"How you start your day is how you live your day, and how you live your day is how you live your life" - Louise Hay
Well today I woke up late and I ate chocolate brownie for breakfast.
I then sat looking out of our second floor window with the cat and watched the birds for a while. The tiny blue tits fluffed up against the cold, the fat grey pigeons precariously perched - sentinels of the silver birch, and of course the runaway pheasants: there's Horatio, the solo male, strutting his stuff up and down the garden to impress his harem of ladies. Meg, the cat, watches intently, stalks them, and pounces on a feathery feast. In her daydreams. In reality the birds are safe behind double glazing and the knowledge that Meg can't even catch her own tail.
This is my meditation. I look out of the window and reflect on the fact that today is Wednesday, and I woke up late, ate brownie, and watched the birds. I wait to acknowledge the familiar feeling of guilt... and then don't. Do any of these things make me an inherently lazy or unhealthy person? Absolutely not. Actually these ideas of 'lazy' or 'unhealthy' are just labels that we stick on certain actions or attitudes, a way of looking at and judging things, and they mean sweet bugger-all when you think about it. Life is about balance. Perhaps if I got up at 9.30 everyday and ate brownie for breakfast , regardless of whether I needed the sleep or type 2 diabetes, there would be a habit that needed addressing. But this morning I realised the habit that I actually needed to address was the way I perceive myself.
Now I don't want you to get me wrong - I'm a big advocate of healthy lifestyles: drinking enough water, getting enough sleep, keeping active and eating foods that nourish the body and mind are undoubtedly all essential parts of leading a happy and healthy life. But consumption is about so much more than what we've got on our plates. And no, I'm not about to "go all vegan" on you and talk about ethical sourcing of commodities, that's a post for another day. I'm talking about our consumption of media, of thoughts and concepts that are often far more toxic than a greasy takeaway. Ubiquitous advertising campaigns that tell us we need to be younger, fitter, thinner, happier; the growing norm that if you're not working yourself to death you're lazy, a shirker, but then you've got to maintain your work-life balance, don't you know! It's madness. And it's bound to get to us on some level or another.
For me personally, it fills me with guilt. Guilt about waking up late when my mum's already been at work several hours. Guilt about the fact I'm an adult and back living at home. Guilty that I bought chips for lunch on Monday. My guilt has been the driving force behind so many of my 'healthy' habits - I would go to the gym because I was guilty about not looking a certain way, not eating a certain way. If my muscles were aching and my lungs exploding I couldn't accuse myself of being lazy. If I get up early and drink a green smoothie for breakfast I don't have to feel guilty about being 'unhealthy'. But, reality check, if you have to get up at six and drink spirulina to feel good about yourself, there is something seriously unhealthy going on upstairs.
You are what you eat, and without a shadow of a doubt a green smoothie trumps chocolate brownie on the nourishing the body front every time. However you are also the way you THINK about what you eat, and if your green smoothie is a cup of self-righteousness, your raw superfood salad a bowl of holier-than-thou, and your "healthy habits" nothing more than a distraction from your negative self-talk and overwhelming sense of inadequacy, then a) you are most certainly not alone and b) your ego is doing a serious disservice to your wellbeing that no amount of wheatgrass shots is ever going to make up for.
Taylor Knott Gregson says "What if every day is the perfect day to finally be exactly who you were always meant to be?" - and here's another way of thinking about it: what if you're already the person you were always meant to be? What if you're already enough, just the way you are? What if you aren't defined by the chocolate brownie you ate for breakfast, nor the green salad you ate for lunch, but by the empowering knowledge that you can choose, at any moment, to accept yourself as you are, and to make decisions about what to do, how to act, what to eat, based on the desire to nourish and reflect the beauty and kindness that is already inside you? If you can accept yourself - every selfish decision you've ever made, every closed-minded prejudice, every mistake, every morning spent in bed and every evening spent watching telly and eating pizza - without judgement, knowing that the only thing that defines you is the way you chose to be right now, then you will have mastered the healthiest habit there is. "The only thing separating you from your goals is perspective." - Jessamyn Stanley.
"The way you start your day is the way you live your day, and the way you live your day is the way you live your life." Today I choose to start my day with kindness. Now I might go on a run, but not because I'm guilty about eating a brownie. Because the sun is shining and I am alive.