Have you ever stopped to ask yourself why?
Lately, my routine walks have been a time for self reflection and prayer.
One morning as I was walking, I decided to push myself to break a sweat and to reach my goal of losing the 10 pounds gained this year.
Thinking for a moment, I considered my motivation for getting fit. I reflect like this from time to time. It is a good way to check my heart condition.
When my middle-school-aged daughter decided to take dance, I was delighted. As a result of a slight paralysis on my left side, I have never been able to dance. I always wished that I could and she was beautiful to watch.
When my daughter told me she didn’t want to dance anymore, I was furious. My inner thoughts Included things like, “what would my friends think about her not sticking to it?”, and “how could she not want to dance?”, when truthfully it was my heart that was in it in the first place.
I was sorrowful that she wasn’t interested in my dream. I had to stop myself, realizing that I was being selfish.
When she danced, I didn’t focus on her mundane facial expressions as she followed the routine steps. My motivation was misguided.
So, on this ordinary day on my routine walk, realization hit me yet again. My motivation was in question for getting fit. In the past, I must admit, it has felt good to look nice in that pair of jeans or sundress.
Yes, attention from others feels good too. However, if this is my sole motivation for becoming fit, after reaching my goal, I’ll long for something more.
I have become increasingly angry at our culture’s standards for beauty. Women are frequently objectified by bodily appearances. Studies have shown that even better looking children are treated better, and considered more intelligent.
So, is my motivation to be recognized as “hot?”
I answer with a resounding “no!”
Will my heart last long enough to be able to love my husband and children to my fullest capabilities throughout our life?
Will I be able to go on outdoor excursions with my family without being winded, out of breath?
Does my daughter see a mom who is truly happy with herself internally and externally?
Can my son see that a woman can take care of herself and be confident without being vain and conceited?
As I write this, I can’t help but think about myself as a 13-year-old, almost lost on an operating table. It started out as an ordinary day spent with friends swimming and participating in a car wash. Suddenly, out of nowhere, my head was hit with a throbbing pain with rapid sensations of cold and heat throughout my numb body.
I was rushed to the hospital, where it would be discovered that I had a brain aneurism the size of a baseball. I woke up from the emergency brain surgery with no mobility on the left side of my body. My biggest concern was my lost head of long auburn hair. In fact, I made sure to brush it thoroughly before I was rushed to the hospital.
As a 13-year-old I had no idea that my hair would be the least of my concerns. I would have to relearn how to walk and move my left arm and hand through physical therapy and constant daily workouts at home. I would soon understand that although my long brown hair was beautiful, it was only a piece of my outer shell.
As a teenaged girl dealing with relearning how to move, returning to eighth grade with a quarter of an inch of hair on my head and taking anti-seizure medicine that made me loopy, life required a change in perspective.
I had to reevaluate myself. This experience shaped the way I see myself and those around me. It helped me realize the importance of our inner strength.
Sometimes it is easy to forget. Culture seems to be constantly telling us we’re not pretty enough, good enough, fit enough.
So, in this culture of self improvement, I vow to stop myself from time to time and check my motivation. I owe it to myself, my family and to those placed in my path as I walk this journey we call life.
Will you stop and ask yourself why?
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editor: Rachel Nussbaum
Photo: Wikimedia Commons