Happy New Year! I am still allowing the dust to settle surrounding the end of 2015/beginning of 2016 before I come up with my word or phrase for the year. I’ve entertained the idea of *bliss* and *focus* or *focused bliss* but none of those feels right just yet. It will be hard to compete with last year’s phrase, Pure Divine Magic. That phrase lit my whole body up when I finally settled on it, so there’s no rush…I’ll know when the right words fall into place.
Something that has been on my heart lately, when I think of New Year’s Resolutions, is the idea of change. I haven’t embraced the concept of resolutions for quite some time, since resolving to do better than the year before doesn’t quite fit for me. “When you know better, you do better,” as Maya Angelou so gracefully stated. I think intentions are important, and the idea of what you want to release/bring in can be helpful. For example, I would like to release the habit of pushing myself through my tasks and bring in more rest and ease. Or, I’m going to release the need for perfection, and bring in more joy and play in my family life. Creating intentions such as these shows where the goals lie, without the harsh, all or nothing rules that often accompany resolutions.
I used to be very all or nothing. I would clean the entire house top to bottom like a crazy person one weekend, and then let things pile up again for two weeks. I would go on a health cleanse for a week, and then eat out the entire next week. When I look back on old journal entries, I see how harsh I used to be with myself. It looked a lot like: I need to STOP doing a, b, and c, and ONLY do x, y, and z from now on, IF I want to be happy. Wow, talk about setting myself up for failure, a cycle of frustration, and continued unhappiness.
At this point in my life, I can feel myself on the other side of changes I wished to make for so long. Things are far from perfect, and some things I never gave up or brought in at all. What changed was my approach to “personal evolution” which became what I think of today as self care. For me, self-care goes beyond massages, baths, and smoothies (all of which I enjoy) and becomes a comprehensive way I take care of myself in all areas of my life. One concept that has helped me immensely when it comes to change is Self-Compassion. This began when I was in a really unhealthy place in my life a few years ago. I began a very focused spiritual path, soaking up anything I could in the way of inspiration towards positive change. I slowly became more in touch with my feelings during this process, and made decisions from a place of “does this feel good, or does this feel bad?” What felt bad needed to be released and more of what felt good needed to be brought in, if I was to heal. This happened very slowly, and wasn’t easy, but over time, a healthier life emerged.
Shortly after beginning that journey, I faced a health crisis, and after trying to manage my condition for about a year, I surrendered to having two surgeries. (You can read more about that in Lessons from Surgery, part 1 and part 2.) I could no longer be hard on myself the way I once was because there were things I simply could not do, and my healing was at stake. It was then that I realized I tried to “beat myself” into changing for years, which does not work. It finally made so much sense to me. It was then that I learned to go easy on myself. I let go of perfection, and embraced moderation. I stopped making unattainable goals, and created a lot of space around the things I wanted to accomplish. I realized that nothing was worth me feeling bad over. That I could still have intentions, but I had to give myself compassion first.
Now, my life is much more manageable. I feel pretty good most of the time. I can straighten up the bedroom, and leave the vacuuming for the weekend. I can choose the two most important tasks for the day and leave the rest for next time. I follow what I need most that day, and balance that with what needs to be done. If my shoulders are stressed, I will schedule a massage, not push forward for another week until I am in pain. I listen to myself, and realize that nothing on a to do list is worth my well-being. Of course, I have my partner and children’s needs to consider as well, but I look at it the same way. What is needed most right now? Does my daughter need help cleaning her room top to bottom or extra snuggles? When you tune in with yourself, the answers are there. And somehow it all gets done as it needs to ❤