Songs remind me of life. Life reminds me of songs. Of course, that’s the point, right? That’s the power of music, or part of it anyway. Days Go By, a song by Dirty Vegas, is playing on a loop in my head. When it comes to personal development, the most important changes we can make to transform our lives are usually the hardest. If they are really a transformation, that kind of means going from one way of living to the opposite which feels like a long road. The first few days are where the transformation feels impossible. So many of us, myself included, never get through these first few days.
Yet if we can, by the power vested in us by God, hold strong through the first few days, the challenge we are working on DOES get easier. The attention it requires dwindles being forced out by the constant barrage of everyday life matters that demand our attention. As things compete for our attention and we surrender to trying to continually just do the next right thing, days pile on like toppings on a kids’ self-made ice cream sundae. Days pile on one another and before we know it, they’ve added up to something.
What the heck am I talking about? Well, I’ve been intentionally vague because this can be true of anything, but here is my present to give you a proper example. I have struggled for awhile now with not drinking alcohol. The effort to abstain has been off and on because I have been teased with the delightful idea of moderation and cultural acceptance. The same could be said about sugar. I’ve abstained from alcohol for varying lengths in the past, but never made it over 40 days without breaking under the convincing suggestion that I can moderate. Regardless of whether moderation is possible or not, the truth is drinking alcohol, even occasionally, even in small amounts, makes me feel like dirt. It has all sorts of negative side effects. As a result, I started living “alcohol-free” again.
At first a couple days felt hard, but somehow I got through it and the days started to add up. Now I have 68 days alcohol-free which I bet to some might feel like nothing and to others this might feel impossible. I feel a thousand times better, though every day, I am still threatened with the idea that a glass of wine might be nice and moderation possible. Although it has gotten easier, the challenge has not gone away. It probably never will. For now though, I am enjoying feeling better than I have in a long time and seeing the days grow in a way that inspires me.
On a completely separate topic, 13 days ago, I saw a free webinar called Positive Parenting Solutions by Amy McCready. I highly recommend this if you struggle with parenting, are a single parent, or feel like you have all-too-often battles with your kids. It talks about how to get your kids to listen without yelling at them. My children not listening to me has been my BIGGEST struggle of parenthood. I am ashamed to admit that until I saw this webinar, I could not recall one single day in my motherhood that I did not yell at the kids. Motherhood has felt like a constant struggle and it was all I knew. When I heard people who had seen this program claim they had days and days of not yelling at their kids under their belt I was intrigued to say the least.
Well, drumroll please…I watched the webinar, realized some things about myself and my family dynamic, committed to doing my mom life differently and I have not yelled at my kids at all in 11 days! Today is day 12. I remember the thought before I watched the webinar that I could not imagine getting through one whole day. Not that I did not want to, but the concept seemed completely foreign with the way the kids are constantly testing me and fighting for control. Now that I am on day 12, I am awestruck. This transformation has not been easy, don’t get me wrong, but it has given me so much more peace and I can see our relationships healing. I do not want to parent by yelling and I know the struggles of motherhood and discipline are not behind me, but the days have piled on one another already. This experience has given me hope and has also led to a much richer, quieter and calmer 12 days of family life than the 12 days that preceded it.
Alright, the last stop on the example train is sugar. This one will ruffle some feathers no doubt. Boy, do I know that we LOVE sugar. I get it. Stay with me though and please keep an open mind. I am not suggesting everyone abstain from sugar because like everything in life, this is a deeply personal choice. For me though, I know my own data well enough to know sugar has not done me any favors. On the contrary, it has sabotaged me more times than I can count. I could write an entire book on this subject, but I’ll save that for the sake of the point I am trying to make here. I am currently knee-deep in sugar research and recently decided to try (again) to abstain from sugar.
Sugar abstinence means different things for different people. For me, it basically means not consuming more than 3g of sugar in a sitting and keeping those small bits of sugar to a bare minimum in my day. My current goal is a 21-day sugar detox. Also, please do not misunderstand this effort: This is NOT a diet. I am not on a diet nor do I ever plan to diet. I am also not trying to lose weight though I would not mind shedding some pounds. No, this sugar situation is much more and at the same time, much less than dieting or trying to lose weight. This is about freedom. This is about feeling good. This is about living my best life. This is about the way sugar has a toxic effect on my body. More to come on this topic, I hope, but for now “days go by.” I am on day 4 today of my sugar detox and just like the examples above, I know three full days of sugar abstinence can seem marginal to some, but perhaps monumental to others. For me, it is the latter.
While I cannot promise that I will continue to thrive at these things, and I cannot tell you what tomorrow will hold, I can say this: If I can get through 68 days of abstaining from alcohol, 11 days of not yelling at my kids and 3 days of abstaining from sugar, then you can too. Whether you are interested in taking on these challenges or have goals all your own, I promise that whatever aspect of your life you want to improve or transform, change and progress are possible, one long and short day at a time. Days will go by and you just might shock yourself at the transformation that transpires in their accumulation.
As days grow bye and by,
P.S. It is worth highlighting that I did not start all three of the examples at the same time, though they now are running concurrently in my life. I took on only one challenge at a time to start and if I had tried to start more than one at the same time, I am almost positive I would not have gotten this far on any of them.
If you happen to be interested in support regarding parenting, find more information about what has recently helped me at www.positiveparentingsolutions.com.
If you are interested in a sugar detox or feel sugar has had a pervasively negative effect on your life, check out www.thesugardemons.com.
If you are curious about why alcohol abstinence may be so much better than moderation, even if moderation is easy for you, check out the book This Naked Mind by Annie Grace.