52 Lists Project, continued

Several years ago, I stumbled across something called the 52 Lists Project, which was conjured up by Moorea Seal, a creative soul and lover of lists.

I began scribbling — or more accurately, typing — lists based on Moorea’s weekly prompts, which inspired me and ignited my brain cells. After about three months, I noticed that the prompts stopped coming. Moorea had pitched her idea for weekly list-making to a book publisher. And sold it. Good on her. So, I bought the book and delved back in. If you’re interested, it’s titled The 52 Lists Project: A Year of Weekly Journaling Inspiration.

Seal’s structure allows you to start at any point during the year. I like that. There’s too much pressure in January to develop new habits and clean chalky slates. I’m starting up again today, simply because it’s Wednesday, and because I want to do something positive, no matter how small it might seem. XO

 

List the things that make you feel healthy: mind, body, and soul.

1. Rising early in the morning with the sun. The days are growing shorter, as the summer fades into another blessed memory. This winter, I promise to employ one of those cool blue lightboxes to help me wake more gently. Without wanting to bludgeon someone with my bedroom slipper or smother them with a decorative bed pillow. That kind of thing.

2. Getting enough rest. I’m waking more often in the middle of the night. Not sure if it’s hormones, age or worry — or my beloved’s involuntary snoring. Or all of the above. I’m using every trick in the book to log enough hours of shut-eye, and stay asleep.

3. Meditating for a few minutes each (or at least most) nights. I feel relaxed, calmer and softer afterwards.

4. Exercising. I love boxing. But Gawd, I hate running. I might have to let that activity go. Everything hurts for too long afterwards when I run. I have to exercise. I always need to be doing something — to somehow move my body. I get ornery after a few days if I don’t. Exercising — and sweating — keep me sane.

5. Yoga. Why have I fought this practice? Why have I fought so many practices that are good for me? What if I didn’t do that anymore? I’m going back to yoga again. My back and my hips and my shoulders all opened and softened last week, after a 45-minute class.

6. Drinking a shit-ton of water. Preferably lemon-lime seltzer.

7. Avoiding sugar. I’m the proud descendant of generations of superlatively Irish drunks, ergo — sugar doesn’t agree with my genetic makeup. When I have too much of it, I spike and rush and crash every damn time. And then seek out more of it, like a textbook junkie. I need to stop seeing the limitation of it in my diet as deprivation. It isn’t. It’s self-love, sweet fool.

8. Not taking as much shit as I used to. I recently had a showdown with a family member. At least in my own mind. Enough, I said to myself. Basta, O Not So Nice Person. I’m not a toy, or a punching bag, or a repository. I’m no longer a defenseless little girl, who should have been protected from such harm in the first place. So, I’m drawing a kind line in the sand. Detaching with love. I am vulnerable and open. But I’m not stupid. Far from it. So why be a victim? I say no now. And that feels healthy.

9. Crunching on mini bell peppers throughout the day. I wash a bag of them in the morning, empty them into a bowl, and leave them on the kitchen counter for all-day grazing. There’s satisfaction in the snap of biting into them. Nom nom nom.

10. Reading. It’s been difficult during the summer. I need to make that less so in the fall.

11. Writing.

12. Sleeping in bed with my husband sidled up next to me. I speak of this often. Other people don’t always like to sleep this way. That’s fine for them. Do whatever feels good, peeps. This is everything for me — this is the peace of a thousand years, the sense that his muscles, his mind and his soul are so relaxed and eased by the nearness of me, and that he senses the same within me, as we both breathe deeply and drift into sleep. This isn’t found in a casual relationship or a friend with benefits. This is hard-won, from years of marriage and searching, soulful work. I feel healthy and sane in such a thought — that I’ve been a partner in creating such an emotional place of being. We’ll be married twenty years in the fall. That feels so healthy.

13. Working out at the gym. I’m getting older, but I still lift shit. I still slam sledgehammers on tires, still do bicep curls and skullcrushers, still row and pull and push and lunge. I still exert myself. My grandmother was wearing old-lady lace-up shoes and letting her hair go gray at my age. Fuck, no. I’m in perpetual pursuit of guns. (I mean delts, not weapons. Sheesh.)

14. Getting massages. It took me years to allow myself to be touched. I started massage therapy in my twenties, when I was running long races, and hobbling around with tight muscles. What resulted was an unexpected bonus — laying my head in kind strangers’ hands, and letting them heal me. I’ve cried on massage tables when it’s been safe to do so. I’ve made weird noises when prompted, and even cursed a bit under my breath, too, at the pain. These sessions have helped me so much — to relieve the hurt in my muscles and in other tender places.

15. Nurturing my children, and my ever-evolving relationship with them as they grow older. I came from a home that did the best that it could — but, to be honest, never should have been built in the first place. I didn’t necessarily come from a place of love, but instead — mostly from a place of sadness and unintentioned mistakes. That makes some people uncomfortable when I write such things, but it’s freeing to me to say so. I shed light on it, and it grows smaller each time. Many people have experienced the same childhood pain. My greatest goal in life is to end that thread, to set that baggage aside, and heal the karmic hurt that I — and so many generations before me — have felt. I want our children to know an inordinate amount of love, for themselves and each other, and for everything that my husband and I have built here — so they can build their own structures, their own homes, their own places, and love so much more.  I want them to know what kind of love they blossomed from. I don’t want to perpetuate the pain that so many of my ancestors have felt. I want to heal it. That feels like a healthy pursuit.

16. Seeing friends. Having friends. Knowing funny and kind people. Being a friend to others. Feeling full up with so many characters in my life.

17. Setting limits. Saying no more often. Not spreading myself too thin anymore. I can’t.

18. Seeing a doctor who specializes in integrative medicine. Not focusing on random symptoms. Looking at the whole picture, and the whole person, seems so much healthier.

19. Asking for help when I need it.

20. Forgiving myself. Being kind to myself. Accepting more of myself.

21. Not responding right away. Waiting. Counting to ten. Breathing.

22. Eating less carbs and more protein and veggies.

23. Not fucking around. Just saying what I feel — as honestly, clearly and kindly as I can.

 

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