This work is sacred.
Making vision boards with people, pouring them wine, meditating about the careers that will give back the most, dreaming of the houses that will support and hold our families, the art that we want to make of our lives and the space we are creating for our hearts — it is work that I think of as sacred. (Even the wine!)
What I want to bring to the table at every retreat, in every workshop, and in every one-on-one meeting with a client is my full-on best self. And some parts of that are important. I want to bring my full attention, my laser focus, my warmest welcome, and a lovely, funky, creative atmosphere full of snacks, art supplies, spiritual resources, delicious candles, mason jars full of really easy-to-write-with pens, blank journals, pretty crystals, and pots of coffee–anything that will make the place we are (whether an art studio, a rooftop, my living room, or a far flung magical space) into a place where deep transformation and creative fun can happen. The intersection of breathing easy and giving birth to something new. That heart space.
I want it to all be perfect.
But, there is another dimension to that desire for bringing my best self. It has more to do with what I want to hide, rather than what I invite into and unveil…
I want to seem perfect. I want my outfit to convey that I have it effortlessly together, and my answers to sound breezily polished. The twists and turns of my own journey–all the times I was scared, lost, hurting, or broken–can all too easily get swept under the rug in my attempt to be my “best self.”
So there I was, newly moved to Washington, DC, newly married, and newly beginning a grueling graduate program, when suddenly: I got sick. Really sick.
I was sick with something doctors could not figure out. I had pain that felt mysterious, intensely personal, and isolating. It made sitting down painful, and it made sex outright impossible.
But, for all of us, the pain we felt was a signal that something was not right.
I took my time. I took myself out for ice cream. I took naps and baths and glasses of wine. But, more importantly, I took a hard look at the philosophy that I had accidentally imprinted upon myself, one that mixed a bastardized original-sin-esque version of skewed Christianity with the do-gooder impulses of someone who has been blessed with a lot of privilege as well as the longing to serve.
In fact, when I started to take better care of myself, from the smallest sneaking of chocolate to the most painful decisions that I knew I needed to make, I felt a new wisdom emerge.
Healed people heal people.
And, I can give my best when I’m healthy.
Who benefited from my being so miserable, sad, and sick that I was in the hospital for days? No one! My being sick didn’t help anyone else heal, just like my depriving myself didn’t give anyone in need something they longed for.
Instead, it was when I could start showing up to my life with kindness that I began to create space in which I could do the work I really wanted to do, as a teacher, as a leader, and as a partner.
I tried a new posture: patient and curious toward what my body was telling me and what she was asking for, generous and compassionate with moments of joy and happiness and indulgence in my life, and gratitude for the space to figure it out.
What are the areas crying out for love, breath, ease, or attention in your life, if there are any? Are you like me, needing a reminder every once in awhile that the world is best served by YOUR JOY, and your pleasure, and your fullness, not your deprivation or misery.
We lead, give, love, and teach best when our cup (and bubble bath) is full.
If this resonates with you, I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.
And if you feel ready to listen more deeply to your dreams & desires, there are still spaces available at Beauty Camp: A Day of Creating Yourself (and the price goes up tomorrow.)