Friday, October 10, 2008

authentic choice

choice, that's something i think about an awful lot. especially authentic choice. this post has been in my head for so long i may have forgotten most of what i intended to say. but i thought i'd do it anyway. forgive me if i ramble =)

i put up a clothes line this summer. the first time i've had one since 2002, because that was the last time we were in a house. i've used it all summer and have loved it! but about a month ago, it was just yucky for days and so i decided to use the dryer again. this got me thinking about authentic choice. i was actively choosing in that moment to use the dryer. when we had a line before, we did not have a dryer. there was never a choice. well, there was the original choice of not having a dryer, but each time i used the line it was not a choice in that moment. it was just something i did without really thinking about whether or not i had to. this thinking got me remembering the days when we did not have a television. we were never in each moment choosing to not watch tv. we had no authentic choice. other than the original choice (by scotty and i and not the kids) to not have a tv in the house. another example is having a dishwasher. we've always had one except when we lived in the camper. and we always used it on and off. mostly off. but there was always the choice to use it or not. i recently 'discovered' that my dishwasher actually makes a better dish drainer than dishwasher. i don't know why i never saw that before. i often would want to use the dishwasher when there were tons of dishes to do. mostly because i have a tiny dish drainer and having to stack and use a towel drove me nuts. but loading the dishwasher also drove me nuts. it seemed like all the rinsing and getting the dishes just so was more trouble than it was worth. but then the glorified dish drainer idea came to me. i no longer have the desire to use my dishwasher as a dishwasher ever again. i enjoy doing dishes more now than ever. all because i have tons of space to stack clean, wet dishes. it's about the weirdest thing. but my point here is that i still have a choice. if i wanted to, i could use the dishwasher as a dishwasher. any time i want. i can use the dryer. any time i want. we can watch tv. any time we want. that is authentic choice. without having options, it doesn't seem like the choosing to not use these things is authentic. yes, i still believe that there is authentic choice in the original choosing to not even have these things in the first place. but i also feel very strongly that without the choices, each time i put clothes on the line, wash dishes by hand, or read instead of watching tv, is not authentic choosing in that moment.

hey, there IS an off button! this took us a long time to choose after not having a tv for a long time (we got our first tv in 2001 and even then it was just a small 'video player' that had a blue screen unless there was a video playing because it didn't have cable or an antennae...LOL)

my glorified dish drainer!! so conveniently right under my tiny dish drainer.

the lovely bouquet of my clothes line!

i've also been thinking about the idea of 'have to' versus 'choose to' in regards to other things as well. like cleaning the bathroom, making my bed, dusting, sweeping, etc. yep, all related to cleaning!!! LOL! i think about it in regards to artwork as well though. i have been rethinking my 'have tos' a lot. if i feel like i have to do something, i no longer have a choice and i'm less likely to want to do it. if i feel like i can choose to not do something, i feel freer to actually choose to do it. and want to do it.

so this leads me to the big thing i've been working on now for almost a year. the authentic choice of food. you might remember when i first started struggling with this one, here. i have come a long long way since then and i know i have years of letting go to do still. i had a momentary set back this summer when my mom had to have major bi-pass surgery. i started feeling all that work unravel. wanted to go back to the old days of controlling all the food. i felt totally neurotic. i wanted to cry and scream. i didn't know what to do. then several really awesome people reminded me...your kids are not your mom. they are not even scotty. that helped so much. i took the time to breathe and think more clearly. i feel like i am more confident in my relationship with food now. and my body. this letting go was not just for my kids. it was for my own healing. i have started to really cook again (after that year or so of being mostly raw, i had stopped cooking a lot of our favorite things). i made chili yesterday for the first time in forever, it was so good. it was especially good because we got to share it with our friends heather, rowan, and dairbhre, who came over after the homeschooling get together. we ate out on the porch at the picnic table. it was really really good, for the taste buds as well as the soul. right now, in the house, we have cereal and soy milk, something i quit buying years ago. we have crackers. we have some granola bars. and twix and kit kat bars in the freezer. we have sour cream and cheese. yogurt. pasta. bread. beans. yeah, that all sounds pretty normal right?? well, it didn't use to be. so when people think that my letting go of all my food control means just buying more junk food. it doesn't. it goes way beyond just that. it means going back to buying completely normal foods again as well. that just goes to show you how neurotic i had become about what was 'healthy.'

