After 27 plus years in my body, here is what I know: Take care of it! It sounds so simple, but it really is so much more complex than you would think. I have been through times in my life when I didn't take care of my body, my mind, my soul. And those are the times when I have been sad or frustrated or just plain ol' drained. And it sounds like a big "duh!" but I find myself having to remember this a lot. The same way that you nurture a cold, you need to nurture your body, mind, and soul when you feel "off."
Rule #1. EAT YO' VEGGIES! When I was preparing for my surgery, I went to a nutritionist. I was really nervous about how my body was going to handle surgery (I've never even had stitches before this) and recovery. I wanted to make sure my scar healed as quickly and efficiently as possible. And I wanted to bounce back stronger than I was before, physically. The nutritionist told me that if there was ONE thing I could do to improve my health and recovery, it was to eat more vegetables. Protein is important for muscle development, (good) fat is important for your skin and brain, fruit is full of antioxidants that will also help your brain and skin. But vegetables will pump so many vitamins into your body that eating them is like a turbo boost. Awesome!
Rule #2. GO TO SLEEP. I. Love. Sleep. I really do. I went to see Jill in the hospital and was sleeping in the chair when I even heard her tell the nurse, "Just wake her up. If you let her, she will sleep in forever." This is true. Sleep is where you plug in to your charging station. When YOU were invented, you were given tools to make yourself the best you could be. One of them is the ability for your body to heal itself through sleep. It heals and recharges your body, your mind, and your spirit. Get some Zz's.
Rule #3. MOVE IT. Do something. Walk your dog. Do yoga. Hop on your bike. I, personally, have become smitten with getting outside for physical activity. Which brings me to...
Rule #4. GET OUUUUUT! (I meant that to sound like the Donatella Versace skits from SNL. No? Okay.) Anyways, get outside. No matter where you live, the world is beautiful. Even if you live in a crowded city, there are shades of beauty to not only the world around you, but the people in it as well. I often find myself people watching while in traffic... wondering what these people's lives are like. I ask myself silly questions like, "I wonder if that person is from someplace chilly, since they have their window down and it's freezing outside." I make up little stories about them. It works my imagination as well as my soul. Seeing people as PEOPLE and not just objects passing you by really helps you to realize that we all have a story, and we should all treat each other with respect. On the flip side- getting out in nature is an awesome thing. I also find myself seeking out solitude, only surrounding myself with the planet's natural splendor. Since I live near the ocean, that seems to be my go-to, but I am not a stranger to the beauty of the mountains, forests, and rivers. Just being around these things, I find it very difficult to believe that there isn't something bigger out there. It would be far too coincidental. And my soul grows each time I remember this.
Rule #5. BOND. I go through bouts where I want only to be alone. I read, I watch movies, I cook. But we humans are pack animals. We belong with others, it's in our nature. I find that often times I get caught up in wanting to be alone until someone forces me to go out, and from there on out it's a snowball effect. I don't care who you are, we ALL need people. An ear to listen, a mouth to tell us something funny, a hand to hold. No man is an island, no matter what you want to tell me. I don't believe that at all.
Rule #6. LOVE SOMETHING. I have a cat and a dog. And I love them, deeply. Altruistically. Even when they are bad, I can't be upset for more than a few minutes because they teach me that love is overpowering. Overwhelming. Overall. I have people in my life that I have carried this to as well. I have never been very good at anger. I can't hold a grudge and I can't carry a chip on my shoulder. And for a long time I wondered if that was a curse. But the older I get- the more I know that love is ALWAYS the answer. Nobody in their lives will look back in regret that they weren't more hateful or bitter. We all look back in love, and we should also look forward with it.
Rule #7. NEVER STOP LEARNING. Every single day, new information is here. At our fingertips these days. To turn away from that would be idiocracy. We have a certain amount of time on this Earth, and when it's over I want to say I learned everything I could. I want an insatiable thirst for life and knowledge. And I don't think you have to have a purpose to learn anything- only the desire to learn it. I want to learn about places I will never see. I want to learn about cultures I wont experience. Not because it's useful but because the differences in my life and theirs is fascinating.
Rule #8. MAKE GOALS. This is a new one for me. But I'm working really hard on it. I think it's a little funny that I waited 27 years to start making goals. But the beauty of making goals is that achieving them helps your confidence, and therefore your self-worth, grow. You can not like yourself very much if you feel that you're unable to accomplish anything. But the more that you DO, the more you will like yourself. And lets face it... you're stuck with you the rest of your life. You'd better start liking it.
Rule #9. LEARN FROM EVERYTHING. Life is a series of ups and downs. For everyone. No one has it good all of the time. The trick to survival is to learn from the experiences you have. Sometimes it IS your fault. You messed up, and you need to learn to act differently next time. Lots of times, and this is the tough one, it was out of your hands. Life IS out of your hands. And the only thing you can do is to learn to accept that. It's harder than it sounds. I read somewhere that the difference between happy people and unhappy people isn't the events in their lives, but the reaction they have to them. How we chose to respond to the tough stuff is much more important than whether or not it happens to us. And when we learn to respond with peace and joy in our hearts- that's where the magic happens.
Rule #10. NEVER, EVER, BE WHO YOU'RE NOT. And if you don't like who you are, change it and let it be who you were. People can sense insecurity a mile away. And one thing I learned as a teenager was that if you're doing things that aren't things you're pleased with, you're going to reflect that. And people WILL notice. Insecurity might as well be tattooed on your forehead. Don't let anybody tell you that you're anything less than you want to be. When I was a kid I remember being taught to rehearse situations in my head so that if they ever arise, I will know what to do. I rejected that because I like to live in the moment. But there is a certain truth to it... you should know who you are. You don't have to rehearse anything if you know who you are. If you know your values and personal limits, you don't have to worry about making a wrong choice when it comes down to it. Because you know that "Megan Harvey does not do that," and it's never a question. Know who you are, and be that person. Always.
There are plenty more things that I have learned in my life, but these are the basics. These are the rules that I live by in order to be the best version of Me that I can offer to the world. And if I mess up now and again, I don't beat myself up too badly about it. I'm imperfect, and that's okay. That's the beauty of life... each day gives you a chance to do it differently than the day before.