I have no idea how to begin this post. I have no idea where it will lead. Still, even in the late weeks of January 2021, I feel compelled to revisit this draft. Last year, I had written my reflection of 2019 and published it to my newly created blog by January 1st. I did so with passion, hope, and a feeling of absolute wonder for what 2020 would bring. And what it brought, I feel, is still unraveling for me.
Perhaps it was easy to ride the waves of intuition and allow the spark of creative insight to drive my writing as I reflected on a “normal” year, but 2020 has not been so easy to unpack. It still feels surreal that it is over. However, I feel the embrace of a chapter of healing at its wake. For myself and many others, the darkness of the COVID-19 pandemic brought with it illumination.
I feel that to truly step into 2021 with courage, trust, and integrity, I must reflect on the lessons learned during a year riddled with loneliness, fear, uncertainty, and a series of life changing events and decisions.
In this series of Reflections, I will share journal entries from 2020 and consider the themes, psychological shifts, and insights recieved in order to heal, integrate the lessons, and gain clarity in my journey. I also hope it helps you in some way, too.
The following material was gathered from January-February of 2020.
I start my first 9 week externship for my masters in Speech-Language Pathology at a private practice in January. I’m there from 7:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., sometimes much later if I was behind on paperwork. The workload in incredibly demanding, but rewarding. I am struggling with intense self-doubt, anxiety, insomnia, and all of the issues that come with having ADHD in a world designed for neurotypicals. This experience is grueling and pushes me to my limits.
After a rough beginning of my externship, I had lost touch with myself and my purpose/dharma. As I wrote a year ago, this can be summed up by the following statement:
I heal myself to heal another, so that they may do the same.
The problem was, I no longer felt myself actively healing. I felt my body and overall mental condition deteriorating due to the stress. I learned quite quickly that if I was unable to show up for myself, I couldn’t fully show up for the clients I was serving.
Bogged down by the demands of my externship, my life had become imbalanced. It was clear in observing my obsessive thought patterns, decreasing weight, and social withdrawal. I was losing sleep, riddled with anxious thoughts and consumed by dread each night, knowing I had to wake up and face a new day.
Instead of soaking in the experience and viewing each moment as an opportunity to learn, I was dreading every second. My lifelong battle with perfectionism was rising to an eardrum-splitting crescendo.
This intense need to do everything right, know every piece of research, write every SOAP note perfectly, etc. etc. etc., was killing my joy.
So, how did I bounce back from what felt like a major breaking point?
Below are 3 powerful practices to reconnect with yourself by identifying imbalances in your life, your priorities, and perceptions of yourself.
Life Balance Reflection
I do these periodically to evaluate what areas of my life need more attention. It involves rating each area of life on a scale of 1-10. A visual representation of a circle or wheel, divided into 8 sections works best for me. Then, you can color in each section up to the numerical rating and actually see the imbalance. It may look something like this:
The 8 areas I assess include: Spiritual, Love & Relationships, Health & Fitness, Career & Education, Personal Development, Family & Friends, Fun & Recreation, and Finance.
You can use this tool to pinpoint areas of your life that need attention. If you identify the area of Friends & Family as lacking, you can make a goal or set an intention to spend more time connecting with your loved ones. You may not even have noticed, in your busy life, that it’s been weeks since you had a heart-to-heart or even a brief conversation with a friend (if you have a tendency towards self-isolation, like yours truly).
If your work or college life is keeping you insanely busy and leading to excessively grabbing fast food, you might identify dissatisfaction in the area of Health & Fitness and move forward by setting aside a few hours each weekend for meal prepping. What I love about this system is that it allows for flexibility.
It’s unreasonable to expect a perfect 10 in every area, all the time. One week, I may be hyper-focused on taking care of my finances or career and the next week, I’m all about restorative yoga and journaling and that’s okay. That’s life!
Remente is a good app for quick life balance assessments, but I usually write it in my journal 1-2 times per month. Typical each New Moon and each Full Moon.
My Reflection revealed that I’d been spending too much of my energy on Career & Education and seriously neglecting my Spiritual Practice and Personal Development. So I took the following actions:
Nature Walks & Journaling
Spending time in nature and journaling always brings me back into alignment. I spent several days taking nature walks at a beautiful creek in Montevallo. During this period of time, I wrote the poems within Returning to Balance. As I read them now, I am transported to that serene stream between tall, barren winter trees and I am so grateful for the time I spent realigning.
Identifying Self-Limiting Beliefs
In essence, Self-Limiting Beliefs are essentially perceptions about yourself or how the world operates that hold you back from feeling good, achieving your goals, and/or living your purpose. This is a powerful practice that I try to revisit regularly. I could write a whole post about these sticky, icky thought distortions, but there’s so much information already out there about this that I encourage you to do a quick google search on the topic if it resonates with you.
On February 20, 2020, I made the following list:
– achievement = worth
– I don’t fit in – as an SLP, a friend, a granddaughter, a spiritual being
– I have to know / I should know “that”
– my spirituality and career don’t match / somehow conflict
– what I say doesn’t matter
– I have to always be doing
– the future is scary
Since then, I’ve come a looooong way in destroying these self-limiting beliefs. From embracing the duality of being an inherently spiritual being as well as an intellectual, career-driven individual.
I no longer view achievement or productivity as a measure of my worth as a human being. I don’t beat myself up when I don’t know something, I simply see an opportunity to learn and grow.
I’m not so caught up in feeling too different, eccentric, or out of place in various groups. I recognize that no matter the situation, I have something to offer. From my unique perspective to my innate ability to hold space for the emotions of others. And even if I have nothing to offer, I matter and what I have to say matters.
And the future is only scary if I view life through a lens of fear. However, I’ve chosen a new lens: Trust, which will be the theme of Part II.
Thank you for making it to the end of Part I. It means so much to me to be able to share these insights and practices that have helped me grow exponentially. If it helps a single person on their journey, I am elated and grateful.
Additional Resources & Vibes
Helpful Videos from my YouTube Watch History
These short videos from The School of Life are a great resource for building your vocabulary around the concepts I write about in this post, and ultimately understanding yourself and others better.
~ vibes of the time ~
These are the bops that kept me moving, feeling, processing, and vibing early in 2020. One of my favorite songs from this playlist is When I Was Done Dying by Dan Deacon. The video linked was made in collaboration with several animators and is a truly beautiful audiovisual experience.
description: moody, melancholic, thought-provoking, and slightly spiritual. secure the jug of consciousness atop your pretty-little-head and join the cosmic celebration of aquarius szn.