you've got the power

After four days away from the gym, I changed into my work-out clothes today and spent my lunch hour on the elliptical and on the mat doing ab exercises with the CorBall.

Every time I go to the gym, I watch the people around me. What is their heart rate? How fast are they moving on the elliptical? What exercises are they doing? Sometimes I try to incorporate their habits into my work out. Other times I think to myself that they are doing this or that wrong. Every now and then I recognize that they are more fit than I am. Then I store their moves into the back of my mind with the intention of utilizing it once I am more physically able.

The internet allows us to have all information at our fingertips. You simply type something into google.com and suddenly you have endless information available to you. Some of the information is repetitive, and some of the information is anything but helpful. But it's all there.

There's this need and desire I have for things to follow a certain order. I want to know what steps I need to take. How do I achieve fulfillment? How do I go about settling on a career and then moving my way up and through that career? What steps do I need to take in order to successfully lose 100 pounds and then maintain that weight loss?

I could find all of those answers and more with a simple search. I could also walk through the aisles of a bookstore and find a book on every topic. Some of those search results and aisles might yield helpful information. But that's all it is. It's just information.

No one can tell me exactly how to go about losing 100 pounds. There is the idea of cutting calories and increasing activity. And that works. But exactly how much do I cut calories? And how much activity is too much activity?

The answer is different for everyone. Just like the path a life takes is different for everyone.

I find myself at a crossroads almost everyday. It's a crossroads about what I want to do and who I want to be. It's a crossroads of wondering how I should go about standing out or if I should just try to blend in. Sometimes I mention my questions and thoughts to other people. Other times, I remain quiet and pensive.

This evening, I finally moved the laundry off of the washing machine and dryer. I dropped it on the foot of the bed and set about my least favorite chore: folding and putting away the clean (and now wrinkled) clothes. The whole time I considered this need to have a plan. This desire to know exactly what I have to do to lose weight or land my dream job.

There is no plan I can follow directly. Life is not a straight line. It's a series of twists and turns. Every decision impacts where a person goes next. And while I do believe God has certain hopes for us and intentions for our lives, how we land at those points is completely up to us. It's why we have free will. Because He could just make every decision for us and allow us to follow a completely straight path. But He would rather us figure it out on our own.

That in itself is a blessing. Yet I so often turn that blessing into a curse and mutter about how I just want to know what is going to happen next. I just want to know when I will finally figure out exactly what my life is supposed to be.

At 26, I don't need to have it all figured out. I shouldn't have it figured all out. If I did, what would I do with the next 40 or 50 or 60 years left in my life?

It's easy to think about the now. How each decision impacts my current state. It's also easy to ignore the now and think about only the future - how I will do this or that once I reach a certain point in my career or once I have a certain amount of money in my bank account. Really I can't just concentrate on the now or the future. I need to open myself up to both. My life is meant to be lived in the present but with intention because I want the present to lead to an even better future.

And it's not just about me. This life and these decisions. Yes how I treat myself is important, and yes it is my life to live. But I want my life to be so much more than just my life.

Someone might stumble upon my blog with a question about how to lose 100 pounds. Or a statement about wanting to love themselves and feel beautiful. And I would love to give them every ounce of knowledge I have. I would love the opportunity to meet somewhere for coffee, especially a gingerbread latte with Christmas season at hand, and just talk. To hear their story and then also share mine. To understand how our lives interconnect and maybe to help them find their way. But I wouldn't be able to instill any true advice on how to live their lives.

My advice would come from my experience. The advice would be what I had learned on my journey. Maybe it would help for them to know they weren't alone. I know that helps me. But it would just be assistance. It wouldn't be the easy and clear answer they were searching for - the easy and clear answer I hope to find each time I search google.com.

I'm thankful for every result I find on google.com. I think it's imperative that we all share our stories. I think it's a gift to have the internet as a way of connecting and as a reminder what we are never alone in our struggles, our hopes, and our achievements.

But I also know to take everything with a grain of salt. I know that some of my questions will go unanswered. And I know that my life will never follow the exact same path as someone else. But that's a beautiful thing - the fact that we are all so different and yet to so similar.

So, if you ever see me in the gym watching you, just know I am intrigued. Know that your effort inspires my effort. Know that I love that I can get ideas from you. Know that you, and the story you are living, help me get back into the swing of things after four days away from exercise of any kind.

And if you are looking for answers and a clear path, just remember that you are not alone. And those answers? That path? It will all become clear for you in it's own time. And once it does, the wait will have been worth it. A reminder that is just as much for me as it is for you.

(title from "someone still believes in you" by mary beth maziarz)

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