Soul Sustainability
It was the biggest global buzz kill ever; a year long reality check with weekly life lessons nobody asked for. Society as a whole was chasing wild dreams and instead faced worst nightmares, I don’t know of a single person who dodged disappointment across a devastatingly wide spectrum. For context, I’d sold everything I owned and worked 3 jobs to fuel a dream of travelling around Australia with my partner in hope of a spontaneous life, ideally all roses and rainbows. In the space of a month, I found myself essentially homeless with lockdown approaching, my marriage irreparably broken and all savings gone; left with an unroadworthy van plus a hard border keeping me in a city I was trying to run away from. But I promise this is a good news story, sometimes you win and sometimes you learn your way to a happy ending. While searching for the pandemic edition of ‘A Guide to Happiness’ it became clear that healing is such a unique journey for each unique individual, there could never be a one size fits all remedy. We all learnt the hard way that in order to build your physical immunity, you must also build your mental immunity. The first step is always the hardest, for me it began with the complete commitment to myself; self love, self care and self acceptance.

I started the year at rock bottom and amidst full crisis mode I pursued the best stupid decision I’ve ever had and enrolled into my dream degree, a Bachelor of Nutritional Medicine. Mainly as a distraction but instead finding a sense of purpose. Despite being socially distanced it made the desire for authentic connection a greater priority, though the thought of making friends was straight up terrifying. Trying to introduce myself whilst withholding the unglamorous details of life and establish friendships upon a fine line between honesty and oversharing - was exhausting. Shoutout to Her Royal Highness Brené Brown and vulnerability; one of the most easily neglected yet crucial elements of the human nature and often confused as the opposite of resilience. When I felt brave enough to share my truth, I started building resilience, simultaneously forgiving myself along a long path to self acceptance. The super beautiful thing about being real with people, was it also allowed them the space to be real in their truth. These deeper connections created a safe network to lighten the burden of the year and grow together, even with most of it being online. Vulnerability transformed my outlook on life, it redefines the concept of failure and all of the emotions that we think we need to overcome alone can instead be celebrated in really beautiful ways.

I found the hardest aspect of grieving a love whether through death, distance or divorce, is the excess love you somehow manage to produce despite losing the recipient. It’s absolutely beautiful, yet often feels beautifully impossible that we deserve to transform that into self love. Anatomically & metaphorically speaking the heart is largely a muscle; requiring nourishment, energy, stretching and in return providing the joy of being alive. Undoubtedly at times it’s messy and we question why, but later in the year when I was hit by a car whilst riding my bike, I questioned if I would have it any other way. The harsh reality of how precious life is was enough to shock me into deep gratitude for it all, the brokenness and the beauty. Entering an entirely new phase of physical & mental healing I surrendered to the simple fact that many aspects of life are beyond our control, but we can control how well we love ourselves through it. To me, self love is a heaven on earth state of mind everyday. Where you can access love wherever you go and never go without, no matter the turmoil of life. It’s a realisation I wouldn’t recommend flying across the bonnet of a ute for – so just trust me on this one.

I understood my wellbeing had non-negotiable elements I had discounted for years in many ways, living in an uncomfortable comfort zone and believing it was happiness. Another 2020 curveball was being diagnosed with ADHD where I accepted myself in a new light, so many symptoms I’d always assumed were flaws in my identity. It encouraged me to truly address my mental health by replacing old coping mechanisms with this new concept of ‘self care’. A few face masks and massages later, I realised it wasn’t being lathered in jojoba oil that was healing; it was reconnecting to my values and the bare basics of my wellbeing. Sometimes it was sunrise pilates to rap music or a secluded beach for a healthy cry. Taking myself on a picnic date or camping without brushing my hair for a week. Seeing my psychiatrist or the sunset. Sometimes it was the hard task of setting painful boundaries, or as easy as taking my vitamins and eating some damn vegetables. Some days I needed solitude, and other days a community. When you learn to acknowledge and honour your non-negotiables through self care and learn to take time for yourself without guilt – you’ll soon learn that thriving is inevitable.

In a world obsessed with hustle, without a crazy pandemic would we really have slowed down enough to prioritise our wellbeing? We are seldom ready for the ways in which our strength gets tested; but we are all worthy of love, care and acceptance regardless of the trials we endure & especially because of the trials we endure. When 2020 felt like a year of total trash, if we can embrace the sustainability of our soul, we’ll see that the wounds we survived are all recyclable into a new perspective and nothing was wasted.


You can keep up with Danielle on Instagram - @_daniellemitchell

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