Old rusty Sears Roebuck garden hose reel

amidst chaos – remember yourself

I’ve been on the receiving end of a lot of advice lately, so today I’m giving it back in kind: when all else fails…get back in touch with YOU. This might be the one best piece of advice I give myself when I start going in circles in my life, repeating patterns, hitting walls, or generally feeling scattered…

It’s easy to lose sight of ourselves when the days and weeks blur together as an endless cycle of events, schedules, meetings, appointments, phone calls, emails, Facebook updates, and running here and there. Days run into each other, tasks are overlooked, less important things (and sadly people) are pushed to the bottom of the list, and before long we realize that in the process we’ve gotten away from doing what makes us whole. We’ve industrialized ourselves; we’ve turned ourselves into machines that can only handle a certain amount of input and output. But the problem there is that when we start to get depleted from all the running back and forth, we don’t recharge our batteries and we end up with GIGO- in other words, “garbage in, garbage out.” And in addition to becoming less focused and inefficient, in the frenzied process of “doing” we forget to ask ourselves what we need to do in order to maintain balance and keep in touch with who we are inside.

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about what it means to listen to myself. I find that a lot of my time is spent figuring out what other people need, whether in my personal or professional life. And because of that, I often get so caught up in their needs that I overlook my own. Sometimes this goes on for a long period of time before I essentially wake up from it and realize I’ve been cheating myself. As the expression goes, “something’s got to give.”

I shouldn’t feel guilty about doing things for myself at times- none of us should. I shouldn’t feel like a “day is wasted” when I’m not running errands, or sitting in front of a computer catching up on proofs or emails. It was when I realized I felt guilty for not doing what I thought I “should” be doing yesterday, that I realized how important it was to actually go do what I wanted to do instead. So that’s exactly what I did.

I spent the day in Yellow Springs, enjoying the beauty of the first true Fall day… feeling the sunshine, watching my feet step carefully over the stones in Clifton Gorge, shooting pictures of anything I saw that I might want to revisit later. There was tea to drink, music to listen to, curry chicken and pesto grilled cheese to enjoy…and it was a completely fulfilling day. As the day went on and one hour drifted into the next, I slowly remembered the keys to my own personal peace that were there all along: camera + sunshine + no real agenda + good company = getting back to being me.

And getting back to you is the best thing you can do for yourself, and for everyone whose lives you touch every day. We owe it to our world to be our best selves, nothing less. So amidst the chaos and the daily demands, don’t forget about precious YOU.

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