What a first week of the New Year
This week was a reminder, if anything, that even though a New Year has begun, we are still very much in the trenches. I don't know about you, but I had moments this week of despair, frustration, anger, and also just feeling really really tired of it all. For me, it was a week of digging deep. Any time I get into that space of heartache, heartbreak and deep emotional feelings, it can be easy to back out, back away and tell myself I'd rather not go there. And. I find those are the exact moments to take courage and lean in. So, I've been practicing leaning in this week. Here are the top 5 things I've learned:
Some days, leaning into hard things means sleeping in and allowing my body to rest. Our bodies know what's best.
Some days, leaning in means moving my body a heck of a lot. Again, our bodies know what's best.
Some days, leaning in means eating all kinds of food I might not normally eat. It means nourishing myself (read: different from eating to numb my feelings).
Some days, leaning in means speaking up and taking a stand on an issue I'm passionate about. It looks like taking ownership of where I screwed up or failed or wronged someone else.
Some days, leaning in looks like taking a day off. or two. or three. I think I worked less this week than I have in a long time. Having that space reminded me that breaks are necessary and important.
Does anyone else see a theme in all of this? I do. Bodily listening. All the above things happened this week because my body signaled me. My body has this subtle way of telling me things if I really pay close attention, and it's usually in the form of a pause. In that pause, I can lean in, or I can choose to distract myself. When I lean in and listen in, I hear and I see. Then I can ask myself,
What is it time for right now?
Sometimes, the answer is simple. I need to make my to do list. I need to shower. I need to let the dogs out. Sometimes, the answer surprises me. I need to write. Bake. Go outside and breath some fresh air. Read a book. This week I've really learned to honor that voice regardless of what my head might have to say about it. It means I've taken this week very slow. I slept in as many days as I could. I didn't do much work outside of teaching classes. I gave myself a break. And you know what? It felt really really good. Leaning into the space and time it provided me gave me the chance to feel.... and to heal. To be bored and be ok with it. To stop trying to fill that space with endless crap or to do's or wasted time on my phone. To sit with the injustices I see and decide what the heck I am going to do about it. This week, I've seen the value of space. As we head into the second week of the New Year, it can be easy to lean away from the hard things we see in the world. We instead lean either into the pressure we feel to do and be so many things, or into the pressure to do absolutely nothing and numb out. When we do things just to fill the space, we are also often avoiding what is right in front of us. When we do things to do or feel productive, we are choosing to override what is actually needed. When we numb out, we are overriding our body's ability to feel, and then what we get is stuck-ness.
I'm here to remind you that this time in the world and in your life doesn't have to any meaning except the meaning you choose to place on it.
You can look at 2021 and think it's just as bad as 2020, and make a whole lot of meaning out of that. For sure. I can't tell you how many times I saw the "I used my 7 day trial of 2021 and I didn't like it... I'd like my money back" meme, and while it's funny, it's a way of wishing away a year just because some crazy shit happened. Crazy shit happens all the time, people. It doesn't mean we ignore it. It does mean rather than complain, we DO something about it. For me, doing something about it looked like giving myself the time to process, to mourn, and to come up with an action plan. (ok, rant over)
We can make the actions of last week mean that the world is over and we're all fucked and people are screwed up and anyone who voted for Trump is a terrorist. We can make last week mean the holes in the system have been exposed, let it mean the government and all our systems our screwed up. We can make the actions of last week be an opportunity for us (white people) to do the work and stop looking to black people to get us out of our messes. We can make the actions of last week mean absolutely nothing. The choice is ours. The question is... how is our own meaning we put on things shaping the things we do and say and how we are being in the world?
I could have made my choices this last week mean that I've been lazy and avoiding things and unproductive and a slob. (I had to kick those voices to the curb real fast). I could also make last week mean I took time to care for myself and listened to the needs of my body. Which one serves me, or more importantly, which one rings true in my bones? When I really listen, it is the latter. I work my ass off 99% of the time. If 1% of the time I need to rest, so be it.
You can make a lot of meaning out of this time of year being a time to hustle and reach your goals and grind and work... if that's what right for you. And if what is right for you is scaling back... do that, too. And know it can change, almost moment to moment, and that you have a choice in what you make meaningful and what you don't. Don't anyone tell you how to live your life except YOU, my friend. You are in charge of how you live and move and breathe in this world, and do it with honor and care for yourself. Where are you making meaning out of things in your life? Is it beneficial to you or is it draining your energy? What is it time for you to do? To say? To take action on? Take a moment this week to pause and really listen in to your body. Then... follow it's calling. Trust that your body knows what is best. Lean in. And take good care of yourself.
Until next week.