¡Viva la evolutions!

Hello, ye who have hung out with us this past year! And greetings to those who may just have discovered us or who may be passing through.

On this, my last post of 2012, I want to wish you all a happy new year and to encourage you to greater self-awareness and self-acceptance. Yes, I know. WTF? What is this woo-woo stuff? How does THAT work? And yes, I also know that time is an arbitrary thing, and that we’ve invented ridiculous ways to track it, mark it, wear ourselves ragged over it (and lack of it), but that’s no accident that Winter Solstice marks the shortest day of the year. We’ve entered winter, after all, but from here into the new year, days stretch a bit longer each and every sun cycle from here ’til Summer Solstice.

Winter marks a time of hibernation, whether its actual or perceived, a time to reflect on the previous months and start planning for the next. After all, before you embark on a journey, don’t you make a few plans?


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With that in mind, may I suggest that you try a new approach to “resolution” time?

I personally don’t make “resolutions” because too often, they’re embedded in negative messages we receive from the culture-at-large. I don’t like the packaging of “resolutions” this time of year. Resolving to work out as a new year’s thingie, for example, is often fraught with the baggage we carry as women in our society — we’re too fat, we’re too ugly, our bodies don’t look right, whatever it is. All those crappy little voices ingrained in our heads from all the messages we get from birth on in our cultures, telling you to work out so you’ll somehow “be acceptable.” In other words, we’re resolving to work out, but maybe for the wrong reasons.

My point is, if you resolve to work out regularly this year, do it because you WANT to. Because you want the well-being that comes with a good workout, that you want the wellness, and the mind-body connection that leads you to better and more healthy choices overall. Do it for you, your health, your happiness, and the desire to achieve something that makes you feel even better about yourself.

So rather than resolutions, I like thinking about “evolutions.” That is, things you do that transform you intrinsically, that open you to possibility, that give you new perspectives, and that cause you to want to make better and healthier choices for your mind, body, and spiritual self. Evolutions imply change over time — something that can take a while — and isn’t necessarily a quick fix. A “resolution” strikes me more as that quintessentially unhealthy American “quick fix” approach, where you make a list before the new year of things you just WHAM have to get done and when you don’t get results right away, you lose interest and you’re back to square one. That’s why, I think, so many people who make those working out resolutions quit by February/March. Because they weren’t looking at a more balanced approach to their lives, or they wanted that American “quick fix” and oh, my goodness, everything’s all better now. It doesn’t work that way, people. Worthwhile change is also long-while change, and you’ll have to buck the tides of American culture to achieve it.

Evolutions, on the other hand, require a look at the source of the issues, a digging into what’s making you tick, and what’s making you engage in behaviors or patterns that may not be healthy. It’s not a quick fix approach, but it’s a long-lasting one, and brings about the intrinsic shifts in our thinking that will help us value ourselves. It can be arduous work, coming to a different place and different understanding of our lives and selves. It’s most definitely not a quick fix. But that’s okay. It’s a better, long-lasting approach that requires patience and gentleness with yourself and those around you.


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Especially as women, we need to nurture ourselves, and develop healthy relationships with our own bodies and minds. And for those women among us who identify as lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or gender queer, we are further ostracized from society at large, including our own families of origin. That can create toxicity not only externally, but internally — after all, when you’re told every day that you’re less-than, whether overtly or covertly — it can push us to develop unhealthy habits we use in unhealthy ways to cope.

But we’re not really coping. Unhealthy habits only hinder our evolutions. They mask the things we need to reveal, they bury the things we need to expose, they feed monsters we need to tame.

And so I offer the following to help you with your evolutions this year (and maybe every year):

1. The Artist’s Way. Yes, I know. The cynics among you are probably grousing about that Julia Cameron, making all kinds of money off what should be self-evident and it’s a freaking industry now and oh, my God, it’s so woo-woo and what the hell? Whatever. The point is, if you’re ready to tap into your own hidden recesses, and to find some things out about yourself and gain some new perspectives in general, consider this book. I used it when I started my own internal excavations a while back, and I still use some aspects of it. It’s easy to use, relatively inexpensive, and actually did help me. Keep in mind, though, that you have to WANT to do it. You’ll resist at first. That’s how you’ll know that you’re on the right path to this work. Because you resist. You’ll think it’s weird, woo-woo, nutso, and oh, please next thing you know I’ll be dancing around with crystals and engaging in sweat baths.

To which I say, “if that’s your thing, go for it.” You can take from the book what works for you and no, it doesn’t require dancing around with anything, but I highly recommend dancing and music in general, because it’s good for the soul.


