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This is me. This is all of me.
Reflecting on setbacks that keep us from doing things we love. 🥺
This is the third time I’ve sat down to write this article. It started as a simple piece about setbacks, a topic I’ve become well-acquainted with the past nine months. I let the piece simmer overnight, as I usually do, and the next morning, I didn’t feel right sending it. Why? I didn’t want to be a Debbie Downer in your inbox. It wasn’t a feel-good piece. It was, in brief: reality check, setbacks suck.
But later that morning I went to drop off a copy of my book to a good friend. This is someone I don’t see often but with whom I can be instantly honest. You know those friends? Hold onto those ones. She asked how I was doing, and when someone like that asks how I’m doing, I don’t say, great, thanks, the way I do at the grocery store check-out. Instead, I teared up and said: It’s been rough.
I told her what had been happening, some of which I can’t include here. But the piece I can use today for the purposes of unpacking this topic is related to my fitness. To summarize, since January I’ve had two broken toes and suffered from long COVID symptoms. I’ve been frustrated by my inability to keep up the level of fitness that I both want and need. Seriously, I just want to pound it out on a run sometimes, get my heart rate up, and sweat out the stress. Sure, I have other ways of coping, but physical activity serves a multitude of purposes for me. And being in perpetual healing mode, physically, has felt like I have a shaky foundation underneath all the other stuff I’m building in my life.
“You make it look easy on social media,” my friend said. It wasn’t a jab. She’s just the kind of person who knows that there’s always more to the story.
The comment made me realize that I needed to revisit this article. I shouldn’t hold back from my community because I don’t want to be a downer. Because, if anything, my past experience of being vulnerable with you has taught me that these are the kinds of words people need to read.
That you’re not alone if you’re experiencing some setbacks. You’re not alone in feeling frustrated. You’re not alone in your disappointment at how things turn out and what it will take to claw your way back.
So, I’m taking a second and third stab at writing this piece for you.
Let’s go back to that foundation.
In analyzing my situation, yet again, I’ve come to realize something about that foundation. It feels shaky because I truly miss the ability to keep up the physical activity I want for myself. But I also think it feels shaky because of how much value I associate with my identity as an active and fit person.
This is nothing new to me. For the better part of my adult life, I’ve had a persona that I thought I had to keep up. I had a part to play in how others perceived me. I’ve been swinging wildly on a pendulum with an “all or nothing” mentality. When my body is broken, it’s like the whole operating system wants to shut down. And when it’s working, I’m literally running up a mountain.
I was explaining to my nine-year-old last night what “wallowing” means. And then I found myself reflecting on the fact that I’ve been wallowing over my broken toe for three weeks now, ever since that glass pot lid went flying out of the dishwasher onto my pinky. It’s OK to wallow for a bit and get the rest we need, but when I think about it, there was so much I still could have done to stay active. Cycling isn’t too bad. I can still lift weights with my arms, and do some core strength exercise.
But instead, I’ve been wallowing and resenting myself that I’m about to get in front of a camera to film a documentary this week and I don’t feel comfortable in my own skin.
Where does that leave me? I’m facing the “image” of me that wasn’t living up to my own expectations and how I wanted to be seen by the world.
I can’t stop caring about that overnight. But, in my previous experience, coming out of setbacks has always required me to practice kindness and gentleness towards myself. It requires taking one small step at a time.
It’s disappointing not to be able to do some of the things I love. But this time it’s given me a pause to consider what I can learn about myself as I’m healing and who I want to be in this world when I can hit the ground running.
In the meantime, I need to focus on what I can do.
And when it comes to who I want to be, I want to show up for this world in whatever way, shape or form I’m currently in and say, This is me. This is all of me.
The world mostly won’t care. Those who feel I’m not living up to their expectations… well, they aren’t my problem. It’s actually none of my business. The important thing is that I’m showing up, no matter what.
There’s a quote pegged to the pinboard in my front hallway, and I’ll leave it with you today.
“Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It’s about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen.”
— Brené Brown
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What’s caught my attention lately… ✨
Breaking Cycles & Reparenting Yourself with Dr. Becky Kennedy on We Can Do Hard Things. A good listen for those wanting a different perspective on the parent-child relationship and how we can come alongside our kids through their struggles.
A wee request… ✨
Are you on Goodreads? If so, please consider adding Lights to Guide Me Home to a shelf! You can also pre-order or add it to a Wish List on Amazon. OK, OK, even better: go to your local bookstore and ask them about ordering it! 😊
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Lights to Guide Me Home - Coming September 27, 2022!
Lights to Guide Me Home ✨ is now available!
The book comes out September 27 but you can find it in some stores now! Find all the pre-order options on my website.