Note: This post is the third post of a year-long series that you can read more about at the end of this post.
March was one of the best months I’ve had in a long, long time. But to be honest, even coming off of a good February, this surprised me. I wasn’t expecting it mainly because my 25th birthday was in March, and birthdays (especially “big” ones) always makes me kind of emotional, leaving me with a week or two of that childhood day-after-Christmas feeling. Birthdays force you to reflect on the passing of time in a very real way. Most years, I’ve spent the weeks after my birthday reflecting on the inevitability of not achieving certain goals. The weight I didn’t lose, the workouts I missed, the money I didn’t save, the trips I was supposed to plan but didn’t. But this year was markedly different. I was different.
While February was my month focused on the non-goal goal of reigniting my passion for cooking and food that makes me feel my best, I went into March with one non-goal goal: to really, fully take care of myself. In past years, this would be tied to numerical commitments I make to myself, writing down in a diary somewhere: 3 workouts a week, 1 cheat meal a week, 2 face masks a week, 5 pounds lost a week. But in March I forced myself to ignore all of that, and instead made myself do things differently. First thing: I forced myself to go to the dentist. I’d been avoided it for two-and-a-half years, and was convinced I had 24 cavities or a root canal headed my way and quick. The longer I waited to schedule an appointment, the more anxiety it gave me and the more I didn’t want to go. But I knew I should. So I pushed myself a bit, found a dentist who seemed cool, and went. I am proud to report I am cavity free and no root canals are on my horizon. But even if that wasn’t the case, it felt damn good to prioritize myself and do something good for myself that wasn’t related to eating or working out. I walked out of that dentist office feeling confident and powerful. I realize this sounds utterly ridiculous, but the thing is that doing good things for yourself feels good. It’s like the universe has reminded you that you are in control of making yourself feel proud.
After that, I wasn’t sure what my next self-care step would but, but going to the dentist after gave me the confidence to make steps to take care of myself in other ways. I made a slightly belated yearly check-up appointments with another doctor, and did some research to find a therapist under my insurance who specializes in grief counseling. I’ve realized that the loss of my friend doesn’t affect me in the same way it used to — in many ways it’s like this evolving ball of sadness in my gut, stretching and shrinking with no real pattern I can figure out. Still, though, I have moments of anxiety that I know directly stem from that grief. And talking to someone never, ever hurts. So I figured I would run with this confidence in self-care and look up some options. Why not? Even recognizing this made me feel so proud of myself, like I was really prioritizing my soul, my heart, in real time.
Next up, I made myself go back to the gym without making myself hit a certain number of visits. I didn’t go that much at all, but separating hitting numerical goals with doing something that makes me feel good and helps my anxiety levels was actually revolutionary. It allowed me to feel good about each and every time I went instead of only framing those times as not going enough.
Finally, I really focused daily (kind of like an active, in-real-time meditation even) on a few ideas that made me feel good consistently. These are ideas that have always sort of lived at the edge of my brain — hanging on for dear life, but often moved aside for other things. This wasn’t something as concrete as making a dentist appointment or finding a therapist, but it was more me catching myself when a thought passed through my brain that made me feel great, or helped me gain perspective… especially if this idea came up more than once. Taking hold of those thoughts and ideas and really, really holding them close to me in everything I do. Reminding myself of them when I felt selfish or scared or jealous. It all sounds weird and kind of goofy maybe, but you know, it worked. Ultimately, it made me feel like I was a little more sure of what I was all about, or what I wanted to be all about; like I knew what was important to me. This is a weirdly powerful feeling. Below are the three thoughts I came back to again and again.
1. Abundance Over Scarcity
The title for this post, and this idea specifically are directly influenced by Jenna Kutcher, one of my favorite people on the internet. Jenna has a website, podcast, and business that ranges from marketing advice to photography to social media growth. But at the end of the day, when you strip away all the business stuff, the main thing she’s about is leading a passion-filled and intentional life. I love, love, love her Golddigger Podcast, and her episode about mindset shifts that helped her made a particular impact when she mentioned the idea of abundance over scarcity.
Essentially this is the idea that there is enough for everyone. There is enough success to go around. There are enough opportunities. There are enough moments of joy and happiness and fulfillment. There are enough chances to do something cool. Enough trips. Enough everything. This is the opposite of the idea of scarcity, or that there’s not enough of any of those things. That someone else’s success means there is less for you. That not everything has to happen right this second. That there is enough time, or at least there is enough time for you to carve your own path. When I find myself getting caught up in the comparison spiral, I remind myself of abundance over scarcity. There is enough. I am enough. I even taped the phrase to my computer at work — also kind of cheesy, but it helps.
2. Taking Care Of Yourself Is Not All Or Nothing — And Doesn’t Have To Be Connected To Losing Weight
This is really what March was about for me, in retrospect. Exercise is self-care. Eating well (whatever that means to you) is self-care. But so are doctors appointments. Therapy. Taking days off just to spend time with yourself (I did that for my birthday, too). None of this has to be tied to losing weight. You can simply do things that feel good for your body, mind, and soul and have that be enough. You can be proud of yourself for taking care of yourself at any weight, whether its more or less than last month. More or less than last year. You can feel powerful and worthy either way.
3. It’s Possible To Design The Life You Want
It’s easy to read this sentence and immediately dismiss it as dreamy, or silly, or even something you already know. But once you start meditating on this daily, a shift starts to happen. Everything you do is linked to a survey in your brain — did this make me happy or not? If it did, then you’re quickly figuring out how you can do more of it. Make more time for that happiness. If it didn’t, you’re figuring out how to change things so you can avoid that feeling in the future. It’s also more long-term. It’s taking stock of your life, and what you want in life, and building, slowly toward that. It’s remembering every day that you deserve it. I deserve it. So every day has become a small building block, slowly designing a life that makes me my happiest. A life that makes me more able to take sadness in stride, to take on challenges. When things don’t go my way, or I feel discouraged, or stagnant, I remember that every day is a day that I’m building something I’m proud of. And then I’m proud of that.
This year, I’m spending each month focusing on one small thing. No numerical goals. No specific bench-markers or numbers to hit. Just one small thing each month. This is month two.
Read about why I’m doing this for 2018 here (January).
Read my February recap here.