Was it really a failure?

The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall. -Ralph Waldo Emerson

My blogging streak continues! Ahem.

Last Sunday was supposed to be a pretty long run for me. I hadn’t managed to stick to my ideal schedule, but it should have been okay.

Except that last Saturday night was a birthday/going away party for one of my favorite colleagues, so I both had some wine and stayed out too late. Then, of course, my sleep was more disrupted than usual.

It all added up to me deciding to forget my training regimen and just do a straight 2.5 mile run.

Did I mention that this was my first run with my new running shoes? No? Well, that was happening too.

Somewhere between 1.5 and two miles (I’ll never know because I forgot to turn on my GPS, it really was a hum-dinger of a morning) I just… hit a wall. So I walked for 2 minutes and then finished up the last half mile at a decent clip.

There was a time in my life when I would have internalized this as failure. It would have become a giant mental club to further beat myself into the ground with. “Look how worthless you are, you can’t even go for a run. Why did you stay out late with friends and drink wine anyway? It’s like you want to fail, failure.”

That was a long time ago* though.

This last Sunday, my mental dialogue was more like this: “Huh. That didn’t go as planned. Whatever, I’m gonna go eat some brunch. I can’t wait to try again on Tuesday!”

There was no judgement or self-recrimination. I didn’t get lost in a narrative about how much I stink. I just used it as fuel to try again next time and moved on with my day. That right there? That is progress. That is a wellness adventure.

This morning was my next scheduled run, and I went out and crushed it.

There will be other things that won’t go as planned, it’ll happen a lot. I’m not concerned though, I know it’s not a failure, it’s an opportunity.

How about you? Do you have any stories you’d like to share?

The flower that blooms in adversity...
The flower that blooms in adversity…

 


*Not really, it’s probably only been a few months since I was able to fully internalize that I am made of as much awesome as everyone else I know.

The Scary Changes

I’ve noticed that the more real and authentic I’m able to be on this blog, the more people engage with it and with me outside of it. Well, having meaningful human contact is one of the main purposes of my life, so let’s keep that up. Before we continue, I’m gonna throw up a Trigger Warning for disordered eating talk on this post.


I’ve been pretty candid in the past about my dietary experiments, namely, playing with adding and subtracting certain foods to my diet. I’m extremely comfortable (and enjoy) playing with the “what” aspect of mealtime. “How” has proven to be a much trickier subject.

I have a lot of issues with food and eating. The reasons are irrelevant, just know that they are old and deeply ingrained.

As I’ve been spending time trying to improve my wellness, I recently took a long, hard look at my actual eating habits. What I found… wasn’t pretty. It’s amazing what we can overlook about ourselves.

For the past couple of weeks I’ve gotten very serious about incorporating mindfulness practice into mealtime. It’s something I’ve tried in the past, but never managed to make a habit out of it. Asking me to take one mindful bite of food? You’re basically asking me to run my nails down a chalkboard. Do not want.

But my life is about adventuring toward wellness, not running full speed away from it. So I did what I always do when things get tough: I set a timer for 5 minutes and ate as slowly and mindfully as I could until that timer went off.

You know what? It wasn’t so bad. In fact, it felt indulgent in the best possible way to take my time over my food and really focus on it. To pause occasionally and take a deep breath in the middle of a meal. I could do this.

Now when the timer goes off I don’t necessarily stay at the table and finish my meal in a mindful state; sometimes I want to get back to my reading, etc. But sometimes I do. Either way, I eat slower than I did before, and feel way better after the meal is over.

I’m not going to lie, this was a scary change for me to make. Engaging thoughtfully with food and mealtimes felt like a mountain too steep when I was at the bottom. Now that I know I can do it, I actually want to do it. The one time (so far) I’ve forgotten to do it, I was disappointed because I didn’t enjoy my meal as much.

Sometimes following through with the scary changes can lead to a much better place. Be brave and adventure on!

 

Slowing Down

I have so much to do today that I am going to meditate for two hours instead of one -Mahatma Gandhi

Yesterday I finally kept a promise to myself; way back in the winter I decided that one day, when the weather was warm, I would sit under a tree by the lake and meditate for as long as my heart desired.

I haven’t felt so free in a very long time. The strong winds, pounding waves, the movement of the grass and leaves, I felt like they were allowing me to finally release some of my old wounds. After those two hours, I felt lighter than I have in a long time.

It was a revelation in many ways, but one thing that struck me the most yesterday was how much time I seemed to have for the rest of the day. Normally, my days go whizzing by in a whirlwind of activity and thought. Yesterday I was constantly amazed by how early in the day it was. I’m sure that part of that is that I set no tasks for myself beyond the meditation and eating.

