I read a book this Summer which caused the ground under me to shift. You know that moment when you learn something new, or maybe realize an old thought? A light really does shine, maybe more inside your head, rather than a bulb dangling above it.
For most of my adult life, I’ve held fast to many preconceived notions. Some have served me well and others have bound me tight in their antiquated ideology. It is a strange place to be found in, because I came of age in the 1980’s. I watched all that went on in American society at that time and thought that won’t be me. And yet, here I am.
It is not all bad. The relentless work ethic. The ability to firmly fix my gaze on the prize. The ability to compete. Confidence. These qualities and habits have landed me squarely where I am today.
Unfortunately, no-one really details the pitfalls. A crushing work schedule with international travel on top. No end in sight, what was the goal anyway? Is it important to me or the company? Can I tell the difference anymore? Why do I look at every situation as a race? Why is there always a winner?
I never wanted to be that self sacrificing woman who did everything for everyone else. Over time she started to feel resentful. The relationships she thought she was building turned against her. She was left alone with her fancy job. Not much to fall back on emotionally. She tried to be a superwoman.
Back to the Summer. As my family vacation in Alberta was drawing to a close, I started to worry about returning work. I could not enjoy my last hours away. I was pre-stressing myself into a lather. I voiced my concerns about this to my Aunt. She disappered for a time. Then she returned with a book for me to read, easily accomplished in an afternoon. Anne Morrow Lindbergh wrote, “Gift from the Sea”. A delight. As the pages started to fall away, I was amazed that something written so long ago was still so relevant. I immediately ordered my own copy. I was also taken by the fact that my Aunt could so easily put her finger on the pulse of my problem. She had answers at the ready.
It is a gift to be able to help others. Especially when the “others” are me and feeling down or otherwise uninspired. My mini Alberta vacation ended on such a high note, I almost floated home. I guess the only trick is, how to make this feeling last and apply these kind of lessons when life gets tough and stressful again.
The shift was one thought – carve out time for myself. Be strict and relentless about this. A small bit of everyday, some time each week and then a big commitment each year. A vacation by yourself. A lifting of all responsibilities. Be with silence and solitude. Re-kindle the most important relationship you have, the one with yourself.
As I practice this each day and each week, I become a better person to everyone else. Maybe it is not noticeable to them, but I feel better. I am happier to give of myself knowing that I can restore the balance. This is work-life balance for me. It is not that work is an enemy to be minimized. It is that my personal life has to come to the fore and be held in the highest regard.
Now I am excited about serving others. I want to harness the power of women around me, the wise women, the brave women and bring it forth for others to share. Help solve the daily mysteries for one person with insights from another. Restore a balance of working and living that makes sense to each and is not a prescribed formula. Fill up our cups with inspiration. Help us continue to serve and help others.
It sure seems as if what we need to learn most, comes to us at the perfect moment. Just when we are ready to receive, ready to become teachers. At least for me, that is how my vacation unfolded.
“I shall ask into my shell only those friends with whom I can be completely honest. I find I am shedding hypocrisy in human relationships. What a rest that will be! The most exhausting thing in life, I have discovered, is being insincere. That is why so much of social life is exhausting; one is wearing a mask. I have shed my mask.”
― Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Gift from the Sea
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