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?

LAMB

Dear Cleo,

Thank you.

I’m not sure for what just yet, but I know your hand is in everything right now.

I continue to have these moments that seem to cut my life into before and after, and I can feel you here…holding my hand…welcoming me into yet another season.

Another version of myself.

I hope it never stops. Not because I selfishly want to feel your presence, but because I want to continue to grow.  To become to woman I am meant to become.

I know this means there will be more hard moments, but I am not afraid of this.  Between having you and Mum as my guideposts, I am more than trained to handle such times.  What I am learning though is that sometimes breaking down into a full-blown snot cry is an acceptable first step in handling it. It’s okay to show weakness. It’s okay to not know what path to chose so long as I trust that it has already been chosen.  I just have to follow. To show up. To be open to those Universal lessons that you are most definitely throwing my way.

(This last one has your name all over it.  I feel it in my gut. My heart.)

But while I’ve felt inclined to tap into the lion within me, you’ve kept me…calm.  Relaxed.   At ease and thankfully off that dreaded hamster wheel in my head.

You’re reminding me that in times when I feel inclined to roar, it’s okay to be a lamb.

Soften my edges.

Come from grace.

Operate from a space of happiness. Only happiness.

How beautiful it is to remain silent when the world expects you to be outraged!

My instinct is screaming: YES. THIS.

I shouldn’t be surprised that you are showing off as such, especially now.  Even today – your birthday – has provided little glimmers of reassurance that I am moving in the right direction.  And as I type that, I can hear your giggle.

You always were clever.

And we always made a good team.

Glad to know that some things will never change…even if there are worlds between us.

YES. THIS.

Thank you for keeping me in line down here, pretty girl.

MACHINE

Dear Strong Woman,

It’s been a while.

And you know, speaking of that…it’s also been a while since I’ve laced up the ol’ running shoes.

But I tell you what…I feel like I’ve been running nothing short of a marathon lately.

No matter how much you prepare, some things just seem to happen all at once. And despite forcing a smile as I plow through it all, despite knowing I am well-equipped to do the tasks that lay before me…

Stress got in.

(That bitch.)

It finally reached a boiling point this week, right down to the very minute of everything being due.  Timing is also a bitch, and yet never a mere coincidence.

I’ve done enough personal growth work to realize that it is moments like this where some of our biggest lessons are learned, so rather than throw my hands up (with a specific finger on each hand raised), I dug in my heels and asked myself…

What can I learn from this?

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Here’s the lightbulb:  I have trained people to think I don’t have needs, including myself.

Now, I have done hella work in this area the past two years, becoming much more aware of what keeps me sane, grounded, lit up and showing up.  But…it is still a journey.  It has ups and downs and roller coaster moments that literally make me question which way is up.  I have to make a choice everyday to continue to strive to reclaim power over my circumstances rather than claim to be a victim of them.

Life happens for me. (Not to me.)

And I can’t take my body for granted the way I have been.  I know I can push and push and push, but at what cost?  Just because I can doesn’t mean I should.

Despite what society is telling  me…

My body is a temple.

Not a machine.

(Currently repeating this out loud.)