With New Year’s Eve approaching, many people are turning their thoughts to New Year’s resolutions. I’ve never been too excited about this concept but as I was thinking about it today, I realized it’s a good time to talk about some of the ways I make the transition from fear to love. I often talk to people about loving themselves and also about avoiding fear based decisions. These ideas are easy to talk about but people often struggle with the transition, including myself. Sometimes it’s easier for me than other times but it’s a journey worth taking. Almost all of us make decisions from fear because our culture promotes this way of living. Fear sells in a capitalist society. New Year’s Day is a symbolic time for change because of the change of year. It’s also a time when a lot of people focus on preventing what they’re afraid of. In my opinion, the emphasis on New Year’s resolutions and their subsequent failures can set a bad tone of fear based in self-deprecation for the rest of the year.
As an empath, I used to just kind of follow the collective energy wave of holidays like New Year. Now, I realize how it sabotages me. If I make a New Year’s resolution on January 1st, I automatically tap into the collective energy of resolutions happening across the globe. I’ll be excited with everyone else and I’ll also start to fizzle out a couple weeks later with everyone else too. One way I manage this empathic problem is I make resolutions on my birthday instead of on New Year’s Day. I was born around the Summer Solstice so it’s a way better time in my life for these things empathically because it’s on the opposite side of the year. In 2016, I quit smoking on my birthday so by the time New Year rolls around I’m over a half a year into being a non-smoker and loving it!
But I don’t always choose my birthday. Honestly, any time of year except the beginning of January works well for me. But that’s not a problem everyone has so that’s all I’ll say about it right now. If you consider yourself an empath, I encourage you to try your resolutions in a different month than January.
In 2012, I made a resolution in May to go for a walk every day for 30 days just to see if it would work on the back pain I was experiencing from severe spinal injuries that happened to me in 2004. I had replaced my prescription pain killers with Medical Marijuana almost entirely by 2010 but even though it was working about as well as the pills, it took me a couple of hours to be able to stand up straight when I got out of bed. I was crying to my chiropractor about how nothing seemed to fix that part of the problem. I had even bought a brand new bed, which helped but not enough. He told me that walking would work better than even his adjustments would. I told him he was crazy because my problem was that I couldn’t walk and I was fearful about a wheelchair in my future.
To be honest, I would have been happy to get a wheelchair if it took my pain away and that thought scared me too. The chiropractor shrugged, very matter of factly pointed out that I walked into his office, and said he’d be glad to keep taking my money but he thought I should just humor him. So I did. I’m happy to say that he was telling me the truth. I would walk for 30 minutes and all of my pain would be gone for the rest of the day! I started kicking it up to an hour a day because the endorphins made me feel so happy. It was helping me manage my depression too! By the time I reached my June birthday, I knew that I would always turn to herbs and exercise before I even considered turning to pills. I went from thinking I’d need a wheelchair at least part time to pain free by the end of the summer! I slacked off a lot in the winter because of the Michigan weather and then my pain would return. But by the time it started getting bad again, spring arrived and I started walking every day again. It was working!
From 2003 to 2011, I experienced a series of illnesses that almost killed me a few times. After years of medical doctors overlooking a thyroid issue because their simple tests didn’t pick it up, my immune system was shot. In 2009, I developed my first case of pneumonia. After that, I would get it twice a year and it would last a minimum of 6 weeks. I would get a slight sniffle one day and by the next day, I would be deathly ill. I would have to turn to codeine to stop my coughing because it would throw my back out since a lot of my injuries are in my ribcage area. I became terrified of germs in general and feared illness daily. No matter how much I sanitized everything, I would still get sick at the slightest exposure and I was sure that was how I’d die. In December of 2011, I came so close I knew I probably wouldn’t be strong enough to last another round with pneumonia if something didn’t change. I think my whole family was pretty sure I would die young.