in the last 3-5 years we've been moving closer and closer to authentic living as a family. completing this amazing puzzle as we learned more things and pushed those pieces of knowledge and practice into place. so now we have all sorts of authentic choice in our lives. it feels good to finish the puzzle, to push in that one last piece. is it really the last piece though?? i'm not sure, but it feels complete, feels like the picture looks more done than it ever has. but as i've said before, there is always more to learn, more to figure out. and i'm game!Share


Beachbum said...

welcome's a good place to be.

Madeline said...

What a great post. I went back and read your food post as well. We have a lot in common! I finally woke up about how much I was controlling the food with my kids right before the conference. I had let up so much that I felt that I had let up enough but I still rolled my eyes or said rude things about their choices. When I finally completely stopped, Gillen ate as much "bad" food as he could. he was even eating sugar out of the packets and three-five glasses of kool-aid at every conference meal. He has since started listening to his body, instead of just counteracting my years of control. It has been such a hard and valuable journey for me, this past few months. Thanks for giving me somewhere to write about it! My MIL, a nutritionist, reads my blog and I'm not ready to go there completely with her yet. And I am no longer on lists. May be time to join your network. ; )

Anonymous said...

at this point, i don't even know what an authentic food choice would look like for me. how much ice cream would i have to eat before it was enough? a LOT.

i've had food issues since i was 11 or 12. i used to hide food and steal it. i've moved past that, but now i have new, bigger problems.

last year i went vegan for several months. i lost weight, felt great. i thought, if i can just eat like this for the rest of my life...

then thanksgiving hit. and christmas. i started baking cookies and i didn't stop. i was going to get "right back on the path" once the new year started. but instead i started eating all the things i felt i was missing out on. i regained all the weight i lost, plus a lot more. not a little more, a lot more. i don't feel like myself anymore. my entire body hurts, as well as my spirit.

now, honestly, i don't know what to eat anymore. i think, gee, i should plan a menu for the week and i just draw a blank. i buy fruits and vegetables and half of them rot in the fridge.

at least i know more than to restrict my kid. we also have more healthy stuff in the house than unhealthy and i make sure it's readily available, but if she says she wants a lollipop, she can have it if there are any in the house. she wants eggs almost every day. i don't complain, i just make them for her.

but as for me, i don't know what to do. i feel stuck. i think it's related to the authentic choice you're talking about - when we feel we don't have a choice, we get unhappy/stressed/depressed. at least i do.

i don't want my daughter to see me always trying to diet (and mostly failing) but i don't want to be overweight either. how do you get to a healthy weight without dieting? i'm sure i don't know.

Ren said...

This was really cool for me to read tonight. You know why? It goes way beyond the fact that your post ROCKS.

Today, I was driving and thinking about authenticity, as I often do. I was thinking about you and how you are one of the most authentic and real people I've ever known. Because you are so HONEST. Honest about your struggles and where you're at and why you're choosing what you are at the moment.

So it really was amazing and cool to read a post about this topic, when I was thinking about you and authenticity today.:)

The food thing was a big one for me at one time too. Some things still make me cringe. Live and Learn right?

CG said...

This made me think about a post I once read on Path to Freedom I think it was, about how they didn't even hook up the hot water to the lavatories because if it is hooked up, there is a temptation to use it and thus to be wasteful. (Personally I find it helpful to sometimes get to wash my hands with hot water too!) I have hot water hooked up to my sinks, but I think about that in regards to wastefulness sometimes.

I don't think "authentic" choice means having a choice each individual time necessarily. And I think the world is currently and quickly changing in ways that will "limit" that sort of "unlimited" choice . . . and that the limited vision that unlimited choice is the only authentic choice will be crippling then. Because one can also choose to be happy, authentically, in the moment . . . and without needing the external conditions that one mistakenly thinks lead to happiness. Like that extreme food choices don't lead to health but balanced, varied ones do.

