Nothing gives me a bigger thrill than learning something new. As I’ve mentioned before, I was lovingly referred to as “The Mouth of Unwanted Knowledge” in high school, so as you can imagine, new tidbits of trivia are always music to my ears. I guess I enjoy learning when it’s on my terms. This means I don’t have an assignment or homework to do and can watch or read things that peak my interests. I can usually be found watching shows on the Discovery, History, and National Geographic channels as I find them completely intriguing as well as educational. I enjoy listening to podcasts from Radiolab as they cover a myriad of topics and always put an interesting twist on what it is that they are discussing. What I have found more recently, is that in addition to learning new information about other things, I find it even more interesting when I learn something new about myself.
Someone once asked me, “In what five-year period do you think you grew the most intellectually and emotionally?” In years past my answer without question would have included the ages 18-23. After all, during this time I moved away and started college, got married, graduated from college, bought and sold our first house, bought our second house and was in the beginnings of our struggle with infertility. I’d have to say that after seeing those in type, they are some pretty heavy issues to deal with. Of course those are just the tip of the iceberg, but you get the idea. So while those issues have definitely helped to shape me into the person I am today, my journey is by no means over which means I never stop learning.
Someday I’d really like to learn something the easy way. I’ve had many conversations with God saying that I really will appreciate and remember the lesson if it can just be a little bit easier. Why is it then that God insists that I learn everything the hard way? Is it just funnier to watch how I can find new and better ways to royally screw up my life or whatever situation I’m in at the time?
Over the last year, I feel like all of the lessons of my past have been dwarfed by the depth and impact my recent eye-opening experiences have had on me. One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned was from an older lady at one of my Weight Watchers meetings. Keep in mind when I say older, she has to be at least in her late 60’s or early 70’s. After finally getting to the point that she was able to set her final goal weight, she was asked what she had learned. Her answer struck a chord with me. She replied, “I learned I finally had to grow up.” By this, she meant that she had to realize that food was always going to be a battle for her. She could either accept this as fact and keep the weight off or continue to act foolishly about it and struggle for the rest of her life. After hearing this, I realized that it would probably be a whole lot easier to “grow up” at my age than at hers. From that point on, I have looked at this process of weight loss in a completely different light. If this is going to be a permanent change, then I have to grow up and do things I don’t always want to do. This includes exercising and controlling what I eat. This isn’t always an easy thing to do, but if being healthy is something I really value and want then it’s worth working hard for…and it is hard work.
I can honestly say that my mind feels like a sponge most of the time. This is very two-sided though. Sure I can soak up information I find interesting, but like a sponge, there are many cases when I’d like to wring it out so I can rid it of a bad thought, decision, or embarrassing moment. Needless to say, more than anything, it is my mind that gets in my way. It isn’t until I’m able to “wring it out” so to say that I can finally get some clarity. I can be having a good day and all it takes is a single random negative thought to pop into my head to instantly change my mood. It really is amazing just how much power your brain has over your actions. After all, whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.
This week I proved to myself that it’s my brain and not my body holding me back…and probably always has. Let me share yet another recent discovery. Each time I go to the gym for a workout, I always finish it by completing a 5K. I say completing it because I don’t always run the entire way. As I was coming to the last lap on this particular day, I began wondering if I could run a little faster. My pace is usually at a comfortable 5.5 mph which is way faster than I ever thought I’d be able to run when I started exercising. I began increasing the speed until I realized I was running at 9 mph!! If you had asked me earlier that day if I could run that fast I would have said no way! Did I fall? No! Did I die? Wouldn’t be writing this if I had! Did I feel like I had overcome something that had been holding me back? You bet your sweet bippies!
What I’ve discovered now, is that once I learn to find a way to turn off the negative thoughts in this crazy brain of mine, there will be no stopping me. I may still have many difficult and challenging lessons to learn, but that’s not the point. The point, my friends, is that I found that my only limits are the ones I set. Even more important is that I learned something new about myself; I continue to learn new things about myself, and most importantly I will never stop learning!! I challenge you to do the same!