A few weeks ago, I lost my breakfast. This is not some euphemistic way for me to say I was sick. Nope, I literally could not find my breakfast when I got to the Sugar Shack after carefully packing yogurt, a piece of cheese, and two Cuties to eat at my desk. I tore my backpack apart and it was nowhere. I went back to the kitchen to search for it and found nothing. It was like I had never packed it. Except I knew I had.
Then, the next week, I lost my keys. I resorted to using my single spare key for the car, not even actively bothering to try and find my keys because I knew it would be futile. Given how long gone my breakfast was, I figured there was no way my keys would be in a reasonable place. Sure enough, several days later, I found my keys in our garage, on top of our grill. I had laid them on top of the grill while loading my trunk one day and then never thought twice about them.
The next day, I thought I lost my debit card. I hadn’t. The friend I was out to lunch with had to point out that it was right in front of me. The next week, I was making fun of myself thinking I had lost my debit card while at the same restaurant with another friend and I left the card there. I called the restaurant as soon as I realized what I had done and they insisted they didn’t have it. I drove to the bank and cancelled the card. At closing that night, the restaurant called back to say they had it.
Back in the Sugar Shack, I went to put away some receipts in my tax files. I keep my tax files in one of those magazine holders. There, I found my breakfast from three weeks ago. As you might image, it was not in good shape. A flash of memory came back to me. I lost my breakfast on a Monday, the first work day after I had spent the weekend getting my tax documents together. I had brought my trusty little file box into the house to work on it. Clearly, I had tucked my bag of breakfast into it before my ‘commute’ that Monday morning and then promptly forgot about it when I got out to the office, placed the file box on the shelf where it lives behind me in the shack and totally forgot about it.
I have this theory that life keeps handing you the lesson you need to learn until you learn it. Miss the lesson the first time and you get another little prod. Miss it again, the prod turns into a nudge. Again? The nudge into a shove. Again? The nudge into a tackle. I have missed big lessons in my past- the nudge eventually turning into hospitalization and worse so now I try really hard to be attentive enough to learn my lessons much earlier so they aren’t quite so painful.
A couple weeks ago, at a visionSPARK workshop, a participant who is also a dear, inspiring friend shared that her word of the year was regenerate. When she shared it, a flash of recognition fired through me. I desperately need to regenerate. For a while now, I have felt creatively and energetically bereft. My anxiety is up. I have had a sinus infection since mid-December that I just can’t shake. My to do list is way too long. Going back to teaching this semester after taking the fall semester off (my first semester off in eight years) has really taken the last little bit of stamina in me. Between the constant search for stuff I shouldn’t have lost (in addition to the anecdotes I regularly share, I am constantly back tracking into stores where I left my phone or keys on the counter while checking out), the flash of recognition when my friend mentioned regenerate, my understanding that I was being given the opportunity to learn a lesson early and less painfully than it might become later, my deep desire to be as intentional as possible, I stopped for a few minutes and made a plan to alter my course.
- Get back on B12. I had a significant deficiency years ago that led to some cognitive issues. I took a B12 supplement for years but took myself off of it when recent years of blood work showed it was normal again. I probably shouldn’t have (and my annual blood work in a couple weeks might just prove that although hopefully restarting the supplement will be a valuable course corrector?). Note to self: just stay on the B12.
- Manage the anxiety. I have actually been really proactive about this in the new year. My phone goes to bed super early (and far away from me) each afternoon because taking in news after about 7 pm was giving me heart palpitations. I am letting people know when I am just not in the place for a particular conversation, and I am journaling about things that fill me with optimism and hope.
- Being less productive. My to do lists are exhaustive, but, if I am honest, I am doing lots of things that aren’t important in the grand scheme of things. I am trying to be cognizant of those things and just not adding them to my list, but I am also keeping a list so I notice even more of these things as I go. My list simply says Nourish at the top and has two columns one with a + at the top and one with a – at the top. At the end of the day, I jot down that day’s activities, classifying them in the right column. What am I doing that profoundly nourishes me or someone else? What am I doing that isn’t? I hope to make wiser decisions about my choices in the future because of this list. Also, our weekend used to always start with me leaving first thing Saturday morning for the grocery store. I would get home mid morning, and we unload the car, get the groceries unpacked and then practically be starting down lunchtime. Dragging my hyper-productivity into the weekend is a drag. For all of us. So even though it messes with my work time, I have moved grocery shopping to Thursday or Friday sometime during my work hours since I have the luxury of being able to do that. It is giving us more time to have fun as a family or be leisurely on the weekend.
- Really stopping my work day. I pick up Happy at 3:30. Typically, I would worry about how much work I still had left to do because while I have full-time work, I don’t have traditional full-time hours available to me. This used to mean that I would sneak in work during homework time or after bedtime. Not anymore. I might answer a quick email and I usually have one evening meeting a week, but, other than that, I am honoring the work hours I have available to me.
- Working to feel better. My sinuses have been a key hindrance in my life. While I typically don’t get sick in any other way (I have never ever had strep throat for example),if I get a sinus infection, I will have it for anywhere from 1-3 months. Sinus infections greatly impact my forward progress—I feel like I get stalled right after making some sort of momentum when I am well. I want that to be less and less true. I am more than a year into allergy shots and while they probably have reduced my number of infections, they don’t reduce the lenth and severity of the infections when I do get them. I am still fairly sick for at least half of each year. I’ve recently added a few more sinus wellness practices to my life and am actively researching other things I can do to improve my overall health. If 2017 is the year of defeating sinus infections, that would be alright with me!
Now, I am not telling you all this so that you can be intimately in touch with what’s going on with me. I am sharing this with you because I want you to see how I go about seeing things in my life that I don’t love and intentionally trying to change them. My hope is that in sharing how I do this for myself, it might inspire you to consider if there are any lessons life is trying to teach you and, if so, what you need to learn and how you might implement those lessons in your own life. It’s not lost on me that in the dailyness of living, our intentionality can get lost and the only way that we can get back to it is by deliberately reminding ourselves of what we most need and guiding ourselves to it.
Here’s to learning our lessons the easy way.