Before Returning to Your Normally Scheduled Lives

In my twenties, I did theater. On stage, behind the scenes, and quite a bit of it. In fact, I worked in a theater’s front office for a couple of years, the KiMo in downtown Albuquerque, and was planning on making a career out of it. Really, when you think of it, I haven’t strayed too far…the pull to express on the stage, to support the artists, and above all, the profound intimacy found in group artistic expression.

So what has this to do with the holidays? About this time (and perhaps it’s the sugar), I get a weird mixture of relief and withdrawal. It’s not unlike what I’d encounter the day after the show I was in would close. The odd schedules, the intense emotional roller-coaster of “will people come? they are…wonderful. Will I forget my lines? I remembered! But I messed up…no one noticed?”, and above all (and I know I just said it but it bears repeating) the closeness among actors and techs, extending at its zenith to the closing night party–all of this would be, poof, gone the next day. The cast and crew would promise to stay in touch, but even in the rare cases of follow-through, it was never the same.

Still, I got my life back, and the temptation would be to go back to the same schedule as before. Same diet. Same people. Same daytime life, the one you had before the demands of the show hijacked your clock…or in this case, the holidays.

For the last month, you’ve probably been off-schedule, regardless of how or if you’ve celebrated the holidays. Truth is, like infants, it’s surprisingly easy to get us humans off-schedule. In somatic terms, we become more disregulated. For many of us who have healthy-enough nervous systems, we can get back in gear with a few practices and some time. Many of us don’t even realize we’re doing it, when we cut out sugar, return to a regular bed-time, return to baseline on the amount of human contact we allow in a particular day.  Come January 2nd, you step back into ordinary life. And while the season’s stressors are a relief to see in the rear-view mirror, most of us, even those who really hate this time of year, may feel a bit of a let-down. Somehow, the banal suggestion that one find a way to carry some wisdom, or some element of beauty, into mundane life feels lame.

And yet…

I’m the devil’s advocate against either getting stuck in disregulation OR returning to the old schedule too quickly. See, I think there’s an opportunity to find a “sweet spot” here.  Obviously, if you get trapped in overstimulation, feeling ungrounded, disconnected, out of control in what (or whom) you’re exposing your body to, that’s a problem. We can work with that. But…grabbing too quickly for the same old same old, without thoughtfully considering if you really want to deny yourself some of the elements enjoyed, or lessons learned, or if you really want to bring something back into your life you didn’t really miss or benefit from feels, well, like a lunge for safety. Are you really that threatened? Being a creature of habit isn’t exactly healthy either.

The point is, January 1st is a great day to begin the process of choosing what to carry into your life this next year, and what to be shed of. And in order to make that choice, many of us need to do the somatic work of getting grounded and increasing our felt sense of tolerance for risk. So if you’re having trouble landing in the new year, there’s help for that…