So, I do this thing. Every morning, I wake up and say, “Thank you, God for the breath in my body and the glory of this day!” I make my bed: Monday-Thursday and Friday- Sunday is the weekend, so no making bed. When I stay in this mode, I thrive and so do those around me. My head is clear and I leave room for each experience to grow my soul as with each breath expanding my lungs. What if I told you that your goals are the cumulative total of your habits?
I read a saying. “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” Nothing complex about this and yet it has value because regret teaches us to be wise. Regret can be a powerful tool for change in our lives if we master it and detach shame from it. It is the beginning of self-awareness. Deeper than a level of self-awareness is selfless-awareness. Suffering makes us both empathetic and compassionate. Empathy is the understanding of what someone is going through or is maybe even stuck in for life. It’s the effect of suffering. Compassion moves us beyond empathy to affect change. It is God’s love in action.
My friends who have experienced deep sorrows have these compassionate and beautiful souls. Some have walked adult children though addiction, others have diminished health, lost jobs, and a little past, mid-life divorce. The ones who have overcome and maintained their faith have one thing in common. They all had goals like stepping stones in life, set to make it through the suffering. In those goals were a series of habits that served as signals on a dark road.
Two summers ago, I was walking along a mountaintop after finishing a talk. I stepped onto the lift to transport us down and as we stretched high above carpets of flowers and dotted homes built into the side of the mountain, something happened. I walked onto that lift with no clue that I would step out and not be able to walk without excruciating pain for over 18 months. What I came to learn was that I had irreparable damage to my lumbar spine, IT band, a malformed hip joint, tendinosis, and a third of my labrum detached from my hip. All this resulting from a series of goals and cumulative habits. Even well intentioned, performance driven goals drove my body and mind to the point of physical and spiritual exhaustion. I pounded my feet to the pavement with every stride on a run. I thought my unmasked vulnerabilities would be a sign of weakness and I stuffed my spirit with sorrow like wound packing. My soul ached long before any physical pain manifested.
You may be wondering what making my bed has to do with overcoming anything but read on. That healing began in a simple prayer that grew and was fused with the habit of making my bed. “Thank you, God for the breath in my body and the glory of this day! And I thank you that today, you have healed me.” I used this to “plant my tree.” I poured back into my husband, my two precious daughters, my parents, my sisters, my mother- in- love and all the children that I wanted but couldn’t have through my extended family. I obtained my yoga teacher certification. Something that I’ve wanted to do. And in the spring, my bestie and I will be getting our our sailing captain’s license. I could do none of this without God in my life. He’s given me beautiful friends who pray for me and encourage me.
No matter how painful it was recovering from 3 surgeries, I had that prayer on my lips. My desire to be healed was my goal and my faith through my habitual intention spoken out loud or to light filtering through the window, sustained me. I don’t know where you are right now, but it’s never too late to plant your tree.
I commit to:
Quieting my thoughts and naming some of the things I want to attain or goals achieved. It may be peace, joy, love, better relationships. Every one of these begins with a single action, compounded by ritual and routine to form a habit or series of habits. Fast forward in your life 5 years. What are 3 things that you would regret having not done? Write them down.