The first few months of 2016 were not really the epic start to a new year that I had planned. I had a whole list of I want’s relating to my life, relationships, and work. But things came up that I didn’t plan for, and it seemed like time was flying by way too fast to tackle any of my resolutions or plans. And with each day that passed I felt more and more discouraged.
I knew I wasn’t happy with my life as is in a lot of areas, and I knew where I wanted to end up, eventually—but I just couldn’t seem to get moving down that road. I was stuck. Then, last month, I read this blog post that just seemed to really address everything I’d been struggling with. It made me realize that if I wanted to make changes and become that happy future me that I was envisioning, I first needed to change how I went about making those changes.
You’ve heard the phrase “old ways won’t open new doors”, and that’s true. I was weighed down with so many old things: habits, thought patterns, plans, self-perceptions. They had failed me a hundred times before and were failing me yet again, yet I was clinging to them because they were familiar and easy…and lacked any real commitment, other than a commitment to second-guessing myself. I felt paralyzed.
I had to let go of who I was yesterday, complete with all her bad habits and flaws (or the perception thereof), before I could start working on a new me. No more excuses for my bad habits. No more negative self-talk or endless “what if”s. No more “plan B” because of the mistakes I made once upon a time. No more apologizing for who I am because I was once a girl who sought approval. Those old remains were holding me back from making the changes I needed, and once I laid them to rest so many decisions and changes I’d agonized about suddenly felt so simple.
I won’t lie and say that I don’t still have days where I struggle. I have to hit the “reset” button on a daily basis and examine what my body and spirit are telling me that day. And I won’t say that it isn’t frightening to chart a course that’s neither easy nor guaranteed. Saying firmly “this does not work for me” can be hard when it’s something that you think should or could work for you, especially if other people are chiming in on that chorus.
But I think it’s even scarier to settle for something you don’t really want just because it’s easy. Life is so short. I’m not willing to live it looking back.
Listening to what your body needs and sometimes having to compromise that with what is good for your mind can be tricky but ultimately you will reach a sort of balance and that can only be a good thing, right? Even little things like your body being tired & wanting to rest but you know that unless the house is clean your spirit won’t be at ease. Do a minimal tidy-up and then enjoy a soak in the bath!
It’s so funny you say that, because that’s exactly what I did this morning! Put the laundry in the washer, ran a hot bath, and curled up with a book. Did me a world of good!
When I was 16 I had an older boyfriend who I though was very well traveled and wise. Looking back he was kind of an idiot, but one thing he said that stuck with me is that LIFE IS HARD. No matter who you are, or what you do, or how hard you try life will be difficult sometimes. Our society is a meritocracy, meaning that we are lead to believe that we are solely responsible for what happens. This just isn’t true, life is chaotic. Our actions are only 1 of several factors that influence our lives. So while it’s important to try to be a good person, it’s also important not to be too hard on yourself when things don’t go the way you hoped. Big hugs!
That’s something I’ve really learned this year. It’s still hard for me, because I’m kind of a perfectionist and tend to be too hard on myself, but I’m learning!
Thank you for this, Martha!! I also appreciate the comments from Kate and Erin, such wisdom. Even though I have had a long life with many and varied experiences, I can still take in the thoughts and advice from those much younger than I am. I think I should be “settled” at this age, and yet I still have changes I wish to make and dreams for the rest of my life. I don’t think we ever “arrive”….life is a continually journey….but we can reach those milestones now and then and be encouraged!! xo
So very true! I try to embrace the process. I read somewhere that you can’t compare your middle to someone else’s end, meaning that if you feel like someone else is all set and you’re not, remember that you’re just at different stages in your journey. And the journey is full of milestones that are unique to every person. Food for thought when I get discouraged!
Hi Mary, my next milestone birthday will be my 60th (!) but I’m still learning something new everyday. The day I ‘find myself’ will be the day my journey ends!
I also think that having strong role models helps, for example my Mum. Widowed suddenly last year after 60 years together, then discovering she had cancer and now that cancer has returned. No-one believes that she’s 82, even the nurses & medical staff know that she doesn’t ‘do’ negativity. She just gets on with whatever life throws at her. She says it’s because she’s a stoic Welshwoman but whatever the reason she rocks!
I am Martha’s Mom!! 62 yrs old, and still learning as well!! Sounds like your Mum knows the secret to a healthier existence regardless of life’s cruelties. I can only hope to be so wise :)