Too much of a good thing isn't always a good thing. In my case, I am the antithesis of the Grinch. I recall he had a heart two sizes too small. My affliction is a heart that is two sizes too large.
I am ending several major chapters in my life's book, and dealing with those pesky, painful and occasional panicked moments that go along with it. You know, the kind of pain that goes so deep that one can actually feel physical pain right there in the heart itself.
Life doesn't stop when our hearts are dying; it only ends when our hearts stop beating. Sadly, many of us are swept into that abyss of simply existing. Some of us have forgotten how to live. Others have given up on being happy.
Either way, if love makes the world go around, then why are so many of us living without it?
There has been much talk in recent years about the power of the mind/body/soul connection in reference to health and happiness, two essential ingredients that are part of the tried and true recipe of living. Did you ever notice that if the mind/body/soul connection is broken in any way, we would no longer exist as we do today?
Think about it, a mind and soul without a body, a mind and body without a soul or a body and soul without a mind? We would be incomplete, fractured, and tortured beings.
But sometimes we find ourselves weak in one area or another, and if we don’t take the step to strengthen that equal third of our existence, it will eventually sort of fade into the background. It will no longer be a priority anymore and, as a result, we will no longer be in balance.
No, I’m not talking about a healthy balance strictly in the physical or psychological sense. However, I am highlighting the often overlooked spiritual sense.
I have found and continue to find that my own spiritual balance is what ultimately sustains me. Specifically, I am referring to whatever your individual spiritual needs require, from to religion to art to relationships. And most importantly, I want to discuss some of those classic stumbling blocks that somehow continue to keep many of us from truly knowing and loving ourselves.
My personal journey jump-started by spending a month in the hospital after being diagnosed with Rheumatic Fever as a child. Ironically, my heart was three times its normal size when I was admitted. After I came home, life was never the same for me again.
While I’m certainly not suggesting that my spiritual heart had been affected by the illness attacking my physical heart, the events that followed have found me having to rebuild strength in both areas, and that has validated my belief that whatever hand we are dealt, one has to choose to play it well.
With my marriage on the rocks, my son getting ready to begin his adult life, and my health in a state of flux, my heart sometimes feels like it is dying, but it’s something even worse than that. Instead of dying, it has been walled over with bricks and mortar. I can’t always get to it, and neither can other people, until I start taking that wall down.
Don’t get me wrong, I am thrilled for my son; he has a bright future in front of him and I am confident that he will be just fine out there on his own. After all, I’ve always felt that our children are on loan to us anyway.
It’s our job to prepare them to be ready to leave us and take the next step in their young adult lives without our help, but oh, how we miss them!
I mention it, only, because it is simply another change, another ending of a chapter in my life, another unknown. And when nearly every essential aspect of my life began changing all at once, I have felt very lost, and sometimes fearful. It is as though the tapestry of my life is lifted out from under me, and while I recognize where I have landed, I have lost much of my focus.
The sky is cloudy, the water is murky and the fog settles in, and suddenly, one is fearful. The fear of the unknown covers me like a wet blanket on a chilly night. Sometimes, the pain settles in deep in the bones.
I decided that I did not want to be become bitter about my life; I’ve had a wonderful ride thus far, and I wouldn’t appreciate the many blessings I have received if I dwelled on old hurts; growing pains serve their purpose only if we can learn from them and then leave them behind.
Instead, I have made a Do Me List. Unlike the popular bucket list (and yes, I have one of those, too!), the Do Me List, includes aspects of life that I want to add to or continue in my life, versus a once-and-done event to cross off on a bucket list.
1. Find a greater understanding of my higher power: My experience with organized religion has been a mixed bag, the contents of which have ranged from extreme joy to devastating pain. Right now, the Lord and I have an understanding about that. However, there are other options that I am exploring to reconnect with my spiritual side. Writing nurtures my spirit, so here I am.
2. Love myself: It sounds cliché’, but if you are deep in the murky mire of self-esteem issues, or just find yourself doing all the giving, you may want to start giving yourself a break. You can start by taking care of yourself so you can enjoy life.
3. Mama, start thinking about getting a brand new bag: I am starting with a new cut and color, and an overhaul of my wardrobe. Whatever you choose, make sure it is something you have wanted to do for yourself for awhile, even if you have to budget for it. You’re worth it!
4. Create my own personal space to do what it is I enjoy: Crank up the air conditioning and start cleaning and decorating this space to accommodate your needs. As a writer, I need a quiet, comfortable and private place to gather my thoughts.
5. The Golden Rule: Give from your heart and treat others the way you want to be treated. What goes around comes around, and I have found a special kind of joy in making others happy. It’s like giving a gift to you!
6. Create a more realistic schedule: I have found that it is time for me to slow down a little bit. I don’t multi-task like I used to, nor can I run on empty nearly as long. Some days I feel as though I can’t even walk and chew gum at the same time. But it feels much better to have less on my to-do list each day than it does to have a long list that I can’t even begin to finish. Work within reasonable expectations and you won’t feel disappointed in yourself.
7. RELAX: This is, by far, the most difficult goal for me to attain, but I’ve decided to make a better effort at reaching it. As a workaholic by nature, I was forced to slow down when I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia ten years ago, but I still have difficulty relaxing. So I decided to commit to one day a week for some me time. A bubble bath, a massage, watching the sun rise while I drink my morning coffee, whatever helps me to de-stress.
8. Call my mother more often: I think this one is self-explanatory, yes?
9. Get back in contact with old friends: In an effort to find the ’me’ inside, I first have to peel off the layers of being someone’s wife, mother, daughter, etc. I can’t think of a better way to finding myself than going back to where I came from.
10. Live within my means: There is no greater peace of mind than knowing your bills are paid on time, the household is well stocked, and you are saving for something special instead of blowing up your credit cards.
That’s my Do Me List, for now, of course. I expect that as the months and years go by, it will change, and hopefully reflect some personal growth as certain goals are accomplished and new ones are added.
However, there is no specific schedule, no annual update and definitely no New Year’s Resolutions. The restraints of such always seem to set one up for failure. The pressure of committing oneself to a time-frame usually proves too much to bear for very long.
No, I think I will just Do Me, and see where that road leads. It might just be the best journey I have ever taken.