Determination

I hear this occasionally, that I have an amazing amount of determination and trust me I find that a very serious compliment.

I used to think (because maybe I had been told many times) I was stubborn, rather than determined. Because I would get something in my head and no one would be able to talk me out of it.

Like, when I was 10 years old, I remember when there was a “fiddle” demonstration for all the kids at school. Mr. Woodall wanted to recruit a few young kids into the orchestra and I found it so fascinating that I went home that day and told my mother I wanted to play the violin. She told me I should wait, until I could join the band, surely I wanted to be in the band and not orchestra? I didn’t want to wait. I wanted to play music right at that moment. She made me wait two grueling days before I could tell Mr. Woodall that I would be joining the orchestra. She then took me to the Music Store (I believe it’s still called the Music Store) where she bought me a violin for $200, agreeing to pay $10 a month until it was paid off (I’m from a smallish city and back then they weren’t even charging interest, just $10 a month). I was determined to play the violin and that’s what I did for the next 8+ years. I couldn’t read music and I had a hard time learning but I found a way to do it by listening. I even had private lessons, practiced all the time, joined the Strolling Strings (yes, Strolling Strings), participated in competitions, earned medals and even sat 1st chair, 1st violins for quite a long time. Some of the best friends I made back then are still my friends now. This was one of the best things, it turned out, that I decided to be stubborn about. I still have my violin, even with me here in the Netherlands, and a new, electric violin complete with amp. I play every once in a while still and it gives me really good memories, even though it was NOT the cool thing to do in high school.

Another thing I decided at the age of 10; I was going to learn a foreign language and live in another country. I talked about it every once in a while and I honestly don’t think any one thought twice in my family about it, but I was going to do it. It was a film that changed my life and made me want to go beyond my own borders. The fascination of other countries, other languages, it was so interesting to me! So I studied a couple of languages in high school and later on in College, but I never really had the opportunity to use them much. Later in my life, I had an opportunity to come to the Netherlands, a job I had to apply for at my then current company. I did not get the job. I was gutted but determined to make the second rotation in two years time. I busted my proverbial butt, finished college AND worked 40+hours a week and two years later I KNEW I had that job in the pocket. Everyone knew I was so determined to go, no one else applied for it. I still had to go through several interviews, but I got the job and I came to the Netherlands.

Now I had the language thing to sort out. After two years of only working and not really learning about the country I was living in, or the culture, the people or the language, I decided I was going to stay in the Netherlands, which meant I had to quit my job when it was finished and go into the big bad Dutch world on my own. I took out a loan against my 401K and I paid for a slightly-expensive immersion course so that I would have a good base to start. I knew I had to get a job and I might need to speak Dutch. I was determined to stay here no matter what. I would have worked as a toilet cleaner. In the end I got a job two weeks before my end-date of the job that brought me over. I found a house to live in and a roommate and I made that dream come true, with stubbornness and determination.

I went through this weight loss “journey” (still hate that word, still open for substitutions) a couple times before and each time I was quite determined. In 1992 I joined Weight Watchers and really changed my life around to suit me as the WW and Athlete instead of me the beer-guzzling, frito-pie eating and cigarette smoking alterna-party girl. But I had some other life changes throw a wrench (or a spanner for my UK friends) into the works and I put it on the back burner (finishing school, work and focusing on NL).

And in 1999 I did it again, this time reaching goal and maintaining the loss for three years. Once again I made it so that my life fit me the WW’er, the Athlete AND the social coordinator.

And then it happened. I lost my relationship. My job. My house. Almost all in one go. And there was no determination for me being healthy, fit, strong and fun anymore. The only determination that was there, was to live through each day.

And some days, I didn’t even have that.

There were incredibly dark days that followed. Those days turned into weeks, months and years.

Finally, somehow I got my mojo back. I am determined, yes. I’m not really a quitter. But I can see now that I have trouble focusing on more than one thing at a time. I know that’s why I’m struggling now. Work is killing me. The commute is killing me. Killing my spirit. I truly believe that the lack of sleep is what is causing all of this trouble for me. The stress at work and the pressure I feel. I don’t know how to fix it. I can not just get another job, it’s not that easy. I can not just move, we have to sell our apartment to do that and it’s not really great economic times over here at the moment.

This is why I have to calm the frick down, accept the situation, and move on in a way that I would do every day, regardless of my weight. I have to behave now with the strength and determination that represents who I am. I’m not going to give up on myself. I’ve said it so many times before; I have no choice. I thought I had a choice at 22, at 30, but now I’m 42. There’s no time for screwing around with my health anymore.

Determination is actually what is going to get me through this. It’s the patience thing I need seriously work on!!

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6 thoughts on “Determination

  1. karen

    My grandfather played the fiddle and I wanted SO MUCH to be able to. My hands were far too small for even the smallest ones they had for me to try at the time, though, so I went with the flute instead. Then in middle school the district’s orchestra director had a daughter in high school whom I idolized & she played oboe so I decided I wanted to play oboe … but no one knew how to teach me and she was heading off to college. She did loan me one of hers and some instruction books, though, and I taught myself. Even had a couple of solos once I hit high school.
    You & I managed to master two of the most difficult instruments (so they say) … we can certainly handle anything else ;)

    Reply
  2. Marissa

    I completly know what you’re talking about. I have that same type of determination but lately I am so stressed and it’s killing me. We both need to just take a deep breath and relax it’s not going to change if we keep things the way they are. If we keep stressing this way it’s not productive.

    Reply
  3. linda@adventuresinexpatland.com

    Great post, very insightful. I went back to catch up on the last couple posts I’d missed and saw that you’ve been having a tough time this week. Sounds like you’re giving yourself permission to admit to your feelings. That’s necessary and eventually can be cathartic (it’s how many of us have breakthroughs), so long as you also don’t lose sight of the wonderful positives in your life. Obviously that includes your husband and running, but it also includes writing an interesting blog. Batten down the hatches, ride out the storm, and calm seas will come. Looking forward to reading more!

    Reply
  4. Emilie

    There is no doubt about it.. you are incredibly determined. I hope you still find time to laugh and muse about your plight (regardless of how exhausted you are) and maybe it will all pay off :) You should totally share your feelings when you need to – we all need to do that from time to time!

    Reply
  5. Katie Johnson

    Wow, you are truly fascinating! My heroines are always those women who dig down and do what they want, despite all odds. I totally relate to that. Georgia O’Keeffe, Katherine Hepburn, on and on. I LOVE strong women. If I want something, nothing can stop me. But I do think that you beat me, by a landslide. I’m impressed!

    You know though, I’m like that too. I just can’t seem to focus hard on more than one thing at a time. Maybe it’s a real lacking in me. I can tear the world up and get anything I want, DONE. But only if I’m working that one thing, maybe two. Too much stress, not enough sleep, gets me every time.

    You know, sometimes when things are not what you want them to be, it’s for the best. For whatever reason. I don’t know if that’s entirely true, but backtracking in my life, I can see, so many times, where I was where I should be, at the time I was meant to be, kicking and screaming sometimes, but in the end, it all pulled together and meant something. Does that make any sense at all?

    Reply

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