Saturday, May 19, 2007

Creating joy

It's true. The very fact I'm blogging right now means I'm avoiding lawn maintenance. Which is okay. I've promised myself that after a hectic, crazy-making week, I'm going to take today in small bite-sized chunks. Each chunk will consist of something that really needs to get done (mowing, laundry, dishes) and in between, I will put my feet up and relax so that my ankles don't look like elephant legs by the end of the day. Blogging is just one of those in-betweens, so I can push the lawn mower a little further, for a little longer.

This morning I came down to my sewing/computer room to check email and noticed a yellow piece of paper beside my keyboard, half hidden by forget-me-not seed packets. Scrawled across the agenda for a women's conference I attended last May were my notes on one of the workshops, "Creating Joy In Our Lives". I remember the workshop leader was a dynamic Mexican American woman who is a social worker. She asked for a volunteer to assist with an object lesson, said she needed someone fairly strong. I had been working out with weights in training for a triathlon, so I raised my hand and she picked me. I came to the front of the room and she proceeded to load me down with heavy textbooks. I was confident in my strength as well as my stamina, and at first that seemed to be justified. Both my arms were full, and she ran out of books. Her eyebrows shot up momentarily, but without missing a beat she grabbed more books from some shelves in the room and kept piling them on. This went on for about two minutes, maybe two and a half. I was pleased with my feat of strength as I saw surprised looks on the faces of the other women in the room. Suddenly, I felt my arms buckle and I panicked. Sure enough, first one stack and then the other slid to the floor. Like a lightbulb flicking on in my head, I immediately knew where she was going with this object lesson.

After we cleaned up the books, the speaker went on to make her point: creating joy isn't possible when we are overloading ourselves. The physical sensation of losing control was so visceral that it brought that point home to me in a way nothing else ever had. I felt awash with gratitude, because I knew how much I needed to learn this particular lesson, and I realized that I wouldn't have got it on such a deep level if I hadn't been the one to hold and then drop all the books.

It comes back to me clearly now as I look at the hastily scribbled words on yellow paper:

each season has its own challenges
drop unrealistic expectations of ourselves and others
love ourselves just a little bit as much as God loves us
find rest in our daily lives

I'm struck by the fact that as much as I need to be busy, I also need that rest: a time to reflect, to replenish and simply to have balance. And it's up to me to create it for myself. I can't be blaming the people in my life for not intuitively noticing my needs; I have to take the initiative to ask for help if I need it, to take responsibility for nurturing myself.

Let's hope I can still remember this tomorrow!


lemon square said...

very true. i had the same lesson at women's conference this morning and from big daddy last night. do you think someone is trying to tell me something?

chicklegirl said...

Have you heard the Zen proverb "When the pupil is ready to learn, a teacher will appear"? Most likely this has been coming up because you are now ready ... :) And I don't mean that in a glib way, because you're already strong woman, and I think that finding your balance will only make you more so.

Thanks again for a great afternoon on Friday!

Clare said...

Wow! This is great! I needed to read this -- thank you! This is such wonderful wisdom. It is so easy in our culture to overload ourselves, and so often we don't realize it until we drop everything we're holding. Yes, we must make room for the joy and not crowd it out! And resting is so important. Thank you for stopping by my blog!!

chicklegirl said...

Thank you, Clare, and thanks checking out my blog, too!