For the past two years, the Mrs Goodness blog has mostly revolved around food. Healthy food. Part of it has to do with me feeling that most of us are running on fuel that looks good, tastes good, but does almost nothing to feed our bodies and often leaves us feeling like (we look like?) crap. Part of it has to do with me wanting to give my children the best possible start in life that I am able. And a very big part of it has been my motivation to find better health and comfort for myself. I had a couple of depressive episodes in my thirties and after I became a mum I vowed I would do everything I could to ensure I wouldn’t experience another one. I’ve had years of low iron levels and I’ve suffered digestive discomfort since having children that I assumed had to do with my diet. I certainly feel a thousand times better in terms of how I feel and how I look since I’ve (over time) stopped eating processed foods, wheat-based foods and most grains, dairy, refined sugar, alcohol, and cut back on caffeine (I recently relapsed into drinking the occasional coffee, haha! 😜). But since my hysterectomy and the excision of my endometriosis, my gut disturbances have all but disappeared – it feels like everything went back to normal almost overnight!
After my operation, I had a couple of months of recovery time where I had next to no energy, so there were plenty of opportunities for me to reflect on my blog. With one of the main drivers behind my food blogging gone, I felt like it was time for me to turn my attention to other areas of my health and wellbeing. The Mrs Goodness journey was always supposed to be about me making my life sustainable, and that’s about more than just eating well and generating less waste. This imminent change in direction, rather than filling me with a sense of excitement, instead made me feel disheartened and a bit scared. It’s hard to steer yourself in a new direction (when you were quite enjoying the old one, and) when you aren’t sure of your destination. I worried that I might lose the interest of my readers if I cease to write so much about food and start writing about other topics. But then I also know that there are gazillions of blogs out there with gazillions of recipes in them, but there’s only one Mrs Goodness blog and it’s special because it’s written by me, about me (and sort of for me too 😘 ). So I’m going to allow my blog to follow me into what I know is the next stage of my journey, and that is my psychological wellbeing. I’ve still got some recipes lined up that I have meant to post but never got around to doing (!), and I’m still trying to reduce my plastic footprint (it’s hard and it’s ongoing), but I also want to share with you what I’m learning about my emotional self, my conscious and unconscious self.
Just over a month ago I decided to take a break from my Instagram account. I actually really enjoyed Instagram and it was without a doubt my favourite social media platform. I had some loyal followers and really enjoyed the immediate feedback and interactions after I did my very spontaneous Insta-video instructables (which have since made it onto my tiny YouTube channel). But eventually I decided to quit it completely because I knew I wouldn’t be able to use Instagram in a clinical, dispassionate way (as opposed to my totally addicted, needing to check it every few minutes kinda way) and because I realised that I needed to stop investing so much of my time into digital social interactions at the expense of real social interactions. I had also started to get into the habit of ‘framing’ my life – as in, whenever I found myself doing something really interesting I felt compelled to take a square photo to capture and share the moment – my kids, young as they are, were getting really sick of it 😒 (they live in an analogue world, you see) – and for that reason my phone was never far from my hands or my attention. Now I’m writing about it, I realise there were a whole lot of very good reasons why I needed to cut right back on my social media presence, but I won’t analyse them all now. The point was, I quit Instagram, and instead I signed up for a blog feed reader and podcast app. I still want to be inspired by others, just not in an addictive environment!
After a couple of weeks of reading blog posts and listening to podcasts, not only was I chocka-full of inspired ideas, but I realised that there was a definite theme to the content I was choosing. Everything I was being drawn to centred around stress and/or meaningful living. It feels like a natural progression in my journey for wellness and sustainability. Controlling what goes into one’s mouth or how one buys one’s food (whether it’s packaged in plastic or paper, whether it’s organic or conventionally grown, whether it’s ethically sourced or got through someone else’s suffering) is the easy bit. Controlling what comes out of one’s mouth or how one feels in response to life events is much harder. Since coming to this conclusion, I have read the most amazing book called “The Choice“, which resonated deeply with me and showed me how I need to take responsibility for my life, in terms of my emotions and behaviour. I sort of purged long-suppressed anxieties and unhelpful beliefs about myself over a few days during and after reading the book, and felt completely drained and physically fatigued for a good week since. It wasn’t unlike how I felt after the surgery. It occurred to me that perhaps emotional/psychological healing is just as hard work, if not harder, than physical healing; and I suspect that in many ways it is more important. I can eat all the ‘real food’ my body needs and eliminate all the chemical toxins in my life, but if I ignore the emotional toxins I have stashed away in the deep recesses of my mind and body, I can’t ever completely heal. I believe that chronic stress will undermine all the benefits of good nutrition, good sleep, and good exercise combined. And unfortunately, like cigarette smoking, it’s something I can’t contain to myself. With the best will in the world, I can’t prevent my stress from leaching into my relationships with those who are nearest and dearest to me. So I’m resolved to step up to my next challenge – to learn about myself, to unlearn some bad habits, and to relearn some good ones – not just for myself, but for my family and my friends. Because what’s the point in putting all this effort into ditching my physical bad habits for the health and wellbeing of future generations if I don’t also do my utmost to ditch my emotional bad habits for the very same reasons?
I’m looking forward to sharing my progress in future blog posts, as I continue to learn and experiment in the spirit of Mrs Goodness. As always, I humbly hope I can inspire some of you with my ideas and stories.
The featured image is a photo of my kindle showing an excerpt from Dr Edith Eger’s book, “The Choice”. I wrote a little bit about the book and why I loved it so much in a recent journal post which you can read here.