Finding Success in Failure—Think Healthy Not Thin

I ended yesterday talking about my failure on month four of my journey toward Thinking Healthy Not Thin. It took me a long time to finish this post because how can you put a positive spin on failure?

I mean, seriously, I took an entire month off.

Yeah, I kept drinking my water, I stayed on a sleep routine, and was reasonably consistent with my food menu. But during month four I completely slacked off.

Why?

Well in order answer that, I had to sit back and analyze what has been going on in my life. From last summer to this spring I’ve been going nonstop and there have been some trying times thrown in there too. No need to detail them out because we all have our own financial, emotional, and familial baggage which likes to show up unannounced on our doorstep. Yes, I know I wasn’t prepared for the exercising, but why did I so easily decide to just say forget the whole month?

Am I a quitter? A failure like I labeled myself?

Stress and exhaustion played a big factor but I certainly wasn’t unhappy. On the other hand, if I had one more acquaintance ask me, “What’s wrong?” or “Are you okay?” I was either gonna punch them in the throat or scream, “Nothing is wrong and if there was, you’re last person I would talk to about it!”

LOL, but the questions did get me thinking. Was there something wrong cuz, jeez, everybody keeps asking me if there is? But I felt perfectly fine. Being quiet and mellow are not always signs of anything wrong, even with someone as gregarious as me. Sometimes I just wanna be quiet and lazy, so why was everyone acting as if something tragic must be happening?

Then I remembered the days after I closed my salon seven years ago. I was so tired of all the drama and the responsibilities of owning a small business and I kinda hibernated from society afterward. That is not to say I withdrew, as if unable to deal with life, rather, it was more of an act of self-preservation. A time to recharge, get back to taking care of myself, indulge in a little R&R and be thoroughly and utterly selfish about what I wanted to do.

Now, of course, during that time I wasn’t even aware my actions had a purpose. It just felt like what I needed to do. It wasn’t until a friend made an offhand remark a year later about my “depression” after I closed the salon that I even began to analyze my behavior. When she threw out the D word I was literally flabbergasted. I gaped at her and thought: “Where the hell did you get that crazy idea from?!”

Then I started thinking about a conversation we’d had a month or so previously. I’d talked about feeling refreshed again, ready to get out and explore new opportunities and spend more time with friends and have fun. I knew I’d been hibernating but now it was time to live life to the fullest again.

Obviously, she interpreted that as me coming out of a depression.

I can honestly say, I have never been depressed a day in my life. Have I hurt, grieved, been overwhelmed? Yes, of course, I’m human. But to label the gauntlet of human emotions as depression is insulting to those who really suffer from it. Depression is a real disease and I do not have it. Of course try explaining that to someone after you just told them you haven’t left your house for weeks other than to go to work, and they will be quick to diagnose you—how thoughtful, right?

To me, I was expressing a renewed zest for life, like I’d just had the best sleep of my life and now I was raring for the new day.

Last summer, one of my cousins went through a similar situation. She quit her job for three months and just stayed at home, reading, chilling and smoking weed (I’ll stick to wine, thank you very much, LOL). Every single one of her friends and family kept asking, “Are you depressed? Is everything okay?” She told me how it was seriously pissing her off and I was like, “Oh my god I know exactly how you feel!”

Neither I nor my cousin was depressed. We had simply taken a little hiatus from life, and instead of getting out of town, we just vegged at home doing nothing but chilling. Without feeling the need to define it, we’d gone into hibernation. We put on the breaks and said, “Nope, I’m done for now. I’m taking a break from all of it and staying home.”

Hibernation is a natural, cyclical part of life. After all, Mother Nature puts the earth to bed under a blanket of snow every winter. Animals instinctively know that it’s time to go aground and sleep for a while. They rest, renew, and come back invigorated for spring.

So why the misunderstanding?

Well, because, unfortunately, it’s frowned upon when a woman declares she needs a break from life. And the worst criticism often comes from within. After all, I started this entire post calling myself a failure.

Why all the self-inflicted guilt? Is it in female biological nature to be guilty all the time? Or just something our parents ingrained in us? I don’t really know. But I do know that any time a mother decides to take a weekend shopping trip with her girlfriends, she hears flak from her mother and/or mother-in-law with an indignant: “Well I never got a break when I had kids.” Or then you have a woman like me who doesn’t have children. The criticism we get from all mothers is even more condescending: “You don’t have kids so what do you need a break from?”

Ugh, if I had a dollar for every time I heard that!

Why do we do this to one another? And more importantly, why do we do this to ourselves?

I called myself a failure because I skipped over month four of my Think Healthy Not Thin goals, but I am not a failure. Life was being kinda shitty so I took a hiatus from extra responsibilities for a few weeks. Oh sure my stress may be different or less than others, but none of us have the right to judge another person’s journey and how they handle it. Every day I set goals with high expectations, creating self-imposed deadlines that are often unrealistic. I do this to myself even amidst external stress that I cannot control. This time, when it all became too much, my body realized before my mind did, that something had to give. So I did more than stop adding things to my to-do list, I tossed said list out on its ass. I let Mother Nature put me to bed under a blanket of soft flannel PJ’s with a side of cabernet. I stayed home and had a Game of Thrones marathon while dining on wine and cheese with my husband. I slept in and read some great romance novels. And you know what? It was awesome!

Yet when I sat down to blog about it, the first thing I did was call myself a failure.

That was the real failure, not some silly monthly goal I’m writing about on my blog.

While in one aspect, yes month four was a flop because I just plain skipped it, but ultimatelSuccessy the failure was me criticizing myself for taking a much needed respite.

I was taking care of myself! How is that a failure?

When you’re on an airplane the flight attendant explains how to use the oxygen mask in case of an emergency and they say that if you’re taking care of an elderly person or a child, you need to put the mask on yourself first. Because you can’t be any good to the people you’re taking care of if you pass out from lack of oxygen, right?

Whatever you are devoting yourself to—a garden, children, spouse, your career, or even a new novel—you will only be as successful as how well you take care of yourself.

And that’s what I did last month.

It’s perfectly fine to take a break every now and again but the important part is that you get back in the game. Don’t beat yourself up because life and circumstances interrupted your goals. Don’t give in and quit. I may have skipped month four, but I never entertained the idea of quitting. This whole blog series is about learning to think differently. So far all of my goals have been physical changes, and I hadn’t really realized how important writing each post was to changing my mental outlook. And that even in failure, I was learning about myself.

What did I learn this month which will help me with my goal to Think Healthy Not Thin?

First of all, that even if I don’t complete the goal, there still is some wisdom to glean—whether about my physical or mental well-being. I also realized that I do not need to qualify every moment of my life with what I want to accomplish, or what I think I should be doing. I had to stop beating myself up when the “plan” falls through. Isn’t a refusal to give up despite setbacks a sign of real success? A girl needs to stop and smell the proverbial roses once and awhile, or watch the TV marathon, because what is the point of thinking healthy if I’m not going to take some time to enjoy life?

Well, we shall see if this epiphany lasts longer than it takes to write this post, but I’m really pleased with the things I’m learning about myself as this series progresses. Month five is coming up and I’m ready to swap the jammies for jeans, the TV for my garden, and the couch for the outdoors. Spring is finally here and while I needed to hibernate for a little, I’m ready to enjoy the sunshine again.

Look out world, because I just had one helluva powernap!

~Deanna

 

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