Monday, October 21, 2013

The Responsibility of a Brain Steward

As I write this I sit on my couch. It's 5:47. If I want to make it to spin class, I should have had my nerdy bike shorts on 10 minutes ago. Every week I write down my exercise schedule in my planner as some sort of atonement for my shape and form; as if the space that I occupy is soiled by my lack of (fill in the blank) or my too much (fill in the blank).

I attended a Gottman relationship seminar yesterday and I learned that for 1 negative thing said in a relationship, 20 positives must be made to reconcile the pain that the 1 negative caused. I made a correlation to our own self-talk and came to a depressing self-realization. The score is as follows: Healthy relationship 1:20, Julie Babka and her brain 10,000: a number significantly less than 10,000. 

No wonder I am such a mess, no wonder everything that I am is lined with fear and anxiety, no wonder the down comforter of my bed deems a much better world than the one outside. 
The negatives going on inside my mind far outweigh the positives, in such a way that the negatives are multiplying like the cursed cup of Hufflepuff in the seventh Harry Potter book, burning every part of my brain, while the positives drown in their sting. (And yes, I did just use a Harry Potter reference.)

It's 6:02. I should have made it to spin class tonight, but I didn't. What does this mean for me? Am I allowed to feed myself? Did I earn the right to nourish my body? Too often exercise is used as a way to atone for my existence, as if I am a constant apology. 

I will say it again, as if I am a constant apology. I  have found that I live my life between apologies and defenses, between "I'm sorry's" and "How dare you's." It has been hard to find the middle, the balance, the responsibility, the tolerance and respect. It has been hard to discover that things are not black and white, that what we deserve is not a mathematical formula derived from how much "good" we put out. 

If I buy that dress that says it is slimming then I will feel like a whole and complete human being. 
If I exercise this many times a week, I can eat this much, and then I will feel like a whole and complete human being. 
If I make my bed every morning, do yoga, and drink kale in the form of juice, then I will feel like a whole and complete human being.

This has been my struggle, my vice, my "thorn in the flesh" if you will. 
Good thing I believe in a God who defies if, then statements like its nobodies business. 
I am not an apology. I do not need to shrink who I am to make up for what I am not. I am a human being, made of a rambunctious self will that sometimes trips over things and forgets to clean out her car; yet all the while, I am stitched together with Grace.  

The reality is that I have hurt my brain. I have made the process harder than it may be for some other people. That's what happens when your 10,000 negatives have almost no positives to cease the chatter between your synapses and neurons. The truth is that I don't need to apologize and I don't need to get defensive. I just need to take responsibility and explore what that means. 

I fear responsibility because that could mean blame, which could then mean guilt, which could then mean feeling really bad about eating a cookie. Responsibility does not have to be blame. In fact, a few synonyms to responsibility are authority, control, maturity, and duty. I have been given one heck of a brain and it is my duty  to take control of my thoughts. Perhaps, just as God wants us to be stewards of the earth and the environment, he desires that we be stewards of our brains; loving ourselves and nourishing our bodies, never apologizing for being alive. 

Well, my friends, it's 6:53 and I shouldn't be anywhere but here. 


  1. I love you & your honesty & this. You are so brave and bold.

    1. I love that you send me letters as "Julie Jones" and you sign your name as shmem. But for some reason the postman won't leave it here without my signature, so he left a note saying I had a letter from someone named "shmem" and I had to pick it up at the post office.
      Best. thing. ever.