vulnerable path

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Why am I doing this?

It’s only the fourth day of our Girl Scout cookie sale, and I am already wondering what I was thinking. I am our troop leader and cookie mom. So for the next eight weeks, I will not only be planning our meeting activities, but also running a more than $10,000.00 business. It’s a second full-time job. In the last four days, I have spent over 25 hours working the cookie business. That is in addition to working my full-time job and taking care of my home and family.

While fighting off a cranky mood yesterday, I realized I needed to re-acquaint myself with the reasons I made this commitment.

vest_editedI have always held a strong belief in the mission of Girl Scouting. But so do a lot of adults who have their children involved in Scouting. We grew up being Girl Scouts ourselves. We have fond memories of our Girl Scout experiences. But the reasons that I am a Girl Scout volunteer go well beyond my belief that it will give my daughter courage, confidence, and character.

If I won’t do it, who will?

There is a saying that if you want something done right, you have to do it yourself. That sounds egotistical. Maybe a better way to phrase it would be to say, if you want a particular result, you have to be willing to put in the work to see that result materialize. That doesn’t just pertain to the Girl Scout organization. That’s a life-in-general thing. It occurred to me a very long time ago that if I wanted my daughter to grow up to be a smart, confident, capable human being, I needed to do the work to make that happen. It wasn’t something to leave to other people. Not to other family members, or teachers, or coaches, or activity volunteers.

If I wanted my daughter to get the most out of her Girl Scout experience, I knew I needed to be actively involved. It wasn’t enough to drop her off at weekly meetings. I truly had no idea what I was getting myself into when I first volunteered. But I can tell you now that I see a very clear corollary between successful girl outcomes and the involvement of girls’ parents. For example, the girls in my troop who earned Bronze Awards as Junior Girl Scouts had parents who involved themselves in the process. They not only brought their girls to special Bronze Award planning sessions, they stayed and participated. They strongly encouraged their girls to make a commitment to a project and stood with them every step of the way.

If I won’t set an example, who will?

Children are very observant of their surroundings. Everything that happens to them has the power to become a teaching experience. Every person they come in contact with has influence. I want to be a positive influence. And, as I said before, if I want my daughter to be smart, confident, and capable, then I have to model that. Whatever expectations I have for her, I need to be willing to live up to myself. Some days, that is no easy task!

The Girl Scout cookie program intends to teach girls these five skills — goal-setting, decision making, money management, people skills, and business ethics. Most people think the cookie sale is a fund-raiser. There is so much more to it than that. If I am going to teach these skills, then I have to demonstrate them. As a leader, a parent, and a role model, it’s my job to set realistic goals and show girls how to meet them. I am a trustee of their money; therefore, I am obligated to manage it appropriately. They are watching, so I need to be friendly, helpful and respectful toward everyone I work with. I need to show my girls how to do what’s right.

My kid isn’t entitled to anything. And I don’t ever want her to think she is. The most rewarding things in life come to us because we worked hard to earn them. It’s a lesson kids ultimately need to learn on their own. But there has to be a role model there, someone who kids can look up to and say, “She did it, and I can too.” It is possible for our troop to earn the money to travel domestically and even internationally. It’s my job to show them that this goal can be reached. I can’t give up. I can’t quit. When I’m tired, there is still one more order of cookies to sort, one more inventory count to do.  This is the work ethic I hope to see my daughter emulate.

If I can’t motivate her, who will?

Let’s face it, most kids would be perfectly happy to spend the whole day sitting on the couch, watching You Tube videos on their iPads.  There are some amazingly motivated young people in this world.  But I can guarantee that every one of them has an equally motivated parent standing right next to them.  I bet Katie Francis is one of them.  She is a 12 year old from Oklahoma that sold over 21,000 boxes of Girl Scout cookies in one season!  You can learn more about her amazing story here.

There have been many times when my daughter did not want to do something that I was encouraging her to do.  Whether it was trying a new food or learning to ride a bike, more often than not, she ended up thankful that I kept pushing her.  I want my child to discover activities that she enjoys.  I want her to find her passion.  Yet sometimes she needs a good shove in the right direction.  I can’t let that up to anyone else either.

Why am I doing this?  I’m doing it all for you, my child.  I am committed to being your teacher, role model, and motivator.  And I am more than happy to do the same for every Girl Scout I meet.

© Vulnerable Path, 2015

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The Key

Have you ever had a moment when you think you must be losing your mind? That happened to me a few days ago. I was looking for my spare house key. And it wasn’t in the place where I knew that I had left it. It seemed to have just disappeared into thin air. It was right there in the basket by the front door last time I saw it.

