Do you do this? I sell myself short sometimes. I look at my life and feel I’m spinning my wheels, making no headway, then pessimism and defeat settle in. I feel a little less worthy and the downward spiral bores into the ground, rooting into hopelessness. Crazy, right? But why steamroll myself this way? I wish I knew. But recently, when a high school friend posted a photo of a (very young & very skinny) me on Facebook back from my days coaching cheerleaders, I decided to pick up my metaphorical pom-poms and be my own pep squad. 2-4-6-8! Who do we APPRECIATE?!
My quest to restore buoyancy begins with a small exercise injected into my daily routine – I simply review the day and list what I completed. Usually I do this in my head (washed the dishes, finally wrote a blog post, called my sister, saved the world, didn’t eat the whole bag of cookies…), but occasionally I’ll write it down, especially when the mental list doesn’t offer quite the satisfaction I’m after. Actually putting it on paper makes for a longer list, because writing it out is more of a commitment (and damn! Doesn’t the page looks more impressive the fuller it is?) I include more than just mundane errands and the requisite household tasks – I’ll jot new insights, flesh out story ideas and add smiley faces and exclamation marks. (It’s hard to deny the uplifting nature of drama and silliness, particularly when colorful markers are employed.)
When I’m feeling really dejected – stuck in first gear with my tires spitting mud while the ruts only get deeper – I stop and look for a higher view. Maybe a few months back, or even a couple years, and I check out the scenery since then. What I see never fails to surprise and delight. I’ve been amazed by distances I’ve traveled both geographically and in the landscape of imagination. Try it – think back to a point in time and take inventory of where you were and what you were doing. Marvel at how far you’ve come. We are not the same people we once were. We’re better. Stronger. Wiser.
What I’ve learned is to be more aware of my current state, to see with clarity – the situation is almost always better than I think it is. Now, even before I start to dip below sea level, I head myself off at the pass by taking stock, and appreciating not just what I have, but also what I’ve accomplished, both in large and small ways.
So as I head into this fresh year, this new decade, I’m taking time to review my accomplishments from 2010:
- I created OFF~PEAK, to explore and develop my voice and writing skills, and to target future goals with you at my side, dear readers.
- I committed more fully to nurturing my friendships, after a few too many years of sequestering myself.
- After almost 25 years, I moved on from the restaurant business – while I still enjoyed it. (The secret to a long life is knowing when it’s time to go.)
- I ate more green, leafy vegetables and less meat.
- I drank more water, and less alcohol and caffeine.
- I donated substantially to causes I believe in, using my money as a tool to align myself with who I am and what my values are.
- The Great Midwest Road Trip! I saw jaw-dropping miles of cornfields; visited great architectural sites like Columbus, Indiana, the skyline of Chicago, and the unsurpassed splendor of Fallingwater; operated one of the locks on the Mississippi River; and met a quirky cast of characters, including a roadside BBQ chef who taught me to roll down the windows and let my hair and spirit fly.
- I trusted my intuition. I listened to my gut. I believed in myself.
- I purged material belongings that were weighing me down and holding me back. A LOT of things.
- I cultivated my creativity.
- I moved, on a whim, to Maine: 6 weeks from inception to arrival. I call that Life Flexibility.
And more than any other entry on that list, I transformed how I define myself. I am a Writer now, and the most content I’ve ever been. I can’t wait to check in this time next year and see how far 2011 takes me!
And you? I would love to hear your peaks and proud moments…bet there’s more than you think.