I don't know if it is the fact that I have only had pork once (tenderloin) over the past month as I am trying to be very selective about what I'm eating these days or if there are just no other words that fully grasp me in this mode...but the expression "whole hog" just popped in my head to describe pretty much where I am in my life right now.
You are probably reading those lines above and wondering "in what context" so I'll try to explain. In a nutshell, for the past month, I've been trying to live a more disciplined life in certain areas. Not all areas...or I would have been committed by now to a mental health facility. But in some areas that certainly need addressing. And after the first few days of questioning my sanity about pursuing this course of action, but realizing that I'm also extremely excited about it, I am fine with everything.
You see, I only have two modes...two channels on the TV of Karen...two possible consequences for almost anything I undertake: "whole hog" or "fail."
I am not the only person like this. There are some who are far more extreme than I will ever be even on my best day. They run marathons and wrestle bears and don't have cellulite. There are those who are less committed...who are happy with their lives and okay with "whatever" and not trying to constantly fix or change something.
With first children, and especially those who are a little like "only children" (my sister is 6 years younger) there is rarely any middle ground. You are either doing something...or you're not. Right or wrong. Bad or good. Allowed or banned. Free or caged. Black or white. I'm lucky, I suppose, in that I at least have the capacity to determine where the gray area is even if I don't follow it or agree with it...but I'm pretty much either "off" or "on" and almost always not "dimmed." I mean, "Why bother?"
(The middle children and babies of the family are reading this and thinking that I need to extract the stick from the nether regions, but let's proceed...)
Did that make any sense to anyone reading this? I certainly hope so.
Okay, now that we've established the whole "one side or the other" response, let's examine something that's even more drilled down. Like the fact that there is being "on" and there is being "ON!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" in most things. Be it your faith, football team or cause. Be it your work ethic, your family, or your grades. Most normal people are fine with "on" being enough. But in my little world, there's a scale that matters. Yellow is yellow, right?
See, there is light yellow...
and what I like to call "happy yellow."
The difference, is obviously - intensity.
Yeah, some of us are more intense than others. And that's okay. At least I'm under the impression that it is. Or I used to be, before I got into the whole "tone it down a bit, sunshine..." thing and learned that keeping the intensity "under a bushel" was much easier on everyone. Myself included.
True confessions time...and I'm certain that my folks, my children and Big Dave will back this up.
When I start something...I generally go "whole hog." Not a "toe in the water" or "let's see..." attitude but a decision that I cannot and must not fail. Oh, I fail. A lot. And on a level I understand and expect that. But there is something in me that will not quit that makes me keep at it until I realize that there is no conceivable way that what I want to do is about to happen in this lifetime because it is not in the cards.
This can sometimes take years. Decades, even.
I realize that I've told my failure to learn to make biscuits during the better part of my life story a lot, so I won't go into it here, but let's just say that after many, many unsuccessful attempts, I finally just let the frozen Pillsbury biscuits be my go-to and left it at that. Until one day when my son and I tried it one last time. And it worked. They were edible. It was really as simple as using a biscuit cutter instead of a glass. Not ready for the Pillsbury Bake-Off or anything, but not rock hard and tasteless. After I did it...I ran my victory lap in my spirit and finally LET IT GO.
Good thing, too, because I need biscuits like I need another armpit.
But going "whole hog" into a lot of things has added a lot of interesting things to my life, as well as an equal number of frustrations. I've met great people. I've been encouraged about reaching for all that I can be. I've learned some life skills. I have some good stories.
My method isn't scientific...it's just simple garden-variety focus and saturation. I tend to learn a ton about whatever I'm obsessed with at the moment...and then I move on and that research is just stuck in my head taking up valuable space.
On the upside...I've learned a lot. On the downside, I've wasted a lot of time trying to master things that I just wasn't meant to and not enough time developing the talents and gifts that come naturally to me.
I've been working on that.
But to do so, I have some personal "temple renovation" to do so that I can really enjoy my life and be the best I can be in a global, general kind of way. So, lately, I've been "whole hog" again. It's been awhile, so it is a bit exhilarating. Balancing everything in the midst of this...is so not. Kind of like taking a trip to Disney World when you are excited because you've planned and readied yourself, and now you are getting to experience it. The feeling I got while looking at the actual "Mona Lisa" at the Louvre in Paris or seeing the honest-to-goodness real Eiffel Tower and Westminster Abbey.
In a sense...I'm doing that. Years of reading books talking about various things I'm correcting...and now weeks of actually doing them. Years of knowing the truth and lying to myself changed to just being real and honest with myself. Years of struggling and learning how to fail so I wouldn't fall apart when I had a great adventure or two that needed to be lived that will require me to be strong when things don't swing my way.
I realize that some of you have NO idea what I'm talking about and that's okay. It is just me trying to be healthier and going through a process of identifying what needs to be changed in order to make that happen and setting about changing it. I have help. I have resources. I'm being encouraged. I'm just not going to go into it because...no. Just no.
Big Dave always says to me "discipline is freedom" and he's right. I used to laugh because he'd get up early, do his quiet time, read his world events, drink a pot of coffee and start breakfast before I was even coherent. He lives by routines and is most comfortable when there is a plan, but he's flexible to go with whatever presents itself.
I present myself as flexible, but I'm actually a huge planner that works better when I have a plan and I can work that plan with little variation. For the past decade, I have spent time helping other people get from Point A to Point B...be it a project, event, need, or whatever, and have put myself at the back of the line. Wouldn't have changed that either, so no complaints. Back of the line is a familiar place as I grew up with a last name that started with a "T" so I ended up there a lot anyway.
But what I realized is that when your kids are launched and your friends are fine, and your parents don't need you to do anything but think they're awesome, you can just relax a little bit and take some inventory and get your life spiffied up a bit.
(No, I'm not getting a spray tan, but I have thought about it.)
So, right now, I am "whole hog" in getting some boxes checked and some questions answered and some plans made. I'm trusting that my friends will love me enough to just speak up when they need me or if and when they miss me. I believe that giving myself the same gusto that I give to other peoples' projects is kind of a nice gift to myself for awhile. Big Dave is just along for the ride, bless his heart. He's been here before.
But the excitement about addressing issues is kind of like saving pennies for a decade and then blowing it all on a Chippendale's show in Branson or something. Or a trip to Paris. A cruise. The stove of your dreams. Eh, maybe not. You know what I mean.
I am doing all that I can to stay enthusiastic about my projects and trying to be faithful to follow the plan as it is drawn. That will mean that I will have to say "no" to some things that I'd really love to say "yes" to and "yes" to things I'd really rather not do. But in the end...when it is all done...I will be grateful that I did. I just know it.
I'm sure that there will also be stories along the way...stay tuned...
In the meantime, I may be "whole hog" but I'm pretty much "off the hog" and more "on the chicken" but that's fine by me.