Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Being real about where we are

Since I posted the first blog entry a couple of days ago, I have received an outpouring of calls and notes. You ask what you can do to help. You wonder if I really am as "self possessed" as I seem. Some of you are at a loss for words, not sure what to say to me. I seem fine. Some of you are silent because this hard life stuff makes us uneasy. I am moved by your showering of concern, support and love. It nourishes and strengthens me.

All of you affirm what I believed when I put myself "out there": taking the masks off and being real about where we are is the only true option in times of distress (and joy for that matter).

I am not sure what happens to most of us at some point that we learn to "brave it" and "put on a happy face" so that nobody should see our pain, struggle or confusion. I know I have been there in my life, and lapse into that default mode ever so often if I am not consciously choosing otherwise. We go through so much of life with those masks on. They take so much energy, time and effort. And who are we really fooling? Ourselves, I suppose. That's what holds us back from actually seeing where we are and doing something about getting to where we want to be.

So, for those of you who are wondering whether I am just putting on a good show right now, I assure you that I am not. I don't have the energy to spare. Matter of fact, yesterday, I began to feel my body aching and absolutely exhausted. Change -- figuring all this out -- demands a lot mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually. If I am not careful, I will burn myself out before I even begin. To the long list of my affirmative choices, I am going to add: I will use my energy (and time) wisely.

This is why I have been thinking very hard about the fact that I need to practice extreme self-care in stressful times. Recently, I realized that when I have a lot on my plate, I forget about the basics of self-care, and that is when I enter a viscious stress cycle. I am learning to avoid the downward spiral by prioritizing self-care all the time, but especially during uncertain times like now. More on the vitality of self-care another time. A circle of women I am honored to belong to, is actively working on practicing better self-care.

Back to being real. There will be days of sheer panic and overwhelm in the uncertain weeks ahead. I am absolutely sure of it. And when that happens, I make a solemn promise to tell the truth, not to hide it from myself or you. Being real means for me that I do not "put on a happy face" but I also do not over-exaggerate the struggle. I simply acknowledge the truth.

Being real about where we are seems like the only sound choice to me. Practicing extreme self-care also seems vital to our ability to be real.

What do you think?

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