Posted on July 24, 2014 at 6:00 am
I attended a job training a few weeks ago. After three days of intense conversations and reflections, I was exhausted, but optimistic about how to apply all the lessons learned. Many of the people in the room (including me) seemed to sense the enormity of what might be ahead and we went quiet. The instructor broke the silence…“even positive change can be hard and you must take care of yourself.” We often remind ourselves and each other to take care when things are taxing. But how often do we advise taking care when we are happily working hard? The instructor advocated for two ways we should take care of ourselves.
The first one was easy for me.
“You should have three people in your life that you could call—no matter what.” These should be people who know you so well that if you called in the middle of the worst imaginable jam they would ask no questions or judge you in anyway, but respond “what can I do?” Better yet, they’d know what to do for you before you even asked. Three names flashed in my mind. Done!
But the second suggestion sent me reeling.
“You should have three things or activities in your life that are rejuvenating.” I sat there and sat there and sat there until tears rolled down my face as I realized not only did I not have three…I didn’t even have one. I made it my mission to find one.
Rejuvenating. It should be something that gives you energy or fortifies strength. This is different than something simply enjoyed. Rejuvenation should leave you feeling better than before you started. Every possible thing that initially came to mind was too easily shot down.
Daughter: I love my daughter and spending time with her. She is fun, energetic, and sweet. She is lots more things, but rejuvenating is rarely one of them.
Pedicures: Love ’em! But to have one, I need a babysitter and money–two things I rarely have at the same time.
Sitting quietly and relaxing: Can’t do it—I end up wasting the whole time thinking “am I relaxed enough as I sit here quietly?”
For weeks, I kept asking, “what is rejuvenating?” I asked myself, friends, family, co-workers, and even a pet or two. I asked almost to the point of exhaustion. I began to wonder if something was wrong with me. I couldn’t find a single stinkin’ rejuvenating thing!
But finally, I had an epiphany. I was sitting with friends on a gorgeous lake beach, listening to the waves lap gently against the sand, (enjoying a cocktail….or maybe three) and realized something simple: for me, rejuvenating may not come from a thing or activity. It may come from an attitude. I inventoried the moment. I looked at my lovely surroundings, felt the love of my friends as warm as the sunshine on my face, acknowledged a slow deep breath and thought “I have a wonderful life and am grateful.” With a deep exhale I felt leave from my body—at least for a moment—anxiety of not having “three things,” work stress, frustration for all the housekeeping tasks that never seem to get done, and irritation at all my shortcomings.
“MOM!!! Where’s my purple pony’s comb?” snapped me right out of it. But, in those glorious few seconds of gratitude, I felt energy. I felt fortified. I was better.
I believe my quest for “three things” is worth pursuing and I intend to stay on it. I want at least one thing that rejuvenates me longer than a moment—a thing all to myself, that doesn’t depend on money or another person. Friends and family have offered suggestions: a hot bath, date night with a loved one, re-reading a favorite book, mid-day nap, hiking, and knitting. I’m going to give some of these a try. If none work, I’ll go pour a cocktail, take a long deep breath, be grateful… and start my search again.