Without further ado, please enjoy today’s guest post from our friend Betsy!
It’s official. It is January 5th and ten days ago I reached Resolution Overload. Now that’s a pretty easy place for me to reach because I loathe Best of lists and Best of TV shows and Year in Review articles and news stories and Top 50 lists. I also quite despise New Year’s Resolutions and I go out of my way to NOT contemplate my life or my past actions at this time of year. But I tend to be contrary so this should not come as a shock to anyone.
But just because I don’t spend this time of the year assessing what I did or didn’t do during the previous 12 months and thinking what will be in the coming ones, doesn’t mean that I’m not striving to live a healthy life, or that I don’t have New Year’s rituals. I am and I do. While most people are drafting their list of resolutions, I’m preparing my home and mind for the New Year by purging the junk and unused stuff from the drawers, cupboards, closets and cubbies of my home all the while repeating this: “I’m cleaning out the closets of my mind.”
Yeah. That’s right. I clean out my closets, cupboards and drawers annually. But it gets worse: some years I’ve been known to do this every six months. I’m a bit of a neat freak and down on clutter, so when the drawers of my home are stuffed full and the cupboards are unorganized my mind gets muddled and I find it challenging to get stuff done and focus my energies outward.
You can always tell when I’m stressed out or not processing my emotions because I physically manifest that stuff by letting the house get messy. And that only serves to bring me further down and seek further hiding from my feelings by taking shelter amidst the piles of magazines, mail, receipts, laundry, and cluttered drawers.
So purging the house of clutter, and repeating my mantra, is my healthy living New Year’s ritual for tossing out the old and making way for the new, both physically and emotionally. I find comfort in sorting through the utensil drawer and getting the numerous spatulas, eggbeaters and cheese graters neatly reordered. And I know for a fact that I breathe more easily once I’ve purged the only-worn-once-in-the-past-year clothes from my drawers and closets. If I haven’t worn it, into the donation pile it goes.
This annual purge leads to discoveries. Like just the other day as I was stuffing clean towels into the linen closet and they were toppling out onto my head, I discovered that we have 17 sets of bath towels. That’s 17 body towels, hand towels and washcloths for two people. Huh. That struck me as a bit excessive so I selected a few sets to donate, stacked up the older ones to move to the garage for car washing, and the really old, ratty car wash towels were relegated to the status of “rag.”
This excess of towels got me thinking about how many duplicates I have tucked away in my emotional self-sabotage toolkit. How many ways of talking myself down do I have at my disposal? How many thoughts of my not being worthy are lurking in my mind ready to leap to the forefront of my consciousness the moment I’m feeling good about myself? How many ways to stop myself from trying something new are stashed away in my devious mind ready to unleash them when I say yes to FitHub’s camping invitation?
Yeah, there are way too many of them to count and that depressed me and since I don’t like being depressed I turned that around and asked myself, “How many duplicates do I have tucked away in my emotional self-care toolkit?” An extended silence followed but as I continued sitting there amongst the piles of towels I began to hear a quiet, tentative voice repeating, “I am worth the effort! Go me! I am a strong, beautiful woman! I am healthy and happy!” And the more I paid attention to this small voice, the louder it grew and the stronger and more assured of myself I felt.
Naturally, this led me to another thought: I am what I focus on. Hardly a revelation but it is one I repeatedly forget. I get back what I put out. If I dwell on the fat, lazy me I will remain fat and lazy. If I focus on the chocolate, I will eat the chocolate. Whereas if I focus on the strong, determined me – I will be strong and determined. If I focus on the carrots – I will crave the carrots. (Who am I kidding? I’ll still crave the chocolate but I’ll eat the carrots instead.)
So you see all of this cleaning and organizing of stuff, also serves to clean and organize my mind and spirit. And without this cleaning and organizing of stuff and mind and spirit I would find it more difficult to focus on my other healthy living habits like eating balanced meals, exercising, choosing activities that make me move my body, and making time for myself. So for me healthy living is more than an exercise plan and diet, and this annual purging serves to maintain a level of sanity in my home so the remainder of the year I can focus on my body and mind. Now it’s time for me to put away the towels and tackle the kitchen cupboards. I wonder what I will discover?
How about you? Is your self-sabotage toolkit better stocked than your self-care toolkit? If so, what will you do to turn that around? Do you think healthy living is just about exercise and diet, or does it extend into all aspects of your life?