I am struggling with what we’ve been seeing in the world - the blatant lack of respect for fellow human beings. I’ve read everything I can on it, talked with close friends, ordered books that I think will help make sense of it all. It wasn’t until I stopped “seeking” answers and turned inward that I found what I was looking for.
I got out my watercolors, sat down on my front porch and painted a favorite scene of Hilton Head Island from a photo I had taken recently. In the solace of this mindful activity clarity began to emerge.
The world is full of scarred souls - souls who don’t know how to love because they’ve never been loved or feel they don’t deserve love. Love is the very basic of all emotions. Everything emanates from there. So if we can’t love, we can’t connect, be open, grow, be happy, feel liked, love others etc. When we are void of fulfilling emotions and don't turn inward to work on what needs...
This was me - utterly exhausted as a homeless welfare single mom of four children under seven-years-old, putting on that everything was ok. I felt judged, tired, and inadequate at almost everything. I was edgy, unhappy and anxious that I wasn’t doing enough or being good enough.
Did I make time to take care of myself or remind myself that I am awesome as is with all my imperfections? No way. No time. I just kept surviving and wearing myself down while pretending I was superwoman. I wore busyness like a badge of honor.
As I look back now I see that this treadmill to nowhere left me not only stuck but exhausted. I already had everything I needed to go from food stamps to where I am today - CEO of a $24 million organization, a mom, employee, friend, leader and wife. I just needed to slow down enough to be gentle with myself. I needed to release my need to be perfect which had become a shield for shame. I began to accept that I deserved all that is good and quit...
This was definitely me - utterly exhausted as a single parent and sole provider of four children under seven and putting on that everything was ok. I felt judged, tired, inadequate, and ineffective at almost everything. I felt edgy, unhappy and anxious that I wasn’t doing enough or good enough.
Did I make time to take care of myself by reminding myself that I was awesome just as I was with all my imperfections? No way. No time. I just kept surviving and wearing myself down while pretending I was superwoman.
As I look back now I see that I already had everything I needed to be a great mom, employee, friend, and leader. I just needed to slow down enough to be gentle with myself in order to be gentle with others. I needed to listen and stop talking. I needed to be curious instead of judgmental because as I judged others I was judging myself far worse.
Take care of yourself first. All roads lead from there. Self-acceptance trumps all.
Two years ago on a cold December day I felt stressed and overwhelmed so I made a commitment to do something about it, not unlike what many people do as the New Year approaches. I ordered a very expensive and really pretty planner. (Since when did planners start costing $85?) About a week into it I found myself writing mindful daily practices in the margins to hold myself accountable. Three weeks later I was writing my daily goals in the margins too. Four weeks later I was recreating the entire page, ignoring what was on it.
Five weeks into it I tried another planner. Two weeks into using that one I was now writing in the margins again – my gratitude thoughts, how I was feeling – daily practices that help release the negativity we often don’t spend time processing and then can’t let go of. (Dreadful feeling.) I already had a calendar for my to-do list and appointments. I needed a planner for my well-being and big goals.
Over two months I ordered six...