I’m always in a rush to get things done. Run the errands, finish a project, clean up after a meal. Rushing has not served me well.
I have accidents. I miss information. I am still not settled, nor at peace.
If you have been reading along with my Knowing Myself Series, Part 1 – Love What I Have, this follows the core message: Toss what doesn’t serve me. That includes behaviors and thoughts as well as tangible items, clothes, dishes, various types of spices, and whatever you are holding onto and don’t use. Toss and make room for what makes you smile and happy, and love yourself.
Next, Part 2 – Falling in Love with Myself, touts shifting your perspective and changing thoughts. So, I am kind to myself, I learn and try to make slight course corrections toward the person I want to live with, the best Me, I can be.
Now when I rush and things happen, because they always do, I try to look at the lesson the universe is sending me. I’m lucky, the universe sends me consistent signs. And that message is to slow down.
Physically, move more deliberately, and take time to get a handle on my surroundings. Emotionally, let the feelings settle, sit where they are supposed to sit and feel them so I can incorporate them into my baseline functioning, or at the very least my emotional toolbox.
My emotional toolbox are the feelings I know and acknowledge and have some clue why they come up and how to manage them. (A little teaser, this is actually my new favorite topic, Managing Me – so stay tuned for part 4 of Knowing Myself Series.)
My baseline is just learning to love and accept myself. Unfortunately, that took 62 years, so when I rushed into a relationship with the right person, that made it the wrong time. I wasn’t ready.
These three words were never in my vocabulary. I wasn’t ready. I thought of myself as a go-to person, ready for any challenge, up to the task. I am smart and quick, and I can learn along the way. I am here to tell the tale. Some things you need to practice before you can have them. Hence the appropriately named title for this part.
I don’t like waiting, hence the vicious cycle of rushing. Patience is one of those behaviors that was not in my emotional toolbox. Me – wait? I had a long laundry list of valid reasons why I can’t wait. Why I should already know things. Why I should have already been ready before I actually was.
It’s true, I was born for the challenge. However, I had to build my endurance. I had to build on lesson after lesson and the challenges I faced. I had to incorporate them into my core operating system. This meant I had to feel. I had to add new emotions to my repertoire.
I had to take time with my feelings. I handled my feelings like they were my errands, always in a big rush to be done and to get to the other side.
Time takes time has taught me that the only way out is through. I cannot outrun or skirt my emotions. Those “pesky” feelings keep resurfacing until I address them. Even as a world-class quack-a-mole player, I can whack those little heads in a very rapid response time, and those emotions are persistent. Feelings and emotions must be dealt with directly.
I decided to start by feeling everything from food shopping to taking the garbage out. Rediscover which parts of each task I like. Notice what puts me in a good mood, a head space that gets me revved up to find new ways to celebrate all the things I do to celebrate myself, even the dishes and the laundry.
This is not a one-and-done situation. This is a practice for the rest of my life. To slow down and take in what’s happening around me. This allows me to show up more authentic, more honest, truer, and more loving. So far, the results are fantastic. When I do that, the universe complies.
I had to find a way to weather the hard emotions, and how to touch them without spiralling out of control. Not reverting right to my learned behaviors of numbing and avoiding. Here is what I have learned:
When I found myself soulmate-less, after the breakup, I knew the answer was to lean in. I have been running from my feelings since I could talk, write, and think. So, this time I was patient with myself. Talked like I would talk to a friend.
Since I had slowed down to who I was, I liked myself. The people and activities in my life add value. My friends, family, co-workers, and interests, hobbies are all things I chose because of getting to know myself better. Loneliness is qualitatively different, as in if I was a bone density test, clinically significant.
What caused this shift?
I built endurance to lean into the uncomfortableness. I had a few lessons under my belt and practiced and deepened them. I worked on stocking my house with even more things I loved and used and tossed the rest. I surrounded myself with activities and people I value and enjoy.
I continue to try new things and I go back to old hobbies that somehow got left behind when I didn’t have time. Voila.
