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How to be a better person

If you had more time to focus on your health and wellbeing, what would you do? Well this is the time for many of us that we suddenly have the time, what are you doing with it?

For the last couple of weeks, I've had to self-quarantine to limit risks of getting Covid-19 because I have Lyme Disease and complications. And I'm loving the Better Me that's coming out of this time away from society.

Before Covid-19 I knew I wanted to make more time to get back to the basics of life, but it was always something I planned to do with I had more time.

2020 has changed life for everyone in some way. But if we are lucky, we have a rare opportunity to take that change and turn it into something wonderful. 

Should we read more, sing more, or actually get enough sleep? What have you been saying you wanted to do, but have put off because there just doesn't seem to be enough time?

For the first time, I’m living a life with more peace, better health, and less stress. But it required being forced to stay home and focus on what’s important to do it, and this pandemic was that catalyst. 

Bill Gates

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It started with a dream

In 2012 I was at my lowest place, physically and mentally.  I was battling Chronic Lyme Disease and feeling like I might not be strong enough to keep fighting. Then my best friend died suddenly and I also had to distance myself from a toxic family member.

I was grieving, depressed, and developed panic attacks. At one point, I wasn’t sure I wanted to keep fighting, and that drove me to seek therapy.I will say that therapy, along with some major life changes, helped me recover from my downward spiral and I am so thankful for every hard, tearful session.

At one of those sessions, my therapist asked me to describe who I believed the best version of me would look like.

It seemed like a silly exercise, but it ended up being a compelling goal that I always kept in the back of my mind.

The best version of me

She has long hair that she doesn’t care has hints of gray. She doesn’t wear makeup. Her hands are dirty from time in the garden. She grows food and flowers, and people ask her for recipes from the things she grows there. She’s calm, because she meditates and she’s strong because she does yoga and doesn’t struggle to breathe walking up the stairs.

In her house, she has rows of books, a house full of plants, and a pantry full of canned goods and strange flavored jams. There’s always music playing, and she likes to rock on the front porch with sweet tea and watch the birds in the garden.

She’s happy because she doesn’t feel the weight of the world anymore.

Letting go of being “too busy ”

For years I focused on making sure I followed Dr’s recommendations, raised a family, build a business out of blogging, and battled my disease aggressively.

I made a routine out of being busy, so I didn’t allow too much thinking to overwhelm me.

My routine became so busy that I realized that I was “too busy” to do things I enjoyed, too busy even to eat breakfast or lunch most days.

I’d start every morning out trying to keep up on social media for my blog, emails, learning new things to keep growing as a blogger, and trying to write better content. Even though I was more successful, I wasn’t taking care of myself. I didn’t work out, and my body wasn’t happy about it.

I made social plans and got annoyed with the gossip, the drama, and the BS. So many people are cheating, trying to force their will on other people, or caught up in superficial crap. And sadly, I got sucked into more and more as time went on. I started hating going out.

Stress was pressing down on me, so much that I could feel it making me sick again.  I was nowhere close to being that better version of me; I was just a busier version.

Forced Time Out

When the news about Covid-19 first began, I was actually on vacation with my family. We were at a waterpark with our little granddaughter, and all of us were having a great time. But I was still focused on the work I needed to do at home.

As the week went on, I started thinking more about what could happen if the virus were to spread. By the end of the week, I had begun to make plans to be more prepared just in case.  I had no idea that this would grow into the madness that it has.

When we returned, something kicked in, and I went into full preparation mode. It was like I could see the flood coming, and we just started doing everything we could to get ready to swim.

We stocked up on food, supplies, and started canceling plans. We stopped going out on March 9th.

Covid-19 could be fatal for people like me with serious chronic illnesses. My family and I knew we couldn’t take chances.

farmhouse style - apron sink

The Better Me was born in this crisis

For my birthday this year, I had asked my husband for a Peloton bike and promised that I would start working out more. The first few weeks were done out of the newness, but what came out was born because I began to discover that the Better Me was there, waiting to have this time to shine. I'm actually on a 9 week streak!  I've done 112 workouts and I'm actually excited about getting up to workout. (The old me HATED exercise!)

We are still in lock-down here in our home. Instead of rushing to work, or my husband rushing to get out the door for his 1-3 hour commute each way.  We now sleep in later, take time to work out each morning, and I discovered the power of yoga and mediation. We do things together, and actually try to give each other some space so we don't get in each other's way too much. 

Instead of listening to the news as I got dressed to rush to my desk, now I sit in silence to meditate and focus on seeing the good in the world and myself. Instead of trying to make it to my doctor’s appointments every two weeks for injections ( which by the way closed down in the crisis ), I’m learning to do them myself and become more independent.

A few days ago, I realized as I spread the last of the sunflower seeds into the ground, that I’m that woman now who’s out in the garden without makeup or doing her hair. I don’t need to take photos for social media, and I don’t need to impress anyone with trips to exotic locations.  But if I finished up with planting the garden, I could probably make a new batch of blueberry lemon jam for dinner!

Sometimes we need to take a break to see where we are going.

I’m still blogging, but I don’t have the same drive to push as hard. Honestly, I don’t know if anyone is even reading blogs anymore.

Our stats have dropped, affiliate revenue has dropped from links on blog posts, social media has tanked.  And I don’t care, because I have some sweet tea chilling and there are blue jays and robins in the front yard telling me that I should be in my rocking chair enjoying the show.

Traffic has slowed, and I can hear the birds more clearly all around. There are fewer planes in the sky, and it’s incredible how quiet it can get out in the garden.  I just cleared an area for tomatoes and basil, tomorrow if the rain stops I think I’ll clear another area for lettuce and herbs. I’m in better health than I have been in years, and I haven’t had a panic attack in a while. I give credit to the yoga and mediation, even the CBD that I take every day.

I rarely check the time now, but I did set a reminder to catch a live show from one of my favorite bands.  They do that now. The musicians are playing music from their homes and sharing stories instead of charging tickets and standing in crowded, dirty bars. They take tips, and since I’ve stopped wasting money on lattes and Panera, I can give them a little something to thank them.

I’m not sure I want to go back to the way things were anymore.

Instead of rushing to get work started, I light candles and pretend I’m at one of those luxury spas and let the steam from my shower fill the room. I play calming music instead of the news report, and when I looked in the mirror this morning, I didn’t even mind the few gray hairs that have started to shine through.  Silver linings I think.

Sure, in a few weeks, the stores will reopen, and people will be in a rush to spend those stimulus checks.

But I might just stay in longer, work on reading those books on the shelf, or not caring about what’s going on outside in the world. This has been pretty nice!

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