I live by habits. Maybe I could call them rituals. I am methodical, organized, and just a bit obsessive-compulsive.  It is a ritual to put the key in the same place every time I use it. Then I always know where it is. I can be confident in my obsessiveness. It works for me. It keeps me on track.

So when the key wasn’t where it was supposed to be, I became overwhelmed with anxiety. I had to figure out where it was. Did I leave it in a coat pocket? Was it in my purse or my gym bag? I began scouring the house to find the key. I emptied the basket by the door, repeatedly, hoping maybe I missed it the first time I checked. I scrounged through my purse. No luck. I checked every pocket of every coat in the closet. Nope, not there either.

And all the while, my daughter watched. She said she had no idea where the key was. She hadn’t seen it. She hadn’t touched it. I asked if anyone had been in the house. She said no. I explained that it wasn’t just a matter of having misplaced the key. I was afraid that if someone had taken it, then our security was threatened. She watched me empty the basket again. She watched me dump out my purse.

This all came about because my car was in the shop again, and I was driving a loaner. I left my keys at the shop, so I didn’t have a house key when we got home that day. Thankfully, my daughter had one in her backpack. But I needed that spare key.

After about 20 minutes of fruitless searching, I was forced to give up and continue with my evening. Time to make dinner and get ready to go to the gym. I was stewing. Where the hell was that key? It was driving me nuts! Why are things like this so difficult for me to let go? I could feel the anxiety swelling up in my chest. All that adrenalin – the tank is full but there’s no place to go; my engine was racing. This is the kind of stuff that kills people. I knew I needed to calm myself down.

Then I thought about the serenity prayer. God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change. Yes, that’s helpful. Take a deep breath and let it out slowly. I cannot change the fact that the key is missing. Accept it. Take another deep breath. OK, I’m getting a handle on this.

So we eat dinner, and dress for the gym, and head out the door into the freezing cold night. As we are driving down the road, I see that my daughter looks angry. What’s wrong? Nothing. I said to her, “I’m not mad at you. I’m just angry about something that I don’t understand and can’t control. It’s not your fault.” She thinks everything is her fault. She is constantly apologizing for things that are not her fault. Then she says, “Well, what if I accidentally took it with me to Daddy’s and left it there.” To that I say, “Wouldn’t you know that you had done that? How can you accidentally do that, or not remember that you did it, or not be sure if you did it?” I scoffed this off. I did not see this as a half-hearted admission of guilt. I saw it as a way for the child to offer a solution where there wasn’t one.

It felt so good to get on the treadmill that night. I ran my little heart out. Emptied the tank. By the time I had run three miles, I felt much more at peace. It might have helped that I kept repeating my serenity mantra the entire time.

At home, we both get ready for bed. I helped her brush her hair after a shower. As we stood there, I once again brought up the lost key. I explained that it is so frustrating because I always put it in the exact same place. And how can it go missing from the place I intentionally always put it.

Suddenly her face turned blotchy and crimson. Her lip quivered and she began to laugh and cry at the same time. In that second I knew. And I also began laughing and crying at the same time. I said to her, “Where is the key? Child, I am not going to be angry with you for telling me the truth.” In sobs, she said that she was afraid I would be mad at her. She explained that she always gets scared that she is going to forget something when her Dad arrives to get her on Fridays. So she grabbed the key on the way out the door. And she put it somewhere at his house, and she’s not quite sure where.

I cannot explain how much of a relief this was. I felt the hours of anxiety just drain away. Thank God I am not losing my mind. However, I also realized that I now had a different problem. I had to address the lie.

People lie for two reasons – to protect themselves or to protect someone else. Often there are very good intentions behind lies. However, I cannot tolerate them. Lies have caused the deepest wounds that I have endured in my life. It is one of my top priorities as a parent to teach my child the importance of being truthful and honest.

So I take a glass out of the cabinet and I ask her to hold it with an outstretched arm. I ask her how much it weighs. It’s pretty light. Then I say, “How heavy would it feel if you had to hold it like that for an hour?” It would get very uncomfortable she says. Yes. That’s what lies are like – an uncomfortable burden that you carry around. No one is perfect. We all make mistakes every day. But when you lie about it, you’ve just made two mistakes. Unburden yourself, I tell her. Live by truth.

