Having a lot of down time over the summer allows me the opportunity to create margin in my schedule. Empty space invites reflection. I like journaling. There is something satisfying about capturing “this moment” in my life and being able to revisit it years later. I like documenting life lessons. I love the value of reflecting back to see how far I’ve grown. When we are little, we had a chart on the wall that marked how tall we are getting every year. Day to day observations make growth hard to notice. It is not until we look back over time that we see how we’ve changed. For me, journaling and blogging are my growth chart. I document what I have been pondering over the week and I also mark the life lessons I’ve learned over the year.
The One Year Blogging series this week is around the theme of Self. I selected four blogs that allowed me to take a second look.
1. My Secret Self: Bold til the Very End. This post explores the idea of being your “Secret Self”, who we need to become in order to take ourselves to the next level in our life. Letting our inner light shine to its full capacity makes us vulnerable to the backlash. Someone doesn’t like our light, it is too bright, or we need to turn it down to please others. It takes courage to be able to be our authentic self without apology. Growing into our best selves can be threatening to others and can open us up to their criticism. I’ve been on an aggressive reading program. I really like reading books of authors sharing their journey, transformation, and lessons learned. When I read some of the book reviews, the harshness made me cringe. The reader response was defensiveness against a perceived implied judgment. What I learned about my Self is that boldness requires vulnerability and vulnerability opens me up for backlash of people who don’t like my journey, transformation, or lessons learned. I guess that is why I have to continually challenge myself to be BOLD to the very end.
2. Love on Purpose: Gifts. I have a passion for simplicity. I love to purge and de-clutter to keep physical possessions to a minimum. I feel overwhelmed in a culture that accumulates more stuff with each passing day. Birthdays were once special because I had to wait to see if I got a gift that I really wanted. Nowadays, if I want it, I get it. There is no waiting, there is no anticipation. I don’t buy my out-of-state nieces birthday presents because they have enough toys and they quickly outgrow them. My one gift would be one on top of a big pile of other gifts. Instead, I contribute to their college education and give them the gift of compound interest. This gift is uncool for the first 18 years.
The art of gift giving is meant to reveal “I know you.” People are so busy that it is really challenging to really “know” loved ones. What I learned about my Self is that I don’t like to be wasteful. The challenge I have with gift-giving is that I have to invest my life energy to earn money to buy a present that someone doesn’t value. I withhold gift giving until I know for sure that this is something they really want. I didn’t buy my dad a generic tie for Father’s day this month. Instead, he got an Amazon gift card so he can enjoy shopping for what he really wants.
3. His & Hers: Her #2 Need is Conversation. I love a good talk. Time slips by so fast. My curiosity makes me want to go deeper to the underlying issue underneath the surface. In this post the two main pieces of wisdom are: “Conversation is the road to getting emotional needs fulfilled” and “Frequency of conversation leads to everyday problem-solving and conflict resolution.” What I learned about my Self is that I’m still challenged by the art of “not interrupting.” Allowing my husband the time to think in silence without distracting him with my follow-up question is a struggle. I’m still learning how to wait until he is ready. I’ve realized that when I don’t interfere with his thought process, he goes deeper. Staying in the receiving-mode allows us to have great conversation I would normally be too impatient to wait for.
4. Drawing the Line: Boundaries with my Self (#2). Ever since I started the blog series about Boundaries I notice them more. What I see is the “disease to please,” which leads to discontentment because our own needs are sacrificed. There also seems to be a fear of the word “no.” I pay close attention to how people receive this answer. It tells me that their “request” was really a demand and they expected compliance. Their response shows me if I will receive consequences for protecting my boundaries (by not over-committing). What I learned about my Self is that I would rather someone say no, so I can move on, then a fake yes that they begrudgingly give. I am a planner and I expect people to commit to their “yes.” The soft “no” has turned into the phrase, “that doesn’t work for me.” I find myself saying this when the conditions of someone’s request will make me feel resentment later. Sometimes I counter-offer the request with what I’m willing to give. This becomes the other person’s choice of whether to accept what I’m whole-heartedly willing to offer. The bite-size piece of wisdom is: “if you don’t have the freedom to say no, then you don’t have the freedom to say yes.”
The One Year of Blogging series has provided an opportunity to take a second look. The childhood chart that marks how tall we are getting is out-dated for us now. As adults, maybe we need to mark our growth not by how physically we vertically stretch, but by our willingness to dive deeper within ourselves. Our new growth chart needs to be a depth finder. We need to chart our ability to explore what is underneath the surface in search of our true Self. One that is boldly authentic.
We may not see changes day-to-day. Documenting our progress allows us to see the bigger picture of lessons we’ve learned over time. We will be able to see the continuous evolution of our transformation. Creating margin in my schedule over the summer allows me the time to get to know my Self along My Journey to a Fulfilled Life.
Simple Life Together (podcast)