Permission to do 2021 differently

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I’ve recorded this letter as a podcast which you can listen to here.

Reflecting on this past year…

I’ve experienced a strange mix of gratitude and counting my immense blessings and privilege, but also uncovering more of the underlying, hidden layers of loneliness and grief that had been lurking beneath the surface. ⁣

I’m trying to emerge slowly. I’m putting one foot in front of the other, and that’s enough. Really it’s all any of us can do. ⁣

Right now we are still in darkest times.

On the solstice, winter began. And yet, here we are now a few weeks deep into the New Year, feeling all the pressure to go go go already. Right now is actually the true middle of winter; now we are in the depths of it. Although the days are getting longer now in the Northern Hemisphere, we are still in darkest times. ⁣

So if you’re not feeling it… if you’re not feeling the energy, the push, the inspiration, the creativity… whatever it is you’re waiting to drop in 2021…that’s okay. It’s still winter. 

And collectively, we’re exhausted. This last year has been exhausting. It’s kept us in a state of constant hypervigilance to varying degrees. And that’s exhausting. After our bodies experience trauma, they go through a period of fatigue. This is normal. The fatigue you are feeling is normal. It’s adaptive. And it’s okay. ⁣

I know you may have to push. You may have to work. You may not have a choice. But you do have a choice about how you speak to yourself. If you’re tired, tell yourself it’s okay that you’re tired. Stop berating yourself for not feeling the New Year energy. ⁣

In my membership program Wellspring, we’re talking about rest in January for exactly these reasons. We’re exploring what gets in the way of rest, what our individual relationships are with rest, and how to cultivate rest in small ways. (In case you’re interested, doors for Wellspring will open again in March 2021).

We’re resting. Because we’re still in the midst of winter. And we’re exhausted. And that’s all okay.

Choosing a word of the year

As part of this slower approach to a new year, I’ve chosen a word of the year for the past couple of years. The process for me is such a gentler approach than resolutions or even goals (though I do set those too). But my word of the year, more than anything, acts like a touchstone I can come back to time and time again throughout the year. ⁣If you still want to pick one yourself, it’s certainly not too late. 

For 2020, my word of the year was Embrace. It ended up being incredibly fitting. I wanted to go beyond just accepting what happened and embrace it. I didn’t know at the time we’d be facing a global pandemic, but looking back on the year I realize I was able to fully embrace the changes that took place in my life and treat them, as much as possible, as an opportunity. My word of the year, and my intention of embracing whatever happened, helped support me through this. ⁣

My word for 2021 is EASE

I want to feel ease in my business, less rush, pressure, and urgency. I want to feel ease in my relationship to money and abundance, rather than being stuck in scarcity so much of the time. I want to feel ease in my life – allowing more time for rest and play. I want to feel ease in the choices I make, choosing what I want to do rather than choosing out of obligation or comparison. ⁣

But ease isn’t something that comes easily to me.

One of the ways I’ve been trying to embody this word is by having more spacious weekends, with less plans

Sundays in particular have been about letting go of all the “rules” and doing whatever I want that day.

A couple weeks ago, I wanted to do a puzzle. I used to do puzzles often, and I’ve seen some folks posting puzzles on Instagram. I realized how badly I wanted to do one. ⁣

It seems so silly, but I had denied myself of a puzzle. We live in a <200 square foot tiny home and there isn’t the surface area for a puzzle. So, I’d convinced myself I couldn’t allow myself that particular joy. But that day, I wanted to do a puzzle. ⁣

It was quite simple. We found a board that was the right size so I could hide it under the couch when our counter/table/desk area needed to be clear. Simple. It took ten minutes. ⁣

I’d wanted to do a puzzle for months. It took ten minutes to clear this barrier that had been there for ten months.  ⁣

I know it sounds silly, but it made me wonder. How often do we get in our own way? How often do we deny ourselves the simple joys in life because they are impractical, or not productive, or will get in the way? ⁣

For me, a part of Ease is doing what’s fun, what brings me joy, what I feel naturally called to. That day, it was a puzzle. I listened. Maybe tomorrow it will be something more profound, or not. But I’m following the breadcrumbs.

Another thing I’ve been wanting to feel more ease around is all the numbers

The financial numbers, the follower numbers…

Starting up the new year, I’ve been feeling some money scarcity issues. I was feeling good for the last few months about finances because I knew I was on the path to make a certain amount that felt good to me in my business. But starting into a blank year, where I know I have to create new ideas and show up in a certain way to build my income always has me feeling a little daunted again… and I have a tendency to go scuttling straight back to scarcity mindset.

