Personal ponderings from a natural night-owl!


Everything is a choice.  Do you believe that?

Whether you work, or not – and where: choice.  Whether you eat, or not, and what – and why: choice.  What activities you use to fill your time, how busy your life is – or isn’t: all choices.

I hear through space and time your vigorous denials. “But…but…I have to work! I have to go to school. I have to eat. I have to get out of bed.  I have to be president of the PTA!”  But really – you don’t.  You don’t HAVE TO do ANY of those activities – you choose to do them all – every single one. And yes, there will be consequences for every choice (after a while, not eating will cause some problems), but that doesn’t make it any less of a choice.

I think many people live daily lives doing what they think they HAVE TO do, never acknowledging the CHOICES they have, ruling out myriad possibilities of action before they are ever considered.  When your eyes are opened to the vast magnitude of choices we all have every single day, it can be incredibly empowering, uplifting, inspiring, and motivating!  It can also be completely paralyzing, overwhelming, and debilitating.

I was first presented with the reality of choice by a counselor in college while I was facing a pivotal, life-changing decision.  I told her I had no choice in the matter and she pointed out that not only did I have several choices, but that the illusion of lack of choice was in fact a construct of my own unspoken choices.  The box of stress into which I had painted myself was built by my own hand. At the time, this concept of broad choice was empowering, possibly life-saving.

Nearly a year ago, I embraced the extension of reality that EVERYTHING was a choice.  And I stopped doing nearly everything.  I was tired of getting ready for Christmas, so I. just. stopped.  I did laundry only when I ran out of clothes.  I cleaned only when it bothered ME.  I didn’t want to go to work, so I quit my job.  I was tired of helping at the kids’ school, so I stopped going in. Some days, I did not want to get dressed, so I lounged around in pajamas. For days.

At first, I told myself that this was just the usual holiday break, that things would pick up again to the usual frenetic pace come January.  But the “break” lasted for 4 months and eventually I figured out that my “break” was depression.  But that period did remind me that everything – EVERYTHING – is a choice.

As a society, we are also conditioned to blame some mysterious outside force for our perceived lack of choice. “I was so busy…” or “I had no time…” or “I couldn’t get to it…”  We are somehow trained not to own our choices.  And let’s face it – putting the blame on something outside ourselves is easier than admitting that we just didn’t want to do something!  But we all have the same number of hours in a day.  What really happened in each of those situations was that we MADE A CHOICE.

The start of the new year is all about resolutions, but resolutions are really about different choices we’d like to make in our lives.  I’ve read a few thoughtful blog posts since New Year’s Day that also speak to making choices. They are worth your time and thoughtful consideration, should you chose to read them.  Zac Chase blogged about choosing to be vegetarian, but not vegan.  And Kimburly VanderHorst blogged about making purposeful sacrifices on the altar of change in order to accomplish a big goal.

Me? I’m choosing to continue my success at taking the medicines that help me balance my system and be more healthy.  I’m also choosing to keep trying to find and incorporate fun physical activity into my life.  I’m choosing to give myself permission to fail and try again, and again, and again!  And finally, I’m choosing to live a less busy, but more meaningful and joy-full, life. That doesn’t mean there are fewer activities to occupy my life, but it does mean I won’t be trying to do all of them at the same time anymore.  And I won’t apologize for making choices that please me.

What choices – large or small – will YOU make this year?

Comments on: "Ch-ch-ch-Choices" (3)

  1. this is fascinating and empowering and refreshing to read at the beginning of a new year, Debbie.

    i believe most things are choices (though i think of this as a factor of relative privilege). the rest? the choice, i suppose, is in how i deal. i am a little wary, though, of the discourse of “all is choice”…i’m not sure i believe in the autonomous subject it suggests. i think not all choices are equal and some (the obligation ones) have human consequences that affect other people deeply. we can choose not to care, i suppose, but many of us are not equipped/conditioned to make that choice. nor should we necessarily.

    last fall, i made a choice (to embark on the Ph.D) that constrained the rest of my agency and choices to such an extent that i felt swallowed whole. i am embracing my choices and relative freedom again with great zest.

    • I do think we, in our corner of the world, do have more choices less directly related to survival, if that’s what you mean. And I completely agree that a large part of the “choice” we have is in how to deal with what happens TO us, not necessarily by our choice.

      I do think all choices are equal, though. Any perceived inequality comes from the filters we apply ourselves, which are really choices in disguise. But I think that’s why some people’s choices that are radically different from our own can cause horror and shock! The internet has been an incredibly useful tool for me to challenge assumptions and reveal the choices which ARE choices that sometimes I don’t even realize exist.

      And yes, some choices have very human impacts. In general, I agree with you on that point, but there are some people that need to learn how NOT to care as much – those that feel obligated to do EVERYTHING for others without regard to their own need for balance or health.

      I am glad you are still embracing the Ph.D journey, albeit with perhaps a bit more balance. I am honored that you stopped by and commented!

  2. I am in total agreement with you on how our society pretty much trains us not to own our choices. So true. And yet, for me anyway, that’s where self-respect comes from. I haven’t found any other way to find it.

    Well said!

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