Happy holidays! This has been the craziest, hardest, most rewarding year yet, so this post will be for me as much as it is for you [sorry, not sorry]. I’ve spent December in serious reflection of 2019 and have so many feelings, but am mostly honing in on the good stuff. After returning from a long vacation in October and facing my busiest work month so far [hey, November, I see you] I decided to take advantage of a colleague’s wonderful self-care idea for December. Each morning of the month she’s sent out these beautiful e-mails, full of thoughtfulness, guidance, and compassion and it’s allowed me to make some space for a more peaceful end of the year – shout out @NewMoonRD!
An activity we’ve been recently challenged to is writing a “Tah-Dah” List. Yes, you read it correctly – NOT a good ole “To Do” list, but a Tah-Dah list. After a year comprised of more To Do lists than I’ve ever created, this partially felt like a sick joke. BUT this has led to me recognize that through the good and the not so good, I have learned, accomplished, and grown so much this year. It all deserves both recognition and reflection, so here we go:
1. The unknown is only scary until you face it.
I started the year of 2019 in full panic mode. Some say I did a good job hiding it, and others would laugh in those people’s faces [Ha!]. After many conversations with my husband, family, friends, (and therapist) I decided that 2019 would be the year I left my beloved full-time job and jumped into Private Practice. Having been in PP for a year part time, I set a goal of financially assessing my first quarter, saving some moola (the best I could) and jumping ship.
This decision came with SO many unknowns, and it was very clearly the only piece that scared me: What If? What if my boss hates me for leaving? What if I can’t keep in touch with my co-workers that I love? What if I don’t make any money? What if I put too much pressure on my husband to help make this happen? What if I’m not good enough? What if I fail? Every day leading up to giving my notice I was quite literally sick. And then I did it. And everything was still okay. By April I went from working 50 hours a week, commuting 4 hours a day, to working just two measly days a week, never driving more than 10 miles at a time, and sleeping. A lot.
Each day, each week, I truly had no precedent to work by – it was ALL unknown territory. After facing the unknown of leaving a really important job, I decided I ought to make space for the unknown to potentially turn into the BEST What If’s: What if I’m really great at this? What if this is my “thing”? What if this is financially lucrative and contributes to the life we want? What if I make people proud? What if I DO help people? The unknown is only scary until you face it, and then you see that it may be more fun [and definitely less panic-filled] to imagine the insane positive potential of the unfamiliar. Check out my IG post for another great example of facing the frightening unknown, being in chaos, and living to talk about it.
2. Understanding and accepting your needs is hard [and worth it].
Part of this total life flip really threw me into needing to know and understand MY needs, and accept them. I tell people all day long to “honor your needs” and “screw what everyone else thinks,” yet here I was struggling to do just that. I was seeing clients two days a week and spending the rest of my time doing what I like to call “moseying.” I’d sleep [late], watch a new TV show, clean, go for a walk, make dinner, visit my Mom – you know, mosey around. I couldn’t help but notice how FANTASTIC I felt, all while simultaneously thinking “this can’t be right.” I also had plenty of people very obviously questioning [and judging] me, “You ONLY work two days a week?..What do you DO all day?..Don’t you get antsy?..Don’t you miss it?” First of all, Rude. Second, I wasn’t antsy, or lonely, or craving more work. I was exactly where I needed to be. I felt totally at ease, comfortable, rested, alive.
This became so clear so quickly, but it was still hard to accept in the fear and anxiety that others smothered all over me. Those who knew me best [thanks Ma] would say I transformed fairly quickly back into the person I wanted to be. But this wasn’t just it! Each month I kept exploring what made me feel best, and each month it would change. By June I picked up another job at a group practice after realizing I wanted some closer colleagues and PP guidance [shout out @Mindfulnuts!], and by September I double my space and work days. Work-life balance didn’t stop there – I was suddenly facing floods of emotion and coming to terms with my sensitivity to those around me who hurt. I needed a few extra hugs, more down time, more alone time, and more air time in therapy. Turns out there is nothing wrong with me [who knew?] and I grew into accepting what my brain, body, heart and soul need in a way that heals me most. Your physical, mental, and emotional needs will be ever changing as you are. Knowing, understanding, and accepting your needs is hard, and so worth it.
3. Using support systems is always Okay.
If you’re thinking that all of the above-mentioned things sound super impressive, don’t be too quick to be fooled. That last part about things being hard? That’s true. For all of us really. So I NEED to remind you that support systems are. So. Important. I don’t care if it’s your Mom, a Grandparent, a friend, spouse, colleague, therapist, or a freakin’ pen pal – use your resources. It’s something I encourage my clients to do every day. Don’t allow yourself to think you are in this alone. Never feel ashamed for needing help: you are not incapable – you are resourceful [see what I did there?]. And we all deserve to feel understood and supported. Mic drop.
4. Intuitive Eating Journeys are not meant to have an ending.
I’ve spent so much time this year talking about what I love and believe in [Intuitive Eating] that it’s given me time to also personally assess my food and body relationship. The number one take away I’d like to share of this realm is that your IE journey, when you finally choose to indulge, does not end. SO many people in our culture are wired to think that a diet, or way of eating, is something that you start, that then stops at some point. As if the hard parts eventually go away. Well I’m here to burst that bubble real quick. THIS is what makes IE different. There is no finish line, mountain summit, or finale. It’s a journey that evolves just as you are meant to, day by day, month by month, and year by year.
This came to my attention for a few reasons. First, because people ask, “so when will this feel better/normal/feasible/guilt-less?” and my answer was complicated – Never. And all the time. Being an intuitive eater isn’t something that looks remotely the same from person to person, so there simply isn’t a gauge for “completion.” Some days you’ll finally feel confident, energized, and effortlessly order whatever you want from your favorite café, and other days you’ll feel like a kid whose puppy was given away. There is no right or wrong way to be an intuitive eater. In reflecting how I’ve grown and reacted to my own food and body relationship as a fairly intuitive eater, I can attest to this. I’ve had more donut-filled days this year than any other, and I’ve also re-discovered my love and appreciation for movement. Food habits change. Bodies change. Feelings change. Humans change. There is no end.
My word for 2020: Expansion.
Something about this word strikes me as fancy. Stellar. Limitless. What better way to ring in a new decade? I very specifically remember my entrance into 2000 AND 2010. One was celebrated on a homemade ice rink, burning our Christmas tree, with headphones blaring Millennium from my Disc Man, and the other was spent playing pong and kissy face with my now husband. Both pretty epic if you ask me. With the reflection I’ve been exploring this month I’ve decided 2020 will be just as groovy – Why not?
So cheers to growth and expansion in 2020. Whether it be emotional, spiritual, or by the number of loving people in your life, I wish you all the ability to manifest some serious expansion in your new year.
Work hard. Take the risks. Trust in yourself. Know that you are not alone in this world.