Monthly Archives: March 2012
I visited my family this past weekend and while I was out gathering eggs from my dad’s chickens, I noticed that something in the air felt different. I recognized it.
Even though there was still snow on the ground and my ears were numb from the cold, I swear I could smell spring. Winter isn’t just about the cold or darkness, I always feel like something in the air is missing. Everything feels dead to me. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but the air is definitely different in the spring and summer. I’ve felt it a few times over the last two weeks, and each time it fills me up with tingly, bubbly joy. I feel like laughing and crying at once. I feel like I’m getting something that I’ve been deprived of for a long time, something I didn’t realize I was starving for. I never notice when that magic in the air fades away, but I notice when it comes back.
I saw green things for the first time in months.
This is exactly how I feel in the spring.
Last year, I spent a lot of time reconnecting with my creativity and getting in touch with my values and desires. I often asked myself what my ideal life would look like, which was a valuable exercise for me at the time. It still is. Allowing ourselves to dream big is the first step to reaching our goals.
I’d write about this in my journal, and I’d allow myself to dream big, to break down walls in my mind and allow myself to see what I really wanted, what I needed to try to accomplish. I reached a place where those things didn’t feel so out of reach anymore. It did wonders for my confidence and really helped me to see myself as the creative being that I am.
I tried it again just now, just to reassess and see where I am.
What does my ideal life look like?
The answer surprised me. Instead of the grand career, the world travel, and the huge accomplishments, I thought hard and came up with a few key ingredients:
- I want to spend a lot of time nurturing and expressing my creativity,
- I want to connect with my family and friends. Not even a lot of friends, but a few good ones. I want to feel real connection with people.
- I want to be healthy and feel good about myself. Neither one depends on the other, but they tend to come together.
- I want to have adventures, whether they’re big ones like traveling abroad, or little ones like exploring a new hiking trail or trying a new vegetable this week.
The nice thing is that every single one of those is completely within my power, no matter what my circumstances.These things don’t depend on success or money, they don’t depend on approval or validation or permission from anyone else.
At first, this question helped me see the possibilities, now it helps me see my own power and the value of now. It helps me to see that I don’t need to put my happiness on hold for “when”.
What does your ideal life look like?
It’s Tuesday. Do something nice for yourself.
- Leave a treat or dollar bill in a coat pocket for your future self to find.
- Keep some healthy snacks at work, in the car, and any other place where you spend a lot of time.
- Leave encouraging notes or funny pictures in book pages for your future self to find.
- Buy clothes and underwear that fit and feel good.
- Make “white space” in your day, or some time between commitments.
- Wear your favorite outfit. Today is special.
- Think about a goal you’d like to accomplish and take a baby step to get there.
- Do one thing that makes you really happy.
- If you start hearing negative self-talk going on in your head, stop yourself. Instead, tell yourself that you’re awesome, and that you’re doing the best you can with what you have.
- Draw a boundary, and commit to honoring it.
Let me know how your day goes 🙂
You may have noticed that my posts haven’t been exactly chipper this week. For some reason, this just hasn’t been the best week. Nothing bad happened, nothing that really warrants this kind of feeling, but I’ve just been in a funk this week. It’s a familiar feeling.
About a year ago, I found myself in a doctor’s office complaining about this feeling, and after some really fun blood tests, we realized that I was experiencing the classic symptoms of adrenal fatigue. I felt like I was dragging through life, I never felt rested after time off or a good night’s sleep, tiny things seemed like monumental tasks, and I was struggling with depression and anxiety. On top of that, we found out that I was allergic to dairy, that my blood sugar was dangerously low, and I had several nutritional deficiencies that perpetuate and are caused by adrenal insufficiency. All effects of chronic stress.
That was a wake-up call for a major life overhaul, which helped a lot. I felt great last summer. My energy came back, I lost a lot of weight, I reconnected with my creativity, and the anxiety and depression I’d struggled with for years seemed to evaporate.
