Wednesday, January 2, 2013

NOT More Resolutions, Just LIFE

This morning I reluctantly picked up my journal for some quiet time writing for the first time in 2013. I was reluctant because this journal was not a NEW one. There were still a few pages left in this one, however, I LOVE the symbolism of "starting a new chapter," or book, rather, with the new year.

It took me a while to find my current journal with its rough burlap-y cover and textured natural-fiber paper. I have a particular pen that is THE best for writing on its pages. I love the feeling of it all: the cover in my hands, the pen as it moves across the paper... All of these factors have to be present for me to truly feel that my writing is as satisfying as it can possibly be (yes, I can be a tad retentive about some things...). I have not had time to search out THE perfect new journal for the new year, so it was with a half-hearted intention that I sat down this morning, mug of hot tea beside me, to write.

I barely got through a few sentences when I realized that like this journal, life does not divide itself into neat, segmented chapters. Sure, we have milestone events that define particular periods of life, but those milestones don't represent clean breaks in the phases of our lives. Wherever we've been, whatever we've done serves as flavoring and shaping to the lives we are currently living (unless you find yourself in the witness protection program, and even then, the past is definitely playing a role in your present). We do, however, have a choice as to how those "flavorings" manifest.

Too often, we try to make an all-or-nothing new start at something - and I believe that new starts are great - however, when it begins as an all-or-nothing endeavor, the all can only be sustained as long as the excitement of newness lasts, and then the "nothing" phase opens its arms to us and we gladly cuddle back up with the "nothing" time until the next milestone opportunity, like New Year's Day.

What would it feel like to acknowledge life as chapters that flow into one another, instead of trying to make it segmented? The "holistic" approach recognizes that everything is interconnected: emotions —> moods —> energy levels —> cravings —> food choices —> emotions —> moods ... and so on. To attempt to address ONE segment (like "food choices," for example) without addressing the WHOLE often leads to frustration, perceived "failure," and wanting to forget the entire thing. Yet we do this time and again, only to fail, only to beat ourselves up for not being "good enough," only to repeat the same ineffective formula.

There is something in our Western-world human nature that demands clean lines of demarcation. We don't like it when our work life bleeds over into our family life, or our spiritual practice interferes with our work culture, or our family culture clashes with other relationships. I know of families that don't even want a blending or "mixing" of generations - believing that each generation should keep to themselves (in terms of relating, or even dining together), yet demanding that the younger generations maintain certain cultural norms without the benefit of instilling the values for them, interpersonally. Don't think for a moment that even in these segmented systems, though, there isn't an interconnectedness (no matter how dysfunctional) that still creates affects...

Author Geneen Roth writes about how important it is to appreciate our past - no matter how painful or difficult - because it is what has gotten us to here and now. Life is flowing - one series of events moving into others - like my journal, not cleanly segmented periods that can easily be separated into isolated, stand-alone years. Appreciate the process while moving forward. I think continual forward movement is so important - even if it is the past of yesterday or an hour ago. When we can do that with our relationships, our exercise routines, our food choices - even our behavior - we allow ourselves to progress right now, not next year when we make a new list of resolutions for 2014. It's not an all-or-nothing proposition. It's life.

Elly Haddad is the founder of Elemental Fit, a Nashville-based holistic health coaching practice that works with individuals, families and groups to bring greater awareness of how diet & lifestyle affect health, happiness and overall wellbeing.

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