[If you’d like to listen to me speak this post, tune in to episode 70. This isn’t selfish – it’s holy on Delightful]
Women who are older than me told me this would happen. They were right.
They told me it would be exquisite. And it is.
In all the talk about menopause out there in the world…in all the talk about aging…I don’t here much of this exquisite juiciness. And I want to share this with you, too.
I find that these days, I am turning more toward me and my own self. What would taste good to my belly for breakfast this morning? What colors do I want to wear today? What movement would feel right for my body today? I’m going to look up recipes for new soups. Hmmmm, what’s a butternut squash recipe I haven’t tried yet? What blanket do I want to cuddle up with right now? What are the adventures my soul wants to experience these days – local or far away?
This isn’t selfish, it’s holy.
For decades – my twenties through my forties – that’s three decades – I have cared a lot about the world and cared a lot for the world. My attention was on making a difference and inspiring delight, compassion, and connection. My work has been to accompany others – in my psychotherapy work, coaching, writing, podcasting, and leading. And I really wanted to make an impact.
I’ve always had a deep internal life. I have needed my alone time in the mornings and evenings. I have needed my moments of dropping into the sacred in my day. I’ve practiced pretty good self-care amidst the caring I do for others, too. But a lot of my attention was still focused on “out there” – on others. Helping. Holding space. Caring for others. Making life good for others.
And now, something holy is asking me to turn more toward me.
Just for my own pleasure.
My own contentment.
My own communion with the Divine.
Of course that inevitably benefits those I meet and serve. That’s almost a given.
What isn’t a given is doing things “just because” and only for me.
“Just because it delights me” is a sacred reason enough to bake bread, take a yoga class, go outside and walk in nature, curl up on the couch with a good book, put the phone on silent.
It doesn’t immediately benefit anyone else.
And the Universe is telling me, that’s okay.
No – MORE than okay. Necessary.
The dreams I had – some realized, some not – for my role out in the world are changing. I am letting go of some big dreams. I used to want to make a big impact. Some of my dear friends used to say, “Girl, we are going to see you on Oprah some day! And I could feel the bigness of that calling. It felt true. I’ve never desired fame – I actually don’t love the spotlight and ironically have shied away from the calling to be in the spotlight! I’d much rather share the spotlight!
But I have desired impact.
Now, at 50 years old, I am letting go of old dreams and stories of what that “impact” should look like.
God is telling me, “Even if you do nothing else from this day forward, you have done enough.”
Maybe you need to hear that, too. I’d imagine that if you are anything like me and you’ve been drawn to my writings and work, you care a lot for others as well. You’ve probably spent a lifetime being there and caring for others.
God knows better than I do that I’ll never stop caring for the world. I bet you won’t either. It’s in the essence of who we are.
But “how” I do that is changing. My desires and hopes are changing. Some call that a “why.” Whatever you want to call it, what motivates me, what my decisions are based in, is changing.
The impact I make doesn’t need to be so wide spread.
Many of my clients have said such kind and loving “thank you’s” to me over the decades. I used to shy away from that. I used to change the subject or say, “Nah, I’m just doing what my heart and Spirit tell me to do.” But I have been learning to receive this “praise” or “thank you” and really take it in, because yes, when I am with a client I really do give my full presence, heart, and intuition. I am deeply devoted to my people!
When a reader of my blog shares that something I wrote resonates deeply within them, I can feel that the impact is deep, much deeper than some generic self-help quick fix offers. I can feel their genuineness. I am learning to receive that, too.
So in reckoning with my life this far, my work may not have made it to Oprah, but it has reached the inner landscape of some people’s hearts and bodies…and families.
So being on Oprah or whatever else is “big” right now…that’s no longer even a desire. I used to think that if I were on Oprah that meant that I had made a big, lasting impact in the world. And that would mean I had done good and I had done enough.
But these days, I no longer need Oprah or “likes” on social media to tell me that I have “done good” or “done enough” and made a big enough impact.
It’s embarrassing to admit that I got sucked into this world of basing the goodness or enoughness of my love, presence, and impact on likes, reviews, or ratings.
I guess I am maturing and growing! I guess I am changing.
But actually it feels like a returning.
