Thursday, December 18, 2014

Healing My Type-A-ness (over and over and over again…)

I like to say that I am a “recovering” type-A. In fact, I often insist it, even while frantically straightening my yoga mat to align in perfect symmetry with the wood planks of the flooring in the studio. "Pardon me," I'll say sheepishly if I disturb those around me, "I'm a recovering type-A…" Predictability is my drug of choice – I like to know what’s happening next – whether it’s via my dry-erase month-at-a-glance calendar, my color-coded Google calendar, or encoded in the countless mental lists that run through my mind on the (sometimes) sleepless nights when things seem particularly out of control.

“Recovering” is not a mislabel. I used to be much worse. Color-blocked time charts indicating schedules for each of my children were what I perceived to be my lifeline during the five years I homeschooled them. Chores were doled out to each child with careful scrutiny. Dinner was at a set time, homework had careful oversight, and curfews brought a reliable rhythm to the ebb and flow of activity in my household. That rhythm turned into a frantic, un-follow-able, crazy type of improvised modern jazz-like performance once my kids reached the weirdly bizarre (and often nightmarish) high school years, and I realized that sheer survival (WITH my sanity intact) was MUCH more important than schedules and predictability. At that point, I realized that the only thing I could control was myself (which, at times was “iffy”), and the only thing I could predict was… pretty much nothing.

It was during this time that I fell in love with running (often, I would find myself several miles away from home, and debate whether to turn and head back, or take the more appealing option and keep going – indefinitely...). I started flirting with yoga and came to crave the comfort and solace that I discovered there (but with no studio close by, it was tough to be very consistent with it). Attending nutrition school in NYC also gave me a broader view of my own life, sans kids, and I knew that I was in the homestretch of the hands-on-phase of my parenting career. My neuroses lessened even more.

It wasn’t until my husband was present during a mass shooting at our fitness club one evening (he survived uninjured, a few dozen others did not) that I fully embraced the reality that life is never, ever predictable. Something/anything can happen at any time to totally derail the best laid plans. The present is the only sure thing. Our sometimes-fuzzy recollections of the past and our imaginings about the future are not very accurate or necessarily helpful. Embracing this truth and surrendering to it (many times over) brings immense freedom.

Now, I find myself facing another opportunity to surrender. I have become the primary caregiver for my now three-month-old grandson a few days a week. Three-month-olds are not very self-sufficient. Three-month-olds are terrible at entertaining themselves. Three-month-olds are great at getting hungry and making their diapers dirty, but that’s pretty much all they do. My life is no longer my own during those periods which means I can’t schedule writing, coaching calls, yoga classes, or meetings then. What I can do, is be present. Pausing from my heavily scheduled, self-focused routine is forcing me to experience a deeper sense of living in the moment. Prior to this, I'd been operating from a mindset that I was always running out of time… always behind… but for what? Watching a human being experience the intricacies of raising their hands to their mouth, finding their fingers, figuring out how to touch an object, and the looks of satisfaction and surprise that cross his face when he makes a “coo” on purpose is priceless. There is so much going on right under our noses that we miss because we are rushing to the next thing or reading on our electronic devices about everyone else's things, but what if your next thing was this thing - whatever is right in front of you, or in the next room, right this moment? 

What else have I been missing?

Yet again, my type-A-ness is getting purged. This type of purging - those involving our personalities - I’ve discovered, comes in layers. Attempting to resist this purging sometimes forces an all-at-once-ripping away that is often very painful and unattractive. Surrendering to the purging and allowing it to happen organically works best for everyone involved – trust me.

When I find myself wondering how in the world I got to this point - whatever the point may be, I pause to view my surroundings in a “the-Universe-is-bigger-than-I-am” perspective and I am able to see the bigger picture. I can also see a ton of the little things that I might have missed had I kept up my previous pace and tunnel vision.

Elly Haddad is a certified Integrative Nutrition Coach and healthy life-style coordinator. She's the owner of Elemental Fit and founder of The NashWell Group, both based in Nashville, TN. She helps individuals and groups understand the important influence that diet & lifestyle have on health, happiness, & overall wellbeing. Elly is also a yoga teacher, writer and public speaker, conducting workshops and seminars throughout the midwest and southeastern US. She can be contacted directly via email here

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