MindBodyGreen’s 25 Questions To Ask Yourself Before The End Of The Year
I found this article on MindBodyGreen that forces reflection as the end of the year approaches. I took the questions and answered them myself. I encourage you to do the same! My answers are below. I have to say, these questions prompted a great blog post!
1. What am I most proud of this year? Building a home, training for and completing Tour de Pink, and loving my husband, family, friends and Campbell unconditionally and without reserve.
2. How can I become a better? Sleeper. For the past two and a half years I haven’t been able to sleep without medication. (I take something to help me sleep on average 4-6 days a week, alternating medications.) I want to learn to sleep on my own again, like I did before the breast cancer.
3. Where am I feeling stuck? In my ability to just breathe and live fully in the moment. And in the ability to calm myself down enough to sleep naturally. My mind wanders constantly, and is always planning for and preparing for the next thing. I’d like to just focus on the now.
4. Where do I need to allow myself grace? This is a good one. I’d like to say I’ve gotten better at this over the past year since I’ve learned to listen to my body more and give it what it needs when it comes to food and rest. Prior, I was harder on myself, but now if I feel out of balance I can usually pinpoint what I need more of, whether it be sleep, time alone or a run outside. So for this, the grace is in allowing myself what it needs and not forcing things it doesn’t. And perhaps most importantly, realizing sleeping in can be just as healthy, or healthier, for my body at that given moment, than waking up an hour earlier to go running. Sometimes it isn’t about the activity, but rather the inactivity. Sometimes a nap is what I need, not an extra session on the treadmill. And sometimes it’s the other way around. The ALLOWING GRACE is in realizing this.
5. Am I passionate about my career? Yes, absolutely!
6. What lessons have I learned? Everything always works out in the end, no matter what. And there’s no use worrying over something that hasn’t happened yet. And, IT WILL BE WHAT IT WILL BE. We can’t control everything, nor should we try to.
7. What did my finances look like? Great. We are blessed to live comfortably and pursue our passions. We’re trying to cut back on our weekly Fuji, though, to save some money. (Fiiiine, I can cut down my sushi to once a month instead of once a week).
8. How did I spend my free time? Bettering myself. (Running, cycling, juicing). I’d like to say I read a few books. Or wrote a book. Or knit a scarf. Or learned how to bake pies. Or painted a room. Or Pinterest-ed my way to a remodeled closet. But the truth is I’ve been working on my physical speed and endurance, in cycling before Tour de Pink, and now with running. Other free time was spent pursuing groups and clubs, like Hadassah, and reaching out and making plans with friends.
9. How well did I take care of my body, mind, and soul? I’d say pretty well! I could learn how to relax more, but this past year I’ve really improved my mindfulness, which I am happy about. It is a work in progress.
10. How have I been open-minded? I try to remember every person I meet is fighting a harder battle, and I should not judge others; I don’t know what challenges they face. I could work on being more open-minded with Sean’s eating habits, though. I am working on it! (And he is trying! He tells me every time he eats a green vegetable. I love you, honey!). I also notice I carry around this pre-conceived notion that people who don’t know me very well judge me on my appearance and mood, both of which are good, and because of this, may overlook or minimize the challenges I’ve been through. But I realized when I think I know how others see me, I am actually judging others. Because I have no idea how they see me. I think they see me a certain way without actually knowing for sure. When I thought OTHERS were being close-minded about my battles, the truth was, I was being the close-minded one. I don’t know how others view me, and that doesn’t matter. They will view me how they want. And I will continue to carry myself the way that fits me best: energetic, happy and vibrant. And just because I have those qualities doesn’t mean I haven’t had my hardships, nor does it mean other people don’t appreciate them. That is a huge lesson I’ve learned this past year.
11. When did I feel most creatively inspired? In my writing, both professionally and through Pink and Pearls. I am so blessed that I can be creative every day in my line of work, writing pieces I feel passionate about.
12. What projects have I completed? If cycling from Philadelphia to Washington, D.C. counts as a project, then Tour de Pink was my biggest in 2013. Oh, yeah, and we built a house. J
13. How have I procrastinated? I may be a little slow with thank-you notes. (Though they always get done!) And I still need to preserve my wedding dress. But we finally picked out our wedding album! Also, we still have some boxes to unpack and I’d love to decorate the house more. And don’t get me started about cutting out my newspaper articles.
14. In what ways can I re-structure my time? I think my time was pretty well-structured this past year. I managed to fit in sleep, work, gym time, healthy meal prep time, weighing in at Weight Watchers and quality time with Sean, friends and family, plus travel and hobbies and social events. I’d like to keep the same pace and schedule in 2014. It’s busy but I fit in everything.
15. How have I allowed fear of failure hold me back? I haven’t. There is no time and no room for fear. Just jump in. I’ve learned to actually carry out the task I’m scared of WHILE I’m feeling scared. Aka: feeling like I could never prepare myself for Tour de Pink but actually riding my bike while I felt like that. Or feeling like I could never complete Tour de Pink, but actually riding my bike while feeling this way. I have fears and I have fears of failure, and they don’t always go away right away, so I’ve learned to actually engage in the fear when I’m FEELING the fear. If I wait around for my fear to be gone, I may never accomplish what it was that I was so scared of in the first place.
