My cat, Bumper, follows me everywhere in the house. When I get home from work, he greets me at the door. He’s under my feet while I make dinner in the kitchen, so much so, that if I’m not careful, I trip over him or almost close his little head in the refrigerator door. He sits on the bath mat and waits for me to get out of the shower and follows me back downstairs where he hopes I will take a seat on the couch.
Because as my husband so aptly put it this week, I’m Bumper’s best friend. And his greatest hope is that I will sit on the couch, so he can crawl into my lap and lay his head on my shoulder where he will offer a deep sigh and big purrs of contentment. He simply wants to be together.
And as I write this, I’m feeling emotional. I’m feeling emotional because Bumper does not ask anything else of me. He does not measure my worth by whether I was successful at work today. He does not care if I made mistakes. He’s not concerned with how much of my to-do list was accomplished.
Bumper simply loves me. No strings attached. It has occurred to me as someone in a new role, that I have not been extending that same unconditional love to myself. I’ve been working really hard with the hope that I can make myself proud. I’ve been hoping to show my new teammates that I can add value. That I am worthy of their trust.
And I am tired. Because as much as it pains me to say, an executive coach recently pointed out to me (in reference to Brene Brown) -I am “hustling after my worth.”
When she first said it, I was annoyed. I even thought, “Don’t try to Brene Brown me. I’ve read every book she’s ever written.” And I also thought, “Girl, you don’t know me. I’ve been doing my self-work for quite some time now, and that used to be me, but that ain’t me now.”
But as I step back and evaluate my exhaustion, I think I’m back here. I’m back to learning this lesson. And like many life lessons, I’m having to learn them over and over again.
My patterns are pretty clear. I overwork and overachieve when I’m avoiding negative feelings. I overfunction when I’m feeling inadequate.
Because as an Enneagram 3, it’s easier to do sometimes than it is to feel.
But how our work feels to us matters more than how our work looks to others.
How our life feels to us matters more than how our life looks to others.
We are human beings not human doings. Our to-be list is more important than our to-do list. How we show up for ourselves matters in a big way. It makes the work better. I wrote last week that every educator deserves champions.
We also must learn to be our own champions.
Sitting on my couch with Bumper is part of the work. Sitting at rest with those who bring you peace is part of the work.
Front porch sitting, coloring with your kids, conversations around bonfires, leisurely cups of coffee and walks with friends on the weekends, are all part of the work.
We must give our bodies and brains idle time. Space to breath and feel and think in an unhurried manner. It improves our thinking, our sense of connection, our creativity, and our work.
Some of us can more easily find this time than others. But we must take the time when we can get it. Without the guilt. Without the multi-tasking.
As Jim Elliot said, “Wherever you are, be all there.”
You deserve to simply be.
How might you allow yourself a smidge of guilt-free idle time in upcoming days?