Where is my Sharpie? I get to cross a Big Wish off my list today and celebrate. As of the date of this writing I am medication free. I have waited so long to say, “I do not take any prescription medication,” and now I can. I stopped taking synthetic hormones (the baby prevention kind) one week ago. I’ve been taking them for 25 years. I’ve finally—finally, after 25 years—convinced the medical establishment that I am not going to change my mind about babies. After 25 years I am finally au naturel. With that goal accomplished my new goal is to see how long I can stay medication free. How far into middle age (or beyond) I can make it without any new medications? That sounds easy in theory but the reality is that I’ve created a lot more work for myself. I no longer take a pill every day but now I have to track, trend, and journal everything I do and consume indefinitely.
I have to keep a food journal. I have to track hydration, calories, protein, nutrients, cholesterol, yada yada yada—every meal, every snack, every day. I have to keep a sleep journal tracking sleep time, wake time, dreams/nightmares, sleep hygiene (that’s not what you think). A 28-day cycle journal (you know the one). I have to track weight loss/gain. I have to journal my exercise. I have to journal a list of physical symptoms (should I have them). I have to track mood/emotional changes (should I have them). Caffeine and alcohol intake. Stress and fatigue levels. Sex romps (should I have them). Inactivity (yeah, right). Basically every life function I have gets documented. All because I wanted to stop taking a tiny pill every day. I traded four seconds per day for all this work, plus bloodwork in a month.
Why? Because getting off the medication was the easy part. You just stop putting it in your mouth. The hard part will be staying off. Many women get to the other side of post-medication reality and say Oh my glob! Put me back on! This is horrible! I intend to stay off despite the realities. My best chance to face the expected and unexpected changes looming right around the 30-day withdrawal mark is to have a baseline and data with which to work. It might be fine. It might be a nightmare. It might be a little of both. It’s impossible to tell but it is not impossible to be prepared. Hence the biological database. Wellness by the numbers. All the numbers.
There is only one way to accept this as less than the massive pain in the ass that it represents. I have to reframe my perspective to consider this part of my wellness practice. I have to shift my thinking to view each of these tasks as a tool in my wellness arsenal rather than an obligation. These are not consequences so much as they are new opportunities. All those “have to track/have to journal” statements up there get changed to “I now mindfully record” statements. I have to I get to notice my life now—every aspect of it—and make note of how I’m living it. Every action I mindlessly plow through on a daily basis gets transformed. Each action is now an opportunity to observe and learn the habits that directly affect my wellness, which makes the journaling an interactive part of my practice instead of a chore.
Perspective directly affects wellness, my friends, and perspective is a choice. I can choose gratitude for a new method of studying and amplifying my wellness rather than resentment for the time and effort it will require. It’s already working. This morning when I rolled out of bed before dawn to get my cleaning done so that I can run tomorrow morning, I felt that shift occur. My thoughts moved away from grumpy grumbling to This task enables my run tomorrow; this is part of my practice. From there I was able to move toward This task makes my home a pleasing place to rest; cleaning it is part of my practice. Before long it was This early hour frees up my time at the end of the day when my body and mind will be tired; mindful scheduling is part of my practice.
Those seven words are my magic mantra: This is part of my practice. It acknowledges that the choices I make in my own self-interest will probably feel like work (or more work) because wellness is ongoing work. There is no finish line. Every day that I have the gift of life is a day I have a responsibility for that life. It is lived as well or as poorly as I support it with my practice. Taking the time to log the glass of water I just finished? Yes. Measuring the portions packed in my lunch today? Yes. Adjusting my perspective to support the work required to take my wellness to a new level? Yes. Writing a blog post as an affirmation? An act of celebration? A possible inspiration (that can’t happen if I don’t put it out there)? Oh hell yes.