Can you believe we made it? It’s finally the last day of 2020, a year most will be happy to see
come to a close. It’s all mental of course. There will be no actual difference between this
morning and tomorrow morning, but the first of the year always brings hope for a better year
and I for one am all for hope.
While there was plenty of chaos, tragedy and fear during this year, I spent time yesterday
reflecting on how I benefitted from the events that occurred and areas where things didn’t go so great. I think it’s important to look back, briefly, in order to process what has occurred, to recognize and be grateful for what we have and to hold ourselves accountable for whatever may not have gone the way we would have desired.
I was pleasantly surprised to realize that I definitely gained more than I lost in 2020. It certainly didn’t feel like that as I was experiencing it, but my relationships are stronger, my business has continued to grow and I’ve gained clarity about what direction I want to take in the new year. I returned to old hobbies and found delight again in cooking and baking. I recognized habits that need to be changed to better serve me. The list goes on and is pretty long, so I’m definitely very grateful. The area I struggled most with was my health. After 25 years of perfect health, I woke up one morning late in the summer and couldn’t get out of bed. Definitely scary stuff, but my hips just weren’t responding. Once I lifted my legs down to the floor, I discovered I could still walk and the more I walked, the better my hips felt, so I assumed the problem was that I had become too sedentary and just needed to move more.
Over the next couple of months, the pain increased and expanded into my shoulders and
hands. Research turned up a condition called polymyalgia rheumatica, so I went to the doctor to see if that was my problem, which it was. The pain was excruciating and the mental toll of not being able to use my arms, needing help to get dressed, and feeling so restricted with my body on top of being restricted to my home definitely presented a mental challenge for me. The only treatment for PMR is corticosteroids and while I’ve been prescription-free the majority of my life, I decided to try it despite a myriad of side effects in order to not only get relief from the pain, but to move freely again.
Now every day is an unknown. Some days I am mobile and almost pain-free. Other days I am
not. Some days I am what is known as a pred head (the drug is prednisone) and can’t think
clearly or focus at all. Other days I’m sharp as a tack. Some nights I sleep 8 hours or more,
others as little as 3. It’s been unsettling to say the least, but practicing mindfulness has
definitely helped me accept that it is what it is. I can choose to have faith that my doctor knows what she’s doing, that a year from now I may be able to eliminate the steroids and that my body will heal and continue to support me. I can also hold myself accountable for how this happened. This is the aspect that many people avoid but I believe it’s very important in order to ensure nothing like this happens again – at least whatever’s within my control.
I’m not talking about blame at all. Like many health conditions, it is unknown what causes
PMR, but science assumes it is either bacterial or viral in nature. In other words, they don’t
know. But I know that I was absolutely fine and had no health issues at all until this happened, and that there was definitely a major shift in my behavior leading up to this event. I stopped moving. Until March of this year, my work was very much in the public. I facilitated workshops at hospitals and at nonprofit organizations. I spoke at conferences. I traveled. I facilitated group meditations and retreats. I attended many meetings all over the county. I went to the gym every week. I was on the go, a lot.
With the unexpected shutdown of pretty much everything, I went from zipping around to
sitting in a chair in front of a computer screen for 10 to 12 hours a day, every day, overnight.
The studio here is only about 300 square feet and I probably didn’t take more than a few
hundred steps a day for 4 months straight. I was laser-focused on revamping the business to
ensure its continuation and didn’t give a thought to what I was doing to my body.
I’m not saying it’s my fault that I became ill, but I am accepting that I contributed to it. Sure, I
may have caught a virus with no symptoms that led to this, but my instincts tell me that the
true culprit was being completely sedentary which weakened my body, allowing this condition to manifest. I became mindless about my health because I was so overwhelmed with the changes needed in order to revamp the business. I’m sure I’m not alone in this. Our minds can only focus on so many things at once and my priority was definitely work. But looking back on it, I could have taken more breaks, I could have paid attention to my physical discomforts when they were minor and taken action at the time, and I could have just been more aware of what was occurring.
I think my situation is a great example of mindful versus mindless behavior, as well as the
importance of accountability. Of course I’m sorry I’m not well, but I’m not sorry that I
accomplished what I needed to for my work. By holding myself accountable for my condition, my actions now are more mindful and I can focus on what changes I need to make in order to heal and to ensure there is no repeat of this in the future. I can recognize that I allowed myself to become out of balance. All work and no play, exercise or enough sleep is not a balanced lifestyle. I remember thinking about this several times but I would override the concerns by telling myself that it was just temporary. That I would shift back to a more normal balance soon. Evidently, not soon enough.
My body has never responded well to drugs, but I am not only taking the medication, but doing whatever else I can to support my body as it goes through this trial. I am being very kind to myself on the days that I’m somewhat whackadoodle. I am even grateful that I received this wake-up call to remind me that even under very unusual circumstances, we can never take our health for granted and I’m blessed that I didn’t contract something more serious. And I will continue to hold myself accountable for my health and take mindful actions in response to whatever comes next.
It was a happy coincidence that I met the Accountability Evangelist, Stephanie Reh, a couple of months ago. Keep in mind that coincidence doesn’t mean accident. It means two or more
things or events that coincide. Stephanie is a leadership and life coach with a mission to spread the empowering message of accountability and the positive impact a person can have when it is embraced. I couldn’t agree more and was really pleased to be asked to participate in Stephanie’s upcoming Masterclass Summit, Get Out of Your Own Way.
I had a chance to reconnect with Stephanie this week to talk about how
accountability leads to successfully achieving our goals.
Thanks again to Stephanie for joining us with her accountability wisdom and be sure to check out the summit. You can find links to register for the free sessions that begin on January 11th on our social media and website or you can go to accountabilityevangelist.com to learn more about Stephanie and the summit.
I want to thank you so much for joining me this year on the podcast. I hope it has helped you as much as it has helped me and I look forward to continuing our mindfulness journey together in 2021. We all deserve a big pat on the back for getting through this so far and I’m truly hopeful about what the future will bring. I’m also excited about all of the new possibilities that will be emerging in the coming months and sincerely wish that 2021 is a happier, healthier year for you and your loved ones.