The first blog I wrote, back in 2012, was entirely about food. About the nutritional properties of certain foods and how eating (primarily plant-based) real food facilitates vibrant health. Three years later, I birthed Pollinate with every intention of following the same through lines here. Yet as I grew older and began to weather the personal, professional, physical and emotional storms that adulthood can and often does bring, I learned one of the most important lessons that I’ve yet gleaned in my life:
It doesn’t matter how much healthy food you eat; in order to be truly healthy, you must first and foremost have a healthy relationship with yourself.
And so, my focus shifted.
I’ve been thinking about this a lot these days, as I navigate all the sweets and parties and stressors that have come to typify this season for most of us. The “temptations” that abound and the internal dialogues we have about them—about our allowances of or denials of or relationships to them. How many of us succumb to indulgences, feel badly about it for one reason or another, and then feel compelled to cleanse or deny ourselves certain foods in January to compensate; how the initiation of the new year is always marketed to us as an opportunity—or mandate, really—to develop the “new you,” as if the versions of ourselves who existed previously were faulty, lazy or somehow not enough.
In her weekly newsletter a couple weeks back, Molly Goodson, the co-founder and CEO of the SF women’s club The Assembly, shared what she dubbed an “Anti-guilt guide” for the holidays. The simplicity and lucidity with which she articulated her thoughts struck a chord with me:
Wellness is a tough word because it conjures up one set of behaviors, when in fact it is the intersection of the pieces. Some days the wellness I choose is prioritizing socializing over fitness. Some days it's knowing what I need and going to class instead of the party. This time of year, many days it's eating the damn cookies and going to the event and missing the morning run.
Instead of feeling guilt, feel ownership. The things you choose to do with your time are your wellness. If you continue to check in with your own energy and make the small adjustments to keep that in a good place, you are doing enough. Truly. You know you, so listen to that.
What if we each found space to embrace our choices and accept the non-linear way that wellness looks on a day to day basis. It's a big picture and you're always moving forward.
Whatever you choose for December to look like — with workouts, with eating, with resting — let's try to take the guilt out of it. The world is heavy enough, so be easy on yourself.
I loved not only the gentle urging in Goodson’s words for us all to be easier on ourselves, but also the implicit presence in the whole thing. That in order to make choices, without guilt, of what we are to do, we must be actively present with ourselves. Attentive. Mindful. Showing up to the ebb and flow and particular asks of each moment.
I am reminded too, in these times of heightened obligations and opportunities for self-judgment, of one of my favorite descriptions of self-compassion. As described by writer and healer Daphne Rose Kingma:
Self-compassion is a series of choices, a moment by moment conscious turning away from that which will harm your spirit toward that which will nourish and sustain you.
It is choosing, in any particular situation, and over and over again, whether you’ll treat yourself well or beat yourself up; whether you’ll deny yourself or treat yourself as lovingly as you’d treat your child or your most precious friend.
Self-compassion means looking at yourself with kindness, with a conscious awareness of your sufferings, and in time, with a deep appreciation for the way you have transformed them.
And so, I offer you here a reminder to be gentle with yourself, now and always. To relish the season and the joys—edible or otherwise—that come with it. To cut yourself slack and not feel obligated to say yes to everything. To cultivate wellness in the myriad and unique ways that it looks for you. <3