FEBRUARY 2018 – Part II
I began this month with extremely low expectations and very high hopes. Now you might say, isn’t ‘hope’ and ‘expectation’ the same thing and go on to quote the Oxford dictionary that describes hope as a feeling of expectation and desire. Well, it’s not (in my opinion).
We all hope for a bright future, don’t we? But expecting life to turn out the way we hope it will is another thing altogether. So I say let’s get our hopes up, and believe that great stuff is just around the corner, waiting to happen. Let’s ditch that frown when the alarm clock trills and begin the day with a smile because honestly, you can’t go to bed expecting to wake up the next day for you can only hope that you do.
My Hypotheses: In order to enjoy the ordinary, one must be light-hearted, thankful, and forgiving.
Relationships: Acceptance and Letting Go
It was the last week of January, and I told myself, ‘I’m done. No more diet cola for me.’ I knew I had to go cold turkey … if I was going to love and respect my body, I just had to do it. Oh, I’ll drink just 1 a week or only on weekends, didn’t ever work for me. I invariably went back to one a day and felt miserable about my weak will-power. Today, I can proudly say that I am four weeks “diet-coke-sober” (that is if you don’t count a half glass of regular coke that I used as a substitute for alcohol at a barbecue party). My new go-to drink on a hot day (which is nearly every day when you live in Bangkok) is freshly squeezed lemon/lime with a pinch of salt in water. Luckily for me, I love sour foods so it has been working well for my body.
So here’s how I see it, I made a decision, and I hoped to see myself through it but when I slipped that one time I didn’t look at it as a mighty failure and pressed on. I am waiting for that day when I can sip on the occasional cola drink and not be addicted. I know I am too raw right now and should wait a few months before doing that … best not to tempt oneself! I think I’m going to have to use a similar method with my coffee too, but I know I am not ready to wean off it as yet. I’m taking this one slow. Mums of toddlers need coffee (at least once a day) is my lame excuse.
With an updated diet and regular exercise plan (5 days a week -10k steps) I thought I had made super progress on my project until one morning a few days before Valentine’s Day, I woke up to a horror sight. Out of the blue, overnight, I had close to 35 tiny white boils on my face. Of course, my husband thought it was best to make light of the situation, ‘It looks like a nasty bird laid several eggs on your face. They’ll hatch don’t worry,’ he said. I was aghast, and knew if I reacted he’d probably remind me about “being light-hearted”. I did the best I could and so I ignored the comment. I frantically booked an appointment with the dermatologist hoping she’d give me some oral medication that would make it all disappear. The doctor examined my face and matter-of-factly said, ‘Umm … this is acne – hormonal or stress-related.’ The first one was ruled out, and I was left with stress as my only reason. But how! I’m doing this whole “joyful” project, it should make my skin glow and not break out, right? Wrong! While I was definitely enjoying the path that I was on, I unknowingly bit off more than I could chew. I believed I was doing my best but instead I was pushing myself way too much – writing assignments, social commitments, voluntary work, women’s fellowship, school functions, toddler bedtime potty training.
Was I suffering from an absurd version of FOMO (fear of missing out)? I had to learn to say NO. It’s not like anyone was pressuring me to say yes, I just felt the incessant need to do just about everything. As a result, the white ash volcanic eruption on my face! The only way to tackle this was by taking a conscious break. And I did … right after Valentine’s, I excused myself from a few meetings and group activities and decided to just slow down. I spent some time listing my priorities and made a note of items that were sucking the joy out of me and decided to either omit them completely or bring them back in slowly. So while I wasn’t remotely thankful for the boils, I know it was an eye-opener for me, and for that, I am extremely thankful!
One good move this month was scheduling time with God at the start of the day. I know this sounds weird, but mornings set the tone for the entire day. And I did notice that days I began with prayer were far easier than days I didn’t. The challenges didn’t disappear, I just felt more equipped to deal with them than I would otherwise. I now make the effort to wake up half an hour earlier to sip on my coffee and spend fifteen minutes or so just thanking God for everything. In my earlier post, I mentioned my walks were a great time to spend in prayer, but the harsh heat (Bangkok goes from a 15-day winter to a 11.5-month summer) has begun to make me irritable, and I get distracted by the discomfort and feel far from thankful during that time.
On the work front, February has been mostly sunshine. I found favour with a few book reviewers, and one such reviewer gave me a smashing book review … the next thing I knew, the review was carried across multiple media company websites. You know, when you’re a debut author, it’s these little surprises of encouragement that let you hold your chin up and push through. And so I celebrated with some wine and cheese right on my living room couch. I deliberately didn’t take photos. I wanted this celebration of my little win to be stored just in my memory. These are probably insignificant events for many people, but to me, hope was flickering and telling me, ‘Don’t look back … be patient, let life lead you’.
As for my relationships, this month has been particularly trying. I have two friends leaving Bangkok and another who’s probably going to head back home very soon too. During my teens, if I knew someone was going away to study or moving cities I’d begin the process of moving forward even before the person had left. I didn’t enjoy being left behind. No one does. So I’d shield myself from the pain and detach immediately knowing very well that I could be hurting the other person. But I’m wiser in my 30s and know that change is inevitable and that I’m better of spending time with these friends (even if we don’t meet again in this lifetime) than detaching before time in the hope that the separation would be easier.
Farewells are hideously wrapped new beginnings for both the person going away and the person staying back. So this time I’m staying and saying my goodbyes the right way.
Best Shareable Moment This Month:
What I am most proud of this month is my progress at being light-hearted in very challenging situations that include my strong-willed daughter. We’ve spent four long hours at the park when my upper limit is 1.5 hours. Lil Z has had three-day-long playdates at our place (just because) this month. On days that she isn’t in school, I try my best not to time her (meals and naps are not counted). And because of which I’ve heard many more, ‘Mama, I love our time together’. Oh, sweet Lord, those words are like honey to my ears, and it’s really not about letting her be a brat … just a little about letting her be! I’ve begun to use the Will it matter five years from now (5×5) rule and it has helped.
Well, that’s all for this month folks, and before I go I am thrilled to share that TheOrdinaryLifeProject now has three more members who will be documenting their ordinary life this year. I am hoping to see this tribe grow. So if you’d like to join me in this project leave me a message in the comments section. If you’d like to participate by sharing photos of your life’s ordinary yet joyful moments, feel free to use #TheOrdinaryLifeProject hashtag. Ciao!