A midwinter check-in with yourself

It’s February 14th. Heart day, V-Day. Whatchamacallit day.

Yesterday, I stealthily baked heart-shaped cookies for my children and their friends right before my daughter came home from school. I aired out the kitchen so it wouldn’t smell so good, cleaned all the mixer bowls and hid the evidence. It was a fun and relaxing thing to do – something they did not expect at all, and seeing their happy and surprised faces this morning was well worth it. As I baked yesterday (and because I’m self-employed, I was able to do that at 2pm, not 10pm…) I reflected on the fact that some years, I would not have had time, the energy or the interest to bake for many different reasons: too busy at work, too tired from looking after little kids, interested in some other project…What was fun about making the cookies is that it wasn’t a should, it was a “Just because I feel like it” kind of thing. I may not do it again next year, it’s not a tradition or something I expect of myself (Martha Stewart – you do not have me!).

Is there room in your schedule for “Just because I feel like it” events once in a while, or is life so jammed-packed that there is no space left for spontaneity?

Now that we’re hitting the middle of February, it’s a good time to check-in with yourself and see how you are doing post-holiday. Whether we adopt formal New Year’s resolutions or not, most of us make or renew commitments with ourselves when we start back at work in January. Now that the holiday ornaments are back in the basement storage, and that our attention is turned towards Spring rather than Winter, where are you at with those New Year’s commitments to yourself?

The goal of taking stock is not to beat yourself up about what you haven’t done, but rather to take a compassionate and loving look at the past 6 weeks and see why/how things got off track, if they did. Maybe your goals were too lofty, and not realistically achievable? The gym is full of future marathon runners in January, but in March the gym returns to its usual suspects…

So, once you’ve eaten all the Valentine’s Day chocolate you can handle, I invite you to sit down for ten minutes, and start by taking a few deep calming breaths. Then,  jot down a few thoughts about your current goals: Where are you at with reaching them? 1% of the way? That’s worth celebrating too, not just the massive leaps. If things have been really hard for the past six weeks, why not write down a compassionate, loving statement about why you have not been able to stick to the plan. Finally, why not scale down the goal into much more manageable increments: a walk around the block, saving $5 a week by not buying a latte, having a kind thought about someone instead of gossiping, eating one more vegetable per day. Research shows that true lifestyle change (the ones that stick) is really about the little daily decisions, not the crazy cabbage soup cleanse you attempt and fail at, or the austerity budget you blow after a week because you feel so restricted.

I recently read the following statement on a healthy eating blog: “You are only one meal away from healthy eating.” The same can be true about any lifestyle change: you are only one walk away from being someone who exercises, one cup of tea away from being someone who doesn’t have a stiff drink after work as a matter of course. One meeting away from not being the office grouch.

Feel free to share your new commitments with us on the comments below!

Please be kind to yourself.

7 Responses to A midwinter check-in with yourself

  1. Kim says:

    Funny , my mind was telling me”you don’t have time to read this email…” yet I did and it is a good remider that will allow me to take care of myself, even at work today, Thanks.

  2. Rhonda says:

    I, too, am a person who is just “one walk around the block away from a person who exercises!” Will implement today! Thanks

  3. Wendy says:

    What a wonderful reminder to check in with ourselves, and even more wonderful – to be compassionate with ourselves. Thanks!

  4. may says:

    Thanks for those thought filled words. Its been a long time since I’ve done an activity just because I feel like it. And yes I am just one walk around the block from being someone who excercises!!

  5. Verna says:

    Increments – I always forget about those and look at the too big picture. Great advice. I will think and work to achieve those today and congratulate myself on moving one step closer to the too big picture.

  6. Sue Hull MSW RSW says:

    Thank you Francoise for your story and authentic comments and reminders to be compassionate first toward ourselves. I took the Train the Trainer last year, in March. Since that time, I can reflect better upon my entire career actually, and see the signposts of all that has brought me to my current place. I can see huge improvements in my outlook, my self-care habits, reading, etc. The areas I sometimes still struggle with are with self-talk, belief systems that may not serve me well anymore, and perfectionism. I often listen to Dr. Wayne Dyer, “the Power of Intention” during my commute, and find it really grounds me in positive thinking and attitudes for the day ahead. I have also been reading “The Artist’s Way” and have found that nourishing my artist self is a fantastic way to replenish for me. I recall trying to read the same book years ago, but at that time I resented the references to spirituality. I now have come to my own understanding of spirituality which has helped me immeasurably this year, having just lost two close friends back to back. Grief was something I really struggled with previously. So, as I reflect, I know I have much better awareness, I’ll be more assertive and expressive about my own needs and interests, have embraced some great new habits, and I am very open to continuously stretching these new muscles. So many opportunities, not enough time!

    I have a humourous confession though. I work fulltime, and outside of that I am preparing to deliver 3 different Compassion Fatigue sessions over the next 3 months, and I’m admit, this gets me hyper-anxious, a bit scattered in focus, and putting a lot of pressure on myself to read, read, read; revamp slides; find fun video’s and decide which exercises are best….. I do drive myself a little nuts preparing, but I LOVE delivering these workshops once I get there!

  7. Cindi says:

    Great words of advice. Thanks for allowing me the time to think about my commitments.

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