I have always preferred knowing people deeper rather than knowing more people “wider” – like staying on the surface. I have always loved getting emails from those who read my blog and me responding to them. Personally. Not some personal assistant. I like intimacy – not shallow connections. When I realized that and that it’s actually a gift in this world of surfacy connection – I let go of the numbers of likes, reviews, and ratings.
I spent the last year of my forties in deep discernment – reckoning with my life, dreams, mistakes, longings, sadness, joys, insecurities, habits, etc. It has not been easy nor neat and orderly. It’s been messy and murky, sometimes ugly. I’ve met disgust, imperfection, anger, loss, and also contentment, forgiveness, and love.
And what is here now within me?
My friends who are older told me I’d feel it: freedom. To do what truly delights me. Just for my own pleasure.
They told me that this would happen – the midlife post-menopausal invitation, opportunity, and delight is to feel this freedom from what others want, others need, or other people’s opinions or likes. It’s a time to be untethered. It’s a time of returning to self – and for your own pleasure. Just because it delights you.
This isn’t selfish, it’s holy.
So what does this mean for what I offer or create for the world?
1. I am not driven to hustle or hurry.
I am moved by slow and Flow. I am moved by delight and adventure. I create from “rest” – literally resting/sleeping and the nurturing rest that comes from being offline and going on adventures.
2. I don’t produce on a set timetable because I “should” or “have to” to keep a following or because that’s some industry standard I need to follow.
I write, create, and share on a “schedule” of Divine timing and with regard to what my body and soul need.
3. I don’t share what might be deemed popular or what others want from me.
I share what God puts on my heart to share (well, this hasn’t changed!).
4. I won’t stick to one way, shape, or structure for sharing.
If my heart is moved to lead a poetic meditation on my podcast or Insight Timer, I will. If I am moved to share a story or talk and then share a practice, I will. If I want to emphasize my writing more and blog more, I will.
5. I won’t stay doing something just because it’s what I “should” do.
If I decide to stop one way of sharing or working and start another, I will.
6. I don’t care how many followers, readers, listeners, participants I have.
I care how fully we connect.
7. I am not responsible for anyone’s happiness.
I am responsible for listening to the Divine and acting from there.
8. I won’t give all my gems away for free.
Some of my offerings will always stay free. But some of my writings and creations will need to now be paid for.
This is a time of untaming. I am no longer taming…well, anything. Even my mind (I have a podcast/blog post in the works on that!) I am not taming my expression because it might not get a like or a review. I am not fitting into anyone’s box, timetable, or schedule.
I am untaming.
What does this mean for me personally?
A returning. A freedom to love me, choose me, have preferences and state them, set exquisite boundaries, and honestly – enjoy my life a lot more. Enjoy ME more.
The freedom I’ve tasted so far is exquisite.
Last week, I was standing on top of a mountain about to ski down a slope. I stood there for a moment overlooking miles and miles of mountains. I felt the mountains, birch trees, pine trees, crisp air, and sunlight come to the center of my chest and ask to come inside. They asked me to receive them! I started to tear up. They asked me to receive them not because I was good or worthy, but just because.
I literally softened and everything in me exhaled fully. And then I readied myself and pointed my skis down the mountain.
Take this as your sign that it’s time for you, too, to turn toward your own self. To let go of doing stuff just because you “should,” fitting into someone else’s box, and looking outside of yourself for likes or approval to know what the Universe and you angels have been telling you all along – you are good, you are so so good. You are enough.
It’s not selfish. Let thought – that judgment – was put upon us by a culture that does not have our best interests in mind – let that go. This isn’t selfish – it’s holy. And if you are reading this, it’s time, baby.
Take a moment and stand on the earth.
Wherever you are – an office building, a kitchen, a field.
Shoes on or off.
Soften or close your eyes.
Feel the breath breathing you.
Reach your arms out however you want to.
Imagine the Universe asking YOU to receive HER (I’m using the pronoun “her” right now because, as you know, the feminine has been historically not included when talking about the Divine) – her gifts of the beach, mountains, wide open fields…her limitless potential of what is possible…her grace…her sunlight…her stars…her love…her message that YOU are worthy of such exquisite focus, pleasure, and freedom. Just because. It’s not selfish – it’s holy.