This transitional period has been an eye opener for me in a number of ways, but one thing in particular that it has made me realize is that I haven't taken time in a very long time - many years, in fact - to stop and smell the roses.
A good life, a full life, a satisfying life, requires balance. And I've come to understand, in these last few months, just how out of balance I've let my life become. I tell people all the time that you can't pour from an empty pitcher, that if you want to be able to give to others, you first have to take care of yourself and make sure that your own pitcher is full. I believe that. I think the only reason I've been able to continue to do the work that I've been doing for all these years at the pace I've been doing it, is because the energy that comes through me, is not of me, but from that Divine Source, which is never in a state of lack. If that were not the case, I'm sure my Reiki practice would have suffered long ago from my lack of attention to my own self-care in certain areas of my life.
I don't know that I even realized just how lacking I was in particular areas until I went out one evening a few weeks ago with Nancy Deckant, a fellow Pittsburgh Reiki practitioner and friend who has been here in Nashville for the last two months. We went out to dinner at a wonderful Italian restaurant, and then out to listen to live music at a place called The Listening Room.
Nancy is a gifted artist with a paintbrush (She does beautiful water colors!), and is also an up and coming singer/songwriter. She's been in Nashville making connections and honing her writing and composing skills, working to make her dream come true of being a successful song writer. As part of her 'work' to make that happen, she frequently goes out to listen to other performers and has invited me along on several occasions. (If you want to know more about Nancy, please visit her website at www.nancydeckant.com)
After leaving the venue that first night, I looked at Nancy as we were driving home and said, "I feel enlivened!" That's not a word I generally use, but it spontaneously popped out of my mouth, and when it did, Nancy said, "That's the perfect word." She was right. I felt energized in a way that I hadn't felt in a long time. My entire body was vibrating, and I didn't want the feeling to stop.
What I noticed the next day was that my energy level and enthusiasm for the mundane things that I had to do that day were higher than they had been for quite a while. I was still feeling energized from the night before! Funny thing is, I hadn't really noticed that there was a lack, until I felt the feeling of 'more'... interesting how that happens.
I was pushing myself to get out and meet new people and make new friends here in Nashville, but after that night out with Nancy, I realized I was enjoying trying new things and meeting new people, and that the energy that I received from doing so was energizing everything else in my life too.
This move is giving me an opportunity to trust God in an even bigger way. I worked very long hours in Pittsburgh, rarely turning away people who wanted to see me, even if it meant over-booking myself, and always keeping a full schedule of events, not just because I love the work that I do, but also because, in the back of my mind, I was convinced that if I didn't take advantage of every opportunity to work, I wouldn't be able to pay the bills. (Money has always been my Achilles' heel.)
I think I need to remember that taking care of myself isn't just about doing basic self-care, but also means giving myself permission to have a life that has more in it than just my Reiki practice. I don't believe that God wants me, or anyone, to be focused on work to the exclusion of all else, especially when doing so creates a lack of joy and excitement in other areas of my life. I realize now that even on my wonderful journey to Alaska last year, I rarely slowed down. I just kept pushing myself to do one more thing, go one more place, afraid I'd waste the opportunity if I didn't see everything there was to see. I wonder how different the journey would have been, had I allowed myself to see and do fewer things, but had experienced them in greater depth. What if, instead of just sniffing at the roses, I had stopped long enough to breathe in deeply?
Since that first evening out with Nancy, we've been out several more times. I've had the opportunity to hear more great music, meet more new people, and try new things. Last Friday when we went out to a place called Richard's (pronounced Ri-chard's) for Cajun food, I even tried alligator and crawfish pie! (and without a drop of alcohol needed to do so!) I've been out on two sunset lake cruises with folks from the church I've been attending - the first time they were all total strangers to me, and it took a lot of encouraging self-talk to convince myself to go. But I did, and I had a great time and now the folks aren't strangers any more. I've been out with a couple of new friends too, and it feels really good to stretch myself beyond the limits of my Reiki practice and just be me. I'd forgotten how to do that because I'd convinced myself I couldn't take the time, couldn't stop working or the bills wouldn't get paid.
When I had to move my mom into a nursing home in 2008, and knew that I wanted and needed to be there every day, I remember asking God how I was going to manage to be present for my mother as much as I wanted to and still manage my Reiki practice and take care of my own needs. I flashed back to 2004 when she first became ill and was in the hospital for 81 days. I ended up with thousands of dollars in credit card debt and drained off much of my (small) retirement fund in order to keep my office open and my life in some semblance of order while spending hours each day at the hospital with my mom.
As I was talking to God in 2008, I told Him I couldn't do that again this time. I said there had to be a way to do what I needed to do for my mom and still be able to do what I needed to do for myself, without putting myself even deeper in debt. This was His response:
"The last time your mother became ill, you were convinced you had to do it all yourself. I was there, waiting and wanting to help, but you didn't make room for Me, you didn't trust that I could /would help. You didn't see a way that things could work out unless you made them work, and so you carried the burden alone. This time, do what you need to do, but make room for Me to assist, and trust that even if you can't see how, it will all work out." I let go back then, trusted God, made room for God, and everything did work out, often times in ways I would never have thought of.
So I've got proof that God can do things I can't even imagine, and bring things to pass that seem pretty darn near miraculous to me. If He can do it in times of trouble and turmoil, I have to believe He can, and will, do it everyday, all the time, for all things. So I'm going to let go again, as I start back to work on a full time basis. I'm going to do the things I can do to help my practice grow, but I'm also going to schedule time for play. I'm going to regularly stop and smell the roses, taking the time to breathe deeply and appreciate the enlivening that happens as I do, and trust that God will do His best to assist, because I am leaving room for him to do so. And I have a feeling that when I'm more completely me, more balanced and enlivened through my play, that the energy I bring to the table when I do Reiki will be of an even higher vibration, and will make my ability to act as a conduit for that Divine energy even greater.
A new friend recently emailed me this quote after I had been talking about wanting to find a way to work less and play more, but also expressing my concern about my income level if I did so:
"Reduce your workload by 30% and increase your fun load by 30% and you will increase your revenues by 100%. And you will increase your productivity by 10,000 %. (If there could be such a percentage!) More fun, less struggle - more results on all fronts."
( If you're not familiar with the teachings of Abraham and the Law of Attraction, please check out this website: www.abraham-hicks.com )
I can't wait to see what happens as I take Abraham's (and God's) advice! I have a feeling life is just going to get better and better in all ways.