This weekend, Hubby and I attended the Heart Festival at a local meditation center. Earlier that week, I saw two lectures that seemed interesting: The Science of Meditation and Meditation as Medication.
Due to driving and walking a bit further than anticipated, we were a little late but came in on the tail end of the first portion before the introduction of the meditation. I wished I could have heard what she had to say. However, we did get a chance to participate in the meditation which lasted much longer than I expected–at least a half hour.
The chairs were comfy, the room darkened and my feet were bare– a seemingly perfect recipe for a successful meditation. However, my mind and heart raced. I wondered why I didn’t hear more about the science, how long would it actually last and then hoped I would eventually drift off to sleep to tame the pace of my thoughts.
I never did but it got me thinking about being in the moment. During the second presentation, Dr. Dilip Sarkar addressed our short attention spans, the benefits of yoga therapy and shared concrete evidence of improved health of his students and patients. I could have stayed another hour. One thing that stuck with me is his emphasis on achieving a meditative state all of the time. It reminded me of 1 Thessalonians 5:17: Pray without ceasing.
I understand the spirit of the verse and Dr. Sarkar were asking for the same thing: peace and contentment without the oppression of anxiety and the illusion of control.
After the Heart Festival, we went to a local bookstore for a poetry reading to support my friend Hope’s book “Traveling the River.” It was followed by an open mic where I was encouraged to read a couple of pieces. Normally, if I were to read I would have chosen to wear something different, pieces would have been printed out and read aloud to myself a couple of times.
This last weekend, I took time to take care of me. My body told me before I did which is something I do not care to repeat. When I had a bout with panic attacks last spring, I thought I had it all figured out. To some degree, my self-care did get better with the reintroduction of more raw foods, etc. but I let my stress with Hubby’s newer health challenges completely rock my foundation a few months ago. Anything besides going to work, preparing for and being in Alabama at the workshop and going to doctor appointments felt like above and beyond what I could handle.
But I was wrong. I had a moment when panic set in and woke me right out of my sleep. The thing is I told myself that I would be fine and it would pass. I was right. It did. I told myself everything I should to calm myself down. I prayed for peace. But I also realized, at 2:00am that if I am not doing anything but telling myself the right things, it will never be enough and I could only look forward to more sleep-interrupted nights.
At that very moment, I decided to implement change. I knew when the weekend hit, I wouldn’t compromise myself any longer. I made a therapy appointment, got a massage on Saturday, went to church Sunday morning and Body Positive Yoga class for women on Sunday afternoon. I am going back next weekend, too.
My body screamed at me and the only way to roar back is take care of myself before I stopped showing up for my husband and my own pursuits.
I was wrestling with the idea of incorporating a lot more raw meals at the new year. On Saturday night, I asked myself why I was waiting. So I began Sunday.
There were a couple of surprises. I had a little emotional release during my massage and although yoga was incredible, I felt a bit of panic I prayed through. These surprises showed me how deep seated the need for self-care is and how I’ve been neglecting it.
As I am writing this, I honestly don’t feel 100% like me but I feel closer. And maybe the “me” I don’t feel right now is not what I will end up being anyway. Maybe these challenges and me addressing them head-on are supposed to birth something new.
I not only like the sound of that, I need the sound of that.
I went to lunch with two friends earlier last week. We discussed our goals, stepping out on faith and what to do when we don’t believe. A suggestion was made that I take the time to write what I am not believing God for. For example: God, I don’t believe I will be able to financially support our family in a real way with my writing. Show me what to do with these feelings. Show me how to increase my faith. Help me to align myself, my habits and my words so that I can believe this for myself.
Even though what I just wrote was clearly an example, a conflict arose for me. There is a school of thought that a lot of self-help people and people of faith (and both) subscribe to that says you are to claim your dreams and your victories as if they are already here.
As if you’ve already won.
While that school of thought feels empowering and I am sure has produced mind-blowing results, something inside says that it ignores the very real struggle of getting to that place. The place of full-on, no questioning, all-mighty certainty.
Is there a place for me? Someone who’s in the middle? Someone who believes winning is completely possible but also sometimes feels like they’ve already lost?
I am going to take my friend’s suggestion and journal and pray from a very honest, sometimes lost in the wilderness place and also from a hopeful, medals already swinging from my neck place.
Even though there are no guarantees as to where these honest prayers will take me, I find solace in its authenticity.
Thursday has become my day for posting wellness updates. The morning routine of going to bed and waking up earlier, taking time to journal, pray and listen to something inspirational (mostly sermons and podcasts) and now working out has helped immensely. Even though I have always acknowledged that wellness is more than just weight, ignoring that part while I write here is not really what I want to do either.
I am a firm believer that my writing and my health are inextricably linked. I know when I am burning the candle at both ends, not eating well or moving myself consistently, my writing suffers. I am not as energized to do it and it feels more rushed. I believe I have always been able to convey my message but who doesn’t want to feel good while doing it?
I believe I have been having a series of God moments these last few weeks in regards to my health. Let me explain. I am part of Heather Parady’s Facebook group and in it, she issues weekly challenges to build new habits each week to add to our morning routine. Being a part of this group gives me accountability and it came at the exact right time. I was literally trying to bring order and slow down after the anxiety came and had no plan laid out as to how I was going to do it. I could have either sat back and not gotten the message or take the challenge that was laid out before me. I am not a huge believer in coincidence. I know if I had not started down this road, I am not sure where or how I would be right now.
I weigh-in at home each week to track myself and steer towards a gluten-free lifestyle. I still am plant-based and I love it. What I am learning to fall in love with is being more whole-foods plant-based. It’s been about 9 months since Jeff and I said good-bye to all meat and dairy but it’s taken awhile to find our footing when it comes to staying away from so much processed food. Since I struggle with PCOS, it is especially difficult for me to lose weight but definitely not impossible. I am not claiming that for myself. I choose to believe that with the right habits I will reach my goal. This week I actually lost 4 pounds!
Like many of us on this path, I get excited in the beginning. I start getting results quickly and I feel like I can stay stick to my new habits forever. I’m a “whole new person.”
I am still the same me. The one who has fallen down and gotten up again. The one who said she was stopping eating _______ and picked it back up weeks, months or even a couple of years later. The one who promised to work out X amount of times each week and every time I have failed. Every time there is an excuse and every time I let myself off the hook.
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t need to beat myself up. But I do need to be honest.
I am the me who does so many other awesome things and won’t give up no matter how many times I try. I am also the me who keeps getting knocked upside the head with the truth of how my habits have affected my present but hopefully not my future.
I can’t tell anyone (not even myself) how any of this will work out. I just know I can’t stop trying because I know there’s no end in sight. This is my life. I will always have to work a bit harder than others but it’s worth it.
It was a day of rest, for sure. I got a couple of nice messages from friends who read yesterday’s blog and offered help and well wishes. It’s moments like these that I know people outside of my hubby and family have my back.
I got a call with better news just a few minutes ago. My X-ray was sent out and now it seems that I have bronchitis and not pneumonia, like they originally thought. I am thankful that my breath is starting to come back and in a few days, I should feel like myself again. It may sound silly to some but when I called the nurse back to get the update on my X-Ray and was put on hold, I prayed and affirmed I was in perfect health. I was at peace by the time she came on the line. And I will keep that peace until and through my follow-up appointment on Friday. Tonight, I am looking forward to a hearty homemade vegetable noodle soup made by my hubby, reading and little bit of writing.
Even though I am tired, I know I am on the mend. My smile is coming back.