No guts, no glory?

#RealTalk vol 19

Jae Hermann

I realize I crept back into your inbox this past Sunday without explaining my 6-week absence. My bad. Honestly, I didn't think you'd notice. If your inbox looks like mine, it’s easy to lose track of who to read. Given all that’s happened to me these past few weeks, trust me when I tell you that hitting overwhelm was bound to happen, which is why I neglected to write to you. 

See, what had happened was...after driving across the country, living with a crazy lady for a month, nearly annihilating my marriage, packing up and hauling my crap...again, moving into my tiny, over-priced downtown apartment, starting two new jobs and two projects in the same week, starting rehearsal for a play, and getting really sick… I crashed.  

Emotionally, spiritually, mentally, and physically I couldn’t handle the pressure of trying to keep all my plates spinning, so I checked out. This is different than a monthly digital detox (which I highly recommend) but rather an almost subconscious, involuntary emotional, mental and physical retreat. I wasn’t hiding per se; I disconnected. 

I recognize this pattern I’ve developed over the years. After maxing out my mental reserve and regain strength to realign my priorities, my psyche creates a myopic defense - the ultimate self-care protocol of deleting, unsubscribing, and blocking all distractions lacking feel-good energy. Mostly, I disengage from the “shoulds” and the “should-makers” (more on that later). 

The fight or flight response is basic human nature. We’ve all been there… when a situation is scary or overwhelming, we instinctively buck up and handle it or run. Over the last few weeks, I did both simultaneously, I dug in my heels, refusing to yield to my new normal AND I bounced, I ran, both figuratively and literally. The struggle of how that feels and the toll it takes are no joke. 

The process of disconnecting to the level that I did wasn’t a serene and joyful departure. I had days that bled together, creating a cluster-fuck fog of nothingness. I went numb. I mustered the strength to go through the motions allowing me to get from point A to point B. I didn’t have much more than that to offer, let alone write anything or engage with anyone. Yup, it was as bleak as it sounds, but I’m better for it. 

I’m not advocating that you push yourself to mental or emotional breakdown as a precursor to getting some downtime, it’s no fun. On the contrary, I recommend being mindful of your strength reserves before your mind and body force you to rest. You don’t need to push, push, push and go, go, go all of the time, there’s restoration in stillness.

New year resolutions, determinations, to-do lists, and the like feel like admonitions to get it ALL done - the pressure is on to DO it all - all of our hopes and dreams and plans for an entire year get top billing. Sure, I’m all for setting goals and mapping out strategies, it’s just for us overachievers we pay a hefty price for failing to take projects in smaller doses. 

Recently I told a friend that the most important lesson 2019 taught me was that the Universe only responds to forward movement. I was wrong. A caterpillar chrysalis appears void of change during its metamorphosis, and yet, we marvel at the resulting transformation.  

Sometimes you have to be still before moving forward. Sometimes you have to shut out the world, to turn it all off, focus on yourself, take the road less traveled, and quietly get your shit done to become your best self.  

Push through fear, develop the courage to move forward despite feeling overwhelmed, and dare to be uniquely you were my battle cries for 2019 and, for the most part, still are, but I’m adding take time for mindful stillness and fierce self-preservation to the mix.

My self-enforced mental and emotional hiatus reenergized my mind and heart. I now have the headspace to feel connected, to write and share with you, spend time with friends, and feel excited about 2020.  

What you determine for your life in the coming year is yours for the taking, I sincerely hope that you achieve your dreams and goals without sacrificing your sanity in the process. 

There are guts and glory in being still and steady, my friends. Happy New Year.