I can hardly believe that it’s already the end on January. Still, with this being my first post of the year, I feel it’s still appropriate to wish you “Guten Rutsch!” which is how many here in Berlin wished each other a Happy New Year (better late than never, right?). Literally translated it means, “good slide”, which I find almost poetic in a way. When I hear people wish one another “Guten Rutsch”, what I envision is them wishing one another a loving and gentle glide into all the promise and hope of the upcoming year. I often held that vision of gentle, lovingness in my mind, especially as I thought about my own New Year resolution, which is to be more loving and gentle with myself.
In the last few years I focused a good deal on my physical health. It’s been a slow and steady process that I have come to really enjoy. On the advise of a good friend of mine, I started practicing yoga. It not only changed me physically, giving me a leaner appearance, but it has also changed my approach to the other physical activities that I enjoy like weightlifting and running. Through my practice, yoga has taught me to be gentler and more loving to my body. It has changed how I perceive it, challenge it and nourish it. The fact that you don’t need special equipment and can practice anywhere and at any time, planted the thought in my mind that “I am enough.” It also changed the way I cooked. I took interest in learning more about the foods I was eating, and how they nourished my body. I started looking to certain foods that I could use and consume as medicines and treated myself with those foods. Through yoga I learned that I had everything in me to challenge my body to grow, get stronger, and healthier.
Towards the end of the year, I began asking myself how I could not only continue to improve my physical body, but also the quality of my mental and emotional wellbeing. I know that if I took the same loving and gentle approach to my mental health as I do my physical health that I would experience positive changes. As the end of the year came closer, I started taking mental inventory of all the experiences I’d had in 2015, most of which were fantastic. Some were challenging. As I remembered some of my challenges, I recalled several conversations and experiences with friends and family. I know that these particular instances stand out in my memory because there is still something that I need to learn from them. Some were conversations that ended with someone having hurt feelings. Most of them were conversations and experiences where I felt that I wasn’t able to truly express what I was really feeling. In those instances, I masked my feelings with either biting humor, frustration or even silence, instead of saying things like, “I love you”, “I care for you” or, “I wish nothing but the best for you.” I’ve slowly come to realize that my reactions in these instances stemmed from fear; fear of rejection, fear of being not being good enough, fear of not being smart enough, simply put, fear of not being enough. Naturally, the same fear that has compromised my relationships with others has jeopardized my relationship with myself and kept me from being fully expressive of love and enjoying all the joy that life has to offer.
In spite of this reflection I am very optimistic for the upcoming year. As 2016 moves along, and I work towards being more loving and gentle with myself, I can’t help but be excited. I look forward to seeing how the practice of gentle lovingness with myself will manifest itself in all aspects of my life. Being a cook I am curious in how it will influence my cooking. Growing up with great cooks in my life, I always felt that the meals that my mother and grandmother cooked were not only expressions of their talents, but also more importantly, expressions of their love. So, with that said and hunger setting in, it’s about time for me to go and express myself. Bring on 2016!