I’m doing an isolation journal prompt series and welcome you to join! I’m only sharing responses to prompts that feel acceptable enough to share (don’t involve others for example).
I invite you to reflect on a new beginning that was meaningful for you. You might think about a literal beginning: new job, relationship, state of being (pre-child to parent, singledom to marriage). You might think about a new conviction, habit, or a crucial choice you made: when you decided to stop apologizing all the time, that summer you actually started meditating, or the day you stopped drinking. Tell the story of your new beginning. What did it make room for? Why was it important? How did your new beginning lead you to where you are today?
This prompt came at a serendipitous time–I just started a new job today. Technically, I started yesterday but was nudged to take the day off considering most of the team was away due to public holidays. I’m right in the thick of it with a giant smile on my face. I keep waiting for anxiety to come hurtling around the corner only to find it isn’t coming. I choose to be curious about what I don’t know and suddenly there’s no more room for much of anything else. This isn’t the new beginning I want to write about just yet though. It’s too obvious and too fresh. I’d rather choose a new beginning that offers a longer reflection.
I cut out caffeine 4 days before our all company meetup in Orlando, FL this past Fall. I had been riding high on adrenaline for a few days leading up to cutting it out. I was hardly sleeping and then crashing randomly. It was truly awful and felt like a betrayal of a substance I had come to trust. I couldn’t quite seem to even myself out so I pulled the plug on my caffeine supply which essentially is like throwing on the emergency break for my mind/emotions.
I wanted to make room for calm, sleep, and imperfection. For the first time ever in the history of my random caffeine detoxes, I loved the fogginess that settled over me as the days slipped on without caffeine. Detoxing gives me the ultimate excuse to curl up into myself in a way I normally wouldn’t allow. Usually it feels like I’m getting depressed but this time it felt like slipping into a warm bed to rest after a long day. Heading into the company meetup, I no longer had coffee in my hand at every waking hour and it made me even more intentional about how I spent my energy. I wasn’t limitless–I needed naps. It admittedly also made me a fair bit more emotional than expected.
I’ve been drinking caffeine consistently for a decade until that Fall. I have a new relationship to it now. In turn, I opened the door for calmness into my life. Wondering how there’s a lack of anxiety about this new job? I credit the lack of caffeine and the space that left for meditation, deep sleep, and a mellower approach to life. In letting go of my grip on caffeine, I was able to grab ahold of a more sustainable approach to my life and I feel the benefits of that each day.
What started as a yearly caffeine detox quickly turned into a deeper exploration of who I am without super productivity and without my usual intensity. I’ve needed both of these aspects of myself to get me to today but, in giving up caffeine, I was able to more clearly see that I don’t need them going forward and that sometimes doing too much can cause more harm than good. What a relief! I am enough just as I am.
I look at my emotional toolkit and on any given day I can pick up either my well worn intensity or my shiny new calmness. Some days I pick them each up just to see what I might be able to create. I’m thankful to have them both.