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

© Vulnerable Path, 2015


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Everyday ceremony

Something extra special happened to me this New Year’s holiday.  I was able to spend it with my daughter.  That might not seem like a big deal to you.  But it was for me.  In the four years since my divorce, she has always spent the week between Christmas and New Year’s with her Father.  She wanted this year to be different.  She was not interested in spending a whole week with him.  Ah, welcome to the teen years!  Well, I’ll take her any way I can get her!

To honor this occasion, I wanted to celebrate the New Year in a unique way.  I thought about taking her to one of the many events we had going on in our community.  There are beautiful light displays, sweet treat festivals, concerts, and fireworks.  Yet, neither of us was very motivated to leave our nice, warm house.

Then inspiration came to me!  During a break from my cleaning frenzy last Tuesday, I sat down to scroll through Facebook.  I follow Elizabeth Gilbert.  She is the author of one of my favorite books, Eat, Pray, Love.  She spent several months in 2014 as a speaker on Oprah’s The Life You Want Tour (YouTube it!)  She posts inspirational messages and stories everyday in her funny, down-to-earth style.

On December 30th, she posted about making her own ceremonies.  She describes several that she has made up and carried out.  I thought this was so simple, yet so genius.  I should know plenty about ceremonies.  Girl Scouting is full of ceremony.  Miriam-Webster defines a ceremony as “a formal act or event that is a part of a social or religious occasion.”  Ceremonies can elevate the everyday to the sacred.  And why shouldn’t we do that?  It is often the everyday moments that we come to cherish the most.

Gilbert described this ceremony:  “One year, I got some friends together and we made bird feeders out of pinecones rolled in peanut butter and birdseed, but before we put the birdseed on the pinecones, we swished the birdseed around on pieces of paper that had all our wishes written on them, so the birds would eat our wishes and fly them up into heaven.”   Perfect!  I had a plan.

During the cleaning frenzy, we had taken down the Christmas tree.  Instead of putting it on the curb for the garbage men, we propped it up on our deck, hoping the birds would enjoy it for the winter.  Now we could have a ceremony AND decorate the tree for the birds.

The next morning, I took a plastic shopping bag with me on my way to yoga class.  I knew there were big pine trees outside the studio.  I collected some beautiful pine cones.  Then I stopped at the grocery store for bird seed and peanut butter.  I warned my daughter that I had something special for us to do on New Year’s morning.  But I didn’t tell her exactly what.  We did not leave our nice, warm house that night.  I made a potful of seafood chowder.  We watched a few movies on TV, and we napped in our favorite chairs until right before the ball dropped.

wishes_editedWhen she stumbled out of bed on New Year’s morning, I explained the ceremony to her.  She liked the idea, but wasn’t sure what to wish for.  She settled on a wish for a “great rest of the school year.”  Being at an unfair advantage, I had put a little more thought into my wishes.

It was a fun and messy project.  We covered the table with newspaper.  We had peanut butter, pine sap, and birdseed everywhere.  I tied twine loops onto each pine cone while my daughter gooped them up with peanut butter.  Then we rolled them in the seeds.  I used seed that contained hot pepper flakes; this will supposedly deter the squirrels.  I think these will be the best tasting wishes the birds have ever eaten!

 

 

pinecone_collageI’m not sure how much my daughter really appreciated the ceremony.  It was a fun craft project for her.  To me, it was so much more.  It was a moment to share between just the two of us.  It was an opportunity to raise to sacred the first day of a new year — a year with no bumps or bruises yet.  A year awaiting us with infinite possibilities.  Maybe someday she will look back and cherish that ceremony.  Maybe she will realize what Elizabeth Gilbert noted about family:  your family members are the greatest spiritual teachers of your life.  For better or for worse, there is something for us to learn from every moment with them.

© Vulnerable Path, 2015


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Reflections: looking back at the path

While everyone else is making resolutions, I decided to take some time to reflect on what I’ve learned on my journey this past year. This blog has been a major accomplishment for me. Not only a creative outlet, it’s also been a way for me to share my personal journey. It’s helped me to solidify my own feelings about the things I’ve been through, take responsibility for them (good or bad), and take action toward spiritual growth.

Reflections on acceptance: “There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.”

I discovered this quote from a Leonard Cohen lyric while reading Brene’ Brown’s book The Gifts of Imperfection. I used this quote in my very first blog post that you can read here. As many of my blog followers know, this was a life changing read for me. It provided confirmation of what I knew in my heart for a long time. That I am OK just as I am. I’m imperfect, and I am able to accept myself that way. My life has been full of cracks. I’ve made bad choices. I’ve allowed myself to fall into life’s pit of quicksand where I get stuck on stupid. I’ve been ashamed of many things I’ve done and of things that have happened to me. I bet you know the feeling; I am not alone in this! So this year I made up my mind to let the light shine on all my bumps and bruises and to use them to become a better person.

