About a year ago, I turned keto. I had meant to talk all about it, how much I loved it, how great it made me feel, how it was grounded in science not fanaticism, but I didn’t.
I just kept saying, “Let me wait a few more weeks, let me see if this is the real thing or just a placebo.” A few weeks would pass and I’d tell myself, “I’m just so busy, I’ll do it later.”
Then summer started. Vacation came and my mental fortitude went. I found it increasingly hard to keep keto, drawn by my mental health toward high-sugar, high-carb foods and hindered by my low energy to make at home the more satisfying food I needed. So then my excuse for not writing was that I wasn’t doing keto anymore. To talk about it would be hypocritical, and besides, I didn’t have energy to write about it anyways.
So now I’m trying to get back into it, because it’s a lifestyle change that I actually liked a lot, but I’m struggling to make it happen. All my will has turned to won’t, and I can’t seem to muster the motivation I need to stick to it. The irony is that I’m right now teaching an elective called “Stress and Resilience,” which focuses foremost on stress and then on willpower.
As I write this, my kids are writing about how overcoming their willpower challenge will help them reach their bigger goals. Now I’d be the hypocrite if I don’t do the same.
Today starts our mini-unit on self-compassion in the mindfulness class I’m teaching. It’s a hard unit, even as a teacher, because so much of our culture says we need to be hard on ourselves–and probably much harder than we already are. It’s almost painful to be self-compassionate, and it’s about as awkward to talk about it to kids.
And on top of that, I’m still feeling sick. I got to bed a few hours earlier than usual last night, and I woke up feeling so much better–but my throat is so dry it’s raw, and I can barely open my mouth to talk without feeling the pain of it. I was talking to myself last night, and I know when I’m feeling sick I have the least amount of willpower, so all my normal challenges look like massive mountains right now.
So it’s the perfect time to talk about self-compassion.
There’s that saying about the freshman fifteen, and perhaps due to the fact that I didn’t live on campus my freshman year, I never experienced it. Even when I did move on campus the start of my junior year, I began working out more at the gym and made healthy food choices at the dining halls, so if anything, I lost weight.
The first-year-teacher fifteen, though? Now that’s a real thing.
In my last post, I spoke about the uncomfortable reality of being a non-Christian in a country that mistakenly believes its religious identity (which doesn’t exist) is synonymous with its civic identity. I also alluded to a conversation with a friend who assumed Chanukah is a much bigger deal than it is–but instead of making my misconception corrections then, I decided to make them their own post.
What My Experiments with Baking Have Taught Me About Life
Or: I want to talk about cookies, so let me make it a metaphor.
I like cooking (and I like eating what I cook–most of the time), but like blogging, being in school (and often over-committing myself), it’s not something I get to do as often as I’d like–so when the opportunity to cook arises, I jump at it. Team potluck? Let me try my hand at salmon casserole, spicy chicken dip, or cranberry kugel. Need a dessert for a bake sale or snack at the meeting? Let me make a hundred oatmeal cream cookies (those were a hit! and they lasted for months, great snacks between classes!), gluten-free black bean brownies, or red velvet cake batter cookies. My mouth is watering at the memories!
So I’m going to a friend’s housewarming party tomorrow night (no spoilers, Katie, stop reading) and I decided I wanted to surprise her with some made-at-home cookies!
I really did think today was off to a good start–but if this semester has taught me one thing, and one thing only, it’s that every day that starts out too good to be true won’t be true for very much longer.
Or: What Darren Did When Sweetless September Went South
I’m a goal-oriented person. I love nothing more than the sweet satisfaction of striking an item off my to-do list. I keep spreadsheets of daily goals to fill in and monitor my daily responsibilities–study for all seven classes, make progress in leadership and immigration paperwork, stop that annoying scalp scratching and relax for ten minutes each day–and filling in the boxes makes my day feel complete. All that time? It accomplished something.
So, fond of alliteration as I am, I’ve imagining Sweetless September since March.
It’s no secret how stressed I’ve been lately–in fact, the past few days I’ve felt flat-out overwhelmed by everything–but I don’t think I realized just how much it was messing with my head until I fell asleep last night.
I almost feel like posting this on Silent Soliloquy instead. It feels more like fiction than reality. But didn’t my grandmother used to say fact is stranger than fiction anyways?
It’s been a while since I’ve checked in on my goals this year–but mostly that’s because I’ve been keeping to them well and I haven’t had much to write about. Now that I’ve achieved a few of them and the summer is about to start, it seems fitting to look at them once more.