It’s been a while since I’ve blogged. I’ve been busy. Too busy…
I recently traveled to a conference in Portland, Oregon. The conference was great, and I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Portland and in the area surrounding the city. In planning for this trip, I knew I would be very active during my time in Portland, attending conference sessions and seeing as much of the area as possible: the waterfalls in the Columbia River Gorge area, Portland’s Chinese Garden, the Japanese Garden, the Rose Garden, the famous Powell’s Bookstore, and more. Because I knew I’d be tired from the traveling, I thought ahead and cancelled several of my regularly scheduled weekly activities in the days following my return home from this trip.
Arranging for a lighter schedule as I adjusted to the time zone shift, worked on unpacking, and reunited with my cats at home was really a good decision. As a conscious spiritual being who is on a journey toward health and wholeness, I try to practice good self care. Sometimes I do well, but other times I put other people’s requests in front of my well-being and end up cutting my sleeping time short as I rush to meet deadlines and help others out. This was a time when I succeeded in doing what was good for me. But it went beyond that…
Not only did this extra time to get settled back in after my trip allow me to readjust without the stress I had experienced on other occasions on which I “hit the ground running” and jumped right back into it all. In addition to that, I noticed that I was breathing more freely and feeling less tension in my body. It was clear that I felt lighter and more joyful…and even more creative and inspired…as I went through my days. I enjoyed the opportunity to sit for a while with a book or with my journal and go into that introspective and reflective space that I love. I saw that I was more in touch with my body, and I was making better choices, as my head felt clearer. I felt more optimistic. I was more engaged in the activities I was doing. I took notice of more that was around me, taking in the beauty of the earth springing to life and the ring of a passerby’s laugh. I even got to take a little extra time and spontaneously accept an invitation from a friend to spend some time together. Just a few extra hours in my week made a big difference, for sure.
Upon reflecting on these noticings, I knew I would have to use this information to make some changes to my days. I also probed myself to explore the meaning behind the choices I had made to arrive at such a busy schedule in the first place. I remembered some sage and powerful words from my spiritual mentor Brene Brown about how we can erroneously equate busyness with self-worth and see exhaustion as a status symbol.
I believe that many of us, especially women, participate in this race for worthiness, believing that it’s not enough to simply be; believing we have to do…buying into that false belief that we have something to prove. When we don’t trust in our own inherent self worth and goodness, we look outside of ourselves for validation. It can (temporarily) elevate our self-esteem when we are “in demand” in our jobs or in the community. I’ve heard many people comment on how good it feels to be needed by their partners or family members.
Similarly, I’ve witnessed friends and family members accept invitations that they really didn’t want to accept, because they felt guilty saying that they’d rather stay at home and do a crossword puzzle or take a relaxing bath. Peer pressure is alive & well in the adult world, too. I think of the judgments that some mothers place on other mothers who are not driving their children to Mandarin lessons and baking for the soccer boosters’ fundraiser. Why do we push each other to go beyond what is reasonable? What would it be like to instead affirm others’ choices to take good care of themselves, whatever that looks like at any particular time?
It is a process to step back from the mad rush. It takes practice to get good at saying “no.” One thing that helps is to remind myself that every time I say “no” to something that I don’t have time for or something that doesn’t absolutely light me up, I am saying “yes” to myself.
I’ll be blogging soon again. Maybe the next post will be composed as I enjoy a glass of fresh-brewed iced tea while sitting in the sunroom with a cat on my lap… I am getting better and better at taking it easy!