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In February I wrote about the AIP marathon and reminded everyone that achieving renewed health is not a sprint to the finish line. In March I wrote about how easy it can be to let our focus on AIP morph into a religion. See a theme here? I really think that balance is an important part of the healing journey.
Laurence Stern, an 18th century clergyman, said, “People who are always taking care of their health are like misers, who are hoarding a treasure which they have never spirit enough to enjoy.” Wow! It was kinda’ tough for me to take in those words from some super historical dude when I first read them. I got the wind knocked out of me, because I recognized myself. You see, the reason I am so concerned with balance as a piece of the healing journey, is because I can now see points in the process where I was definitely being a major tightwad with my “treasure.” It was easy to let my whole life get engulfed by AIP and I was forgetting how to have fun and enjoy my newfound health.
I see this pervasive “miserly” anxiety in our community too and gosh darn it . . . I think we ought to try to have some fun and celebrate our triumphs over chronic illness! What’s the point of healing enough to enjoy our lives, if we’re going to act like we don’t have lives!? So, what can we do to get out of the “AIP only” rut, once we’ve started to heal?
Following are my top ten tips for getting a life:
- Leave work early. Find a way to steal 10, 20, or even 30 minutes from your workday in order to have some time to pursue things you enjoy. “But, Angie, my boss will never allow that!” you say. Get some negotiation skillz my friend! You can learn from a human resources expert how to negotiate here.
- Learn a new skill. You’ve negotiated some time away from work and you are finally healthy enough to not need that time to take a nap. What now? How about taking a belly dancing class or learning how to play an instrument? I’m learning how to play the banjo this year! (I’ve never played any instrument before. Ever! I’m a total dork! Who cares! I feel good enough to want to learn something new! Celebration!)
- Learn about an interesting new (non-food or lifestyle) subject. Is it essential you learn more about the benefits of broth or the complexities of the MTHFR gene? I mean, I think both those subjects are important and all, but what about river surfers in Munich or Shaolin Kung-Fu Masters? (Did you check those links for real? Whaaa? Crazy, right!?)
- Take a research break. I regularly put my clients on mandatory “research breaks.” The Internet is an amazing resource for us on our healing missions, but it is also coming at us like a fire-hose. When you feel a compulsion to research more, go sit beside a tree instead. Trust me, it will accomplish more healing than the research.
- Do a social media detox. While you’re at it with the research break, why not just do a whole social media detox? Take a week off. We are all so eager to document our lives to share online, but meanwhile we aren’t actually enjoying that life! Your life is not inside a computer or phone or tablet, no matter how fancy, expensive, and cutting-edge that piece of technology.
- Plan and throw a dinner party. Come up with a fun theme and enjoy your friends! Dining table not big enough? Have a picnic on the living room floor. House not big enough? Have a picnic at the park. One rule: Food and illness are off the topic list for the evening. (And no, eating AIP does not mean you can’t have a great dinner party. Ever met anyone who doesn’t like a bacon-wrapped date? Didn’t think so.)
- Date or rekindle things with your partner. Since your having a dinner party anyway, why not invite that cute person you recently met to join in the fun. Get spiffy looking and prepare to wow them with the cool new life you’ve been getting. If you already have a partner, why not toss him or her a bone. I know my partner is a big fan of me just chilling with him and not talking about the merits of DIY lard rendering. (But honestly I do have a little space in my sched if you’re interested in chatting lard.)
- Volunteer for a cause or organization you love. NO! You may not choose a food or illness related cause. They are worthwhile causes, for sure, but remember this is your chance to step outside the bubble. I’m really passionate about African causes, maybe your passionate about wildlife or at-risk kids. Nothing is better at helping you get a life than serving others.
- Be opposite. Do you normally go for classical music? Commit to sampling hip-hop for three days and see if you find any songs you like. Do you normally go for the preppy-casual look? Go shopping and try on hippie chic clothes until you find one item you like. I usually don’t like TV shows with violence, but last fall I started watching “The Walking Dead” at the prodding of my husband and daughter. Guess what? I’m way into zombies now!
- Institute “Adventure Saturday.” Getting a life requires getting outta’ the house. Leave one Saturday a month open to an “adventure.” If you have the moolah, by all means use your “Adventure Saturday” to fly to St. Lucia and soak up the sun. Think about how cool it would be to invite me next time. Seriously though, it doesn’t have to be on that level to be awesome. It could mean browsing antiques in a nearby small town. It could mean getting up at dawn to watch the sunrise with a warm cup of tea. Just make each month a new activity.
Okay, so who’s ready to get a life now? That’s why we’re healing in the first place right?!