This is the first of a multi-part, informal series dubbed “Spring Cleaning,” which will reflect on some of the people/habits/obligations we should consider detoxing from our lives.
At the risk of sounding dramatic, the stress level in my life lately has reached an all-time high. There are various reasons for it and none serve as a particular cause for alarm, yet there is no denying the effects this stress is having on my quality of life.
One area in particular has to do with my sleeping habits. Every night proves to be an adventure. There are some where I am in a near comatose state and others where I find myself counting the granules in my textured ceiling. And the stress plays a role here in one of two ways: I’m either battling a racing mind consumed with thoughts/worries/ideas, or a revved up body that is so jacked up on cortisol that it simply cannot turn off.
One night a few weeks ago I was dealing with the latter, lying in bed while my body waged war with itself, likely spurred by the fact that I had only arrived home from the “day” 1.5 hours before I needed to be in bed. I tried all the tools in my toolbox to get myself back to sleep including my favorite meditation app, which never fails me. But as the clock moved past 2AM, and I found myself increasingly desperate for sleep, I decided to give my body the one thing I knew it absolutely needed.
So I got up, got cozy on the couch, and read a chapter of my book while eating the biggest bowl of Trader Joe’s Gluten Free Cocoa Crunch Cereal I could make.
Anyone who knows an ounce about my views on nutrition is laughing right now. But what I will tell you is that after my post-midnight snack, I returned to bed and slept like a baby after its midnight feeding.
But what I will also share is that when my eyes opened upon my alarm that morning, the first thing I thought of was the damn cereal. And there was shame, guys. Stupid, toxic shame. And loads of self-judgment, as if the decision to calm my jazzed up body with food was a sign of weakness.
All damn morning, as I made my way through my professional day, the cereal hung like an albatross around my neck. It consumed me and influenced the decisions I was making. As if I could enforce a self-imposed penance to redeem myself for my snacking sins.
Then – sometime in the early afternoon, I received a text from Carl. It simply said “So…” with those three dots indicating everything and anything could follow, from a venting session about the business to a request for dinner.
What came next, however, I never anticipated.
It was a picture of my empty bowl of cereal in our sink that he snapped when he got up before I had the chance to put the evidence in the dishwasher.
I immediately started to protest. Asked him to delete it (as if the sordid shot could end my career).
But his response, however, stopped me dead in my tracks:
“Just tell me this,” he said. “Did you enjoy it?”
And immediately, guys, I paused, and I started to laugh.
Because I did enjoy it. And not only for its gluten-free cocoa goodness, but because for 20 minutes in the middle of a stupidly stressful week, I gave myself a moment of peace.
So here’s to detoxing ourselves from self-judgment that literally serves no purpose. That does way more harm than good.
Here’s to letting go of shame and regretting that which feels good, especially when it serves a very basic human need.
I hope you’re laughing (with me *and* at me).
Grateful for you,