Being Gentle With Ourselves
On my beach walk this morning I noticed the powerful waves lashing at the shore; they were strong enough to leave deep cuts in the sand. It was not a restful environment in which to walk. I felt hurried and pushed emotionally. How very different from the gentle waves of a few days ago that left the sand washed clean and smooth, and me feeling serene calm as I walked.
Once again I realize the valuable learning that living here provides. Nature always presents me with a different perspective than I could have imagined in the cold northern urban setting that I left so many years ago.
In that old life every day was a day of scheduled activities that did not vary from waking up, eating a quick breakfast, brisk walking to the streetcar stop, boarding a streetcar for a 25 minute ride often spent standing and holding on to a strap above my head, pushing to get off at the stop nearest the skyscraper where my fitness club waited at the top floor for me to do my exercise routine, shower and then head over a couple of blocks to the hospital where I worked. As a department director, my work day was scheduled from arrival with various meetings, and inspections of department service sites. Even my breaks were scheduled to allow for evaluation visits to the cafeteria.
The only time I slowed down was at the end of the day when I had an hour or so after all the employees had left. My office was quiet as I wrote reports to leave for the secretary to type in the morning. I also did planning at that time until I left to catch that same streetcar to head home, have a late dinner, perhaps watch a movie or read before heading to bed to sleep with the alarm set for the next day to repeat the whole process.
Weekends were not much better. They had their own “driven” schedule that included grocery shopping , house cleaning, laundry, and contact with family and friends. Sunday allowed time for quiet walk along the boardwalk near the lake. I remember that activity as the only “gentle” thing I did for myself.
Leaving this “driven” life was a goal for me which I reached when I moved to my island home and a more gentle life here.
Since the beginning of the new year, my email box has been bursting with all kinds of advice as to how to set new goals for the year, new programs offered to help with focus and commitment, planning tools to assist in the realization of new goals. For me, I found just viewing all these mentally exhausting.
Two weeks ago, I participated in a group discussion with 3 internet colleagues who are good friends now that we have been meeting for a while to discuss topics of common interest in our work and personal lives. Our topic for this meeting was “What exciting plans do you have for 2022 ?”
As we shared our thoughts, a similar theme emerged. Our plans and goals were about simple things, goals for more personal care, for more joy and fun in our lives, and less stress and overwhelm. We were expressing what I defined as a need to be more gentle with ourselves.
There are times even now when I revert to a driven mode, take on too many projects and commit to too many new goals. I am always grateful for the learning on my beach walks in the early morning. The learning today is to be is to be gentle to myself, to be those slow waves coming in and gently touching and smoothing the sand.
Are you feeling resistance to the push to set new goals and resolutions for this new year? Are you experiencing a need to be more gentle to yourself?
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Hi Judith – I’ve been following the Slow, UnBusy, and Simple movements since I left my toxic job 3 years ago. They resonate with me after all those years of jumping through hoops, juggling multiple commitments, and trying to keep everyone happy. I love living “gently” and when I feel the tones of disapproval filter through from super busy people, I’m learning to tune them out. I don’t base my self-worth on my productivity anymore – I just allow life to flow like your gentle beach days – it’s a very pleasant way to live isn’t it?
Reminder of days gone by, working 2 and 3 jobs including weekends, to the point of exhaustion some days. It’s taken me years to learn how to slow down and stop to smell the roses. Everyday on my walk I make myself stop, look around and focus on the beauty of my surroundings. It’s like a reset button……