Being gentle

I’ve been enjoying the opportunity to explore what I most need through the December Self-Care Retreat, and it occurs to me that my goals fall into 2 categories: things I need to do and ways I want to be with myself. The “doing” goals have been pretty easy (um, except for my journaling on what I’m proud of—I forgot that one somehow. Drat!) But it’s a lot harder with my “being” goal: Giving myself permission to have my own experience, and let people be who they are.

I find that the closer we get to the holidays, the more I hear “should” from myself and others. I should make E’s favorite cookies. I should not mind other people’s reactions. I should not get frustrated with myself. I shouldn’t be so anxious. I should….

Stop and be gentle. Whenever I can remember. And forgive myself whenever I forget.

This year, the winter and the cold has meant more pain. I’ve had chronic pain for the last 18 years so this isn’t a new thing, and it seems like my Raynaud’s is much more pronounced. My first impulse is to call up my mental cheer leading squad, which says, “Get it together, You can do this! You know how to do this! You can get through this!” and lists gobs of resources.

But the other parts of me aren’t ready to buck up, and I find that my enthusiasm for getting over it is blocking my ability to be present to the fact that at this moment, I feel pain and sorrow that this is happening…again. I’m tired, I’m irritable, I’m uncomfortable, and I’m frustrated at myself for my own response. There’s a chorus telling me that I *should* know better. I *should* be okay.

I do believe there is a power in positive thinking and choosing to focus on blessings. I also feel that wallowing in anger is a recipe for disaster and completely counterproductive. But when I use the *should* as as a way of covering over my pain and frustration, I hurt much more.

It’s the same dynamic over the holidays where I try to convince myself I’m okay with various family dynamics and how they play out. Except that I’m not, and I don’t like it. Pretending I do doesn’t change it very much, it just adds on another coating of “should”. And until I am able to acknowledge that reality, I tend to hit myself over the head not being as accepting as I’d like to be.

It’s committing to crossing out “I should feel XXX way” and substituting “at this moment, this is what I feel”. Ignoring the 8 ton elephant doesn’t actually help make him shrink, and it’s a kindness to simply validate reality.

So one of my goals is to acknowledge what’s going on for me, and do my best to accept it as is, without a layer of should or judgment. It’s a gift I’d like to give myself.

Our host for this week of the retreat is Kate of Eat, Recycle, Repeat, and she’s got a wonderful set of goals for this holiday season.

We’ve been joined by
Kathryn, of chacha’s gluten-free kitchen with her goals AND German Chocolate Bites

Please do join us, both to take good care of your precious self and to win fun prizes!

So a recap on the challenge:

It can be on whatever YOU need to work on to stay sane during the holiday season, or whatever you want to make sure to remember so that you are living life to the fullest:

  1. Balancing commitments to others with commitments to yourself
  2. Getting in physical activity
  3. Creating a happy balance around food
  4. Getting enough sleep!
  5. Making wise financial choices
  6. Focusing more on living beings than material “stuff”
  7. Whatever else speaks to you along these lines

The challenge—write up a blog post on what you plan to do to make your holidays sane, happy and healthy.  Make it specific!  Not just “I’ll get more sleep”, but “I’ll get at least 7 hours of sleep, 5 days a week”.  Not just “I won’t go crazy making desserts”, but “I’ll make a maximum of XX desserts, and space them out over XX time”.  You know what you need to do to keep this doable, and writing it down will help you get there!

As a little added incentive, for each post on your intentions and your progress you link back here or one of the other co-hosts, you’ll be entered to receive a $50 gift certificate to  (they are not sponsoring, I just wanted something with healthy gluten-free, vegan, sugar-free, etc. options). The delicious Ms. Carrie Forbes of Carrie of Ginger Lemon Girl has also generously donated 2 signed cookbooksGrab the badge, if you like, which was graciously created by Jennifer Yandle Photography & Design. for “The Everything Gluten-Free Slow Cooker Cookbook”. I mean, what could be more sanity promoting than using a slow cooker?

I’ll also be joined by a wonderful group of co-hosts:

About Cheryl Harris

Life played a funny trick on me. I've studied nutrition for years, and much to my surprise, found out that I could manage many of my health issues via diet. I've been GF for years, and I've got a bunch of allergies and sensitivities. But it definitely doesn't keep me from cooking, baking and enjoying my food. Thanks for stopping by.
This entry was posted in cheryl's musings, self care carnival. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Being gentle

  1. I definitely need more exercise over the holidays. The sometimes poor food choices I can always forgive myself for but when I start dropping exercise the season gets a bit overwhelming.

  2. Iris says:

    Great post! “Shoulds” are so hard to let go of. Especially the one that tells us we should be able to handle anything and do it happily. Love that you’re working on letting go of the should and just accepting whatever it is you’re feeling. We all need to do that more often.

  3. Local traveler,
    Agreed that exercise is so often a key part of staying sane!

    Indeed! It’s a perennial journey to let go of ‘shoulds’.

  4. Yes, “shoulds” and “needs” are tough ones for me. I “need” to do this. I “should” do that. This post of yours is a great reminder that letting go of that internal dialog is really what we “should” do. =)

    I LOVE that Mark Twain quote. I hadn’t seen that one. Thank you!

    Have a great weekend!

  5. I just want to say how much I enjoy this information. You efforts putting this blog together was worth the while. I appreciate you sharing this with the rest of us Cheryl.

  6. Pingback: Sanity Goals Update | Gluten Free Goodness

  7. Pingback: Happy New Year & December Sanity Challenge Wrap-up

  8. Pingback: December Sanity Round Up | Gluten Free Goodness

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