People have asked me, “when did you first start noticing a change?” Specifically speaking to my skin, but also my mental health. And I didn’t know how to respond. Truth is, from the moment I gave myself the gift of 5 minutes to myself was probably when the change started. But I didn’t have the awareness of mindfulness, if you will, to notice it.
So this morning while in the shower, which is where I do all my great thinking, I reflected on this question again. And what I discovered was what I think of as my a-ha moment. The moment where I can distinctly remember things beginning to click. Moments weren’t passing by so monotonously, days didn’t feel like they were on repeat, and the time where I feel like my awareness really began to shine.
The a-ha moment occurred one week in March, while my wife and I were on a month long road trip along the West-ish coast. Now as I just wrote out that sentence, a second a-ha moment popped into my head that happened just a week prior, but I’ll save that for another post. So back to what I consider my a-ha moment.
My wife and I just arrived back into San Luis Obispo, CA, after a week in Arizona and a few days scattered between Utah and Idaho just prior. San Luis Obispo, or SLO, will always hold a special place in my heart. We called SLO home during the majority of the “pandemic” years (I say this loosely because as we all know, we are still seeing cases). We moved there in June of 2020, on a whim (kind of). We knew only an aunt, an uncle, and a few cousins, and no one else.
Now if anyone else moved during the pandemic, then you know just how challenging it can be. I mean, moving sucks to begin with, but there were added layers during this time. We found an amazing house just a few minutes from the beach and settled in quickly. I’ll leave out the messy details of our first few months spent up in north county, trust me, you’re welcome. Our house was new and modern, and had a bit of charm to it. The neighborhood was friendly, and we fell fast in love.
SLO is also where my wife and I said “I do”, and that only adds to our endless love to a place who’s motto is, “life in the SLO lane”. It couldn’t be a more perfect motto for a town, IMO. But back to my a-ha moment. When my wife and I decided to start our family, we knew SLO was sadly too far from parents and grandparents. So we made the difficult decision to return back to Oregon, and after a few months, I can happily say I am so glad we did. And with that decision to move, came a lot of feelings of sadness. Sad that we were moving from a place we so dearly loved, in such a short amount of time. A place where we built so many wonderful lasting memories, in as quick a time as I think anyone could make.
Ok I’m off track again. I promise we’re getting to the a-ha moment. In March of 2022, we took that return trip to SLO, as I mentioned above. We had a week planned there. Staying with family and returning to as many of those memories as possible. A tough task in such a short amount of time, but we did it. I will always be grateful for that week, for many reasons. That week reminded me of how special that place was, and how perfect it was for my wife and I at that time in our life. It also reminded me that we had made the right decision to move back to Oregon, and that left me feeling at peace finally.
Ok now the a-ha moment. The weeks leading up to that trip, I was in full swing with my mindfulness practice. I was meditating, journaling, practicing various breath works, all the things I’ve included as part of my self-care routine. And during that time, while my skin wasn’t improving necessarily, my mindset was. I was noticing less feelings of anger towards my skin, and more feelings of acceptance. I was appreciating the small things in life, and cherishing each moment for what they were. I almost felt like that week was a rebirth for me, providing me with the clarity that the path I was now on was the correct path. My a-ha moment.
In the months beyond that week, my skin began to heal at a rapid rate, all the while I was growing a greater awareness and appreciation for my headspace, and all the emotions and feelings I carry. Like I said earlier, the progress likely started when I sat down for my first meditation or journal entry, many months before. But it was that trip back to SLO, that a-ha moment, where I finally had the clarity and awareness to appreciate all the growth I have made over this past year. And for that I am forever grateful for.