For instance, just this past Tuesday I had three very important commitments all scheduled for the exact same time:
- reading my daughter a book for bedtime,
- participating in a RESULTS conference call, and
- "co-hosting" a twitter party with my good friend Holly Pavlika of MOMentumNation
Needless to say, one of these had to "give." I would love to be the perfect parent and say that I chose to read to my daughter, after all it was her birthday...but I didn't. And I wasn't even able to listen to the call, because as I was trying to make the call, my daughter kept interrupting and asking me to read to her. I did participate in the twitter party, and as the hour flew by, I was completely distracted by the thought:
I cannot sustain this pace without there being a break down in the machinery.
Which is what happened yesterday. I woke up with a migraine. A painful reminder that sometimes, no matter how fast the world spins, you need to stop and let it move forward without you, temporarily of course. Now, before you think me an ogre, I did read my daughter that book. Not once, but twice for good measure. And I also made my calls to my elected leaders about the Earned Income Tax Credit (and working with one another to prevent us from falling off the fiscal cliff). And I've written articles, scheduled appointments, bought more coffee, and did the laundry.
But having a migraine did give me pause. As it should. Because, as Vandana Shiva said "you are not Atlas carrying the world on your shoulder. It is good to remember the world is carrying you."
And let go and forgive myself for letting go. Both easy to say. Harder to do.
- I cannot be the champion of every cause because then the causes that I champion will not have the very best of you. I'll be fragmented and scattered. Unable to focus and fulfill commitments. It is better to do one thing really well than several things with mediocre results.
- I cannot carry the past along with me as I walk into the future, like chains of regret. Sometimes we let the ghosts of past decisions haunt us to the point of inaction. We start to live a grey, hollow life, instead of one of vibrancy and color.
- I cannot keep giving those not deserving of my energy all of my energy. This doesn't mean that you stop caring about others, or wanting those you care about to be happy. And it doesn't mean that the energy you gave was misspent or wasted. It just means you have to be more mindful of whose bucket you are going to fill as you empty your own. If no one is filling your bucket, the weight of the world will be heavier indeed.
But what I can do is continue to champion a cause, continue to walk into the future, continue to be caring. A migraine, or any illness for that matter, reminds us that we really are not in control. We can tinker with gravity, but we can't stop the world from spinning.
What I can do, even when I have a migraine is just...breathe.
It's where we center ourselves that really counts. It's about who helps us when we feel like we are about to fly off. It's about just being the best of yourself under any circumstance. It's about having only so many minutes in a day and making all of those minutes matter. It's about knowing that we all have been given roots so that we can stretch our wings and take flight.
So, as Thoreau said "be not simply good-but be good for something" and in order to do so, take a day off every now and then, you've earned it.