I thought Month Two (expressing love to myself in the mirror) was challenging, but it was nothing compared to the fourth month of Cheryl Richardson’s recipe for Extreme Self-Care outlined in her book,
During the month just past, we were to sit quietly and ask ourselves,
What one routine could I put in place this month that would improve my life the most?
And then I proceeded to get so busy that I didn’t have time to ask myself the question, let alone improve my life.
I had commit myself to an event in the middle of July that required much more of me than I had anticipated. Everything else fell to the wayside as I scrambled to do what I had said I would do.
(Hmmm, my choice of the word ‘commit’ is telling – I do have a tendency to over-commit which results in an insane schedule which has me wishing for pristine white coats in a soft-walled room in a nice, quiet asylum.)
When I finally did sit down to ask myself Cheryl’s suggested question, all I got was static.
The event took place, the following week was spent mopping up whatever had fallen to the wayside while I was doing my Crazy Woman Routine, and then we left town for our annual holiday in Naramata.
As I sat in my morning Mosaic Class, playing around with bits of colored glass, a couple of things popped into my head.
First were my midwife’s words of wisdom – women birth the way they live. I reflected on the birth of my first child and my almost uncontrollable desire to push before my body, or my son, were ready. Sixteen years later I still have a tendency to push myself to do more, sooner than is good for me (or the people around me). And to make things much harder than they need to be.
An interesting insight, but not necessarily helpful.
A couple of days later, frustrated that one of my pieces had not worked out the way I had envisioned, another quote I had read somewhere bloomed in my mind:
How we do anything is how we do everything.
This was an AHA moment at it’s finest.
The pieces of glass in a mosaic are important – they are what make the design – but the space between the shards is just as important. That is where the grout goes. It is the background that holds everything together. It is what unifies the piece. And makes it whole.
As I studied my unsatisfactory mosaic, I realized I had not left adequate space for the grout. I was so focused on the image I wanted to create that I crowded the individual pieces of glass too closely together.
Every work of art (including a life) needs empty space: there are rests in music, negative space in a painting . . .
and ‘be-ing’ time in order to balance all the ‘do-ing.’
How you do anything is how you do everything.
I cram so much glass into my mosaic that there’s no room for the grout.
I cram so much into my life that there is no space to breathe.
Interesting, that the thing I offered to others in my class this spring was the very thing that I am (so far) unable to give myself.
Which reminded me of another gem I’d heard:
We teach what we most need to learn.
It’s not a coincidence that what I offered other women – a respite from their busy lives – was the very thing I needed myself.
So, Cheryl, in answer to your question, the one thing I can do that would improve my life the most is not so much a routine as a way of being. Now that the static has cleared, the answer that reveals itself is:
Leave space to breathe.
Those last two words travel with a catchy tune I’m sure you’re all familiar with.