Doing something every day for a year appeals to me. In June I finished up a year of daily mandalas. I really loved how it gave structure and meaning to my days. They connected me with nature, art, and the people I shared them with. I stopped the daily practice, and now do them a few times a week. I still love doing them.
But what about NOT doing something every day for a year? What about abstaining, or not participating in a certain behavior? Would that provide meaning and structure? I’m going to find out.
Like many of us, I’ve gained weight during the pandemic. I’ve always enjoyed my food, sometimes used it as a reward, and this tendency has really gained traction over the last year and a half. I’ve used sugary treats — cookies, pie, cakes — to fend off the anxiety and depression associated with COVID life. The relief is quite temporary. In fact, there’s a cycle of feeling bad, treating myself, enjoying the taste and energy, and then a crash and lethargy, which starts the cycle all over again. I want the treat again the next day, art the same time. At times the cravings dominate my thinking. I’ve found myself sinking into more depression, more anxiety, more body aches, and less energy. Yuck.
For my 71st birthday last week, we made a lime cream meringue pie. It was my grandson’s idea, and we had fun making, and then eating it. But as I ate it, it became clearer and clearer that I was ready to stop it with the sugar. I was tired of the vicious cycle, the brain fog, the lethargy, the aches and pains.
The day after, my grandson and I drove him home to LA. I didn’t have any sugar that day, or the day after, or the day after that. I didn’t have my usual cravings, I hardly thought about it. It was like the compulsion was lifted. I had arrived at a state of grace, a gift.. This has happened to me before, most dramatically when I stopped drinking 33 years ago. I was ready, deeply acknowledged my lack of control, and the cravings disappeared.
In the case of sugar, I noticed a craving return a few days ago. It came at its usual time, in the afternoon. I acknowledged it, even said “hello”, and breathed through it. The urge lifted, then came back a few minutes later. I said “you again. hi”, and took a few deep breaths. That was it.
This morning, we walked at the Giacomini Wetlands. I did a few laps around the path. Bob used our new binoculars. And it occurred to me that I could adopt the practice of NOT doing something for a year, i.e., not eat added sugar. I can break it down into one day at a time, and take it from there. It will provide the structure I like, and continued relief from the need to consume the stuff, along with the anxiety, depression, and hopefully some of the weight.