I could feel a tad guilty as I write this because we are in February and it is only now that I am getting round to publishing our first piece of the year. I don’t feel guilty though, at least not anymore. My absence is not for lack of trying or wanting or missing being here. The energy just wasn’t there and I did not want to write just for the sake of it.
I was not ready. My mind was not ready. The spirit was willing but the brain and the English language were not cooperating.The introduction to this piece has been re-written countless times. And everytime it just did not feel right to write. Get it? 😉
First week of February. How are you doing with your new year’s resolutions, if at all you had any? It’s not my jam, so I really don’t make any. I do however set goals. At least one financial, one body-related and one around personal development. And for some reason this year, my financial goal was the only one that I could not shed off. There was this underlying need to have all my ducks in a row, and I could not muster the willpower to get it done. The external pressure from everyone else creating vision boards and meal plans and life goals was just too overwhelming. My first instinct was to cave in and join the bandwagon, which I did for all of two hours. Then I just shed it all off and stuck to laying out my financial goals. Body and personal development would just have to wait.
Walking into 2022, the one thing I wanted to practice was to ease myself into the year. I left 2021 feeling tired and exhausted and just drained. Ever seen athletes at the end of a race, all wiped out trying to catch their breath but then almost immediately cameras are shoved in their faces, with questions left right and center, lights flashing yet all this person needs in that moment is to breathe? Coming into the new year, I felt like that athlete, trying to catch my breath but there was life shoving things in my face. Back to school, back to work, back to adulting. I simply was not ready, hence my delay in publishing anything till now.
My brain made me feel like I was failing, like I was failing myself. I was failing you as the reader. I was failing my team who were wondering why we have not started yet. And each time I would open a fresh tab on my laptop, no words could come out. They just swam in my head like little fingerlings in a bowl that doesn’t quite fit right. So I just waited it out. And everytime the discomfort of not having published anything came round, I had to just sit through it. There are times when I would just have to talk myself into remembering that this feeling is temporary and there is no emergency to write. Not just yet. And that it was okay to ease into this as well.
January has been an interesting month of trying to practice this ease, especially since life does not wait for you. Life doesn’t hit pause just because you need it. I was living the reality where everyone else is amped up for the new year, for a fresh start, and hopefully an end to the pandemic, yet internally all I wanted was for it to all slow down. Finding the balance between slowing things down while expectations are that you should deliver on someone else’s schedule made it clear that I needed to pick a side. Having it both ways was not an option. I picked me.
This sounds vague, so let me try to demonstrate with an example.
My mornings can be chaotic, especially if I don’t plan some things in advance. Even though there is thorough planning, not everything goes according to plan. In my household, everyone leaves the house at about the same time. So prep time and breakfast and shower time is simultaneous for everyone. However, I realized, rushing through my morning is a sure fire guarantee to a chaotic day. An intentional practice is now to not let the requirements of the day take the best of me. Instead, I try to pre-determine outcomes by dealing with things within my control. It gives me a sense of control on the day’s activities without feeling like I am operating on someone else’s timelines. But guess what, life is not necessarily operating on the same wavelength as I am. It took a lot of tantrums, shouting matches, petty fights and at times tears for the people around me to understand that Maureen needs those first two hours of the day to herself.
What am I doing differently? Everything that is required for the next day is done the previous night, whether it is packing school bags or signing homework or laying out an outfit. I do not go to bed till everything required the next morning is prepared. That is, the things that need my input. What this practice has done is that it has freed up some time for me in the morning. So my workout and meditation time happens without me filling up my space or expending energy for others. Even on the days I choose to sleep in, I worry less, if at all, because whatever it is that needs doing, was done in advance. This creates space for me to recharge and create room for control over my day. I get a chance to ease myself into things.
It may sound basic, but I have noticed that simple things like taking a shower without looking at the clock, or dressing without the rush does help me ease into the day. It gives me the ability to manage the day at my own pace. And not just with home-related stuff, but also at work, in my friendships, in my relationship; pretty much in every area of my life.
A friend recently reminded me that life will keep happening and that I do have agency in treating myself with grace and kindness and soft gloves. In essence she reminded me that the only person who has control over my life, my time, my energy, my thoughts, my words, my body is me. And I alone have to give myself the permission to do so.
Practicing ease has also been eye-opening. No urgency in responding to messages on my phone, no pressure to commit to plans I am particularly not interested in, only spending money on things I had budgeted for and more often than not, disappointing people along the way.
Sounds like something we hear all the time. My aha point has been actually putting this into practice and being very observant of reactions from people who are not used to receiving disappointment from me. I simply stopped being a people pleaser or at least I am still trying to stop. I owe it to myself. Occasionally guilt creeps in but I have to remind myself why this is important for me.The need to ease myself into anything life brings my way. The need to ease into not just the physical but also the emotional and mental bits of me. The need to have a few moments to myself.
That being said, as we ease into the new year, I hope you keep coming back to read my ramblings. Out of all the nonsense I spew, hopefully something will stick.
PS: I wonder what athletes feel after the race. When the cameras stop rolling. And the body is no longer just fighting to balance between breathing and speaking.