I woke up one day last week feeling horrible. I was aching in my hands, my feet, I could almost feel the skin across my rib cage throbbing with an achy inflammation, and my sacrum was in a knot.
Was it something I ate, was it ‘punishment’ for having recently talked about my body feeling so much better? Was it because I bragged that I would occasionally have a night without good sleep rather than occasionally having a night with good sleep?
As I sat with my morning tea, I thought “I should listen…do my soul work.” But I didn’t really feel like it. In fact, I hadn’t done it for a few days because…well…when things are going great, I don’t feel a great desire to dig deep…or listen to my soul…or to even be quiet enough to find out if things are o.k. Why bother? Everything’s good!
Until it’s not.
For so much of my life, I’ve ignored my body. I have ignored pain and discomfort, but most importantly, I ignored being tired, fatigue…exhaustion. Always pushing through…always getting the next thing done…always being ‘busy.’
Then, a funny thing happened when I entered empty-nest.
I could no longer ignore my body. It was going to have its say.
First, I injured my knee. All my plans to do so many things with my son before he went to college went right out the window. All I could do was ‘be.’ A beautiful gift, in retrospect, to be with him instead of all that doing. While healing from that, back pain showed up, then reflux. Then exhaustion, loss of libido, feeling sadness and grief about entering empty nest – actually trying to reject those feelings because they seemed so wrong when I was so excited for my son. Quality of sleep? None.
Then I started doing the work of Mind/Body Coach training. I’ve believed in the mind/body connection for years, and I was excited to learn the tools to link my mind, body, and soul so they would communicate. What happened first was ‘the mess,’ as our mentor and teacher, Abigail Steidley, calls it. As we students started getting familiar with our bodies and listening to our inner wisdom, all hell broke loose for all of us. For me? Pain – getting worse, not better! Losing my voice. Colds. Crying, what seemed like ALL.THE.TIME.
Then slowly, while learning and using the tools and understanding the Mind/Body process, the fog and the pain and the sadness/grief started to lift. I kept exercising, got massages, a new mattress, started paying close attention to my intuition around food, fun, pleasure. I started resting more…feeling my feelings more…playing more.
Relief! It was delicious to honor my intuition and my soul messages, living in a more grounded and effortless way. Life was good. Sleeping…no exhaustion…no pain. And this work and it’s results reverberate throughout every aspect of your life. It was a keeper.
So I knew I needed to check in. What the heck was going on?
This is what I heard…
Rest. Delicious, real food. No protein shakes. Gather evidence (tracking what happens when I follow my inner guidance). Passion, Fun, Love. Exercise.
Of course. When I listen, my inner wisdom is consistent, with a few surprises thrown in, here and there.
So…Do I have to?
I may not ‘feel like’ doing this work some days, and that’s ok. But as a consistent part of my life, my choice is clear for me. I listen and follow my inner wisdom and stay strong, stay rested, stay nourished, maintain healthy blood sugar levels, and follow my bliss.
It doesn’t get better than that.
Sometimes remodeling can be difficult.
Especially if you are attached to the old design.
But sometimes you have to change things, update them, breathe life into the well-used.
This usually means being uncomfortable for a bit…living with uproar. And in the process, you let go of that which no longer enhances your way of living, but you keep the memories and the momentos…and the wisdom gained.
This is especially true of life.
Life really was perfect for so many years! Your life ‘decor’ and ‘floor plan’ served great purpose, and the style was a match for your way of living. You were a full-time mom. AND a wife, volunteer, small business-owner, entrepreneur. You worked part time, full time. You ran the home. You worked the classroom with other parent volunteers. You lead the PTA. You ran the carpool. You lived your bliss.
Then life – and change – happens.
Your oldest child, or youngest child, or only child goes off to college.
Your parents fall ill, or one parent passes on leaving a gaping hole in the life of your living parent, or you have become your parent’s caregiver.
You think about your marriage/partnership and wonder if it’s strong enough – or if there is enough joy between the two of you – or if you have enough left in common to survive an empty(ing) nest or the struggle of ailing parents.
And then, on top of all that, you look in the mirror. You stare…or look away quickly…the years keep marching on, yes, but now you see the blatant signs every time you look at yourself as you smile to disguise any sagging.
I read somewhere that Shakespeare’s plays were all 5-act plays. I love this metaphor for life and our different stages of ages.
Act One – Birth until around 18 to 25.
Act Two – 18 to 25 until about 45 or 50.
Act Three – 45/50 until about 70 or 75.
Act Four – 70/75 until your death.
Act Five – the final transition.
(note…these are my age ranges…opinion only! your experience may vary 😉
I’m in Act 3, a place where so many of my friends, acquaintances, relatives, and colleagues are.
This is not about mortality, really, but we now know we are not invincible.
And for many of us, for the first time in a very, very long time – if ever – this act can be directed totally by our own hand…or as close to that as is humanly possible when you love and cherish other intimates in your life, and you want to honor their desires or your own moral obligations.
A re-modeling, re-building, re-newing.
IF you allow it to be.
So why does this phase, this ‘Act 3,’ often feel like it can bring you to your knees, sometimes stopping you dead in your tracks – you can find yourself doing everything possible to distract yourself…shopping, eating, drinking, surfing (the internet) – wasting precious time…YOUR time.
It took me a little more than a year of grief and sadness and “WTF!?” (mixed in with delight and discovery) to realize this truly is a very exciting time in my life. I know some of those ‘awful’ feelings will come back again because feelings are meant to flow through our lives, coming and going…guiding.
But there were times when there seemed to me no flow at all…I felt totally stuck.
A quiet home. Stretching out before me like this for years and years to come. As I asked when I first had an inkling of this coming, I was asking again…”Now what?”
And I’m delighted to report that the answer was ‘Remodel!’ Of course. Not in a distracted way, but a loving, nurturing way.
I’m excited about remodeling this nest – not my actual house, though there is some of that – but as a statement of what I want my life to look like now.
In FACT, I’ve already begun!
The grief, sadness, and loneliness were preparation and initiation.
Sometimes, it felt like hazing!
Luckily, there has been other prep and initiation! The re-discovering of my husband and the joy of our ‘coupled’ relationship; the realization that there are actually things I like about who I am and how I am now that I don’t have the ‘full-time mom’ hat on; the fact that I adore my son as much as ever…and am more proud of him than ever; and that I really am the boss of me (always was) and have freedom that is so big it is a bit scary…
Putting myself first?! It’s almost making me giddy.
I’m even ready to face this aging process with my eyes wide open and a willingness to experiment with new things, new adventures, and nurturing my soul and body in order to meet the challenge as best I can…
How to deal with sagging skin, lower libido, higher blood sugar and bigger love handles!?
How to let go of old anger, worries, or habits that no longer serve us?
How to treat ourselves well, emotionally, physically, and spiritually?
How do we and our partners/spouses continue or re-ignite our love affair?
How can we put ourselves first with the obligations of paying bills, kids still at home, needy parents, and work…
How can we NOT?
As one friend put it, “…it’s time to fill the years with exciting opportunities and spoiling ourselves in the process…we are definitely deserving.”
We ARE deserving!
Are you somewhere in this process?
Are you ready to remodel?
Act Three is bound to be Sensational.
(Join me in this conversation! I’m scheduling a weekly call so that we can all get in the conversation.
This will not be a recorded call, so that we can be open and honest and vulnerable, and most of all supportive of each other through these changes. We can share worries, and experiences and tips on ways to enhance our ‘remodeling. ‘
Msg me at deb(at)wholewellnessliving(.)com, and I will send you the days, times, and number for the first month.