12 May 2014

Now Is My Time #19: Four Month Progress Report

It's been four months since I kicked off Now Is My Time, a personal initiative to focus on taking great care of myself this year and giving myself every opportunity I can to grow and have more joy in life.

It's been a epic year so far. I have learned so much in my exploratory journey. My coach has helped me to see my life through a different lens. I feel much more able to look at my life and see it in new ways that are more helpful to me, more kind to myself and more energizing. I thought I'd share a few things that I have either learned or have come into clearer perspective since I started Now Is My Time 2014.

1. I've recognized that a lot of things I've judged myself harshly for in the past I had no control over. I was carrying around guilt and metaphorical rocks in my backpack about things that weren't my responsibility to make happen or to fix. What a nice relief!

I did the best I could do in the situation, with good intent every time. You never know enough to make perfect decisions and even if you could that doesn't mean everything would always work out the way you want or think it should.

2. I've learned to separate myself from the emotions of some situations in my life, look at them practically and make choices that best serve who I am and my gut instincts. That means that I do what I think is right overall in the situation, not what I think others will want, or something that doesn't serve me as well as everyone else.

3. I am continuing to learn to be diligent about self-care. I have learned that when we are taking care of ourselves conversations about how exhausted we are, how frustrated we are, how busy we are, how we don't have time for ourselves go out the window. God gave us this body and this life to manage. Everything else is external. Our job is to make the most of this creation he gave us stewardship over. When we put others first all the time we greatly disrespect His gift. The health of our body, mind and soul suffers.

For me self-care is about scheduling my time to do things that bring me joy, about feeding my soul and my body a healthy diet, saying no sometimes, drinking enough water, getting enough sleep, and removing myself from situations where I am getting too worn out.

4. I am learning to hone my voice. I used to be a big conflict avoider. Not so much anymore, but this year I feel a new confidence that I have learned how to deal with conflict in an upfront, empowered way that makes me feel comfortable. I have found ways to stop situations I feel are inappropriate, I have rejected commentary that I believe is ill-informed or unhelpful, and I have listened to my own truth before listening to others opinions. I am learning to use my unique voice and take a stand more often, and very importantly, to do it in my own way.

5. I have made a regular habit of taking time for myself. I meditate, I meet with friends, I find quiet alone time, I plan little adventures. I read more, I take time to look at favorite books and magazines, I write. I'm on chapter twenty of a novel I started writing last year that I love. Whether anything comes of it, it's a fantastic journey and I love slipping away for an hour or two into the world of my writing.

And guess what? Taking that time for myself has not caused me to fall down on the job in my duties to home and family and my life. I prioritize better when I know I can do something I love. I am happier when I take care of myself and my family likes me better I think when I am more energized and lively and less tired, pale and rundown.

6. I have become more comfortable in my skin. I am so much more at ease with myself. If things bother me I have learned skills to quickly figure out what the problem is, how I want to proceed in resolving it or how to just let it go. I am more forgiving and accepting of myself. I see more the good things I strive to do every day rather than focusing too much on the wee little things that might not go as smoothly as I'd hoped or that I didn't get quite right. That's a big journey to give yourself real acceptance. But man, does it feel good.

7. Loving myself more allows me to be more generous and understanding of others. I am able to acknowledge that I am doing the best I can and I am doing a lot of really great things. We all are. We all have our weaknesses and challenges in life. When I am kind and gentle with myself I have more of that to extend to those around me. I have more energy to offer acceptance, love and kindness to my fellow human beings. When we are mean and judgmental of ourselves we tend to take that out on other people.

8. I am more relaxed. After several very intense years filled with nearly constant challenges I needed to dial down my stress level. We had been in crisis-mode for so long and I realized I really needed to turn it off or down or something! While life is still full of some pretty big challenges I think my heart rate and anxiety level have plummeted to much healthier levels. I would say it's been a well-rounded attack on that front: exercise, more sleep, better perspective, meditation, etc. It's also been very conscious because I did not want to have my stomach in knots every day. So happy to not feel like that all the time any more.

9. I have more energy. My energy level has gone up so much. I do a lot of things every week. But I also try to be very conscious of my energy. If I'm feeling great I go for it and do all I can that I want to do. If I can feel it's a lower energy week, I let it be just that. I think my friend Kelly for teaching me that it's okay to go with the flow of your body. Life is really fun during the high energy weeks, I sneak in a lot of things that make me happy. When it's a lower energy week, I find it every restorative to slow down, nurture self and rest more.

I'm also sneaking in sleep where and when I can. That may mean I take a nap as soon as I get back from school drop off for a while. Other times I might sneak a nap before dinner time. A rested me is a better, happier me so I think it's also really a gift for my family for me to rest whenever I can and need to.

10. I am enjoying life on a much higher level. I can feel I am more able to enjoy my life because I am doing more things that make a happy life. I am cutting back in areas where I don't need to push, strive or try as hard and putting that energy into places that are of higher priority and make my life and my family's life better. I am embracing self-care and being more present for happy, peaceful moments -- not thinking about what I "need to" or "should" be doing. I know that where I am at is what I should be doing and I try to be in that moment. I am more relaxed, more positive, look sunnier, feel like I have more to offer myself and others, and feel more positive about every day. I like myself and my life a lot more and nothing much has changed externally. Instead it has been internal things, my perspective, how I choose to control the use of my time and my attitude that have so powerfully altered my life. Good stuff.

The year is already one-third over, which is really hard to believe. But as far as I've come in the first four months, I am really excited to see what I'll be able to achieve in the next eight months of my Now Is My Time year. It's clear to me that focusing on my well-being has taken nothing away from any other part of my life. It has only enriched it all. Choosing to make this year my Now Is My Time year has been one of the best decisions I have ever made.

Want to get caught up on the Now Is My Time initiative? Want to join in? It's not too late. You can find all the posts here.

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