Enough

I had a shaky first semester during my sophomore year at college.  I left midway through, after a bout of mono put me too far behind to catch up.  My anatomy teacher told me with her trademarked brutal frankness that she gave me a “withdraw passing” as an act of kindness. 

            So, I went home for the rest of the year, and got a job as a waitress in a family restaurant.  My father was furious to lose a year’s tuition; he was furious that I had given up and given in.  I was the focal point of that anger for months and it hollowed me out. 

           Not surprisingly, I was full of anxiety when I resumed college the next fall.  Would I know enough?  Would I be enough?  I prepared for the first anatomy exam feverishly, to the point of exhaustion and a bit of resurrected-teenage-hysteria.  My friend Laura finally took my books away from me and told me to go to bed.  That little bit of hysteria quickly blew through me full force.  I was desperate to get my books back.

  “Margie,” Laura said in her calm voice.  “You have done enough.  You know enough.  Go to bed.”  I finally calmed down and did just that. 

            Of course, Laura was right.  I aced the exam the next day, as I did on every practical and test that professor gave us during the rest of the year. 

           I think it’s sometimes difficult to figure out what is “enough” in this time when excess is so readily available.  So much keeps getting bigger: houses, SUVs, portion sizes at restaurants.  Credit card debt for a lot of us.  Our cultural craving for bigger, better, faster, richer.  Many of us don’t feel that it is all too much, that perhaps this is a society spinning a bit towards entropy. 

            I know about that out-of-control spin because that was my lifelong approach to eating.  In my mind, there was never too much of a good thing if it sat on a plate in front of me.  I ate too quickly to savor or enjoy.  I believed that if a little butter was good, more was better; I drowned meat in sauces.  I had no concept of “enough.”

            Learning how to find that elusive“enough” took some discipline, but it also took some thought.  I learned to eat my food more slowly, to put my fork down between bites, to pay attention to the signals my stomach was sending me.  Finishing a meal no longer involved a clean plate, but instead focused on when I felt satisfied.

            One of my past pet peeves regarding exercise was my complete belief that you could never do enough to satisfy a personal trainer.  Start with six exercises and they would rapidly increase it to ten.  Agree to a half hour of exercise three days a week and they would encourage you to do an hour.  I believed that if I didn’t put a stop to it, they would have me exercising during every minute when I wasn’t asleep or at work. 

            I remember the first time I talked with my trainer Jess about my need to cut down on my exercise time.  It was taking me over an hour to get through my routine.  Jess took a look at everything I was doing and split it into two routines that would alternate.  She didn’t look astonished or disappointed in me.  She knew I was serious about what I was doing and she knew it was up to me to decide how much time to devote to it.  She knew I was the one in control, I just didn’t know it until that moment!  Since then, if I am given a new exercise to fit into my routine, I take something else away, or just mix them up a bit.  I don’t do enough exercise to become a body builder or a professional athlete, but I do enough for me.  Enough to be able to place possibilities in my life rather than limits.

            I am finding that being thoughtful about getting and doing enough is helpful in every aspect of my life.  It allows me to appreciate what I have, to savor without the guilt of over-indulgence. 

What is too much for you in your life? What are the “enoughs” you need to discover? It is a worthwhile thought-journey!

Categories Diet and Nutrition, Emotional Health, exerciseTags , ,

3 thoughts on “Enough

  1. No wonder you value your relationship with Laura> She has been there for you in so many ways. Love your blog – the honesty and the helpfulness is inspiring.

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  2. Thank you, Janet. Yes, Laura has been a steady, wonderful force in my life. Her mother was as well. During that difficult year with Dad, Laura’s mom said anytime I wanted to come and just live with them until school started again, their door was open. What an incredible woman!

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  3. This was one of my favorite sections of the book. But I did have to look up “entropy” again to be sure I had it right. Have a wonderful Easter. We’re heading to Michigan for two days with friends then back through my first parish for another night with other friends. Spring it bustin’ out all over here. Had planned to go to the Holden Arboretum today with the two younger grands but it’s raining. Joe is taking Emily for her first official college campus visit and I can hardly bear it. Toledo University has a strong biomechanics program. Yeah for In State Tuition. She’s being looked at by others, too. Cinda

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