I haven't written here in years and I kept thinking how can I just pick it up, so much has happened. Too much has happened. So I choose to do the only thing we ever really can, start with where I am, right now in this moment.
We all are probably familiar with the quote “ Two roads diverged in a wood, and I- I took the one less traveled by” - Robert Frost’s ‘The Road Not Taken.’ It has been a long time since I have read this poem, and so I went to Google to make sure I quoted it correctly. What really struck me however, were the opening lines. They read as: “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, And sorry I could not travel both.”
Wow. Yup. Lightbulb.
You see, I’ve always believed I had two lanes in my life that I would hustle and sometimes not so gently jostle back and forth from. Lane one- my body is physically broken down, I’m on the side of the road, and there’s no choice but to pause and get my hands dirty, slick with the sweat, work, and tears of trying to recover and gain my strength and wellness back.
Then there is Lane 2- Autopilot, where I can take my hands off the wheel because I am feeling healthy enough, capable and able to participate in my life the way I so deeply desire to. I’m able to show up for myself and for others. And I would struggle with how the pendulum kept swinging, sometimes becoming angry and resentful. Why cant I have both? Why can’t I be healthy and take care of myself physically, and accomplish, and do, and see, and be, without paying the consequences later on?
I thought there were only two gears, two lanes. Flying High and Feeling Free, OR Major Burnout, Danger Zone. Stop your gas tank light is screaming E!!!!
It’s only now that I am realizing there has been a third lane hiding in plain sight.
In this third lane, what if while I was feeling good, relatively healthy, able to create and serve others, what if, as I got to the top of the hill, I gently started pumping the breaks. Just a bit. Each day. What would happen if we took time along the journey to refuel and fill up our stores. That we didn't need a health crisis, or a crushing loss to send us to our knees and wake us up.
The past few years I was brought to my knees so hard that I began to wonder if the indentations from my fall would ever leave the earth. I tipped to one extreme. Hustling for my life and my health became my 24/7/365 job for two years straight. And I had to, I was literally fighting for my life, but it did come with a cost. It didn't kill me but I lost myself somewhere along the way. And so as soon as I could I see-sawed myself back over to the other lane, trying desperately to fill in my life and my days with things that brought me (or used to) bring me happiness and fulfillment, ignoring when my body was giving me signals that it was tired and needed off the mat.
So about a month ago I started to surrender (not gracefully mind you) and I gave my body the break. I took the steroids I was so afraid of, I went back on the feeding pump (more on this later) and I got really still. I didn't have the numbing distraction of food, I dragged my ass to my yoga mat. I meditated. I prayed. And when I opened my eyes I realized I was on a whole new road. New and strange, but one that had been waiting for me all along.
I’ve already been tested in a small way by the Universe and just so y’all know I kinda failed it so have no fear I’m not Mother Teresa yet. Last night I finally felt inspired to write, which I haven't in over a year. And I was in the zone. My creative energy was flowing and my adrenaline was running and I felt incredible. Except that I didn’t. Because it was already late at night, I hadn't slept well in two days and I had been on my feet more than usual as well. I knew I needed to put myself to bed, that if I kept going, I wouldn't give a shit about what I had written or what ideas I had because I would feel so physically bulldozed the next day. And so listening to my wise self I went off to slumber town. JK! I didn’t! And everything I “predicted” came true. I woke up this morning feeling exhausted and in so much pain and who gives a shit that I had a funny joke using a Justin Bieber lyric last night?
So I did my usual dance of beating myself up and despair. Until I made myself get still, look at the situation with a softer lens, and magically the third lane appeared.
This is just a small example in how we can all be kinder to ourselves and to honor all of our parts. Yes self, I am thankful for your creativity and ideas, I will make a note of them and then put it away. Yes Self, I hear you, you are exhausted and the best gift you can give me right now is sleep. I will see you in the morning, projects, ideas, and to-do lists.
Whatever you are carrying be it good, bad, big or small, it will be there in the morning.
So try the third lane on for size. Get honest, start small, and then walk. Maybe one day you won’t even want to look back…
*Footnote- I wanted to finish up this post last night but I made myself take my own advice, shut the laptop and get ready for bed. I put on Lady Gaga’s new album Joanne while getting ready and the first lyrics I hear are-
“ Oh I could use some two or three or other kinds of way to be, but today I wont be so hard on me. I’ll walk alone down a different street and smile at all the new strange I meet”
For those of you who know me all I have to say to that is….whaaaaatt?!