All we have is our choices (and that's quite a lot to have, really)

(Bonus semi-related rant on social media photography at the end!)

Noah decided he wanted to work more surprises into our marriage, so a couple weeks ago he ordered two books on my amazon wishlist without telling me. (He also booked a two night getaway this weekend to a friend's cabin near Boone. I'm all for these surprises! But apparently the surprises aren't always *for* me, even if they're surprises *to* me, like the time a low-D whistle arrived from England the other day, and he was all, "Yeah I bought that!" And I was like, "How much was it?" His reply: "Not important.")

Anyway, one of the books was Atul Gawande's Being Mortal, which I heard about on NPR. I know what you're thinking: why don't you read something serious for once, Erin? What's with all the fluff? Just hear me out.

Gawande is a surgeon and a Harvard professor, and he's made a study out of aging and end-of-life care. I...enjoyed? the book? For lack of a better word. It raised some really important thoughts on modern medicine and its consequences, putting words to things I've given a lot of brain space to lately. I'm not going to summarize it. But I think basically everyone should read it (even though I had a little PTSD moment reading the chapter "Letting Go," about end-of-life care and decisions for people with terminal illness).

The book concludes with a reference to Plato's essay on courage, basically determining courage to be recognizing both the realities and the hopes of your situation, then acting with prudence. Courage isn't always fighting tooth and nail till the bitter end.

Dr. Gawande reminded me that my ultimate control is not necessarily over my circumstances, but my responses. He helped me focus in on what I want to achieve, and showed me how my choices can get me there or not, no matter my circumstances. Facing reality is the key.

So one of my goals is achieving purposeful health to the best of my ability. In the past month I've lost ten pounds and trained for a jogged a 5k. Not bad! Baby steps. Lysa TerKeurst's book Made to Crave and blogger Monica Swanson have helped me maintain perspective; what I'm doing is not a crash diet and exercise plan. I'm okay if I don't really lose any weight one week, or even gain a little, because it's not going to change my goals or my choices. I'm going to enjoy events (with the food in moderation), I'm going to keep doing things that help my heart and circulation and muscles (like walking or jogging or yoga or swimming). As Gretchen Rubin says, happiness doesn't always make you feel happy.


My friend Elizabeth told me last week that she missed my funny posts. I miss them, too; I'm just not feeling really funny at the moment. But to show you that light-hearted Erin still exists, I will conclude today's post with a social-media-themed rant on the topic of facing reality.

Social media photography. Okay, so in the world of blogging and Instagram you've got to have noticed that fashion photography is bleeding into the realm of everyday people. You know what I mean: "casual" photos where the subject is really well styled, looking down and away, or off into the distance, or at the camera with surprise, like, Oh you're taking my picture? Little old me?

Can we put a stop to that, folks?

Ladies, what's so interesting about your feet, or the spot on the ground 12 inches in front of them? If you're posting a photo of yourself for the purpose of showing your outfit, don't pretend to be caught off guard, or bashful, or happenstantially (made up that word) finding a lucky penny just as the camera clicks. I love me some candid photos; but real ones, not pretend ones.

 A couple weeks ago a blog I enjoy posted a photo of siblings who were joining the blog team, and I kid you not, instead of a picture of the siblings like talking or laughing or (crazy idea) looking at the camera, they were standing next to each other in a field, not interacting, but one person was staring off into the distance to the left, and the other one was looking down and to the right. At what? A lizard? A sparkly rock? Are they really so bored with each other that they no longer interact? Are they trying on the zombie-chic, I'm just wandering around dully and randomly? And there happens to be a photographer randomly in this random field?

People, please. I actually enjoy some fashion photography, because I like the ideas and creative inspiration. Let's just all stop pretending everything is "effortless," okay? What *I* do is effortless: sweatpants, t-shirts, sweatshirts. Even jeans are an effort. STOP WITH THE EFFORTLESS! IT'S ANYTHING BUT EFFORTLESS!

I'm going to borrow my friend [ phrase in summation: Can you not? Thanksssssss.