There’s more to it than that though. I had my phone and computer off all day (well, until I caved at 6:00 pm), and I focused on one thing at a time.

It inspired me to try a mini-experiment: for the next week, I have turned off the email alerts on my phone. In fact, the only alerts I’ve allowed are phone calls and texts.

So far, I love it! I’m so used to being immediately reachable via email that I thought it would feel like I’d lost a part of myself. Instead, I feel more able to really focus on the task at hand.

I have been just as productive today as I would be on one of my whirlwind days (I ran, I went to yoga class, I cooked for myself, I ran errands, I did laundry, and now I’m writing this post!), but I feel much calmer than I normally do.

I think a two hour meditation day is going to become a weekly event! How about you? Have you tried anything similar? How did it work for you?

Ch-ch-ch-changes

The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change. –Carl Rogers

I’ve been thinking a lot about some of my old posts over the past couple of months. There a a few ideas that I’d like to revisit when I have the time and mental space. This seems like a good place to start.

As I’m softening, breathing, smiling, all the things I like to do, and then came that blessing. It felt like a little contraction in my heart just to hear it.

I still remember that moment very clearly. It could have happened this morning instead of 9 months ago. It was one of those moments that stopped me in my tracks and pointed me in a new direction. It also introduced me to Val, who is amazing.

The idea of accepting myself in each moment, of not trying to force myself to change with willpower alone, has been one the most powerful tools I’ve gained so far on this journey.

The first time I looked at myself in the mirror and said, “I accept you and love you” and actually believed it; that was when things really started to shift for me.

I used to be a very negative person, I was always beating myself up for my mistakes and demanding perfection. Accepting my own fallibility with the same love that I extend to my friends and clients really changed my outlook on life.

I grew and became the positive, cheerful person I am today. From pessimist to optimist, just like that.

It took a lot of struggle and heartache for me to get on this path, and I wouldn’t trade any of it away.

 

A Victorious Day

Today has been a big day; I’ve accomplished three things that I feel really good about:

This morning I did my entire 60 minute kettlebell class using an 8 lb bell. Assuming that my arms are still attached tomorrow, that’s pretty exciting.

For weeks now I’ve had a weekly task to register for the weekend with Her Eminence Mindrolling Khandro Rinpoche. Today I finally got to wipe that off the dry erase board. I am so excited for this special weekend!

Do you ever have tasks that you’ve been putting off for so long that they take on a disproportionate amount of importance in your mind? I’m talking about a normal, everyday thing that other people manage to do with no thought that you’ve been putting off for so long that it starts to seem impossible? That’s what my last accomplishment today was like.

I finally, finally applied for my passport! I’ve been saying to myself for almost a decade, “I need [should, have, etc] to get my passport so I can finally leave the US”.

I decided on Monday that that was going to happen this week. Wednesday, in fact. I made it my only task for today, that’s how serious I was about it (and how much I was overthinking it, because it took maybe 45 minutes and most of that was just waiting in line). I was literally shaking with nerves from the moment I arrived at the post office until I said goodbye to the (incredibly nice and patient) woman who was helping me.

Freedom is one of my most important values, and by continually putting off getting a passport I was neglecting that part of my life.

Here’s to freedom, and learning new massage modalities all over the world!

A Quick Question (plus bragging)

Is anyone else out there totally thrown by the fact that it is basically July, or is it just me?

Anyway, I made the time to walk over to the beach three days in a row last week when the weather was hot. It was awesome! I hope that you’re all managing to take advantage of those days too (well, those of us in Chicagoland, I understand that other places have more reliable summers).

I got a cool notice from my magic gizmo yesterday: I have walked 736 miles since I got it at the end of March. All those hikes to and from work are paying off!

Challenge Accepted

I wrote about a recent realization I had about my own physical capabilities. In a small way, I have experienced what it’s like when your body “betrays” you.

That feeling still lingers in the periphery of my awareness, that tiny little voice telling me, “you can’t” when I start to consider whether or not to push myself harder. It spoke up when I decided to start taking kettlebell and boxing classes (which I absolutely love), and it spoke up when I decided to start running again.

Sure, the last time I took up running was when my wrist issues were just starting and I had no idea what was coming. I ended up running for a couple of months and stopping when I had chronic hip pain and bronchitis. That was a fun summer.

I have to remind myself sometimes that I really have changed my relationship with my body in the past two years. I give it love and care that it would never have occurred to me to give back then.

So this past Sunday morning I had a little thought, one of those little sparks of inspiration that only hit me when I’m outside in the fresh air, I should run a marathon the year I turn 35.

