I attended a meeting at my mothers’ group last week that was all about making space for ourselves in the chaos of our lives. The speaker, a good friend of mine, pointed out that people tend to be bad at making time for the things that feed their souls. And, when you don’t feed your soul, you’re tired, you don’t have the energy you need to get through every day, and you slowly lose your passion for life.
She’s right. 100% right.
But she sent me into a terrifying tailspin of introspection. Because, as it so turns out, I have no idea what really feeds my soul.
I spent the week pondering this baffling concept and, as I am wont to do, I ordered a few books to see what I could do about figuring out what makes my happy little clock tick.
I ordered Shonda Rhimes’ book Year of Yes because I had heard good things about it and Brené Brown’s Rising Strong, because Brené.
The books arrived yesterday and I dove into Shonda’s book first. Yes, a book. A paper book. Because I wanted to highlight things and put post-its and mark it all up. And yes, I did at one point tap a page and wonder for a second why it wasn’t turning. Sigh. Creature of habit, I am.
I’m almost 2/3rds of the way through and already the book has helped me shift some thinking around.
My whole life I have lived reactively. I have acted the way people expect me to act. I have achieved what people expect me to achieve. I have done the things people expect me to do. I have happily molded myself to these expectations and done them all quite well.
Every so often, I have stepped out of the bounds of expectations and branched out a bit. I moved to the other side of the world to give a relationship a chance. I spent a year rocking my baby and writing a novel. But for the most part, I just happily conformed.
And filled my life with the business of living up to the expectations.
It’s not a bad life by any stretch of the imagination, it’s just a bit lacking in the “me” department sometimes.
Which, let’s be clear, is 100% my fault.
My love language is steeped in acts of love and acts of service. I live to serve. Literally. I am at my happiest when I am doing things for others. It is no surprise that I have gone almost 40 years quite happily fulfilling expectations. I’m sure I’ll go at least another 40 doing more of the same.
I just also need to remember to do things for me.
Earlier this week I listened to a podcast for entrepreneurs as I took a walk with the dog and I found myself mulling over one snippet that caught my ear. “Always create before you consume,” Mari Forleo, the podcast guest encouraged. Don’t let other people’s creations dim your own creativity.
I thought about it for the rest of the walk and for much of the following day.
I’m a creative individual, but I always put my own creations on the back burner. They’re low on the to do list. In fact, every morning, I start off the day by reading my email and diving into Facebook.
Before I’m fully awake, I’ve already dipped into the lives, feelings, and creations of 50 or so other people.
Before my brain has fully engaged, it’s full of other people’s thoughts.
I looked at the situation from Shonda’s point of view this morning and wondered how she would turn this into a way to say Yes to myself.
I didn’t berate myself for this deeply entrenched habit. I simply decided to say Yes to myself and to my creativity.
Instead of opening Facebook, I pulled out my journal. Wrote for 5 minutes, sitting at the kitchen table, surrounded by the girls and their morning chaos. Then I picked up my phone and I deleted the Facebook app.
I’ll still be on Facebook. It’s part of my job. But I’m going to see if I can manage without it on my phone.
I’m going to replace all those wasted minutes as I wait for kids, as I sit at a red light, as I wait in line at the grocery store with more observation of my surroundings, more thoughts, more time for me.
I’m curious to see how it works out.
*Please note, the links to the two books are affiliate links. Should you click on them and buy something from Amazon, you’ll be helping feed my book habit. The spouse and I will be very grateful.*