As this is my first post of 2017, I want to wish you all a very happy Happy New Year! I wish you health, warmth, comfort, peace, acceptance, joy, happiness, abundance, connection and love (and many spoons) now, and all year long. I realize I quit posting regularly shortly after creating my website. I was pretty dedicated to writing and keeping the site current for a while there, and then I just couldn't keep up. Life became busy and overwhelming, and unfortunately, some of the things that I found most fulfilling became my lowest priorities. I suppose you could say I have been in what feels like survival mode for the past two years now, which leads me to the purpose of this post.
I seldom ever set resolutions. Not that I don't believe in them, or admire those that do, I would just generally rather the search for growth to extend beyond a particular time of the year. For me, resolutions are also easy to forget about and cast off as unrealistic, lofty ideas after the novelty wears off sometime in early February. I would generally rather identify areas in my life that I would prefer to work on consistently, and do so one day at a time regardless of the time of year and without the pressure of letting myself down should I not resolve what I set out to in the arbitrary time frame of 12 months. That said, this year is going to be an exception. I have decided to create a vision for my year. Sure, call it a resolution.. as with any vision or intention, the first step is releasing it to the universe. I feel it's something I need to profess, to share, to put out there, to make it real... Ready? Here it is. Super exciting!!! This year, I resolve to slow down. That's it. Simple enough, right!? For me, it will actually take a significant amount effort. I have always been one to set unbelievably high expectations of myself. By nature, I am very much a control freak and like to plan, manage, achieve, take advantage of any exciting opportunity that comes my way, etc. I love and am passionate about so much in life... my career, yoga, helping others, helping animals, music, growing our small business... I've always considered myself a master multi-tasker and you'll seldom hear me turn down an opportunity or back out of a commitment. These qualities have been great assets and strengths, but lately have become points of weakness as I've been unable to find that sweet spot of balance. Everything in moderation, right? Well, not so much lately.
As some of you may or may not know, I have dealt with chronic health issues my entire life. Seriously, my entire life. My medical history could easily fill a walk-in closet, but for the most part, I've had amazing support, have managed well and have been determined to not let my health issues keep me from moving forward and working toward living life to the fullest. I'm also unbelievably stubborn. I have two autoimmune conditions and a number of related complications that have become increasingly difficult to deal with. My quality of life and ability to live the life I would like to be living has been significantly affected in recent years... more of that in future blog posts. I've always tried to walk through life with a glass half full perspective and a will do attitude. With the help of an excellent therapist, I've learned that I am very good at minimizing (working on it) and have become pretty good at forging ahead, no matter what. Even at the cost of my well-being. To say that living with chronic illness has all required a great deal of patience, faith, self compassion, and acceptance is an understatement. The past few years, however, I have really reached my limit. Or perhaps we could just say that I've reached the point where I realize that I need to set boundaries to remain both emotionally and physically well. I suppose you could say that finally, at 40, I've reached a point where I believe it's time to get real about what is important in my life. I've reached a point where I need to be okay with saying no. I've reached a point where I no longer need to concern myself with people pleasing. I share it with my yoga students all the time: we are all just doing our best and there is no such thing as not good enough. So why have I been struggling to feel like I'm not doing enough or doing well enough!? So I feel a pull toward re-prioritizing for the sake of living my best life.
In the business and leadership (and martial arts) space there the concept of "slowing down to go fast", which while counter-intuitive, essentially gets at the idea that its better to step back and invest sufficient time and effort in building a solid foundation, culture and positive habits on which to build from rather than rushing through the fundamentals toward the active part change or success. Success without a strong foundation and support of positive habits and culture will be short lived if reached at all. Such a great concept, right!? However, in my case, I literally plan to slow down to slow down. If a successful outcome is what I ultimately achieve, than I suppose we could consider that fitting the conceptual mold here, but I just want to slow down. I've become such a firm believer in, and proponent of living for the now and practicing presence and gratitude for the moments we have while they're occurring. If you go back and read my previous blog posts you'll see this is the common thread that runs throughout. For me, this concept and way of living took years to actually evolve and translate into my way of being. For a planner to not think about a plan? For an analytical thinker to not mentally construct or reconstruct every possible hypothetical scenario of what was or what will be? Pft!? And while it still takes daily, often moment to moment practice, for the most part I can say that I am living this way as much as pragmatically possible. It's certainly much more automatic than it once was. I believe that it is only when you are both truly living in, and practicing gratitude for the present, that the magic happens. It's amazing what we are able to see when we quiet the mental chatter and remove that mental veil. What we are able to see was there all along, our busy minds just didn't allow us to see it! I also like to practice non-attachment to outcome. But don't get me wrong, it's not that I don't care about outcome, I simply believe that I am in a healthier space when I am able to set an intention and vision and work toward these things while not being attached to how I get there or that the end result may be different than it looked when my journey began. The idea of not needing to understand the destination while having faith that the journey is where it's at. All of this can be much more difficult to live by when dealing with chronic health issues that require attention, planning and accommodation. I'm missing out on the magic, all the while it's right in front of me!
I am resolving to slow down regardless of the outcome. I believe that ultimately this will lead to goodness, as a part of why I want to slow down is to enable myself more time to do the things that bring joy into my life. I am preparing to begin what could be some pretty intense medical treatments this year and I want to make sure I am keeping my stress to a minimum and my positivity to a maximum. Without a doubt, stress is a leading factor in immune modulation. And when you're immune system is already attacking itself, balance and living with as little stress and as much happiness and optimism as possible is so important. I try not to use the term stress management, as this implies control, of which I have little to none. But I do have choices, and choosing to slow down is a part of my vision. I would also like to connect more with others by sharing more about my experiences through my blog. I have always said that someday I would write a book to perhaps help others going through shared experiences. But why wait for a book!? Why not start sharing my experiences now!? I can say that my research on the internet in recent months looking for information from others going through what I am experiencing has been frustrating and disappointing. There simply aren't a lot of resources out there and not enough people connecting and sharing their stories. I'll be honest, it's difficult to talk about. Not only does it require a load of vulnerability, I'm simply too tired to talk about it. But for me, life is all about connecting to others. I find the more we share with others, the more we learn from others. So more to come here. For now, I wanted to share my personal vision for the year to put it out there. Perhaps this resonates with someone out there that reads it? If so, I would love to hear your thoughts.
I leave you with this... I came across this story today through a Facebook group that I am a part of... it's called The Spoon Theory. I can't believe that it's been around for so long and that I've only just now discovered it, but I am so grateful that I did! As I read it aloud to Tim tonight, I could hardly get through it. It was an emotional read because it resonated so strongly with me.
Its hard, the hardest thing I ever had to learn is to slow down, and not do everything. I fight this to this day. I hate feeling left out, having to choose to stay home, or to not get things done that I want to. I wanted her to feel that frustration. I wanted her to understand, that everything everyone else does comes so easy, but for me it is one hundred little jobs in one. I need to think about the weather, my temperature that day, and the whole day’s plans before I can attack any one given thing. When other people can simply do things, I have to attack it and make a plan like I am strategizing a war. It is in that lifestyle, the difference between being sick and healthy. It is the beautiful ability to not think and just do. I miss that freedom. I miss never having to count “spoons”.
- Christine Miserandino