Shift Your Perspective
The day we came home from our holiday vacation I did something I NEVER do – I went to a yoga class as soon as we got back from the airport. We’d been gone for two weeks, and normally I would be unpacking, getting groceries, cooking dinner and just trying to settle back in. But I felt entirely cooped up and the yoga studio was calling my name. It turns out it was just what I needed … isn’t it funny how that happens?
The yoga teacher spent the entire class talking about “Shifting Your Perspective.” So timely being only a few days into the New Year. As you all know if you follow my Instagram @hillarytollecarter, my family focuses more on what we are proud of at the END of the year versus setting resolutions at the BEGINNING of the new one. We do this because it’s important (and so rare!) to take stock of where you are, measure how far you’ve come, and celebrate any victories along the way. I think this has been especially important for me as a food allergy mom as progress can seem glacial day-to-day … but looking back over a whole year and feeling grateful for any wins along the way (no accidental reactions this year!, allergy shots going well!, we didn’t miss a ton of school!) can be incredibly re-affirming.
That being said, I do love intentions. I love fresh starts. I love knowing that what I choose to put into my mind will manifest into how I feel day-to-day. So, I LOVE the concept of Shifting Your Perspective.
So many people are stuck. I’ve been stuck. I’ve been sad and terrified and anxious on this food allergy mama journey. For years! But then I decided I wasn’t going to live like that anymore. I made one small change at a time – day after day -- that have added up to make HUGE differences in my life. What I love about this – all the things I have learned over years of hard work – is that everything is all a CHOICE and I HAVE THE POWER to live the life I want to live. Isn’t that sort of awesome? Not easy … but awesome!
Back to Shifting Your Perspective. It’s not a long list of resolutions. It’s not a bunch of different decisions. It’s one small shift at a time. Choose to exercise today. Choose to look at something in the positive instead of the negative. Choose to say no to a social commitment that doesn’t serve you. Choose to say yes to something new and exciting to try. Choose to eat a healthy snack instead of junk food. Choose to go to bed one hour earlier. Choose to read a book. Choose to watch mindless TV because you just need a break. Choose to find something you love about your partner instead of something that drives you crazy. Choose to be brave and try a new food for your family. Any one thing, one thing at a time.
If you have read My Story you know that I went through not only my boys’ health crisis, but also my own, which caused a major life shift for me. And it really was Shifting My Perspective one little thing at a time that made all the difference. When I look back now, here are some of the things that worked best for me on my journey to become a happier, less anxious, more productive and joyful person:
Exercise – I have always exercised. I started dancing before I was three years old, and I’m pretty sure I’ve exercised at least three days a week, every week, my entire life. (Except during my pregnancies, which were both high risk, and I was only allowed to do prenatal yoga!) I have no shame in telling you that I am vain (LOL!) and like to feel physically fit. But really, exercise helps me MENTALLY more than anything else. I absolutely love to listen to music and just ZONE OUT. However, there was a period of time when I really overdid it with too many spin classes and severely damaged my body. So now, I make sure I do different exercises and allow rest days. I am currently teaching dance at least once a week, taking long walks and practicing hot vinyasa yoga. Setting aside that time for exercise is my first priority once the kids are off at school for the day. If I’m going to have a busy day of meetings, I’ll get up and do the treadmill before they wake up. It’s that important to me. I think this is a really easy one for busy mamas to push to the end of the To Do List, because perhaps it feels indulgent or not necessary. But look at the long term – if you don’t take care of your body now, it won’t take care of you later. And you can't take good care of those you love if you aren't taking good care of yourself. I highly recommend taking this time for yourself, even just one day a week and build from there. I promise you’ll feel better for doing so!
Gratitudes – This is a huge practice in our family, and I have my husband to thank. A few years ago, he found The Five-Minute Journal on Amazon and bought one for each of us. It’s really more like two minutes, and you just jot down three things you are grateful for in the morning, what you will do to make today great, and an affirmation about yourself. At the end of the day, you write down three amazing things that happened that day and one thing you could have done better. Honestly, at first, I was like this is cheesy and I don’t have time for this. But it seriously WORKS. If nothing else, stopping and taking a moment in your head to think about three things you are grateful for in your life is an amazing way to kick off your day in a positive way. We now both love The Five-Minute Journal app which is so easy to use on your phone, and you can also add a picture each day.
I am trying to instill this practice in my kids, as well, and we regularly do gratitudes on the way to school or at night with our evening prayers. Teaching all children, especially those with food allergies, to focus on what they HAVE instead of what they don’t, is such an important lesson. You can read about how we incorporated Gratitudes into our Thanksgiving this year in my Giving Thanks post.
Feed Your Brain – Do not get me wrong. When it’s the end of the day and I’m tired, there is nothing I love more than watching Bravo or old Friends episodes. But over the course of the last few years, I have read some amazing books that have really made a difference in my life and fed my brain and soul in so many ways. Here are some of my all-time favorites:
Rising Strong by Brene Brown
Deep Listening by Jillian Pransky
Love Warrior by Glennon Doyle
Of Mess and Moxie by Jen Hatmaker
10% Happier by Dan Harris
Tell Me More by Kelly Corrigan
Some of these I read, but a lot of them I listened to on Audible while driving or taking long walks. I would seriously recommend you just listen to ANYTHING Brene Brown you can find. And I listened to Love Warrior over a series of long walks and literally laughed and cried out loud the entire way. It was incredibly healing. Glennon talks about doing “the next right thing, one thing at a time” in her book.
Shifting Your Perspective. One baby step at a time.
I drafted most of this blog post early in January. And then both of my boys got hit with the flu and we were all stuck at home for ten days. Ten days of multiple doctors’ visits, very sick children, fear of secondary respiratory infections, cleaning the house, washing the laundry, repeat. Do not get me wrong, I got really stir crazy around day six, and my introvert self really was ready for some ALONE TIME there at the end. But I stuck with my practices – gratitudes in the morning, exercise most days (treadmill time while my husband was home to watch the boys), feeding my brain (working on my blog, reading the news, and absolutely watching old Sex and the City re-runs). And thanks to those choices, I was better able to stay calm in the storm.
Life is all about choices. One decision at a time. One subtle Shift of Perspective after another.
Turn I can’t into I can.
Turn I can into I will.
Turn I will into I do.
You’ve got this!
Do you have practices in your daily life that help you Shift Your Perspective? Please comment below!
Sending love to anyone who needs it.