as many of our new year’s resolutions begin to gently disembark for well-intentioned land, i present you with a new challenge, a different sort of resolution.
i call it: catch yourself in the middle.
it is important and exciting to set high expectations for yourself:
“i’m going to bike to work every day!”
“every morning, before i make breakfast, i’m going to meditate for 30 minutes!”
“i’m just not going to be annoyed by my friend’s-boss’-partner’s annoying habits ever again!”
i seem to make resolutions like this on a daily basis. they just pop up in my head, shiny and colorful, begging to be paid attention to and cemented into daily routine.

but i’m starting to believe that the real trick, the real avenue of growth, is patiently and persistently catching myself in the middle. i find i have to do this very often with exercise. i have intentions nearly every day to do something: bike ten miles, run with a friend, rock climb after biking those ten miles, do yoga as often as possible. but life, such as a flat tire when you’re out of tubes, a sore knee, those dishes you left in the sink so you could go to your last yoga class, can nudge your resolution to the side. so, you can catch yourself in the middle. make a resolution to be more gentle with yourself when you don’t meet your unrealistic expectations. make a resolution to appreciate your body more fully when you don’t feel to be at your ideal weight or strength. make a resolution to be grateful for whatever you happen to be eating rather than lamenting it could be “better” for you.

at a Vipassana retreat, i was speaking with a teacher about my unrealistic expectations i held for myself every day. she looked at me very gently, and shared some words with me that i think about nearly every day: “true growth is two steps forward, one step back.” can you accept yourself for your one-step-backs?

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