Ah, December 1st, you have arrived. It is my annual tradition to spend way too much time this month reflecting on the past year. I love setting resolutions and goals, planning adventures, establishing steps to get closer to my dreams, reflecting on my memories, moments and the things that affected me. I try to focus on the good stuff and learn from the bad stuff. This year I’m also thinking a lot about myself as a person, and the kind of person I want to be (and the life I want to lead) going forward.
As far as years go, this one has been pretty anticlimactic. I’m not saying it’s been a bad year, in fact I experienced several things this year that have profoundly impacted me. The man I love proposed to me on a hotel rooftop overlooking the city skyline (I said yes!). One hot night in April I ran naked into the Atlantic Ocean after one too many cubatas, feeling freer than I had in a long time. Just before summer, the boy and I rented a Dodge Charger and drove four hours down the 401 to pick up a little rescue dog that we adopted without having met before. Luckily it all worked out and the three of us have been a solid pack ever since. I went back to school part-time to pursue my love of digital strategy and I will finish my certificate come spring. Just last month I found myself drinking champagne out in the Nevada desert with three of my favourite people, watching the sun disappear behind the Red Rock mountains as a pink Jeep waited to take us back to Paradise Blvd.
I spent the first half of the year in a pretty good place. I was working a steady job that I really liked and I felt healthy, happy and well on my way to leading a more positive life. But at some point I fell back into the grips of a relentless depression. What felt like a slow build soon consumed me. Instead of coping with this in healthy ways, I enrolled in the school of escape, burying my depression behind work, drinking and other distractions. I became increasingly frustrated and unhappy, fell out of my daily yoga practice, stopped meditating and looking after myself in general, gained weight, ate more food, had less sex, and began to feel completely disconnected from myself, my friends and my partner.
I wish I could go back in time and reclaim those lost months, but instead I must focus on moving forward. Rather than waiting for the New Year to roll around, I’m starting to think about what I can do differently right now. I just don’t want to feel the way I’ve been feeling for a moment longer. It’s not only hard on me, but it’s hard on the people I love. But I’ve been here before and I know what’s up. The only way to change things is to actually do something to change them. Am I right, Tony Robbins?
By changing nothing, nothing changes. ~ Tony Robbins
It’s no coincidence that my depression is beginning to lift at a time when I’ve been making changes (AKA forcing myself to do things even though I don’t always want to do them). A month ago I could barely get out of bed in the morning, and in the past two weeks I’ve attended four 7 am kickboxing classes, which is both a miracle and a personal record. I started practicing yoga again, not daily yet but I’m getting there. The soon-to-be-hubby and me have been making more meals and enjoying them together, and I’ve been cooking lots of vegetarian options for when I work from home. Also, I’ve been more focused, ignoring social media channels (as best as someone who works in social media can) and concentrating on my work, which means I’m less behind and thus less stressed. None of this has been easy, but it’s necessary. I feel better because of it and it becomes a little easier each day.
If you’re feeling in a rut, don’t wait for the New Year to begin making changes. Think about what you can do now to improve your life and start small. Maybe go to a yoga class tonight, or get to bed a little earlier. Maybe you say no to that second glass of wine and instead pick up that book you’ve been meaning to read, make a big ol’ mug o’ tea and take some quiet time for yourself. Whatever it is, make a commitment and stick to it.
If you don’t know where to start, perhaps the below links and tips will help. These are resources that have either helped me in the past, or are helping me now. Good luck! You got this!
INSPIRATION TO START MAKING Changes In Your Life:
- Wake up – Set an alarm, put on some coffee or your favourite tea, and do a couple sun salutations while it’s brewing. The first step is getting out of bed.
- Practice mindfulness – Mindfulness is all about being more present in your life. Don’t be afraid to ask your doctor about the resources that are available to you in your area, or browse online resources like mindful.org to learn how you can start becoming more mindful. If you’re located near Barrie, I recommend looking into Dr. Jaak Reichmann at the Center for Inner Freedom. His work in particular has really helped me.
- Meditate – This was introduced to me as part of a mindfulness program and it’s something I am recommitting to over the next month. Here’s a wonderful resource on How to Meditate – A Guide to Formal Sitting Practice to help get you started. Meditation is helping me to reconnect with my mind and my body, ultimately making me more present and able to better recognize what needs to change in my life.
- Ask for help – Change is hard. The only reason I got into mindfulness and meditation is because my doctor referred me to a 10-week mindfulness cbt program, for which I am eternally grateful.
- Read The Monks and Me – This book by Toronto-based writer Mary Patterson is full of lessons learned from her 40-day stay at Thich Nhat Hanh’s French monastery, a retreat she took following the death of her parents. It’s both funny and poignant. It definitely gave me a lot to think about.
- Let it go – It’s hard to make changes when you’re worried, stressed, upset or anxious. Find a way to let it go. For me this is yoga and meditation.
- Let it out – A newer endeavour for me, turns out letting it out is also important. For me this is kickboxing but it used to be running, I just didn’t realize it then. There is no sense in harbouring frustration, anger or pain, so release it in a healthy way that gets you moving.
- Make a list (and check it twice) – On one side write down the 10 things you spend most of your time doing (be honest!). Beside it, write down the 10 things you love doing most of all. Adjust as necessary.
- Declutter – Get rid of the unnecessary things from your past that hold you down, including the things in your house. Everyone’s still raving about The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo, so I asked for the book for Christmas. Minimalizing my space is definitely one of my goals over the next six months. A messy life is a messy mind.
Also, memorize this quote and never forget it. Tattoo it on your body if you must (just kidding, don’t do that). It will help you with every change you want to make in your life.
Never give up on a dream just because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway. ~ Earl Nightingale
Any other tips for making changes in your life? Have you read any books that really helped you out? I’m always looking to hear people’s stories of self-improvement and for advice as to how I can improve further. Feel free to share in the comments below.