If you read my blog or know me long enough a couple of things about me become pretty clear. The first is that I am a very enthusiastic person full of ideas and passion. The second is that I’m the worst person in the world when it comes to following through on some of my bigger adventures. This isn’t to say that I’m a person constantly dropping the ball or not doing what I say I will because that is not the case at all. I do a lot of things from idea to completion and I’m a fairly thoughtful person. How to I fail at follow-through? Largely I over-schedule myself. There are so many things that I want to do in this life and somehow I still haven’t managed to understand that there really are a finite number of hours in the day. This means I get through the important stuff, but other projects lie waiting. I still have Oscar de la Renta patterns sitting in my inbox on my desk just waiting for me to get back to that project. I still have my Christmas decorations in place. I haven’t done a regular meal plan in weeks. You get the idea.
Projects aren’t really the only thing that suffers my lack of large scale follow through. There are truly important things in my life that never quite make it out of the idea stage. Unfortunately those things are almost always undertakings that involve my well-being and are things that I absolutely need to be following up with. Taking better care of myself and my health tops that list. I know that I need to do a better job with my food choices and I know that I need to lose a significant amount of weight, but somehow the effort and energy that would go to that gets shuffled to something else. My mind knows in the abstract that if I don’t take care of myself there won’t be time for anything else in the future, but knowing what is good for you and actually doing it? Two very different things. I choose the more fun undertakings that don’t involve diet regularly. I put a lot of things off until tomorrow.
Then on Friday I got a giant kick in the ass from the universe and it came in the form of my mother.
My mother is sixty-seven years old and is dying slowly. She is a woman who is as excited about life as I am and should be granted the gift of long, long years but instead she has been suffering with cardiomyopathy for about eighteen years. The night she was diagnosed, a terrifying evening where had I not demanded someone take her to the emergency room she would have died from congestive heart failure, she was given maybe a couple of years tops. I’m extremely glad she’s beaten that grim prediction, but her quality of life has been lacking. When your heart goes it takes a lot with it and eventually the losses steal some of your joy, too. It’s painful emotionally to watch my mother sometimes because I know there is so much she would like to do if only her body wasn’t betraying her. That being said, she’s still alive and she still finds things to be glad for as well as time to worry about me and my crappy habits.
On Friday night, though, I got a phone call from my brother. I was out at dinner, relaxing after a hectic week as I braced myself for the next one. Immediately I knew something wasn’t right because my brother doesn’t just call and I was right: they had taken mom to the hospital. She was having a hard time breathing. She wasn’t doing well at all. They would end up admitting her and I would find out from my brother that it was the congestive heart failure again and that she wasn’t doing well. While she would improve overnight and do even better on Sunday, the reality is that on Friday night things were bad and life-threatening. It could have easily gone the other way. My mother told me that herself when we spoke on the phone yesterday afternoon. It wasn’t lost on me that even though she sounded like herself just a few handfuls of hours before she was close to death.
Mom is being released from the hospital today. She’s going to her specialist tomorrow. We’ll come up with the next part of her medical journey. We will move forward. But this weekend was a wake-up call for me. I look at all the unfinished projects and I catch myself thinking about how I will have time to do them later, but the truth is I may not. That truth sank in to me hard as I sat on the couch yesterday morning eating brownie cookies for breakfast while I stressed. While I had a coffee for lunch. I love life, but if I don’t take care of my body I could very well end up like my mother. Instead of being sixty-seven, retired, and able to do all the things I love I could be spending my days in pain, relying on chemicals to keep me functioning so I can be around the people I love and not participating.
I don’t want that. I don’t want it for my mother, but I also don’t want it for myself and my future children.
So. That means I have to get it together. I have to start putting myself a little closer to first. It means making better choices. I’m starting by taking a step back and looking at time. This may mean I post here once a week, once a week on some of my other projects, but it will definitely mean that I start taking an hour a day for myself to walk or otherwise move my body and relieve my stress. It also means that I’ll make time for breakfast, healthy ones that aren’t brownie cookies. It isn’t going to be easy, but I know I have to. I want to have the best experience of living in this awesome thing called life. It has to start now.