Sooooooo, back at the beginning of 2020 – in the “Before Times” – I’d written a post about some of my goals for that year because I was turning 50 and feeling very contemplative. Here’s a summary of what I wanted to work on that year that now seems a million lifetimes ago:
- Be more courageous
- Live my faith more openly
- Love my husband, The Professor, better
- Love my girls better
- Love my body better
Living my faith more openly was meant to be about helping the larger community in ways I find symbiotic with my faith, and I was looking for organizations to do just that. And then the world shut down. So this one has stalled a bit. But I’m still thinking about it a lot and do what I can while we’re in the situation we’re currently in.
Another major goal was to love my body better. I do appreciate it so very much. As I wrote in January 2020, “My body has done amazing things for me for almost 50 years. It got me here. It created and grew two of the loveliest creatures on the planet. It manages the family and inflicts (needed-but-not-always-wanted) big hugs upon my daughters. My body champions and guides and laughs and loves. My body is pretty amazing and I need to remember that.”
All of this still holds true today, but getting my weight to a healthier level was a priority. I feel like something ominous can lurk in your 50s – and that’s without a global pandemic, but here we are. I need to be as healthy as I can be so I’m ready to deal with whatever comes my way.
And I did it, y’all! I was intentional, deliberate, and safe and still had fun, and dropped about 18 pounds. Felt better than I had in 30 years! On my 50th birthday in May 2020, I was so optimistic about the upcoming year. I was healthier than I’d been in a while and felt really excited for the year ahead. I felt like I was setting myself up to start my 50s from a really good place.
Little did I know, the insidious twin diseases of depression and anxiety were taking root in my youngest daughter and were going to turn our world upside down. They made themselves known at the beginning of the school year, but then got to be too much in January and we had to hospitalize her for eight days. And for a long time after that, it felt like everything was out of control and exhausting. Especially the number of Oreos I’ve shoved down my gullet. I took stress eating to an expert level. Coupled with my beloved gym closing (thanks for that, too, Covid!) and some serious inactivity, the health train came off the tracks.
As my 2021 birthday approached, I was so pissy, and for a minute, I couldn’t quite put my finger on exactly why. But when I looked back on how hopeful I was last year and where I was this year and all the scary and sad stuff our family had been through, it wasn’t a mystery – this was a really hard year for our family and all of the work I’d done leading up to my 50th got annihilated. But once I really paid attention to what I was feeling and named it all (Sadness. Disappointment. Fear. Anger.), I was able to start working through it.
It’s important to honor what you’re feeling. Emotions are never wrong and are always valid. The feelings that come with them are real, too. You can only deal with something once you know what it actually is.
Once I acknowledged what was going on with me, and realized that it was absolutely fair I was feeling all that, I was able to turn the proverbial page. Yes, we had a hellish school year and all the hard work I’d done evaporated like those little two packs of Oreos that I decimated on a fairly regular basis.
But it is what it is.
This is where we are.
I’m still in my 50s. Something can still be lurking. We’re still in the middle of a global pandemic. My husband still needs me. My older daughter still needs me. My younger daughter still has depression and anxiety and needs me. I cannot wallow. Now more than ever, it’s mission-critical for me to be the healthiest I can be.
So, after a long, somewhat debaucherous summer filled with travel, I’m back to my normal life, mostly. My workouts are picking back up and I’m getting a little bit of my strength swagger back. I’ve reined in my emotional, mindless eating and am concentrating on what makes my body feel better. A couple of pounds have fallen off and I’m sleeping better than I have in months.
I’m also making a concerted effort to really nurture myself and treat myself a little more tenderly. I need time alone with my husband, The Professor. I need time with my friends. I need to exercise. I need time to unwind. Sometimes I need to lie on the couch. I’m treating myself with the care I would give a good friend who has had a rough go of it. I’ve always taken time for myself, but I’m much more deliberate now and prioritizing myself, too.
And most importantly, I’ve forgiven myself for falling so far behind in my original plan.
It’s taken a lot to get here though. I like to hold a grudge, so I’m mad at the universe. Which, in case you’re wondering, isn’t that productive. So I’m working through that, too.
Periodically we have to reassess. We can make decisions and goals based on the information we have at the time, but sometimes when things change, we have to change, too.
My primary goals are still the same: Be more courageous. Live my faith more openly. Love The Professor better. Love my girls better. Love my body better.
But reaching those goals or how I measure success is a little different now.