Tuesday, July 1, 2014
What Else Is Possible: Reflections On June
Oh, how I've missed this space! In case you hadn't noticed, I took a break from blogging for the month of June. I was tempted to pop in for a quick update several times, but my energy and efforts were elsewhere, and so I gave myself permission to simply let it go. That being said, I'm thrilled to be back and get caught up.
So here's what happened in June.
I worked. I ate. I ran. I studied. I slept.
That's the short version, anyway. Let me back up.
For starters, I embarked on and completed my first Whole30. The connotations our culture associates with the word "diet" don't resonate with me, but I have repeatedly heard people sing the praises of the Whole30 experience and since it seemed already aligned with my preferences, I decided to give it a go. If you have followed my meal planning posts, you know I am drawn toward nourishment comprised mainly of proteins, veggies, fruits, nuts, seeds, and healthy fats. Every body is different, but I find that I personally feel best when I eat this way, while also avoiding most grains, refined sugars, and processed foods. (I can go either way on dairy, but tend to limit it to high-quality cheeses and the occasional spoonful of crème fraîche or sour cream.) For me, the experience was not as challenging as it is for some, probably because I was already eating mostly paleo/primal, but I was forced to drop my evening chocolate habit and make a few other modifications. For the most part, I felt incredibly energized and very much alive. It's amazing how much even moderate amounts of sugar, alcohol, and even certain carbohydrates can dull the senses. With fewer mood-modifying effects, I felt a little vulnerable, a little raw, but in a good way, like I could trust that I was perceiving things as they actually are.
Also on the healthy living front, I used the warming weather and lengthening days to kick my trail runs into high gear, challenging myself to try new-to-me trails that had previously intimidated me, and completing two of my longest runs in years. I ran almost every day, about 90 miles over the course of the month. I ran in the mornings when I knew I would have to work late, and I ran after work when all I wanted to do was go home and relax. I ran because I had to, because I knew it was the only way I'd stay sane amidst the stress of preparing for my PHR exam.
Which brings me to the studying. Six months ago, with the support of my employer, I registered for the Professional in Human Resources certification exam. The certification is considered the defining credential in the HR field, and covers a significant body of knowledge. I knew I would have to study hard, having less HR generalist experience than many PHR candidates. Although I began studying few months ago, I buckled down big-time in June, spending my evenings and weekends with my nose in the books. The exam was June 28th, and, whew, I passed. It was extremely difficult, and I would not have passed had I eased up on the preparation even a bit. Several days before I passed the exam, I also received a promotion at work. Between the promotion and passing the exam, I don't think I'd felt that accomplished since I was offered the job a year ago!
As I leave the frenetic energy of June behind, the advent of July carries a mixed sort of sweetness. On the one hand, I have the impulse to relax. It's summer, after all, the season made for lazy, laid-back leisure. I do want to enjoy it. On the other hand, this past month laid bare a certain truth for me that I'm not sure I've fully realized before: that I can attempt really difficult things and succeed. I've had my share of successes in life, but I think I always assumed they were due to some combination of kismet and charisma. I got scared when things got hard, so I backed away, worried that my innate talents and charms wouldn't be enough to see me through. In contrast, these recent achievements feel earned. Like I looked the challenges in the eye, worked my tail off, and reaped the reward. It has actually made me wonder what other challenges are out there that a former version of myself would not have considered. It has made me wonder what else is possible.
And, all in all, possibility seems like a fine place to inhabit this month.