Balance would definitely be one of the words I’ve spoken the most this past year. It would rank up there with tampons, perspective, tired, and “no” (the last of which is usually directed at my kids!) Just like with the tree pose in yoga, balance is something that takes practice and work. You may have to start with your foot on your ankle and make tiny, tiny adjustments until you reach your thigh. And even when you feel like your scales are weighted just right, the tiniest thing can knock you down and you will have to start again. It’s so hard to find what is right for you but it’s work that is well worth it. Here are just a few things that I *think* I have learned.
You can love your body right now and still work to improve it. Seriously. You can accept every giggle and wobble and still decide that you want to be stronger, fitter, leaner. I just hope you make that decision for your health and not to look like some picture you saw. You can decide to wear leggings because they are so forgiving and you can also keep a pair of skinny jeans that you hope to fit into again. You can have both! You can appreciate your body just the way it is but still still have personal goals to strive towards. Find your peace in any means necessary. I have told you that I went from purging my meals, to taking on line courses about how to love your body, to almost dying and finding acceptance. I pray you don’t have to have such a kick in the ass to learn this lesson; because I can promise you that it is so freeing to stop caring what that stupid number on the scale is. Find other ways to measure your worth and your health.
You can eat cake and carrots. You can eat clean and order pizza. You can drink 100 ounces of water and finish the day with a glass of wine or a beer. And for Heaven’s sake if you are paleo/gluten free/ non-gmo/organic/won’t eat anything that the Food Babe has not approved- you are not a better person than those of us who really, really enjoy Wendy’s chicken nuggets and chocolate Frostys. Your goodness as a human being does not come from your dietary choices. If you sell advocare/Isagenix/it works/any of the other companies that comprise a multi million dollar industry that strives to make people feel not good enough…that’s okay. I’m not telling you to stop. Rock on, friends, earn that extra money for your families. I’ve tried every one of those products before and enjoyed some of it and felt miserable on most of it and ended up gaining every inch back…but doing a cleanse and losing weight never made me a nutritionist and it never actually made me any happier. So I will eat my broccoli, and drink my Chia Mama; and I will also eat my rice, and enjoy every drop of my Caramel Brûlée lattes. And I won’t feel badly about it because I don’t do too much of either. Crazy, right?
You can be sad and grateful at the same time. You can know how lucky and blessed you are and sometimes allow yourself to wonder, “why?” If anything I think that those days that the darkness has blanketed me make me appreciate the sunshine even more. I have felt lost, hopeless, and guilty for much of the last eight months but, I have also appreciated every smile, kiss, and piece of chocolate much more than I previously did. You might be thinking that I’m miss Pollyana over here making what I just said seem so easy I promise I’m not. I’m just saying it’s worth the work. Pyschologists have studied the practice of gratitude and results have shown that gratitude helps people feel more more positive emotions. According to research published in the journal Cerebral Cortex, gratitude stimulates the hypothalamus (a key part of the brain that regulates stress) and the ventral tegmental area (part of our “reward circuitry” that produces the sensation of pleasure). So yes, you can have days where you look around this world and wonder if there is any good left in it. You can also have moments throughout that very same day where you practice gratitude for delicious meal you just ate, and the funny joke you just heard, and the breath in your lungs. It’s science.
You can use essential oils and also take Tylenol and get your damn vaccines. Before I got sick I was really trying to move towards a “chemical free lifestyle.” I wasn’t winning that battle but I was inching my way there. When I started getting symptoms in March the first thing I did was break out my thieves, pain cream, Digize, and diffusers. I was bathing myself in oils. Then I got out of the hospital and I could not look at them. I could not touch them. Modern medicine had saved my life and I was never going to take that for granted again. But as some time passed I started missing them. I stopped blaming them for not curing what modern medicine almost couldn’t. I started realizing that if I get a headache I can try peppermint and if that doesn’t work I can take Motrin. I also remembered that even if they don’t do a damn thing thing for me physically (which I’m not saying is the case,) I can still enjoy the smell of them. I used candles for years, after all. Plus there is also the placebo affect. And even if every benefit is only in my mind, that’s okay. It was so freeing to me when I realized I can have both in my life. You can bet that I have my doctor’s number in my favorites list and I will not hesitate to dial it; however I will also put some Stress Away on my wrists while I am waiting to speak with him.
You can be giving and selfish at the same time. This is for sure the hardest thing that I am working towards every single day. My mind says, “Do better. Be better. You LIVED…you NEED TO PROVE that miracle wasn’t wasted on you. My body, on the other hand, says, “Calm the f*** down. You have time. You need to rest.” I am learning that I can have days where I don’t do one thing more than is absolutely required of me but I can have many more days where I work on the Begin Again Foundation, or try to raise money for Fallon, or collect baby carriers for Carry the Future. It is just taking practice to figure how much I can do without making myself worse for it.
I often feel that what I am doing is not enough, that I’m doing the right thing by my mind, my body, my family. If I am respecting my physical limitations then I am not giving my all to my children. If I am trying to hold it together all day I often collapse into tears by the end of the day. I have been on one anti depressant, then another, then none only to be plagued with insomnia and the kind of fatigue that really makes it feel like it will never get better. I guess what I am trying to say is that I’m better at talking the talk than walking the walk. But I do try every day. Sometimes it’s not my best. Other days I accomplish more than expected. Balance.