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Note from Jessica: Even though this post was written at year-end 2017, many of the things I talk about are timeless and apply to our lives no matter what time of year it is. Here’s to your health, with love!
As I write this, 2018 is just a few days away. I’ve been spending a lot of time reflecting on 2017 as the new year approaches. As I wrote in last year’s reflection post, we can’t know where we’re going until we’ve taken a look at where we’ve been. We have to take time to look back before we can get clarity about where we want to go moving forward.
I know a lot of the gurus say that it’s important to reflect on the past year before you enter a new one, but that is not something I have done consistently until the last couple of years. I have found this process of reflection to be very therapeutic and enlightening. It helps with regaining the clarity about my goals and mission that sometimes starts to get muddied up by the time the last quarter of the year rolls around.
As I think back on 2017, I have to stop and give myself a big hug. I have to breathe into the experiences that came at me. I have to give myself permission to cry and feel ALL of the feelings that have gotten stirred up. 2017 was one of the most intense years of my life. I feel like it was a roller coaster of emotion, filled with more lessons in one year than I have experienced in my entire life.
November and December have felt very hard, emotionally, for me. I slipped into some depression and felt a heavy sense of grief and overwhelm that was really unexpected. I feel like I am pulling out of it and I am so hopeful and excited about 2018. It’s going to be a great year and I feel as though things are lining up in the perfect way for the next chapter of my life to begin.
The quote that keeps coming to mind as I reflect is from Richard Bach, who once said: “We teach best what we most need to learn.” That is so true in my case, so I took some time to write about 2017, the grief, the joy, the hard decisions, and the struggles today.
The Toughest Year of My Life
I’m not going to lie. This has been one of the most emotionally, physically, and mentally exhausting years of my life. What started off as a new year filled with new promise quickly became overshadowed by the sudden passing of my brother. With that, it was like my world stopped for a while. You can read my intimate look at life and grief here. The first half of the year is pretty much a blur…
In addition to that sudden life change and all that death brings with it, I had also enrolled in two different practitioner training programs (later to become three with the addition of my yoga teacher training). I was trying to manage my current business so I could help contribute to my family, as well as grow my start-up company (which I had fallen out of love with). And, I was also working on self-publishing my first print book.
The year quickly became a whirlwind of emotion and busy-ness. I moved from day to day feeling a bit overwhelmed and intimidated, but at the same time, there was still a good dose of joy and excitement sprinkled into each day. Because here I was doing new things and moving towards new goals. So even amidst the darkness, there was so much light.
I completed my Nutritional Therapist certification in June. Then, I decided to leave the startup company that I had co-founded in August. In September, I completed my Mind-Body Nutrition Coach certification. And now here at the beginning of December, we are *this close* to sending my first book to the printer! Actually, by the time you read this (depending on when that is), it may already be on the printing press!
It was far from a bad year. In some ways, it might be considered one of the best years of my life because the lessons that I learned and the growth that took place for me was more than all of my other years combined.
Yes, the year was trying. I felt like I was riding an emotional roller-coaster at times. There was enough going on that I did not always take care of myself as best I could or put my needs on the front burner. Thankfully my chronic illnesses are mostly in management mode, but I did still have some flares from time to time when I wasn’t getting enough sleep, movement, vegetables, or self-care.
(I’m pretty sure those flares are there as reminders to SLOW DOWN when life gets too crazy.)
And now, here we are, just a mere few days away from 2018. The end of one of the craziest years I’ve ever gone through. A year for the history books for sure. Now is the perfect time for reflection on where I’ve been, what I’ve learned, and where I’m going.
I’ll be honest…I’m tired. More than tired actually. I am exhausted.
Which is why I am allowing myself to take time off this month so I can do lots of resting, reflecting, and playing for the remainder of 2017. But something came in the mail that made me want to get on here and write a blog post today. I actually had just planned on writing a quick Instagram post, but apparently, Instagram thinks I am WAY too wordy, so I had to move over here in order to communicate everything that I wanted. 🙂
We Teach Best What We Most Need to Learn
I just received my certificate of completion as a Mind-Body Nutrition Coach from the Institute for the Psychology of Eating. I was technically finished with my certification in September, but we just received our official printed certificates this week.
I feel so proud to hold this certificate in my hand. Enrolling in this program was a big leap for me. It stretched me personally, professionally, and financially. It made me take a risk that just a couple years back I would have never done. It gave me the opportunity to continue healing and transforming my own life. It gave me the courage to step out and show up powerfully for women who are looking for their own personal healing and transformation.
Richard Bach once said: “We teach best what we most need to learn.” That is so true in my case. Receiving this certificate made me pause and reflect on my past today.
I was pulled into this work from a highly personal place. I had no idea that this work would call to me. I had no intention of becoming a coach. But it all unfolded before me so naturally that I knew this was where I needed to go.