Well, I don't think that is very clear and it isn't really about choice in the way you are talking about it here but it is something I've been thinking about -- how people who aren't used to choosing to be happy anyway will manage it when their externalities are taken away.

One more thought is that I personally would link "authenticity" more with values and morals -- authentic to me would be in line with what I value and where my morality is and less linked to duality.

oh, and one more again! A long long time ago I bought this book (out of the college bookstore actually) with the title _I Never Knew I Had a Choice_. Now, honestly, the book SUCKS! but the idea of it, and that title, never left me. And so you know I always think we have (all of us have) way more choices than we ever bother to think of. We ALWAYS have a choice. It is just whether or not we choose to see what it is or not.

blah blah sorry to go on for so long

laura said...

i don't even think that i knew when i started this post that i was going to go to the food thing again but that's where it went.

CG, i actually have a part 2 to this forming in my head that goes along the lines of what you're talking about, where i had thought this would go (it started this morning as i was driving to the craft fair and i noticed the gas prices dropping before my eyes and i got to thinking about all the rest of the things regarding choice that i wanted to talk about here but didn't)

thank you ren. i mean that. it isn't often i know how to take a compliment because most of the time i don't really feel it is...well, um...authentic, real or sometimes even true. i do feel like i am coming into my own space and self, and all that!

madeline and maya...i'm so grateful for your honesty and willingness to chime in and be open and real. i think our feelings and ideas about food go so very deep because food is social, emotional, nurturing, deeply satisfying and that gives it the power to also be so much more (in a negative way) than it really is. we attach so much to it, so much weight (no pun intended). but i don't have any real answers, i'm still learning how to ask the right questions.

mindy said...

Ah, Laura, a very good read! I've been thinking a lot about authentic autonomy in reguard to raising our kids. Very similar in mindset you your "authentic choice". It doesn't have to be a question of unlimited amounts in order to make authentic choices, or to have authentic autonomy. It is more a question of knowing the availabilty of different choices. If certain ideas, or things, are hidden or kept secret or not allowed, even though in the wide world they are readily available, how authentic is the choice of "not" doing or having something? Can there be true autonomy, or authentic autonomy, when something is arbitrarily limited? Very good food for thought! Yes, the pun was intentional!!! I love, love, love reading your thoughts and am so apreciative of your ability to put yourself out there and write with such clarity!

CG said...

interesting comment la about food as a post is playing around in my head about cultural food and what a POSITIVE thing it is to HAVE a cultural food, celebration food, etc. When I sent a pie to the dressage clinician, it is not just a pie but an entire Southern expression. Food is about caring and nurturing and so many things.

Linda said...

I feel the same way about the dishwasher! How funny. In fact, I took one of the racks out of the dishwasher and put it up on the counter with a towel under it. It just seems like I can get the dishes washed so much quicker, and better washed, than the dishwasher. Which is so loud and uses energy. I don't know, it's just become unappealing to me.

I can relate to the food issues so much, especially the part about being neurotic about what's "healthy", and getting back to normal eating. For me the whole thing started with size bigotry. My whole life that's been such a stressor, that I was determined to have only the healthiest foods around. I'd show 'em. Well, I started obsessing about everything -- can't eat soy anymore, can't eat non-grass-fed cow butter, oops now can't eat dairy of any kind, can't eat grains (even whole grains,) can't eat too many fruits because of the high sugar contact, can't eat anything but the purest organic meats and vegetables, can't eat past the point the hunger pains are gone, must drink eight glass of water a day, blah blah blah. I did everything "right" according to some standard or other along the way, but no matter how well I thought I was doing, there was always somebody to tell me I was still doing it wrong (obviously, because I was still fat.) And then I'd go over to my friends' houses -- the thin friends -- and they'd happily have all kinds of crap in their cupboards. It was infuriating.

I just finally realized that food control is not the answer, it's not rational. It makes everything worse. Sorry for the book, this is just a huge issue for me right now. I'm enjoying your writing, looking forward to reading more.