Saturday, March 28, 2009

What Keeps Me Steady

Michelle at When I Grow Up Coach has been Tweeting about Positivity Week, and while I wasn't able to commit to a full week of participation, I did want to contribute! Check out her great blog as well as Jeremie's blog, Sunday Night Success, for thought-provoking articles and more information on Positivity Week. Also, I would be remiss if I didn't mention that this was partially inspired by Colleen's post on taking umbrage.

Historically, I've been an all-or-nothing type of girl; either I'm thrilled and enthusiastic, or I'm Sylvia Plath's spiritual twin. You probably know someone like that. It's a very tiring way to live. At some point I decided it wasn't for me. So I studied what other people did, people who were able to remain calm, non-reactive, rational. Intelligent, kind, authentic [I hate the way that word is bandied about, but it's the only one that fits in this context] people, whose skin seemed to be much thicker than my own, which was more or less like waterlogged vellum. And I'll be honest: it helped me tremendously to be married to such a person (who also, rather conveniently, happens to have a whole lot of patience).

I've found, through observing others and through good old-fashioned trial and error, that there are six things that really help me move beyond my tendency to react. They are:

As much as possible, remaining an observer, not a reactor, to my feelings. It's a bit of a cliché, but feelings are, after all, just feelings. Like fear, they are meant to be a general roadmap, not a step-by-step instruction book. It's a mistake to rely on them. It's also a mistake to ignore them. Listen to them, but remember that context is everything.

Making time for devotion. My days are not the same without this component. When I make time for prayer, I'm more connected, more alive.

Stewardship. (Taking care of what I have.) If I can be trusted to take care of the little things, I can be trusted to take care of the big things. (There I go with that minutiae thing again.) Looking after what you've got, be it as small as one cat and a studio apartment or as large as a family of 8 and a business, is love in action. You'll see a difference in yourself and your life immediately. Seriously.

Being actively grateful for the good things in my life. Here is one way you might look at my current situation--these are all irrefutable facts: I was laid off in early February. We very much need to be a two-income family. When I read up on frugality, I realize that most of what the pros are suggesting in terms of cutting corners are things we've been doing for years--in other words, we really don't have many corners left.

You get the idea.

This is how I view my life as it currently exists: I no longer have to get up five days a week to spend 8-10 hours a day working at a job where I was miserable. Instead, I am spending my days with my son, doing crafts (I love that!), taking him to the park, teaching him things, laughing with him. I am getting my house in order (even the frighteningly-disorganized closets and pantry). I am improving my cooking and homemaking skills. I'm baking! (I love baking.) I spend several hours a day working on my freelance business, which has taken off in a way I can't quite believe just yet. I'm reconnecting with old friends. I'm meeting new friends. I'm getting to know my community better. Yes, our budget is tighter than ever. And I am so grateful.

Running a quick reality check. This goes hand-in-hand with the above, but is sort of in its own category as well. My family and I have a roof over our head, more than enough food on the table, clean water to drink and bathe with, more clothing than we really need, family nearby, amazing friends. We are healthy, resourceful, resilient, and we make our own fun. Most people on this planet are not so fortunate.

Making time to exercise. We all know the benefits of regular exercise, so I'll keep this one brief: when I make time to exercise, I am less of a psychotic [redacted]. (I like to think of it as a gift to the world at large.)

What about you? What keeps you going, keeps you steady, keeps you motivated and focused in the best way possible? I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments section.

Image via Shabby Chic.


Michelle | When I Grow Up said...

I love all the things that keep you steady, Emma, & aspire to some of them myself (exercise, gratitude, observation). I think the things that keep my steady are intangible ones - knowing I have an unbelievable net of support woven by my close friends & fantastic family; performing when I get the chance; singing when the mood strikes; moving forward with my dreams; acknowledging my wins & strengths; putting my plans into actions & seeing them take shape; staying true to myself & my values & priorities; remembering that there's so much positivity coming my way that I can't document it all!

Emma said...

I love your list, Michelle--my favorite is "sing when the mood strikes"! Amen to that. Thanks for sharing.