Life, mine anyway, has a way of forcing me to pay attention though. About two months ago or so, it suddenly became crystal clear to me that I absolutely had to start focusing on incorporating more "soul feedings" into my AIP lifestyle. I didn't have a meltdown or anything, but I found myself feeling so heavy, so stressed. I needed to do some "good for me" activities. I mean need, like you need to drink water.
This is not hippie-dippie stuff. There is lots of sound science out there that proves it is important for us to actually heed the call when our bodies and minds say it is time to focus inward. The power of healing activities is real.
So, what did I feed my soul? First, I had to make a list. Just like I make a grocery list of all the things I need to feed my body optimally well each week, I made a list of what I need to feed my soul. To help get me started, I thought back to things that had made me really happy and fulfilled as a kid all the way up to my early 20's (before I started getting sick with autoimmunity) and I used that as my template. Here's a portion of my list, in no particular order:
1) Nature Walks/Hikes
2) Low-Key Art Projects
3) Reading (for enjoyment, not study, although I like that kind of reading too)
Once I had my mental list in place, I started to work out how I could incorporate these activities back into my routine. One of the first things I did was start taking walks. I grew up in a very rural area and spent alot of my time roaming the countryside as a child. I realized it is vitally important for me to keep that old connection inside me alive. I used to enjoy that connection by taking overnight backpacking trips, but if I am honest with myself, I don't currently have the strength for that level of interacting with nature. So instead, I committed to walking a quiet, shady path near my home. Almost all the suburban noises fade inside the forested path and I found it easy to be calm and centered among the tall trees and deep green vegetation. And it has come with other rewards. For instance, strengthening my bond with my daughter. One day she walked with me and we spotted a fox, watched a toad jump into a deep pool that had welled up in a rotted out tree trunk, and saw tadpoles in a nearby stream.
I also started an art project with my daughter. We bought the supplies, laid everything out and started working on it one night. It was so much fun, we stayed up late to do extra. I even found myself with an unusual afternoon off work and decided it was emphatically not a waste of time to use it to quietly work on my project out in the sun on my back deck. It was one of the most fulfilling afternoons in recent years for me. I still have some finishing to do and look forward to blocking out more time to work on it.
One of the biggest moves of all was changing jobs and in looking for a new position focusing on finding a schedule with just a bit more free time. My plan is to use that time to slow down internally and start to explore the possibility of next career moves, ones that will be aligned with what I most love to do. I think you guys all know what that is . . . LOL! My first week at the new job, when I arrived home earlier than normal, I crawled right into bed and allowed myself to nap. Normally, I would have felt horrible about not being productive (my husband sometimes accuses me of trying to "out chore" him, in other words being so productive the other person can't possibly keep up), but I know that sleep is two-fold good for me. It helps my body heal AND it feeds my soul, so I ignored the voice in my head that said I wasn't "getting enough done."
I went to a used book store and bought a stack of new, cheap books and started reading for fun. As you can imagine, I've spent over a year mainly reading about Paleo, autoimmunity, Celiac Disease, etc. I love it, but my soul needed a little variation in diet. Every sunny day that I could, I've gone out and just laid in the sun as long as I could spare. I don't have a golden tan, but I'm very glad to be boosting my Vitamin D.
Then there is travel. How could I get that one in there? Travel is tough for a Celiac, especially one that has just spent a few years being very sick and has sorta' dedicated nearly every dime to medical mumbo-jumbo. Who are we kidding? Travel can be done on a limited budget, but it isn't exactly free. And then there is the extra step I've taken & need to maintain . . . AIP. How to tackle that while I'm out seeing the world? Well, readers, my husband and I managed to put together a pretty solid plan with a reasonable budget and we leave today for what we hope will be an awesome, soul feeding family vacation. We are totally unplugging for the week (soul feeding sometimes requires elimination of technology, to be reintro'd after a proper break), but don't worry. I am going to be documenting every step and hope to be back with the TRUE stories of how to vacation on AIP and the benefits of doing whatever it takes to feed your soul.
While your waiting to learn how it went, tell me . . . what feeds your soul? Are you ready to start adding it into your AIP life as a legitimate step in your healing process?