Dreams

I keep seeing a scene from a dream I had a few months back. At the time it struck me as profound, and now in idle moments, it reappears. I dreamt I was somewhere in the area that I first went to university, built up, busy skyline. There were big coaches in a car park with lots of people board, and above were hundreds of lines of prayer flags, the sky was coloured with them.

Apparently, dreams are the way that brains process reality, or something like that. I understand where all the elements of the dream came from, but I find it truly incredible that my sleeping mind can create such incredible narratives. Whole stories with scenes, plotlines and characters. Dreaming is an amazing thing, like lots of other things. We accept something as normal because we are used to it without ever fully appreciating.

It’s like when I am ill, I aspire to good health, but when I am healthy, I don’t feel an active gratitude for this, I accept this as normal. And likely that should be normal for me, but in absence, we find worth to the previously overlooked. Simply acknowledging the most marvellousness of my body is something that I am trying to give more credence to.

My waking dreams, my hopes and aspirations are also something that I take for granted. I know what I want to achieve, but sometimes wanting something and taking it a stage further to actually getting it can be difficult. It’s almost as if I have a beautiful book of everything I want, and am sometimes I am content enough just to look at the pictures.

I try to think more about all the things that I am grateful for, but that is not enough. I need to act on the things that inspire me. I appreciate the low key areas of my life, but now it is time to make my picture book my reality.

Map Point. Which dreams do I never expect to achieve?

 

 

Approval

Last night I watched a film called ‘To the bone’. It was about young people struggling with anorexia. Firstly the film reminded me to go easy on myself, and secondly, I started wondering when food became a contention for me.

Growing up my Mum always cooked our meals. We almost never had anything resembling take out and going out for dinner was a massive treat. My brother had been deemed hyperactive, so my Mum scratch cooked everything to avoid additives. We ate well. My packed lunch for school was pretty much a cheese sandwich and a chocolate bar every day (with the occasional satsuma that I would take for an outing outside the house before bringing it home again, slightly more squidgy than before). I was always a thin child but ate goodly amounts. I rode my bike, swam and danced regularly, so I guess that helped to keep me toned, but then around aged twenty-two, I started to get bigger.

Maybe it was because I left home, or because I became lactose intolerant, or was low, or didn’t exercise as much. There are so many contributing factors that establishing a singular cause is pretty much impossible. I know from going through phases of reduced eating as an adult has been directly linked to my level of stress. Even now I occasionally fantasise about doing this again, as I know that it is utterly the quickest way to lose weight (but it is muscle weight.. and this I am keen to hang on to!), but I also know that it is no longer an option. I want my daughter to have a healthy relationship with food, and watching a parent pick at meals or not eat them at all is the quickest way to encourage problems. If a parent doesn’t think that they are worth feeding, worth being taken care of, then why should the child think any differently? So although I wouldn’t use this route again, I do find it frustrating that I can’t seem to achieve any consistency with my weight.

I have never engaged with any particular dietary plan. I don’t calorie count, portion control or weigh (or shake) anything. To me, this feels laborious and is treating the symptom, never the cause. It also makes food for me, feel boring. I understand what a good diet is, understand how food breaks down (recent revelation, I now view the white and tasty carbs as sugar). I also know that exercise should be consistent and that good health has very little to do with weight. So from here I have two distinct questions, firstly, why am I so transfixed by the idea of being thin and two, why is putting into practice what I know so incredibly hard?

The irony of this, is I am actually entirely good with how I look but feel the social weight of ‘thin’. And with regards to my motivation, for some things (like blogging) I have incredible resilience and grit. So I think that for me, weight is to do more with how I think I should look compared to how I actually want to look, and health is something that I need to aspire to.

Map Point. Where in my life am I looking for the approval of others?

 

My errant foot

A few years ago I twisted awkwardly on my ankle and made the tendon excruciatingly unhappy. It healed up within a few weeks, but how my body got used to doing certain things I found really interesting.

As I still needed to eat during this time of abject agony I had to go to the supermarket. To allay the pain, I would lean my arms heavy onto the supermarket trolley, to take some of the weight from my foot, making it a good deal easier to walk. This worked really well, and I was able to feed myself (which I always consider a win!). But then my foot got better, and it wasn’t until a couple of weeks after it had, that I noticed that i was still leaning heavy on trollies when I used them. Occasionally, even a couple of years later, I still find myself doing this. For the most part, this feels quite funny.

My body has clearly accepted the familiarity of a particular movement and without me really noticing, it continues to do it. Maybe my body has the memory of that pain so firmly entrenched within my systems, that it accepts this as a default mode. Muscle memory is usually talked about in sports or in playing of musical instruments, but it would make sense that anything that I am doing on a regular basis this could work for.

My friend Kate works for the NHS with their chronic pain team. She speaks to many people who no longer have any reason to be in pain, but they still require high-level pain medication to combat the pain that they are experiencing. After their bodies have gone through high levels of pain, their minds still imagine that it is there, even after the trauma is over, and it continues to manifest.

Maybe the mind works like this too for emotional pain. If something very sad has happened, then sometimes we can get stuck, get looped on a particular set of feelings. Even though an experience has long been over, we still carry the weight, just because we are familiar with always carrying it. Unless I consciously observe my emotional health, it is really easy to hold onto things that no longer serve me. Choosing to put these things down is important. I am allowed to walk unhindered.

Map Point. How am I preventing my happiness?