It’s the week between the holidays and my idea about this time was to rest, and to sleep, and to pay attention to my energy levels during the day and week and see what I notice without the fixed points of my work schedule. No big reflections planned, no big year end anything or new year anything. It’s after the solstice but it’s still the coldrainy season here in the Pacific Northwest, so my instincts are a blend of cozy hibernation and movement activities that bring warmth — bicycling, running, at-home strength workouts (that all yield the reward of a hot shower).
The time off is never enough to really decompress, but I am definitely getting some rest, and ripping through my started and not finished book pile. And while there is no big year end reflection or New Years Resolution effort over here, I have been noodling on the year to come and a few things and themes are top of mind.
If I had to pick a single word for my 2021 it would be
And in my meditation practice, my focus for the last few weeks has been on acceptance. The question I ask, each day, when I sit down to spend time noticing is
What or who in my life am I resisting?
and the answers that have come to me have been … connected.
The clearest bell, that rises above the others, is that I resist relying on others. I resist asking for help (like, I have a paralyzing mortal-feeling fight/flight/freeze-level block I wrestle with to ask Chris for help with my bicycle or for the kids to help me unload the dishwasher). Like I think about asking someone for help and then my throat closes and I can’t breathe. And then my eyes well up, and words won’t come out of my mouth. And then my wheels start to turn on how I can avoid actually saying the words I want to say
I need help, or
I need your help
and I come up with some creative solution to avoid saying them and then once that solution is in mind, even if it’s a terrible solution — at least it’s not risking whatever my system is afraid will happen if I say those italicized words above out loud
and it’s often to avoid some need of my own, not always, an actual solve
my focus shifts from the need to the solution even if the solution is to avoid my own need and have it remain unmet. And I do this with such frequency it’s like breathing.
I have subjected myself to actual harm to avoid asking people close to me for help in the past. In one personal favorite incident I moved into an apartment with a loft, and when my mattress arrived I decided that rather than ask someone for help moving it up to the 2nd floor, I’d drag it up the stairs myself. Which I succeeded in doing over the course of some 15 or 20 minutes, in one of the greatest feats of strength of my entire life.
And when my butt crested the top step, to give the mattress one final pull up, my hands slipped. The mattress slid stair by stair, all the way down the stairway, and as it reached its final resting place at the base of the stairs it knocked my foot-tall solid cement Buddha off his meditation seat, slammed him into the wall and the stair beneath him, and into the wood floor below that.
Buddha did I-lost-part-of-my-security-deposit damage because I was unable to ask for help.
Buddha, somehow, emerged unscathed.
And after feeling some feels and beating myself up for the stupidity of this all
instead of asking someone for help, I started over again at the bottom step with the mattress wrestle — this time, with Buddha safely out of potential harm’s way.
There are many reasons I chose to live with a laughing Buddha.
I’ll hire someone to do something without even giving it a thought: I love hiring professionals to help me. I do it every chance I get and with no anxiety or hesitation: I love paying people to do what they’re good at and that they can do better than I can when the service is to fix something in my house, or to build something, or to help me right my physical, emotional or mental health.
And I’ll ask people to help others without even batting an eye. Perhaps my strongest skill is as a connector — I love and thrive on connecting people, connecting people with resources, on fundraising for causes I support and to support other peoples’ big dreams.
But when I have an actual gap or block myself; when I have an actual selfish need I can’t (or am not) meeting for myself, for some reason that same ease does not apply to my own life.
And I know it’s a block. When I look at some of the things that hold me back in my work, and in my career, I’m acutely self-aware of many of my weaknesses and traits that stand in my way. If I’m in a position to learn or teach myself a way to transform that weakness to a strength, or a trait liability to an asset, sign me up. But when I’m not — when the trait is so deep in my DNA it feels unmalleable (I’m looking at you, my dear, situational social anxiety) — I avoid like a champ.
And that avoidance holds me back.
I’m not the only one. I’ve been seeing sentiments float across my social feeds with some frequency in the last few weeks that even I haven’t been able to disregard (so if other people are talking about this, it means I’m not alone). And then I shared a comment about that and it hit a nerve with some of you.
and my friends’ reactions to that post tell me that locally, among my inner circle, I am not alone (PS I see you, my peeps)
So I am not alone. And you are not alone. And I give us this reminder:
“Human knowledge is never contained in one person. It grows from the relationships we create between each other and the world, and still it is never complete.”
- When Breath Becomes Air, by Dr. Paul Kalanithi
I’ll be practicing, this year, asking for help. For me.
(My heart races just looking at those words — and not in a good way. In a feeling of actual panic. Like I just took a deep, calming breath and I’m going to go find my meditation cushion as soon as I save this and ask myself what I’m resisting.)
My instinct is that this
see I can’t even type the words again I’m so anxious
will be part of my personal work for this year, and a step toward my own greater well-being.
So thank you for being my accountability partners in this (and if this strikes a particular cord with you personally, please shoot me a message since I may pull us together for a little support and learning circle after the dust settles on the holidays).
And if you are close to someone who resembles this remark please forward this issue to them / invite them to connect with me.
Happy almost new year, all. I’m grateful for you (and you are not alone).
P.S. a reminder via @moecarrick on Instagram:
P.P.S. if you missed this earlier, I’d love to hear from you via the December reader survey. Thanks to those who’ve replied — I’m loving hearing from you and hearing the ways our journeys are similar and different.
Sara Lobkovich Newsletter
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