For the past month I have been on hiatus from my teaching job for the winter holidays. Typically, I enter the month of December feeling like I’ve been flattened on the interstate by a Mac Truck! But this year it was worse. The end of 2008 proved to be especially dark for me. I had no energy, felt deeply discouraged and depressed, and simply wanted to go to bed for a month. Spiritually I was overwhelmed and exhausted. Since I wasn’t working, I never left my house. Intuitively, I knew this was not a good state of affairs. I needed help and I needed it fast. I contacted my dear friend, Mary, an energy healer and asked her for some help. As always, she was able to help me to see the root of things. Sorrow over a break-up two long years ago still haunted me. In the depths of my heart, I’d lost hope that my life could ever change. As a generally hopeful and inspired person, it demoralized me to find myself in such a deep well of grief and sadness.
So, what did I do? After my session with Mary, I initiated some intensive internal work. I dove for the “pearls” I knew were inside of me. I began by slowly and carefully removing all my masks. Asking myself, who are you and who do you want to be, I started my work. I believe we all carry different archetypes inside of us, like the magical or wounded child, or perhaps, anger-girl (I know her well), studious-serious-chick, or doormat-woman who works like a dog. I contain all these and more! Last month, I started to delve into my inner life —the “shadow” side of my personality, as Carl Jung referred to it — and I was surprised by the amount of relief I felt. You cannot imagine how relieved I was when I started to embrace all of myself, instead of just the parts that I deemed to be “good” or “right” according to society’s standards. For years, I’ve tried to be perfect. (We all know how that works out!) In beginning this inner work, I developed some much needed compassion for myself, my choices, and the way that I have survived some pretty dicey and difficult stuff. I have done my job, paid my bills, and taken care of my business even from the depths of despair. I realized the need to express gratitude to my body, my mind and my spirit. I read the books “calling out” from my bookshelves; listened to music; bought myself a guitar; and ate a lot of chocolate! I took long languid baths and was continually reminded of my need to care for my life completely—with the kindness and sensitivity that I would give to others. And as I did this, those exhausted parts of me, the parts of me that I had disowned or disavowed, stepped forward and thanked me. I greeted the child inside, and remembered how she loved to draw, walk in sunlight, and eat red licorice. I found that if I truly listened to my life — really putting my ear to the ground of my being, I could clearly hear my intuitive voice. The realization hit me that in truly embracing all of myself, I would find the answers needed to make the changes I wanted to make. I found catharsis in the wholeness I discovered through this process.
In December I watched every Lifetime movie I could get my hands on, especially the cheesy Christmas romances. My favorites were “A Very Merry Daughter of the Bride” and “Undercover Christmas.” I laughed and I cried, watching “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “A Christmas Story.” I slept and I read, finally stemming the long-term exhaustion I had been experiencing. I decorated the house; played with my cats; and got in touch with the lovely simplicity of enjoying daily life. Imagine that!
I also had incredibly healing discussions with my closest friends and, of course, my mother. The reason I mention all of this, is that as women, we tend to put ourselves at the end of our “to do” lists. If (and that’s a big if) there’s time after everything else has been taken care of, then and only then, can we step up and take something for ourselves. I don’t know about you, but I can’t keep living like that. I need more balance. I want to feel a sense of serenity when I contemplate my life, not a sense of overwhelming doom!
On New Year’s Eve, I sat at home, drinking champagne and coloring a spirit mandala, like the one above. I thought long and hard about all the things I still want to accomplish and see flower in my life. As a result, I came up with the following ideas. My goals for the coming year are four-fold:
1. Take care of what’s important to Shavawn, first. In other words, my passion & play (writing, music, and creativity) comes before work, no matter how urgently work is thrown in my direction;
2. Take care of my spirit and my body—including plenty of rest, good nutrition, exercise, and time for my spiritual practice;
3. Take care of the “important stuff” in life: responsibilities, family, bills, obligations, things I have agreed to with a resounding “Yes!” from my heart;
4. And, finally, let go of the need to meet the expectations of other people. I have to live my life for me. I have to make my life mine, and only mine. What others think of me is none of my business. (This may horrify some of you, but, that’s OK!)
I am convinced that if I pursue these goals, I will be successful in all areas of my life.
Some of the reading that I did was truly transformational. The most helpful books include
· Living Your Unlived Life by Robert A. Johnson & Jerry M. Ruhl, Ph. D.
· The Eden Project—In Search of the Magical Other by James Hollis
· Trust Your Vibes by Sonia Choquette, and
· The Water of Life by Michael J. Meade
If you are struggling to find balance in your life, I highly recommend them as a place to start. As women I think we owe it to ourselves (and to those we love) to put ourselves on our “to-do lists.” If we do, the resulting joy will translate to everyone we touch.
© 2009 Shavawn M. Berry
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