Merry Christmas my friends! We are officially in ‘what day is it’ territory and I am currently sat in my kitchen writing this while baking vegan camembert.
The past 3 yule virtues have been floating around my space over the last few days and showing up in many of my reflections and actions.
When we think of this so often we immediately think of others or our actions towards others but this year for me, loyalty settled firmly at my own feet. I was called to question whether I was being loyal to myself. This led to me outing myself across my social media yesterday relating to how I am no longer vegan.
My choice to add 2 things back into my diet over the past year (which means I no longer label myself as vegan) has nothing to do with my dietary needs or morals but it has everything to do with being loyal to myself.
You see, for me loyalty is about respect and supporting the best interests of a person. Its about being true to that person and being honest even when it feels yuck.
Remaining loyal to a lifestyle label that was causing damage to my emotional and mental wellbeing was detrimental and I believe that we can all make a difference to the world when we are doing what we can, rather than doing everything to fit a box instead.
The same applies to so many other areas of life too. How often have you agreed to go through with stuff in the name or feeling of loyalty when it meant being disloyal to you?
To me, that isn’t loyalty that is martyrdom and I refuse to martyr myself.
This year has possibly given us the least opportunity to welcome people into our homes and share what we have, and yet I see that hospitality has actually been a key feature in my life all year!
Its felt even more important to ensure others know we care. I’ve spent this year going out of my way to say hello to people, to smile when not wearing a mask, to speak kindly and be friendly to strangers, to push through the mask and distance to connect with others in those original ways of connection we fall back on without touch.
I’ve spent more time looking up away from my phone or screen when not on a call.
I’ve spent more time calling friends and family on the phone as well as video calls and providing a weekly kitchen disco via zoom at the beginning of lockdown. I’ve welcomed people into my own experience as honestly as I can throughout this year, which was as much for me as for them.
I’ve shared what I have, both physically as well as my skills and expertise and I know its kept many people sane and feeling less alone, especially me!
And this leads me to todays virtue- discipline.
2020 has been a huge learning curve for so many of us and for me, I learnt the hard way that my need to remain loyal and hospitable to those who look to me for support can break me and did, literally. I broke my ankle!
Realising the boundaries that you pride yourself in, have actually prevented you from seeing your own stuff happening, feels horrendous. Being loyal to the idea that as long as you do xyz you’ll be fine. Being loyal to the idea that you cant let others down.
Guess what? You can. And sometimes letting others down is the most loyal thing you can do for yourself and them! And although it feels like the end of the world at the time, you will be fine and so will everyone else.
A year ago, I decided to give up alcohol. It took and continues to take, a huge amount of discipline to maintain my sober status. I had used alcohol as an emotional crutch my entire life and it was time to say goodbye to it. 2020 was potentially not the ideal year to do that, looking back! But actually it was perfect because without alcohol I’ve been able to manage anxiety, low mood and emotional pain so much better than before.
2020 without alcohol has allowed me to take real honest assessment of areas of my life without the softened lenses that alcohol brings and its enabled me to make decisions I probably wouldn’t have made for another few years. I would likely still be pushing forward in misplaced loyalty to an idea of my business if I hadn’t experienced 2020 without alcohol.
And its taken discipline not to jump into other ventures since closing my business. That is something we humans tend to do isn’t it- lose something and fill the hole with something else, to distract us from the loss. I’ve had to choose not to do this and to recognise when I’m stepping towards those behaviours too.
And as I move into 2021, discipline takes on a new role in my social media usage and phone usage too. With us using mobile devices more than ever because of Covid-19, I have removed social media apps off my phone completely (except for Instagram as I haven’t yet worked out how to post on there without the phone app) so that I can consciously choose to use them when they are of benefit to me.
The friction of needing to go to my laptop to join that world, is a good one for me because this is a big one! As I surrender to the knowledge that I am totally addicted to checking my phone, to scrolling as a past time, to filling my quiet moments with social media, of being entertained constantly. And I am aware that my phone usage increased as my alcohol consumption disappeared.
When we lose something we seek to fill the hole right?
But we get to choose what to fill it with. I’d like to fill it with loyalty to myself and my needs, hospitality to my loved ones by giving them all of myself when I am with them, and with the discipline needed to make my days more intentional and true for what I need.
Filling my days with actions that I can recall doing instead of hours I can’t account for because of Facebook and YouTube rabbit holes.
I received new books and watercolour pens and pencils for Christmas. These deserve my attention and passion more than Facebook does. 😉
Heres to filling our days with love. With loyalty. With hospitality and with the discipline to keep these as priorities when we slip. (Which we will!)