Reflections on failure: “Sometimes when things fall apart, that’s the big opportunity to change.”

My daughter watches a cartoon called Adventure Time. One of the characters is a dog named Jake who profoundly states, “Sucking at something is the first step to being sorta good at something.” The cartoon inspired me, and I have repeated that quote to my daughter many times during cross-country practice, or violin practice, or algebra homework. I’ve sucked at many things too, especially in my relationships. Some of these failures have been catastrophic. Like a nuclear bomb going off, my life has been leveled by heartbreak. Yet somehow I found the hope and the strength to dust myself off. I wrote about how acknowledging failure is the first step to healing in a blog post you can read here. Pema Chodron points out in her book When Things Fall Apart that our tough times are there to help us grow.  This is a constant in life. It can apply to any struggle. Sometimes we need to lean into our pain in order to get closer to our truth, which brings me to my next point.

Reflections on vulnerability: “The most courageous thing we can do is allow ourselves to be vulnerable.”

In yoga class we practice poses called heart openers. These are particularly good exercises for me because they force me to put my shoulders where they belong: back and down. I carry all my stress in my shoulders and neck. The muscles in this area of my body always seem to be contracted.  I’m like a cat who’s just been surprised, walking around with my back scrunched up.  I am always working to correct my posture and focusing on ways to soften and relax.  This contractedness is a physical manifestation of what I have felt emotionally many times. I put the guard up when I’m afraid. It seems natural. When we have a bad experience, we want to protect ourselves from having that happen again. So we set limits with ourselves and with others. But the truth is, we need to do just the opposite. We need to open our hearts. Vulnerability isn’t a topic I’ve written a specific blog post about, but it’s a theme that runs through everything here. We have to be brave to conquer our fears, brave enough to be vulnerable. Because otherwise we are blocking ourselves off from our future happiness. In order to love and be loved, we must take a chance on possibly getting hurt – again. In order to accomplish new things and express ourselves creatively, we must risk being judged.

So I will set forth into 2015 with these reflections in mind. To accept myself, to embrace my failures and take them as opportunities for change, and to open my heart to my own future happiness. May our journeys be blessed in the New Year!

© Vulnerable Path, 2014


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Intention: Simplify

There is a woman that lives on my street who I see walking to and from the bus stop every day. I see her in any kind of weather – the most sweltering days of summer and the most brutal days of winter. She rides the bus to her job at our local big box department store, where I have seen her several times. I don’t know her name, and I’ve never met her. But I envy her.

It seems to me that she has a simple life. And sometimes I wish my own life were this simple. She doesn’t drive and, as far as I know, doesn’t own a car. And yet it appears that she is managing just fine. Wouldn’t that be great? No car payment, no insurance payment, no gas bill, no repairs. Ah, such a relief!

The grass is looking greener to me right now because my own vehicle has broken down once again. I just had it in the shop a week ago for a few minor repairs that cost me $350.00. One week later, I’m calling my auto club to request a tow truck. And this time, it isn’t something minor. With more than 227,000 miles on my Subaru, I’m faced with the prospect of having to replace it. Bus fare looks like a much more affordable alternative.

In suburban areas of the US, we are a society that has become dependent on private transportation. Owning a vehicle has become a necessity, rather than a luxury. I consider myself very fortunate to have driven this car for 13 years. There are not many people who can say that. I certainly got my money’s worth.

But let’s face it, I’ve gotten myself into a dilemma. I haven’t planned for a way to replace it. There’s no room in my current budget for the expenses of a new car.  I’ve carried on for years, spending money that should have been saved for a moment just like this.  I admit I’m a terrible saver.  Like many Americans, I happily ignored my impending problem and have lived beyond my means.  I have some tough decisions to make.

I keep thinking about why I need all this stuff.  How did I become this person who NEEDS cable, phone, Internet, cellular service, rent, gas, electric, water, insurance, garbage removal, lawn service, gym memberships, salon services, clothing, clothing, clothing, food, food, food!  Are all of these things really critical to my quality of life?  I have begun to question almost every purchase I make. I think 2015 is going to be a year for re-prioritizing — how I use my money and my time.