That means I should aim to run a half-marathon next year and go the full monty the year after that. That seems just over the line of what’s possible, like I’m being a little overly-ambitious. Good.

I’m putting this new idea out on the blog now for two reasons. One, putting this intention out there for all the world to see will be great motivation. And two, because even if I don’t do it, even if I fail (oh no, not that word!!), there’s a lesson waiting for me here.

So, any favorite marathons to recommend? I think I might as well go someplace a little more exotic than downtown Chicago in case 2017 is my only attempt. Next up: better running shoes!

Simplify, Simplify

If you follow me on social media at all, it’s no secret that I am a Sarah Wilson fangirl. I Quit Sugar pretty much changed my life earlier this year, and I’ve been on a long streak of low-moderate pain.

I first read this post a couple weeks ago and it’s been kicking around the back of my brain ever since.

Coincidently, over the past couple of weeks I’ve had three or four pairs of shoes wear out, my hairdryer broke, I lost one of my favorite earrings (but only one, of course), and I’ve been struggling to find the time to keep my apartment clean to my (admittedly somewhat-high) standards.

That’s when I realized that I just plain have too much stuff. Probably because I live in a bigger apartment than I need. It’s a gorgeous vintage place, to be sure, but I don’t think we need this many hallways.

For example, this hallway that separates the kitchen/dining room from the rest of the apartment.
For example, this hallway that separates the kitchen/dining room from the rest of the apartment.

Anyway, the new plan is that as things wear out or run out, I’ll replace only what I need, rather than what I want and what I need/want. I’m pretty sure I can get by just replacing one pair of shoes, and I definitely don’t need a hairdryer.

In a time when so many of my friends and contemporaries are buying their first homes (or buying their first Upgraded homes!), I’m pretty excited by the idea of downsizing. Simplify*, baby!


* This is where I should admit that I hated Walden when I read it in high school. In fact, read should be in quotation marks because I only read every third page of it. Sorry, AP English teacher whose name I forgot.

 

Believe It!

I made this thing!
I made this thing!

A couple months ago I was in a panic when both the women I share my room with were planning to leave. My mind immediately jumped to all the best nightmare scenarios, mostly about how I would never find new tenants and this beautiful business I’m building was going to crash and burn. That’s a lot of stress.

That’s only the beginning of the story. What I did next would surprise anyone who has known me for longer than the past year.

I paused. I paused and took a deep breath; I asked myself if I was letting my fear hold me back. If I was missing out on an opportunity for something bigger that was made possible by this change in circumstances.

What I realized is that instead of fighting against the opportunity I had just been given by finding tenants to sublet all my available days, I could choose to add more days. More chances for clients to come and see me. I let myself sit with the idea, and the word that came to me was “Abundance”.

Every day since I had that little revelation, I have taken some time to sit with that word and embrace what it will bring to my life in the fall. I made the picture I posted at the top of this and put it on my computer. Every time I sit down to type anything it is in my line of sight; reminding me that I don’t have to be afraid of failure and that I can embrace success.

It’s a small shift that had a huge impact on me.

What word do you want to watch over you today? What would you like to welcome into your life?

Stories We Tell (Ourselves)

There’s a distinct possibility that as I type this post, I’m still riding the endorphin high of my first kettlebell class. Tomorrow I might wake up and regret ever being born (this is my number one go-to joke, my parents think it’s hilarious*), but for now I feel unstoppable. I’ve been feeling like that a lot lately; this sense that I am strong and resilient. I’ve been planning to start doing more intense cardio and weight-bearing exercises for a while now, but I was afraid to actually start.

What I realized almost immediately after class today was how many times I have told myself over the past few months that I’m still weak. That I need this or that issue to get better before I start working with weights. Basically, I’ve been telling myself, “I can’t”. For at least a month now I’ve been getting in my own way.

There was absolutely a time when I should not have been doing anything as strenuous as kettlebell or boxing. Heck, there was a time when I needed to be careful not to walk too many miles in a day! I absolutely needed to focus on restorative exercises for an extended period of time. I needed to be gentle with myself and baby myself.

But now I realize that all that restorative self-care has born fruit. I’m doing really well, and I’m ready to shift gears into building strength and endurance. It was taking the initial plunge and signing up for that first class that was the hardest part. I had to trust that I knew myself well enough at this point to know that if I was doing something harmful to myself that I would stop.

It felt so amazing to walk out the studio door this morning, on my wobbly legs, and tell myself how strong I’ve become. To stop that mental narrative of my own physical fragility in its tracks. Today I feel amazing. And tomorrow is my beloved yoga class.


*No they don’t. That’s my number two go-to joke.