Resolution #4: Be Light

As I’ve discussed in previous posts (here, here, and here), I’ve been thinking about resolutions since I turned 50 last month. Inspired by Gretchen Rubin’s book The Happiness Project, I’m compiling a list of intentions that will guide me each day and help me stay on track with the kind of person I want to be and the type of life I want to live.

Here is my latest one: Be light.

This has two meanings for me. First, I want to be a voice of positivity, and have a beneficial impact on others. My Kundalini yoga teacher talked about this recently, about “Being the lighthouse,” and I thought, “Yes! That’s how I want to be.”

I am a naturally optimistic person, always looking for the bright side of things. As I’ve focused more on increasing the joy in my life, I’ve learned a lot, and I want to share it with as many people as possible. This world can be so tough. We need more “lightworkers.” I want to look for opportunities to help spread happiness whenever I can.

The second meaning is to be light-hearted: to be more playful and silly, and stop taking myself so seriously. In the words of one of my favorite Jimmy Buffett songs, I want to grow “older but not up.” (Actually, I’d rather just stay this same age for a while, rather than grow older, but given the real alternative I will reluctantly keep aging!)

I became so serious after my son was born. I lost a lot of my lightheartedness. The incredible responsibility of being a parent—of caring for this tiny helpless thing—it overwhelmed me. But I now realize that things can be important, and still be treated as such, without having to be so serious. You can play and still teach—in fact, play is how children learn. I feel like I became so serious because of fear. I’m afraid that if I don’t pay attention, if I don’t work really hard, if I don’t “take this seriously young lady,” something bad might happen.

I have all these rules about what a stable home life looks like and how to keep my son healthy and happy and safe. And those are nothing but, as my friend and excellent life coach Carla Robertson says, SIMU—Shit I Made Up. Sure, some routine is necessary, and some caution is advisable, but I have gone overboard out of fear—and it’s time to lighten up.

This also applies to other parts of my life, not just parenting. I am too serious about work. As I’ve talked about here before, I feel like I must get all my work done before I can relax or play. But here’s the problem with that thinking: The. Work. Is. Never. Done. Ever. So…I’ve been making a real effort to get past that Puritan ethic, and instead find some harmony between work and play. The list doesn’t have to be finished before I take some time to relax.

Luckily, we’re about to take a couple of short trips for our Fall Break, so I will get a chance to reset my work-o-meter to vacation mode. This time, when I come back, I’ll be more mindful about incorporating that balanced approach into everyday life!

Since we’ll be on vacation next week, there won’t be a post; I hope you have a wonderful week and are able to find time to relax as well!


Do You Ever Have Trouble Taking a Break?

I have been working very hard on writing a book for about the past five months. The manuscript is now with the editor, and I have turned my focus to the elements of production and promotion. It’s all quite overwhelming, and I feel like my brain is totally fried at this point. What I really need is a break, but I can't seem to give myself one. I feel compelled to keep going, as much as possible every day, so that I can meet my deadline. Since I am self-publishing, it is a completely arbitrary and self-imposed deadline—but I will still feel like a failure if I don't meet it.

On the one hand, I'm proud of myself for persevering in the face of difficulty and mental fatigue. But on the other hand, I seem to have lost the ability to take a break. Each weekend I tell myself I’m going not going to do any work, and then I feel fidgety until I finally give in and so something.

However, we are going to the beach this weekend, and I am not taking my laptop, and I am not taking my notes. I am going to do my very best to put all of this out of my head for three whole days. I know it's going to be a struggle, but I feel like it's necessary for me at this point.

Many people I admire say that doing less is often more productive than pushing through and doing more. I'm going to experiment with that this weekend and hope that they are right! I think a lot of times we put too much pressure on ourselves. A life coach I've worked with named Carla Robertson calls it “SIMU”—“stuff I made up.” I keep thinking all of these things are vital and have to happen right away, when the truth is, they can actually wait.

I hope that you are also able to take a break this weekend from whatever you may be struggling with, or working too hard on. Give yourself some rest and relaxation. I will certainly be trying to achieve that. Ha—I’ll be trying to rest. Sigh. Wish me luck!