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Anyway. The Artist’s Way is simple, but ingenious, really, because the tasks and exercises Cameron provides are easy and sort of self-evident (but often ignored) ways to help you unpack, and to see potential in every waking moment. I bought this book some years back when I was ready to make changes, when I had come to a point in my life at which I realized that unhealthy patterns, beliefs, and behaviors were hindering my self-worth and growth as an individual. I was frustrated and what I call “soul-tired.” I’d hit a wall in my thinking, I was stuck in my baggage, and this book helped me work past that, and to tap into some things that really needed to be tapped into. This book is not the only thing I put in my toolbox. I want to make that clear. But as part of my own journey, I found it useful and helpful. Use it as part of your personal work, as one tool toward your overall goal of greater self-awareness and self-acceptance.

2. Read. That is, if you don’t read much, start. If you do read, try something you normally don’t read. If you’re into romances, read a mystery. If you read mysteries, try urban fantasy. Or read something nonfiction, if you don’t normally. Have a varied reading palate, because it opens your mind to new experiences, and exposes you to new ideas. Plus, it gives you things to talk about at social gatherings. 😀

3. Get outside. Now. More and more, studies are showing that spending time outside in nature or park-like settings and UNPLUGGED/UNWIRED has health benefits all around, like lowering your blood pressure and, in some really interesting studies, building your immune system, which helps fight not only pathogens, but diseases like cancer. We are, primally, non-urban mammals. Urbanization is a relatively new feature in our evolution as a species. And ultimately, it’s not necessarily a good thing. Read that article I linked to and consider implementing more outdoors into your daily regimen.

4. DE-WIRE. I cannot stress this enough. It’s related to point 3, above. Stop taking every call that comes on your smartphone. Stop responding immediately to every text you get. Stop obsessively scanning social media for whatever the hell it is you’re looking for. Connect in REAL LIFE with your families, your friends, your surroundings. Start paying attention to what’s in real life, all around you. Make time for coffee with a friend. Make time for a ball game with your kids. Make time for a romp with your dogs. Make time for that weekend camping trip without your email. Reserve at least one evening a week for devices-free family/friends/you time.

5. Do at least one new thing a month, and try to do that one new thing by yourself. Julia Cameron (above) calls things like this “artist dates,” and she encourages you to do it once a week. If you can, great. If not, try for once a month or once every other week. For example, visit a local museum you’ve never been to. Or go to that weird little boutique store you’ve had your eye on for a while but just “never got around to.” Try that new restaurant in a part of town you don’t often go to. Take a drive to a neighboring town and eat at the local diner or visit one of their local attractions. Maybe take that pottery class you’ve been secretly hankering to try. Part of any transformative journey is spending time with yourself, and learning more about yourself.

When you start taking care of YOU, and engaging with the real world around you (use social media as a tool, not a crutch), you’ll be better able to take a genuine personal inventory and really look at those unhealthy habits you need to work on. Tapping into possibility and being open to evolutions will help you make the space to implement the kinds of changes that will make you feel better physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

It’s all linked, friends. Body, mind, well-being. Healthy individuals in all senses can help build healthy communities. We owe it to ourselves and to the people in our lives to practice wellness in all senses, and to take care of ourselves. But be gentle with yourself, especially when you do your personal inventory. Recognize your unhealthy habits and patterns (don’t berate yourself), and realize that you value yourself too much to continue with them. Let go of your unhealthy habits not because you “should,” but rather because they’re blocks to your truer, happier, healthier self.

Because we’d like you to be around for a long time, engaging with us and the world around you.

Happy New Year.

13 comments

  1. Thanks Andi for this thoughtful column, I’m printing it out and I know I will re-read it several times. I really like the “evoluiton” thought process, it’s a much more positive approach to life.
    I hope you have a healthy, happy 2013 filled with peace, laughter and joy.

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  2. Your words a re a lovely unexpected Christmas gift. And worthy of serious thought, time to open the windows and air out the place. “The Artist’s Way” has been on my list for a long time. All the best to you in 2013! Thanks for all you do here.

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  3. I love the idea of doing one new thing a month. It is sooooo easy to get caught up in the minutia of life. Invaluable to be able to drag yourself out of it and experience something new.

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  4. I like that one thing a month thing, too. We let so much time go by. We get so caught up in our daily lives–working, taking care of house and family, chores, etc.–that we forget to live a little. And before you know it, another year has gone by. We shouldn’t forget to live.

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  5. Thanks, Andi. Thought provoking essay. I think most of us know that our day to days are increasingly isolating us from our own inner selves. How many hats,how many faces do I wear in one day? Sometime, we just need someone to tackle the beastie from a different angle for that ” oh yeah” moment. I also plan on printing this for share to a few folks in need of some evolution. Happy New Year and blessings keep. SL

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  6. I like the tone of this, that we need to look at changes for what they’ll do to help us grow. Your use of ‘evolutions’ rather than ‘resolutions’ brought to mind my daughter, when she was young, calling them ‘revolutions’. Thanks for the essay which prompts change as growth rather than to “fix” something that’s wrong.

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