Another 365 days in the books! Do I say that every year? Yes. Will I keep saying it? Yes. 2017 provided more challenges - mostly mental/emotional - for me than any recent year I can remember. At the same time, God graciously wove so so many blessings in, too. I'm talking about both here and what I've learned from each. My reflections are the challenges and the blessings, and my intentions are things I'm hoping to work on and improve this coming year.
1). body changes.
One of my first memories of 2017 was feeling like I had lost "control" of my body because it... well, grew. To say that my clothes tightened is a lighter way of saying that I gained weight. I didn't intend to. In fact, one of the reasons I cut my hair - 11 inches off, to be exact - was because I felt God asking me if I was relying on my longer hair (which people constantly complimented) to maintain confidence in my physical appearance. He said, "How would you feel if all that were gone?" 24 hours later, a stylist sent off 11 inches of my hair to an organization that accepts donations to make wigs for cancer patients. I don't know for certain if that was God's first step in guiding me through this process, but it's the first one I can identify.
For the first time in four years, I didn't like the body that looked back at me from every mirror. Again. I felt more uncomfortable than I can ever remember and multiple times a day asked myself what others saw, those who have known me for more than four years and those who have known me for less than that. Did the former see similarities between the Haley that developed an eating disorder in high school and this one, who had regained most of the weight she lost during that time? Perhaps the latter didn't even recognize me and surely thought that I wasn't the "health-nut" who had it all together they once thought I was.
Thankfully, God erased those thoughts from my mind (I prayed for that endlessly) and I began seeing this weight as some sort of blessing. I regained my period after two years of complete absence. I no longer feel knee pain during any workouts (except running - I'm not sure if that'll ever change). I actually built muscle, for which I'll give half the credit to gaining weight and half to transitioning away from my vegan diet. By September, nine months later, I finally felt love for my body again. In no way was it what it used to be - it had become so much more. Now, it holds a physically and mentally strong young woman who doesn't place her value in her size, but rather in her heart and mind. She pursues her passions everyday because she knows stressing over workout and calories is a waste of energy. She turns to God when she feels out of control, not methods of restriction. She is thankful for every step of this lengthy, challenging process because each one led her here, to self-love, peace, and gratitude.
Boy, oh boy, OH BOY. Like my previous reflection, this one was unlike anything I've ever dealt with. All I can say is that God worked extensively on my heart in ways I still can't describe. Seemingly out of nowhere, I noticed incredibly strong feelings I hadn't experienced before, and when I followed where they led me, I only found other stronger feelings. Many brought me fantastic, ear-to-ear-smile joy - like finally biting into an In-N-Out burger, chasing my favorite summer sunsets while running into the ocean with my best friends, watching yeast activity in my first ever batch of homemade cinnamon rolls (yes, seriously), hunting down those dang Pillsbury Christmas sugar cookies with Grace (because you couldn't have paid me to eat something so "unhealthy" a year ago) and finally finding them only days before Christmas, and so much more. A couple brought me intense pain - feeling like I lost my self-discipline and motivation to workout and seeing the weight gain as a result, and feeling quite heart-broken and hopeless in pursuit of something I thought could be one of the most amazing blessings yet.
Both sets of feelings - the joyous and the painful - taught me to simply feel. To not spit out the painful because they taste horrible or swallow them because they are unfamiliar. To relish in the joyous because they taste delicious and cultivate more of them because they bring life a one-of-a-kind flavor.
1). stay up-to-date on world and local news.
I'm very ashamed to admit this, but the other day, I had to ask my dad was the GOP is (it's the Republican Party, for those of you who are like me and had zero idea). Since I moved out of my parents' house, I haven't had access to cable TV and I haven't been around my parents enough to listen in on their dinner-time conversations regarding politics, taxes, economic changes, and all that not-super-exciting-but-actually-very-relevant news. Now that I'm technically an adult - though I sometimes feel like/act like I'm between the ages of 5-12 years old - it's definitely time I start understanding what's going on inside and outside this country so that I can make educated decisions when its time to vote and make my voice heard.
For now, I'm starting with 10-20 minutes a day of reading news articles I find online or listening to NPR and the like for updates. If you have any other recommendations I'm more than happy to hear them!
2). continue practicing intuitive eating and exercising.
Learning to eat and exercise intuitively is an ongoing lesson - one I'll never perfect and I'm okay with that. Diet culture drilled itself into my brain for a long long time and I'm so thankful for RDs like Robyn, Kylie, Alexis, and more who convinced me IE and HAES are much more valuable and fulfilling practices. I've only made it halfway through the book, and we will just have to see if I can pick it up again and actually finish it. Like I said, I am far from a perfect Intuitive Eater, but I've grasped the basics and I'm practicing everyday.
Part of IE, though, is also just living - as much as it enforces getting rid of diet-culture-esque influences, it stresses releasing from the mind any sort of barrier to full enjoyment of food and movement. For me, that requires taking a deep breath, asking God for peace + wisdom + understanding of my body's needs and desires in that moment.
3). put my phone away more often.
If I had a biggest priority on this list of intentions, you can bet it's this one. Because I now work for myself as a blogger, social media is a huge chunk of my job, and because of modern technology, that chunk is always at my fingertips - at noon on a Wednesday or at 11 PM on a Saturday (when I want to be either sleeping or giggling with my friends). This year, I picked up a habit of putting my phone in airplane mode during the night, so that if I wake up to pee at 3 AM and want to check the time, I'm not also tempted to respond to a gazillion notifications I may have. Doing this has also given me control over the amount of me-time I have in the morning before anyone/thing can bug me. When I'm ready to communicate, all I have to do is turn airplane mode off. Until then, it's just me, my cup of coffee, and my book.
Working for myself lets me set my own hours, a benefit I haven't really taken advantage of yet. a 9-5 schedule everyday isn't my thing, but neither is working until 10 PM on a Friday or Saturday night because I didn't organize my day/manage my time wisely. Putting my phone away - like, in another room or just off in general - will hopefully allow me less mindless scrolling-time through social media (Pinterest really captures me lately).
Hello, World!COPY CODE SNIPPET
4). cultivate my unique creativity.
I'm self-motivated and I have been for as long as I can remember, but I want to develop habits that can help me self-inspire. So far, hiking, walking, and other forms of exercising do the trick (blood flowing = oxygen moving to the brain = higher functioning brain). Baking, cooking, and reading through recipe books are my other go-to's, but what about when I'm just sitting at my desk, not a ton of oxygen flowing to my brain and no cookies coming out of the oven?
Georgie Morley reminds me to create a little routine that sets up positive, productive headspace before diving into work, so this year I plan to create my own. What it might look like, I don't have an idea yet, but I'll give some things a try - cleaning and organizing my workspace, putting my phone away/shutting it off, finding some quiet, maybe even lighting my favorite candle and listening to some soft music!
I feel a deep breath is always what I need at the end of this kind of stuff - reflecting can be really tough sometimes, especially looking back on a year like 2017. Do it with me: inhale, exhale. Maybe I'm just being dramatic because I'm approaching the challenging years of my 20's?? Or maybe I'm nothing out of the ordinary in this case. Orrrrr maybe... nevermind, I don't know. I encourage you to take a peek back whatever 2017 was for you - lift up the covers you placed over the painful experiences and warmly welcome back the joyous ones. Both are worthy of recognition and appreciation. Both can teach and help you move forward into 2018 with your best foot forward.
What are your reflections and intentions for 2018? Leave some below in the comments to spark some ideas for all of us! Cheers to a new year!