2022: The Year of Balance

January 1, 2022

It’s a new year and everyone is making their new resolutions! I typically use my birthday as my “new year” of making new goals and challenges, but I didn’t take the time to reflect during my birthday weekend this year due to other events. So, I took advantage of this week to reflect on this past year, and the new year ahead. Resolutions have a bad rap because they often don’t last. It requires one to be “resolute” for however long you need to be to accomplish the goal. Instead of setting lofty resolutions, I found successes in 2021 by creating small changes in my daily routines: set routines not resolutions.

After the tumultuous and disruptive year of 2020, for some 2021 was about returning to ‘normal’. For me, it was a perfect opportunity for change. It was about establishing a new normal, a new way of being, a new way of doing. I began with an assessment of how I was spending my time, tracking what I was doing, for how long, etc. using various apps and yes, even a spreadsheet! I tracked everything for two weeks.

What I found was that despite being an “active” person, I certainly spent more time than I wanted to admit doing things that were meaningless (e.g. watching TV, browsing online to include social media, and playing games on my phone). Yes, these seem like small stuff and maybe even justifiable for how one could spend their downtime. Sure, if that’s how you want to spend your time. Not me. When I averaged the minutes per week I spent doing these things, minutes turned into hours, and when calculated over a year, I realized it was over 200+ hours of meaningless activity that I could’ve spent doing something more meaningful or valuable (read my post on ‘alive time‘).

First, I eliminated all my streaming subscriptions (except for Prime), deleted all phone games (except one), and limited my online and social media browsing to my phone (so I could still track how much time I spent on each application). Second, I then replaced these meaningless activities with activities that I traditionally told myself I didn’t have the time to do: more focus on recovery from training (e.g., sleep, rest days), more outdoor activities (e.g., golf, walking Mocha), and more focus on self-improvements efforts (e.g., reading, journaling, etc.) and my spiritual journey.

I may not have been able to control the ever-changing rules and regulations of COVID, nor what was happening politically, socially, etc., but my daily routine was within my control, and I decided how I wanted to spend my time, with whom, doing what I felt was meaningful work and activities that helped me with self-mastery.

In retrospect, I was successful in all of these on various levels, but it hasn’t been without setbacks and failures, or complete disruptions. I say this because I found myself struggling quite a bit this past year, not so much in the small routine changes, but with change that was occurring WITHIN me. Change is hard, even if you know it’s happening and (maybe even) accept it.

This year I experienced some mid-life changes, physical changes as a result of aging (premenopausal or menopausal??!!). Whatever it is, it has affected my training, my recovery, weight management, and a roller coaster of emotions, not to mention how it has affected how I feel about and perceive myself. At first, I was in denial, but I finally went to see the doctor. Let’s just say that we are still working through this, and although better, accepting and embracing these changes is still difficult. Aging is not just a state of mind folks! I can think I am 20 or 30-something all I want, but my body will shock me back into reality.

It wasn’t just me experiencing age-related issues this year. Mocha, my best and most loyal companion, my friend, of nearly 14 years was getting old and showing too. She was graying, walking slower, unable to run and play as long, etc. Earlier this year, during my efforts to reconnect with friends and loved ones, we went on two road trips to Ohio and Pennsylvania in the spring and summer. I took Mocha since I knew she would not be able to take long road trips much longer, and so we visited all our favorite places and people: our favorite bike trails and parks, our first home, and our neighbor. I didn’t know just how soon her death would come.

2021 is also my 10-year anniversary at NCDOC and I was anxious to make a change (had been actively looking for a good year), but I hadn’t found the right opportunity to make that leap… until this past October. Yes, I decided to leave my job with NCDOC to join a start-up company, Horizon3ai. Talk about change! It was a good one despite how difficult it was to say goodbye and let it go, and it should’ve been a joyous one, but it was overshadowed by another event (a post on this forthcoming).

After my last day at NCDOC, I went away just for a weekend to visit a friend. And while away, I had to make the most painful decision I made since I left Cleveland: Mocha’s health declined so rapidly that my dog sitter took her to the ER, and I had to give permission for the doctor to put her to sleep over the phone. It was so unexpected; she was suffering, and the doctor said it couldn’t wait until I flew home the next day. There was only one decision to make, and I know it was the right one. I had known earlier this year that it was just a matter of time, I just didn’t know when or how, or worse, that it would happen while I was away. I never realized how much my daily routine revolved around Mocha. These last few months, I’ve been trying to set my new work routine since I work from home full time now, but I’ve also struggled trying to find a new routine without Mocha.

2020 was the year of disruption, and 2021 the year of change. 2022 has now arrived, and this is the year to find balance.

To find balance, stillness is the key.  I have been practicing yoga regularly again, and in this practice, I know better not to mistake slowing down or stillness to mean passivity.  Like change, finding balance isn’t easy.  Some days you have it, some days you don’t.  For many of us, one side has it better than the other side.  No matter what, balance requires you to slow down, and this is particularly difficult for those of us who are used to going full speed ahead.  Balance by way of stillness are purposeful actions to ensure that you still move forward with more deliberate steps, choosing the path (or creating it) that is more are efficient and smooth. Slowing down is necessary; it allows you the time to assess your surroundings from all angles and you can see what is coming from whatever direction. I am certain I will not always get it right in 2022, but finding balance also means I can pivot and change direction without falling to the ground and breaking… and even if I do fall while slowing down, I will have seen it and could brace myself for the least amount (of negative) impact.  And then I can get back up and try again!

So… 2022, I welcome you with open arms!

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