I think that the more birthdays we celebrate, the more reflective we get. At least, this is true for me. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking this past week. Several things have crossed my path – things I’ve read, heard, or seen – and they have kicked my brain into gear.
First – the image/vision/concept/opinion other people have of me is not my responsibility. My first thought was “absolutely wrong!” – what others think of me depends on how I conduct myself. Then I started listening to others express opinions about other people. Some people only see what they want to see, most of us form opinions of others based on our past experiences, and few of us really take the opportunity to delve deep enough to learn about that person. Therefore, act with kindness – certainly towards others – but also toward myself and concern myself with presenting (in my opinion) the best version of myself.
Next – and this seems to be a recurring theme for me – is to decide that I am enough and worthy just as I am. I don’t have to wait for validation from others (see above). My hopes, dreams, and aspirations are just as important as yours. So why do I always push mine to the back? I think that sometimes we are taught to always put others before our own needs. I also know from experience that you can’t pour from an empty cup. Failure to fill one’s own cup severely limits your ability to give to others. What do you put off for yourself because you put everyone else first?
Newton’s Laws of Motion – seriously need to reboot on this one.
Change is inevitable and flexibility is essential. This one is not really related to my birthday – but it is floating around with these other thoughts. Our little church is getting a new pastor. We have been changing pastors annually for a while now for a variety of reasons. Most recently we had Pastor Dan – he is an inspiring teacher. He is also the father of a young family. He made the very difficult decision to leave the ministry for a time to focus on his family. Not only does he talk the talk – he really walks the talk. Some of our church members are pretty upset. I started thinking about how our lives are shaped by teachers (official and incidental). We spend 12 years of our childhood with a minimum of 12 different teachers – and for most of us – many more than that once we reach middle and high school. We are not given the choice – we just show up. That exposure to so many different teachers helped to shape our knowledge – we were treated to diverse opinions and teaching methods. Some good, some less – but all presented learning opportunities. Some churches have the same pastor for many years. While this may be comforting, it also leads to a very limited view and exposure to learning opportunities in many cases. Anyway – change and flexibility are key to not becoming stagnant.
After much thought, care consideration, and the daring decision to be bold about this – I have decided to gift myself with two things.
First – the decision to not worry about other’s opinion of me. I will work on improving my opinion of myself in regards to being the best version of me that I can be.
Second – I am gifting myself a “no” day once a week. One day each week, I will say no in order to say yes to myself. That day may change, likely be scheduled, and I will not feel guilty. (Might have to have that tattooed where I can see it!) Understand that this is not about people asking for help, volunteer commitments, or the like. I am not doing this to make others feel guilty about asking for help. I am doing this so I can be a better version of me. I can see and feel the effects of overextending myself. Perhaps you have experienced these symptoms? Things like not sleeping well, not exercising regularly, poor food choices, losing patience, neglecting activities that bring you joy…you get the picture. I get cranky, shaky (seriously – end up with shaky hands), and achy.
I am really disappointed in myself, and it’s hard to admit that I have almost quit any meaningful fitness activity. My weight is creeping up, my energy is at an all-time low, and the worst part is my attitude. I catch myself being very negative instead of positive and optimistic.
Actually, I am gifting myself three things. The third being a return to the basics of good health. Combining a recommitment to Noom with a recommitment to an exercise program that I know works. It will be hard – but it will be worth it – I am worth it. I will know that it is working by my energy levels and my attitude.
So, my dear family and friends – I am asking you to understand if I say no. It doesn’t mean I don’t love you dearly – I do. I want to be there for you 100% – and I want to be the best that I can – for me and for you. If you choose to feel hurt or neglected – remember that is your choice.
I would challenge each of you that reads this to do the same for yourself. Realize that in order to be there and serve others with your whole being, you have to be there for yourself first.
Love you all – and thank you for the gift of your friendship!