I don't completely know the answer but I do know that 2019 was a year that went faster for me, than any year previously. It hit me when I was putting up my Christmas tree in December when I stopped for a moment and felt like I was exactly where I was a year before. Standing in the same place, experiencing some of the same struggles, appreciating the same gifts in my life and wondering if a year actually zipped by or if I was still standing in the year 2018. Honestly, during that very moment I had to take a step back to ask myself if I had truly lived in the moment in 2019 or if I had been focusing on just getting through each moment to be able to get on to the next; rushing life by.
Life is busy. I know. It becomes our self fulfilling prophecy if we are not careful. Do we want to be so "busy" that our year passes us by and makes us question if we are actually in the same year or in another year completely? Or do we preach about living in the moment but we can't seem to catch a breath between everything we absolutely have to get done?
Think back for a moment. Where were you 10 years ago, or even better 20 years ago?
During the moment of me writing this blog entry, where was I 20 years ago? Well it was Jan 2000. I was almost a year into my university career. I was living with my fiance (at that time) in a house that we bought together and he was working full time, I was working part-time while also practice teaching and studying for my bachelor of arts in Psychology and my bachelor of education; simultaneously. Little did I know that our relationship would end exactly a year later. I was commuting 75 kms to university each way on a 8 lane highway (that I still don't like traveling much when I have to)...but back then I did it daily. On my drive home, I would imagine my routines when I would get home (let's just say they were not very healthy routines). I would envision the cola being poured over the ice in my glass as it became a habit each day to drink a whole can of coke, my mouth used to water like Pavlov's dogs at the thought of it (thank goodness I kicked that terrible habit in 2001). Next, I imagined myself watching a soap opera or talk show and then I would make dinner only to watch more TV with my fiance. Bedtime. Then repeat the routine the next day. As you can imagine I wasn't a very happy person at that time. Bad habits and multiple negative thoughts became my identity. I loved my cats like they were my children but I wasn't living in gratitude and I was far from living in the moment. I was in survival mode most of all. This was my first crack at "living in the real world" with real world expenses, clearly it wasn't that way for long as it all came crashing down a year later.
Why go back in time for a moment? Because chances are we all have old habits that we broke or started decades ago. We've learned a lot since then. Hopefully you are further ahead today, but some of us may have simply repeated the same decade twice since then. Looking back on where we came from can have an impact on us in either a positive or a negative way. We don't live in the past, but the past has helped to shape us. Back then, I know that I didn't live in the moment. I hadn't learned about personal growth & I was living the habits that I had created, only to keep doing them day after day. I took my fiance for granted and assumed he would always be right there beside me to embrace me for all my quirks and also accept me even with my bad habits I had created for myself. Perhaps we created those bad habits together...it is likely common for spouses to not only take one another for granted but to also go through life feeding off one another's habits (good or bad). We are the sum of the 5 people we spend the most time with, so we can often take on other people's habits even when we don't realize it is happening.
So what makes this year any different? Well time is still going fast, but what I realized recently is that when we allow routines and busy schedules to be the excuse for so much that we may be missing...especially "I have no time for self care" excuses or "I have no time to be present with my children each day". When we do this we are missing the point for what living is. And I personally have a lot more to learn and a long way to go, but baby steps are making a massive shift for me already in the first few weeks of a new decade. My hope is that you are also mindful of the changes that you have the power to make to improve your own quality of life.
Even with the schedule, the kids sports, my husband's work schedule, my business calls and appointments and so much more, I've had to recommit to what I promised that I would do last year (that I didn't)...self care and being in the moment!
Yup, that is it...without self care, we drain our own battery and when this happens, we have little left to give our loved ones or anyone else. We can grow resentful of others, we can create stories that don't serve us and we can push the very people that we love, away.
If we are not in the moment, we let the moment slip by and this can often become a time when we say, "I don't even remember how that massage felt because I was talking the whole time or I was too much in my head thinking about what is next after the massage is over" or "I don't remember you saying that to me" because when my child spoke to me, I was trying to multitask to get it all done (ex. return the text from a business partner, while getting dinner started).
We all have so much going on, but something that remains true...this busy time in our lives will eventually be replaced with silence. Some days I beg for silence. We likely all do at some point. But today I was reminded by a friend who has kids that are off to post secondary school...that in a flash, our kids grow up, our schedules change almost without warning. The hustle and bustle that makes our years fly by, stops in a heartbeat. Boom, just completely stopped. This can be hard. Very hard and I haven't gone through it yet, but I know that I will. Without rushing things and without worrying about the future, I have simply decided to be better today.
Obviously I am writing this as a parent for parents, but we can all take something from this even for those who do not have children. What are you doing for self care? Are you actually staying in the moment as much as you can?
Being mindful of this can help, but it isn't everything because with all habits, we can easily slip into the old thinking, the old routines that have us rushing on to the next thing. One day we can be aware and in the moment and the next day can catch us off guard and we didn't remain in the moment once.
Today, I had a bit of time (self-care time), as before any flight I take I like to reflect and take time to appreciate those I love and care about. (clearly I took a bit of time to write this too). Today I am reminded of just how lucky that I am. January 2020 has started out a whole lot better than January 2000 did. I have been very conscious of my age, my strength, my health, my marriage and my children's well being. These are a few things I've been able to successfully incorporate into my daily routines and as I do these, perhaps these are areas that you wish to focus on in the next decade too. They are in no particular order.