I started this blog as a creative outlet, but also as a way to bring my attention to things in my life that I wanted and needed to change.  To go on this spiritual journey, I have to shine the light on all areas of my life that need work.  I’ve shared stories here about the emotional heartaches that I’ve gone through and how I’ve overcome them.  I’ve blogged about setting intentions to focus on my physical, mental, and emotional health.  Looks like it’s time to also add financial health to that list of intentions.

With all these things on my mind, I knew it was time for some Kitchen Therapy!  Christmas is a few days away, and it’s a great time to make some sweet treats to give as gifts.

Kitchen Therapy:  Session Five

cookie_collageSometimes it’s OK to be a cheater.  At least when it comes to cooking!  Today I took some easy short cuts to make two traditional holiday cookies.  Thanks to ready-to-use cookie dough, I made Christmas cut-outs and peanut butter blossoms.  The sugar cookie dough was packaged in sheets.  Just cut, bake, decorate.  We have a collection of antique cookie cutters that were my Grandmother’s.  I love to get them out at the holidays.  A few more modern ones mix in.  I’m not the most creative cookie decorator — egg wash and sanding sugar are good enough for me.

I tried a new twist on the peanut butter blossoms.  As they came out of the oven, I topped each cookie with a mini Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup instead of a Hershey Kiss.  So yummy!  Trouble is, the chocolate softens on the warm cookies.  My trick is to put the cookies in the refrigerator for a few minutes to re-harden the chocolate.  Once cooled, you can pack them into containers.

I did not cheat on making these coconut confections!  I absolutely love coconut, but this recipe took some muscle.  It used two cups of confectioners sugar, four cups of unsweetened, finely shredded coconut, and one 14oz. can of sweetened, condensed milk.  I mixed by hand.  Then divided the mixture into two equal parts.  I used red food coloring to dye one part.  Mixing the color thoroughly was a lot of work!  Using a 9 inch square pan lined with non-stick foil, I pressed the red layer down into the pan first.  Then topped it off with the white layer.  It firmed up in the fridge.  Cutting was easy with a wet knife.

dipped_collageEverything is better with chocolate.  So it seemed fair to soothe my spirit with a little melted Ghirardelli today.  I cut a small slit into each dried apricot, then slipped a whole roasted, salted almond inside.  I melted 60% cocoa chips in a glass bowl in the microwave.  Only about 20 seconds at a time, then stirred to melt the chips.  I dipped half of each apricot into the chocolate and placed them on parchment paper to harden.  Can’t let any chocolate go to waste, so I used up the leftovers on marshmallows.

These little gems make great hostess gifts or a nice addition to a Christmas cookie tray.  I packaged up small portions in plastic wrap and Christmas themed cardboard boxes.

I didn’t come up with a solution to my car dilemma, but I enjoyed getting lost in the kitchen for a while.  Somehow I also managed to finish most of my gift wrapping.  I think I’m almost ready for the holiday to arrive.  I know I’m ready for some peace and simplicity to arrive!

Merry Christmas!

© Vulnerable Path, 2014


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And there sat Mary

I left my office last Friday night after our office Christmas party.  It was dark, windy, and a cold 36 degrees outside.  And while I would have preferred to go straight home, I had one more errand to run.  As I pulled into the parking lot at the Post Office, I saw her sitting on a bench by the flag pole.  She was tucked into a sleeping bag, zipped up to her neck.  She had a knit cap pulled down over her ears, and she looked like she was settled in for the night.

My office is in a suburban area, with lots of retail shopping malls nearby.  It’s not the kind of place where you would expect to see a homeless woman.  But Mary is no stranger to this neighborhood.  I’ve seen her on some early mornings, camped out in a concrete corner between stores, still bundled into her sleeping bag.

One day I saw her sitting in a local eatery.  She was by herself in a booth.  There was a coffee cup on her table and dozens of sugar packets ripped open and piled into a mound in front of her.  I couldn’t help but wonder if that was all she had to eat that day.  I asked one of the employees about her.  The clerk said that she comes in often and never bothers anyone.  I paid for a gift card and asked the clerk to give it to her.

But on this particularly cold night, only weeks before Christmas, the site of her on that bench just broke my heart.  We have many shelters close by, including one run by the county Conference of Churches that will not turn anyone away between November and April.  I would have gladly given her a ride.  Or bought her another meal.  Yet I hesitated.  Not wanting to upset Mary or risk my own safety, I instead drove a few blocks to the police barracks.

Yes, the police officers are quite familiar with Mary.  Yes, many people have tried to help her.  But she refuses most help.  I was told that she prefers to sleep outdoors rather than go to a shelter; she feels safer by herself.  Sometimes, regardless of our many efforts, there are some souls we cannot help.

