A pile of self-help books sits on my bedside table. The books were written by people I would give anything to meet in person and, better yet, befriend. Whenever I walk into my bedroom, I feel the books at once smiling and yelling at me (in a supportive, gentle, tough love kind of way). Brene Brown encourages me to shed my armor and get into the arena. Glennon Doyle tells me to unleash my inner cheetah. Abby Wambach, persuades me that I need a wolfpack of my own. Jen Pasternack reminds me to be human and listen with my whole self. They want to help me end the waiting. I know they do.

Their books and so many more were such a critical hug and spotlight on the way forward when I went through my divorce.  I read them all, more than once. I was determined to make the most of the next chapter of my life. And then they became the frenemy (not the authors, never the authors – I still want to invite each one of them to a dinner party). As much as they encourage me, they also pressure me. I tend to glance at them furtively, mouthing “I’m sorry”, followed by “Soon. I promise” and quickly look away. This has been going on for a while.

The Waiting

I have changes I want to make, need to make. There is a life I want to live, and I haven’t been living it fully. Something always gets in the way and I delay the start. The pile of books and my reaction to them signifies the waiting. You know the waiting – waiting until the kids grow up, waiting until you lose 30 pounds (or 50) so you’re happy to be seen doing your thing rather than ashamed, waiting until you overcome the current challenge before diving in and really living. The waiting. The biggest problem with the waiting is that there’s never much down time between one life crisis and the next. I’ve been stuck in the waiting for a long time.

I’ve woken up countless mornings committing to change. I wonder if I’ll stick to plan (any plan!). Most days, by mid to late afternoon (sometimes earlier), something unnerves me. More often than I care to admit, I glance at the fridge, sigh, open the freezer, take out the Trader Joe’s When Life Gives You Lemons ice cream, grab a spoon, sit on the couch, open the lid, put the first tangy, heavenly spoonful in my mouth, settle in to eat the whole pint and think out loud, “Tomorrow.” The ice cream is certainly life changing, but alas, never in the way I need it to be.

Note to reader: as you may know, Trader Joe’s products come and go with the seasons. As I write this post in November, the ice cream is (tragically? blessedly?) unavailable. Not to worry as Trader Joe’s sells snacks aplenty and there’s sure to be something else there or at your local supermarket that fills this emotional need for you. Finding snacks is never my problem.

Tomorrow

I can’t say I’ve entirely eliminated this behavior but it’s currently under control in a way it hasn’t been in years. I work hard to stay in this place where I feel better about myself, my life, my possibilities. This last year has started to take shape as the “tomorrow” promised to the pint. It’s been a particularly difficult year full of crises with my children, a third cancer diagnosis for my dog, health concerns for me, the dissolution of the nonprofit organization I used to run and, worst of all, the unexpected death of my dad.

In the middle of this brutal year, as part of a wellness journey I began some time ago and, in an effort to discover my interests (which, like many women, I buried and no longer recognized), I decided to train as a health and well-being coach. Turns out my interests include learning. Feeling frustrated by the relentless calls for self-care when I didn’t quite understand what they meant, I decided that seemed like a good thing to learn. My plan was to use what I learned to support others I care about and maybe myself. It’s been quite a process. It’s led me to launch a new career as a health and wellbeing coach, largely a result of the fact that the process has been helpful for me. I know it can be helpful for others.

No More Waiting

The waiting and its good friend “all or nothing” are not satisfying or productive. If we wait for the perfect circumstances to present themselves, we’ll never make changes. And if we measure the success of those changes using an “all or nothing” model, we’ll never sustain them. Small, steady, consistent changes lead to big sustainable change. We need to give ourselves space, grace, and support every step of the way. Any change you deem important enough to want to make brings you closer to your vision of your healthiest, happy self, even if you haven’t taken the time to consciously envision what that is.

So why not start there? End the waiting and consider what your healthiest, happiest self looks like, feels like and does. What is it you want to do, how do you want to feel and what difference will it make if you do and feel those things? Envisioning yourself in optimal health and wellbeing is a helpful reminder of your values and your worth. And make no mistake, you are worthy, and you can agent your change.

If you’re interested in exploring that vision of yourself in optimal health and you want to start setting goals and action steps to make it your reality, maybe it’s time to consider coaching.

If you want to know what I’ve learned about self care, read my next post!

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