This past weekend, I walked into my daughter’s room and, before she had a chance to close it, I got an eyeful of her closet. From soccer paraphernalia (which she took a break from two seasons ago) and three-year-old school books & papers to loads of clothes at various stages of usage, her closet was overflowing.
My first thought was, “How can she find anything that she needs in there with all of that clutter?” It took every ounce of self-control for me to walk away and not begin to pull everything out of there to kick off the dreaded spring cleaning.
When I finally crafted the right question to ask about the closet (those of you with teenage girls know what I mean), her response was that her school work, club, and theatre group commitments kept her so busy that she hadn’t really noticed the mess.
It gave me pause. How many times is it like that for me?
I get wrapped up in juggling the balls of running a business, household, etc., and I don’t set aside time to assess the mounting chaos in my life, both internal and external.
The external is easier to identify mainly because it can be seen. You know, the heap of mail that has been sitting there for three weeks or the many piles of “stuff” on the kitchen counter, desk, floor…you name it. They are physical reminders that it’s time for a purge and tidy.
It doesn’t work that way internally.
We are such amazing creatures…our minds protect us from the pandemonium of a busy life. It can compartmentalize what we are facing so that we can care for the top of mind matters. Unfortunately, this often leads to unresolved areas that extend beyond a ‘to do’ list.
DO A SOUL CHECK
Women are managing more than any generation before us. We lead in the workplace in positions that demand more and more. We are the Chief Operating Officers of our homes, coordinating everyone’s meals, clothing, activities, academics, social calendars, etc. In our relationships with spouses and friends, we often are the shoulder to lean on and the listening ear. These demands are constant and, frequently, concurrent. We pour out to the point of running on fumes.
Does this sound familiar? Hence, the need for a soul check and soul care.
The soul is the part of us that processes our thoughts and emotions. Since our brains are adaptable and expandable, we can continue to pile it on yet not be aware of our personal capacity limits…that is until we hit rock bottom.
I don’t want to see that happen to you…or me!
DISCERN THE NOISE
There are many voices in the world. Each has significance. But you cannot respond to every one. Sift through the different responsibilities drawing on you. Think of ways to set boundaries to protect yourself from living your life to the edges. Ask yourself: “What is pulling at me right now?” Of each area, ask, “Is this a priority now in my life?” Then consider ways to put first the areas that are your greatest priority.
Y’all know that I’ve recommitted to my health this quarter. What that means for me is that I look for ways daily to make healthy choices in what I eat and find opportunities to move my body beyond my daily long walks with Apollo. At times, when I have new items on my plate for the day, I find that I just pile the additional stuff on top of everything else. Inevitably, the exercise time gets cut and I end up reaching for whatever I can get my hands on to eat.
Identifying the inputs helps me to reign that in. I can’t do everything. And sometimes things lower on the priority list will be left undone, as much as it pains me to accept. Or I just have to say, “No.” Instead of adding to the plate, I graciously decline the item. For a healthy soul, I am willing to do what needs to be done.
What can you politely refuse today?
DISCOVER YOUR HAPPY
Women today know how to work. We are working ALL THE TIME. We even encourage each other…Girl, work it! But I am not convinced that we know how to incorporate regular play in our lives. With very little margin, how can we find the time?
It doesn’t have to be a big thing like a girls trip to the Caribbean. (Although that definitely checks the fun box!) It is more about cultivating a "knowing" of yourself that uncovers areas that please you.
If you could do anything for pleasure, without time or money being a limitation, what would it be?
For me, it could be lounging with a good book or my journal…preferably on a beach with clear blue waters! 😉 It could also be cuddling with my family watching a movie that we all enjoy (or at least not complain about). Take me into an arts & crafts shop with paper of various stocks, the dual-brush Tombow pens, Sharpies in all colors, etc., and I am a happy woman. I am equally elated to walk into The Container Store, too.
I know my “happy.” Do you know yours?
Create a list of experiences, big and small, that make you happy. Daily…that is EVERYday…do something from that list...just for you.
About six years ago, I tried an Oprah-type exercise to write down five things that I was grateful for at the end of each day. I had lost my father the year before, had a toddler, was working full-time with a challenging group of students, and managing the household. I was always depleted. I didn’t have the patience that I once had with my family. I was regularly annoyed and took less care in my interactions with them. (A prime example of a soul that needed care!)
I knew that I needed to do something. I tried the gratitude journal. And it works!
Gratitude has been proven to be good for the soul. It reminds us of what really matters, makes our issues appear less intimidating and more solvable, and refocuses our attention on the good in our lives. It leads us to a point of contentment, a seemingly elusive state in today’s “not enough” culture.
Try being thankful on a regular basis…and express it. In a journal, like I did, or to the people in your life who you are grateful for. Allow gratitude to shift and realign your soul.
This season, do something for you. Do a spring cleaning of your soul. Do not allow the unresolved areas that are lodged within hamper your best self who's hiding under the dust.
Until next time…