I was floating on my back in the Villas Pool at Rancho La Puerta the last time I was there for a photo shoot and it was such a dreamy experience. The pool had been heated for watsu massages that week since the watsu pool was under construction. I happened to go up there when there was no massage happening and have recently discovered how much I love being in water - especially warm water (in the 90s). For years I would say that I would like to learn to swim properly because I know it would be a great form of exercise for my aging body (low impact, great cardio and meditative too), but I have long thick hair that I only wash once a week so it would be a big pain to become a regular swimmer. Because of my hair! I've told a few swimmers over the years and they understandably roll their eyes. What I realized recently is that I like being in water so much that I think it might be worth dealing with washing my hair more than once a week.
This comes with many realizations lately that if I want to change my life and be the person I truly want to be, it's going to take some great lifestyle changes and as scary as it is, I may be ready to really take them on and get out of this comfort zone I've been in for such a long time.
The life coach (Coach Emily) who speaks regularly at Rancho La Puerta and is speaking at my upcoming women's health retreat (MLK weekend) often asks her audience to picture who they would like to be 5, 10 or 15 years from that moment. She asks that you visualize what you look like, where you are and what you're doing. The last time I saw her speak, she asked the crowd after the exercise how many people pictured themselves skinny. Well, count me in on those that raised their hand. But I also pictured myself (and I've done this several times now in the past few years) as a confident aging woman with long gray hair (yes! I'm going gray) strolling through The Healing Farm property greeting guests and helping others learn about healing in an affordable way. Possibly changing the health care industry to make preventable measures more common and natural and living on the property preparing for retirement. And yes. slim, glowing, healthy and swimming almost daily.
There was an opinion article written in The New York Times this past weekend about New Year's resolutions. The title was "Try a New Year's Resolution" and it was written by Jennifer Weiner. What I liked about this article is that Ms. Weiner talks about why new year's resolutions generally don't work and most importantly that if you truly want change, you need to actually change your life or lifestyle. This resonated so much with what I had been thinking the past few months. I had already changed my diet to reduce inflammation in my body and naturally heal (for the most part) all of my chronic conditions and I had already started on the path to changing my career, but what I keep failing to do is understand and put into action a plan that will actually put me in a place where the career change will be not only be truly possible, but also complete. To do that, I need to gain confidence in myself. To do that, I need to become that woman I picture when I close my eyes. I know some may be screaming "Don't worry about your body image"! You're lovely as you are"! But I know that when I put weight on I don't feel as good physically. My back pain creeps up, my joint pain acts up and although I'm perfectly comfortable feeling sexy for my husband and he views me as incredibly sexy, I want to really look great for him (and myself) for years to come.
All this is to say, that I need to let go of thinking swimming will be a great pain in the neck. That if I don't truly change my lifestyle I may not ever be that person I visualize when I close my eyes. It's not just about doing the Whole 30 in January and vowing that I WILL lose that 20 pounds. It's really that I actually want a different lifestyle and version of myself that I haven't quite reached yet. As much as I love myself and my life as it is and I am and feel fortunate every day that I've been given the life I've been given, I can't help but feel that I haven't yet reached my true potential. Hair be damned, the feeling I get when I'm swimming in warm water and floating on my back and feeling weightless and free is astounding to me. I also need to seriously start thinking of how to finally shed my photography career and move on to living a life in service to others. Helping to heal while healing myself. Being surrounded by beauty and nature and living the life I've dreamed of.
Some of my retreat participants have asked for homework assignments for next weekend's women's retreat and I've already asked them to list what in their life right now (in midlife) feels like it is in a state of flux and what feels stable and secure. I recently had a conversation with a friend about a visualization/manifestation board and think that also might be a fun assignment that can be added to the art meditation at the retreat. I invite anyone who reads this to cut out pictures of anything that they want to realize in the next few years - wether it's a new career, a new look, a new spouse, a baby (this was my friends and it worked for her!), a new home - whatever you really dream of - and then think about how you need to change your life beyond your new year's resolution to make it happen. It could be a very strong exercise! If you are coming to the women's retreat, please bring some magazines that we can share to work on this project during the art meditation. I will bring glue and boards and a few scissors. If you remember to bring a pair of scissors, that would be great!
Dare to dream and be dreamy!