Posted by: Marie | January 20, 2011

(495) Taking it easy on myself

Post #495
[Private journal entry written on Friday, September 3, 2010]

Now that the school year is back in full swing, I’ve been keeping a more structured schedule. My days are very full with the school district job and with teaching 23 piano students. (My business is growing quickly!) So, I need some structure to make sure I’m eating well and getting enough sleep. I’ve even been going to the gym a bit.

However, the structure is far less rigid than I have attempted before. I’m working more from a place of, “What am I excited about doing today?” rather than, “What do I have to do today?” When I find myself wanting to create, to organize, to rest, to veg out . . . I honor those feelings as much as possible by how I structure my day.

Photo by Martin Chen

Sometimes, I don’t get things done that I’m “supposed to do” and I worry that I’m not doing enough, that I’m not being responsible enough. I’m starting to challenge that way of thinking. I recognize that the standard to which I hold myself is probably unreasonable, even unhealthy. So, I’m working on shifting my beliefs about that.

This has been especially true about my physical fitness program. In the past, I have always meticulously tracked how much exercise I do, what kinds of exercise I do, how much weight I’ve lost, how many calories I’ve consumed and how quickly my fitness improves . . . and I end up feeling guilt and shame about how often I fall short of my expectations.

So, this time, I’m trying a different way. I have a food plan, but I’m not writing down what I eat. When I can stick with my food plan, it is good, but when I don’t (usually when I binge to relieve anxiety), I let it be okay. I know binging is the way I deal with anxiety – and I’m learning other, better ways. I use the better ways when I am able. When I can’t, I fall back on binging. And that is okay. I’m slowly shifting to a better way.

And, when I go to the gym, I write down enough only to know when my fitness has improved enough to move up to the next level of exertion on the treadmill. I do that by tracking my heart rate . . . each week my heart rate stays a bit lower than the week before. When it stays below a certain level for the entire workout, I increase the incline one notch.

I’m not setting any expectations around how quickly I should move to the next level on the treadmill. I’m not setting any expectations around how quickly I should lose weight. I’m simply letting things happen at the speed they happen. If I have a week or two when I don’t go to the gym or when I binge a lot . . . I don’t worry about it. I’m doing the best I can and that is enough.

In the process of trying a different way, I keep hearing a little voice in my head asking, “But, if I don’t track how well or poorly I’m doing, how will I know when I’ve done enough? How will I know when I’m good enough? How will I know when I finally measure up?”

Ah! So that’s what has been driving my obsessive-compulsive behavior! So, I’m working on shifting the language of that voice to language that assures me I already measure up.


And, in other news, almost a week after he sent that abrupt email, Father Jim finally followed up with a second email:

Marie, after looking at my schedule for the next quarter, with Christmas coming, etc., I think I better step back and re-evaluate my time. When I do something, I’m pretty dedicated and don’t like to do things halfway. So, I’m going to wait for a while before moving forward on the music.

Thank you for your time and talent.


I responded with:

Hi, Jim –

I understand . . .

Let me know when you are ready to move forward . . . thank you!

– Marie

I decided to be nice . . . if he does show interest in the future, I’ll deal with the hugging issue at the time. That boundary will continue to stand.


  1. Nice backpedal, Father Jim.

    • So true!

  2. Oh my, I would have been tempted to send an email saying, “I fully understand”. Which probably means that you are a nicer person than me (though maybe I wouldn’t have sent it.)

    I really like that connection about finally measuring up and our obsessive-compulsive tendencies. That was a new connection for me put very well. Thanks.

    • Hey, Evan –

      I actually thought about sending that rude comment, but I chose the higher road (at least in actions . . . my mind wasn’t necessarily on the higher road, LOL.)

      It was neat for me to make the connection behind what drives me to try to be “perfect”. I’m glad it was helpful for you!

      – Marie

  3. Interesting. I hate to say it but my guess is that he didn’t ever have very good intentions and when he realized you wouldn’t be an easy mark, decided to go away.

    You won’t be hearing from him again, I think…

    Great job on that.

    • Hey, Aaron –

      I think he had good intentions about taking lessons, but I think he never considered the possibility of honoring my boundary. I don’t understand why not being able to hug me against my will is a deal-breaker for him. Oh, well — his loss.

      Thanks for the encouraging words!

      – Marie

  4. “I don’t understand why not being able to hug me against my will is a deal-breaker for him.”

    That goes back to the whole intentions thing, imo. He seems like someone who enjoys pushing his needs and wants on others and making them deal with it. Someone who stands up for themselves and holds him accountable for behavior will hold little interest for a person like that.

    I gleaned this not just from his refusal to honor your boundaries, but in how he expressed it. Holding himself up as more spiritual or more knowledgeable of spirit than yourself, talking up his own good works.

    This is a particular type of person in my mind, although perhaps he is not as bad as I imagine him to be. BUT I will say that red flags were raised in my mind by a number of comments the guy made.

    And you did well to put him in his place right off the bat, methinks.

    • Ah! I get what you mean by “his intentions” . . . he may have had a genuine interest in piano lessons, but he also has this ongoing agenda to push his wishes and needs onto others . . . he was trying to do that with me.

      That actually makes sense to me . . . thanks for taking the time to clarify!

      – Marie

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