Christmas blew in like a major storm and left a path of haphazardness in its wake for me. I enjoyed a beautiful holiday with my family and got to bask in the warm, fuzziness of receiving thoughtful gifts while also watching others light up at opening what I had gotten them. However, after it was over, I was left feeling sort of empty, devoid of energy, used up.
Maybe it was because I had one more kiddo to think about, share traditions with, and love on this year. Maybe it was the fact that Christmas fell on a Monday this year. Maybe I am just getting older. Maybe…
Either way, all of the hullaballoo followed by decreased personal energy started morphing into an anxiety trigger for me, and on Christmas Day I decided to press pause, with the intention to not press play again until after 2018’s arrival.
It’s not normal for me to do this, but then again, I am eager to establish a new normal for myself as I move further down the path toward my soul’s true north.
The normal me is always chipping away at goals, choosing work over rest, and constantly lighting her own fire to stay active, engaged, and motivated. This is the Antoinette that cleans the house and gets the laundry done in one day. She exercises regularly and sticks to a refined diet aimed at supporting muscle development and fat loss. This Antoinette is always on a mission. She multitasks at multitasking and doesn’t sit down (usually) until the kids are in bed for the night, at which time she crashes as well. She’s an efficient, productive person.
And I look forward to seeing where she will go in 2018.
But for now, I am choosing to hang out with another version of myself while I give my mind, my body, and my soul a much-needed breather. This is the Antoinette that chooses to live in those blank spaces on her appointment book. She is less stringent and more flexible. She is forgiving of herself and others. She is taking it easy because she knows how hard she works. She is still motivated and efficient, but in different ways and at different tasks. I call her my “fat and happy” version because in this version of me, I eat what I want, drink what I want, and I willingly skip exercise.
Baron Baptiste explains, “If you want to know life, you will be able to find it in the place of breathlessness. In that gap, there is no-thing; it is said that there you will find the energetic, creative source of life. You can begin to do this by distinguishing the pause between the exhalation and the inhalation. That gap between breaths is your access point to the extraordinary and miraculous in your practice.”
I like to call the gap Baptiste writes about a “pause,” and it would be accurate to say that right now I am pressing pause in order to cultivate myself in that space. Similar to how many of my breakthroughs on the mat have been realized after I have successfully guided my mind toward this gap, I am now realizing breakthroughs in my life away from work and “the grind” because of my willingness to sit in the tranquility of this pause. It has not been easy to power down this way, but powering down has come with benefits.
For starters, it’s freed up more of me to be there for my kids in the fun ways. Not just for their day-to-day needs, but for their creative, giggly, just-being-a-kid needs. I have caught myself snuggling in bed or on the couch with my daughter more, watching a movie or television show. With my son, I am now paying close enough attention to catch the subtle nuances in his development – over the course of just three days, I watched him go from fearful to fearless with walking! The child would be running right now if he was coordinated enough. It will probably happen next week sometime.
This break has also given me a chance to pour some care and attention over the systems of support that I have in my life to keep my day-to-day as hassle free as possible. I call things like organization, decluttering, cleaning, and styling/decorating systems of support. When those areas are on point, I do my work faster because I am able to find things more quickly in my office and around my home, and my overall mood is happier because I like the environment I am in. Cleaning and organizing are not “fun” things for me to do, but I enjoy the benefit of having organized, clean space and have made it a non-negotiable for myself. Whether I live in a palace or a tiny apartment, I will always strive to keep my space clean and free of clutter.
More important than my desire to start the new year off on a good foot, I want to explain that through the onslaught of the holidays and the tidying up I have been doing to try to put my life back together now that they are pretty much over, I recognized that I was spiraling down and needed to stop. I could feel anxiety growing within me again, and I did not want to see it rise. So often the body gives us warning of things going awry, but we miss the signs because we don’t recognize them or we are moving too fast to notice. Stopping does not always look like a complete withdrawal, but maybe taking things down a notch. It is deciding to go easy on yourself for no reason at all besides YOU giving YOURSELF permission to. It is choosing to slow down, even though you know you could go fast, but you take it slow because you need it. It is existing in those tiny moments of closeness with the people you love and wrapping yourself in the beauty of something so small, minor, yet meaningful.
As you look toward your 2018 and beyond, I encourage you to go forth boldly, but never ignore the flags, flashes of light, or twinges your heart and mind will send you to let you know that you are nearing your limit. I do not believe having limits is bad – hey, they’re what keep us from completely exhausting ourselves on a daily, and sometimes hourly, basis! Personal limits do not expose our weaknesses or inabilities. They really just unearth how many opportunities we have for growth. I believe in growth, and sometimes we have to be still in order to grow.
Happy New Year!<<<<<<<