My first week of riding the High Roller every day was a success.
According to my bathroom scale I lost 1.8 pounds. I love riding, and my body isn’t in pain like it sometimes is with bicycle riding. I’ve been a mobile advertisement for High Roller USA since so many folks have asked where Henrietta came from. I’m having moments like these when I’m rolling along, totally present, and admiring the sunset:
I went to see my massage therapist Friday and she said that my legs were “awake and alive” before I’d even had the chance to tell her I’d been riding a big wheel around.
As I was formulating what to say in this post, I got to thinking about the word “success.” It’s really kind of a loaded word, and not always a positive one for every human who utters it. I definitely don’t want to solely measure my success by the numbers on the scale. I was reading an article about plus size model Tess Holliday yesterday. She is my height, and weighs 70 pounds more than I do. By fat percentage standards alone, I would be considered a greater success than she. However, she has a steadily growing modeling career, a loving fiance, and a son. She is comfortable in her body in a way that I am not, at least not yet.
There is a lot of controversy about the Body Positive movement. Some people feel very strongly that encouraging anyone to feel good about themselves and their body is a good thing. Others think that it’s promoting overweight and unhealthy eating habits. When I stated on Facebook that I admired Tess Holliday, there was backlash from folks who felt like I was making a statement that it was OK to be morbidly obese. As a nurse, I guess I can see both sides of the issue. I don’t want kids and teens to grow up spending every moment feeling like their body isn’t good enough, and being so focused on their weight that they can’t enjoy their lives, but I also don’t want to come across like I’m ignoring the fact that obesity is an epidemic in our country and that kids today are the first generation with a shorter life expectancy than their parents because of it.
What I said on Facebook, and I’ll say it here, is that other people’s weight and health problems are none of my business. If someone comes to me as a nurse and asks for my help in losing weight, I will support her. If someone who is overweight comes to me and says she has decided not to spend her life feeling like crap about herself and trying one crash diet after another which doesn’t work, but rather to do her best to eat healthy and move her body and accept it and love it at whatever size it is, I will support her in that. I don’t want to come down on one “side” or another about the Body Positive movement. I want to firmly state my opinion that none of us has the right to judge another person, especially if we choose to judge one another by making mean public comments.
A lot of people measure success by how much money one has. Nurses can be paid a lot more than what I make if they work in a hospital (I am employed by the county nursing home), if they are willing to travel, or if they work in a big city compared to relatively small Keene NH. I’m definitely not going to deny that I grew up with the privilege that comes with being the child of upper middle class white parents. As long as I was willing to work hard in school, I was pretty much guaranteed financial success from birth. I don’t take that for granted, and I try to help out where I can to balance the inequity in the area of health care as well as other areas. I know a lot of people, both personally and through reading about them, who are wildly financially successful and remain unhappy people.
So if success isn’t being thin, and it isn’t being rich, what is it? My first thought is that it is being happy, but even that word can be kind of loaded and have different meanings for different people. A lot of folks think they’re happy if they get rich or thin, but it’s actually more like being high on drugs, the initial excitement of having achieved something. After that wears off though, if those people haven’t done any inner emotional and spiritual work, they will find that they have brought the inner void that they were trying to fill with external things with them to their swanky Park Ave apartment.
I think true happiness comes more from being present, the topic of another of my posts. How can having a lot of money make anyone truly happy in the present? It’s just paper, or a number on the screen of your bank account webpage. The things that I am learning to derive happiness from are immediate joyful beautiful spiritual experiences. The smell of rain (I rode Henrietta in a thunderstorm today, and it was glorious!). A sunset. Throwing your arms around someone you love and feeling his or her arms around you. My cats snuggled up with me on my ratty old recliner.
Cats are excellent teachers about being present and finding happiness in the simple things. The ring from a milk jug can make Susan (darker colored kitty) happy for an hour. Squeezing himself against my leg when I’m lying in bed and having me scratch his ears is ecstatic for George (orange kitty). When they get on my lap and I stroke their soft fur, and feel the vibration of their purring under my fingers, I can feel my heart rate slow, my breathing deepen, and my blood pressure drop. My world simultaneously shrinks to just the recliner in my living room, and expands to encompass the whole universe. All is still. My cats and I are one loving being, and as such we are connected to all other beings in the universe.
I think that I will measure my success by those kinds of moments. They happen when I’m riding the big wheel. They happen with my cats. They happen when I’m listening to music or singing. They happen when I’m having a loving moment with a friend or my girlfriend Ruth. They happen when Ruth and I take her dog Lola on an “adventure” and we achieve “helicopter tail.” She also appreciates bagels.
Every time I become aware that I am present, and feeling connected, and alive, and loving, and peaceful, and not obsessing about my weight, I’ll call it “success.”