It’s my last night home alone after 8 days without my family.
How do I spend it? Inviting girlfriends over? Going out on the town? Really living it up in my neck brace?
Nope – I’m spending it at home, in the company of my pets, with candles lit, fireplace on, soft music in the background and a glass of wine. Despite the intermittent barking from the aforementioned beloved pets – it is quite a peaceful and relaxing evening. One that has been rare over the years in a house filled with growing kids, carpool duties, and non-stop activities. Even our vacations are hectic – trying to give the kids amazing “experiences” everywhere we go – snorkeling, ziplining, rafting, fishing, ATVing, the list goes on. The increasingly rare weekend getaways with my husband are filled with dinners out and some sort of plan to reconnect.
How often do we really get the opportunity to really “turn off”? To completely let go of responsibilities and demands and expectations? To completely tune into the needs of ourselves – and only ourselves?
I’ve learned many lessons during my week of alone-time. A significant one has been realizing how much my body and my soul needs rest.
Not just sleep.
But pure rest.
Allowing myself to let go.
Allowing myself to just be.
To not be needed.
To have absolutely zero pressure to meet anyone’s demands or expectations and just be in the moment.
To listen to music at any time of day or night. Wake when my body is ready, and sleep when it is tired. Listen to my book, read, journal, write my blog, work on a puzzle, lay in the sun, and observe the world around me. I watched a lot of clouds move this past week. When is the last time anyone had the time to sit still long enough to watch clouds move? Try it sometime. It is extremely restful.
I literally had no choice but to be still. I couldn’t exercise, I couldn’t drive, I couldn’t lift anything heavier than a gallon of milk. I was forced to rest. And when I surrendered to that, when I let go of any self-induced expectations to be productive, the beauty of my free time revealed itself.
This time-out, this “soul rest” I’m calling it, has been an exceptional gift this week.
It has restored me. It has recharged me. It has given me perspective. It has fueled my creativity and increased my connection with the world around me. It’s left me ready to warmly and excitedly welcome my family home. I can’t wait to see their smiles and hear their stories about their adventures. I even look forward to the inevitable bickering that I predict will start less than 5 minutes after they walk through the door.
While I have relished my solitude, I have also been blessed by the gift of friendship during this time. I have enjoyed the company of amazing friends that have so generously visited me, continuously checked in on me, fed me, offered to run errands, and brought me beautiful flowers and books.
I like to give. Giving to others makes me happy. It feels comfortable and fulfilling. If you need something – I’m here. I got you. I’ll give what I can, how I can, the best I can, when needed.
However, being the one to receive – now that is uncomfortable and scary. I do not like to ask for help. I do not want to “impose”. I try not put myself on anyone else. I don’t want to be anyone else’s burden.
For me, receiving is an act of extreme vulnerability. To allow myself to lower my walls enough to receive – with no pressure of there being a “right way” to do that. No expectation to express gratitude, no pressure to reciprocate. No pressure to make the “giver” feel appreciated. To just be – with open hands and an open heart, and just…receive.
An important gift. An important lesson that I am learning relatively late in life.
As much as I like to give, the opportunity wouldn’t exist if there wasn’t also someone willing and open to receive. It’s a beautiful flow of energy. A balance. To be able to authentically give, one has to also be able to vulnerably receive.
So this week, this is probably the most important lesson I’ve learned. The beauty of receiving.
I have received all the love and concern and care expressed to me this week.
I have felt seen. I have felt embraced. I have felt so incredibly loved. And as a result, I have grown.
To everyone, thank you. From the bottom of my heart.