But in the winter of 2012, after a good 6 months of walking almost every day for pain management, I was amazed to find that I did not get pneumonia that year. I’m happy to say that I haven’t had it since and I know it is at least partly due to my commitment to walking. Mostly, I think it boils down to my commitment to love life. From the day I woke up after 3 days of uninterrupted fever induced sleep, every day I told myself I want to live and that I love my life. I knew energetic shifts like that could cause chaos but my life was on the line. I shouldn't have been surprised at what followed.
In 2013, I lost everything. I spent the first year sleeping on people’s couches. I tried to maintain my walking but I was so busy surviving, I forgot what it felt like to thrive. I had only JUST reached a point of thriving when everything was pulled out from under me. Since then, my life has changed 200%. Things I used to take for granted I began to appreciate as luxuries. The physical problems I used to have started creeping up on me more and more. I was worried about the stress affecting my health but even though I wasn’t walking as much, I never got even a minor cold again until 2015 – when it was time to face my fear of illness. I had conquered illness physically but not mentally and emotionally…That’s another story for another day. I wasn’t so lucky with keeping the pain away. It was not as severe as before but it was returning slowly and surely. In 2015, I had pain more days than not so it wasn’t a huge surprise when I caught my first cold. Pain causes inflammation which causes mucus.
Sleeping on couches was not so great for my balance. I started to notice that my body was twisting up and even though it wasn’t as painful as before, I was beginning to injure myself regularly. Last winter, I got carbon monoxide poisoning at Christmas. The rest of the winter was excruciating and 2016 has been colored with a lack of energy and vitality that I thought was long behind me. I meant to quit smoking and start walking every day again all at the same time. I quit smoking with more ease than I ever thought possible. Exercise didn’t happen consistently for various reasons, but I knew I had to have a plan in place before winter hit this year. Weather shifts are something I feel strongly in my body.
I was working on obtaining a treadmill so I would be prepared for winter. I don’t particularly like leaving the house. Social interaction takes effort and stamina for me, especially when my body hurts. I was having trouble making this happen and a good friend told me that his gym was really cheap ($10/month). After making a couple of excuses that I knew were excuses (I just don’t like being around that many people at once), he informed me that they are open 24 hours and I should just humor him. Those words resonated with me and I agreed. I go to bed at 4am so it’s not a thing for me to go to the gym at 11pm when there are only a few people there. I began a little later than planned, on November 28, and I told myself I would re-evaluate in 30 days.
I've officially been going to the gym Mon-Thur for 30 days now. It takes 30 days to form a habit from what I am told. I think that is true. I would feel strange if I didn't go to the gym on any given day between Monday and Thursday. I've gained 1 pound since I started lol. Good thing I have a different goal for doing it than losing weight or I would probably throw in the towel at this point out of disappointment. It does occur to me that I might have gained more like 10+ pounds through the holiday season if I hadn’t been going to the gym and I’m just glad I feel better instead of worse.
Fortunately, the goal of pain elimination is working like a miracle! The pain from past injuries that I would normally be experiencing around this time of year is down by about 80%-90%. The shoulder I injured a few months ago, that I was seriously beginning to think I would need surgery for, is almost all the way back to normal after 30 days. I’m glad I’m forced to leave the house at least once a day even though I don’t work out with other people. I found out that I prefer the gym to working out at home, mainly because I found this stretching cage thingy that is worth its weight in gold. But that has evolved into trying different things each night. I always walk for an hour but afterward, sometimes I’ll use weights or a mat and the stretching cage is like dessert. I look forward to it.
My balance got a lot worse after the slip and fall that injured my shoulder a few months ago. But I was already beginning to fall down more, twist ankles and knees, bump into things like door frames (as if I'd aimed myself through the door badly), and more for quite some time. I had started to think of myself as accident prone and clutzy. When I first started the treadmill at the gym, I couldn't let go of the handlebar for the first 3 weeks. I'd literally be all over the place and think I was going to twist my ankle and fall off. But it was making me feel happy just to have my blood pumping again. I’m not ashamed to hold on to the handlebar. It would be way more embarrassing to me to fall and hurt myself in front of strangers! I did that once walking outside and I hurt myself so bad I had to sit there for about 20 minutes until I could limp home. I walk a lot outside in warm months but walking outside is different than walking on a treadmill. The treadmill stays level and really magnified how unbalanced I had become!
