New Year! New You? The daylight begins to spread slightly father into the edges of the day. Still, it’s cold. I don’t like how my body looks, How it feels. I don’t like how my brain is moving, Either creeping in a carb-laden haze, Or ping-ponging between things that might lift me from misery: a home remodel, new budgeting software, a new job, a gardening service, a new gym, a new car, A complete Marie Kondo of the sum of things I have attempted to plug this hole with?
Do I need to completely change my life, or is it just January?!?
So far 2022 has been a 2.0 version of the question from my last post: Do I need to completely change my life, or is it just (now) January?
Turns out, it’s still me here! I did not get a new me in the new year. WTF.
I survived, even enjoyed, the holidays. I relaxed into the drama of coparenting with an angry man through the school break. I slept. I ate. I talked to friends and family. I opened beautiful gifts. I watched TV. I took time to rest. I remained attentive to my work. I left it behind when I could. I thought about this blog. I thought about my book. I mean, I think I checked a lot of the December boxes.
And still, I find myself limping into mid-January. Obviously still in need of some recovery. Today, I’ve had the day to myself to do this very recovery thing I’m writing about. But this is one of the tricky things about self care. What works one day, doesn’t always work the next. And sometimes, you don’t know if it worked until after the thing is done. I’ve taken whole trips where I wasn’t sure if I accomplished a damn thing in the realm of self care until I returned home and noticed that something had shifted back into place. I didn’t even feel it move…but now it’s there.
So I wanted to make a little reminder list for myself of the things that work, not every day, but some of the days, to keep my soul intact and help to flick away the little bits of crap that tend to collect over the top of it. Here it is:
- Acceptance. The fastest way to where you want to be is through where you are right now. I cannot kick my own ass into gear. Those days are over! It’s like the alcoholic say, You can’t hate yourself sober! I can’t hate myself into anything anymore. All there is for me now is acceptance, and what that looks like is this: Today is a day to feel tired. That’s okay. This is a day for sadness. That’s okay. This is a day for anger. That’s okay. All things are welcome and this means I have to welcome the days when I don’t feel great. That’s okay.
- Kindness. First to myself. My internal dialogue is sooooo godammed demanding, pretty much all the time. I have to live with this person in my head telling me everything I should and shouldn’t do and how I’m so screwed! I have no control over her. But I have also learned that she has no control over me. What I mean is that she may speak, but I don’t have to listen. Still, it takes a concerted effort to ask myself what would be kind to me. So I try to do that. The answer changes and I have to practice listening in order to hear. Meditation helps me separate the mean voice from the kind one.
- Honesty. Again first with myself. I do the morning pages practice (3 pages of stream-of-consciousness, handwritten journaling every morning) and I notice when they start to get hollow. The onset is insidious. They seem fine and then gradually I’m writing the same to-do list and captains log I’ve been writing for a week. It’s not helpful, except that I am still showing up on the page so I have a greater chance of noticing what’s happening. And it reminds me that I have to drop into a deeper place to access the real truth. I try to do that as often as I can.
- Curiosity. I have a thousand questions a day about what I might want to do to change my life in small and large ways. Curiosity is a spiritual practice because it keeps these things light. I’ve been considering building a studio over my garage. Sounds expensive and that’s terrifying. Curiosity asks, how could this be affordable? What timeline would make this feel comfortable? Curiosity is not a task master. It’s light, and it’s comfortable with the answer, I don’t know. Being comfortable with not knowing, has produced some pretty amazing results.
- Movement. Being stuck is one of my most uncomfortable sensations. For this reason, I move a lot. My feelings move, my body moves, my heart moves, my brain?….My brain is like the feet of a duck. I actually put on audiobooks and podcasts to slow its pace when I can’t sleep. Because I need so much movement, sometimes I believe this means I can’t rest. But what’s actually true is that I need the movement to rest. This includes physical exercise, but also exercise of all the other parts of me (brain, heart, mind, etc.) Movement is a very important part of my spiritual practice.
- Elements. I’m gonna quote some unoriginal meme I’ve seen a few times now: I am effectively a glorified house plant. I do a lot better when I have enough water (both inside my body and out), sunlight, and earth. This time of year it can be hard to get those things. Today I made myself climb to the garage roof and lay in the sun for over an hour. Yesterday I forced myself into the freezing Pacific Ocean to surf (although with my 4-3 wetsuit and booties I was not a bit cold!). But I say forced because that’s how it FEELS a lot of times. I want to surf or garden or exercise or have a warm bath, AND there’s a big part of me that wants to be at home under a blanket. In the winter I have to force myself to be out! to take the dogs for a walk, or pull a few of the thousands of weeds that need pulling. But again, being in these elements of nature, it’s like medicine.
- Car maintenance. Just a reminder to rotate your tires because I learned that lesson the hard way last month.
God speed. It’s January. We all need a prayer right now.