This is more important than you might think. The highlight reel represents accountability for manifesting wellness, much like keeping a food diary or a sleep journal. Putting our intentions and methods into words moves the practice of wellness forward toward reality. It’s all too easy to set an intention at the beginning of the year, throw out an idea for how to make it happen, and then let it remain exactly that–an idea.
We are surprised when we fail to affect our wellness when in truth we only devout serious attention to the idea and the end goal, giving little attention to the middle part–the work.
Journaling the practice is part of the practice. It prompts focus and initiates continued effort. It also celebrates. In a culture that perpetually reinforces that we are not good enough, that we don’t do enough, that we never have enough; celebration adds fairness to our perspective. Yes, we can be good enough. We can do plenty, and we always have enough.
Journaling the practice documents how our energy is spent and shared, leading to insights that help us make changes. When we have a clear picture of our favor and neglect we can identify which parts of the practice are not serving our desires, making it be easier to shift back into balance. This transforms a static To Do list into an interactive Why Do This? list, and the reasons we want to do things are directly relevant to our wellness.
This month I took a real vacation; something I have not done in years. This was not a stay-local-and-do-home improvements-cation, which is the fake kind of vacation I’ve taken over the last few years. You know this big lie we tell ourselves; that as long as we are away from our jobs we are technically on vacation even if we aren’t relaxing. We compound the lie by saving up big projects for a vacation week and working all the way through that week on things like painting, landscaping, ripping out old carpet, or re-tiling the bathroom. Yeah, those have been my vacations. It’s not a vacation. It’s another kind of work.
In March I took an honest-to-goodness vacation. Out of town. With play. With rest. With Ugly Dolls. A beach. Boats. Baseball games. Colombian food. Sightseeing. No work. Why do this? Because wellness suffers when we deny ourselves a complete break from our daily grinds. And don’t think I haven’t used the argument that yard work is relaxing compared to my day job. Nope. Complete rest requires a complete cessation of work, not a substitution of one kind of work for another. But I hadn’t bought a bathing suit in almost a decade so I got the joyous task of shopping for one of those. Yes, I did mean joyous to be read with sarcasm but this practice did help me shift closer to joy as I shopped.
Instead of I have to do this, I asked, Why do this? There was no way I was going to be near an ocean and not swim in it. There was no way I was going to be on a beach and not practice yoga upon it. The highlight-worthy accomplishment is that instead of choosing a bathing suit based solely upon how my body looked in it, I was chose it based upon how well I could practice yoga in it. Shifting the criteria shifted my perspective away from vanity and toward supporting my wellness. Why buy this bathing suit? So I can swim in the ocean and practice yoga on the beach. Instead of standing in front of a mirror criticizing the image I tried a few poses in the suit, which kept my mind focused on how the suit would support my wellness. I’m over 40, Assassans. Imagine shopping for a swimsuit without that edge. It made me feel supernatural. Supernatural is one of my core desired feelings.
While on vacation I went running with my Dad. We haven’t run together since I was sixteen years old. He used to come home from work and invite me run with him before dinner, either to get in shape or stay in shape for various sports leagues he played. Running together during my visit was his idea. Instead of thinking I have to get up early to run on vacation, I asked Why get up and run? Quality time connecting with a parent on the run after so many years of absence bolstered my emotional wellness far more than sleeping in. We chattered all the way through it; sharing bits and pieces of our lives 1000 miles apart. I’m glad I didn’t miss it. I also got to check off another United State in which I’ve run (an old goal, very casual), bringing me up to 26 out of 50.
With a three-hour layover in Atlanta I had a chance to see my sister. It’s been at least ten years since we’ve seen each other. There was a catch. I’d have to leave the concourse and go back through security during the morning rush. We’d already cleared security in Sarasota. All we had to do was wait out the layover and board the next flight. Have you ever seen the line at the security checkpoint at ATL? Oh my glob. My conscience is not bothering me at all to describe this line as a mile long. A mile. 5280 feet of people in front of me. And the TSA staff in ATL? Rabid. Loud. Non-accommodating. Aching for a reason to put you down.No breakfast. I generally don’t tempt fate with connections. I’d been up since 4 am. Barking drug dogs were stressing me out. The Chef fretted over adding any unnecessary complications. There were more good reasons not to do it than temptations to do it.
Why do this? To hug my sister. To allow our hearts to occupy the same space at the same time. So she could finally meet The Chef. So we could talk about a family reunion in June. So she could see the Yes in my eyes (instead of in a text message). Because there has been too much distance and silence between us and I needed to meet her halfway to break that silence. Because she needed it too. Because you don’t tell the Universe I am lonely and then blow off chances to reconnect with family. I managed a little over an hour with her in a crowded Starbucks and then back into that security line I went, cheerfully and without complaint. My wellness mattered far more than the inconvenience. It made me feel splendid. Splendid is one of my core desired feelings.
Also during the month of March I fully embraced heart rate training. I got tested. I bought a monitor. I did the math, finding the percentages and plotting my zones. I get into my zones (the easy part). I get out (the hard part) within an amount of time that will maximize cardiovascular benefits without diminishing returns. I watch my resting heart rate as closely as my active rate to be more mindful of over-training (or more specifically, under-resting). Palpitations have diminished significantly. I no longer feel like I’m going to die all the time. There is far less freaking out when I do have irregular cardiac activity. I can deal.
I managed to get my big-girl camera out once or twice as well, bringing more to the creative table, doing better what I’m already doing well. It makes me feel authentic. Authentic is one of my core desired feelings. Let us also celebrate the third consecutive month I’ve completed a 30 Day Challenge . In January we did planks every day. In February we added heel raises and bridges to the planks. In March we piled on push-ups. Tomorrow we add wall sits. I’m still going strong. Strong is one of my core desired feelings.
New wellness endeavors this month included saying Yes to a double date with strangers. It was just a casual dinner but it was a big deal since it was yet another thing that hasn’t been done in years. It made me feel generous with my time and my energy. Generous is one of my core desired feelings. In a bold stroke of adventurousness I agreed with Mr. Sassy that we should sell the canoe and get a second kayak. A kayak for me. This conquers an old fear of mine–thinking that a kayak might trap me underwater. I’m saying No to fear and Yes to the kayak. It makes me feel empowered. Empowered is one of my core desired feelings.
May your April be filled with robust wellness, my friends. Mine shall be.