For many years I have been involved in volunteer efforts to help homeless and struggling families.  Through my employer, we have provided Christmas gifts to families through the Conference of Churches and donated food and clothing to local shelters.  And I have involved my Girl Scouts in these activities so that they can become aware of what is often invisible to us, even in our own neighborhoods.

tree_editedYou can become involved too.  Call local shelters and ask what kinds of donations they could use.  Volunteer your time to assist these organizations.  Use your talents to help others.  These groups are often in need of legal, medical, or educational services for their clients.  Inquire about what you can do to make life permanently better for a homeless person, rather than just collecting or donating items.

In a way, I believe it was Mary who helped me that night.  My stress level had been rising to a crescendo all week long.  My schedule was packed.  When I crossed one thing off my list, I added another.  The car was in the shop, I fell up the steps at work and smashed my hand, and then came down with a cold the next day.  But so what?

I have a home to go to, and family that love me, and a job, and groceries, and all kinds of stuff that I could certainly do without.  Most of all, I have a healthy mind and a healthy body.  I am blessed in so many ways.  And Mary reminded me of that.

© Vulnerable Path, 2014


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Use Resources Wisely

What is our most precious resource?  Many would say it’s water, or clean air.  One might argue that it’s our farmland.  Some might say oil.  My daughter would say it’s the sun.  She is fascinated by science and found a You Tube video about what would happen if we lost our sun.  She has told me all about it more than once.  It’s scary stuff!  There is no doubt that all of these natural resources are very important to our well-being.

If you are familiar with the Girl Scout Law, you know that one of the commitments we make in the Law is to use resources wisely.  We teach our girls to care about this and take action by conserving water and paper, by not wasting food, and by practicing the guidelines of “Leave No Trace” when we spend time in the forest.

But there is one resource that’s been on my mind a lot lately.  It’s time.  No matter how hard we try, many of us find it very difficult to save time.  We certainly can’t slow it down.  It just keeps going like that Energizer Bunny.  The older we get, the more important time becomes to us.  As kids, we have no concept of it.  Oh, those were the days!  Now I find that it’s December, and another year is almost over, and I’m still wondering what happened to summer!?!?

I mull over the list of all the things I wish I had time to do.  Remember my earlier blog post when I talked about the “have to do” and “want to do” lists?  Now that it’s the holidays, those lists are longer than ever.  I have a Christmas shopping list with 15 people on it.  It’s important to me to wish everyone a Merry Christmas by giving them some sort of present.  There are cards to write out and send.  There are cookies to bake.  There are craft projects to finish.  There are charity events and volunteer activities to plan and attend.  There are additional responsibilities at work.  And all of that is on my “have to do” list!

What do I want to do, you ask?  I want to go for a run on the trail.  I don’t care how cold it is.  I want to go to a yoga class — at least once a week.  I want to begin a consistent home yoga practice.  I want to set time aside each day for meditation.  These things are on the “want to do” list.  But I think they are things that I NEED to do, just like eating a healthy diet every day, or getting enough sleep.  I am not taking care of myself if I am not creating time in each day for rest, play, calm, and stillness.

Two of Brene’ Brown’s Guideposts are:  Cultivating Play and Rest and Cultivating Calm and Stillness.  Reading her arguments for the importance of these elements in our lives validated what I knew in my heart.  But seeing them on the page also made me feel better about raising them up to the top my personal priority list.  If the things we “want to do” are stressing us out, maybe it’s time for an adjustment.  It’s OK to question whether or not the things on your list are actually adding joy and meaning to your life or simply overwhelming you.  Her advice?  Take something off the list; add “take a nap” instead!

Brown explains that some of us respond to anxiety by “over- functioning.”  Hello!  That’s my middle name!  These people will advise, rescue, take over, micromanage, and get into everything rather than look inward.  She points out that, “If we stop long enough to create a quiet emotional clearing, the truth of our lives will invariably catch up with us.”

I’m beyond this already.  I have the truth of my life nagging at me internally almost every minute of the day.  And I must heed to it soon.  I need time in each day to listen to that inner voice and nourish my soul.  The over-functioner in me needs to step aside.

So I am making “Time” my most important resource.  That’s my New Year’s resolution.  To use my time more wisely.  To make an effort to create space in my daily life for the things that will nourish my soul and to remove from the lists some things that just stress me out.  I am going to take some of that over-functioner’ s spirit and direct it at ways to cut down on the items on my lists.

But first, I’m going to take a nap.  Please, wish me luck!