Lessons on Steady -- A Year of Showing Up to Life

collage of photos from a year of showing up to life

Last year was my year for Steady. (You can read about my year for Slow >> here.)

Where Slow revealed what happens down in the dirt of life, Steady showed me what can happen when we keep showing up to tend to our life. Those little actions (that often feel huge) repeated over and over can really become something. Namely, a growing, even thriving, Life.

That's what happened for me in my year of Steady. I attended to the harder parts of self-care (or as it became for me, life-care) by scheduling and showing up to appointments, returning to peer accountability, and "clocking in" daily to habits I wanted to grow.

Steady reminded me I am capable of making good decisions and being a whole and healthy person. Steady over time replaced my exasperated "I miss feeling alive" with "It feels good to be alive!" Steady let showing up be enough, and some days Steady allowed showing up to turn into some of my best effort yet.

The previous year's struggles in Slow turned into this year's Steady benefits and the following lessons on showing up to life.

1. Things that give me life aren't just a preference--they're a deeply healing necessity.

While in Florida (a surprise I got to join my husband on his work trip), I walked around enjoying all of the greenery and teared up taking it all in. It was tears of joy like salve on my soul. In that moment, I realized greenery and sunshine (among other things) aren't just a preference for me--they're a deeply healing necessity.

This helps me to realize in the middle of a Nebraska winter, that I need morning light therapy to make up for the lack of sun and I need to tend to some houseplants to make up for the missing green. There's other ways this applies. When I answer "What gives me life?" I'm not just figuring out trivial hobbies or interests, I'm finding what literally fuels my life.

2. When I'm going all in just to feel okay, I might need extra help going the last bit to really be okay.

After spending a lot of time on self-care--the kind that involves counseling, shutting down technology, taking vitamins, doing a course to learn more about mental and emotional health--I noticed I was still working really hard to feel okay, and wasn't always succeeding. Even when I succeeded, it was frustrating to always feel that struggle. So I finally asked my doctor about antidepressant options.

Some form of depression (and even anxiety, which I didn't realize until the last few years) has been a part of my life since I was 13, but I've always learned how to manage it. My year of Slow left me space to realize I wasn't really managing it anymore. My usual stuff helped, but wasn't fully working. I don't know if antidepressants will continue being a part of my solution, but for now they're the extra step I needed in this season. Sometimes that extra help includes counseling or a peer support group or an accountability partner or maybe vitamins. Whatever it is, it's worth taking that extra step to fully be okay.

3. I've been here all along, even when I don't feel myself.

In the middle of my biggest struggle, I felt deeply lost. I knew who I was and what mattered to me, or at least who I used to be and what used to matter. Then I had a bit of a breakthrough when my counselor read back his notes to me from a previous session. Everything he read sounded like the me I hoped to become; but he was reading notes that were based on what he currently saw of me. That was the beginning of me realizing I've been here all along, even when I feel lost. It's a matter of opening my eyes and truly seeing what God sees, who He created me to be and is continuing to lead me into, and not basing my identity on ever-changing feelings.

4. Health improvements take time.

We attended an 8-week seminar and group session on mental and emotional health, especially addressing anxiety and depression. We learned lots of important habits that affect our health and brain function more than we usually realize. We also learned that implementing these healthy habits can take weeks, even months, to see the full effect in our daily life. This is a concept I generally knew, but seeing more of the science and facts behind it helped emphasize it and serves as a good reminder to give any positive life changes time to see the fruits of the effort.

5. The miracle is God's presence in the struggle.

It was a "why me" moment at 3 a.m. with my husband gone on a trip, my 4-year-old waking up every 15 minutes to throw up, and my own migraine brewing. I needed God to show up and, I thought, change my circumstances. But right there in the midst of the struggle, story after story came to me of how God showing up in the middle of undesirable circumstances was The Miracle.

Angels shutting the mouths of lions while Daniel still had to sleep in their presence in the den; God showing up in the midst of the fire with the Hebrew boys before they walked out; God being with Moses and the Israelites in the wilderness. A strength and endurance grew in me as I realized I wanted the miracle of resolution, but The Miracle is really God's presence in the middle of the storm. There are plenty of other "storms" in my life I've wanted calmed, and I'm learning how seeing God with me in them is more important than being saved form them.

6. Small habits build up over time, for better or worse.

Bad habits feel like they grow up out of nowhere, but they're established the same way good habits are--one action repeated again and again. Showing up was a good place for me to start. This played out in an obvious way at the gym.

I wanted to get more physical exercise, but jumping to the end result felt overwhelming, so I started with a goal of showing up. I could do 10 minutes or 5 and I'd still meet my goal by just being there. But chances are, after making the effort to be there, I'll likely finish a whole 30-minute session.

This has applied to a lot of other areas... I figure out what my minimum showing up looks like and aim to do that, then let anything more be a happy bonus. These seemingly small habits of self-care and life-care one by one help me show up to my life.

It's your turn. Pull out a pen and paper (or a notebook to collect these sorts of things). Write "What I learned last year" and start listing whatever comes to mind. This is a great way to look back and "raise your ebenezer"--noticing what brings you to life, how you showed up to your own life, and especially how God showed up.


also see:
new? start here...
goal-planning brought me back to life
making sense of a hard year
slow + steady self-care
how to find the true you
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