16. Where has self-doubt taken over? Sometimes I feel like my friends and family do SO much for me and have been so supportive that I can’t possibly return the favor. I want to give them everything they’ve given me, but I feel like it will never be enough. Between my breast cancer, Li-Fraumeni Syndrome, Tour de Pink, building a house and now starting the adoption process, my friends and family have overwhelmingly jumped in at every single challenge, opportunity, blessing and road block. They mean the world to me and I only wish I could give them what they have given me and Sean.
17. When have I felt the most alive? Crossing the finish line. Every finish line, whether it was a 5K or a 200-mile bike ride.
18. How have I taught others to respect me? By never owing anyone an explanation. By never justifying my choices or actions to anyone else.
19. How can I improve my relationships? More phone chats with friends! I love good, old-fashioned phone calls. In elementary school, middle school and high school I’d spend hours at a time on the phone with one friend, then call another. I’d spend all night on the phone. It was so fulfilling.
20. Have I been unfair to anyone? Probably Sean, for his “habits” in food, falling asleep on the couch, etc. He is the most amazing, most loving husband in the world. And I thank G-d for him every day. I started the moment we met, and I know I will continue to for the rest of my life. I just worry about him because I love him so much, and I guess sometimes my worrying comes off as nagging.
21. Who do I need to forgive? I truly feel I have forgiven everyone in my life.
22. Where is it time to let go? I read a lot of organic/raw/green/yoga blogs that all focus on “cutting out” certain foods from our diets. I did give up meat this year, but I’m sick of reading that I should “quit” sugar, dairy and wheat. I kept thinking I should because it would help me be healthier, but the truth is, I have learned to listen to MY body. I do best with every type of food, in moderation. The moment I give up an entire food group completely (except meat, which hasn’t been an issue since I’m getting enough protein and iron) is the moment I deny myself proper nutrition. My whole healthy body journey after cancer is about NOURISHING my body, NOT restricting it or denying it. Every person is different, and after years of listening to and watching my body, and maintaining my weight, I learned I need all different types of food. So I’m going to stop listening to other people’s food advice and listen to my own body. This past year I keep hear myself saying I would quit sugar, quit dairy and quit alcohol, but for me, personally, that doesn’t work. It may work for other people, but not for me. It’s true, I have limited certain processed foods and chemicals and have steered towards more raw nutrition in nuts and seeds, but here’s what I’m LETTING GO OF: ADVICE THAT DOESN’T WORK FOR MY BODY.
23. What old habits would I like to release? Instead of playing Words with Friends before bed, I want to read.
24. What new habits would I like to cultivate? See No. 23.
25. How can I be kind to myself? Continue to be thankful my body has gotten me through so much, and continue to give it the power to survive and thrive, through proper nutrition and exercise. And snuggle with Sean and Campbell, because human (and canine) affection powers my survival.
Do you have an annual self-reflection ritual? What are your favorite ways to release the old and welcome in the new?
I like to think about the amazing milestones of this past year. And there are so many! And I like to look forward to the future and get excited about all new milestones! Life’s path should keep adding stones of all shapes, colors and sizes. Each stone is an experience, whether good or bad. In order to live fully we must welcome all the stones, and accept whichever ones come our way, or are thrown IN OUR WAY.
Because I’m huge on metaphors, as you know very well from reading Pink and Pearls, I feel my life, especially the last few years, has collected quite a few stones. And I know there are more to come. I think the best way to look at is: sometimes we pick the stones and place them lovingly in the exact spot we feel they should be, and sometimes a stone that is too big or too tough gets tossed in front of us and we don’t know what to do with it. But we work with all of them.
A stone I may have carefully placed is our decision to build a house, or my decision to take on the challenge that was Tour de Pink. A stone that may have gotten tossed in front of me without warning was the breast cancer, or the LFS.
I chose certain stones, or experiences, for my life. (Marrying Sean, building a house, Tour de Pink, adoption). I chose these stones to help shape my life. I handpicked them, carefully and thoughtfully, and placed them in the spots I wanted, in the order I chose. Of course, no life choices ever turn out perfectly, and even planned life stones go awry, but those stones were ones I chose and planned for.
And the stones I didn’t ask for? I learned to deal with them, too.
And life isn’t about always having the perfect stones at the perfect time, because no such thing exists. And it isn’t always about dealing with the unexpected stones well all the time. We can’t know how we’ll deal with a future challenge. It’s just about acknowledging that there are stones and there will continue to be stones. And we can’t know what they are. And we can’t prepare, no matter how hard we try.
And there isn’t an answer. I won’t say to have faith that the stones will always align or even out. Or that they’ll always be tricky. We don’t know.
The stones make our life path and we just have to take them as they come, one day at a time. We never know what the future brings so we have to take each piece of rock as it is and hope for the best, or work on making the best.
There isn’t one single lesson I learned in 2013, or one single memory that stands out or one piece of honest, thoughtful reflection. Just that 2013 was an amazing year, and I have hope each year will continue to get better. And I am so very thankful for all of my stones and for my perfect imperfect path. I can’t wait to see where it leads.