This time last year I took a look at a photo of myself and decided that this year was the time for a big change to happen, I wanted to be fit and healthy, to be able to enjoy life, doing things like walking and swimming and keeping up with my granddaughter, so I signed up to Slimming World and began a journey towards a different life-style. It has been a struggle at times, and there have been ups and downs but overall I have begun to achieve what I set out to do, I have lost just under 3 stone in the year, it would have been just over but the Christmas excesses have pushed that down a bit, the big thing is that I know that I can do it again. Ideally I would like to loose another stone this year, but am taking things one step at a time. Over the last month I have struggled, I don’ t enjoy the winter months, and tend to over-eat , so I am battling with that at the moment.
Another thing I decided on was to allow myself to be a silver top, to stop dying my hair, and to be who I am, again it took a bit of determination, there were some odd times when I was multi coloured, but for the last few months I have been completely grey ( well salt and pepper it turns out) and I actually like it!
Lastly on the body image front I have re-joined a gym, well a swimming pool, the gym and I don’t get on, but I love swimming, so I try to go at least 3 times every week, and have been mostly successful at that, I certainly feel better when I do! I swim a mile each time, and sometimes use the sauna then go in again. I enjoy walking more too, the loss of weight means that the hills are no longer an issue!
I have done some other things in 2018 too, encouraged by my colleagues I applied for and was given the post of Co-Superintendent in the Sheffield Methodist Circuit, which still seems absolutely crazy to me, but it is real and very challenging. I also started running, though a broken toe means that, that ended badly, but I am pondering starting that up again this year!
All of this has taken a quiet determination on my part, and is part of learning to love myself, which has always been a struggle, there has been an inner and outer change, and I think perhaps the outer change would not have happened without the inner change, and the times I have struggled the most have been the times when my inner critic, or my inner insecurities have been winning the internal battle for my mind and heart.
Perhaps the most helpful thing for me has been exploring the practice of contemplative prayer, discovering in the silence that God quite simply loves me, of course I knew that, and always preach that, but to live that at a deeper level is to allow that to become more true. In contemplative prayer I let go of all the ought’s and should’s which can so often hound a life of faith, and simply allow love to find me as I am. If I have put on a bit of weight, I am still loved, I have made a horrendous mistake, I am still loved, if I have not managed to swim this week, I am still loved…. you get the picture!
As I look back over the year, which has included a family wedding, my granddaughter staying with me for a week, and so much more lovely stuff I am thankful, and as I look forward I wonder what 2019 will bring. I want to continue to be fit and healthy, but more than that I want to grow in love, and the practice of love, which means being present to myself and to God, to live the truth that we are all created good, and that our true inner self is precious and valuable beyond measure. I see this truth in the stories of my faith, in the life of Jesus, who invites us into the Christ-life, to live as people of love. I see it in others too, in the welcome I received from the Muslim community when I visited the mosque this year, from those of other faiths and none, for we are all good at our very core, created by love for love.
So as we move slowly for 2018-2019, I reflect that how we live matters, in setting some goals for myself I would like to move towards living plastic free, which just looking around my house means some huge changes, plastic is everywhere, my small start is to switch to shampoo bars and bamboo toothbrushes, to stop buying milk from the supermarket and start getting it delivered, and to buy vegetables at my local greengrocers. We also have a local zero waste store, I am simply going to have to organise myself! Lastly I want to stop making small car journeys, again this will be about orgainsation, not leaving things until the last minute. In all of this of course I will fall and fail, but if I can see as much change as I saw last year then I will have begun! In all things I can only start with where I am, and celebrate the small steps along the way.