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.
This post is part of my 2019 Pride Month series “Proudly Reaffirming Identity, Diversity, and Equity,” exploring present-day issues facing the LGBTQ+ and allied communities.
“Pride is too sexual,” I hear them whispering. “I’d never take my kids to that.”
Or maybe the age-old classic: “Not in front of the children!”
So queerness–at least being gay or bi or lesbian–is reduced to being purely about love, and sex is a side subject that everyone skirts around because, well, children. But let’s all remember one critical fact: those children? Made by sex.
I am fond of wit and wordplay, and I find it the greatest irony in the fact that “doping” and “dopamine” are similar only as a matter of coincidence.
I am also a fan of synecdoche, both for its sound and for its meaning and usage: the reversal of a part and its whole. (As a tangential whim, I’ve always wanted to write an adventure novel in which our young protagonists must recover the lost “Synecdo Key” to progress in their journey, but upon finding it, the key is broken, and only a single part remains…but fret not, because it can still unlock the door as though it were whole.)
So, colloquially with a hint of synecdoche, I’d like to talk about a form of dope we all do.
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.
I’ve been down all weekend. Despite some fun outings with friends, an itch in my throat slowly spread until it erupted Sunday into an all-out cold. My plans to do a big weekend social media push for my Kickstarter instead ended up with me napping on the couch.
Now that the school week has begun, it’s time for me to turn my attention back toward willpower in my mindfulness class. Today’s multifaceted prompt begins by asking us to think about our willpower role models. Who inspires us most to meet our goal?
In Kelly McGonigal’s book The Willpower Instinct, she talks about how tapping into our want power–the drive we have towards the things we desire–can help us draw forth our willpower reserves when we’re feeling low or defeated.
This week also happens to be the longest week of the school year: Over thirty hours of teaching, plus zero prep time while at school. In a typical week I teach only twenty hours and have about ten hours of planning meetings and prep time, so this shift is intense and can be quite exhausting. There’s no better time than right now to find my want power.
It’s been a long minute since I’ve taken the time to truly think about my goals. For over a year, my life has consisted of headbutting deadlines vying for my attention–child interview report due Monday, grade data analysis due Tuesday, dishes in the sink reaching critical mass and are those leftovers suddenly living?–so much so that it’s seemed like my standard state of mind has been stuck on survival.
You can’t really make progress toward long-term goals if you don’t take time to think about what those goals are, and today I’m determined to do this at least once before my students return, grad school begins again, and I feel stuck in survival mode once more.