By the third week, I was able to let go of the handlebar :). It's the best feeling! And I've noticed that when I walk down the street, it's easier. I feel more confident and less worried about pain or new injuries. I'm getting stronger each week and I'm starting to realize how much of my thoughts were going toward just making sure I didn't break my own neck every day! I refuse to become my injuries. A lot of our fears play out in our minds subconsciously and we have to actively root them out. Sometimes you don’t know what you don’t know and you just have to DO something different to see it. I’m finding my attitude about other hidden fears balancing out along with my body. Go figure.
Everybody dies but not everybody lives. I don't believe in modern medicine. I prefer to heal myself. I know I can. I’ve done it repeatedly in my life from suicidal depression to injuries that most people would get surgery for or become addicted to pills for.
Changing due to a fear of death takes a lot longer than changing due to a love of life. This happens to be a concept I learned after my last bout with pneumonia 5 years ago which inspired me to learn about shamanic illness. I've tried to quit smoking several times so that I don't get cancer. But when I quit because I love smelling good it was easy. Lol - does that make me shallow? Oh well. Every time I got a whiff of my hair after I quit smoking I got a little burst of happiness. That’s what I care about – happiness. I mean, that's how it started. After some time, I started to love the way other things smell/taste. Once I noticed the increased lung function, I fell all the way in love with being a non-smoker.
I've tried to start exercising to lose weight several times. This time, I'm doing it because I love feeling good during and after. I never want my loved ones to suffer for a single minute. When I know they are taking care of themselves and feeling good, it makes my heart sing. I'm starting to notice that I feel this way about myself, maybe for the first time in my life. I’m talking here about physical healing but for someone like me, it’s all tied together with emotions. I used to focus on how poorly I was doing, but this time I was saying to myself, “Oh wow Honey, I’m so happy you caught this balancing problem before it got worse! It feels so good to heal myself! I’m so proud of myself that I did something about it before it got very bad like before. It feels so good to know I have the power to heal myself naturally.” Compassion for Self is a huge part of overcoming fear and is of utmost importance for any kind of healing work. There are just so many reasons to exercise that have nothing to do with hating how you look and everything to do with loving yourself.
Fear does not and has never successfully motivated me. If your motivation is fear, then you will struggle. That's my perspective anyway. I talk about it so much because my experience has proven it to be true. It’s not bad to experience fear. It’s only human. It’s also human to run from fear or become defensive rather than admit fear. I do it all the time lol. But awareness and acceptance of yourself gives you a way out through compassion. Sometimes, I just sit and feel what I’m feeling and let tears flow until they stop. I don’t try to change my feelings or criticize them. If there’s one thing I’ve learned about emotions, it’s that they change on their own if they are allowed to flow uninhibited. Any time you try not to feel a certain way, the emotion gets stuck. It feels good to let myself feel bad sometimes. You can’t change a problem until you acknowledge its existence.
You can preach and preach and preach to someone about how "bad" something is for them and do they ever listen? No. In fact, if you're talking to me I'm going to actively dismiss and block out whatever you're saying. It's annoying because it's fear and it comes across as judgment. Fear and I don't vibe at all. But if you come to me and you say hey guess what? Every time I do this I feel great and it's making my life so incredibly good...now you have my interest. The good feeling is worth the attention. The good feeling is worth the effort. The good feeling is worth the risk. The good feeling is worth the time.
30 days gym membership... I feel soooo good :). I’m glad I got it in before everyone started making New Year’s resolutions. I accept that certain events and holidays that are being experienced by the human collective will overwhelm me so I plan around it. My gym habit is formed and I’m looking forward to what 2017 will bring in this area of my life with curious expectation. I’m also curious how many new faces I’ll see at the gym in January and how many of them will make it to February. So if you are the type of person to make a resolution at this time of year, my advice is do something simply for the sake of feeling good for at least a little while every day. What makes your heart sing?