Today is the first day of the rest of my life. Bold (and cliche) statement, I know. But I feel like I need to make a bold statement. It needs to stick.
The first morning of the first day didn't start out so well. I woke up at 2:00AM with a hot flash. Then an hour and a half later when I was finally getting back to sleep, my insomniac husband came to bed and woke me up again. After rolling around again for another hour, I went to the living room couch to sleep. Then hubby's cell phone vibrated on the wood coffee table with a call at 6:00AM and I woke up. I finally got back to sleep yet again - and woke up at 11:00. Yipes. Starting the first day of the rest of my life at 11:00AM was definitely not in the plan, but one thing I've learned in the past few years of recovering my health is that I will not give up the sleep my body naturally needs (8-9 hours a night!).
Panic and depression were my first thoughts, but something really great happened. Instead of panic and depression and instant thoughts like: "Well, there goes my workout because I HAVE to get to work" or "Well, maybe I'll just start my cleanse tomorrow because I'm too bummed out.", I took a deep breath (I think) and thought about it for a few moments and made a conscious decision not to panic. I got up off that couch, made my one cup of coffee (one cup is NOT part of the cleanse I'm starting today, but better than my regular 4 halfcafs) and sat down to read the news. I did skip my ten minute meditation, but skipped that over my workout because it's WAAAAYYYY easier to convince myself to not workout and I knew that would make me feel even more miserable. So I had my coffee, read the news, answered the first group of e-mails for the day and changed into my workout clothes. I didn't panic about the loads of dishes that were done drying in the rack and in the dishwasher from having the neighbors over for dinner last night. I went about everything with a calm mind and heart knowing that panic and depression were my way of sabotaging the first day of the rest of my life.
I've taken most of the summer off to do some major soul-searching and some much needed R&R. After my big retreat last April, I was wiped out and I needed to figure out if I had the stamina and passion for starting this new business. I really only planned on taking a couple of months to think about it, but stuff kept coming up. My wedding photography season kicked in and although I have about a quarter of the weddings I normally have because of my career transition, they still take up a lot of time and energy. I also had three sets of visitors from out of town this sumer, a bedbug scare (caught it in time, but three days of cleaning!), an annual family reunion trip back in the midwest AND a photo shoot in the eastern Sierras. Again, instead of panicking, I just kept putting off the date of making my decision about how (and if) to move forward with The Healing Farm. Maybe it was procrastination, but I'm realizing it was more about being smart and caring about making a big decision using true mindfulness.
Turns out all this reflection and relaxation time, connecting with family and friends and enjoying plenty of free time with my husband helped me to realize that when I let my thoughts wander, I still dream of The Healing Farm. This was a big revelation. I wasn't sure if the past five years of dreaming about it was only just a fantasy and delusional thinking or if I really was passionate about making such a big change and was fascinated to find out that even after all the hard work and sacrifices I've made to get to this point, I'm still passionate about developing an ancestral functional wellness retreat property that is tasteful, yet still affordable to an average middle class American and that features practical wellness solutions that clients can build into their everyday lives. Is it realistic to think that I can actually do this? I still don't know, but I've decided (with lots of advice from friends) that I would be silly not to give it a try given I've come this far.
Two inspiring books I've been reading this summer to help me get over the paralyzing hurdle of figuring out my next steps have been:
From these book titles it may sound like I'm struggling with a deep depression or mental health issue. I'm not, but a crisis of midlife (my second) is indeed a crisis and reading these two books has helped me so much in calming down and learning how to move forward, maybe not with clarity because truly everything changes and life is impermanent, but with mindfulness in how I move forward.
Both of these books take on healing the mind and body from the inside out which is pretty much what functional medicine is all about (to me): finding the root of an issue and working with natural solutions to get at that root and make changes to get yourself and your mind into its best state. I felt that best state after I went through my treatment with Chris Kresser and it's what gave me the energy to move forward with starting The Healing Farm in the first place, but taking the next step has truly been paralyzing and I've gotten into another bad place with my health - I've not only gained ten pounds since my last retreat, but I've gained an additional 15 in the span of time it took me to launch the business. Weight has always been an issue for me so it's not only physically taxing to be at my current weight, but also an emotional struggle as well.
Pema Chodron's book and practicing meditation (only ten minutes a day) have helped me to remain calm and look at situations objectively before reacting and Kelly Brogan's book has inspired me yet again to hone my eating habits even more. Although physically I've still been able to stave off all of my previous chronic conditions through my work with Chris Kresser and eliminating most dairy and gluten from my diet, I still need to curb my weight and start getting a little more serious about taking care of my mental health which is why Kelly's book has been so inspiring.
SO, today is the first day of the rest of my life. I'll be turing 50 this November 2nd and it's an emotionally charged birthday not only because my body is going through so many changes, but also because my psyche is as well. I've called my midlife crises midlife renaissances because I've been determined to come out the other side a better truer (to myself) Julie. Today I start my cleanse and as of November, I will start a documentation that will last my 50th year either on The Healing Farm blog or my "Birthing a Business" blog so that I can celebrate the first 50 years with stories and gratitude for the great things I've done in my first 50 years. I think seeing what adventures and accomplishments and the great relationships I've built on a regular basis will be a terrific way to gain the confidence and energy to move forward to the next even greater 50 years.
Full disclosure: I don't think of myself as a writer, nor do I want to be and it may seem strange to people that I want to grow The Healing Farm by writing about my own life, but really that's what The Healing Farm will be to me. I'm a nurturer who loves helping people. The Healing Farm is something that will stem from my own life and life experience so why not share as much as I can about my own path in order to help The Healing Farm to grow to a place where it (and I) can help others?
I'm now inspired to produce The Healing Farm's next multi-day retreat focussing on the female midlife crisis. Let's try to turn them into a midlife renaissance! Stay tuned!
The Healing Farm - Cultivating Practical Wellness