Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Speed Limit 45. (part 2)

Last week’s blog post referred to an unusual speed limit sign. Instead of the customary “Speed Limit 45” out of the corner of my eye, I noticed a sign that said something extra. It said: “Speed Limit 45. This IS your warning.”

I continue the warning theme this week with some reflections on that sign. I’ve noticed more speed limit signs since then, all of which simply state the speed limit number. I continue to ponder the implicit warnings, however and ask myself: What do I need to pay attention to? What is my warning sign, really?

One easy way to reflect on my life’s priorities is to consider what I would do today if it literally was the last day of my life on earth. Geneen Roth writes some wonderful pieces in her Good Housekeeping essays which discuss food and health issues; one such article referred to “priority-setting” exercises she uses in her food addictions workshops. Geneen described a workshop exercise where participants are asked to list what they would do differently if they knew they had only one year left to live. Then they list what they’d do differently with only six months left to live. Then three months. Then one month. One week. One day.

Keeping a focus on these one-day items on my own mental list helps me know why I wouldn’t want to need another warning sign to accompany the familiar “Speed Limit 45” message. My one-day list includes my faith. Prayer time. Slowing down. Purpose-filled activities. Family time including lots of snuggling with my husband and kids. One thing Geneen noticed is that her workshop attendants included “eating anything they want”, “bingeing”, “chocolate” and similar entries in their one-year and six-month lists, but as the timing got shorter and hit the one-week and one-day levels, the bingeing wasn’t on the list anymore. When we know that our time is really short, we don’t want to waste it on our food obsessions. My own personal warning: if I had one day to live, bingeing would not be on my one-day list. And so I proceed along my process, one slow step at a time, to reducing my food obsessions and increasing my faith obsessions. I want to take my warning signs seriously.

Tip of the week:
My very favorite way to start the day is my prayer time. After that, though, I exercise! I exercise regularly because I need to exercise, NOT because I love it. Like other activities which are NOT my favorite, I find getting them done early in the day (along with filing paperwork, paying bills and planning dinner!) can make them easier to accomplish and frees my mind for enjoying the rest of my day!

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