The freedom of having no particular "way"

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3571583262_aca9a71b51_b.jpgFor a long time I was in search of "the way I will do things." This will be the way I will prepare food and eat forever in order to get to/maintain the weight I want. This will be the way I clean my house so that it will be automated and I will never be stressed about it. This will be the way I organize my clothes so that I will always have a cute and practical outfit at the ready. This will be the way I work, so that I always have work going out, work coming in, time to brainstorm and time to correspond.

Would you believe that I have yet to find one single system that has been convenient and practical to last me thoruhgout my entire life?* Weird.

But knowing this and accepting this is its own good system. It's very liberating to know that nothing is forever and to trust that things will be okay once my temporary system becomes untenable. For instance, I get on micro food obsessions. I will find some food combination, say, carrots and baby peanut butter, and eat it nearly every day for weeks on end because I like the taste and it's easy to make and it doesn't make my body upset. Then I'll get to one week where I can't stand to look at another carrot. Or some periods I want to cook and try a lot of new recipes, constantly checking my fridge to see what ingredients I have and breaking for the day early so I can prep dinner. Then all of a sudden I can't stand to do dishes or shopping and I'll just want to eat Amy's frozen meals.

Just telling myself that nothing will be this way forever has been one of the best lessons I've learned in the last few years. That was especially important with raising children--harder with my first, because I had nothing to compare it with. My second child right now is a little bit past one and it is a pain in the ass age: he doesn't sit still but isn't sturdy on his feet; he only occasionally plays contently on his own; he eats regular food but he throws it on the floor when he's done. I remember how upset I'd get when my first was that age because it was so frustrating and insulting to have him behave like that; now I know this is just sort of the way station between babyhood and toddlerhood.

Similarly, the awareness that I don't need one lone perspective or strategy got me through my half marathon on Sunday. There were definitely points where I was close to thinking "Oh my god, I just ran five miles and I still have EIGHT MORE TO GO" but I was able to steer the mental conversation back to "OK, this part kinda sucks but just get through it and you'll feel good again soon, I bet, just hang in there."

It gets me through taking care of my body in general--sometimes when I feel crappy I realize maybe I just need to get through the day without having a drink or the leftover cake because I know I'll feel better but I can have a drink or some cake later on. Or maybe I just need to hang out until my period comes and I can be me again.

And when I started sketching this post out it was a dry period for me, work-wise, and now as I finish it I'm in the weeds. Both have their upsides and downsides, both are/were times I'm looking forward to getting through. We're human and not meant to be automated. We don't want to be that robot that shuts down when a little bit of water gets thrown on it. While it's nice to define ourselves and our habits, while we are never exactly "one way" 365 days a year, it's unreasonable to do things "one day" all the time, too. 

*The lone exception to this is my laundry system, which I adapted from The Fly Lady and a suggestion in Real Simple. I do one load in, one load out every day, and I separate clothes by person, not by color, so that the clothes all go to one destination. I am not a Nazi about this--some days I don't get to it and others there is a laundry emergency (usually involving a bodily fluid) that throws eveything off. Listen, sorry I'm so exciting.