Years ago, my friend and I had a little debate….
What does it mean to show up to your life? For me, it means being present, being here. Aren’t we always here? Well, yes, but sometimes we don’t know we’re here. We’re halfway here, lost in our thoughts, five steps ahead of NOW in worry or preparation. So showing up means that we’re fully here in this moment, paying attention. If you’re like me, you may have learned over time that it isn’t always easy to show up AS YOURSELF. Perhaps it doesn’t always feel safe. Am I enough? Will people approve of me?
A happy, happy New Year to you! As I was reflecting and writing a few nights ago, I was thinking that what I really do when it's time for "resolutions," is make commitments. I'm taking time to make deep commitments to what matters right now, to shoring up what feels shaky. I'm looking intently at the cloth of my life and choosing the holes to mend...not with harshness, not with judgement, but with hope, love, and an abiding interest in happiness and wellness for my whole self. I wish all of this for all of us.
The future is a story that hasn't yet been written. We write it in each new moment. Yes, some things happen to us, and the choice that we have is in how we respond. And a lot of what happens is based on our own intentions and choices. Intentions matter. They're the difference between rolling along any old way and moving forward with purpose in the direction that you'd like to go.
For this week's reflection tool, we pull together the tools from the last two weeks, along with the needs inventory, to look at some of the key moments of this year. What will you discover here? Heck if I know! But I'm very certain that if you put your mind and heart to it, you will learn something new about yourself that will guide how you approach the next moment.
In this exercise, you identify your key attributes, explore how these attributes come into play when you're at your best, and consider how you can bring them to play now and in the future. Perhaps this seems simple. After all, I know who I am. I know my strengths...or do I? As it turned out, this was a very impactful exercise for me. Laying out my core attributes on paper and getting clear about them felt very concrete, like I know what I'm dealing with. Here are some ways that this was helpful for me.
When we take time to reflect, we make meaning out of the experiences of our life. We learn from ourselves, and we take a moment to mark, to acknowledge what has happened and who we are becoming. We marinate, we celebrate. Reflection is a type of alchemy that turns everyday life into learning, growth, and transformation. We say, "Ah-ha! Now I see!"
A while ago, I wrote this poem about grief. I just came across it and found that it still feels true, so I wanted to share. As Mary Oliver wrote, "Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine. Meanwhile, the world goes on..." We're in this together.
I have a sense of the types of practices that help me. And yet there are times when I find it really hard to keep consistency. The very times when I MOST need these practices in my life, the times when I am MOST in need of the peace, grounding, and strength that they give me, are the times when it feels like like I have no time or energy to do them. I had the thought that I would like to see what it feels like to live in my optimum state. What would it feel like to be taking care of my mind, body, and spirit in ways that are healthy and beneficial...and sustainable?
I am drawn to (driven to?) productivity, as many of us are. It comes through our culture, this emphasis on doing, doing, doing. It feels good then, to be productive and to accomplish a lot in a day. It feels gratifying, as if all of this doing means something. If I dig way down deep, achieving seems to mean that I am enough-- good enough, hardworking enough. At the same time, this can feel like a kind of tyranny-- that I MUST accomplish a lot, and if not, it could mean that I failed in some way. But what if I’m tired? What if I’m not feeling well?
Now I use this as a practice not just of the body, but of the mind and heart. Can I listen to my own body? Can I honor my own strengths, needs, and limitations? With back, shoulder, and knee tenderness, I am always modifying the poses, shortening them, sometimes doing a totally different pose that feels right at the moment.
I feel sometimes like I have been given a ten-speed again. Opportunities come my way that are justout my my comfort zone, that I need to really stretch to meet. My emotions go all over the place-- gratitude, fear, excitement, anxiety, overwhelm, and then the guilt of feeling negative feelings at all, when clearly opportunities are GOOD!
At first I felt a little guilty about this-- as if I was building protection against someone. But actually, it is simply for me, in support of me and my own energy. Rather than feeling this shield as a barrier between me and the person I'm interacting with, I walk into the situation feeling whole and safe already. This allows me to interact fully and warmly, without holding back for fear of being overtaken or attacked.