What Am I Brave Enough For Today?
Morning light greets my eyes and I think, “what am I brave enough for today?” It is my first thought, my prevailing thought, and the one that will see me through an anxiety-filled day. I have high cortisol and hormone imbalances in part due to chronic pain and endometriosis. Every day brings challenges as I try to function well with fight-or-flight level stress. I am doing my best in the body I’ve got. Every day, I can do my best.
Last night Steve harvested another batch of tomatoes from the vine. This morning I wash and cut them, season and roast them. We’ll use them in chili or salads. I can grow food. I can care for a garden.
With the oven warm already for tomato-roasting, I figure I may as well bake something. I recently Pinned some recipes over on Pinterest. I choose one that uses bananas as a binder, rather than eggs, as our egg supply is dwindling. This might be a good time to mention that Costco has been carrying organic bananas for a very good price. We buy them in large bunches, let them ripen a few days, then cut and freeze them for smoothies. I left a few unfrozen this week because I knew I wanted to bake.
I decide to make banana-oat-chocolate cookies by modifying one of the above mentioned Pinterest recipes. I think they turned out well, though a bit oddly textured. I can bake well. I can try new things. I can throw gross results in the trash without crying. I can eat things that aren’t the best, but not the worst, either.
After baking, I’m off to the front yard to pull weeds. We don’t have any grass, just rocks and some xeriscape plants. I’m struggling to beautify this low-maintenance and eco-friendly space. It’s too hot to add any new plants right now, so I focus on keeping the rocks free of weeds, and work with the existing bricks and small boulders to frame in the shrubs and trees. I can work with what I’ve got, and lay down the fear of what neighbors think. Not always, mind you, but today I can!
So I start my days with a self-compassion mantra, “what am I brave enough for today?” And I speak to fear as I face challenges, thanking it for allowing me so many opportunities to be a rock star. It sometimes feels silly, to speak to fear, or to myself, but I honestly find it helpful. Research suggests that self-compassion can raise our oxytocin levels, and lower our cortisol. Oxytocin is a hormone that helps us bond and connect. I place my hand over my heart, and speak to myself the way I speak to those I love. Although I can’t measure my hormone levels on the spot, I sense the immediate effect of practicing self-compassion. I know the alternative, the practice of berating and belittling myself. I can see the difference between hurting myself and loving myself. I can make an effort to practice self-compassion. I can learn about my health and keep trying new things to improve it. I can care for me.