I don't talk about it much online, but I have been doing the Last 90 Days challenge by Rachel and Dave Hollis. A friend from my small business group told me about it because she was doing it (thanks, Courtney!). The premise of this challenge is to finish the year strong by working to improve your health, eliminating bad habits, and working to create new ones so that we can go into the new year with a much stronger footing. It is supposed to help us create the tone for the following year. I immediately jumped on board, because the end of 2018 definitely set the tone for most of 2019, and I am wanting to really push to improve. From October 2018 to July 2019 was the most difficult time of our lives, and I was ready to make changes.
The five core focuses of this challenge (Hollis calls them “5 to Thrive”) is this:
I don't normally do these challenges. Well, if we're being honest, I do, but I make a lot of missteps (y'all, giving up my vices is hard), and then I judge myself relentlessly and quit. I hear echos of these voices telling me all of the reasons why I will not succeed, and there are times when I listen. But this challenge seemed doable for this period in my life.
Disclaimer: my nature is to be very adverse to people telling me what I can and cannot do. I have been this way my entire life, and sometimes it gets me into a lot of trouble. It's also something I have to remember each time I want to quit this challenge.
This entire self-help journey is very new to me, but I do know that it isn't a “one size fits all” kind of thing. Not for me. I am approaching it like I approach my witchcraft: a lot of research and putting together a practice that works for me. I think this is a crucial component for me. I think that one of the reasons I've quit these kinds of things in the past is because I tried to follow them to the letter, and they just didn't work for my life.
So here's what is working for me:
1. Drinking more water. To be honest, most of my liquid intake before this challenge consisted of anything caffeine-based. Am I drinking half my weight in ounces every day? No idea. I don't want to do math all day. Instead, I have a one-gallon water bottle, and my goal is to finish it by bedtime. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don't. But I still try every day. My skin is looking better, I feel better, but I pee all the time.
2. Moving my body for at least 30 minutes. Honestly, I do not do this every single day. I can't. But I try. Sometimes I'll get two minutes into a workout and my fibromyalgia is like, “ha, no.” I listen to my body. But it is a vast improvement over my religiously adhered to schedule of not working out at all. So far, I'm working out at least 4 days a week when I'm not working or glued to a school assignment.
3. My gratitude journal. I didn't see the point of these in the past. As it turns out, I really enjoy it. I do mine at night, right before bed. This has trained my brain to be on the lookout for five things I want to write down that night. And they don't have to be great big things. Some of mine: getting to spend the day with my nephew, Loki (one of our CH kittens) thinking my yoga sessions is playtime, making time to cross stitch, our CH kittens getting stronger and more confident, getting a sale in my shop!
4. Writing down my ten dreams and goals every day. This is a Hollis thing. I like this a lot. I write them down and it refocuses me. In my witchcraft, I set intentions for myself. This is the same thing to me. Also, the challenge is to write them as if they've already happened. Some of mine: I finished my Masters program with a 4.0, I no longer give my energy to things/people that are toxic, I am a New York Times best-selling author, I am an exceptional wife/aunt/friend/daughter. They're my goals, not yours, so laugh all ya want.
5. Giving up one food I know I shouldn't be eating. For me, soda. Sometimes, I slip up and have a little. But I'm finding I want it less and less, I cannot even finish a cup, and I'm not consuming nearly as much. I also go more days without it now than with it! Not comparing myself to people on the internet. You know what's on the internet? Usually us putting forward the best versions of ourselves. This isn't true for everyone, and there's nothing wrong with it, but it isn't the real version of my life. I might take 13 selfies before I like one enough to post it. I mean, there are things to consider! Angles, lighting, etc. Actually, I'm most guilty of this in my business life rather than my personal. In the past, I've spent a lot of time looking at shops like mine and worrying that mine wasn't good enough. I thought constantly looking at my “competitors” was a good thing. It isn't, and they are not my competitors. They are other people who had a dream and went for it. They are my community, and they inspire me all the time, regardless of what they sell. They get up every day and do the damn thing.
As I mentioned before, I pull from lots of things to create my self-help package. I believe in doing gritty, necessary work to better ourselves. I do not believe that “just think positively” will fix your problems. I'm not a “love and light” kind of girl. My self-care and self-improvement involves things that are not often pretty or Instagram-worthy: sobbing on the floor, digging through the dirt with my hands, guttural screaming. Wishing the bad stuff away doesn't work. You have to do the work, and sometimes it isn't pretty. This self-improvement thing is the same way. I cannot expect to get better if I ignore my traumas, or my triggers, or my horrible patterns. I can't expect to feel better in my body if I don't take care of it. That includes giving it what it needs instead of punishing it with judgement and cruel words. Imma eat a cupcake, but I probably should also maybe eat broccoli sometimes because “balance” or whatever.
I believe in therapy and taking my meds and believing that one day I'll own a storefront in a trendy area that people love or that I'll be on the NYT Best Seller list. I believe that I am worth my time. I believe that I should put as much love and effort into myself that I put into everyone and everything else in my life.
I believe that I have value in the world, regardless of what messages I'm receiving from people who don't matter.
Here's a list of books that I've read recently in this arena. I didn't love everything about them, and parts made me cringe, but there were a few nuggets in all of them. Let me know if you have any suggestions!
*Becoming by Michelle Obama (technically a memoir, but I was so inspired and on fire after reading it)
*Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis
*You Are A Badass by Jen Sincero
*The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson
So there it is. The start of my self-improvement journey. Feel free to use the comments to share book or podcast recommendations, ask questions, share tips for dealing with negative self-talk, etc.
This post brought to you by my playlist, Red Dirt Queen of the Palace on Spotify.