Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Resilience and Rebellion

After a rough September, I decided to make my word (or intention or goal, if you like) for the month of October - Resilience.  I'm resisting the temptation to share the definition because you all have google and you pretty much know what the word means anyway.  But it's a word that really appealed to me, because if September (not to mention the latter half of August) was my month of being injured, then October was my comeback month!

It turns out I should've extended my intention of Patience a liiiiiiittle bit longer.

October hasn't quite been the bounce-back I hoped and expected.  I'm certainly better than I was a month ago today - after my cast came off, the smallest bit of pressure on my foot was agony, and I was still figuring out the mechanics of walking again.  But today, I still experience pain when I walk, I'm much farther from back to normal (to say nothing of back to running!) than I expected, and I haven't always dealt with the disappointment in the healthiest ways.

Last week I wrote about boundaries and my anxiety over the election, as well as my health.   One would just feed the other until I was a depressed and anxious pile of goo.

It helps that there are no more debates, thank the sweet sweet lord.

But the fact is, that boundaries don't help worth a damn unless you set and enforce them.  (Gotta build a wall...)

And resilience is just a pretty word if I keep rebelling against doing the things that I know will actually help my mental and emotional and physical health.  Following rules I know I should follow, rules that are for my own good for reasons that I do actually understand.  Limit electronics.  Have a book to read so my attention span grows from the 3 seconds it currently is as I constantly skim headlines or bounce from work email/text back to whatever else it is I'm trying to do at home.  When I write, actually pay attention to writing without interruption.  Eat foods that quell instead of increase inflammation.  Get up on time, even when the snooze button is calling my name.  Actually focus when I meditate instead of just using it as another snooze button.

Intention really is a powerful thing, and words do make a difference - but it's just syllables rattling in your head if you don't put a plan of action to go with them.  That's why the advice to "Be present" always annoys me - yes, that's great, but how?

It's also hard to find the motivation to do those things or follow those rules or dig deep and get perspective that I'm really okay when I'm truly just not feeling it.  If I'm particularly stressed or scared or depressed at the glacial rate of my recovery and I let myself cry or get down, I find that I automatically go to a place of feeling like I don't deserve to feel this way because I'm really okay.  I'm not dying, for God's sake.  So then by not letting myself have a moment (or even a day) where I'm just sick of it all, those feelings just continue to simmer under the surface and negatively impact every other decision, conscious or unconscious, that I make.

My beautiful friend Michael Bartelle, who is one of the most inspiring, kind, funny, beautiful, and loving people I've ever met, wrote something strikingly similar to how I've been feeling today.  He shared several methods and techniques and practices he's engaged in throughout the years (such as meditation, doing morning pages a la The Artist's Way) and how when he seems to need those practices the most, he's least likely to habitually do them.

It's a reminder, especially coming from someone who inspires me as much as Michael does, that we're all human and we all go through rough patches that knock us off our pedestals and practices and keep us from being our best selves.  No one has maintained perfection in their practice in life - if they are, they're probably living on top of a mountain far, far away.  It's just part of life.

I think that's why the phrase, "Take care of yourself," exists.  When someone says that to us, don't we tend to just sort of nod and agree and appreciate the warm thought without really thinking about what it means?

To "Take care of yourself" probably means, more often than not, taking away the short-term dopamine hit (ie checking Facebook for the 100th time in an hour) from yourself and replacing it with something that you probably don't feel like doing, but that will be infinitely better for you.  The emotional, spiritual, and often literal version of Eating Your Vegetables.

So I'm here toward the end of this month where my resilience has been tested deeply by my inner, struggling rebellion.  Today feels a little different, though, and it just takes a few positive steps and a few good days to shift momentum to a better direction.

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