Because I Said So

Growing up, dad drilled a ton of old sayings into me and my siblings, for the sole purpose of keeping us in line while pretending to offer ‘fatherly’ advice. His favourites were,

[“if you’re going to do something, do it right the first time.”

Because I said so.”  “You’ll live.” And yell, “ELBOWS OFF THE TABLE!” while resting on his.]

But the one he used the most and could have been replayed over and over was

[“Do as I say, not as I do.”]

I’m sure there were a myriad of others that I don’t’ recall, being the youngest, but these were burned into my memory bank for eternity.

Over the years the odd one will spring to the foreground despite my attempts to wipe them out. ‘Doing it right the first time‘ often raises its head, but the one that came to me today was

[Do as I say not as I do].

I’ve always been hard on myself, really hard. The bar has always been too high, so high in fact an Olympian would be challenged to clear it without knocking it down. I expected a lot of myself and beat myself to a pulp should I not meet the standards I set. Not quite a perfectionist, [yeah right], everything had to be just so. A side effect of my upbringing. That do it right the first time threat because that’s what it was. The countless times I was forced to redo a chore until it met with dad’s approval was staggering. And you did it for fear of the belt.

But today, brought forth the ‘practice what you preach‘ idiom. You know what I’m referring to.  That mindset we all have where we hand out the best advice to our friends. Words that saved them grief, made life easier, helped them solve a problem or decide on what path to take.

I know I’m guilty of it, I did it in my teens, in my twenties and thirties all the way up to today.  I take my own experiences, blunders, and goofs bestowing sound advice to others about to make the same mistakes I did. It’s such a great feeling to help others. Supply guidance and insight they may not have, be that sounding board, devil’s advocate, voice of reason. The pride we feel when a friend or loved one takes our words to heart and everything works out splendidly. Their appreciation and thanks fill you with joy. You stand straighter, head held high, chest puffed out, acting like one whose just won the noble peace prize for all the selfless work you’ve done.

So. Why then. Do we not follow our own advice? Not listen to that voice of wisdom? Stumble and fall again and again in our stubbornness to do it this way. Because it’s the only way and all other options are wrong.

It really hit home today after I’d been at the gym. I said to my son afterwards,

“I forget how good I feel after a workout. I wish I could remember the feeling all the time. It would make it that much easier to stay motivated and get down there more often.”

I was more committed pre covid heading down to the 2nd floor of our apartment building every few days spending an hour or more between treadmill core exercises free weights and stretches. In between those visits, we walked. My eating was healthier, I was sleeping well, and my mood was good.

Then March 2020 happened. And it all went to rat shit.

Seizure activity increased exponentially occurring every 2 weeks in the first half of 2020, settling down to once every 5-6. My outlook on life spiraled down in the muck and I found myself stuck in a rut sludging through the mud slipping and falling as it sucked at my feet. My physical activity bumped along altering between smooth highways and rock slides. As my motivation and eating habits dwindled, my weight edged up to the most it has in a long time. I try to kid myself believing its muscle not fat that accounts for it. Hmm. Never seen a stomach jiggle and wiggle from toned muscles before. My abs resemble more like the dough boy than a washboard. Covid spread has taken over and I’ve no one but myself to blame.

Ok. So, stop.  What am I doing?

I’m taking a horrible stressful global pandemic and its resulting fall out, restrictions, reduced social interactions and isolation and placing all the blame on myself for my moods, lack of physical activity and poor diet choices. With all the sickness and death, fear, panic, and stress all around me, my expectations haven’t changed. That bar hasn’t lowered and the demand to meet or exceed it remains. In the meantime, I recommend others; “do what you can,” “don’t fret over a future you have no control over.” “Focus on today, this moment in time.”  “Cut yourself some slack,” “ask yourself; if in the big picture does this really matter?”  “Meditate, practice mindfulness, listen to music, read, journal, keep your mind busy.” yadda, yadda, etc., and so on.

Huh. Sound advice, eh? My doctor says the same thing. Gee. Maybe I should practice what I preach? Maybe give me the space to relax, allow myself to just be and not worry about a few pounds. To let myself have good days and bad and be okay with it. And recognize I had limitations even before covid. That the increasing limitations are through no fault of my own and are out of my control.

I should listen to myself when I speak offering advice to others. Really listen to what they’re saying and my responses. I could learn something valuable, useful and break the cycle of

[doing what I do and not as I say.]

Sorry dad, you were wrong. Your words weren’t helpful, actually harmful, and just plain bull shit.