It feels good to be “back in the saddle” as they say, with my blog posts (if you see me at a workshop, remind me to tell you about being in a real saddle – at a dude ranch – in October of 2018…and I didn’t even break a bone!). As I meandered around my previous blog re-reading some of the posts, there were some words in there that I think are worth revisiting, especially since those posts were written so many years ago. Things change, we grow, we grow older, maybe we even grow up.
One of the words that immediately caught my attention is awareness. Without an awareness of whether we’re growing, we won’t. It’s that simple. And continuing to grow can be a vital part of a healthy life. In the community I live in, I am surrounded by folks who have retired. In my mind, that’s a wonderful thing IF you are still growing in some respect. That may mean taking one of the hundreds of classes offered here. Or it may mean you’ve finally found time to read more or garden or write poetry. Any and all of that qualifies as growing as far as I’m concerned. It’s when we stop even being aware of becoming stagnant that life loses its luster.
My husband had a quote taped to his computer monitor, where he spent much time while teaching online: “How dull it is to pause, to make an end, to rust unburnished, not to shine in use! As though to breathe were life!” From Tennyson’s “Ulysses.” Being aware of living rather than just existing.
Since I love what I do and it not only enables me to grow but sometimes forces me to do so, I don’t plan on ever retiring. Maybe slowing down a bit at some point, but not dropping out of the game altogether. That’s because I am aware of my own tendencies. I tend to need fairly regular stimulation for my mind – it goes places I don’t want it to go if I don’t keep challenging myself with new things to learn. I start dwelling – without even being aware of it – on the big questions of life that have no real answers and may end up just frustrating me. When I keep busy doing things I know will help others, it helps me stay grounded.
I’m also aware that I can take the learning and growing attitude to an extreme – when I immerse myself in my work to the point I become isolated. My awareness tells me that’s not healthy.
If you’re like me though, you may be aware of something but choose to ignore it. In that case, the question to ask yourself is, “Is this serving me well?” Although I am very aware that, as an introvert, being alone recharges me, I know that isolating myself doesn’t serve me well in the long run. I recognize that when I’ve been hunkered down in my office for so many days the mailbox is overflowing, I have been ignoring the importance of socializing – or at least getting out into nature to go to the mailbox! And to make good use of my awareness of my own tendencies, I make a point of scheduling lunch dates with friends and clients or I reach out by phone or email to others who aren’t physically close enough to sit across a table and break bread together.
There are many other areas where awareness will serve us well. Recently, as I was sequestered at my desk – no surprise, right? – I realized that I had eaten a half bag of dill pickle cashews – that wasn’t serving me well, either! I really didn’t want to quit – they are yummy. But my awareness of trying to eat healthy so that I have the energy and stamina to continue my work overrode my desire to see the bottom of the bag…this time.
For you, it may be an issue of working too much, overspending, overeating, being negative, watching too much TV, spending too much time around negative people, succumbing to the sometimes-detrimental allure of social media, or any of a number of things that may be a part of your life. The question becomes, will you choose to act on your awareness of that issue in your life or choose to ignore it? It is a choice, remember. And it’s YOUR choice.
Until next time, stay aware – then decide what you’re going to do because of that awareness. And if you need some help in that area, just drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org – I’ll probably be sitting at my desk engrossed in my next learning adventure!