Do the joyful thing and don’t take your gift for granted.
I’ve been reflecting a lot on joy, life, our time on earth and the like – for a number of deeply personal reasons.
For one, it’s been exactly one year since the sudden passing of my dear friend who was like a big sister. And as I’ve shared on the podcast before, hers was one of those rare friendships that comes along once in a very long while.
I pride myself on pouring into others and encouraging them to see themselves – well she poured into me, and encouraged me to see myself. She was a huge cheerleader for my writing and the work I’m doing here, so it was an unfathomable personal loss for me, and so unexpected.
I’ve been spending the last week or so reflecting on our friendship, thinking about her, and the gift she was to this world. Which always serves as a pressing reminder that none of us knows how long we have here on Earth.
Secondly, I’ve been in and out of sickness for the better part of the last two months. It started out as a respiratory infection I got from one of my kids, and a persistent cough which cleared up right at the start of one of the most severe allergy seasons I’ve ever experienced. So just as I was recovering from the respiratory stuff, the pollen begins to spread and fill the air, which triggered my spring allergies and brought the cough and everything back. So I got on a regimen of asthma meds, which seems to be doing the trick.
But in the midst of being sick, I have had to face off with my own limitations, and the limitations that have a way of getting our attention when we’re taking our bodies and our gifts for granted.
Being sick brought to light how much I do, how much I rely on breathing to do what I do, and how much I take all of that for granted. At one point I sat down to record a podcast, and I couldn’t because I didn’t have enough air to speak! I hosted a small retreat for my academy students, and I found myself wanting to speak passionately, but had to pace myself.
Limitations. How humbling they can be.
I realized that if I can’t do the things that energize me, life is lame! Not to say that it’s not worth living, but it certainly loses a lot of its luster.
What is life if I can’t speak and share, if I can’t write and express myself?
By not tending to my health, by not showing up to use my gifts when I can, I realized that I’ve been taking my gift – which I can’t access without my health – for granted.
I’ve been taking the simple ability to breathe deeply and share passionately for granted.
I’ve been taking the ability to write and share from my heart for granted.
And to some degree I know it’s because both of those things come so naturally to me, they take minimal effort. That’s WHY I take them for granted, but that’s also why I have to STOP taking it for granted. Because that which both ENERGIZES me and that thing that is EFFORTLESS is my gift.
What ENERGIZES you and is EFFORTLESS to you?
The other thing I’ve been obsessed with has been the idea that everything we do has to be a runaway smash hit to be worth doing.
I spoke to my brilliant friend who launched a podcast that he absolutely LOVES – and it’s brilliant. But because it hasn’t completely taken off yet, he starts, stops, and questions – Why am I doing this, again?
I hadn’t seen any new episodes in a while so I asked him about it. He informed me that he’d asked around to a few colleagues to get feedback on it, and because they didn’t really understand what he was trying to do, they made less than helpful suggestions (I’m paraphrasing, I wasn’t there) that basically led to him NOT pursuing the project anymore, EVEN THOUGH it brought him tremendous joy and satisfaction.
He was still figuring out the messaging, the audience, the promotion – but he was figuring it out. And because it hadn’t become a runaway success yet by podcasting standards, he abandoned this project despite the joy it brought him to produce.