Weighty Matters

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Better to Light a Candle

on February 23, 2014

It’s better to light a candle than curse the darkness. I first heard a variation of that proverb when I was in grade school. A great book came out in 1970 called Light a Single Candle about a teenage girl who goes blind.

I’ve always interpreted the saying as a way to cope when life, or a situation, attempts to overwhelm me. Rather than sit and complain or fret about how huge the problem appears, I try to break it down into smaller areas. It might be too big for me to fix or change all at once, but I can find those smaller areas where I can accomplish single changes and begin my progress on a solution.

Yes, having weight loss surgery was one huge change to one humongous problem. Preparing for it was almost overwhelming with the myriad of different doctors I had to see, the tests that needed to be scheduled and experienced, the follow ups, the evaluations, the planning, etc. It could easily have overwhelmed me but I approached it all one appointment at a time.

When I get super busier-than-usual-busy at work and I wonder how in the hell I’ll get everything done, I make a list. Every project on the list can be successfully accomplished, one at a time. Sometimes each project needs to be broken into a series and schedule of tasks — all single candles in their own right.

I find that the “light a candle” proverb meshes well with the Serenity Prayer. If I’m having a stressful day, I think about what I can change or do and what I can’t. Which candle can I ignite to burn brightly and make the darkness — or the stress, or the workload, or whatever — less oppressive?

Right now, I evaluating my food plan. Things are going pretty well and I want to stay on this roll. Sometimes, my mind gets a little overwhelmed with all of the elements that create my successful recovery. So, I’m breaking them down into smaller pieces to keep going with what works. These little candles become more manageable goals.

This week, there are two actions that I want to make sure I continue with in terms of my food. They contribute positive success to the overall goal of not eating compulsively and staying within my calorie and nutrition plan. One is to continue incorporating more vegetables than I have been eating. (I realized that most of my daily fruit and vegetable servings tended to be fruit and not veggies. More sugar was creeping in than I needed. Now I feel like I have it in better balance.) The other thing is to continue preparing my work meals (mid-morning snack, lunch, mid-afternoon snack) the night before. I started doing so last week and it really helped! I plan better when I’m not rushed as I tend to be in the morning.

These are my two candles for the week. More veggies/less fruit; Advance preparation. These actions are clearly not overwhelming. They are easy to manage and the results are great.

So, anybody else have a lot going on that might be less overwhelming if broken down into single candles? Feel free to share!

3 responses to “Better to Light a Candle

  1. Hope says:

    I think you could add another phrase to your arsenal…. a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

    I’ve been feeling pretty blah lately, so I’m trying to find small things that I can do to improve my general outlook. Tonight, I am going to do a yoga video that I know helps me with that.

    • Mary Stella says:

      Yes, every journey begins with a single step. Good reminder, Hope!

      I’ve never tried yoga. I think about it sometimes. My massage therapist is also a yoga instructor. Opportunities abound.

  2. Skye says:

    Lord knows I have tons of stuff overwhelming me that I could probably stand to break down into smaller pieces. Not being overwhelmed would be good. This is a good idea.

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