Last week, my intentions for 2017 leaped onto the pages of my worn journal:
Allow me to explain.
My parents used to tell me, “if you don’t ask, then you’ll never know.”
(You were right, Mom and Dad).
The first two weeks of 2017 have been full of bold moves: sending gutsy emails and setting up meetings for a new project, planning trips to places I’ve never been, and signing up for a potential a capella singing group. I’m learning to give voice to what I actually want, dream, and wonder.
As a friend reminded me this morning, “sometimes, all it takes is 20 seconds of insane courage, and something amazing can come from that.”
Lately, I’ve been speaking a bit louder, laughing a little deeper, and sharing the (sometimes witty, unfiltered) thoughts on my mind. Lately, I’ve been raising my hand in school classes to answer a question when I have only a half-formed thought, to find that another student can help me piece together a valid insight. Lately, I’ve been asking honest, vulnerable, authentic questions to friends and mentors as I explore the next steps to add value to the As We Are community. The responses, thus far, have been incredibly uplifting – resulting in richer conversations, tearful truths, and heart-filling steps forward. I am hearing and feeling my voice echo. It’s exhilarating.
Here’s to those 20 seconds of courage.
I am so grateful to currently feel healthy and well (generally speaking). I don’t take my wellbeing for granted. Each day, as I open my eyes to catch the morning sun pouring in through my windows, I am thankful. As I roll out of bed and stand up without significant pain, I am thankful. As I run and dance with ease and my legs carry me with each step, I am thankful. Whispers of gratitude are sprinkled throughout my daily vernacular.
When I am well, I feel a responsibility, a pull, and a drive – to give, to do, and to experience as much as I can – especially on the good days. (And, there have been many of those lately!).
This mindset calls for a balance. If I want to immerse myself in meaningful opportunities, I need to take self-care seriously. Five months ago, I started nurturing new self-care habits that are proactive, sustainable, and fulfilling. My attitude changed from ‘treat yourself’, to ‘create yourself’. I slowly shifted my habits to seamlessly weave in purposeful practices that could benefit me in the short term and long term: developing a night time routine and sticking to a sleep schedule (yes, really) so I get at least 7 hours of rest; exercising at least three times per week to build up my physical strength; and eating 7 servings of vegetables and fruits per day to keep my body nourished and my mind fuelled.
My habits slipped during the holidays (read: had late nights and slept in; stopped running regularly due to snow and icy weather; indulged in delicious holiday sweets). After several weeks of habit disarray, I am committing (here and now) to make these crucial practices a priority once again.
This means re-learning how to carve out time for myself to actually slow down, pause, and re-energize.
This one’s a bit more abstract. It has three pieces:
- Move through stressful moments gracefully.
Unexpected problems tend to pop-up when I feel least equipped to handle them. Oftentimes, this is a health-related challenge, such as a sudden migraine headache or intense muscle pain. While I often can’t anticipate or control when these overwhelming moments occur, I can choose how I respond to them. I can find a quiet space, take a few seconds to breathe, and communicate how I’m feeling to whoever I’m with. This type of calm and intentional response, compared to a self-blame laden, frustrated reaction, is what I’m holding onto for this year.
- Move forward, even with uncertainty.
When I have an important, time-sensitive decision to make, I find myself losing sleep, making pro/ con lists, and thinking way too much about what to do. I end up feeling overwhelmed by the weight of (in)decisions and place more pressure on myself than I need to. Where I have previously viewed the unknown road ahead as a source of anxiety and fear, I am steadily reframing my relationship with uncertainty to see it as a blank canvas of sorts – a space of bright possibility, ready to be filled with vibrant hues. (Note: sometimes the creative process requires art to look like a mess before it’s a masterpiece – maybe the same goes for life events?).
- Move gently, with lightheartedness and humour:
As you may be able to tell, I do appreciate routines and planning – but, I want to leave space for spontaneity and serendipity. I want to make time for lengthy conversations and collaborations over (several) steaming cups of coffee. I want to build deep friendships and laugh heartily at cheesy puns. I want to nurture an atmosphere of celebration and support on As We Are and beyond.
My intentions to go boldly, nourish daily, and move marvellously all carry an inherent vulnerability. My bold requests and ideas could be rejected. My carefully curated habits could fall to the wayside when life gets ‘busy’, and I could compromise my treasured wellbeing. My responses to daily obstacles could be heavy with anger instead of compassion. However, I am keeping in mind the words of Brene Brown from her book, Daring Greatly:
“Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity. It is the source of hope, empathy, accountability, and authenticity.”
She goes on to suggest that if we close ourselves off to experiencing vulnerability because we fear being hurt or rejected, we also close ourselves off to joy and love and all the wonderful possibilities that come with vulnerability.
So, I begin here, authentically and honestly sorting out my thoughts and sharing them with you.
The first 2 weeks of 2017 have set the tone for the next 50. I look forward to posting about the highlights and challenges of this year as it unravels!