Now I’m not feeling so hot. It’s nothing like it was last year, mostly because my attitude adjustment and healthier perspective keeps me more or less level headed, but I’m noticing that my energy is dragging again, even if I get a lot of sleep. Seemingly normal tasks often overwhelm me. I’ve been feeling a little of that anxiety and depression lately. My dairy allergy is back and I feel that familiar brain fog that comes with chronically low blood sugar. The weird part is, nothing overly stressful has happened. Sure, we had some financially tight weeks and I went back to work full time, but these things seemed to affect me more than they should have. I’m not guilt tripping myself for being weak or anything, I’m just noticing.
I don’t think that my little glands had sufficient time to heal. This isn’t happening again, but still. I might just be noticing it more because I’ve always had trouble in the winter, and that may be contributing. Either way, my body needs to heal. Adrenal insufficiency can take years to heal, so if I have any hope of functioning at my best in the future, I need to take my self-care seriously. I need time for physical and emotional healing.
I think a lot of us try push ourselves to live harder than what we can handle. We expect so much our ourselves, we cling to deadlines and to-do lists, we try to use our time as efficiently as possible, we fill our schedules with so much good stuff so we can feel like we’re accomplishing something. Then we burn out. We might even try to push through that.
Is pushing toward burnout faster a good use of our time, or would be be better off moving slowly, caring for our bodies and spirits along the way so they’ll last longer? Is everything really so important that we must run ourselves into the ground?
Conserve your energy. Refill your well. Understand that you are a human being who has limits, and that using “logic” to plan your life doesn’t always work, because logic doesn’t anticipate for human needs. We are not machines.
Take time to heal if you need to, and take time to maintain if you are healthy.
I’ve wasted a lot of time trying to push myself, but now I realize that I need to take recovery seriously. This means rest. This means feeding myself well, because this kind of condition tends to suck minerals out of your body. This also requires a serious examination of priorities. This might not be the best time for time-consuming, energy-zapping pursuits or overly ambitious goals.
Right now, the goal is healing. If I have to choose between much needed rest and something that I “should” be doing, I choose rest. I choose to give myself what I truly need and not what I think I should need. It’s ok to let some things go undone.
Do you need some extra care right now?
I’ve been a “creative type” all my life and I’ve noticed that when people comment on my art/writing/singing/piano playing/acting, the often follow the comment with something like “I’m not creative. I don’t have any gifts like that.”
Everyone is creative. More specifically, everyone has creativity. Each one of us has unlimited creative potential, but most of us think of creativity as a novelty, a gift that some people have rather than a lifestyle. Creativity is like health. It’s our natural state of being, but it gets lost without the proper care. Like health, our precious creativity can be eroded by stress, lack of self-care, negativity, and skewed ideas of what this trait actually is. It’s about thriving, not surviving. Health is not dragging yourself from day to day while relying on crutches like caffeine and sugar just as creativity isn’t performing your basic duties required to hold you life together.
You can learn to cultivate creativity. I’ve written about this before, but here are some tips to keep your creative channels clean and healthy:
- Let go of perfectionism.
- Make space in your schedule for “creative playtime.” You need it. Do whatever lights you up whether it’s making a piece of art, dabbling in poetry, inventing a new cheesecake recipe, or staring that novel you’ve always wanted to write. Do this regularly. It doesn’t have to be perfect, or even good. It’s just playtime.
- Take care of yourself physically and emotionally.Deal with stress in healthy ways. It’s hard to think creatively if you’re in survival mode. Exercise and eat foods that nourish you. Get to bed at a decent hour. You live through your body, so if you’re body is dragging, your creativity will too.
- Follow your inspiration. Notice the things that draw you in, and don’t fight them. If you’re oddly drawn to Japanese cooking, go for it. If you’ve always wanted to learn to sew, get on Craiglist and find a sewing machine. If a certain book or movie stirs something in your soul, tear that sucker apart until you find what’s awakened.
- Accept that you are a creative being. Understanding this deep in your soul will open up a new world of possibility and adventure for you. Tell yourself that you are creative. Believe it. Allow yourself to see the world through the eyes of a creative person, and you will start to see things differently.
How does that feel? Do you feel that you’re a creative person?