Limitations

January 10th: Limitations

Right off the bat, I want to apologize for the title of this post. I had a bunch of other extraneously worded ideas, but this one basically sums it up, so I’m going with it.

First off, there are a lot of memes and blurbs and ideas floating around about “blasting through your limitations” and “the only limits that exist are in your mind” and blah blah blah. Well, okay, sure. There are days when I certainly feel this way, and I get it, then.

But what about the other days? The days when you can’t stop procrastinating? The days when you go to bed at night disappointed with yourself for the three things you still didn’t do, even though you’ve been trying to make yourself do them for weeks? What about the mornings like the one I am having, where I really wanted to work on my novel, but I just couldn’t make myself do it?

The thing is, life, for me, is an unpredictable sea. Sometimes, for weeks at a stretch, I can navigate the waters beautifully and I think “Hey, this is my life now! This is how it will be from here on out. Yay!” And the next thing you know, I turn around and I have no idea where I am. I might be stuck on a metaphorical sandbar for weeks, or thrashing about in a monsoon, or simply adrift in calm waters with no wind to move me towards where I want to go.

If you were to tell me, during one of those less than ideal times, that I was limiting myself, I would probably want to smack you, except for the fact that I believed it was true.

But is it though? Am I really expecting myself to be operating at 100% at all times? I mean, is that realistic? I don’t think it is.

I think that it’s important to understand that circumstances change daily- sometimes more often than that- and that we are all a bit at the mercy of many varied elements. How tired we are. How stressed we might be. If you’re a woman, hormones are a HUGE factor. What our mental state is like. Relationships, work, money, health, nutrition, responsibilities…I could go on and on, but you get what I am saying. Recognizing why we might not be out there killing it is super vital if we hope to stop beating ourselves up for perceived failings.

Once you understand that, it’s a lot easier to give yourself props for the things you are getting done. For instance, this morning I might not have worked on my novel, but I did sit down and pay all of my bills. I did set up an automatic transfer to my savings account. I did meditate, shower, and get my kid in the tub. I should probably go check on her. Hahaha.

Anyway, my point is, limitations DO exist. Try to recognize where you are at today, and work with what you have. You might not be where you want to be, but there is plenty you can accomplish from wherever you are. Just know when it’s time to lower the bar a smidge, and don’t feel bad about it. It’ll get raised again when you feel better and things settle down.

Examining Labels

January 8th: Examining Labels

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I am totally oblivious to things that are happening inside of me, in my own life. For someone who thinks of herself as pretty self-aware, this can be kind of jarring, but that is exactly what dawned on me yesterday.

Turns out I’ve been trying to be on a certain path for a long while now, and I’ve been fighting myself every step of the way.

Let me explain- you know how, all your life people tell you certain things about yourself and you hear them so often that you believe them to be true? Like, for instance, I am outgoing. I am a people person. I am a social butterfly, a chatterbox, friendly, funny, entertaining. Total extrovert, right? Well, kinda. But that isn’t all there is to see, that’s just the labels I got stuck with and believed. So, when I started to retreat a few years back, I thought that meant there was something wrong with me. If I wanted solitude, if I wanted something quieter, I must be depressed or something, right? Every year, my resolutions have included some form of being more social, more out and about, busier.

Well…let me introduce you to the theme of this year for me: “The Year of Knowing Less”. Has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it? Okay, fine, it’s a little weird, but you know what? It fits me, and it makes me feel…like I can breathe.

While it’s true that I might love a good conversation, and that I enjoy making people laugh, the endless onslaught of information through social media has been dragging me down for years. Not that I have the willpower to stay away from it, you understand. It’s like trying to avert your eyes from a gruesome accident on the highway- I don’t want to look, but it’s nearly impossible not to. But as of recently, I’ve done a mighty good job of scaling way, way back on my consumption. Same thing with the news- I despise the president, and everything that is happening in our government with a passion. Like, I knew it would be bad, but I had no idea it would get this bad. However, me knowing about all of it, arguing about it, constantly keeping myself abreast of every detail…it has not helped me one iota. Not once. So, I’m out.

The thing is, this is what I’ve wanted for such a long time. Less knowing. Less craziness. More quiet. But I’ve been fighting it because I have held onto the labels I’ve accepted for myself without examining them to see if they were still true.

What I know to be true at this moment is this: I don’t care what anyone else thinks about me or the way I choose to live my life. I don’t have any interest in participating in meaningless internet chatter or getting myself all riled up over anything that I can do nothing about, or that doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things. I am okay with my world being a little smaller, and a lot quieter. I am devoted to living a life that works best for me, and I will continually seek that out…even if no one else understands my choices.

