Humans are full sensory beings and from the moment of our birth, we have access to sights, sounds, tastes, smells and feelings (emotional and physical). Babies explore the world with all they’ve got. Input is essential in order for them to grow into whole and complete adults. Sadly, some don’t- for many reasons which may have to do with the environment around them (people, places and things) and the inner choices (some unconscious) that they make about how the world is and what their place is in it. You will often see toes in little mouths, as favorite toys.
I was raised in a loving, nurturing, life enhancing family and community. Rarely did I feel limited in what I was capable of doing. Never was I told “You’ll never be…..do…..have….your dreams.” It was only later that I realized what an exception to the rule that was! I became a Type A, overachiever, co-dependent caregiver, determined to succeed at anything I did; sometimes at the cost of my health. I suppose I didn’t want to squander my parents’ faith in me or the gifts with which I had come into the world. I’ve seen that happen and I wonder why people do that.
Lately, I have been acutely aware of how often I ignored my environment, including my toes(: I sometimes sleepwalked through my days on auto pilot. I kept on keepin’ on. I wore costumes that were bright and colorful, over the top, determined to be the troubadour who painted on a smile when I sometimes felt a deep sadness. After all, I reasoned that I had not a whole lot to complain about in my life. That left me incomplete, not unlike that child I referenced in the opening paragraph. I repressed emotions in the service of being of service. In that mix was my chosen identity of peacemaker, Little Shirley Temple, tap-dancing for approval, people pleaser, Wonder Woman, and the list goes on~
In the midst of writing this, I received a call from my BFF Barb who I have known since we were 14. She said something profound. She often does. “Now that you aren’t afraid to say no, more people are saying yes to you.” What she meant was that for so long, I was fearful of turning down opportunities to teach, speak, write or counsel since I thought that my livelihood came only from those sources. What I have learned is that the ultimate Source of my sustenance is Spirit. We are in cahoots; a team.
As life would have it, the cardiac event continues to be a clarion call that has me mindful (rather than mind-full-to-overflowing) of everything I am doing. I move with Zen-like slowness of necessity, to catch my breath. When once I ‘grabbed a meal’, ‘hopped in the shower’, ‘ran here, there and everywhere,’ now I am conscious of my choices and actions. I don’t have the luxury of being on auto-pilot. I used to take pride in being a consummate multi-tasker; wearing it like a badge of honor. Now I shake my head in bewilderment about how I was able to keep so many plates spinning without dropping them. I no longer desire to be that woman; although she was part of my evolution. I honor what it took for her to become the me who is typing these words.
I ask the ‘Powers that Be’ for the ability and willingness to maintain self awareness without lapsing into self absorption.