3 important little questions

what questions are you asking?

Over the course of 2020, I attended a few of NEW Center’s Centering Justice webinars and watched the replays of all the ones I missed, and as the holidays began, I attended their virtual celebration. As with every event put on by NEW, the “Toast to Transformation” did not disappoint <understatement font>.

I always come away from NEW’s events with more questions than answers—which I consider a good thing.

I’ve joked before that at the nonprofit where I last worked, every job description listed “strong sense of comfort with ambiguity” as one of the bullet points. At NEW, apparently that ever-present bullet point is “must be a poet.”

The event opened with a poem by NEW’s Relationship Manager, Will Jones III, who has been regularly posting his poetry to Facebook and did a live reading entitled Poetic Justice this past June. And it turns out that the Center’s been keeping a few other talents hidden, whose contributions to the celebration were equally poetic.

Hillary Watson spoke movingly about how the staff has been pondering two questions as NEW rebrands and rethinks its role in the community—and those two questions have been on my mind ever since, so I want to share them with you: What if? and Why not?

NEW Center is asking these questions about the big issues in our community and country and world—and I think they’re just as important to ask about those issues that are closer to home, even internal to us as individuals.

question 1: what if?

The year 2020 seems to have left little to imagine in terms of “what if”questions: what if a pandemic occurred? what if people of color finally rose up against centuries of oppression and violence? what if America is no longer a respected world leader? what if we unseated the current administration? what if we didn’t? what if we really couldn’t ignore all of the problems in our country that we’ve been able to ignore so far—in education, labor, healthcare, civil rights…?

I really love the sentiment expressed by Professor Isaac Prilleltensky in his blog post from Christmas day:

A Wish for a “We” Decade
2010-2020: Me Culture
“I have the right to feel valued so that I may be happy.”
2020-2030: We Culture
“We all have the right and responsibility to feel valued and add value, so that we may all experience happiness and fairness.”

I’ll admit to being slightly amused by the fact that very often, my work with women asks them to consider the transition to midlife as being one “from ‘we’ to ‘me'” given that they’ve usually spent the past three or so decades caring for everyone else and putting their own needs on the back burner—or even pushing them off the stove entirely.

My health coach brain and heart want to ask, “What if in 2021 we could at least begin to find a harmony between ‘we’ and ‘me?'” (I prefer ‘harmony’ to ‘balance’—balance is too strong a word—it sets up a standard that is too easy to fall short of, which only leads to self-judgment and self-criticism, and I’m all about getting curious rather than judgy.)

What if 2021 is the year you commit to optimizing your health and well-being?

question 2: why not?

If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that we really don’t have much control—over much of anything. And if we don’t have control, how do we respond to the “what ifs” we can imagine?

As out-of-control as we may feel, we do, in fact, have sovereignty over our own decisions, actions, and responses—and if our instinct is to ask, “why bother?” then our wiser intuition will probably ask, “why not?”

Deep down, we know what food and lifestyle choices we can make to be optimally healthy, and making those choices more often is really about pausing and recognizing that we do, in fact, have a choice: what if we make the better choice? why not make the better choice?

I’m going to add one more small question to the list.

question 3: when?

On the eve of the election in November, I heard Tracy Chapman perform “Talkin’ Bout a Revolution” on Late Night with Seth Meyers. It led me to revisit her eponymous first album, which came out shortly before my father and I drove from Vermont to Colorado, where he was helping me move for my first job. Our musical tastes were at variance, but we could agree on two contemporary albums—Tracy Chapman and Paul Simon’s Graceland—and we pretty much listened to them both on replay for oh, about 16 hours….

This year, the song that popped out at me on Chapman’s album was “If not now…,” and the lyrics, “If not now, then when?”

It’s one of the questions I most often ask my clients: when will you start prioritizing your health in the face of all your other obligations?

Most respond, “When I have the time / energy, when things settle down, when the project at work is finished, when the kids are grown, when the parents are sorted, when the to-do list is to-done.”

Many others respond, “Tomorrow / Monday / the first of the month / on New Year’s Day.”

And how’s that working out for you?

As I’ve said before, waiting for an external trigger to motivate you is unlikely to work: if you are really ready and committed to making the shift to healthier food and lifestyle choices, the time to start is now.

And oh look—we are actually approaching New Year’s Eve, so maybe you can start now and call it starting in the New Year if that makes you feel better? Or will you wait until New Year’s Day falls on a Monday? That’s going to be 2024, in case you’re wondering—do you really want to wait that long? That may be some pretty heavy <sarcasm font>, but it does highlight that setting an external deadline is rather ludicrous.

make the connection

There are a lot of great offers being made right now that can help you re/claim your health starting in the New Year. My strong advice, if you’re considering any of them, is to think small and take very tiny, sustainable steps rather than falling for the next fad that promises miraculous results in mere days (or even weeks) and asks you to make sweeping changes overnight. You didn’t get unhealthy overnight, so don’t expect to fix everything quickly, either.

What if 2021 is the year you re/claim your health? Why not? And when will you start?

If you want to start small, consider signing up for “Healing Your Relationship with Food,” a virtual course I’m co-facilitating with Meena Puri of Ayurvedic Healing Center during the month of January. As my tagline says, “It’s the food. And it’s more than the food.” And if you’ve tried every diet out there only to be disappointed, maybe it’s time to take a look at not just the food you put in your mouth but at your relationship with food in general.

See you in 2021!

[Image by Rednic on Pixabay]