Lessons from My Father: Kicking Back
Often I hear the leaders that I work with say, “I don’t have time to take care of myself.” This includes corporate leaders, volunteer leaders, sisters, brothers, daughters, sons, mothers and fathers.
No matter the role we play, it is easy to get so caught up in the treadmill of taking care of others that we exhaust ourselves. This is not a good state of affairs – for anyone.
It is easy to forget that we are the pitchers from which the water is poured into others.
Recently, I finished a series of work projects that I allowed to take all of my time and energy. As a result, I spent less time than I would like on my family, friends and self. In the process, I forgot to apply the learning I had gained from losing my father many years earlier.
Given that tomorrow is Father’s Day, it seems fitting to remember and share the lesson that dad taught me through his struggle because it applies here: treat every day as if it were your last.
It’s been almost 30 years since my dad passed away – it was a long battle with cancer. Like many of you, I believe that everything happens for a reason and that there is a lesson to be learned in every challenge.
The lesson? I'll restate it for myself: treat every day as if it were your last.
Although it sounds pessimistic to my ear when I say it, it feels incredibly optimistic when I hear myself say it. It reminds me that this is not my last day. This is a day to be appreciated and enjoyed. I do that - mostly - but sometimes I forget.
If I am not enjoying this day, there is something wrong with me. If I haven’t noticed that the sun is shining or taken the time to appreciate the thunderstorm that brings much needed rain, I need to get it in perspective. It reminds me to make the right choices. It means that I should say “yes” when a friend asks me to dinner. It means I should spend more time with the people who are important to me. And when my dog puts his paw on my “work” chair begging me to go outside and play for a few minutes, I should say “yes.”
No matter what life circumstances surround me, there is something to be appreciated. If I don’t look for it, I’m missing a joyful ride.
So, I thank my dad for the lesson that he never said out loud but teaches me every day. That lesson has reminded me to read a story to my kids when they were little and it makes me smile to answer the phone when they call or need to talk now that they are grown.
I don’t always make the right choices. All I - and we - can do is try – every day.
The amount of energy that we have to spend has its limits and we don’t need to go away for a week to take care of ourselves – although I will admit that it helps. With that having been said, we all need to remember to take time/make time every day for ourselves. Doing so will ground you and give you more energy for your “work” – in all settings (that includes the sacred work of making brownies which I intend to do this week).
I’d like to challenge you to make five minutes (or more) for yourself each day – every day for the next week. If you are here right now – that’s a start. Take five deep breaths before you leave. I mean for this to be a place of rest and I hope that it serves that purpose for you.
Remember who you are. And take time to rest.
© Kathy Sturgis, Ph.D. Kathy is founder of Refreshment Zone and is an organizational and personal development specialist with a doctorate in communication. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.