If there’s a theme song for perseverance, determination, and…in the footsteps of my last blog…resilience, it’s “I Still Believe” by The Call. When I listen to it, I believe I can do anything. Michael Been sings as a man who’s been to heartache and back many times, and the contemplative lyrics were meant for such a voice as his. And mine. And yours. And anyone else who’s not given up.
So much of what we strive to do in our lives – what we really deep down want to achieve – is in defiance of what we’ve been told (by others and ourselves) we can’t do. How many times have you lost weight, only to gain it back? How many times have you started exercising, only to quit after a few months? When have you heard (and by whom?), “You can’t do that! You tried before and failed! Come here. Have a cookie.”
<--------raising my hand
We all have a voice inside us urging us on, telling us what it thinks we should do. Often times, it’s a not-so-wholesome plea: “____ will like me more if I do _____.” “I’ll be happy if I just do ______.” “Life will be perfect once I have ____.” But sometimes, after some contemplation and planning, or just due to plain stubbornness, what we hear is a wholesome plea: “You want this for yourself.” “You’re worth it.” “I believe in this goal and you!”
But I still believe
I still believe
Through the shame
And through the grief
Through the heartache
Through the tears
Through the waiting
Through the years
For people like us
In places like this
We need all the hope
That we can get
Oh, I still believe
What we do in response to that voice is what makes the difference between striving and retreating. I wrote in a post on Lynn’s Weigh on Facebook the other day that I’d agreed to do something outside my comfort zone and that my initial response was to eat mindlessly – to just stuff M&Ms (which I didn’t have in the house, thank goodness) or roasted soybeans (I’d just bought a 12-ounce bag) in my mouth as I contemplated my commitment: to fly to New York in early February and tape a segment on weight maintenance for “60 Minutes Australia” (same show as the U.S., just down-under).
Doing TV turns my stomach into a slip knot. (So how come I “wanted” to eat after I sent the “Sure…I’ll do it!” email?) TV makes me sweat, my heart palpitate. I wake up in the middle of the night wondering what the heck I’m going to wear, and I worry that during the interview I’ll get dry mouth and sound like I’m chewing marbles. This worry and future thinking is not very mindful/Buddhist of me, I know. But I never said I was enlightened.
I’d initially said no to the “60 Minutes” offer, telling the producer I wasn’t the poster child he might be looking for because I’d gained some weight and was struggling with arthritis. His reply? Oh…his reply. Made me rethink a whole lot about the “truths” I’d convinced myself of recently:
“May I say it sounds like you are being a little tough on yourself! You're are still half the weight you once were and despite your body having some issues, you are still living healthily and not stacking on too many pounds.
“It’s not so much the 'poster child' we are after, but the real story of someone who has broadly succeeded in not reverting to their former weight, and being determined about it.”
Determined. I read that word over and over. ‘Heck, yeah, that’s me! Doggedly determined. I’ll be damned if I’m going back to where I was. I’ve come too far, worked too hard, learned too much to do that.’ In the passion of that moment, I wrote back and said I’d do it. That’s when the knot formed in the center of my stomach and I wanted to eat. But instead of consuming copious amounts of whatever, I took a bunch of deep breaths, got dressed, and went to visit my grandkids. Because what I realized is that despite the stress and the doubt, my deep down desire is to make weight maintenance part of our culture’s dialogue. To make it as popular as weight loss. If that’s truly my goal, then that voice inside me can say all it wants about my fear of being on TV. My will is stronger.
I still believe. In me. I still believe that through the bumps in the road, through the temptations and heartaches, through the worries and self-doubts, that I can do what I (and others) tell me I can’t do.
I still believe. I hope you do, too. Listen to that song and let it sink into your bones. Dance to it in the kitchen. Let it drive you on the elliptical. For people like us, in places like this.