Both

Dear Strong Woman,

First of all, imma do both.
 
I bought this dress today as a symbolic representation of the problem with being me.
 
 
(And I’m not talking about the problem of what shoes to wear with this thing.)
 
What I really mean is that limiting belief I have that has me holding myself back; two characteristics of my personality that I think just can not exist at the same time; the two traits that, if I were to step into then both simultaneously, would likely create a lot of awesomeness in my life.
 
For me, it’s been a choice between being bold and embodying grace.
 
It shows up like me biting my tongue to keep the peace, and focusing the attention on others rather than on myself. Then my bold side retaliates and says the thing, only now with a hella hefty helping of resentment because I waited too long. It’s me quitting jobs, relationships, and projects because I shove down the inkling to have a bold conversation before it becomes more than I can handle. I escape, start fresh, and the cycle continues.
 
Today I’m choosing both. I’m choosing to TRUST that I can embody both grace and the audacity to do or say something that may be completely unreasonable, and not have the world – MY world – come tumbling down.
 
I can challenge a client from partnership, not make wrong.
I can give tough love to my brother from compassion, not disappointment.
I can share my take on the matter from communion, not proving.
I can stand my ground from love, not fear.
 
I can tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they enjoy the ride.
 
I saw all of that represented when I looked at myself in the mirror wearing this dress. I knew I had to buy it because the awareness had me second guessing myself. Can I pull this off? (“This” clearly meaning so much more than the dress.)
 
I can.
 
I can and I will.
 
 
 
 
 
But seriously, what shoes?

FACTS

Dear Strong Woman,

Focus on the facts.

I had frustrating pool session this week. (Quick catch-up: I’ve been taking swimming lessons the past few weeks.  I signed up to do a triathlon with my Strong Man this September and I really don’t want to drown.  I also really want to keep dating him, which is why I’m having someone other than him teach me.)

Nothing was working.  I forgot everything I’d learned.  I was clunky in the water.  My breathing was out of wack.  I wanted to quit.  I considered cancelling my upcoming lesson due to my regress rather than progress.  The thought of actually completing the (open-water Atlantic Ocean) swim part of this race became more and more of a pipe dream in my head.

And then it hit me.

OF COURSE this swim was a shit show: I hadn’t been in the pool in five days.

I do this all the time…expect performance without putting in the practice. Last night we split a tray of Grand’s biscuits for dinner, and I still got pissed when I saw the scale moved in the opposite direction this morning.  What is that?!

I think as humans it’s natural for us to let our emotions drive the bus.  That’s why we often don’t do the work that’ll get us closer toward our goals – we don’t feel like it!  And when we don’t see any signs of progress, we let emotion make it a big friggin’ deal. 

It’s too hard.
I’ve just got a lot going on right now. 
Easy for YOU to say.
I’m just not wired that way. 
Those things don’t ever work for me. 

You don’t know me!

But if we focus only on the facts, on what IS rather than what we’re letting it all mean, it deflates that drama cloud.  We go from OH MY GOD LIFE IS SO HARD to Hmmm. How about that.

Shift the way you look at things and the things you look at change, right? Pinterest has a point, friends.

Our best decisions are often what we choose not to get involved with…like our own bullshit stories. 😉

Practice, practice, practice.

PROGRESS

Dear Strong Woman,
 
Perfectionism is blinding.
 
I have a project deadline coming up that has been my driving force this week. Something I thought would take me x hours to complete has proven to be more involved, and with a looming deadline, I gave myself permission to put the rest of my projects on hold. Despite this, the weight of the other things I know I should be doing has stayed with me, leaving me feeling all kinds of not-enough.
 
For example: I have a project around healthy weight loss, and part of my plan includes a daily 30-minute workout that leaves me a sweaty mess. For me that’s either a run or one of the at-home workouts I used to do all the time.
 
I got one and only one run in this week, and that run was the first time I’d worked out in three weeks.
 
Same goes for my book project. I’ve yet to submit a chapter that was due a week ago, and I’ve skipped my two morning writing sessions this week.
 
