So I started writing this post on April 17, the day before my 30th birthday. I'm definitely a little behind on this one, but it's been on my mind a lot. Enjoy :)
|Enjoying my birthday cake with the coolest candle ever!|
Before I get into the whole story, let me give you some background information. I've never been fond of my birthday. In fact I can even remember dreading it when I was much younger. It always felt ominous, foreboding, and like something terrible was going to happen. There are a multitude of personal reasons for this (saving that topic for a much further time in the future to discuss) why I've felt this way. I also have never dealt well with milestone birthdays. I cried when I turned 20. 25? Well that was my first year dating Anthony and he can confirm I did not take it well. Turning 30 was a bit scary for me and I've been dreading it for months.
God bless Anthony, he's been working for the past 6 years to make my birthday special and retrain my mind to like it, maybe even love it. With all my progress over the last year with my health I wanted a very intimate celebration with those who also share my beliefs about love and life. I also knew I wanted a break from reality for a few days and do a mini retreat for myself. My birthday fell the Friday before Easter so I had the entire week off from work. I knew I wanted to head to the beach for the week and have dinner on my actual birthday back in NY. So that's what I did.
Anthony and I headed to Cape May early Monday morning with my journals, yoga mat, and some inspirational reading material in tow. I turned off all my social media for the week and really focused on getting my groove back as you would say. What do I need? What really makes me happy? What am I holding onto that is no longer serving me? I hoped to have most of these questions answered by the end of the week. So I got busy relaxing and set off to reconnect with myself.
If you're looking for some serious solitude, Cape May is beautiful off season. It looks a lot like a ghost town and there is an overwhelming feeling of calmness. We stayed at the beautiful La Mer beachfront hotel and had an ocean view room with a balcony. I spent a lot of time talking with Anthony, enjoying nature, reading, writing, and doing yoga as I pleased. It was unbelievably relaxing. I discovered I was holding onto a lot of disappointment in myself, mostly for not being where society thought I should be. I also needed to let go of a few negative relationships. I wrote letters to those people and on the morning of my birthday I released them into the ocean. I let them go. And that's where the story truly begins.
Since turning 30 I've been able to recognize the fact that I need to be around people who cheer for one another, not sit and talk negative gossipy gossip all day. Have I perfected this yet, no but no one is supposed to. Whenever we read about health and diet the principle of 80/20 comes up. Certain eating plans say to eat a certain way for 80% of the time and give yourself 20% of whatever; there is the concept of 80% alkaline and 20% acid when creating optimal meals; there's also the concept of eating till you're 80% full and leaving 20% room in your tummy for digestion. My big epiphany is that we can apply these same principles to our mental wellness and relationships. Reality is that nothing will be perfect 100% of the time so at first I think it's ok to strive for at least 80% of ideal ness. Here's what I mean.
1. 80% strict, 20% Spontaneity: I keep a fairly structured schedule Monday through Friday. I need that for my mental sanity. I always have 2 days a week where my schedule is flexible, aka I'm off and can do as I please. If you create such a strict schedule for yourself that you have no flexibility is that really fun? I'm all about my daily yoga, meditation, eating habits, etc... But that being said if I keep myself to a 100% strict schedule with no wiggle room, it will totally defeat the purpose of doing all those amazing things. Keep calm, be flexible, and remember to LISTEN to yourself for what you need now.
2. 80% Alkaline, 20% Acid: Ok so we all have this one friend where all you ever discuss is how bad your life is and then try to top one another's horror stories (aka my life is worse than yours) right? All that negativity is so not good for you and all your amazingness! Before you go ahead and write that person out of your story see if you can instigate a change by driving 80% of your conversations to all the awesome, wonderful things going on in your life and the world right now. Sneak in a few compliments and offer up gratitude for all the great things you have. See if the relationship can be half full instead of the doom and gloom team. If nothing changes, maybe it's time to move on. Try this concept in all your relationships and see how awesome life can be. We all need some vent time so use your 20% acid time to do that and savor up all the positive alkaline goodness of your conversations for the rest.
3. 80% Full, 20% To Digest: Just like we can over eat, we can easily over commit ourselves. We then become rundown and feel stressed, crazy, sad, overwhelmed, and maybe depressed. Leave yourself at least 20% of your day to digest all that's happened and take some me time. Read, journal, paint, dream, meditate, whatever you need to do for you. We can't process everything if we're constantly taking in the needs of others. So remember don't get too full on commitments and leave some room for you!
I've taken a lot of steps over the last few months to apply these concepts to my own life. Truth? I feel a huge difference in my mental well being. Yes I still have my moments (we all do) but now I can recognize when I'm starting to hit an emotional wall or heading towards burnout and take the necessary steps to prevent it. I have a few non-negotiables in my daily schedule, the biggest one being meditation. If I don't get my 10-15 minutes of meditation in every morning, I feel angry, frazzled, and very unsettled. So I have consistently meditated everyday for 2 months now and while I still have some hang ups, they are so far in the back of my mind that my day is so much brighter and peaceful.
Remember, it's not about being perfect or doing it right. What matters most is that you take the time to care and love yourself everyday. So how does it feel to be 30 you ask? It feels like I'm 24 so in my opinion it's awesome :-) I hope you can work some of these principles into your own life and sparkle from the inside out. Have a beautiful day and please share your own stories.