If you aren’t me, then you know my type. I’m a firstborn daughter and I’m good at it. I have type-A perfectionist, high-responsibility tendencies. I was the honor student. I’m fiercely loyal and protective. I’m determined and I don’t give up easily. I’m a Consumer Reports reader, a list maker. A terrible candidate for risk, I only attempt endeavors I’ll be good at, ones that have a high probability of success. I know my strengths and I leverage my weaknesses. I don’t often fail. (I don’t even like to flounder.) If I don’t know it, I’ll read about it until I’m comfortable with my understanding of the subject. Then, if it looks like the odds are in my favor, I’ll take a try at it. And although the ‘A’ is the goal (well, actually the A +++) I don’t mind b-level performance, but average isn’t worth bothering.
The trouble with this approach is there is no room for the big pay-off, the wild success. So, for all of the great ideas I’ve had and will have, I’ll choose the responsible path. Without that entrepreneurial spirit, that willingness to jump into the open sky and hope for the best, my tendency is to stay a dreamer and a reader of success.
Funny thing, life…or more like God, really. He knows our steps, the plan for our lives. He knows just how much of an asset this careful approach would be, this loyalty, this determined spirit. But He also knows that safe isn’t always best. He challenges us to be more than we think we can be. He takes insecurities and ignorance and gives us passion. (And He’s the safety net below us all the time.)
If you’re a parent, you know the drill – lots to do and a limited time to accomplish that to-do list. My list has grown significantly since our son’s health changed our lifestyle. Now, in addition to the shuffling, the shuttling, the loving and the caring for of parenthood, I’m doing the learning, the organic shopping, the baking and now even the gardening!
This is NOT where I thought I’d be four months ago.
For all of the thoughts that I’m not where I should be on the whole foods journey, I had a God-given moment of personal encouragement last night. There’s so much to learn and to change in how we approach food. There are so many label-reading skills to acquire, processes to understand, pitfalls to avoid. I could spend every moment of every day worrying about what I’m feeding my kid (and my whole family) or I can appreciate how far I’ve come and balance that with growing in God, nurturing my marriage, enjoying and guiding our kids and just living life a little more wisely each day.
So, I thought I’d share with you…just in case you’re on a journey to joyful…just in case you have a challenge in your life and you need some perspective.
In just four months’ time…
- I read labels. I have learned that if I don’t know what it is and I can’t make it in my own kitchen, we don’t eat it. No homogenized fake foods for us!
- I no longer use fake oils – no canola, no soybean, no corn or vegetable and no Crisco. We use coconut oil or real butter, period.
- We now have a freezer full of locally-raised grass fed, no antibiotic beef and pork.
- I actually shop the perimeter at the grocery store – no pre-packaged foods like boxed meals or sauces or condensed soups or meal cheats.
- We are trying new vegetables all the time and we’re actually looking forward to the Farmers’ Market opening this weekend.
- We are planting a vegetable garden of our own this year – nothing assures realness of food like growing it yourself!
- We only drink organic milk and we’re switching to farm fresh eggs – even though I still cringe at the price.
- I bake all of our treats to avoid unnecessary dyes and preservatives and I substitute for natural sweeteners like honey and real syrup whenever I can.
- We have cut back on fast food – still a major obstacle in a two working parent lifestyle
It’s not easy to give up the food that we are so attached to – the Pop Tarts, the creamed soups, the boxed pasta meals, the frozen pizzas and the Lunchables. They are created to make us crave them! Advertising, packaging, even our friends and family convinces us that we love and need these foods to be happy. I made excuses about my time to prepare meals and about our budget. But when I was faced with the facts that those foods were actually hurting my son from the inside out, I knew that the sacrifice would be worth it. I had to try something I wasn’t sure if I’d be good at. I had to swing out over the sky and pray that all of the information would sink in and I’d learn the labels. I had to trust God to provide good prices on the healthy items we needed to purchase.
So while I absolutely take advantage of the wisdom to be had from sources like 100 Days of Real Food, Food Babe and Robyn O’Brien (to name just a few I follow), I have to daily give my perfectionist tendencies to God. I want to change it all. I want to never eat another genetically-modified product. I want to eat all organic. I want to learn it all now or to be able to quit when it’s overwhelming. But God gave me this life and He’s giving me the little victories and the encouragement along the way. So, although I know that a lot of moms and wives are better at this, are greener are more organic and more savvy, I’m encouraged at how far we’ve come in such a short while. Today, I’m choosing joy.