I really enjoyed working with all of you on the April Challenge. As the month was drawing to an end I pondered what sort of things we could do for May. I played with the idea of another “pick your own” challenge. I toyed with thoughts regarding nutrition, movement, and other “healthy” stuff. But in the end I decided to shift the focus a bit.
A gift for me.
Here’s the thing. I love May. No really, it’s my favorite month of the year. And I promise it has nothing to do with the fact that my birthday is in May. (Okay, so maybe that has something to do with it.) On the 31st I will be turning 31. For anyone who knew me in high school, this is kind of a big deal. (As a sophomore I would often tell people how 31-derful the number 31 was. I had this thing with numbers. Don’t judge. I was
a nerd awesome.)
I know most people get all sentimental/anxious/excited/depressed when they turn 30. For most it’s a major landmark in the aging process. But for me, I have been waiting for 31 for a long time. I’m excited to be moving forward. I am excited where life is leading me. Getting older has never really bothered me (we’ll see if I say that when I’m turning 60).
With all this in mind, I wanted a challenge to prepare myself for the awesome year that awaits me. In the past, when I would be “gearing” up for something important I would usually try to “get in shape,” lose those last “pesky few pounds,” or commit myself to some sort of disciplined health craze.
Not this time.
This time I want to refocus, relax, and breathe in new opportunities. After all, something about moving past the twenties is really satisfying. Rather than feeling like I have to prove myself I feel much more content just being me.
So, what is May’s challenge?
In a nutshell, this month’s challenge can be summarized into three little “L” phrases:
1. Let go.
This really is the first step to healthy living, in my mind. We need to be willing to let go. Of what? That depends. What is holding you back? What is keeping your from living your life? What is stressing you out? What feelings are keeping love out of your life?
Step one of the challenge is to write down whatever it is you need to let go of. Maybe it’s control. Maybe it’s anger. Maybe it’s self hate. Maybe it’s a lot of things. Take some time to think about it. Rather than focus on what you don’t have or what you do have (but wish you didn’t), focus on the things you can let go that are not helping you live the life you want.
This is about honoring our bodies (and self) and the knowledge they have. Rather than frantically researching every health book, blog, or article out there try listening to your body to see what it really needs. Rather than zipping through a meal, listen to your body’s cues for hunger, thirst, fullness, etc. Rather than letting your thoughts take you down a path of self-loathing, listen to the good things your body is telling you.
This is step two. Each day, take at least a couple moments in the morning to pause and “go inward.” What does your body want to do? What is your body craving? How can you listen and appreciate your body even more? If you want to take this further, take a couple of moments before each meal to listen to what your body needs nutritionally. Stop during work to see what your body needs to do to recuperate. Even twenty seconds throughout the day can make a huge difference. Listen. Write it down. Obey.
We all have flaws. Let’s just put that out there. But we also have tremendous strengths. All of us. Do we focus on those as much as the rest?
I was watching the “Hungry for Change” film that was available online during March. There was a section about loving ourselves. Dr. Christaine Northrup talked about an experiment that I would like us to try. I’m going off my memory here, so forgive me if this isn’t entirely accurate. But the experiment is simple:
Every day, twice a day, look yourself in the mirror and say these words:
“I love myself unconditionally as I am right now.”
Then wait. Wait for the negative thoughts. Wait for the self doubt. Continue to look yourself in the eye and let those thoughts pass through. The goal is to do this for the entire month and notice the changes that occur as we begin to believe the habitual voice of love that we reiterate every day. This is step three, but one you can start right now.
The nuts and bolts of the challenge
1. “I love myself unconditionally as I am right now.” Start by speaking out loud these words today. Put a sticky note on your mirror if you need to. It will take you mere seconds to perform. What do you have to lose? Will you feel silly? Maybe at first. Can these words eventually become your truth? You bet.
2. Consider what you can “let go” of. Write a list. Brainstorm the ideas/beliefs/practices that are holding you back. On Friday I will do a “let go” post with some suggestions as well as a comment section open to those who want to share. It’s a great practice to “put it out there.”
3. Start listening to your body. Next week I will do a “Listen” post with some ideas and practices to help you. But until then, give yourself a moment each day to hear your body out.
So… Who’s in?