Hello my beautiful friends! Wow! What a great start to 2016. I have a good feeling about this year. It seemed like 2015 brought on a slew of highs, lows, and learning lessons for all. As I look back over the past year, I feel like I continued to grow on a personal level. I'm grateful that life has unfolded as it has. My journey has lead me to Portland, Oregon for a fresh, new start.
I thought about doing a "Things I learned in 2015" type post, but it just feels too personal to share right now. My online filter has gone up and down over the years and I tend to just share whatever feels right at the moment. What I would like to share with you today is a way of living that I have adopted over this past year. One of my good friends shared this with me awhile back and my quality of life has increased since I began practicing it.
My friends and family might already know that I have a very large personal drive. With this drive came a bit of a black/white mentality. There is nothing "wrong" with keeping this mentality, but I started to recognize a pattern within myself where I would push myself very hard in one direction and then swing back or relapse in the opposite direction. This can get somewhat exhausting and the negative self-talk that goes along with it, was crumbling my spirits. My friend kept encouraging me to "take the middle path." At first, I didn't even want to consider it.
"I'm an overachiever. I won't settle for anything other than the best. If I'm not doing something 110%, why bother? "
These were all thoughts that I had until I agreed to just try it out. What does it mean to take the middle path? To me it means taking a moderate approach. For example, I spent a few years doing these crazy, restrictive cleanses to try to heal my digestive issues. Then, because I dearly missed my red wine, dark chocolate, coconut milk ice cream and goat cheese so much, I would overindulge in these treats and then feel guilty about it. This was doing my physical, mental and emotional health no good! So, over the past year, I have grown to adopt an "everything in moderation" approach to my diet. I pay attention to meals and snacks that feel good to my body. I also take note of when I eat things that don't settle well with my body and try to avoid these foods in the future. I have a piece of dark chocolate after most dinners and enjoy wine while I cook in the kitchen a few nights a week. There are many times when I crave a green smoothie in the morning and respect my body's wishes by fueling up with that. There are also nights where I choose to snack on rice crackers, goat cheese, and salami. What has shifted for me is that I am not "trying" to eat a perfectly clean diet. With that shift, I have released any judgements that I have towards myself about what I choose to eat. The amount of stressed that has been lifted from my mind is substantial. It has been a very positive, beneficial experiment.
Another way in which I have taken the middle path is my approach to work. There are days that I feel like I need to play catch up on my SEO or digital marketing skills. This crazy online world changes rapidly and I want to stay up on all the latest trends. Instead of over working myself into the late evening hours, I dedicate 30-60 minutes of educational time a few days a week. I then accept that time as long enough. It is so easy to get lost down the Google-rabbit hole for hours at a time. After my 30-60 minutes, I step away from the computer and enjoy some real life experiences like going for a walk by the river or calling an old friend to catch up.
My goal is to now balance my screen time with my physical time. My belief is that life is meant to be lived away from staring at a computer, tablet or iPhone. Sure, for many of us, our income is made by working in front of computer screens, but we can all benefit from taking more time away from screens and devices. I encourage you to try swapping some of your free that that you spend on a device with going for a walk outside. After a week or two, notice if you feel more relaxed.
One of my favorite ways in which I started to take the middle path this year was my approach to exercise. I hired an amazing, professional personal trainer and followed his training protocol. In the past, I have pushed my body too hard with 6 x/week type training programs and often felt guilty or bad about myself if I could not keep up with them. He helped me see that lifting heavy weights 1x/week along with a weekly Barre3 or yoga class, a long hike on the weekend, and daily morning walks were enough to help my body stay active, lean, and healthy. His advice was to not overtrain and give my body the restorative rest time that it craved. I'm very happy to let me body be both active and restful by taking the middle path with my exercise routine.
This lesson of taking the middle path can be applied to all areas in life. Finances, relationships, relaxation, etc. I do not think that I have it all figured out by any means. However, my life feels a bit more comfortable now that I have been practicing taking the middle path. Have you experienced this within your life? I'm curious for you to share your experience with take the middle path or your resistance to it.
Till next time,