It would be downright funny (if I weren’t in so much pain), that I received this week’s particular refresher life lesson on the heels of last week’s blog post “Your Quality of Life Is in Your Hands.”
Here’s the back story (pun intended). My husband has been going through multiple months of health challenges, including two emergency surgical procedures, the most recent of which occurred 10 days ago. It has been a stressful time for both of us. My energies have been stretched especially thin
- remaining on alert for any new symptoms he’s exhibiting,
- responding quickly to his unexpected medical and dental twists and turns,
- caring for him,
- supervising the builder in endless iterations of warranty service on our new home,
- establishing a professional presence in my new local community 1,700 miles from my former one,
- being accepted as an instructor by the Christopher Wren Association continuing adult education program of the College of William & Mary,
- being accepted as an instructor by the Williamsburg Area Learning Tree,
- exploring opportunities to be of service to the Hospice House & Support Care of Williamsburg in providing completely free services for individuals facing end-of-life and their families,
- serving the congregations of two spiritual communities,
- expanding the Reiki treatment and training aspects of my work in the world,
- preparing for and producing an unexpected radio interview and video,
- promoting the global launch of a colleague’s new online coaching program,
- collaborating with another colleague in beta testing a new coaching program for her clients,
along with the usual household errands, cooking, cleaning, litter scooping, cat feeding, etc., intermingled with insufficient sleep and meditation, compounded by too much of the sort of food that compromises the optimal functioning of a body, heart, mind and soul under extraordinary stress.
I thought as my husband continued to heal, I’d begin to feel less stressed. BUT, last Friday night, when I threw my back out simply by bending over to pick something up, it became clear the Universe had another plan—to stop me dead in my tracks and force me to rest, reflect, reconsider and relearn where and how I’m investing my energy and the ramifications of neglecting my own health and welfare for too many months.
It’s intriguing how many opportunities life provides to learn more deeply the core lessons that are uniquely our own. I’ve written, coached and spoken extensively on the insidious, debilitating, cumulative damage that results when we over-do (and under-be). Though one of my core affirmations is that I nurture, encourage and delight myself in healthy ways, it would appear I needed a refresher. Yet another opportunity to become even more mindful and consistent at demonstrating unconditional love, respect, curiosity, compassion and gratitude for myself mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually—which is where all such learning has to start. Charity must begin at home.
Even so, it took a couple more days for me to accurately assess the magnitude and full ramifications of the lesson I’d chosen for myself. (For being such a smart girl, sometimes I can be incredibly slow on the uptake.) My most excellent massage therapist, Laura Wells (no relation) pointed me in the direction of a chiropractor with Saturday hours. My first treatment by Chiropractor Dr. Daniel Roth of Williamsburg Neck & Back Center helped so much, I thought I was home free and would be fit as a fiddle by Monday.
Alas, that did not turn out to be the case. The damage to my body was months in the making; complete healing was going to take time. And so, after seeing Dr. Roth again on Monday, followed by an agonizing one-hour intensive massage on the compromised areas, I knew that my top priority for the week would have to be supporting and advancing my own healing. With an unexpected 12 or more hours of treatment on my calendar for the week—that also needed to be accompanied by copious rest, stretching and moist heat to manifest the desired result of returning me to full vitality—SOMETHING HAD TO GO.
After 30 minutes of crying, whining and self-pity (which, by the way, is fueled by fear, not by the love energy of responsible compassion), I remembered who I am and WHOSE I am: I’m a unique cocreative expression of the Divine. Behaving like a victim is a choice. However unconscious, I had been CHOOSING once again to set my feet firmly on the path to burnout by saying “yes” too often for fear that if I say no, I will be deemed “not enough” and be abandoned.
Just like that, I reclaimed my power, assessed my situation, determined what items on my list were essential and which could be released, notified the affected parties and breathed a sigh of relief. Ah, the joy of choosing differently.
Then I started to wonder, what if I didn’t say yes to so many commitments so quickly? What if I said, “maybe” instead? Bolder still, what if, when any aspect of my being was saying “no mas” I actually stood up, with no sense of guilt, and said “Thank you, but I’m unable to commit to that most excellent and worthy endeavor?” Might I avoid some of the back aches, lost sleep and overeating?
What if I really listened to what my body, mind, heart and soul are communicating to me in every moment and respected their intuitive guidance without the need for logical justification? Might I find myself more often enjoying a life of generous, effortless, gracious flow filled with meaningful relationships and endeavors characterized by faith, hope, prosperity, peace and joy?
You betcha! Note to self—stop, look, listen, behave accordingly. I’m grateful to have received the lesson again in the hopes that I might save even one of you the pain of relearning it again yourself.
PS: Is anyone surprised that when I woke up the morning after I said “no,” my back felt somewhat better? Not completely healed but, relieved of the inhuman burden of trying to do it all, I had rekindled hope, reclaimed my power and was finally well on the road to recovery.