As many have commented, the beginning of the new year is a time when many of us take a look at who we are and how our lives are panning out. We often don’t like what we see as our weaknesses or shortcomings and we decide on some resolutions in the hope of rectifying any flaws in our current lifestyle, character or appearance, in order to set our lives back on the track we mapped out.
I’m all in favour of periodic reassessment, but I think we can be too hard on ourselves. I think resolutions can be too hard and fast, too black and white, and can be a means of setting ourselves up to fail because they don’t take account of circumstances beyond our control and don’t allow us to take babysteps or even missteps. We can’t always live up to our own high expectations, and once we miss that gym session or we are pressed to have a celebratory glass of wine, or we can’t cope with the craving for bacon, that’s it, we’ve failed, so we may as well give up and revert to our previous lifestyle.
I do, however, like to reflect and take stock. To see what worked and what didn’t. To look at relationships and my part in them. To make adjustments. But also to give thanks and acknowledge my achievements. I try to learn a new skill every year: this year I took over my mum’s affairs, something I never thought I would manage, and added rock painting to my creative interests.
I also like to express hopes and intentions, send healing thoughts out to the universe and ask for support, not just for myself, but for all those struggling in difficult times.
For many, the planet has seemed slightly off-kilter this past year, not just politically or economically, but, for those around me, health and welfare issues have dominated our concerns. For me, I know that this year will be a significant one concerning my elderly mum and also a much younger family member coping with a terrible disease. It is difficult to watch loved ones suffer and not be able to take away the pain and the confusion, restore the memories fast disappearing, or provide enough support for those doing the hands-on caring, and in particular for the children of a sick parent.
I have friends who are caring for 3 parents in various stages of dementia as well as serious physical conditions. They themselves are suffering physically from the exertions of lifting, cleaning, cooking, driving back and forth and being called out in the middle of the night, all while working full-time jobs and looking after their own children. My heart goes out to them and I feel bad that I can’t ease their burden. I worry about them.
I have to remind myself periodically that I do what I can. I am here to listen to their worries. I check up on them regularly. I offer advice and information when I can see where something might help. I lend equipment to ease back pain. I give treats. And that’s all we can do: do what we can. If we all do what we are able, then that is all we can ask of ourselves and everyone will benefit.
Of course, this applies to our new resolutions, our goals, as well. If we do what we can at this stage in our lives, and we do better as we move forward, then we should be proud of our efforts. As the tag line on my Home Page says: You did then what you knew how, when you know better, you do better. (Maya Angelou). There are bound to be times when Life conspires to make things extra tough and we weaken, but that’s ok, it’s human, it’s not a reason to give up. We reflect on what’s occurred, the possible reasons why, acknowledge them and begin again. No recriminations are necessary, just self-care and self-support.
Every Christmas and New Year, despite my confidence in my ability to stay on the healthy food wagon, I succumb. Not at Christmas, but at New Year. What happens is, we buy all sorts of foodstuffs we – and especially I – don’t normally consume, especially snacky things. We get them in for the teenagers in particular. We also try to find me some vegan equivalents of the foods they like: pizza, sausage rolls etc. I’m not tempted by the cake or biscuits or any sugary foods, it’s the savoury foods that get me every time. I don’t like eating them, but they are completely addictive for me. I can refrain from them all year round, they are not in the house. I rarely crave them. They make me feel heavy and uncomfortable, but once I have them, I have to have them again, and so it goes on until they are gone. I try to send much of what’s left over with them when they go home, but by then the damage is done. I put on weight easily, so by January, I am having trouble fitting into my jeans, I feel bloated and unhealthy. My energy levels have dropped.
It would be very easy to jump on the scales every morning and berate myself while comfort-eating the very things that have got me there. But I know this never works. I acknowledge what’s happened, that it is now an inevitable occurrence at this time of year. I sort out my cupboards, get rid of anything I don’t want to eat (some to the foodbank) and gradually steer myself back to what is normal for me. It’s not easy, I have always been a compulsive comfort-eater and I find January a particular challenge, having said goodbye to all my family for a while and facing the dark, cold days until the first signs of Spring. Changing my lifestyle has helped a great deal, and learning to be gentle on myself has also played a big part. (The Supergreen Smoothie recipe above will be in my next post).
Starting a juice program, doing some work on past hurts, meditating and repeating affirmations, using aromatherapy oils and decluttering my home and my mind have all been beneficial to my health and wellbeing. You can read my story in the links below. Adopting an organic and vegan lifestyle, cutting down on plastic and waste also give me a sense of contributing to the welfare of the planet, of animals and those working with toxic products. I feel proud of my efforts.
We do what we can. Everyone has their line in the sand. If we all do a little bit, we will see positive change in our own lives and in those of the people that surround us. Hopefully, we will see positive change in the way we are governed and in attitudes towards this precious planet and to all its many and diverse inhabitants.
For those of you trying to change to a more sustainable plantbased diet, looking for ways to improve health conditions or move about more, there are links below to posts that may help motivate or keep you on track.
At this point, I’d like to acknowledge the fact that at some point over the Christmas period I reached over a thousand followers. I’m not sure how this has occurred, it’s a little overwhelming to be honest. I am very grateful that you all take the time to read and comment on my posts, and for the support you give me when I’m struggling with the stresses in my life.
Over the next couple of weeks, I shall be taking a break for some much-needed rest and back treatment. I have scheduled some Monday Meditatios for while I am away, but won’t be able to reply to your comments for a while. Thank you all for reading them, they have proved quite popular and I hope I’ll be able to go on more rambles and explorations as soon as the weather (and my back) improves.
Thank you all! Be kind to yourself: look after you body, it’s the only home you have.
PS These links should help keep you out of mischief and on track while I’m away, I shall be asking questions when I return, so make sure to do your homework 😉
Copyright: Chris McGowan