“You can’t take the sky from me.” – Joss Whedon
I spent the first week of 2017 with a horrible virus that left me house bound and feeling very sorry for myself. If you are anything like me, you struggle to think clearly or positively when you aren’t well. It colours everything with a horrible shade of blue. You have little clarity or perspective. So you have to be aware of that and remind yourself that your negative view point when you feel like that is coming from the over shadowing illness and not your own mind. And it is important to remind yourself you will be thinking more like yourself again when you are feeling back to normal and back to health.
I had been so looking forward to spending that week contemplating my plans and dreams for the year, allowing myself to ease into the year slowly, to do things I like doing and generally feel like I was getting a head start on myself. But that never happened. So last week was my first week of 2017, that’s how I was treating it anyway. Yes I still felt a little behind, and have sorely neglected social media as well as other commitments I should have worked on. But I didn’t want to start the year the way I ended the last one, in a rush. This whirlwind will creep up on you if you aren’t careful and you will be so caught up in the race, the rush, that you won’t even realise it. In times like that, when I get too caught up, too busy, I lose all insight, I am flustered and probably dampening my creativity, it is not a good place to be. Being busy has become something to strive for in our hectic modern world. It is the true entrepreneurs, the real innovative thinkers that have realised that being busy doesn’t necessarily mean being more productive, and most definitely does not mean being happier . They have learnt to harness their own pattern, their own balance and find what works for them, often being more productive in a lot less time.
So to put a positive spin on my poor start to the year, it was in some ways the best way to start a new year. A slap in the face reminder to not ever take my health for granted. Physical, and mental, health. And to shine a light on how precious it is to be healthy 95% of the time. It has also led me to my main focus for the year, my year of ultimate health. I call it so, as I would say I am pretty healthy already. I take care of myself, eat well, I like to exercise, I try to sleep well and meditate. However, I have a lot of space for improvement, and have possibly become somewhat complacent with my health and fitness. And I realise how much it can impact every area of your life, every area of you. I want to be strong. I want to feel strong. I do not agree with diets, they are quick fix, short term, solutions, but I do believe in changing or adjusting habits and your lifestyle, for life. I am only a week in, but so far I have introduced what will hopefully become my new habits, I won’t bore you with the details, but I am feeling motivated and excited about my new challenges.
I actually love January, I know a lot of people don’t, but I really do feel like it is a clean slate, a fresh start, to think about what worked and what didn’t work the previous year, and to try and re-align what your priorities are, what you want, who you are, who you would like to be, what you would like to do. It is a good time to think about what is important to you and put that first. Make it a priority if you can. Don’t let that light go out. If you have a light on at all, you are one of the lucky ones, and the world can’t afford to lose you.
In everyone’s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being.We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit. – Albert Schweitzer
One thing I can personally reflect on from last year was that I realised I may in fact be a “people pleaser”. I think a lot of people are, whether they are aware of it or not. I hate the thought of someone not liking me, I don’t like to let people down, and I generally aim to impress. This realisation hit me in a big way, and it has definitely started to change how I think and how I make decisions. If I am doing something mainly to please someone else, I have to question why do it in the first place. I am not talking about helping others, that, in my head, is completely separate and I will always try to make time for that. But doing something, and straying down a tangent because you think it is what someone else wants you to do, doesn’t tend to serve you. So this year, I also aim to care a little less what other’s think. To not be side tracked by what someone else may see for my future. And instead to focus on where my own ideas, dreams, and priorities lie.
In order to have the strength of mind to stay true to you and what it is you want to do, you have to work on keeping your cup filled up. Keep your self filled up. Make time and head space to do the things that keep you physically and mentally strong. Sleep enough. Eat enough, of the right stuff. Exercise. Spend time outside. Spend time with people that lift you up. With people you love. Make time for doing what you love. Make space in your life for it. Only when you have this, can you help fill others up. Love yourself first and your world, and the world of those around you, will open up.
All of this, to me, comes down to getting to know yourself. Building an awareness of your mind, your body, and your heart. Only by trying to understand yourself, and spending time doing so, can you then understand what you really want. And what you need in order to keep your fire ablaze. I think I am some sort of weird introverted extrovert, (apparently most people are a combination of the two and it is very rare to be completely introverted or extroverted, most people have sides of both – this amazing TED talk talks about the importance of introverts) because I know now that I need quite a lot of time by myself, but I also need time with other people. I get energy both ways. It is a delicate balance. I thrive off meeting new people. And, to be honest, at times can be quite comfortable being the centre of attention, or the one keeping the dance floor busy at a subdued wedding. But if I have been running from place to place and taking on more work than I can manage, and have had no time to process it all, and be alone, I will be useless around people, I will have nothing to offer. However, if I have had time to do all the things I know feed me, I will try and give what I have away, I will try and share my energy, I love to make people laugh, or inspire them or show them the light if they are at that time struggling to see it. Which brings me to how much I also need those close to me. Only they really get to seem me when I do feel weak, and burnt out, and incredibly vulnerable. When I have lost all direction and am not myself. They help pick me up and I hope I can do the same for them whenever they may need it.
“Your spirit does not shine when the sun shines and your life is comfortable. It shines when darkness swallows you and you cannot breathe for the strangle of fear. That’s when what was invisible becomes undeniable.” – Toni Sorenson
When I started to feel a bit better again last week, and a bit more myself, I decided in order to help guide and remind me of my ‘year of ultimate health’, I would do a new illustration which tried to encapsulate what that meant to me. I started with one that was similar to the photo below, a very restorative, meditative, pose. Which I do value, a lot. However, when I started the drawing, something didn’t feel right, it wasn’t working. Which is why I went on with the illustration at the start of this post, which started to make more sense as I was creating it, it felt right. When I am in a good routine of doing yoga every day, I try to do a ‘difficult’ pose, a challenging pose, within my practice, doing so makes me feel strong. There are a lot of yoga poses that are only possible with physical and mental strength, not only to get into the pose, but also the strength to dedicate your mind and body to practicing it, to give yourself time to practice it, day in day out, and to realise that there is no rush, no one to compete with, but that it will happen, if you give a little every day, every week, you will get there. And this, makes me feel strong, confident, and ready to take on challenges outside of my yoga mat as well as on it. So this is my symbolic illustration for the year. Not to mention the burning ‘sun’ in the background, (I call it the sun, but this is a metaphor as I would never attempt to capture something as vast and powerful as the sun itself in an illustration) this is my fire, this is your fire, this is the thing inside you that you need to work on keeping lit. If you let it go out you will have an even longer struggle to get it lit again.
I encourage you to get to know yourself, get to know where your priorities lie, and from there take action on what you want, what you need, from this year. This is a good time to do it before things start to get too fast, too busy, and you have lost any sight or direction for yourself. And if that leads you to decide to work on letting yourself shine, working on being the best version of you, and trying to stay with that fire every single day, and help others to find and follow their fire, then that, in my opinion, is an honourable, and positive start to the year.
“The human spirit is stronger than anything that can happen to it” – C.C.Scott
A belated Happy New Year everyone, from a rejuvenated Holly.