Saturday, March 19, 2016

When Things Are Changing

“I want to keep walking away from the person I was a moment ago, because a mind was made to figure things out, not to read the same page recurrently.” 

Last month, my yoga teacher, whose class I've been attending for about 5 months, said to me after savasana: "I can tell everything's changing for you." The words were firm, with a surety that required no elaboration, so I simply nodded my head in agreement. Yes.

Driving home from that yoga class, I realized through my misted view of the Flatirons that my eyes were filled with happy tears. Someone saw. Alhough my yoga teacher may not have known exactly what was happening in my life, he recognized the shift. 

Was it in the rhythm of my breath? The shape of my forward fold? Had my chi transformed in some subtle way? (Yoga teachers pick up on these things, you know.)

I don't know what it was that he'd noticed, but I do know things are changing for me.

Things are changing in my relationship to my body. I am listening to, instead of ignoring, the strange pain in my left hip. I'm edging closer to it, befriending it, and coaxing it to share its deepest wishes with me (which, thus far, seem to include lots of requests for turmeric and regular sessions with the foam roller).

My relationship with my body is changing in other ways too, most notably with my newfound love of strength training. For a long time I had this irrational fear of lifting weights. What if you look dumb? What if you mess up? What if you drop a weight on someone's foot? It's insane, really, the kinds of ridiculous fears we allow to hold us back. I started lifting weights at the gym last fall and – more recently – discovered the magic that is Orange Theory. I don't know quite how to explain it, but I just feel so much delight at watching myself get stronger and stronger. It's like my muscles are saying "Finally! This is what we've been meant to do all along."

Things are changing in my relationship with food. For awhile, I'd been operating on a sort of grain-free/Paleo-ish auto-pilot, but since completing the Whole30, I have developed a better awareness of my body's preference for certain types of fuel. Instead of reaching for the protein bar just because it's labeled "paleo," I'm reaching for grass-fed Greek yogurt with almond butter because I know it gives me just the right amount of protein for optimal energy. This is not a knock on protein bars–I think they're great! The point is I am eating things that make me feel good, rather than things that fall into a certain category.

Things are changing in my relationship with my finances. After spending several years not paying a whole lot of attention to the topic of money, I felt the desire to look at this part of my life to see whether my financial behaviors were aligned with my values and goals. So, one of my goals for 2016 was to re-engage with my finances by taking inventory of my assets as well as my spending and saving habits. Each week since January 1st, I have set aside 1-2 hours on the weekend to spend effort on my "financial future." How I spend the time varies, but so far I've done a review of my various savings and investment accounts (and whether they're being maximized fully); set up my Health Savings Account; transferred an old 401k balance; canceled an old credit card and opened a new one with better rewards; and completed other various "projects." I've gotten curious about what a values-centered budget would look like and begun playing with some different formats and ideas. I've also begun reading The Soul of Money and re-examining my attitudes around abundance and prosperity. It feels wonderfully empowering and refreshing to be re-engaged with my finances in this way.

Things are changing for me at work. I'm reading The 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership, and wow, it is rocking my perspective in a really big way. As someone who thinks of herself as generally conscious at work, I am learning how much room for opportunity I still have, particularly in my ability (or, sometimes lack thereof) to feel my emotions, rather than react to them. I am also inspired by the book's portraits of conscious workplaces and thinking a lot about how I, an HR professional, have an opportunity to create that environment for myself and others. The book talks about asking yourself: "What is life's highest idea of itself that wants to express itself in and through me?"...a question that has been calling forth some really interesting (and surprising!) ideas and images for me.

So, yes, things are changing. These things, and other things not detailed here. Maybe not everything in a literal sense, but a lot of things. A lot of big things.

I have experienced periods of rapid personal change and growth in the past. Typically, one area of my life will begin shifting in order to meet some external challenge (whether professional or personal), and that resulting growth will impact all the other areas in similar ways. These periods of intense change are exhilarating, but also necessarily painful. By adopting new ways of being we are forced to leave old ways, old selves really, behind. It can feel a little like waving goodbye to a friend, someone we know like the back of your hand, but whose interests are no longer aligned with our own. So long, buddy. It's been real.

Change is hard. It can be heart-breaking, even, at that moment we realize our well-loved and familiar patterns and habits just don't do it for us anymore. What now? we ask ourselves.

The writer Henry Cloud says we change our behavior when the pain of staying the same becomes greater than the pain of changing.

I suppose it's a matter of which pain we prefer then. The tedious comfort of reading the same page over and over again? Or the thrill of turning the page, unsure of what we'll find?

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