- Fitness every single day (no excuses). Coming from a person who hasn't enjoyed working out since the 1990s, this is a BIG deal. I've removed all barriers. No gym membership required. No fancy gym set up in my basement. Just 20-30 minutes of dedication to myself to get my heart-rate up and my muscles engaged. I do a variety of workouts from HIIT to strength training to "fight-club" to yoga and stretching, cardio and so much more variety. I love that I've found something that keeps changing it up daily. (I also feel grateful that I've found pre, during and post workout products that help me stay on track without making it hard to walk after each workout)
- Quality time with my kids. This is always a work in progress because as their needs change, I do my best to roll with it. Reading with my kids, giving them foot, head or back massages, having solid bedtime routines has become a great way to end our days. I stopped forcing myself to get on business calls in the evening so that I can be 100% focused on them. I am also incorporating "quality time together" days. Having 3 children all around the same age can be great, but also kids can become competitive with wanting quality time. So once per month, having quality time with one child at a time is the goal. Being in the moment 100% of that time is also key. No texting, scrolling, phoning during this time we will schedule each month.
- Technology for my kids. Well 20 years ago I wasn't attached to a cell phone that could be a window to the world at any time of day or night. I am pretty sure you were not either. I do believe that technology advancements are great and at the same time it can be our nemesis. We become addicted to it. It comes before other things at times. We get texts and we think we have to look at them immediately even if we are in a deep conversation with someone else. How "in the moment" is that? Since the end of 2019 our youngest (8 years old) hasn't had access to any wireless device. Her brain is developing right now and from some research I've done lately, I am finding that there is no real benefit to her having access to that device on a daily basis. There are far more interesting and healthy things she can be doing to explore her world without the need for technology being available anytime. My other two children who are older do have a bit of access - as many of their projects in school require them to be researching online and submitting assignments online. But their reach has become much smaller. They don't have endless hours of access to online games and videos like they did last year. And you know what, they stopped begging for it. It is no longer a habit for any of them.
- Technology for me. (and my husband). 8:00pm comes around and my technology is off. Airplane mode, no wifi allowed for me past that time and what a great gift. You see in 2019 I got into the habit of playing "brain" games on my phone while I was shutting down for the night. When I wasn't playing games I would go to google and see the news headlines that I "subscribed to" in order to catch up on what was going on in the world. I would not get off until 9:30 or 10 at times and then I would roll over and try to go to sleep. Nope, not this year. A few years ago I was in such a great habit of getting off technology and would read something inspiring or motivational (personal growth) before I would go to bed. That was when my mindset was so strong, I was happy and thriving. The "playing games or reading the news" was clearly NOT best for my brain before bed...because now I am 3 weeks in of getting back to reading amazing books before bed and turning wifi off by 8:00pm and I can say I am sleeping a whole lot better and I feel more refreshed. Some nights I also enjoy a hot bath with lavender with my book (and once again I have many books on the go at once, because it depends what I am in the mood to read each night - right now it is between the book Becoming Supernatural by Dr. Joe Dispenza, or Nothing Changes until you do by Mike Robbins; among a few others.
- Self care commitments - I've returned to getting chiropractor adjustments and massages this month and I continue to get my osteopath appointments monthly too. Getting to the float tank will be on the agenda after my flight and I plan to get back to that each and every month as I move forward. Taking my vitamins and supplements (my absolute fav being Isagenesis), are also on my agenda for this year and eating right 80% of the time is always my goal.
- Among the self care improvements, something I've realized is that alcohol isn't great for my body. Through the summer last year I drank a lot more often than I'd like to admit and I also gained a lot more weight through that time. Every time I drank any alcohol through Christmas vacation last month, I realized how horrible it made me feel. Even one glass of wine with dinner would make me feel unwell and my heart seemed to do weird things. I enjoyed some drinks with friends on New Year's Eve, but I quickly found myself almost wasting a day in bed to recover...so on Jan 1st I decided to try to go a month without a drop of alcohol. And here were are on Jan 20th and I am feeling better than ever. I may not ever need a drink again. Not saying I didn't enjoy a drink now and then socially, but aside from it bringing me out of my shell a bit, there was no real benefit. To drink socially is normal - it was my normal and as I make this new decade my healthiest yet, I am really focused on making a new normal. Some moments are harder than others, because in really social situations it is much easier for me to have a drink or two to take the edge off...so I know I may come up against some social moments when I believe having a drink would be the easy way to cope with something social, but for anyone reading this today, thanks for helping me know that being myself without alcohol is ok too, even if it feels really awkward for me or for you at first.
- Date night - this is something my husband and I get really great at and then sometimes months go by and we've let it slip again. Once per week is the goal, but minimum 1 time per month. Happy to report we managed to get one in last weekend with some friends.
We are all a work in progress and when we embrace where we have been, when we recognize where we are and we look forward with ambition and awe for where we are heading...all while remaining grateful for all of it...we can remind ourselves to slow down enough to be in the moment as much as we can be - even throughout the chaos of life.
Don't let another year fly by where you ask yourself, "why and how did that year go so fast...did I blink or did I live?" The gift about life is living. Loving, living and being able to say, I felt that, I experienced that, I enjoyed that and I am living each moment and choosing each moment, without rushing to the next one.