This summer I'm falling in love with life. After a very busy year in 2012, I'm enjoying being home more, giving time and attention to the things I say I value, and deepening my relationship with myself by exploring new ways of expressing my essence and creativity.
At first, it wasn't easy to slow down. As is often the case, my body and mind were so used to being "on" that turning them off felt strange and uncomfortable. I found myself staying busy, checking email and Facebook throughout the day, and numbing out in front of the television for longer than I care to admit.
I'd been here before, but this time I did something different: I let myself do exactly what I was doing without judgment or self-criticism. I allowed myself to keep filling the space with busyness until I was ready to step back and gain perspective. Rather than resurrect the inner taskmaster to whip me into self-care shape, I decided to trust myself in a new way. I chose to listen to the loving, wise part of me that said, "Don't worry, when you're ready to stop, you'll stop."
And eventually I did...
I spent two months barely doing anything. And I felt lazy, irresponsible, and directionless - the way we often feel when the creative well is ready to be filled again. I allowed myself to rest, limited work and social commitments, and slowly made peace with not having a clue about what I wanted to focus on next. As much as I felt the need to plunge into a new project, I could tell something was aching to be born. I needed to honor the gestation period.
So, I kept this little quote from Walt Whitman on my mirror and made a point to read it several times during the day while my creativity steeped.
As I settled into summer, I decided to make fun and pleasure a priority. I put a vacation message on my personal email that basically said, “Thanks for your message. I’m enjoying a summer of writing and pleasure and will be avoiding email as much as possible,” and I let my assistant handle anything that needed immediate attention.
I started singing lessons – something I’ve wanted to do for a long time – after being referred to a terrific vocal coach. He’s not only introduced me to my singing voice (turns out I’d be a good fit for opera – who knew), but more importantly, he’s helping me to relax, get comfortable with vulnerability, and experience the pleasure of being a student. The exercises are hilarious. I get to whine really loud, roll my tongue to my favorite songs (so glad I studied Spanish in high school), and walk around making the sound of a motorboat. I also get to sing my little heart out. Being a student is turning out to be a good course of study for this teacher .
I’m also falling more in love with nature and gardening. I’m outside nearly everyday, and my deck is covered with vegetables and herbs, as well as flowers that attract hummingbirds and butterflies (I’ve seen three hummingbirds so far – something new at our house!). I’ve been experimenting with techniques from Square Foot Gardening, and it’s worked really, really well. I now only use compost (a combination of different kinds) when installing plants and they’re growing like crazy. For the first time I’ve been able to grow roses – old-fashioned, fragrant English Roses (thank you, David Austin). Here’s one just opening…
As I've given my inner life greater importance, I'm excited about what's being born in my outer world. The retreat with Alanis Morissette is an example of my desire to express my creativity in new and different ways.
Alanis and I met several years ago through our dear friend, Debbie Ford, and our time together is always a vertical experience. Our conversations are life expanding and I've known for a while that I wanted to share her wisdom and soul with you. So we decided to do a retreat together and I couldn't be more inspired.
This is just the beginning and I look forward to sharing more exciting news with you soon!
Inviting in a new phase of life is such an important self-care practice. We all need to stop sometimes, step back from our busy lives, create a little space, and be courageous enough to wait for new marching orders. That's my agenda for the summer and, if the time is right, I invite you to join me.
Here's the affirmation I'm using and if it works for you, please feel free to use it, too!
"I am at peace with the unfolding of my life"
Onward and upward friends!
Take Action Challenge
You don't need to take a lot of time off to gain perspective. You just need some consistent time to yourself. Schedule an evening a week, a weekend day once a month, or a mini vacation without phones or a computer.
Just imagine what greatness will be born in your life! This week's video puts life in perspective all right. You can find it here. Thanks, Ileen!