I find myself repeating a few different themes throughout my work and teachings. Know who you are. Know what you want. If you have those two things, or either of them, at least partially figured out, you’ll weather everything better. And that’s important. Because here we go again.
The tide is starting to turn. The possibility of seeing our families and communities in person dances tantalizingly in front of us. The warm weather is coming back – outdoor visits are an option again. The spring winds are blowing summer in, and summer brings explosive change – growth, heat, transformation. When the world changes, it’s easy to lose our grip and become overwhelmed or overloaded. We are, all of us, more emotionally and psychologically impacted by the pandemic than we consciously realize. This summer…might be rough.
So choose now.
Choose what you want.
Choose your priorities.
And then get ready to shelter them from these winds.
We’ve had a year away from our usual patterns. A year away from overwhelmed schedules, constant activities, travel, commuting (for some), certain kinds of work and service. We’ve had a year away from problematic members of our families and communities. We’ve had a year to learn different ways of doing things. Some of those new patterns might be better than what went before.
Sit with this: What do you want to keep? What are your priorities?
I learned I was overscheduled and exhausted. I learned how wonderful it is to be at home with my beloved partner with nothing on the agenda. I learned that I missed my community enough to end up in a deep depression that therapy and medication are doing their best to get me through. I learned that on bad days, digging in my garden helps a lot. As with all hard times, I learned a lot about myself and about my life.
So, what are my priorities?
My partner. I’m going to rope off and then vigorously defend off time. A blank in my schedule does not mean I am available. I have loved the additional time I got to spend with him one-on-one. Before the plague, we generally ran at 90 miles an hour from activity to activity. I am finished with that. I want to keep savoring us. I want to keep leaning in to the world when it’s just the two of us. I want to make the most of our time together.
My family. I lost my father over the winter and I could not be physically present with him during his final months. The injustice of that, the grief of losing him, and the rage I feel at the leaders whose irresponsibility caused the situation surrounding his death may never truly abate. The opportunity to physically be present with my living family is not something I plan to take for granted again. I took my blood family, and their presence, for granted. Never again.
My energy. I can’t do it all. I can’t carry it all. I tried and finally collapsed under the weight of it. I cannot be everything to everyone, and I am finished trying to be. I am going to ask for help more, share responsibility more. I have already begun and will continue to do so. If something requires me to completely sacrifice myself for it to exist, maybe there’s not enough of a need for it in this world.
My community. I discovered just how deep my roots extend into my community. The want of the company of my beloved ones nearly destroyed me. I had taken for granted the immense privilege of a community of like minds, the ability to gather to share experiences, tears, and laughter, the deep friendships that light my world like so many torches on the way to the fire circle. I know now how much community feeds me and sustains me. I know I need it far more than it needs me.
These are the things that bring me joy. These are the things that sustain me. These are the things that feed my spirit. These are my priorities, and the pandemic revealed them to me.
An onslaught is coming, a windstorm of requests on our time and energy. Choose now where your boundaries are. Choose what your priorities are. Be prepared to defend them. Be prepared to say no. Be prepared to turn down opportunities for more money/responsibility/standing. Remember what those cost, what life was like before. Root in to your personal sources of joy, strength, stability, and love.
When we have strong roots, no wind can blow us from our chosen path.
So, what are your priorities? What are you sheltering from the wind? Hit me up in the comments.
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