Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Change


You can train yourself to do just about anything.  I am a firm, firm believer in that.  It takes time and will, but you can do it.  The human spirit is an amazing thing.  We are capable of so much, but I think we too often limit ourselves.  “I can’t do it.”  “I don’t like it and never will.” “It is too hard.”  “Its not worth the effort.”  “I’m too old to change now.”  "It's too late."

I don't believe that.  For the vast, vast, vast  majority I think change is always possible.  If we desire change enough we can make it happen.

A little story for illustration: 
When I was growing up I had to be just about one of the pickiest eaters in the world.  I always was so grateful that my parents accommodated my picky eating and never, say, forced me to sit at the table all night until I ate my spinach.  They mostly just made green beans with cheese for me because they knew that was a vegetable I’d eat.  And that was that.  I liked light tan and white stuff mostly—rice, bread, pasta, potatoes, chicken, cheese.  I ate virtually no vegetables once I moved out of my parent’s house, not that I ate much aside from green beans while I was there.  But, then I wanted to become a vegetarian, but I didn’t eat vegetables or beans... which was an issue.  So, I had some work to do.  Slowly and surely I made my diet take just about a complete 180 degree turn.  Now I love vegetables and beans with a passion that I could have never predicted ten years ago.  

Even within that story is a sub-story that further illustrates:  I still hated certain vegetables, like the dreaded broccoli.  I wanted to like it.  I really, really did.  Matt likes it, we’ve grown it, and I hear it’s so good for you.   I really wanted to like it.  So, I kept trying and trying (steamed, roasted, stir-fried, etc.) and now I willingly eat broccoli.  Is it my favorite vegetable?  Certainly not, but it isn’t bad.  I eat it and enjoy my meal still.  Preference for taste is not set in stone at all, but I think a lot of people believe that it is.

Or how about this one:
I was convinced I hated to cook.  For the first two or more years of our relationship Matt did, and I am probably not exaggerating, 99% of the cooking.  I had no interest.  I’ve since realized it was a two-fold issue.  One, I just didn’t have a clue what I was doing in the kitchen which intimidated me.  Two, I had little motivation to make anything more complex than boxed convenience dinners which aren’t a satisfying way to cook like cooking from scratch is—it doesn’t give you a thrill to serve Hamburger Helper “lasagna” that way it does when you pull a lasagna made with your own two hands out of the oven. 

However, when I started paying attention to where my food came from and the quality of the food I was eating I suddenly found the motivation to learn to cook.  If I wanted to eat healthy, delicious, and affordable food I was going to have to learn to make it myself.  These days I’d say it’s very safe to say I adore cooking and baking.  It makes me so happy inside when I am in the kitchen making up something delicious.  It is an amazingly practical way to express creativity and I’ve found it brings joy to those who share meals with you.  I love sharing a meal with those I care about.  Talk about a simple, beautiful pleasure.  Again, I’d have never predicted this turn of events.  I expected to eat frozen pizza and Campbell’s soup for the rest of my life.  Now I wouldn’t dream of it.

Maybe I should offer some non-food related examples, just in case you are like I used to be and not really that into food.

How about walking?  I used to think walking was a from-the-house-to-the-car-to-class-to-the-car-to-the-house-again sort of activity.  Or something done while camping.  I can’t really explain that attitude now as it seems so odd looking back on it.  I just didn’t really walk places.  If I needed to go to the store or a friend’s house or something I got in my car.  But, when Matt and I decided to consolidate to one car that meant both of us would be doing a lot more walking than we used to.  And to my surprise, I really, really, really enjoy it.  Walking is now my preferred mode of transportation, barring long road trips of course.  I firmly believe that walking pace is the perfect pace to approach the world.  It is so calming and seems to foster appreciation for surroundings and reflection in thought.  Aside from the coldest days of winter I look forward to walking home from work.  It is my alone time.  I enjoy walking home even more than riding my bicycle.  It is slower to walk, but more pleasant to do.  Matt and I go for walks in the evenings several times a week.  Nowhere to go, nothing to see…just a few blocks or many blocks as the weather permits…to stroll and enjoy the sky, the trees, the houses, the neighbors, the clouds, the birds, the flowers, the cats, the icicles, the…whatever we come upon.

While visiting Denver we mapped out our destination from the hotel.  It was just a little over two miles.  I said something like “Two miles, oh that’s nothing.” 

Or quitting smoking—that was a huge effort towards retraining myself.  As I said in an earlier post, I fully expected to smoke for the rest of my life.  I didn’t want to, but I didn’t see any other way.  But, try, try, try again (about 20 times) and here I am…a very content non-smoker for more than five years.   It’s easy.  I don’t even think about it anymore.

Or even something as simple as learning to type without looking at your hands.  I can remember taking keyboarding class in junior high and being convinced it was impossible.  But, practice, practice, practice, and I learned it isn't.  It's just a matter of training.

I am not sure this all came out with the impact I hoped, but let the message not be diluted by my rambling examples.  You can train yourself to do nearly anything you want—be it to eat a wider variety of foods, or to juggle, or make bread at home, or run a 5K, or learn to knit, or do a headstand, or whatever you desire.   Just go do it.  You can do it if you put your will behind it and just don’t quit.  I can almost promise you that after a while, and probably not as long as you’d think, it will be easy and routine.  It just takes practice.

5 comments:

  1. There is another possibility with food choices. The foods that I refused to eat when I was preschool and elmentary schools are foods I now want to eat but have found I am allergic to. I love spinach raw. When I eat it cooked or in a dish where it plays only a minor part, it comes right up. I can be eating it with gusto, but up it comes. The same thing is true of anything pickled or containing vinegar.

    The idea of a vegetarian who does not like vegetables is hilarious. I am glad you learned to cook. It is certainly most fortunate that Matt could and did cook.

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    1. Matt taught me just about everything I know in a kitchen. He was a very patient teacher which was good because in the kitchen I was a pretty slow learner!

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  2. "Where there's a will, there's a way!" What great examples, Beth, and something I believe in too :) Thanks for sharing your thoughts!
    -Jaime

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  3. You are so inspiring. I adore stories of people who change their lives the way you did. I hate to hear people whine about wishing they could do something - get some willpower and DO IT.

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    1. Thanks Margo! Realizing that I could change myself was a total mindset altering thing which is in turn a life altering thing. I can do it if I try and want it enough. It up to me. What a liberating and powerful idea!

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Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts and ideas. I value the advice and friendship that you share with me!