Ah, New Year’s Eve. A year ago, I was looking over the Whole Life Action Plan and thinking, what the hell have I gotten myself into, agreeing to blog? I was hopeful and excited, a little anxious wondering what I was supposed to write about, if I was going to be able to do “it” right, and that “it” could have been anything from detoxing for four days, to not embarrassing myself in this blog, to getting a handle on this meandering, rudderless boat that was my life at the time. I remember being asked at the time, write about why you’re doing this, what your goals are, and remember to circle back to it.
I’m looking at that post and I did want all those things — more variety, more tools for my health. But I couldn’t admit what I really wanted because I couldn’t even describe it. I didn’t know it in fact until 6 months later. I was out to dinner with some friends, and one of them had launched a new business; she was full of excitement and news and plans. The other had just finished an enormous project that she’d been working on and was justifiably proud. And me? I was happy, truly at ease. And that was kind of a surprise.
Because I'd been to dinner with the same people before the Action Plan, and I remembered enjoying their company tremendously but I also wasn’t completely there. I had that feeling of autopilot where you know how you’re supposed to act and you do it; I wasn’t actually faking it, more like I was watching myself from a distance pretending to be happy when really, I was just judging. Judging that they were happier, more interesting, judging that they were younger and thinner, judging that they somehow had figured “it” all out.
So fast forward to a year later, and this time I really am there at dinner, not judging, not wondering, but instead feeling connected to my life. Not thinking that I should be doing more, not wishing I was better at “it.” And it occurred to me that I was finally living my life instead of moving through it. I had moved off the treadmill of reacting and going through the motions and making resolutions that I didn’t keep. And the difference was that the Whole Body Action Plan didn’t end for me on January 31, but kept going.
I kept running, going to yoga, roasting vegetables, and juicing. I added writing fiction to my journaling. It hasn’t been all fun; most of the time, it’s work. But I kept going because I felt stronger, calmer, and more energized; I kept going until they became things I did all the time, not just at the beginning of the year. I stopped thinking that some day, I would get my life together and lose weight and exercise. I actually did it. I stopped saying I wanted to be a writer and I became someone who writes every day. At long last, I lightened my “one day I will” to-do list, that list that weighed down my energy and my life.
Oh I still fret that I’m not getting enough vegetables, I hold my breath when I pull my jeans out of the laundry. What really changed for me is understanding that taking care of myself takes a certain amount of time every day, that it isn’t for a week and it can’t be shortchanged for days on end. If I want to live my life to the fullest, I actually have to set aside time to do the work of it, every day.
There are better experts than me elsewhere on this site, most especially my comrade in arms Sarah Rose Cavanagh, to give you advice on how to get started and keep going. I wanted to come back not to share advice so much but because I am profoundly grateful to this site and this community, and because when we talk about health or goals, there are other desires that we can’t even articulate, that we hide so deep in our souls we can only feel them, and that working on the Plan works on those things too.
Good luck! May you look back a year from now and be amazed.