Showing up as my best self is the only thing I can control

I was writing in my journal the other night and this thought came to me: showing up as my best self is the only thing I can control. ⁣ 

Let me start by saying I have some issues with the term “best” self as I know it can be associated with a “high vibes only” mentality. That’s not what I mean or intend here. For me, being my best self means feeling all the feelings so I can be present for my clients, it means resting and taking care of myself so I have creative energy.

And really, being this version of myself, taking care of myself so I can be my best self, is the only thing I can control. Nothing else is really on me. ⁣

Something about simplifying it in this way helped me to come back out of that scarcity mindset and focus on what matters – taking care of me. Because when I take care of myself, I show up better for my clients, I have more creative ideas and energy, and I am my best self. That’s when opportunities arise, that’s when I have the energy to earn an income. I just need to show up for myself so I can be my best self.

I keep reminding myself of this, but it’s hard, it’s hard to keep up, and little things can easily chip away.

As an example, I’ve been losing a lot of followers lately.

I’ve been gaining a lot too, but I’ve been losing more.

I’ve seen the numbers tick down month by month… and it’s been getting to me. It’s been making me nervous, and anxious, and feeling like I need to change something. ⁣

And yet, I know if I react… I won’t be acting in my integrity. I’ll be trying to please other people, which I’ve spent so much of my life doing and I’m so done with. I’ll be engaging in an endless chase of the “right” format or the “perfect” content to get the follows. ⁣

I know those numbers aren’t the most important. I know the people who stick around are the right people, and that this is just a process of filtering to find the people who really resonate with the work I do and how I show up in the world.⁣

But it’s still hard. It still feels like rejection every time I see that number bump downwards. It still feels like I’m doing something wrong. It still feels like I’m not enough. ⁣

I’m trying to stand my ground. I’m trying to create the content and tell the stories that feel good to me. I’m trying to believe believe believe that when I create what feels most aligned to me, the right people will find me, and that will be enough. But I’m fragile too, and sometimes that feels hard.

This is my truth right now. I’m so grateful for all of you who are here, and you are enough. But if you’re feeling all wrapped up in the numbers game too, you’re not alone. And it’s okay that it’s hard to let that go. As humans we crave belonging and acceptance. Our survival historically has depended on it. So losing follows might actually be pulling something much deeper to the surface.

And it’s okay. And I can trust that the people who are here are the right people. And it can feel hard. Both and. Deep breaths. Stay in my line. One foot in front of the other. Just take the next true step.

It’s hard. It’s scary to operate in this way, to let go of so much of what I “should” be doing to market or sell or build the numbers.

But more and more I’m learning: we need to be the ones who are willing to step in and really begin caring for ourselves in a different way, because unfortunately no one else is going to do it for us. 

We need to care for ourselves

We need to give ourselves permission. 

We need to rest. 

We need to let go. 

We need to allow.

The capitalist (and patriarchal, colonial, white supremacist) structures we live within demand that we disconnect from our bodies. We have learned to work and push and strive beyond our physical/emotional/mental capacities, ignoring our limitations.

Which of course leads to burn out. ⁣

But that’s not really on you. That’s on the system we are in. The system that has pushed us to disconnect from our bodies so that we can work beyond our capacities, often for the benefit of someone else. ⁣

What if you started listening to your body?

What if you started tuning in again? Showing up for your body again? Noticing when you have to disconnect in order to keep pushing? What if you started with just noticing… observing… getting curious? Where are your limits? Where are your capacities? What are you ignoring? No shame. It’s okay. We all do it, and some of us have to do it to put food on the table.

But when we can see this – we can start to realize it’s not our fault, it’s not something wrong with us. It’s bigger than that.

Permission slips

So… as I wrestle with all of these things right now, I’ve been thinking a lot about what I want to give myself permission to do and to be this year. As I was writing these out affirmation style, I thought they might be helpful for you as well. ⁣

Take what resonates, leave the rest. With love. Always. ⁣And maybe, if you’d like and you’re somewhere you can do so, repeat these out loud to yourself after I say them – or you can speak them quietly in your head.

  • I give myself permission to rest when I am tired
  • I give myself permission to approve of myself 
  • I give myself permission to feel and express my emotions
  • I give myself permission to create what I desire to create
  • I give myself permission to love my body exactly as it is
  • I give myself permission to say no when I want to say no
  • I give myself permission to trust that I am doing my best 
  • I give myself permission to believe that I am enough 
  • I give myself permission to love myself 

And if you’d like to write your own permission slips, that can be a beautiful practice. Take a moment to think about it… what do I need to give myself permission to do, or not do, in my life right now? Be generous with yourself.