It's officially spring and as I look outside my open window, soaking in the wonder of new growth, pink budded trees, and bees in flight after the long sleep of winter, I'm filled with gratitude.
I survived another November.
The two months out of the year that make every attempt to kick me in the ass and drag me down so that despite my best efforts, they result in an inevitable turn toward pie crust as a way of self medicating.
And I'm okay with that.
Once upon a time I made sweeping gestures and bold statements like: "This year I shall verily conquer November! I will be happy all month or die trying!" or "January is going to be the ride of my life!"
But as I've gotten older (and yes, there are many benefits that come with the passage of time, people, that's what this blog is all about!), I've come to realize that despite a global movement toward 24 hour happiness, most lately courtesy of Pharrell, we weren't meant to be happy all the time. Further to that, it's okay to be sad, grumpy, bitchy, depressed, excited, enraged, or anything else in between because the long and the short of it is that life isn't always easy. Or as M Scott Peck so brilliantly put it:
“Once we truly know that life is difficult-once we truly understand
and accept it-then life is no longer difficult. Because once it is
accepted, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters.”
When I allow myself to accept things just as they are, it frees me. There is no longer a need to fight back or rail against the ides of March (or November). With acceptance comes the knowledge that I can sink into my months and wear them like a warm pair of pajamas. I can make like Yogi, and hibernate with my picnic basket filled to the rim with the things that give me comfort: soft blankets, warm pie, deep wine - accepting the very things I once viewed as enemies as my salvation rather than my demise.
As I do this, I learn to accept myself as not flawed, but as simply human. I re-frame the way I think and resist the urge to chastise myself for "being bad" because January the 15th has me reaching for a bag of chips. Instead I congratulate myself for good self care. The chips got me through another day. I went to work. I smiled at people. I helped a friend. I held a hand. And no one but me and the chips knew how hard that was to do on that particular day.
And don't get me wrong. I'm not saying "Go out and smoke crack if that's what it takes to get you through." I'm saying, "Understand the reasons why you wanted to smoke it in the first place and accept the beautiful person you are underneath the expectations."
I know. Easy, right?
The thing is, if there is a door to happiness, or at the very least a little more happiness than what you're experiencing now, the key to unlock it is self acceptance because when we have that, we have everything.
When we accept ourselves in all of our injured glory, it becomes less important to show the world how strong we are. How bold we are. How rich we are. Or how whatever we are because we know who we are. We're no longer invested in external validation to tell us we're good enough because we've filled ourselves from the inside out.
I call that Kick Ass Acceptance, and for me, it has changed almost everything.
I say almost because, though I reach for my picnic basket with less frequency and more joy; relishing in the tastes and textures, I haven't been completely exempted from my lifelong battle with the afterglow of guilt.
Last week I made the following comment to a colleague: "I feel like Fatty McFaterston" after eating an entire Reuben sandwich and an ill informed half plate of onion rings. Luckily for me, I work with wonderful people and he promptly replied with genuine sincerity "You're not Fatty McFaterston."
That just made me smile.
It helped me to remember another important truth about life: That though external validation need not be the only thing filling our empty spaces, having a few good friends and people in your life who love you and are willing to fill the gaps on days when you're not kicking ass is a treasure that cannot be replaced.
As for me, I've turned my annual six month corner from out of hibernation and into action. This is the time of year I get energized. I set goals, I add to my bucket list, I LEAP! Two years ago I crossed "Run an 8 k road race" off my list, so this year I have added a new item: "Run a half marathon."
I plan to do this in October. I began training today.
Lyndsay Wells is a professional trainer, writer, and program developer
with a passion for food and cooking. She is an award winning recipe
developer, and a website ambassador for Kraft Foods Canada. Lyndsay
believes cooking should be approachable and easy and has great tips and
ideas for putting together sophisticated looking dishes that cooks of
all levels can accomplish.
Visit her daily on her blog, The Kitchen Witch or on her YouTube Channel, CHARMED With The Kitchen Witch.