I felt my age in the best way this past week. At work, I was asked questions about my professional experience and my current dreams by a young twenty-something intern. I answered all questions thoughtfully without any apology or excuse for mistakes I have made.
I had lunch with a dear friend over the weekend. We spoke for hours about our next steps, our relationships, families and made plans for a literary weekend getaway. Reconnecting with someone with whom I have a strong bond with, built over many years is one of my greatest joys and makes me a more whole woman.
I went to an event about mindfulness on Friday. We did an exercise where, without our phones and in complete silence, a group of us went outside for five minutes and observed nature. There was power in the silence of people, the wood logs arranged artistically at the entrance, a charcoal gray insect traversing a bright green leaf and my choice to remove my shoes and feel the earth beneath.
Feeling my age did not mean I slowed down. It meant I could speak fondly about the past without a need to sugar-coat. I can reflect, thanking the girl and woman I was who allowed me to be who I am. I did not wish to be a young girl. I like who I have become and still look forward to chances I will take when I am in my 40s.
It is a privilege to own this experience while I am living it. It is a privilege to enjoy it while I am living it.
There is something comforting about knowing I can be whole by myself. In addition to adding a dance class, I want to try to incorporate yoga or Pilates, too this upcoming year. I am not saying I am fractured or broken but just like anyone else, I have my moments. And those moments are a wake-up call to change my status quo. I heard about an exercise that asked you to write out a schedule in 15-minute increments of your ideal life and then asked you write out that same schedule with your actual life. Hearing about the exercise was sobering enough–holding up your ideal life next to your real one was absolutely jarring.
One way I know to ease those feelings is to commit to being a whole woman.
If I can’t be whole for me, how can I ever be the wife, daughter, sister, servant and writer I know I am supposed to be?
Outside of the morning routine habit changes I’ve made, I can finally say that working out has become a new real change for me. Even though I have generally rejected resistance training in the past unless with a trainer, Hubby has gotten me to embrace it, 2-3 times a week. In the past at one time or another, I have been a running, walking, belly dancing, Zumba and Afro-Caribbean dancing, Bikram yoga attending, water aerobics taking, treadmill/elliptical machine addicted exercise person. I am still some of those things depending on which day or month you are talking to me. As more weight comes off (.6 lbs this week even in the midst of water retention!), I am anticipating what I will open myself up to next or be more willing to go back to again.
As I my weight crept up before starting my wellness journey again, it was becoming easier to retreat from high intensity activity and that can manifest as isolation. At least it did for me. Choosing to consciously take better care of myself taught me how to see when I was going down that road. Choosing to be alone is great when it’s truly a choice rather than avoidance. I have always enjoyed my life but it takes more effort and clarity to see how much I enjoy it in the company of people outside of my home and in new environments. It can be hard at first but 9 times out of 10, it’s worth it.
Every step I take towards wellness, towards the power of being complete and whole, is worth it.
Yesterday, on See Jane Write’s Facebook page, I saw a prompt asking us to describe our idea of a perfect Girls Night Out. Ideas floated around for a few minutes and reminded me of what I’ve been thinking lately: I haven’t had a real Girls Night Out in years.
Yes, I said it. Years.
Before anyone points fingers or starts pearl-clutching, I have been to plenty of lunches, dinners and events with friends but it’s usually been with one or two of them at a time. It hasn’t been on purpose. Weeks turn into months and months turn into years and before I knew it, I am sitting in a movie theater watching Girls Trip with my husband, laughing but also asking myself like the R&B group 702 in the 90’s: Where My Girls At?
As many of us know, wellness should be whole–physical, emotional and spiritual. Part of the journey should be a commitment to getting together and even better, getting away with your friends. Phone calls, text messages, email and the random lunch/dinner should not be enough. Time away to unwind, laugh and let it all out builds us up and strengthens our relationships. I guess it’s time for me to start planning!
I wrote about knowing what I need to do and committing to myself last week. I had to take a hard look at myself at week’s end and ask if I lived up to the commitment with everything I have in me. The answer was No. And then I asked myself what do I do with that? I can be as self-aware as I’d like but without execution it just fades in and out, coming to the surface until I tuck it back underneath again.
With my look back, I took action. The last couple of days, I embraced nourishing myself the right way consistently, with whole foods and imbibing green smoothies and taking myself outside and letting the sun brush my skin. I have no crystal ball nor do I want one but I am hoping I am leading myself towards a total healing with bountiful energy. The exhaustion of worrying about psoriasis and all the many scars it leaves, visible to the eye or not, redness and raised bumps that ravage the brown on my face and arms and feeling ill at ease will be long forgotten memories in time. I am counting on it because I am not just closing my eyes and wishing.
I do not live in a fairy tale.
The dust I sprinkle on this beautiful mess is sweat and stillness and emerald-colored concoctions and prayer and oh so much love and forgiveness for this body.