How I Transformed In 365 Days of Taking Habit Out and Letting Life In

My Year has passed.

This morning, I woke up happy.

I brushed my teeth with homemade toothpaste; it dribbled from my mouth as I took in the sunlight speckling in through the window, and smiled too wide in response. Mitra and I took to the streets, and I let her wind us on an unfamiliar route. I lazily said ‘hello’ to and snuggled every dog as we passed by, and complimented a stranger’s shirt. Eventually, we wound our way home.

It’s my hood’s composting day. So I pulled the bin of scraps from my freezer, and to it added the grounds from the coffee maker. I blended the almonds I’ve had soaking for two days into milk, then added their sticky pulp to the compost bin, too. We headed out again, dropped off the bag, I returned to my desk, and I started editing audio for a new client.

This morning was completely unrecognizable from June 20th one Year ago today.

My Year of Abstinence has ended. A Year of studying habit removal. Of going “without” to see what comes in.

At the start of this journey, I was sick, single, and broke. One Year later, those parameters haven’t changed: I’m as broke and working my ass off to make ends meet now as I was then. If I’m truly honest with myself, my chronic illness is worse. And despite having logged hours on dating sites and, for a short while, dating three gentlemen at once, I’m still single.

But…

I’m broke and I’m happy.

I’m in pain and I’m happy.

I’m single and I’m happy.

When I’m freaking out about being broke, single, and alone, I have tools learned through this Year to help tackle those valid, human, justifiable fears. I don’t suppress them by jumping onto social media. I don’t drink them away. I don’t soothe myself with the fleeting satisfaction of a superficial purchase.

How did this happen?

It wasn’t planned. But in “taking out to see what comes in,” the in part introduced me to my best self.

When only able to buy what I’d used up during the No Shopping Challenge, I learned to identify the clothes, makeup, food, candles etc. that I truly liked. In response, I began to shed the things I clearly saw had no true personal value. When that Challenge ended, I continued to only take in things that bring me joy in a reverse-Marie-Kondo modus operandi: Heavy vintage ‘70s drapes (found for $10 at my town’s huge tag sale!) replaced the cheap navy ones I had bought online and never loved; I reveled in the “three yellow sweaters” found at a turnover shop; I invest more money in fewer beauty products of better quality.

In swapping negative thought with the names and strengths of women I admire, I explored what triggers my anxieties and the attributes that best defeat them. Slowly but surely, the honor, grace, badassery, kindness, and unapologetically sloppy love of my TeleWonderWomen seeped genuinely into who I am.

After the true Challenge of studying Zero Waste for two months, I both pondered my own sense of sustainable value… and couldn’t wait until I wouldn’t have to repeatedly make toothpaste or almond milk again. (But here I am this morning, so….)

Such major revelations happened with every Challenge. One Year later, I know what I love, value, need, and want more than I ever have before. The smoke and mirrors, the rose-colored glasses, the veils I didn’t even realize I wore? They’re gone.

Today over lunch, my dearie-darling friend Erin described the change perfectly: These parts of my personality were already a part of my puzzle. But the puzzle was loosely put together. The pieces needed adjustment, here and there, and a final click together.

I pondered a celebratory something to mark the achievement of this Year. A massage? A piece of jewelry? Taking the day off and going to a museum? But I don’t need a celebration. I’ve come not only to learn but to truly feel that the process is the reward. Moving through my day – brushing my teeth, making the almond milk, reading books, having lunch with a friend, doing work I enjoy, and then shifting things up by writing this in a coffee shop while sipping an iced tea (in a glass) – and being present with every human I see throughout! – I’m rewarded over and over again.

So for my final Challenge, I’m abstaining from the “reward”. Instead, I’m observing and/or practicing all of the Challenges I studied in the last 365 days and enjoying one moment to the next. I’m enjoying this moment.

(Typing that, I smile. Reading it over, a smile again. And again.)

And as far as the single-sick-broke trifecta goes?

I am standing on the precipice of something big. I know it. I don’t know what it is. What’s coming in work, love, or health? When it comes… when they come… when pieces of all of those three puzzles start moving and clicking into place… they will have come because I’m now ready for them.

I already feel them moving on the periphery. They’re floating in the air.

I’m ready because of this Year.

— Thank you. —

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