I have struggled with food and body for almost my entire life. There was a pivotal moment when I was around 7 or 8 and from that point on, my body became the enemy. I began to feel as though my worth as a person was tied to how much I weighed.
I look back now on how many opportunities I passed on because I was not the right weight. I was scared that people would judge me for how I looked. Regardless of how fit and trim I was at any given time in my life, I always felt fat. Ever since I was a child and well into my 30s. I can see now how my view of myself was so dang distorted by the toxic glasses I saw myself through.
I look back on how broken I felt. How disempowered I felt. How the number on the scale and in my clothes were dictating my worth as a person. My inability to manage stress and work through difficult emotions led to binging on my favorite foods for comfort…which led to deeply painful shame and embarrassment. And then I would punish myself with periods of restriction in order to make up for my “bad” behavior.
The restrict-binge-restrict-binge cycle plagued my life.
Do you know what the worst part of it was? It was that I kept all of this hidden.
All of this struggle and inner misery was hidden from the world, from my family, from my husband. I was so ashamed. No one would understand, and why should they? I was certain I was the only weirdo who had these issues.
I was in constant internal agony wondering why could I not “figure it all out?!” What was wrong with me? Why was this SO. DAMN. HARD???????? Why couldn’t I be fixed? I missed out on a big chunk of my life because of these struggles.
Turns out nothing was wrong with me. I was not broken. I had just gotten lost on my way through life. The roadmap for navigating life that I had been given was incomplete and caused me to go astray. There were no rest stops or off ramps along the way to help me get re-centered either.
I was just drifting around through life trying to make it all work without knowing what tools I really needed.
I’ve written about it before, but one day I literally woke up and had an epiphany. I finally realized I didn’t have the tools and awareness I needed to move forward and then something shifted. I started seeing some light at the end of the tunnel. I started seeing things in a new way. I started understanding things I had never understood before.
I realized that all these years I had been trying to fix myself…which was leading to an awful lot of wasted time and energy. In the months that followed, I realized that I didn’t need fixing. I needed a new perspective.
I needed to re-discover myself, my dreams, my faith, and my spirituality. I had to be brave. I had to be strong. I had to have faith and hope.
I had to learn to believe (in the deepest part of me) that my constant stress around food and my body were there for a bigger reason. They were there so that I could learn some powerful lessons that I could then pass along to other women.
The women of our world need a lot of healing. The damage has been done to us by diet culture runs deep. It is perpetuated with every new generation and every new ad campaign. Healing won’t take place overnight. It won’t be fast. It will be hard. But it will be worth it.
I feel honored that I get to do this important work (because I believe it IS important). I get the privilege of helping women shift their relationships to food, body, and health so they can fully show up and embrace their life.
I want nothing more than the hard lessons I’ve learned to be an inspiration to someone else. And I look forward to walking the path with all of the women who are ready to break the cycle and step out into something bigger and more amazing than they ever imagined.
On a side note, the question, “What would life be like if you stopped trying to fix yourself?” was presented to me by Geneen Roth many years ago. It’s a question that has stuck with me and ended up as the inspiration for one of my multimedia collage pieces earlier this year. I now keep it hanging next to my desk as a reminder of how far I’ve come and how excited I am about where I am going.
Now it’s Your Turn – Action Questions
Transformation doesn’t come from having more knowledge. It comes from putting into ACTION what it is you’ve learned. So today, I want to ask you to do just that. Grab a notebook, your journal, or your phone and reflect on these questions:
- What are you struggling with right now?
- What about it feels overwhelming and hopeless?
- What about it feels comfortable and safe?
- If your struggle could speak to you, what would it say?
- What are the deeper lessons that these challenges are presenting?
- What is it that you really need to learn right now?
- Could today’s challenges be preparing you for great things tomorrow?
Thanks for reading. I hope that you are able to take some time off this month, relax, reset, reflect, and play before the new year arrives. I would also love to hear from you. Have you been spending time reflecting on 2017? How did this year go for you? What lessons did you learn? Where do you want to go in 2018? Leave me a comment below!
P.S. If you’re ready to say goodbye to the years of feeling out of control and compulsive around food (resulting in body shame) and shift into a place of peace and freedom then I can help. Come join my 7-day Food & Body Freedom eCourse (it’s free!) here. This eCourse came from my passion for helping women transform their relationships to food and body. What you desire IS truly possible if you are ready, open, and willing. It is time to say goodbye to the years of control, compulsive behaviors, limiting beliefs, scarcity of joy, and actions driven from a place of fear and feelings of unworthiness, once and for all. Learn more and sign up here.
P.P.S. For more about “fixing” read this blog post: What Would Life be Like if We Stopped Trying to Fix Ourselves?