If you looked at my health and wellness routine lately, you may understandably conclude that it has declined significantly in the last few weeks. I work out less, I eat cream cheese, chips, you name it, and I’m averaging about three coffees a day (mostly decaf, come on now). On Thursday, I drank a bottle of wine while lying on the couch and watching New Girl (yes you’re right, it was fabulous).
So what is happening? This is a far cry from my vegan, no coffee, no sugar, force myself to go to the gym days.
What if I told you I see this as progression rather than regression? What if I told you I feel just as good, if not better, than my ultra-healthy days?
What’s happening is that I am finally starting to relax and let go, and it’s kind of amazing.
As I wandered around downtown Dartmouth on my lunch break Friday, eating chips, feeling kind of dehydrated, and in a bit of a fog from the previous night’s wine, this came to my mind.
“Man, I am a bit of a hot mess right now.”
And then, “Weird, it feels really good.”
To allow yourself space to be real is an amazing thing, and it’s something I am still a beginner at. I never used to consider myself a perfectionist, but I’ve come to see in the last year or so just how hard I am on myself and how much purity and restriction I demand. I’d previously defined a perfectionist as someone who was totally organized, and had a high powered job and a stellar 10 page resume. That totally does not describe me, but yet I can be a full on perfectionist.
I really noticed it one morning a few months ago. It was a Saturday and I was in my kitchen with the usual nagging voice telling me I wasn’t doing enough/wasn’t doing anything well enough. Then I stopped and took stock of what I’d done so far that day. I can’t remember the exact details, but it was something like got up early, meditated, did yoga, and made a green smoothie.
Logically, it is laughable to say that is not good enough, but the voices in our heads are not logical, and they will never stop if we don’t start to disengage from them.
So I’m in a real letting go process now, basically just letting myself off the hook, and experimenting with what actually feels good and makes me happy and what doesn’t. Green smoothies actually hurt my stomach, so right now they’re out. I find green juices delicious and awesome, so right now they stay. Coffee doesn’t necessarily make me feel great, but it makes me happy, so it’s in for now. And at the moment, yoga really is the only exercise I feel like doing, so I’ve cancelled my zumba and pole classes. I love my blog, but I haven’t felt like writing lately, so I took a break. I’m just really losing interest in making myself do anything I don’t feel like doing.
Just thinking about sitting around doing nothing made me feel anxious, but last weekend I shocked myself by telling my roommate “Oh my God, hanging out with nothing to do is awesome!” (Being who we are, this led to comments from us like “I think I’m really getting in touch with my Inner Kapha”)
Personal progress cannot be defined by anyone else, by any book, or by any teacher. For some people, progress is cutting out alcohol, for others it’s allowing themselves to have it, guilt free. It’s all about listening to yourself and acknowledging and allowing what you need in this moment.
I highly doubt that I will be drinking all this coffee and wine for the rest of my life. In the long run, I’m thinking it would stop feeling fun and indulgent, but for right now I’m rolling with it and letting it happen.
Trying to perfect means being rigid, and the good can’t come in when you are rigid.
And best of all, how cool is it that you can find peace anywhere? Even while picking chip crumbs out of your scarf on Portland Street.
It’s because it’s in us. It’s our core- it’s never earned, it’s always just waiting for us, patiently hanging out until we’re ready to see it.
So get rid of your Women’s Health Magazine idea of what progress is, and try asking yourself what you really need right now. The answer might surprise you, but listen to it anyway, and enjoy where it take you. Whether that’s to happy hour or the yoga mat, it’s all good.
p.s. To be clear, I’m not thinking of myself like some blissed out yogi, preaching to you all from my meditation pillow. I’m writing from the trenches- from the craziness and weirdness of everyday life. I’m trying to figure this stuff out, and I write what I feel to be true and what I’m working on- not what I’ve mastered.
To be honest, my motivation for writing this blog is mainly selfish. Writing helps me to get clear and make sense of things. I’d be writing anyway, so I figured I might as well share it. So thank you for reading