A Hammock and a Yoga Mat
A few weeks ago I celebrated my 31st birthday. It was no milestone and normally would be worth no mention at all, except my gifts — a hammock and a yoga mat — caused me to think about how much my life has changed in the last year.
Nine months ago I was working at an organization that was so confused about its goals that every day was a fight to get things done. I woke up each morning dreading what new obstacles would be in front of me, and every night my husband kind of dreaded what I would bring home – frustrations, tears, more work, my cranky pants. I wasn’t any fun to be around. My thoughts all revolved about how to fix an organization that deep down didn’t align with my fundamental beliefs. Somehow my world had become very small by striving to fix things and please people — focusing primarily on things outside of myself; things on which I thought I should be focusing. And as it turns out, the very small world I had created didn’t fit who I was at all.
Not until this recent birthday did I realize how much larger my world is now that I’ve begun to focus so much more heavily on myself. My new hammock and yoga mat really made me think about how slowing down and embracing a little selfishness and self-reflection could maybe help us each expand more than we think possible.
Quitting my job felt really selfish at first. I was embarrassed to tell people that I was doing freelance writing and working for a fashion designer. These things felt so self-indulgent and I worried that people would judge me as such. But this bit of self-indulgence has opened my eyes so much to other things in the world.
No longer am I waking with thoughts about how my work day is going to impact my mood or my husband’s, how my co-workers might receive my ideas, how something in my life just doesn’t feel right. Instead I wake up content and pleased with each new day. I am learning new things about the community in which I live and am taking opportunities to be a little more involved. With more control of my time I’m volunteering a bit here and there, seeing the amazing things that organizations like Second Helpings, among others, are doing (seriously, amazing amazing things). I’m also actually making time for my friends, and think (and hope) that I’m a better friend because of it. Now that I have this newly uncluttered mind I just get to listen like a good friend should.
All this is my way of saying that if in all you do you still find that things don’t feel right, it might benefit you to slow down and stop doing everything you think you should be doing and focus a little more on what you want to be doing. It’s a little like the airplane emergency rule of putting the oxygen mask on yourself first before helping others. If you aren’t first taking care of yourself, it’s pretty likely you’ll not be of that much good to anyone else.