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  • Writer's pictureEmily Breeden

2017: The Beginning of Stage Three

New year, new blog post… Happy New Year! (I guess this is a once-a-year thing now!)

Just like when I quit my job two years ago and started this blog, I’ve had a few epiphanies lately (don’t worry new coworkers, I am not quitting my job!), so I decided to dust off the ol’ WordPress site.

I realized, specifically after a rough New Year’s weekend of too much partying and spending money, and after many months of not taking care of myself (physically, emotionally, or financially), that it’s time to stop feeling bad all the time make some changes.  I thought of this fantastic blog post I read a while ago called The Four Stages of Life, by my blog-writing-hero, Mark Manson.  I re-read it, and this time it struck a major chord with me.  It suddenly occurred to me that I have reached my limits, and am in this weird phase of leaving Stage Two and entering Stage Three, which explains how I’ve been feeling for a while now.

Here is a summary of Mark Manson’s Four Stages of Life:

  1. Stage One – Mimicry.  Following what others around you do; the constant search for approval and validation.  Caring what others think.  Childhood to adolescence (sometimes much longer).

  2. Stage Two – Self-Discovery.  Learning what makes us different from the people around us. Making decisions for ourselves, testing ourselves, figuring out what makes us unique.  This lasts until you begin to run up against your own limitations.  Partying, not taking care yourself, spending money recklessly on everything that sounds fun… There are things that are great for a while, but begin to have diminishing returns after a few years.  (Me, not long ago.)

  3. Stage Three – Commitment.  Once you’ve pushed your own boundaries and either found your limitations, or found the diminishing returns of certain activities, then you are left with what’s actually important to you.  This stage can start around your thirties and last until late adulthood.

  4. Stage Four – Legacy.  This is the last stage, where you have accepted the fact that humans are mortal, and focus on the legacy you want to leave after your time on Earth has come to an end.

I believe Stage Two, or the Self-Discovery Phase, began when I left my “comfort zone” of Milwaukee, WI to take my career a new direction in Minneapolis.  Then, I brought that discovery to the next level by getting really curious about yoga and nutrition, quitting my job (on a gut feeling), going to Peru to volunteer (also on a gut feeling), moving to Colorado Springs without a plan, getting a cocktail waitress job, learning to teach yoga, trying a job in a new industry (and not enjoying it as much as I thought I would), and ultimately finding myself back in the same industry I left two years ago!  However, this time it was on my terms, and with a whole new appreciation.

Although the self-discovery was something I don’t regret, I can look back now and say I was pretty reckless in a lot of the decisions I made.  I did not plan anything out whatsoever, and trusted my free-spirited-gut in everything I did.  Yoga changed my life for the better, as did getting more interested in nutrition, but I didn’t truly ‘commit’ to either one of them.  Over the last year, I stopped doing yoga consistently, and stopped consistently eating healthy (even after learning through self-discovery that my stomach and attention/focus issues are much better when I do yoga and eat healthy.)

Another part of that self-discovery was this blog, which I didn’t stay committed to.

That stage, although it was necessary, left me with debt that I am still paying off.  Part of that debt is from a certification for something I probably will never use.  Going through all of those extremes could be part of the reason I am still single; because self-discovery and being so “all-over-the-place” also meant not committing to anyone.  Committing to another person has always been scarier to me than being single.  Depending on myself is a lot safer than letting my guard down with someone who could hurt me.  Again – I don’t regret all the decisions I made in this stage, but that’s not how I want to live forever.

So with all of that… What does entering Stage Three mean? 

For me, Stage Three is about making commitments.  I explored and pushed my boundaries and found my limits, and now I need to focus on what I want to commit to.  I guess since “3” is the magic number for this post, here are three things I am working on this year…

  1. My health… Again, but with a new attitude. This might sound corny, but I believe my awesome new hairstylist, Kristy, came into my life for a reason.  We got to talking about health, and I told her about some of the not-so-fun things that have been going on over the years (stomach aches, headaches, focus and fatigue issues… basically not feeling well most of the time.)  She taught me a little about gut flora and how my gut-microbiome could be related to all of the issues I was experiencing, and sent me this very eye-opening video by Dr. Natasha, who developed the concept of Gut & Psychology Syndrome (GAPS).  I think a combination of being emotionally READY for change (due to having reached my limits of constantly feeling like poo) plus that video, was the inspiration I needed. I immediately called a local nutritionist who is certified under Dr. Natasha to schedule my first consultation.  No more guessing – I am going to figure out these issues once and for all!  It won’t be easy – it will involve probiotic treatments and changing my diet, but I am determined to make a COMMITMENT to my health.  This time, maybe even for life.  2017 is the year I work with a nutritionist to make lifestyle changes to feel BETTER!

  2. My pet’s health. The other thing I learned from my new hairstylist (isn’t she the best?) is that humans aren’t the only ones suffering from immune-system related diseases due to a diet of overly-processed foods.  My cat, Romeo, has had chronic eye and upper respiratory problems since I rescued him from the Humane Society 6.5 years ago.  I have spent thousands, yes, THOUSANDS of dollars taking him to the vet and to animal eye specialists – getting tests done, trying new medicines, eyedrops, shots, etc.  I started crying right in the doctor’s office once, just so overwhelmed with the helpless feeling of not knowing what to do next.  I never thought that changing his food, and implementing probiotics into his diet might be something to look into.  So today after his millionth $265 appointment, I stopped at a holistic pet food store and bought him some grain-free, organic food to introduce into his diet.  I also just ordered him pet probiotics.  Getting him healthy will help me financially AND emotionally since it is such a stressor.  And this will hopefully stop the poor little dude from going blind.  2017 is the year I help Romeo feel BETTER!  Woohoo!  Go team!

animal-eye-chart

Romeo sucks at this chart, due to his eye herpes.


3. Aparigraha. This is an important concept I learned in yoga and am going to incorporate more into my life this year.  Aparigraha is a “yama,” or a moral guideline to live by (on and off the yoga mat), and is the concept of “non-attachment.”  This means being able to let go – of possessions, of relationships that don’t serve you, of expectations… Enjoy the moment and commit to the PROCESS, the journey, and don’t be attached to a specific outcome in any given situation. With all of these changes I am making, I am going to have to be patient with the process and steps I am taking.  This isn’t about instant gratification or a “magic pill,” it’s a lifestyle change and won’t happen overnight.  2017 is the year I follow my own advice and practice aparigraha, by letting go of expectations!

throwsnow

So…. Yeah…. I guess this year is about my cat and I going on a diet together.  Seriously, what has my life become?  At least I am now in Colorado, where I get to simultaneously throw snow in the air while getting sunburnt because it’s gorgeous out.


If you read all of this, congratulations, you now get to watch this and laugh. 

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