Wednesday, December 28, 2016

My Wellness Project: the first ten days

The idea came to me, as ideas so often do, when I was outside my usual routine, far from my usual sphere, with nothing particularly pressing to do. It was a flight from Perth to Melbourne - a few hours when expansiveness of mind seemed a natural offset to the cramped confines of the physical environment. I had been thinking about getting well, how lousy I am at following the good advice of health professionals, how longstanding and insidious my chronic condition, how much I wanted to have the energy to do the things I need and want to do.

A friend had recently told me she was going back to Weight Watchers to lose 5 kilos. The good thing about WW, she said, was it made you feel accountable. I thought about accountability. Could I create my own accountability platform? Could I commit to a wellness endeavour by making it a drawing project?

I decided to start on the first of December. As with any new venture, it was important to begin by assessing the situation. Taking stock, setting intentions, making a plan. I already had a brand new sketchbook - a lovely smooth-paged Hahnemuhle Nostalgie. Here's the first day's entry, all the bits of me that aren't working as they should and all my resolutions:

The next day, I began following the trail I had set out for myself:

Writing in Chinese is an acknowledgement of the value learning another language has for my mental wellbeing. This was the day my laptop crashed. A test of my willingness to stay calm, not give in to rantings and dramatisations. An opportunity to practise not stressing out.

Walking in fresh air, swimming in the sea - so good for me! And before I even got to eat those healthy vegetables, the beauty of their colours and shapes was already making me feel good.

Day three addresses my supplement conundrum. These are all good for me. They will help to detoxify my overloaded liver, plug the holes in my leaky gut and send in some good guy gut flora. They will feed me the things I'm lacking. They will keep me going. They sit in full view on my bench so I can't miss them, and I still forget to take them or choose to avoid taking them. They sit there getting closer to their use-by date. They aren't cheap. I should take them, but I mostly don't.

Home made popcorn - an acceptable snack food.

Here I have made a note that I felt lighter. It was not a physical lightness; there was no weight loss. But there was a lightness of mood that I was feeling, as though a weight was slowly lifting and the air was clearing and some of the grime was disappearing from my window on the world.

Reading for inspiration, to let the fine awareness and wisdom of others open my own mind and heart to other ways of understanding life, the universe and everything. I'm making a reading list. Starting with Lao Zi.

It is good that there are a few cafes and restaurants where it's easy to get food I can eat. It's getting easier all the time. Almond milk latte - what a wonderful thing! Gluten free toast and avocado is a great standby. Potato, zucchini and avocado chips at Grill'd. Tom Yum soup...

A review of the first week - all in all, I was getting used to the food plan, still not up to doing exercise or at least persuading myself I wasn't up to it, and feeling generally good in terms of mood and outlook.

On Day 8 I considered swapping coffee for green tea - it didn't happen, or hasn't happened yet. I note the difficulty of owning up publicly to doing things I've said I wouldn't do.

And here we are at Day Ten, the day I overcame all my reluctance, dislike of crowds, despising of fireworks and went to Symphony in the City with a couple of ex-students and had a glorious time. I contemplated the paucity of music in my life and though about doing something about it...

So these were the first ten days.
It feels really good to be doing this.
The thing that I'm finding more and more is that my wellness is served  as much and maybe more by doing the drawings and loving the beauty of everyday things and the people in my life and all the amazingness that there is than by the rigorous adherence to schedules of medications and weight tables and exercise programmes. Sure, those are useful and I may start paying attention to them pretty soon, but for now, it's going ok.


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    1. As much as I love your paintings, your journaling here is exemplary and appealing. My program for the following years is H & H, as I told my daughter: Health and Home. They have to come first because otherwise, my survival is precarious! Although I'm having a bumpy start, at least I have made the effort to begin and will continue!
      You can only ascend from here, Evelyn... best wishes and congratulations on what should now be your 29th day!
      Your friend,

  2. My best wishes for your health and home! And thank you for your encouragement! Ascent is not a smooth trajectory - lots of interesting bumps along the way!

  3. Your drawings are always so inspiring to me - direct and dramatic, commanding! I love to see them, and pour over them! I made a food/life switch, different but same, to beat the progression of MS back and it gave me many more mobile years than they predicted. I knew I couldn't lose, because this way of living is so filled with delicious life - once you reach the personal point where you just live this way, the world opens up. And don't worry about exercise, 99% happens in the kitchen. I love my kitchen.. and your work!

    1. Hi Sheryl,
      I love to hear stories like yours where willingness to make a change is so affirming and empowering. You are right - this way of living is truly filled with delicious life! Thank you for your appreciation of my drawing. This has been one of the things that keeps me feeling well! Yeah - exercise - I have started doing some gentle gardening and calling that my daily exercise for the time being!
      Best wishes to you on your journey of wellness!