Pacing, Not Racing in 2023

Alicja Carter
January 1, 2023 / 5 mins read

One of the benefits of working at Gateway is the intentional time I get to spend with my coworkers at the T-SET/Wellness House—swapping stories, expressing feelings, and digging into self-care practices. A common theme since COVID-19 has been exploring what life could look like if we gave up the race for a more steady and sustainable pace of life.

In the years prior to 2020, each of us had prided ourselves in our full calendars, important commitments, and a willingness to advise family, friends, and co-workers. We felt needed and necessary and interesting. We set high goals with unwavering expectations for ourselves and others. We would push through physical discomfort, mental disturbances, and emotional exhaustion to fulfill an obligation or complete the last of a to-do list. Lack of progress meant a lack of discipline or care and could only be brought back into alignment with a critical word and stronger commitment.

After 2020 however, our lives, like so many others, came to a screeching halt. Our calendars were now empty, our commitments had been canceled, and we were at a loss for answers. Our goals narrowed to navigating life on a day to day basis and making sure that we and the people in our circles were safe and cared for. It was much more difficult to “keep going” because the state of the world was heavy and demanded our full attention. Thankfully, we all had more than adequate resources and support to carry us through, and we were able to experience deep reflection and connection in the midst of our struggle and grief. We humbly recognize that our process was privileged in many ways and a great number of our beloved community members only experienced unbearable burden with little to no relief during this time. Our hearts go out to you.

Over the last two years, we have explored our limiting beliefs and reactive behaviors. We have questioned the stories in our heads and have asked ourselves, “What do we really want?” We have experienced waves of frustration, confusion, and sadness along with a deep sense of gratitude, peace, and clarity. Our non judgmental support system, time, and a willingness to get honest has set us on a more accepting, compassionate, and joy-filled path for 2023. We continue to challenge the voice inside that demands perfection and remind ourselves that pacing and practicing feels much better.

Here are some of our insights and findings. Feel free to take what you need and leave the rest.

Pace yourself: Pacing ourselves is rarely very flashy, bold, or exciting. Strides along this journey are seemingly insignificant and spread out over a longer period of time. Adjustments and improvements tend to happen in moments of stillness or in the midst of everyday life. It is like a puzzle coming together one piece at a time, sometimes intentionally and other times by divine intervention. After weeks, months, and years of taking the next right action for us “We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us” (Alcoholics Anonymous). Consider this personal story:

My physical wellness journey began with strengthening my social support system and practicing more acceptance for myself as I am. I began stretching with my colleagues at work and adding more fruits and vegetables into my diet. I then considered getting a YMCA membership and had to work through my anxiety of learning what to wear, how to check-in, and how to use the equipment. Next, I started walking the track and eventually moved on to the stationary bike. I prefer saying, ‘I ride a bike’ rather than ‘I exercise’ to decrease anxiety and make the process more enjoyable. I went from riding 15 minutes to riding 30 minutes or more and have had many meaningful conversations during that time. In addition, my son and his family have become members and my granddaughter and I love stretching together. It is important to note that I still allow myself to rest and care for myself when I am sick or dealing with a life changing event. Rather than judging it as ‘falling off the wagon’ I recognize that pulling back is what keeps me from burning out or hurting myself. For now, my motto is ‘One step at a time.’ I can honestly say that I am proud of getting this far.” -Lisa Watson

In closing, “The energy for 2023 is: supporting your peace by not becoming extremely busy. Give your time to what matters most and repeatedly let go of the rest.” -Yung Pueblo