One of the perks of being a one on the enneagram scale is that when I decide to do something, I plan it out and it gets done. Lists are my friends, spreadsheets my loyal companions. I have been called a lot of things in life, but the word that tends to come up a LOT is the very unromantic descriptor "responsible." In movies, my character tends to throw off all inhibitions by the end and do something reckless that manages to transform her life for the better, but that's just Hollywood's spin on learning how to be yourself. In real life, I am definitely learning spontaneity in ways I never would have imagined before I turned 40, but not at the expense of my good traits - as a complement to them.
That said, I have had the song Brighter Day in my head for a few days now. If you don't know it, it's an old school Kirk Franklin song playing off an even older school Bill Withers song has a catchy refrain that goes "it's gonna be a brighter day, brighter day, brighter day, a bright-er day!" (Go ahead and take a little dance break if you need it, I'll love you even more for it.)
And as it's been tooling around in my head, I have been pondering just how insane the last six months have been. So much uncertainty. So many unknowns. So MUCH togetherness in the family home. So many days that do not feel any brighter than the one before. It's been truly difficult for so many of us, adults and kids alike, to have so little of life be familiar or plannable. And for those of us with kids who may now be planning to guide them through at-home virtual learning and IEP's and homeschooling, it's so easy to be focused on what we are doing to keep the family functioning, to help our kids' mental health as we transition into yet another unknown, and for many, uninspiring, reality.
It is so very easy to feel like we are in the dark. To feel sad. To feel angry or hopeless. And it's so very easy to neglect ourselves when so many around us need so much to stay stable.
I've mentioned before my struggle with PMDD. After a few years of trying more conventional methods to treat it, I stumbled upon a book by Dr. Jolene Brighten called Beyond the Pill. As the pill is the most commonly used way to treat it but as someone who does not enjoy its unhelpful side effects, I was eager to hear if there were alternatives. I read the book immediately (another thing us ones are good at), developed a plan of action and took it to my doctor. I refrained from boring her with a powerpoint presentation about why I should go off the pill and try it, but I was sorely tempted. Thankfully, she was on board with the protocol as it was rooted in nutrtion, exercise and rest (woohoo, science!) and the next day I was busy buying supplements and making schedules.
Oh the sweet joys of a freshly minted calendar and plan! Within a week, I was happily ensconced in the challenges of lifestyle changes that I knew could make a significant impact on my health.
One year later, I have seen amazing success when I have stuck to it. I have learned about my body in new and amazing ways. I have a deep and newfound respect for my adrenal gland in all it's glory and power. And as I sit on the cusp of all these changes for my family, I have been reminded anew that I need to get back on this protocol with a new focus. It fell to the wayside when all my kids ended up home from school in March. It was just too much to keep up with three super-energetic boys (one with significant challenges himself) AND the protocol. It was survival mode.
But I can't abide living in survival mode for too long. I want a brighter day.
I know, it feels like the last thing most of us need, to add something to our life, our schedule. But I know for some of us, this has been such a hard time of sacrifice that we are in danger of losing ourselves, our health, our sanity, to this pandemic. Stress deeply affects us as women. Our hormones respond in ways that make us feel absolutely insane sometimes.
So today, I picked the book back up while my littles swam at the pool. (and yes, I paused and issued a prayer of gratitude that at the ages of five and six, I can trust them to swim without me in the water, may God bless swim team and all the saints in heaven.) I turned to the chapter with the quiz that helps you isolate what's going on in your body. And lo and behold, my answers had changed after a year. What I had focused on over the past year was doing so well that it is time for me to move on to focus on a different area of health. Adrenal glands check, now we conquer the ovaries :)
Am I oversharing? Quite likely.
But I have learned as I hit my late 30's and now have moved into my 40's that we women need to talk about this stuff - hormones and sex drive and body image and reproductive health.That so much of how we grow up talking about these things and learning about them ends up steeped in shame and secrecy and that is NOT any way to be living our lives in connection to this beautiful vessel, our bodies, in which we travel through life.
So, if you have STUFF going on with your parts. If you don't love the way you feel, if you are struggling with body image or health issues or PMDD or PCOS or menopause (can I get a witness on how MANY fans I now need on in my room at night?), I'd like to issue you a friendly challenge.
THINK ABOUT YOU.
Seriously. Think. Do you want to feel better? Do you want to be a healthier version of the already beautiful you? Are you tired of people promising quick fixes and just want to make some lasting changes in your life that take a shot at it being a brighter day?
I may not be great at empathy or helping us figure out our emotions, but heck am I good at accountability and dreams!
So in a moment of spontaneity, BEFORE I have made any lists or plans on what it would look like, I'm diving in.
I'm going to reboot my journey with Brighten because I know it worked for me and I know I need to concentrate on my health as I move into a new phase of helping my kids learn at home. I am not selling anything, nor am I an expert. If no one wants to join me, I'm doing it anyway, because I'm also a raging introvert and perfectly happy to do something alone.
BUT, if this resonates with you at all, I'd love to invite and challenge you to join me. We can do it together. It's a plan written by a doctor and based on science that involves exercise, nutrition, rest, spiritual growth and joy.
Adding community to it can certainly only help.
Who is in?