Even though I feel much better about my body than I did years ago, even though I am taking much better care of myself than I did years ago, I still feel the pricks of comparison.
When I’m in an exercise class, some days I find myself looking around. What is everyone else doing? Why am I not keeping up? Why is this so much harder for me?
I find myself feeling disappointed. Like Alex writes in her powerful post, I find myself spinning all sorts of stories. Old stories about not being an athlete or being clumsy or being too slow. New stories about how I need to work out harder and be stronger and do more.
I think bucket lists are wonderful. It’s important to have a place for contemplating and listing your ultimate dreams, for reflecting on the experiences, activities and actions that inspire you. The experiences, activities and actions you just know you need to do. The things that are calling you.
But I also love an idea I read about in Jennifer Louden’s latest book — A Year of Daily Joy: A Guided Journal to Creating Happiness Every Day, which is filled with beautiful quotes, tips, insights and images. The idea is to create a “thimble list.”
Today, in the U.S., we honor Martin Luther King, Jr., who had an incredible dream and helped make it a reality. Inspired by his powerful speech and Therese Borchard’s beautiful piece, every year I republish a piece on my personal dream (which I’ve updated since last year). It’s a dream that focuses on everything from how we treat each other to how we treat ourselves.
I have a dream that our society will stop judging, shaming and bullying people because of their size, shape and weight.
I have a dream that we’ll focus on cultivating healthy habits instead of remaining chained to the numbers on our scales (or calipers or clothes).
On the last pages of her book Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life From Dear Sugar Cheryl Strayed pens her response to the question: “What would you tell your twentysomething self if you could talk to her now?”
These are snippets of her wisdom:
“Feed yourself. Literally. The sort of people worthy of your love will love you more for this, sweet pea.”
“You don’t have a career. You have a life. Do the work. Keep the faith. Be true blue. You are a writer because you write.”
When we got married, Brian and I wrote our own vows. Writing my vows to him, and him reading his vows to me are moments that I will never forget.
Writing our vows gave us both the opportunity to reflect on our relationship, to consider where we started, where we are today and where we’d like to go. To consider our deep commitment to each other.
Writing our vows and speaking them has made them more concrete and meaningful and memorable.
I think we can do the same for ourselves. After all, our relationship with ourselves forms the basis for our relationships with others. It helps us make decisions and make meaning. It forms the basis for everything.
Recently, on her blog Design for Mankind, Erin Loechner shared her non-goals for the new year — something she’s been doing for several years now.
That is, instead of creating resolutions or intentions, Erin shares a list of qualities or traits or habits she’s learning to accept about herself.
It is a new year.
But this doesn’t require being a new you.
Of course, you will see this phrase
in many places:
TV, magazines, websites.
You will hear it in conversation
at work, at the checkout line
maybe even at home.
Every year I share the most popular posts (as judged by pageviews) on Weightless from January to December. This year’s favorite posts include everything from dealing with a loud inner critic to coping with guilt after eating to 10 reasons to love our bodies.
Overall, 2014 was all about exploring kindness; getting curious about our bodies, our needs and our identities; navigating negative thoughts and roaring inner critics (instead of trying to banish them, because they only return that much stronger when we try to dismiss them); seeking stillness and adding pleasure to our lives; turning to gratitude (genuine gratitude) when we need it most; and letting go of what no longer serves us.
On some Sundays I share my favorite links on everything from taking compassionate care of ourselves to embracing imperfection to leading a meaningful life on our own terms.
“I remember that this life isn’t meant to be perfect.”
Try an “End of Year Personal Summit.”
Self-compassion is most definitely a verb.
In the last few months Brian and I have been planning our wedding (while experiencing some unexpected drama with our venue), and making improvements on our house.
I’ve been revising my book while working on my normal writing projects. Brian has been swamped at work. And, of course, we have the holidays.
Things have been hectic, to say the least. (And we don’t have any kids or pets!)
What I’ve realized during these busy times is the importance of meeting my own needs (and letting others meet theirs). I’ve realized just how critical it is to my well-being, productivity and sanity. Because you can’t go wrong with focusing on your mental, emotional, physical and spiritual health.