We faced some challenges last year, right? Here's what I learned during 2021 and how I'll be dealing with whatever 2022 chucks at us.
I’m taking what builds courage and hope - and I'm RUNNING with it (check out this video that shows you how this FEELS! I shot it right afer swimming the bay at Freshie solo for the first time this week...).
What builds hope and courage? I don’t always know (if only there was a magic formula)! I have to stay open, curious and connected to be able to discover what really works. Oh, and it changes over time. But here's what I'll be running with in 2022 (some of it might work for you too):
1. Keep reaching out to connect with others.
As an anxious introvert (yes, seems unlikely but it’s true), staying connected is hard work. When the chips are down, I retreat. When I’m exhausted or upset, I wall myself off. I have to plan for social interactions and stick to those plans, even when I don’t feel like it.
One of my mantras is “You’re always glad you did.” There are a few things that are really, really hard for me to do but I know they are vitally important to my wellbeing. Staying connected to others is one of those things, but the hope and courage that comes from that connection means that I’m always glad I did.
2. Exercise like the clappers.
Here’s another thing that can be hard. But I’m always glad I did. Menopause really came for me in 2021 and I discovered that the more I exercise, the better I feel. I raise my heart rate and move my body in all kinds of ways every single day. On the days when I don’t feel like it (and, top tip, it’s a lot easier to just get straight out of bed and do it), I remember how rubbish I feel when I don’t.
Exercising has also built my courage. I've challenged myself to do more than I thought possible. From solo ocean swims to Zumba (I am NOT a dancer), exercise has provided opportunities to get out of my comfort zone and build emotional as well as physical resilience.
3. Step up and collaborate.
Do you know the golden rule of improv? Accept what the other person throws you and build on it. Never block or avoid. Tina Fey describes it like this:
“So if we’re improvising and I say, “Freeze, I have a gun,” and you say, “That’s not a gun. It’s your finger. You’re pointing your finger at me,” our improvised scene has ground to a halt. But if I say, “Freeze, I have a gun,” and you say, “The gun I gave you for Christmas! You bastard!” then we have started a scene because we have AGREED that my finger is in fact a Christmas gun.”
My nature is to say “That’s not a gun.” I’ve done it over and over again, closing down conversations, relationships and opportunities.
At the end of 2020 I became the VP of Yoga Australia and then in 2021 I became president of the choir I sing with. My gut reaction to both opportunities was “Nup, that’s not an opportunity. That’s a lot of work and responsibility.” But I’ve learned that leadership is not a solo act; it's a collaboration, much like improv. I’ve learned to accept what’s offered, build on it and pass it on, participating in a collaborative process that supports the growth of ideas, actions and communities.
Stepping up like this has been hard - and often asks for a lot more bravery and risk taking than I think I’m capable of; but I’m always glad I did.
4. Check in with all 5 Koshas.
Do you sometimes feel like you’re buffeted between what your heart, your gut and your head are telling you? Humans are not always great at managing contradictions or dealing with things that are both true and not true at the same time. We can ‘know’ one thing and ‘feel’ another.
Yoga teaches us there are five ‘layers’ of our being - the 5 Koshas (or Panca Maya). Body, Energy, Thinking Mind, Higher Mind and Love. Paying attention to what I am experiencing in each of these layers - and holding space for the paradoxes they sometimes present - has been an important part of my growth in 2021. I’m almost grateful for the crazy events of the year for giving me an opportunity to really embody this teaching (almost).
A day when I don’t get out into nature is, usually, a tricky day. Ocean swimming, bush walking. When push comes to shove, I’ll take lying on the nature strip. As a London girl who could never imaging leaving the big smoke, the past two decades have seen a slow journey back to nature. The pandemic sped that process up and over the past two years I’ve come to believe that nature is the only thing that really matters. It’s who and what I am. It’s what we all are. We’re just a small part of nature. That’s been a profound recognition.
What works for you? I invite you to figure it out and do more of it. Because, while life is always full of challenges, it’s good to be able to meet them with hope, optimism and energy (and even joy!) Do whatever it takes to fill your reserves of these valuable resources. It might be hard sometimes, but you’ll always be glad you did.
Lots of Love