So my friend Molly took matters into her own hands a few months ago and made some serious changes of the Paleo persuasion at her house. This is a woman who had whole wheat bread rising by the fire the first time I came to her home, who's husband brews beer (very, very delicious beer), and who cooks a mean chicken pot pie. Like anyone else in our modern world, changing her approach to cooking, eating, and exercise asked her to make a dramatic pivot. In the few years I have known her she has been nothing short of authentic, honest, and inspiring in her dedication to her family, her own happiness, and her creativity. Her recent posts about some of the big changes she and her family have experienced are an inspiring testament to what changing your mindset, in a way that is friendly to what you value, can do for you.
Last week I had the privilege of hosting her and her kids for a mid-week meal, and seeing is so believing. Here is a woman who has always struck me as youthful and pretty. But when she stepped up my walkway on Tuesday, I felt like I was looking at her teenage sister, Molly, v.2. The same bright eyes and sweet smile, many sizes smaller, and a glow a mile high.
Don't believe me when I tell you that making sensible changes in your diet, your exercise, your outlook and your sleep has the potential to connect you with vibrant living.
Don't even believe Molly.
I hear every day people admonishing themselves for what they perceive to be their failures and short-comings. For some of us it's a lack of motivation, for some it's a ruthless pursuit of sugar, for some it's being short of patience with a loved one - the point being, we, as a race of beings, can always find fault in our own existence.
To my mind, the lifestyle we embrace as a family has everything to do with taking responsibility for our own well-being, questioning conventional wisdom, and trusting our own experiences. The worst thing that can happen is that we discover something doesn't work for us. I think I've been pretty clear about what the best things are.
In my family's quest for an unconventional but authentically happy life, we've discovered strength and health, ethically acceptable dietary practices, a community of amazing families to support us and love us, and a whole lot of unity. And there is one more thing that I have to say, in spades, I've found: trust.
I trust myself. I trust my decisions, I trust the information I base it on, and I trust that we are doing something that is very, very good for us. I trust that I am enough, that I'm doing enough. This trust translates as belief, faith.
Of course I experience self-doubt. I'm human. But I have a bedrock of experience now, almost like a connection to spiritual energy, that reminds me of the rightness in the world, and how easily I can connect with it if I choose to. After years of feeling like I was searching, searching, searching, I can finally relax and say: I'm here. And it's a darn good place.
Experience has been my teacher in this place of trust. Holding my tongue, my anger, when I feel like pulling the house down around me. Committing to thirty days of clean eating when I lose my direction and then ticking those days of the calendar until I find balance again, hanging in there one meal at a time sometimes. Carrying on with my life through a week of caffeine withdrawal as I sought to calm my mind and improve my sleep by giving up coffee (it worked, well). Showing up at the gym in the cold, at times I'd rather be curled up with a book or hanging out at home, with injured parts, willing to do the work and accept the limitations of my body's abilities, while testing it against the toughness of my mind. Doing without, and practicing gratitude for what we do have with such whole-heartedness that I hardly notice missing what I once believed to be so essential to daily life. Showing up at co-op meetings, play groups, dinners, sometimes a stranger and sometimes an old friend, to build or strengthen connections and be a part of a whole. Small examples, but practiced daily, sometimes moment by moment, they are all tiny trials that have engendered great trust in where we are today.
As I consider this slightly pagan sense of awe and faith, a few basic practices strike me as essential. Discipline. Forgiveness, mostly of myself (for when discipline lacks). Kindness, once again, mostly directed at myself, and a sense of wonder for the limitlessness I am finding as push my light into dark places and toe the edges of things I haven't even fathomed before.
But don't believe me. Believe yourself, cultivate your own practice. Come up my walkway, a ray of light.
What helps you trust yourself?