As I’ve mentioned before, I’m taking on a Year of Radical Wellness for myself in 2015. It feels like a gift I’m giving to myself, as well as a challenge. I’m planning to start a program in March to get certified as a health & wellness coach through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, and that seemed like the perfect opportunity to up my game in that area as well. Each month I’ll be focusing on a different area of life that’s important to me (and probably some other humans!) and exploring wellness in that area, cleaning up that area of my own life, and handling things that I may have been putting off. I plan to share some of my discoveries, challenges, and insights here with you. As I prepared to start writing about Month 1, Dental Wellness, it occurred to me that the practice I’m taking on this year that will inform and influence all other practices is that of being more conscious and intentional. I feel like those terms are thrown about more and more often, and what do they even mean?
For me, the periods of my life that have found me in a sustained state of being conscious and intentional are those that occur directly after a big move. Jerry and I moved 8 times in 14 years post-college. So many people I’ve talked to HATE moving. I, on the other hand, kind of love it. Yes, it’s a pain to pack up all of your belongings and to hire moving companies and to live in the chaos for however long it takes to reorganize your home and life and schedule again. I now understand that moving frequently was a distraction I created for myself, and there are things that I never accomplished or even considered doing because I put so much energy into packing my stuff in boxes every 2 years. However, I also used moving as a tool. When I pack my stuff and move it, I get really intentional about whether or not I want to keep that item. And because I was looking for a new home every couple of years, I got really good at understanding what kind of home worked for us in the stage of life we were currently in. Moving to a new community (sometimes a new state or the other side of the country) challenged me to be conscious for much of the day. Before the age of GPS, every time I went to the store in a new city, I had to map my trip before leaving the house. When I moved my life from Cambridge, MA to San Diego, CA in September of 2000, even grocery shopping required a high level of awareness. Being a vegetarian and someone who puts a good amount of thought into my food choices, I had to rediscover the best (and least expensive) places to purchase the items I used on a regular basis. Some days I just wanted to scream; being conscious to do every little thing can be very uncomfortable! I dreamed of being on autopilot again. What happened during that time though is that I stretched myself and shifted my perspective and built a life in California that was created with intention and that reflected who I was as a human being at that stage of my life. So often I think we live a life that is a reflection of the past. We engage in habits or behaviors that no longer serve us simply because they’re familiar and comfortable and we’ve been doing them for “X” years, and sometimes because we’ve never been in a position where we had to consider doing things any other way. Our family or friends expect us to be a certain way, and we keep meeting their expectations. I find that I do this with my own kids if I’m not careful. Sometimes we even expect our own selves to be a certain way, and given the same physical environment, we find no reason to change. By moving 3000 miles away, I got to know myself as the adult that I was at that point in my life, and I got to create myself in the eyes of other people in the way I wanted them to know me. Those first 6-12 months in California were some of the most challenging of my life and, looking back, also some of the most defining and rewarding of my life as well.
In the summer of 2014, I realized that my life was no longer going to be a revolving door. For the first time since I left my childhood home in 1994, I planned to live in the same house for more than a couple of years. I suddenly became restless and eager to unpack more boxes and reconfigure some of our spaces. The energy I used to expend on moving to a new home could now be used to settle more deeply into the home I’ve chosen to raise my children in. Imagine what I can do by sticking around for a few years…how absolutely revolutionary! When we moved into this home 2 1/2 years prior, the front entryway was the least of our concerns. Now, after our “settling in,” the front entryway is one of my favorite spaces in the house. I can see the benefit of staying put, and I get to experience a deeper level of self-expression and functionality in my living space than I ever experienced before.
Enter my Year of Radical Wellness. The experience of an intentional and conscious life, however forced it may have been by circumstances, is not one that I’m willing to give up just because I want my kids to go to the same school system for the next 13 years. I’m not planning to be pregnant again, and I was fortunate to marry the man I plan to spend my life with 10 years ago, so what can I do at this point that will shake things up and cause me to bring attention to areas that often go unscrutinized?
1. Start a blog. Writing is a form of self-expression for me, and the blog gives me a platform to share my thoughts and to really look at my life and what I’m creating. Since I publicly launched my blog in October 2014 my creative juices won’t stop flowing, and I can feel a momentum building in my life around pursuing my dreams.
2. Go back to school and create a business that feeds my passion. I’ve always loved school, and since my teen years I’ve spent my “spare time” learning about natural wellness in all of its facets. I didn’t grow up watching people make a living doing what they love, so taking the steps to do that for myself has been a bit scary, but I can’t ignore the calling anymore, so here I go!
3. Play a big game. Because I’ve been ‘playing’ in the fields of nutrition, natural health, and wellness for over 20 years, I’ve already challenged myself in a variety of ways and tried out a bunch of different methodologies. I’ve done many different types of cleanses, quit drinking for weeks at a time, and created a life built on (mostly) healthy habits. If 2015 is going to be a big year for me, I have to create a bigger game than I’ve ever played in this area before. I looked up “Radical” in the dictionary, and this is how it’s described:
(especially of change or action) relating to or affecting the fundamental nature of something; far-reaching or thorough.
That’s what I want to do: shake my foundation to the core, in a good way. I want to look at my habits and behaviors and choose to keep what works, and ditch what doesn’t. I want 2015 to be a completely new experience of life. I’ve always identified myself as a night owl, and so I go to bed late and I don’t get up early. What if I “try out” getting up early for a few weeks? What if my life really works by doing that? I’ll never know, unless I try.
By choosing a whole year of my life to explore Radical Wellness, I feel like the pressure’s off. There’s no rush. Our hot water heater went last week and we were without hot water for 6 days. I’ve never been without hot water for that long. I fell into a bit of a slump and felt like I lost a week of productivity right as I was just getting going. But hey, I’m not playing a game called ‘Week of Radical Wellness,’ and for good reason. We all have weeks where things just don’t go as planned. Sometimes weeks stretch into a month or two. Such is life. I’ve got 50 more weeks left in 2015 to create what there is to create, and I’m back on the train!