Changing the Way I See Things

flipped glasses

Totally not me because I never could get my Dorothy Hamill haircut. But those are the sweet, sweet spectacles that I loved.

When I was in third grade, my mom took me over to Dr. Hammett’s office in LaGrange.  He was “the eye doctor” and I loved going there because the front desk had a bowl of Kraft caramels on it and every now and then one of those fudge ones would show up…SCORE.

That’s exactly how I felt when Dr. Hammett told my mom that I would need glasses.  I knew that I was not supposed to want glasses but I really did want them.  I thought they would make me interesting.  And I would be able to read and read and read and read.  So I tried not to smile while I heard the news.  I picked out a pair from the kids’ rack–they were called “Cherry Swirl” and they were AWESOME.

Glasses didn’t stay awesome for long, for all the usual reasons.  Blind at the pool.  Contacts are itchy.  Fingerprints.  Four eyes.  Sweat.  They slide down, get knocked off, scratch too easily.

I loved my Cherry Swirl glasses for about a year then I tolerated glasses for another 33 years.

Then one magical day, my car was paid off and I saw an email about $1000 off laser vision correction and I decided that it was time.  I went to the seminar and found out that it could work for me.  I had the money for it.  I got over my concerns about the slim slim chance of ending up with worse vision.  Last April, I did it.  I signed the papers, paid the bill, swallowed a Valium (#18!) and lay down on a table.  Srrrrrrrt.  One laser made my vision blurry.  Then they walked me two steps to the next table and Srrrrtttt blip blip blip runk runk ruuuunk…and I could see.  Seriously.  I stood up and read the time off the clock across the room.  It was 11:40.  Thirty four years of not being able to see then I could see.  Just like that.

The day after the procedure, I gathered up all my old glasses and prescription sunglasses and stuffed them in the donation box for charity.  It felt so liberating!  I could lie on my side and read a book.  I felt safer around the pool because I could see my kids clearly.  We went to the beach and I saw fish jumping out in the distance.  I could wear regular old sunglasses from Target.  Even working out was better because I could sweat all I liked without my glasses slipping down my nose during push-ups.

But this isn’t an extended testimonial about the powers of laser vision correction.  It’s about changing habits and changing situations in life. With the speed of a laser and a few thousands dollars, I changed my situation.  But this morning, I did what I always do–I turned off the alarm, swung my legs over the side of the bed, then reached for my glasses.  It’s been a year, but my body still follows that habit of 34 years.  It happens when I am sleepy and running on my lizard brain.  Habits are like that–they are grooves that my body has gotten used to.  They once served a purpose, but now I might still be doing them without the need to.  Habits don’t always recognize when a situation has changed.  Think about an alcoholic–the minute they decide to stop drinking, the situation has changed.  The habit of wanting to drink takes longer to retrain.  

The week after the laser eye surgery, I started ripping down the ugly fruit wallpaper in the kitchen that I had resented for eight years.  In a couple of days, we redid the kitchen counters, the appliances, the walls.  FINALLY.  It felt like I had shaken something loose.  The eye surgery had inspired me to change other situations.  Some things really can be fixed just. like. that.  It only requires making the decision to change.

There was a time when running was a habit for me and I want to get back to that.  I simply need to do it.  I could spend eight years or thirty years to think about it and plan for it and worry over it, or I could put on my shoes tomorrow and run.  Well, probably walk and then run down a hill.  I can change the situation quickly, even though the habit will take longer to recover.

Sound familiar?  What's got you scared to change?

Sound familiar? What’s got you scared to change?

Do you have something that’s been nagging at you?  What are you tired of?  What part of it is a habit and what is a situation?  Can the situation be changed?  How can you retrain the habit?

Now I’m going to bed and I bet you a dollar I reach for the phantom glasses in the morning.  And I’ll smile.

22 thoughts on “Changing the Way I See Things

  1. Lisa in Athens

    interesting for you to follow up a post about Valium with one that includes reference to lasik. That was the second time in my life I’d had a Valium (first was a teeth-pulling for braces, age 12 – I despised that dentist.)
    But to answer your habit question – I want to get back into hand weights work-outs, but that “want” hasn’t gotten bad enough yet.

  2. Christine

    I, too, was in third grade for my first glasses. Had no idea everyone else could see the blackboard clearly. Dr. Quinn was the miracle worker, er, eye doctor. My first pair had tinted lens in an unnatural peach for my light sensitivity, set in a lovely cat-eye frame of cream and GOLD sparkles. Yeah, baby. Saved and paid for contact lens in high school. Lasik a few years ago. Eyes still super-sensitive to light though (which is why some “friends” refer to me as a vampire). Well, that and I’m white as the driven snow. 🙂

      1. christymimi

        That was the “bonus” part of the pep talk the eye doc gave me! But all I could think was there was way more I DIDN’T want to see up close and personal…

  3. Marie Davis

    I just gave up Diet Coke. I had been wanting to do that ever since my husband read an article that said colas can contribute to osteoporosis. Well, I’m getting older and that’s a concern. I asked him to give it up also so there wouldn’t be any in the house, but he balked. Then I asked him to switch to an alternate cola that I don’t like and he was amenable to that. I’ve been cola-free for several weeks now, but I occasionally think that a Diet Coke would go very nicely with something I’m eating. But I don’t drink one. Now, if I could just lose a few pounds…

  4. Lisa Burke

    That large bird thing….that could happen to me. I recently mistook a mailbox for a large black dog. Thankfully, law enforcement was not involved.

  5. Michelle

    Thank you … I’m changing it right now. I have dilly dallied around getting back to my “Healthier” ways of eating, and juicing, and smoothies, and all around taking care of me. I am glad for the reminder that it’s easy to make the decision and harder to make the habit.

    And I am a glass wearer too – and just changed the bedside table recently – I have to think about reach up instead of down every morning to find my black glasses, on a black table, in the dark. 🙂 Keep it up girl! You are one bad mother 😉

  6. Michelle

    Have you been spying on my life? I am in the midst of shedding some commitments and habits that just don’t fit me anymore and IT IS LIBERATING!

  7. Susan Fliegel

    I read this and died laughing. Recently I had cataract surgery, and the new implanted lenses corrected my vision so I don’t need glasses. But I still reach for them every morning and still try to take them off at night. Probably always will, after wearing them from age 5 to age 58. Glad to know I’m not alone in the crazy…

  8. maryhelenc

    I kind of did it in reverse. I have had to wear glasses to read since I was a teenager and I all kinds of hate them…until my middle daughter developed astigmatism and needed glasses. Then I started wearing them all of the time to show her that glasses aren’t sucky and found I looked cuter wearing them than I didn’t. Now I’ve totally embraced them! It’s funny how just a little perspective changed on them. Also, that change made me change my living room that I had been dying to fix, so you’re right! one change leads to another and another change!

  9. Katie

    I’m grateful to say that I’m currently in a momentum phase. Rather than being prompted by surgery, it was prompted by a relative driving 8 HOURS to visit me to help me with my LAUNDRY. She knew I was overwhelmed and stuck and discouraged, and she gave me the boost I needed to clear out some of the things (aka out of control laundry piles) that were in my way. That was last week, and since then I’ve tackled half a dozen things that were hanging over my head. It feels good to be loved and supported, and reminded of my strength and ability to take care of things.

  10. Heart To Harp

    I’ve worked hard on the emotional eating habit for the last year, prompted by new situation of blood pressure “trending in the wrong direction” as my MD put it. Just reached 50 lb. weight loss. Woohoo! No surgery, no drugs, no purchased diet program food. Just conscious eating, walking, and yoga.

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