if the “powers that be” at Weight Watchers have been reading my thoughts and creating meetings for our members that go along with my thoughts and my struggles.

Or maybe, just maybe, I am not the only one who has these thoughts, habits, behaviors and struggles.

Knowing that I am not alone is one of the many reasons why I have always loved going to my meeting and why I believe that the magic in the Weight Watchers program is in the meeting rooms and in the interactions between those who sit in the chairs every week.

This week’s and last week’s meeting topics have had me contemplating my journey and the struggles that I still have every day……struggles that I never imagined I would continue to have once I reached my goal and achieved Lifetime status with Weight Watchers. After all, I REACHED my goal, I changed habits and lost the weight……I got to the finish line…….

In reality, there is no finish line. There is no end to the journey or the realizations that we come to about ourselves. And that is why I will ALWAYS attend a meeting as a member. In the meeting room, sitting in that chair, I feel safe…..it is where I know that I am not alone. It is where I know that others are having the same struggles, understand my small victories and celebrations, and where others understand what I am going through and the difficult journey that this is.

Sometimes this journey is easy and sometimes, it is just plain hard.

Over the past two weeks, between attending a meeting as a member and leading meetings as a Leader, I have learned some things about myself and my continuing journey to be the best and healthiest version of me that I can be.

Last week we discussed body images, how we view ourselves and how to turn those negatives into positives. At the meeting I attended last week, the leader asked if, while standing in front of mirror with a friend, we would say to that friend the negative thoughts that we had about ourselves…….only say it about our friend. Of course NOT! I would NEVER say to a friend the thoughts that sometimes pass through my mind. So, then why do I say them to myself?

And then a member in that same meeting asked another member how that person sees themselves in their mind? Okay……THAT hit a button in me. How do I see myself, not in the mirror, but in my mind’s eye?

When I was at my heaviest weight I saw myself much thinner. In my mind’s eye, I never saw the huge me. And at the meeting last week I realized that in my mind’s eye I now see myself at my heaviest. It is only when I look in the mirror or see a picture that I realize that I am not that huge version of me. But when I close my eyes, I see the “before” me. Why? I am not sure why that has happened, but I do know that I am not alone, that others have found that same thing happening to them.

So now, how do I change it? How do I tell my mind that I am not that version anymore, that I am a thinner, healthier and much happier version? I am working on that right now. Awareness is the first step in making any change, and now that I am allowing myself to face how my mind “sees” me, I can figure out a way to change it.

“Change your thoughts, and you’ll change your world”……a quote my leader shared with our group at last week’s meeting and THAT is what I have been working on. It began by doing something a member in one of my meetings suggested—using a dry erase marker, write positive affirmations to yourself on your mirror. And that is just what I did this past week. My mirror is covered with positives about me and seeing those words written on my mirror makes me smile EVERY single time I look in the mirror.

It is a start.

I am changing my thoughts and with that I am changing the way my mind’s eye views me.

And then we jumped into this week’s meeting topic and another realization for me. I realized that maybe, just maybe, I still have a little bit of that mind clutter–the baggage of the past mixed with the worries of today–to sort through. That maybe, it is that mind clutter that keeps me seeing myself in my mind’s eye as my “before”. Clutter, whether in our physical spaces or in our minds can hold us back, can keep us from moving forward and can keep our thoughts stuck in that negative space.

Mind clutter, the chaos of the past mixed with the pain, anger, and shame of my childhood was what kept me at my highest weight. Getting rid of that clutter, by sorting through my excess baggage, a little at a time, was how I lost the weight and how I found myself. Writing was my way of sorting through it all, of discarding the parts that held me back and keeping the parts that make me who I am today.

I realized this week that there is still some clutter to get through and that with the turmoil of the past few months my mind is feeling cluttered and messy. I had one of those “aha” moments this week when I realized that the clutter in my mind is what keeps my mind’s eye seeing me as my “before”. So, I am taking steps now, today, to get my mind clear of the clutter so that my mind’s eye can clearly see me, as I am today, not as I was yesterday.

And that starts by taking care of me.

It starts by being kind to myself.

It starts by writing positive affirmations on my mirror.