Here’s the thing- it doesn’t matter if you are sixteen or sixty-three, you owe yourself the chance to live a life you love. It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks, you have to honor yourself- when you do that, everything else will begin to fall into place. Maybe not right away- there might be some strife and some struggle- but eventually, you’ll find your footing. Examine the labels you have taken as truth. You might find that some of them don’t fit anymore, or maybe never really did. Figure out who you really are and go from there. Be brave. You won’t be sorry.

Factory Reset

January 6th: Factory Reset

What a blur the past two weeks has been! Actually, doesn’t it seem like the clock speeds up sometime around mid-November, when the preparations for Thanksgiving begin? For me it seems that way, especially now that my part is more than just showing up and eating.  The minute Thanksgiving is over, the Christmas frenzy begins- I am not much of a shopper, and even I visited more stores in November and December than I do throughout the rest of the year. Then school is out and with all the weird days off and fragmented work weeks, by the time January second rolled around this year…honestly, I didn’t know what day of the week it was. I thought there were at least four Monday’s over the past two weeks. I’m not even kidding.

For me, a messy, complicated person who craves order and routine all the more for its elusiveness, starting fresh from such a chaotic place as that is very difficult. Unlikely, even. What I really needed was a nap. A chance to recover from all that activity. A little more “back to normal” and a little less “wait, what day is this?”

Unfortunately, due to circumstances I am not even going to attempt to get into right now, that was not to be. I hope that the start to your new year was peaceful and easy, but mine took a running leap straight into facing my fears and dealing with my deepest anxieties. I dealt with it just fine, but it was exhausting all the same.

Today is the first day of what promises to be the first normal week of this year for me- no days off mid-week, no holidays, no weirdness- and I am ready for it. I spent the last 48 hours basically cocooned inside my house, accomplishing absolutely nothing that I hoped I would. I just needed a break. I wanted so badly to tackle my to-do lists and jump into mapping out my goals, but…I couldn’t. I was simply unable to do anything other than rest.

I want to lie and say I’m okay with that, but the truth is, I have no choice other than to accept it. For one thing, it’s already in the past, and we all know you can’t do anything about the past. For another, after all the years I’ve lived in this body of mine, I’ve learned that there are times when my instincts take over and render my busy human brain useless. Kind of like a factory reset- my thoughts are still swirling away, but my body goes offline and…I don’t know, installs updates, I guess. But during that time, while my body is powered down, I cannot think my way into activity. I just have to rest. I can enjoy it or not, but it’s going to happen either way.

Here’s the reason I am sharing this with you: If you are like me, and you are feeling disappointed because the past few days didn’t go the way you’d hoped, let that go. We have all been incredibly busy for the past couple of months, and maybe you, like me, needed a break. I am trying to be gentler with myself and notice when I am not. I hope you can do this too- go easy on yourself. Ironically, it’s one of the hardest tasks for me, being gentle…especially with myself. But I keep trying because I know it’s important- everyone around us is touched by our vibe, be it good or bad. So I keep aiming high…I hope you do, as well.

What is Left Behind

January 1st: What is Left Behind

Can you feel it? Man, I woke up this morning, and that New Year Energy is like a living thing- a big jumble of hope and excitement and determination, a breath of fresh air, a big zap of radiant motivation. It’s not just the start of a new year, but the start of a whole new decade…which is also the end of the last year and the last decade. What a wonderful place we are standing in right now.

The first thing I did when I woke today was suspend my Facebook account. I’ve done this on January first for the past three years now, and it is always such a relief. I am not going to pretend it is permanent, but it is a much-needed break. This year, I hope to know less about things that don’t matter to me. It’s much more peaceful that way.

After that, I lit my candles and settled onto my cushion and sent up my first prayer of the year, heartfelt and full of gratitude for all that I have, and gratitude for all that is on its way to me. I stated my intentions for the months ahead and gave lots of thanks. I meditated for a good long while. When I was done, I wrote down the things that I would not be carrying with me into this new year, each one on its own scrap of paper. Here are the things I am leaving behind:

  • Worry about what other people think of me
  • Judgement of others
  • Resentment
  • Hurt over things that happened in the past
  • Trying to control that which can’t be controlled
  • Fearing the worst

I took the scraps of paper outside, and as the sun rose on the first day of the year, I lit each one of those things on fire and dropped them, one by one, into the fire pit. I let them go. I know I will need to let them go again and again until I learn how to release them forever, but this is where we start. By naming them and releasing them.

Have you thought about what you are not bringing with you into 2020? If not, there is always time to start now, no matter when you happen to read this. The point is not to do it perfectly or call it a failure the first time you catch yourself slipping back into old habits and routines. The point is to start the journey of change, which begins with taking notice of this heavy thing you carry, setting it down…and understanding you will pick it up and put it down many times before you let it go forever. We are all works in progress. We can always find a better way, do a different thing, improve one aspect or another. Today is a wonderful day to start, but you know what? So is tomorrow…or any time you are ready. Whatever you decide, I am sending you love and good wishes for a wonderful year.