Sunday, February 1, 2015

The Power of Breaking Habits

Lately, it's been so easy for me to fall into the same patterns I always have. Over-eating, over-spending, over-analyzing. I'm less relaxed, less free, less creative. From what I hear, when we break our routines, we're more likely to free ourselves from our daily bonds. I hadn't really experienced this first hand until yesterday.

But before I get to that, about a year ago, I joined an amazing program called the Skinny Dip Society. During the 12-week immersion program, I learned how to alter my morning routines so I could start the day fresh and equipped to take on anything. From making my bed daily, to taking probiotics, to listening to a theme song, each new thing I added seemed to ground me even more. 

Unfortunately, I tend to rely heavily on those routines. They're great, but I'm less likely to mix things up. If I'm comfortable where I am, I'm not going to change it. I'm sure it's quite a common reoccurrence.

The issue lately is that I haven't been super comfortable. I've been uncomfortable. I keep looking at various things to change, but nothing seems to help. The problem isn't my environment. The problem lies in my perspective. And in order to change habits, you must change your perspective. At least I think that's how you do it...

This particular morning, I woke up immensly groggy. I had spent the night before crouched on the bathroom floor, waiting for my dinner to make an encore. It wasn't the food per-se, it was the fact that I had eaten way too much the day before. I was upset and stressed and I had been turning to the only cure I found useful in my darkened mind: snacking. 

Luckily, not only did I wake up in a sleepy haze, I woke with a lighter heart. I realized I had been carrying so much burden, that it was finally time to just take things easy. I planned on staying in my apartment futzing around (maybe putting stuff away or clearing out crap I no longer needed) while listening to a podcast. A typical morning, if I chose to stay in. 

Instead, my phone dinged. It was my friend Cristina. We met at work a few years ago, and couldn't stop conversing about God, spirituality, relationships, and reaching our highest potential. We can always sense when the other is out of alignment, and try everything in our power to help get them back on course.

"Do you want to go to a movie this morning?" She said. Sitting in a 2-hour movie that started at 9am wasn't really the morning I was aiming for, but I did want to spend time with her, so we agreed to grabbing breakfast in our neighborhood. 

I had pre-determined that I needed to consume more green-juice, so I suggested we hit up a new place that specialized in whipping up fruits and veggies into liquid form. It was just what the doctor ordered. I would do it every day if I could...

Then we strolled down the thoroughfare to another favorite coffee shop, where we swapped inspirational quotes and stories about our love life. We're both in the dating stage, in which we feel challenged (frustrated, yet determined) each and every day. We share ideas, philosophies, successes, and failures. She introduced me to relationship guru Alison Armstrong a couple years ago, who's work has changed both of our lives. (I couldn't recommend her work enough, however, you must be ready for a huge shift, because her way of thinking is completely different than most women's).

We then decided that I needed to get outside and do something creative and uplifting. Cristina suggested the Emeryville Marina, a quiet spot along the San Francisco Bay. It was a destination I had yet to visit, but we arrived in a flash, my 'real' camera in hand. She encouraged me to take some photos, knowing how much I love photography, and how much it brings me to life. 

The weather was unusually hot for the last day in January. Hardly a breeze, yet you could see for miles. It was, in my opinion, perfect. We strolled around the pier and snapped photos, met one of the sailors who lives in the marina, who delighted in showing how his dog, Scotty, could jump up and down from trash cans. We listened to a saxaphone player practicing against the rocks. We saw a seal popping it's head out from the water. We skipped, like school girls, laughing and completely out of breath, and were cheered on by walkers passing by. 

We broke our routine. 

We then found a somewhat-comfortable spot to sit amongst the pile of jagged rocks that ran along the water front, facing downtown San Francisco. The skyline was so immensly beautiful, that I needed  at least a few weeks to soak it all in. 

I longed to be across the water and in the city. The guy I had been recently dating lived there, and I could practically see his neighborhood from our spot on the rocks. I hadn't heard from him in what seemed like an eternity, so I was left assuming we were no longer going to see each other, which made this apparent separation even more acute. All I wanted was to be in the city with him. 

These feelings rushed through me as I sat there in the warm January sun. And then I realized that I was holding on too hard. I was clinging to old thoughts, old feelings, old needs. The 'aha' moment that I had there on those rocks hit me hard. I was longing for a relationship; a reason to love,  but I had to let go. I had to allow that bay to be where it was. I had to release the 'catch', and if it was meant to be, it would come back, but if not, then something greater will. 

I had to trust. 

The blessing of that moment in the marina was quite apparent. Had it not been for Cristina's determination to get me out of the house and out of my funk, I would have never ended up there. I wouldn't have taken photos, I wouldn't have skipped like a 7 year old (which by the way, is impossible to do and stay miserable at the same time), I wouldn't have had a green juice instead of coffee, and I wouldn't have looked out across that water and realized that I had to let go. 

Breaking habits, at least for me - on that morning, unlocked so much. Having made that realization, I was able to go through the rest of the day without the heavy burden of rejection. I could feel the bruise that it had left behind, but I no longer felt the weight. 

Or maybe I was just sore from all that skipping...

Here are some of the photos I captured during our visit:

All photos Copyright ® 2015 by Samantha Samuels