It starts by writing in my journal, sorting through the jumbled mess inside my head.

It starts by doing things I enjoy doing.

One step at a time, one day at a time, one meeting at a time and one thought at a time.

Home

Summer, a season that conjures up time outside, long days and late nights, ice cold drinks under a tree or by a pool, and HOT days, especially here in Arizona. Summer is also a season for moving….at least in the military world that my husband and I lived in for 30 years.  And now my news feeds on facebook are filled with moving stories from my many friends and the excitement of that next adventure they are embarking on.

The past few months have found me purging closets, boxes, and rooms in our house. I have been reorganizing, rearranging, throwing things out and setting aside items to be donated.  Yet, I have NO PLANS on moving……..

Being a military wife meant moving, A LOT! My husband served in the Air Force for 30 years.  Our first military move came 4 years after he started his Air Force life.  Most of our moves were in the summer months, though a couple of the moves came suddenly in the middle of a school year.  Each move was a new adventure for our family, a new place to explore….even the places I NEVER imagined living in or thought about visiting. 

We moved 13 times in 26 years. And starting a few months before every move, I would start purging, organizing and prepping all our belongings for the next house.  I hung onto curtains far longer than any one should because, maybe, just maybe, they will fit into the next house……

Moving was a way of life for our military family. And moving was a part of my early years, despite the fact that my parents were not in the military.  Between the ages of 3 and 18, I moved 19 times…..yes, 19 different homes, different cities and different school districts all in the span of 15 years.  I went to 7 different high schools but changed high schools 9 times in 4 years.  No wonder I could not graduate with my class and had to go an extra year of high school to get my diploma…….I could have given up, not finished school or gone a different route, but I persisted, and succeeded despite all of the obstacles I faced.  Even in difficult times, we can find our path, our footing and find a way to get through.

My life has meant a lot of moves and a lot of changes. And I DO NOT like change, as I mentioned in my previous blog post.  Yet, some of those changes….maybe all of those changes, have led me to who I am today and where I am today.

The longest place I have lived and the longest place my husband has lived, was our home in Virginia when he was stationed at the Pentagon.  We were there for 6 years.  After the first 2 years in Virginia, I started purging, organizing and prepping……a lot of years of moving habits had me on autopilot.  Without realizing it I was prepping for a move, one that was not coming for another 4 years.  After that first 2 years in Virginia, we started to plant some roots, and to settle in…..

Today, in this house I have lived in for almost 2 years, I am contemplating the idea of a permanent home…….a home where I know I won’t be moving again. A place to put deep roots, to establish a settled life and to make a home that feels like “home” when my adult children visit…a place my future grandchildren will build memories in. 

As I find myself in this old habit of moving preparation, I have discovered something new, something different……I am purging, organizing and rearranging, not in anticipation of an upcoming move, but in preparation for our forever home……getting rid of the things that I don’t need to keep “just in case” it will work in our next house and keeping the mementos of our life adventures, of the places we have lived, places we have visited and the people we have met along the way.

All of my life I have wanted a “home”, a house that I would never move from, that place I could feel safe and settled, that place I would spend my life, raise my kids and make lots of memories in. For my younger self with my mom, “home” was safe but not permanent….with my dad “home” was chaotic, dysfunctional and constantly moving.  As an adult, “home” was where the Air Force sent us.

What I have learned through all these years and all those many moves, is that “home” isn’t about a building or belongings. “Home” is about the people, the feeling, the connection and the love.  My home is with my husband, wherever we are.  Though I didn’t realize it, we have put down roots, in many locations, across thousands of miles, in different states and countries.  Our roots are expansive, deep in some places and shallower in others, but we have roots and they lead us to the many friends and family we have across the miles.

And now our roots are being planted here, in this community and in this house where we have mementos of our adventures and the life we have made. Our home is not made of sticks, bricks or stone.  Our home is made of love, laughter, tears, joy and memories.  Our home is built on a foundation of trust, compassion, friendship and love. 

My hope is that our move here was our last move, but if it is not and we pull up stakes and head out again, I know that “home” will be with us, is within us.

With my husband, I am now and always have been, home.