Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Problem With Excuses...

I love excuses.  I can come up with excuses for everything considered too much of a challenge or too great of an overcoming or too big of a problem to think through or.  Or.  Or anything an excuse can be found for.  I'd blame it on intelligence, given a natural ability to think through just about any and every unpleasantness to be able to manufacture an excuse for.  I've been overweight my entire life, morbidly obese for the last 26 years.  It couldn't be helped, I excused myself.  A genetic predisposition: bad eating habits begun in infancy by a doting over-nurturing mother to whom food was a reward, comfort, way of life;  excess Epstein-Barr virus;  lack of health club/gym; lack of time to exercise; lack of money to purchase healthy foods;  young family to be MY mother to (a vicious cycle of sweet unhealthy rewards).  I could excuse it away.

In a previous life I was a professional college student, coming within 30 hours of two degrees (music education and geology), neither of which I care to pursue now.  I excused not having a degree.  After all, I'd met the X and married, had two sons.  Money always was (and probably always will be) tight.  I didn't want to put us in debt finishing college;  didn't want to take away from The Fellows.  I was too old, too set in my ways, didn't want to commute.
And then there were the excuses for not having my own vehicle.  I'd let Youngest Fellow have the ancient Chevrolet to go to college.  Mama was letting me use the Danger Ranger.  I couldn't save enough money, being unemployed (STILL!); couldn't afford insurance; wouldn't be able to buy gas even if I did have one.   My credit score sucked.  A lender would laugh in my face.  It couldn't be done.  Good excuses.

But an odd thing happened this spring.  Oldest Fellow was fussing one day.  Fussing at me.  I was in a funk, having worked a hard week out at Mama's house (after her mini-sternotomy AVR in March);  feeling very tired and old and manufacturing a ton of well-thought-out excuses.  I'm not even sure what the excuse du jour was but he said, "Mama, just do one thing for yourself."  It took me a couple of days to think of it.  He was talking about a manicure or a pedicure but I thought about it long and hard and decided I'd like to be **ahem** Rubenesque.  

I'll never be a small frail delicate lass but I could be thinner.  I could do this for myself - this one thing.  And I started April 1st:  April Fool's Day is the best day ever to begin a thing.  I've lost 65 pounds, going from a 26W to a 16 petite.  I'd like to lose another 15 pounds but, without using any excuse if it doesn't happen this year, I'll be happy to maintain what's gone.  I didn't need a gym or healthier food, only to realize the sad excuses were nothing but sad excuses.  I was solely responsible for quantity and quality of food going into my mouth.  Mama may have given her only daughter a chubby beginning but consarnnit, only my spirit is child-like any more.  Mama gets her break from adolescent angst and I'm a lot healthier physically and mentally.

It has been liberating.  Other excuses began failing.  I could save money with the three little part-time jobs.  I turned the thermostat up (or down); quit watering the outdoor plants, cut the cell phone bill down, hung clothes on the line in everything but rain and then they went on a rack in the bathroom, began canning an abundance of fresh produce to cut back the grocery bill even more.  **snicker** I can skin the hide off a Buffalo nickle, spend it, AND save the nickle.  A good used mini-van was found and purchased and I've yet to run out of gas or fail to pay insurance.  Where did the moolah come from?  I'd saved a good bit of it.  Most of it was liberated from the need to over-compensate to keep up with what the brothers were doing for Mama (they are such wonderful sons to her - y'all should never doubt it).  I needed no excuse; Mama didn't require any purchases from me.  Indeed, all she ever wanted or needs is my time.

In light of a business venture not going through (it didn't fail - it just never came to fruition) the big excuses keeping the college degree at bay finally fell.  The Fellows don't require my attention at home.  And if I need to take out a school loan well what of it?  I haven't yet, may not have to but what if I do?  To be middle-aged only owing a mortgage and school loan?  There aren't too many folks in that position. If the one dream barely kept alive of having my own little blue-plate diner/bed and breakfast/bakery is ever going to happen the time is now.  None of us are getting any younger.  No one is going to give it to me the same way no one could lose the weight or convince me I could ever save enough money to have a vehicle.  I'm going to Jones County Junior College.  I've been accepted into their culinary arts program and register January 8th, two days before my 52nd birthday.  OOOooooo... "I'm too old," I try to tell myself.  My b.s. detector knows I'm apprehensive, scared of failure, terrified of tightened finances, and lazy.  Yes.  Lazy.  I do like to sleep.  No excuses, though.  I've been going to bed early and getting up early. I'll purchase another alarm clock if necessary.  Financial aid is secured and arranged.  And I've maintained enough smarts (I hope) to get through the coursework.

Excuses lead to a victim mentality.  I'd've never considered myself a victim if a long, difficult look hadn't been taken at where and what I was and what and where I'd be more content being.  I'm happy to put the 2012 calendar away tomorrow;  happy to have realized and recognized the excuses for what they were;  finally happy to see a new year come;  content that all is as it should be.

Thank you, my friends, for following along with this Side of Life in the Deep South.  I sincerely appreciate each and every one of you.  I'm thankful to have you visit and blessed to know many of you through a  funny little social media called Facebook.  I wish you each a very joyful new year, full of all manner of possibilities and realizations.