Looking Back at 2008’s Challenge
December 31, 2008 by sarahbuildsbridges
On December 30th, 2007 I posted the following on the old blog:
Awhile ago I challenged Steve to pursue a quest for Christian community in 2008. He jumped into this with the first Sunday in Advent this year and we’ve been checking in on how that is unfolding for him and hope we will continue to do so throughout the year to come. I asked him to reciprocate with a challenge for me and this is what he offered:
“Anyway, if you wish it, my challenge to you is to contemplate the following and to find ways of incorporating it into your life in 2008: “Peace begins with each of us taking care of our bodies and minds everyday.” It’s a quote by Thich Nhat Hanh. In it’s larger context, he is talking about peace in all it’s forms — peace inside our hearts, peace in our relationships, peace in our communities, peace in our world.”
I’ve been sitting with this for a few weeks now and it feels like such a healthy way to set resolutions for 2008. I tend to make BIG overhaul plans several times a year that last for awhile and then fade away. But… this feels immensely gracefilled and as if it holds great potential for healing within. I will try, to do something every day of 2008 to care for my body and something to care for my mind- every day. These may be small or large things, but I will check in with Steve about how it is going for me. And I pray that peace may come.
Thank you, Steve.
I started the year journalling my mind and body care… but somehow… with all the excitement that began to unfold in February… got into grad school in early Feb… told the church in March… found out I was pregnant in April… sold our house in May… etc. etc. etc… the journalling fell by the way side, as did checking in with Steve regularly about our respective challenges.
The biggest gift to my body (and maybe to my mind) this year was the giving up of refined sugar and corn syrup. For the first several months of the year I used very little in the way of any sort of sweetener, not wanting to entice myself back into full fledged addiction. Mid-year I started using honey and maple syrup occasionally. And after moving to the south I started baking with natural sweeteners and eating things sweetened with non-refined sugars. There’s lots more sweet in my diet now than there was January-April, but… still very little refined sugar… and VERY rare corn syrup (just a bit of ketchup now and then). And I haven’t been as prone to bingeing as I once was. I think I could stand to back off on the naturally sweetened stuff and will work on that in the new year, but decided to be quite relaxed about it through the holidays. I have passed up lots of sweet stuff this year, and made many healthier choices and I feel good about that. And I’ve really enjoyed baking with natural sweeteners. I did some great baking last week.
The surprise pregnancy also led to a very particular sort of care for my body. I did yoga quite regularly (for the first time in my life) through most of the second trimester… unfortunately weariness got me out of the habit in the third trimester, but I think that honoring my need for rest in the second trimester was also a way of caring for my body. As I ceased taking meds for headaches (usually) for most of the pregnancy, and worked to get lots of protein in every day, and drank LOTS of water… I’d say it was a banner year for care of the body. And I also think that the beautiful, healthy girl sleeping on my lap right now is a testimony to that.
I really wrestled at the beginning of the year with what would constitute care for the mind. I think, though, that the ways I negotiated the goodbyes and hellos of this year, the ways I’ve engaged the rigors of re-entry into the academy, the ways I’ve processed (and am processing) the transition to parenthood… all these were replete with care for the mind… or evidenced better care for the mind. And I think that blogging regularly actually constitutes care for my mind as journalling has always been one of my most effective ways of deepening spirituality and promoting mental health.
I rather forgot about this challenge, but I don’t think I neglected it. And the goal was increased peace, right? I keep shaking my head at all the year end reflections on t.v. which remark on how glad most people are to see the end of 2008 for it has been such a dreadful year for so many. Really… it has been an incredibly blessed year for me. One in which I have not known perpetual and perfect peace, but one in which I HAVE experienced a greater measure of peace overall, particularly relative to other periods of my life.
Thanks again, Steve, for such a rich challenge. I think it is a good one to renew for 2009… perhaps one I ought to keep before me and allow to shape greater intentionality.
And as it is relevant… thanks for all your wonderful feedback in reaction to my creeping anxiety post of a few days ago. April, I’m keeping a close eye out for postpartum depression. I checked in with my former therapist a few weeks ago and she was quite clear that I was experiencing appropriate sadness (from time to time), that sadness is different from depression, and that she’d be more concerned about me if I wasn’t crying. She’s on call though to help me assess if I am sinking into a depression. And I will readily seek new counsel here if I do. I’m a little nervous about my spirits after my mom leaves on the 9th, but I have good supports in place and I will pay attention. And surely it can’t hurt if I begin 2009 with a renewed intention to care for body and mind every day.