I know it was technically the "December Sanity Challenge," but when changes are worth making, I think they're worth making beyond one month. The final stretch of the year can be grueling for all of us, what with Holiday parties, shopping malls more akin to crowded supermarket fish tanks than public spaces, snow and sleet on the rise and sunlight becoming less and less, and the ever-looming threat of sickness as stress and climate collaborate to overthrow our immune systems. Yup, December.
Last month, I set three goals for myself to help me stay Happy, Healthy, and living Life to the fullest through the month:
- Journaling daily, to not only cleanse the mind, but the spirit.
- Sharing something "private," something I wouldn't normally speak into existence with anyone regardless of familiarity, at least twice daily.
- Tell people that I love them at every opportunity.
I am proud that I didn't falter from those goals through the month, even when was sick in bed and alone on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. And their impact, sometime subtle and sometimes blaring like a splash of cold water to the face, was undeniable. They helped me to find perspective and to stop resisting the present moment and to give in to its embrace. And to discover that regardless of what goes on outside of me, at work, in relationships, in the country, and in the world, I can feel secure in the Happiness and the Health within me and the light that will shine: that was a breakthrough. Something I've always 'sort of' known, but something that became crystal clear to me in following through with these practices. Something beautifully real.
What really opened my eyes was how these changed affected my friends, my family, and strangers alike. How that light could brighten other people's lives, like a flame being passed from one torch to the other. Friends would remark how they've noticed a difference in me, that I must be going through something major, and without asking what that something major was, they would then thank me. And whether it was the 'wise' status posts and tweets, late night conversations while listening to country music and Brit pop over herbal tea, or my willingness to say, "I love you," without expecting anything in return, it all seemed to boil down to one thing:
And what this challenge truly helped me to see was how little letting go I was actually doing. I had intended for these goals to help me connect more with the world and the people around me, and they did. But in hindsight, I realize that these goals were really about creating a deeper and more meaningful connection with myself, and through that, allowing the world and others to connect with me and meet me halfway. It makes me think of the classic, dreaded break-up line: "It's not about you, it's about me." When we're on the receiving end of it, it's hardly ever easy to believe and can lead us to feel anything but closure. But when I think about it with this subtext: "All of me is not available, not even to myself - I'm sorry." then I can believe it. Because this past month, with all the stress, drama, and second-guessing I placed squarely on my shoulders, was really about making peace within me. Making myself more available to me, first and foremost, before attempting to let others in. And ultimately finding a self-love that I've been running scared from for most of my life. Knowing that I am, in fact, lovable, and finally believing it. Letting go of fear, self-judgment, and insecurity to open my arms to possibility, to clarity, and to trust. And now not only understanding the gifts I have to offer, but finally understanding how to give them.
We all have things in life that challenge us, that make us doubt ourselves, feel less worthy, or scared. But it's ultimately about finding the opportunity to grow, to continue on our path, and to know that each moment is exactly that: a moment. Fleeting, ephemeral, gone in the blink of an eye. And regardless of whether that moment is joyful, heart-wrenching, or 'something major,' there will be many more moments to live through and within. So all we can do is let go - doing our best to avoid fixating on the happy ones, bringing them so close that we lose focus, and burying the painful ones away with distractions and pretense. Allow them to enter our lives, acknowledge them, and then let them pass away without fear, knowing that countless moments and opportunities await us on our journey. And it is a journey rich in beauty, passion, and spirit that all of us share, regardless of origin or destination.
Keep your eyes and your heart open to savor it.
Thank you again to Cheryl Harris of Gluten Free Goodness for making the December Sanity Challenge a reality. My 2013 is already so much better for it.