Not too long ago, on my way to a good-bye dinner for one of my employees, I met Patsy. Who is Patsy? She is the elderly woman I saw collapse on the sidewalk while I was driving down the street. When I saw her fall, I quickly turned around and parked along the sidewalk. She was slumped against a power pole, and although her eyes were open, she was unresponsive. A student from the U had also pulled over - we tried to get her to answer basic questions. "Are you okay?" "What's your name?" "Do you know where you are?" She just gazed at us...saying nothing. I dialed 911 and told the operator what had happened and where we were. She said paramedics were on the way.
As I hung up the phone, our patient began to come to - "Are you okay?" I asked. "I don't know." she answered, grumpily. "My name is Michelle, I saw you fall, what's your name?" "Patsy." "How are you feeling, Patsy?" I asked. "I need to go home." Patsy replied. "I would be happy to help you get home. Can you tell me where you live?" Patsy gazed at me for some time. I wasn't sure if she couldn't remember where she lived or if she was giving me the "once over." I do look very suspicious, after all. After a long pause, she said, "Just let me finish my walk!" "Well, I have called the paramedics. You fainted. I think your body is trying to tell you to rest. Let's wait until the paramedics arrive." "I'm old! I faint! That's what I do! You shouldn't have called the paramedics - it's none of your business." She stood up and took off down the street. What do you do at that point? Wrestle her to the ground? Yell, "Let me help you, damn it!" The student and I looked at each other. At this point the paramedics called trying to find us. I told them where we were going to be, hopped in my car and caught up to Patsy. She is surprisingly fast - for one who just regained consciousness. I scrambled after Patsy and checked on her again. She waved me away and again took off down the street. Never fear, the paramedics and I were determined to help her, whether she wanted it or not. When we located her a block away, I waved to the paramedics and took off. I chuckled, while driving to my dinner, thinking about her "I faint! That's what I do!" comment - I thought it tied in nicely to Story #39....Recurring themes.
Now, the nice thing about Patsy is she seems very accepting and comfortable with being a person who faints. It's what she does, after all. Most of us would find this a difficult way to live life....dropping to the ground unexpectedly, at any given moment - but at least she recognizes herself for who she is.
I don't seem to have reached that "This is who I am!" state of mind. In fact, I find I spend a large amount of time wondering, "What if?" "If only I had..." "Why didn't I..." instead of living in the moment - and enjoying myself. I spend all of this energy pondering variations on the past and planning for a future without doing anything in the right now.
Let me give you an example: I started gaining weight in my late 20s. So, I have had just under 15 years to think about how I hate being overweight, how embarrassed I am by my weight, how it inhibits me from reconnecting with friends from the past and enjoying the energy that comes without cumbersome fat. See what an effective use of time this is? And with 15 years of regret and self-hatred comes.....more weight. Now, you sensible people are thinking, then why not just do something about it? This is a valid question. The problem is, I have learned to turn to food for comfort in all emotional arenas. If this is not your source of comfort, you may not understand. But for me, learning to comfort myself in other ways has proven to be a challenge. I am starting to make more changes and fewer excuses as I come to accept myself for who I am, because nothing triggers eating and reduces energy like spending your thinking time wondering how your life could be different. After all, we can't make changes until we know where we are. (I am really struggling with the grammar tonight. Please be patient.)
You see, this life is not a Choose Your Own Adventure book. Did you read those? I loved those books! You would come to the end of a chapter and get to choose... open the door turn to page 39, take the stairs, turn to page 53 - But the best part was...if you didn't like what lay in store on page 39 you could still turn to page 53. It was the perfect story....endless revisions. Our lives don't exactly work that way. We can continue to make revisions - but we never, ever, get to go back and start over. No matter the stretch of your imagination, or love of science fiction, you will never be able to turn back time. Never. Ever. Get it? (I'm trying to!)
You can get out of the recurring themes you despise in your life. I think Satan loves to make us feel hopeless and mired down by guilt and regret. He can get you thinking that there is no real chance or possibility of change - so just get comfortable in the mire of despair, you aren't going anywhere.
He is wrong! We can change, but only when we are honest with ourselves. If something is TRULY important to you, you will make the time to make it happen - period. You won't say, work won't let me, the kids have so much going on, etc. You will just do it. Until then, any change you talk about making is really just an area that interests you and nothing more.
I find I only make progress with changing my mindset and accepting myself when I include prayer and thanksgiving as part of the process. Only with God's help can I begin to shake off my old habits and enjoy the life I am living. I have spent most of my 40 years - especially, the last 20, wondering who I could have been. I plan on spending the next 40 enjoying who I am. I am a fat business-owning Mom, but I don't like that, so, in honor of Patsy, "I change! That's what I do!" No more imaginary "what ifs, " the choices I have made created the person I have become....and that's not so bad - in fact, I'm starting to like me...just a little.