I’m writing this blog post on my iPad, sitting cross-legged in a chair in my living room, wearing snowflake-printed pajama bottoms, a pajama top with horses on it that I’ve had for a million years, and a ratty gray hoodie.
It’s nighttime, Mike & Molly is on TV, and I don’t even have the sound turned down. Across the room, my sixteen-year-old cat sprawls on the chair in front of the Christmas tree, his furry stomach rising and falling in rhythm to the alternating tree lights.
Why am I telling you this? Because I don’t normally write like this. I’m usually at my desk, and it’s much earlier in the day, and the room is quiet, and I’m definitely not in my pajamas.
I don’t normally write in my pajamas, at night, while watching Mike & Molly because, on a regular basis, that would feel kinda sloppy and chaotic and it would be hard for me to concentrate and go deep with so much background noise.
But you know what? This evening, it’s exactly right. (I almost wrote “write” there.)
It’s exactly right because I got hit with an internal wall of “resistance to starting” here after the holidays. And I know I’m not alone.
Starting a new year brings with it big plans, desired new beginnings, and maybe even endings, for many of us. And if we tend to do what I call “piling on the change”, it can all start to feel like way too much.
And that’s when we can find ourselves stalling out and not getting started.
When I say “piling on the change”, what I mean is starting with one thing we want to begin work on — say, a first draft of a book — and then adding other “big” projects just because we can: “And while I’m at it, why don’t I also start running every day, clean out the spare bedroom so I can turn it into an office, completely overhaul my eating habits, and develop a new webinar to offer next week?”
It’s funny how we feel we need to capitalize on that “new year energy” and start getting stuff done! Like, a lot of stuff! Before the energy leaves us and we lose our momentum and we realize we can’t do it all!
But hey … what if … we start with the realization that we can’t do it all (right now) — and go from there?
Rather than holding our breath and jumping into all these goals and hoping we can handle it?
The thing about holding our breath is … we’re not breathing. We’re not present. We’re not paying attention to our bodies.
If we start from a place of acceptance — of the fact that we are human, that we are who we are and therefore have certain limitations — whatever that may mean for us — how might we be guided?
I call this self-acceptance. It is actually a place of great strength, because it centers us in our truth. Not someone else’s truth, but our truth.
If we were willing to embrace what is true for us, right now, what might we discover? What inner wisdom might bubble to the surface for us?
For me, self-acceptance today brought me to the inner wisdom to give myself permission to write in my living room chair in my pajamas with the TV on.
It’s not the way I’ll choose to write all the time from here on, I’m pretty sure. But today its message was this: Just because it’s a new year, and there’s so much change you’d like to see in yourself and the world (oh, the world!) does not mean you are not allowed comfort. It does not mean you need to push yourself extra-hard. It does not mean you can’t spend a little more time appreciating the Christmas tree. It does not mean you are running out of time and you’d better hurry before you do.
As soon as I gave myself permission to shift into lightness, softness, comfort and peace, I found myself writing. I didn’t have to force it, I didn’t have to push myself. I didn’t have to “defeat my resistance”. Once I connected with what I was needing, and gave myself permission to give it to myself, I allowed the writing to come forth.
(By the way, as I finish this post, my cat raises his head, stares at me, yawns, shifts position and goes back to sleep. Cats have a way of reminding you that your issues are not all that monumental.)
If you’re struggling to “get started on it all” here in the New Year, what’s underneath that? What might you need to give to yourself? Where do you need permission? I’d love to hear from you.
“From here on out, there’s just reality. I think that’s what maturity is: a stoic response to endless reality. But then, what do I know?” — Carrie Fisher, Postcards from the Edge. RIP to a woman whose writing inspired me toward self-acceptance when I was young and lost.