Monthly Archives: October 2015
One of my favorite hymn refrains proclaims the beautiful words, “it is well with my soul”. Though often played at funerals, it seems that this posture is just as critical to the living as the dead. For me, it has taken time and intention to discover that which fills my soul.
As a younger person, most of my time and energy was consumed with being mom, keeping a household running and being an uber volunteer. In hindsight, it is easy to identify personal needs that were met in this volunteer role, but they had nothing to do with soul filling. Achievement desires, anxiety management, feelings of obligation and a desire to be important and make a difference were amongst the reasons that I poured so much of myself into these commitments.
And though some of the above goals were realized, my soul was not satisfied. I do not regret the time and energy spent there, because it was an important leg of a journey toward a more satisfying life. Learning what is life sucking rather than life giving is critical to begin the shift toward true peace and joy.
Last weekend I received a gift -the realization that after much hard work, I am well on my way to discovering that which fills my soul. It was at the end of a week away with part of our family. Time together was soul filling, to a point. After a little too much together time and the realization that the next two days would include times with four people in a small, intimate hotel room, I realized that I needed to figure out a way to recharge. As the rest of the family headed to a football game, I asked myself, “what can I do to fill my soul?”, for the next six hours.
It was a beautiful New England day, so I decided to jump onto the T and head somewhere that I had never been before. Cambridge, the home of Harvard University. First stop was a yoga studio where my body and spirit were renewed. Then a slow and thoughtful walk around a beautiful university campus followed by the discovery of a fun and delicious local eating place with a book in hand filled a few of these precious hours. Though the original thought was to take public transportation back to downtown Boston, the weather and something internal beckoned me to instead start walking the four miles back. I passed beautiful historical homes, an ethnic neighborhood, a financial district and crossed a beautiful bridge while gazing at a stunning cityscape. It was six hours well spent.
It has taken time and experimentation to discover the things that are truly life giving for me. A critical piece of this discovery required clearing away the things that had become burdensome and joy stealing. Some of the things that quench my heart thirst are writing, listening to authors tell their story, one on one time with my husband, the onbeing podcast, receiving communion, growing a few vegetables, reading, doing yoga, indie movies, meditation, walking and treading water with a friend. It is a gift to enjoy my own company as well as that of others.
Times of transition and passage often provide opportunities to explore and discover what it is that makes us soar. I imagine that when there is more time and space and less active parenting, a certain type of volunteering will be a part of my soul care. Those who face changes in job or career as well as one experiencing an empty nest are afforded new opportunities to discover what it is that gives life and contentment. It will look different for each of us.
Early this morning, I trekked to one of my least favorite bi-yearly events – dental check up. I have had the same dental hygienist for the twenty-four years that I have lived in this place. She has worked in this one office for over forty-seven years and has known no other lifestyle in her adult life. This was our last scheduled interaction as she is retiring at the end of the year. She became teary as we communicated around this topic and my words to her were, “I hope that you discover what you love to do outside of these walls”. Whatever walls you are contained within, I wish the same for you.
A note on my writing: I have had a few questions about how much I am writing these days. A lot more is the short answer. Currently, I am going back through old blogs, rewriting some, truly enjoying reading through and being reminded of my own journey, and considering putting many of them together in some book form. This may be a gift to myself and my children or something different. We shall see.
One friend asked me how I had accomplished making more time to write. As alluded to above, clearing out and making space to do this thing I love has been mindful and intentional. Changes in my husband’s schedule, the growing up of our daughters and getting rid of responsibilities that are not life giving have all been a part of making time and space for this.
The practical answer is that I put the hours that I desire to spend writing on my calendar. I treat it like a job. If I have something that I deem more important than writing on that day, I do my best to reschedule those hours another time during the week. When I am writing, I usually leave my cell phone in the house. It is currently a very part time job, but I am loving it.