1001 Mindful Things : No. 5 Keep Going!

Monday, August 29, 2016

I have been absent for quite some time, and for good reason, I promise!

First things first, you may have noticed that the title of my project has changed. I realized how much I was undertaking by having so many simultaneous projects going on: Blogging, goatherding, post-baccalaureate degree, work, writing several novels, trying to learn silversmithing, researching duck taming...I'm a busy gal, and I think for the most part Jeff happily-or at least grudgingly-tags along for the ride.

For awhile, my blog project for "1001 Ways to Achieve Rehabilitation" has just bothered me. For one, it was too wordy. Another thing that constantly nagged at me was the tenuous line of recommending something that not all people may be able to do. Granted, this may always be the case for something to someone somewhere, but I did not want to somehow imply that these are necessary or imperative. Everyone's journey to rehabilitation is unique, and I am by no means an expert.


However, I did realize that the thematic river running through my life at present surrounds the topic of mindfulness. When I refer to mindfulness, I mean it in two ways: mindfulness as a lifestyle practice of achieving balance and awareness and the process of being mindful and considerate of others and the world. For me personally, rehabilitiation is a mindful practice and a practice in mindfulness. It is an inwardly-directed process as much as it is outward and physical, because rehabilitation draws upon our resilience as humans by tapping into our willpower, drive, fortitude, and resolve. Maybe those words are really all one in the same, but the reality is that rehabilitation is an introspective process. We draw things up from within ourselves like a well and pour it out into the world as we push and strive for something different and something new, because the reality is that we can never go back. 

Another reason I was absent had to do with a bit of what I will call blogger exasperation, which resulted when I accidentally saved over what I thought was a great post on rehabilitation. I had saved it on my laptop, prepared to return to finish the draft later. Instead of returning to my laptop, I decided to post the draft from my desktop. Only, I had not refreshed the draft before I posted it, so it was missing the crucial updates I had been adding over the course of several days. You can imagine how crestfallen I was when I reread my article (as I always do) to find that everything I had written previously in the day was just gone. I tried in vain to retrace my steps, to resurrect the edits, but sadly the Blogger platform does not provide access to previous saves. I was so upset after hours spent in research and writing that I had to take a break from my project. This in and of itself was frustrating, because when you take on a project to write about 1001 things...it takes times.


Maybe you can emphasize if you blog, write, or engage in some other creative endeavor. Sometimes you lose your work, and you feel like it is the best possible version of what you could have written and you feel lost. Maybe that's how you feel because of your illness or injury.

I realized in those days following the self-directed leave from blogging that it had become the opposite of what I wanted. I was being overly harsh with myself over my mistakes, I was veering madly away from the process of being mindful in the present moment, and I was absolutely exasperated with the process. As with real-life rehabilitation, I realized I needed a break. Now, after several months have passed, I feel ready to return and resume my project, which brings me to #5 of 1001 Mindful Things: Keep going, because rehabilitation is the essence of continuing.

Sometimes it's difficult to keep going. For example, in the months I have been absent from the blog, Jeff and I bought new Fitbits and began a walking regimen. I joined two fitness challenges (one at work and through the Stepbet app) and I lost 35lbs and four dress sizes. In that process, I developed a variety of athletic injuries to my toes, shins, and hips. Jeff performed his own adapted version of the challenges and lost 30lbs himself. Then approximately two weeks ago, he broke his toe. As if his poor feet haven't been through enough agony in the last three years. The point is, we all have setbacks, but we find other ways to keep going. I won both of my challenges, but now I need to slow down to give my body time to heal. Likewise, Jeff needs to stay off his feet, a prescription we know all too well, and quite frankly, dread.

How is continuing mindful?

Mindfulness as a practice is about not judging the experience. When we qualify something as good or bad, we give it power to determine how we view the world and behave in it. It colors our experience. Sometimes events will feel dreadful, or daunting, or disheartening. This is OK! I can't say it enough that mindfulness is not about the absence of feeling. Conversely, it is allowing yourself to feel fully, without judgment. When we persevere, we allow ourselves to brave the darkest caves and bask on the brightest beaches of our experiences, because they are not mutually exclusive.

To be mindful is also to consider the balance between rest and restoration. Sometimes we need a break, because our bodies and minds need to heal. I recently attended the annual Combat & Operational Stress Control Conference virtually, and again this year a panelist spoke on the benefits of sleep. Sleep is a great example of how our bodies need rest in order to keep us happy and healthy. Likewise, restoration often comes in the form of forging ahead. Have you ever felt rejuvenated and energized by the mere act of pressing on in the face of adversity, despite your apprehensions, fear, and dread? It can be invigorating! Besides, continuing onward does not necessarily mean doing the same thing. Sometimes it means making some adjustments, some adaptations.


So if you are facing a challenge right now, consider taking a much needed rest so you can re-calibrate. Taking a break is great for problem-solving and making course corrections in the journey of our lives. When you're ready, continue onward. The key is not to give up or give in, and the reality is that it is often a matter of our mindset and our frame of reference which determines our outcomes. If you believe you are giving up, chances are you may be, but if you believe you are just taking a break, there's a good chance you'll get a move on when you're ready.

Stay mindful, my friends!


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