There is a Try

“Our business in life is not to succeed, but to continue to fail in good spirits.”                         – Robert Louis Stevenson

I’ve returned to this quote over and over again, but it’s only recently that I feel like I understand it. I think the word fail is a little strong. I prefer to substitute the word try. We can do or do not, as a wise little green creature named Yoda once said, but we shouldn’t be afraid to try.

We don’t know what is possible unless we give it a go. Sure, we can rest comfortably and safely in the security of the known, but we’ll never see what’s possible unless we move beyond. It takes courage to move forward and go about our business in life. It is bold to try.

When we try, we increase our confidence, we prove ourselves capable, and we often decrease our anxiety. One of the most anxiety provoking things for me is the unknown or the worry about what might be. When I move through a process, when I show up and put in an effort, I eliminate that factor and often the outcome is far less horrific than any of the scenarios in my head.

Trying helps us to see what works and what doesn’t. It helps us to see what truly matters to us and to see where our skills lie. We see what is no longer worth our time and what would be a better use of those minutes and hours. It is in the trying that we learn and grow and develop a better understanding of ourselves and the world around us.

Not to say that success is a bad thing, but we can’t succeed unless we try. If we don’t try, we don’t give ourselves opportunities to make changes or discoveries. If we don’t first fail, we won’t achieve a larger level of success.

Try, accept the (possible) “failure”, try again, learn from the experience…keep repeating.

Living in the Middle Ages

I feel as though I’ve turned a corner recently. I ordered some comfort shoes recommended by my doctor. My body has decided to stop agreeing with things like coffee after 10:00am and more than one cocktail per sitting. People are calling me “ma’am” more.

I’m less than a month from my birthday and I’m feeling a bit unsettled about turning another year older. This is not a milestone birthday. I’ve already hit 21, 30, and 40. This is is 44 and it feels odd. It feels mature, adult, responsible, slightly boring…old(er). I feel that I’m these things. I feel that I might be a little less bright, a little less magnetic, a little less…young.

I don’t remember stressing out over any of those previous milestones. I do remember being a bit weirded out by turning 27. My feelings then were not dissimilar to now. Adult. Mature. Not so young anymore. Not able to use youthful ignorance as an excuse. My glow a bit more dull.

I am now the adult in the room. For better or for worse, I am older, wiser, and more self aware. I am better able to process my emotions and feelings. I am better able to respond to the needs of others. I am better able to cultivate relationships and choose to spend time doing what is meaningful to me. I am more than willing to release the crap in my life, both physical and emotional.

And still, the prospect of getting close to checking a new age range box is a bit strange, a bit unwelcome.

Deep breath. I am looking forward.

Most Optimistic

I might have mentioned this before (I’m too lazy right now to go back and check), but I was voted Most Optimistic in high school. (I was also voted Class Clown and Class Fashion Statement, but who’s counting?) For the longest time, I wasn’t willing to own the title. Sure, I’m not overly negative or gloom and doom, but I never felt all rainbows and glitter either.

Over the years, I’ve realized that I initially had an over simplistic view of optimism, reducing it to thoughts of a perpetually happy and blissfully unaware person. I’ve come to understand that optimists are, more often than not, fully grounded in reality, aware of what is going on around them, and able to deal with what life hands them. I’m happy to be an optimist.

I was writing in my journal last week (again, highly recommended as a healthy self care habit) and couldn’t help but think I was receiving some sort of affirmation of my optimistic tendencies when a rainbow fell across the page. I have a mirrored picture frame that catches the light just right in the late afternoon, but I’ve never had it line up so perfectly. It highlighted the line “I’m looking forward”.

And really, that’s what optimism is to me. It’s not positive thinking that drowns out things that are less than ideal or ignoring the bad things in life. It’s taking note of all of those things and looking forward. It’s moving in a positive direction. It’s hope. It’s believing that things can and will get better. I’ve started to use “I am looking forward” as a personal mantra. You’re welcome to borrow it, too.


Look Who’s Back….

I believe in New Year’s resolutions. I also believe that there is no wrong time to resolve to improve areas of your life that you’re unhappy with. Make St. Patrick’s Day resolutions if you want, or use the feeling of freedom wrapped up in Independence Day to make some changes…whatever works for you. There is no wrong way to resolve.

One of my resolutions is to start writing more. It’s been almost a year since I’ve visited this space and I’ve missed it. 2019 was a year of me taking charge of my mental and emotional health. It was out of character for me, but I dialed back my online output in order to save my energy. It took work and commitment, but I ended it with a framework in place to keep me healthier and happier than I had been when the year started.

The three things that have helped me stay relatively balanced, and better able to cope with what life throws at me are meditation, yoga, and journaling. I have meditated for 587 days in a row and have done yoga for 582 days. Sadly, I missed a day of journaling recently, and so I’m currently on a 4 day streak.

When I decided to focus on these habits, I set some non-negotiable ground rules. My bare minimum was five minutes of meditation and yoga everyday. My journal rule was even less strict, I just had to write a sentence, if nothing else. I found that taking the pressure off myself made it easier to work these things into my day, but also prevented me from making excuses to get out of it. No matter what was going on in my life, I could find a total of ten minutes to help myself. The result is that I am in less physical pain and am better able to recognize and process my emotions. My depression and anxiety will not go away, but through these practices, I am able to see them for what they are.

We often make grand declarations for our resolutions. We get focused on the big picture or think that if it’s not a major, earth shaking change that it doesn’t count. Not true. Meaningful, important, and lasting change can happen with small, dedicated motions. As the saying goes, slow and steady wins the race. Focus on what you can reasonably do to get to make the changes you want to make. If five minutes of meditation seems overwhelming, try one minute of sitting quietly with your eyes closed. Instead of filling a journal page, try writing one sentence. It doesn’t have to be deep. Take one minute to stretch one part of your body that could use it. There is no wrong choice. Remember, no pressure on yourself.

Maybe these aren’t your goals, maybe your goals have to do with eating better or moving more. In that case, maybe your small steps would be to try a new vegetable every week, to drink one extra glass of water per day, or to walk for at least five minutes each day. Five minutes seems to be a sweet spot for me. As I said, it’s hard for me to weasel out of that amount of time and if I do five minutes, I’ll often add another five.

This year, I’m resolving to make each habit a ten minute habit. I’ve proven that I can do five, why not ten? And now that my mental and emotional health are in check, I’d like to start working on my physical health. I’m dealing with an ankle injury at the moment, but plan on starting an outdoor walking habit when it’s healed. Moving more would help me immensely.

Resolve. Find your bare minimum. Commit. Do. Enjoy the benefits.