If you’ve been following my blog for awhile, you might remember my post about Mind Maps. Mind maps are visual representations of the direction you would like to see your life advance towards. I personally like to take some time at the end of the year to review my old mind map before creating my new one. The beginning of a new year is the perfect time to make a fresh slate, to start anew, #newyearnewme, right? People are beginning to think of their new year’s resolutions with bright, fresh eyes. Well, how often do we reach the end of the year and actually look back at everything we wanted to accomplish? Mind maps allow a visual outline of what was closest to our hearts in the beginning, and we should take an introspective look at this past year to take note of what happened the last time we set out to be and do better.
The cynics within us might be appalled at everything we didn’t manage to accomplish. Introspection can be hard.
However, I am here to remind you that our glasses should be viewed as half-full. Life doesn’t give a shit about your mind map, and if your desires or plans changed in some way, that is okay! I wanted to buy a house this past year, but this seller’s market is not conducive to a good return on investment. I had also wanted to pass a certification within my field and failed in such a fantastical way that I didn’t even wait to leave the exam room before crying. That was costly and humiliating.
BUT I finished writing my book in less than a year (to finish editing it is a separate bubble on the mind map for this year!). I also fixed a seven year old shoulder injury (so amazing, thank you to Dr. Greg Petty, who was the best by-chance meeting I have ever experienced because he released me from chronic pain). I have had amazing relationships with people who accept me fully. I have continued to do well at work (haha, I didn’t quit, for those that saw that bubble on my mind map), and most things are flourishing. I think the mind map serves as a reminder to each of us of how we can dream, have goals, make plans for success, get smacked in the face with reality, fail miserably, and still be breathing at the end of the day. Life can be surprising, and surprisingly hard; we all have demons we wrestle.
My son has terrible cramps in his legs and growing pains that wake him (and me) up for hours multiple nights a month. He screams and cries, and his little voice cracks as he begs me to make the pain stop. I touch his legs, and feel his little muscles seizing and writhing under his skin. When I massage his legs, trying to force the muscles to give way and relax, he screams louder, begging me to stop hurting him. I try to explain to him that this pain is from him growing, and I need to make it hurt just a little bit more so it can get better and he can sleep. He doesn’t care; he can’t see through the pain that me forcing a little extra pain onto him will actually help him in the long run.
In a lot of ways, this situation makes for the perfect analogy about life and growth. Sometimes things happen to us, possibly waking us up in a bright moment of pain, and the pain doesn’t stop. These things weren’t on our mind maps at all. Perhaps your spouse leaves you without warning, or perhaps your child is raped. Maybe your sister has a mental breakdown and goes after you with a knife. Maybe you make a mistake at work that causes someone to die. You will probably lay there at night, screaming and crying just like my son, who doesn’t understand this pain and why it hurts so…fucking…bad.
However, this pain, this disruption of your peace, causes you to grow. When my son has a particularly bad week of these cramps, I know that he will grow an inch overnight and make those new pants I just bought worthless. He is starting to realize it too, that the pain he feels is making him taller and stronger. Rapid growth of any kind, physical, mental, emotional, is painful. But growth is good. These setbacks that you experience during the year may break you; they may make you feel that you are never going to get back on track towards the goals you set for yourself to have a happier family, or to finally start the business of your dreams, or to finally platform at the CrossFit Games. But if you look back on your mind map and can see that a situation of pain during the last year has prevented you from completing a portion of your goals, then don’t chock up the mind map (and yourself) as a failure: re-evaluate the pain and use it as a tool to grow.
“Momma, momma, look! I’m taller!”