Queen of months, supremely fair,
Cloth’d with garments rich and rare,
None in beauty can compare
With thee, sweet May.
– “Ode to May” by Peter Burn
Friends, a little late to my keyboard once more as we are deep in home repairs this week (more to come, with a little paint color peek below!) and Ari was in an unfortunate car accident yesterday on the highway. He is relatively okay—a hurt hand, a heart that’s shaken up, and a totaled car—and we are exceedingly grateful for God’s protection. This life is a gift and God’s promises are close to me right now. I am thankful for His love and for the gift of my husband!
Life has been full, so I’m combining my monthly Health and Goals posts today.
Looking back on all these years of writing about goal setting and motivation, I can see clearly I’ve written about them: because I’ve struggled! I know what it feels like to fail, lose steam, and forget the big picture. For all of those reasons, I created the PowerSheets – originally just for myself – in 2012. I needed a way to stay motivated and on track with the things that matter instead of forgetting, which I was apt to do.
All of this came to mind a couple of weeks ago when I felt unmotivated, and rather frustrated, with my health pursuits. I sat down with Ari at the dinner table one night and told him I felt pretty worn out, feeling like I was constantly trying to fix all of these health problems instead of just enjoying the health I do have. Just giving those words out gave me a sigh of relief. Facing the wall helps us jump over it.
My wall, it turns out, was a fuzzy big picture. To get out of this slump, I needed to do what I did when I first created the PowerSheets: get clear on my goals, plain and simple. And then… clarity breeds action. Just for myself (and I hope this encourages you too, in sharing), I laid out the specific challenges before me, why I believe they are there, and my goals. This was incredibly helpful and my motivation was quickly reignited—and in better ways than before!
The Challenge: hypermobility. I was officially diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (the hypermobile type) this week, and of course, none of it was a surprise to me. It was such a gift, though, to hear an expert tell me what to do and not to do at this point—and that so much of what I’m already doing is optimal, like building as much stabilizing muscle as I can! Ehlers-Danlos is the root cause of my labral tear, neck issues, shoulder instability, heart tissue issues, low blood pressure, and more.
Why: I inherited this from my mom’s side of the family. EDS is an autosomal dominant disorder, which means both my brother and I likely have it and my kids may also.
Goal: Build stability and learn more about what my body needs and doesn’t need with EDS.
Action steps: I have the best physical therapist! I secretly want to be her BFF, we have so much fun in every session. I have about 8,287 PT exercises to do each week on various body parts, but I am making little by little progress. It’s going to take a lifetime and my hypermobility is frustrating and debilitating at times, but I am grateful to be on the right path. My doctor also recommended several books on EDS to read and asked my PT to begin dry needling on me. I had my first session this week on my shoulder and it was a little wild! I’ll keep you posted on its effects.
The Challenge: hormonal imbalances. High estrogen, heavy periods, anemia.
Why: No idea – I’m still trying to understand the root cause.
Goal: Understand the root cause of my hormonal imbalances; optimize them as best I can.
Action Steps: I completed testing last month (Dutch Complete through my doctor, labs) and I’m waiting on the findings. I’ve also done a lot over the last months to help my body metabolize estrogen and clear it from my system more effectively: sauna, supplements, exercise, removing estrogen-promoting foods, and making changes for better sleep.
The Challenge: grief. It felt right to include this even though grief is also a gift of sanctification and growing closer to God. It has been the hardest and most transformative experience for my mind, body, and faith.
Why: I walked my dad home in August, completed an acquisition of Cultivate in the same few weeks, and I am living life completely differently than I was a year ago.
Goal. Give grief a place and a space every day, every week – however often the Lord wishes. Really my goal isn’t my goal at all, it’s God’s: to change me through the act and experience of grieving. He is doing it.
Action steps: Listen to God; make space for grief when it comes and allow it to come instead of fighting it. It comes in waves, like this morning when I just wanted to hear Dad’s voice. I have all of my voice messages saved from him and I played a few, cried on a walk to the park, prayed, and felt better. Every day looks different and every day draws me closer to the Lord.
Challenge: a depressed liver (that sounds so weird – haha!). I have Gilbert’s Disease, high bilirubin, and some elevated liver enzymes – not related to each other, but all related to my liver’s ability to process things.
Why: genetics again! I inherited Gilbert’s from my dad, which has little visible effect on my life from day to day. My elevated enzymes, however, are from years on PPIs and the Tylenol/Naproxen my previous doctor told me to take for my neck pain. If I could turn back time, I wouldn’t have taken a single one. My neck discs are in the wrong place, but not the cause of my pain – a red herring.
Goal: Ditto to my hormones. Continue to help my liver heal and detox well.
Action steps: I am waiting on results from lots of testing, and until those results arrive, I’m focusing on good food, the sauna, helpful supplements, and my sleep stack.
The Challenge: sleep. My sleep is 1,000,000 times better than it was months ago—we work hard for it and it’s always worth it!
Why: Various things creep up though to thwart our efforts like stress, EDS joint flare-ups for me, drinking too much water before bed, and changes in diet.
Goal. Sleep well most of the time. I have balanced expectations here. Listen to my Whoop and properly recover from workouts when I need to. Rest, rest, rest.
Action steps: Ari encouraged me to try a keto fast he read about in Tools of Titans that is supposed to reset autoimmune response and ease joint pain. I was, admittedly, intimidated by such a drastic fast. Ari, always up for a challenge, decided to join me. We both modified it quite a bit after the first couple of days of fasting to be more like regular keto with higher protein for muscle, lots of fresh veggies, and healthy fats. We ended up really loving it. I do feel less blood sugar swings from lower carbs, but insomnia has been an unwelcome side effect. Ari loves it so much, he is continuing for the summer, but I miss my oatmeal and my sleep : ) I’ll keep you posted!
The Challenge: embrace my midlife moment, which is a beginning and a welcome ending all in one.
Why: God invites each of us to take this second-half journey. We either accept the spiritual journey or not. I’m all in. My life is paradoxically different these days and it was a year ago, which has been the doorway to this second-half passage.
Goal: Take the journey with the Lord. Go all in. While this is esoteric in writing, it’s abundantly clear to me and a journey that is hard to put into words. It’s an honoring of the first half of life and faithfully stepping into the second: a discovery of the true self.
Action Steps: Watch the birds. Love my children well. Serve my husband and our neighbors with God’s joy. Make our home a place of joy and rest, wild and free. Enjoy this life that the Lord has blessed me with. Read poetry. Sing hymns. Make meals. Make memories. Live numbered days. I’m reading several mid-life spiritual formation books.
What a gift to lay all of those big-picture goals out and get clear on the roadblocks—and what I can do to break through them. Little by little adds up, starting right here with my simple May Tending List.
Your turn! What are you focusing on in May? What helps you break through times of feeling unmotivated? I’d love to hear!