I was sharing all of this with my coach yesterday, hoping she’d call me out on my bullshit there’s-not-enough-time story. After all, a workout is only 30 minutes! And that chapter is so close to being done!
 
She didn’t. She didn’t give me that c’mon girl, you’ve got this pep talk I wanted. Instead, she asked me questions regarding what forward progress would look like for me this week in all areas, to which perfectionism responded: “It’d look like completing the things I said I’d complete.”
 
This revealed my blind spot. Her question to me was about progress, but all I was focused on were my end goals and the way in which I was straying from plan. Anything outside of my plan meant I wasn’t progressing, resulting in all those weighted shoulds feeling hella heavy.
 
Because I was so focused on the how, I was blind to the ways in which I was progressing on those projects. Sure, I may not have been a sweaty mess this week, but I quadrupled my step count from the week before, and my FitBit registered heart rates high enough during my walks to count them as exercise. Sure, I may not have committed to my scheduled writing sessions, but I did start every day with some journaling.
 
A win is a win, even if it’s not the win you had in mind.
 
 
The breakthrough here is similar to the one I wrote about in last week’s post, and I share that to point out that change takes time. The ways in which we’re wired comes from years and years of doing things a certain way. Undoing that isn’t the result of a flipped switch, but more so an untangling.
 
So patience, my dear. Everything in time. In the meantime, if you’re going to fret over what you haven’t done, be sure to also celebrate what you have done, okay?
 
Progress is progress.
 
Period.

HAPPINESS

Dear Strong Woman,

Happiness is the highest level of success.

I have been learning that there is a very fine line where doing things in the name of self-care can actually negate self-care. I’ve also been learning that, as much as I go through seasons with my own health journey, the self-care necessary around that changes, too.

I am in a season change.

The freedom that came with the structure of following a program was starting to feel…suffocating. I started procrastinating on workouts, only to only do half of it when I finally pushed play. I wasn’t feeling it. I hadn’t been for a while. Things felt…off. I needed…space.

This close to the end of a program and I can’t push it through to the end? I lead a group of women in practicing self-care daily and I can’t do it for myself?

False. I still am.

Self-care comes in many forms, and the forms of self-care we need changes as our needs change. My needs changed…and that‘s okay.

I gave myself grace and did what I needed to do to feel like myself again. Isn’t THAT the point of self-care anyway? To re-calibrate you? To help you be your best self? My form of self-care had become a to-do list that I did out of a sense of duty rather than desire. That’s one of those things people hate in relationships, right? When someone does something for you because they feel like they have to, not because they want to?

Funny, it feels the same way in the relationship you have with yourself.

My form of self-care was no longer feeling like self-care, so I had to adjust.

I’m still working out, but maybe not everyday.

I’m still eating right, but maybe not all day.

But I’m writing more. I’m reading books outside of the realm of self-help and business development. (The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas is riveting, by the way.) I’m more present in the moment rather than worrying about checking off everything on my list.

I’m more relaxed.

I’m more…me.

You might think I’m lazy. You might think that this whole “be gentle with yourself…honor the space you’re in” stuff is just a pretty way to disguise my excuses. Hey, you might even be right!

But focusing on what is right or wrong doesn’t always translate to what makes you happy.

And I deserve happy.

Don’t you?

GRACE

Dear Strong Woman,

Hold yourself to a standard of grace, not perfection.

I have fallen a bit off of my nutrition plan the last few days. Can’t say I’ve gone overboard – as the plan I’m referring to has me eating seven times a day – but I can’t say I was trying really hard to stick to it, either. Not on purpose of course, but more so that I gave myself permission to take a step back because… I wasn’t feeling like myself.

And that’s no bueño.

foodandfido

Sometimes we just need a little breathing room, and that’s okay. Perfection is just a fancy name for fear, so can we just take the pressure off already? Accept that mistakes ARE going to happen. In health, in finance, in relationships…in everything.

But let those moments be teachers, not attackers; lessons, not losses; temporary but necessary detours, never mere dead ends.

And if we’re being honest, someone who never makes mistakes usually never makes anything, right?

(Right.)

Keep going.

Keep growing.

You’ve got this.