The Art of Finding Yourself:
It is a powerful and creative act to find yourself; discovering your likes and dislikes and owning them in a way that allows you to firmly PLANT YOUR FLAG on the moon of who you are.
I thoroughly admire my friend Bonita who firmly owns all of her preferences. She readily admits that as a single woman she’s been able to focus completely on designing a full and meaningful life completely of her own choosing. Yes, she decides exactly what interests her disposable income supports (knitting) and she decides exactly where she wants to go on vacation (the shores of Lake Michigan) and how she wants to spend her free time (baking and gardening). Yes, she can eat popcorn and apples for dinner if she wants without a thought that someone in the house might like a more labor-intensive meal, like meatloaf and mashed potatoes.
What I thoroughly love about my women friends who live solo is the ZEST with which they approach their passions whether it is a deep abiding love for live music or perfecting their Latin dance moves, like the Tango. They continue to provide me with powerful role models of what beautiful, feminine independence looks like.
Having role models for happy, satisfying solo living was crucial for me during my own transition from being married to living by myself after my divorce. During my marriage I lost sight of who I was and what activities made me happiest. It was a profound learning experience to discover just how much ART and MUSIC and DANCING and BIKING fed my soul. I did this by constantly asking myself what it is I wanted to do – and then doing it. Did I feel like staying in and watching a sappy chick-flick or did I feel like going dancing? Some of my best evenings out were the ones where I went completely solo to a concert or local festival.
It was a powerfully, soul-satisfyingly CREATIVE act to finally BUILD a life which honored the activities I loved to do.
The Fine Art of Staying Found:
There is a FINE ART to STAYING FOUND, once you enter a relationship, and it requires a commitment to remaining powerful and creative by MAKING SPACE for your desires and interests.
There are two key ways women give away their power and creativity in a relationship:
One is unwillingness to state preferences in a way in which they are heard and honored, instead, many women expect their partners to be able to know what their wants and needs are without them having to ask – their partners “should just know”.
The second is an unwillingness to make themselves and their interests a priority. They simply do not make enough space for their own joyful pursuits once they enter into a relationship. And, yes, I get the list of responsibilities women with partners and children have: laundry, homework, soccer practice, dinner and the list goes on and on.
And, yet, I also have a beautiful example in my friend Ellen, a mother of three girls, a wife, and a small-business owner, who regularly negotiates a schedule with her husband which allows her the opportunity to go for morning bike rides, to plan a couple of long weekends away with girlfriends, and to host gatherings with her friends. A key to Ellen’s happiness is her willingness to make her health and happiness a priority. She knows if she doesn’t get her quota of fresh air and exercise she becomes less effective in other areas of her life.
Many couples believe love means being together or needing or wanting to be together every moment. This is absolutely the quickest way to losing yourself in your relationship.
Do you have enough space in your relationship to FULLY EXPRESS what makes you feel completely real and completely happy?
Do you give yourself the PERMISSION to put your wants and needs in a high-priority position on your household list?
Do you have the physical space – a room or area – for developing your own needs, interests, thoughts, reflection, and renewal?
Do you TAKE or MAKE enough alone time to pursue activities which are only of interest to you?
For example, I want to learn how to dance the Tango more than words could ever describe; my guy, Jason, not so much. In the past, I would have let this stop me from pursuing this particular interest. However, I know how barren my soul feels when its longings are ignored. So, this winter, I will make space (and find the time and money) for this desire and sign up for private lessons.
From time-to-time Jason and I find ourselves going opposite directions on the weekend, he to pursue his passion of trail-building work for the Ice-Age Trail, and me to pursue something in the realm of music or art. This last weekend he went away on a guy weekend. I went to church camp with a girlfriend from college. Neither outing was exotic, yet, we each got to be completely real and happy doing our own quirky (or geeky) thing – not that we aren’t completely real and happy when together – and Jason got to do his guy thing which apparently involved a lot of beer and some golf. I got to hang out with a long-time friend, nap on the beach, canoe around the lake, and sing a bunch of gorgeous Mennonite hymns in four-part-harmony.
It is time to plant that flag. Be the bright-shining orb in the night sky. Honor the whisperings of your heart’s desires; give yourself permission to listen and act on those desires. Claim the time and make the space for doing what fuels your happiness.
Here are some questions to get you started:
What sort of everyday things do you enjoy doing?
What activities have you feeling engagement, energy, and enthusiasm?
What people, places, events have you feeling more alert and excited?
What are the things you do that have you receiving compliments from others?
What makes for a really great day for you? What is the best day you remember having?
What are some of the achievements from your past about which you are most proud?
What energizes you in the present?
What are you looking forward to in the future (or next two weeks to narrow it down)?
What about that activity are you anticipating so eagerly?
What are activities you particularly enjoyed in your childhood? (Often these activities are the emergence of a strength or talent.)
What is an activity you can do for hours and simply lose track of time?
Get CREATIVE. Be POWERFUL. Create a soul-satisfying life which honors the activities you love to do.