Recently I traveled out of state with my husband for a work conference. One night as we were about to head out to an event, I realized that the tags on one of my new shirts was bothering me. I needed to fix it or it was going to drive me bananas all evening.
Since I hadn’t packed any scissors, I thought I would just rip the tag off - but, I couldn’t. The tag was too strong to rip so easily.
So, I took out my trusty sharp tweezers and started pulling the tag out by releasing some of the stitches. Like magic, that tag started to fray and fall apart in just a few moments.
All it needed was to just be weakened a bit.
As we stood waiting for the elevator, I realized that we are all just like that tag.
Usually we are strong and can withstand the things that get thrown our way.
But, it’s those little blows that start to weaken us.
It’s those little hurts that make our own edges start to fray.
It’s those small pains that break us down.
It’s one small thing after another until eventually we can’t withstand the big stuff anymore and we fall apart completely.
So, maybe it's time to take stock of our lives right now.
What are the little things that are weakening you?
What are the little things that are fraying your edges?
What small changes can you make to prevent life's sharp tweezers from pulling at your final thread?
I’m not sure how it happened but here I am about to celebrate my 43rd birthday. While I certainly haven’t figured out all of life’s secrets, I have learned my fair share of important lessons, leaving me feeling much more balanced, fulfilled, and hopeful today than I have ever felt as I approached any of my other birthdays.
So, in honor of my 43rd birthday, I give you 44 (1 for each year plus 1 for good luck) of the most important lessons I’ve learned so far:
In no particular order:
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Last week I overheard someone telling a friend that they have a “surprise day off tomorrow.” Apparently they requested the day off from work a while ago but can’t remember why. So, it’s just a surprise day for themselves.
A blank day in their daily planner.
It got me thinking about how we all could benefit from a surprise day off from whatever stressors and responsibilities are filling our days right now. So, why not make it happen?
I can already hear you starting to list a million reasons why not to make it happen but what about all the reasons to try to make it a reality?
Take some time and pick a day on the calendar that looks at least sort of open and schedule yourself off from whatever you are typically doing. Go ahead and label it “surprise day off.” Give yourself a blank page in your agenda that day. Don’t fill it with work or chores or caring for others. Leave it open for yourself.
Maybe you could go for a long drive alone.
Maybe you could have lunch with a friend.
Maybe you could sleep in.
Maybe you could do something that you find fun.
It doesn’t matter as long as it is something for you.
And if you can’t swing a whole day off, aim for a half-day or even an hour. Just schedule some time off — even if it takes 6 months to make it happen. Go make it happen. Ask for help from your support network if you need help with covering your responsibilities. Maybe you could even offer to cover for them on their own surprise day off!
I promise you that when that “surprise day off” comes around, you’ll be so glad you scheduled it for yourself.
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Last night I lost it.
I was too tired because I didn’t sleep enough.
I was too hungry because I didn’t eat enough.
I was too sore after an injury because I didn’t rest enough.
I hadn’t done enough.
And so, I wasn’t enough.
I wasn’t patient enough.
I wasn’t understanding enough.
I wasn’t trusting enough.
I lost it.
Tears over nothing.
Tears over everything.
It may have seemed like it came from nowhere but it came from everywhere.
That’s what happens when we don’t give ourselves enough.
And the truth is, when we don’t give ourselves enough, we aren’t able to give anyone else enough.
Don’t forget to focus on doing enough for yourself.
Sometimes that might mean you need to focus on doing less for others.
Find the space between selfishness and selflessness and live there.
Give yourself enough so you can be enough.
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This weekend I didn’t want to go anywhere.
I turned down invites from friends and turned inward instead.
I sat on my couch, wrapped in my soft blanket and just felt my feelings.
I laughed. I cried. I sat in silence. I binge watched a new series. I drank homemade margaritas and let myself eat extra toasty cheez-its.
I didn’t count calories, worry about miles on my spin bike, or focus on the number on the scale.
I let myself be loved and seen and let myself just be in the moment.
I just lived in the moment and let myself be.
And by the end of the weekend, my spirits had lifted and I felt freed from the heaviness that had weighed me down.
I was able to peel off the blanket and step back into the world, refreshed and hopeful.
If you need to take some time to stop and just be, do it.
Find a way to let go of the things weighing you down at least for a few moments.
The scale can wait.
The gym can wait.
The dishes can wait.
The vacuuming can wait.
But how much longer can you wait?
The other day I fell into a sinkhole. Again.
You know the kind of sinkhole I’m talking about - the metaphorical kind. The kind that opens up and drags you under, disrupting your life - usually without warning.
This same stupid sinkhole has plagued me for years now. Each time it gets patched up, the fix only lasts for a short while before it becomes dangerous again.
Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about the sinkhole.
I’ve learned what causes sinkholes and how you can try to decrease your chances of encountering them.
I’ve learned how to add supports and reinforcements to reduce the risk of falling into the sinkhole.
I’ve learned to make the sinkhole more stable so that I could more safely move near it.
I’ve learned how to calmly drag myself out of the sinkhole each time it swallows me whole.
I’ve learned to minimize the toll the sinkhole has on my life.
I’ve learned to normalize sinkholes - afterall, we all hit sinkholes sometimes.
But, the other day I fell in it again. My reinforcements hadn’t worked, minimizing it hadn’t worked, normalizing it hadn’t worked. Nothing had worked.
There I was again - inside the sinkhole. I was powerless and defeated - again.
When people tried to help me out of the sinkhole, I yelled at them to go away, or I ignored them, or I begged for them to tell me it was ok to be a mess because I was back in the effing sinkhole again.
And then my child fell in behind me.
Of course he did.
It was only a matter of time before this happened. Afterall, he’s watched me and this sinkhole for most of his life. If I couldn’t avoid it then how could I expect him to avoid it.
That’s when it hit me.
I needed to be done with this sinkhole.
Like, completely done.
I’ve tried everything to keep the sinkhole from being a looming force in my life. Everything except one thing. I have never decided to stop letting the sinkhole be in my life.
I COULD make the one choice I hadn’t yet given myself permission to make.
There are always other routes we can take to get where we need to go.
Maybe those routes will take us longer to get where we are going.
Maybe those routes won’t make sense to those people who have never fallen into the sinkhole or who can’t imagine that particular sinkhole being so bad.
Maybe we’ll be judged harshly and criticized for my decision to take a new route.
But, the truth in life is that there will always be criticism. There will always be people who don’t understand us. There will always be people who disagree with us.
There will always be sinkholes.
When the sinkholes become too big, too scary, and too damaging we CAN take away their power in our life.
We CAN stop allowing them to dictate how our journey goes.
We CAN stop allowing them to wreak havoc in our life.
It was time to do it.
So, together my child and I pulled ourselves out of the sinkhole and decided to drive away.
One last time.
We didn’t look back.
Now, more than ever, we all need a little support to help get us through the rough spots. With all the pressures of life, it can be a challenge to find time to not only take care of yourself but also to truly understand who you even are anymore.