Little by little my sense of self and how I fit into my own skin and, by extension, my community became clear. Does this mean I am never lonely? You know that’s not how things work. Of course, I can get lonely, and miss the touch of my lover’s skin against mine, but I am also fine. The bouts don’t last very long, and they are not as deep.
My time alone gives me time for reflection and processing loving another. The time and effort I have spent to love myself is so valuable. Being alone gave me time for reflection, what was good and not so good, and where can I improve. And to tune in to what makes me a better me.
Weathering feelings is about finding coping mechanisms that let you touch the pain and the tough feelings while moving forward. I found the perfect formula – get busy on my bucket list.
A bucket list is meant to be updated, changed, and grow as I grow and learn. Popularized by the 2007 film where two men, from very different backgrounds and financial means, set-forth to complete their lives before dying of cancer. The plot twist is both ironic and eye-opening.
With that in mind, and now on the other side of retirement, my bucket list has evolved. I look at my life differently, and therefore the things I want to accomplish have taken on new meaning. I have divided my bucket list into two categories – the things I choose and those I must work towards.
These are the things that, with some planning and resources, I can accomplish. When I was working and raising my daughter, many of these were obstacles. I had uber financial commitments, time constraints, my work schedule, and my daughter’s school calendar. Now that it’s just me and the dog and a fixed income, it’s more of a coordination issue.
These items include a trip to Paris with my daughter – check! Baking the perfect gluten-free zucchini muffins – check! Volunteering in my community – check! Writing more, hence my blog posts – check!
This is where intent comes into play. I must do the footwork, the groundwork, and put it out in the universe and hope that it comes back to me. First, I had to find what I desire, what I wanted. That was embedded in getting to know myself.
One of these items is being an extra in a movie set. I had to find an opportunity, close to where I live, apply, get selected, and then hope my scenes didn’t get cut. And it happened! You can read more about it on my website blog. I am in several episodes, hailing a cab, walking across the street, and a professor talking to a student. Simple acts, I did over and over again.
One of my items is big and scary. Getting selected for a TEDx talk. Oh, I have the chops to do a TED talk, but I have to work for it, it won’t just happen. First, I need to dig into my core message and look at who I am and figure out how to present that idea. Then I need to research opportunities, file in-depth applications, and come up with a 1-minute video message.
That’s a challenge because, have you seen my videos – I like to talk! Upload the video link and my ideas and leave it to the universe that I get chosen. I can work towards it, but it is not in my control if I get on the TEDx stage.
What does this have to do with time taking time and learning to love myself? It’s about being honest with myself. About knowing myself enough to know what I really want. It’s also about that second category on my bucket list – things I must work towards.
I want to live in a loving romantic relationship. I want a partner, with very mutual sexual attraction, who is my best friend and has similar spiritual practices. As many of us single ladies over 60 know – that’s a tall order.
I believe it is possible!
The first step is loving myself, so I am okay with or without that relationship. Does it mean I’m going to get what I want? Time will tell. Deep down in my soul, I know I want a partner, and I must be honest about that.
I must be honest about wanting someone who loves me unconditionally, has my back and who can see all sides of me all the time. I want to be able to say everything from “Hunn, go get the laundry” to “What do I do about this?”
Well, I wanna be able to ask this person everything so well, yes, I love myself and I will not settle, and I will not be with someone who can’t give me those things I want in a relationship. Not for everyone, but for me, it is something I have never had and really want to experience in this lifetime.
Time takes time. Slow down. Good things come to those who wait! Waiting includes more than sitting around binge-watching shows and eating homemade delicious gluten-free zucchini muffins – it means doing the work to get me where I want to go. Getting ready to receive. Enjoy everything from food shopping to taking the garbage out.
So here I am, and I am ready. To rediscover parts of each task that connect me to myself. To savour each moment. Work towards my bucket list. Put my desires out to the universe. Enjoy everything that comes my way. And know if it doesn’t go my way, I am also okay because I love myself unconditionally.
Are you always rushing to do things, or do you know how to slow down, take your time, and enjoy your life? Do you love yourself? Do you know yourself? What about your deep-down wishes? How often are you honest with yourself? Can you be honest with your partner?