“If you took a blue spruce tree and planted it in the desert, it would obviously perish. How do we forget that we too are living systems, and each of us have unique environments, needs, and conditions within which we flourish or wither?” ~Dawna Markova
Although we are far from desert conditions here in the Midwest, the last couple years of hotter, drier weather has taken a toll on the blue spruce trees in the area. I have four of them in my yard. One didn’t make it through last summer, and the other three are struggling despite the fact that I have been watering them in the dry spells. My trees are far from alone, though. I now notice other blue spruce trees everywhere I drive around town, and I’ve seen many others that are dead or struggling under these conditions.
Therefore, this quote from Dawna Markova really resonated with me. There are conditions where it is obvious that a given living specimen will not be able to survive, like a blue spruce tree in the desert or a fish on dry land, but there are also conditions that are sufficiently stressful to an organism that even if it does not kill it, it will stress the organism enough that over time it will begin to show the ill effects.
“The nature of conflict means you can’t set a boundary in your life and take care of someone else’s feelings at the same time.” ~Martha Beck
Setting (and sticking to) good boundaries is something that I really don’t do well at all. I think Martha’s quote has finally helped me to understand why this is the case.
I was raised to believe that it is my job to take of the feelings of everyone around me at all times. In fact, any lapse in taking care of others’ feelings was proof that I was undeserving of being loved. (No, those words weren’t literally spoken to me, but that was the message that was acted out.)
I’ve been sick recently, which has caused me to miss work and miss social events that I really wanted to attend in order to respect my body’s need to rest in order to heal. Listening to my body’s needs and taking care of myself when I need to do so is generally not one of my strengths, but this time I listened to my body’s needs early in the process and likely avoided what would have been greater illness if I had continued to soldier ahead. I believe that one thing that helped me to do better at listening this time is that I have been surrounded by messages recently about how important this is—not just for our physical health but also for our overall well-being and productivity.
“I feel empowered to do anything, but pressured to do everything.” ~Christine Arylo (in her October 22 blog post)
Christine Arylo published a post a few days ago entitled “No Matter How Much I Do, It’s Never Enough… how to be happy regardless of how much you accomplish” that talks about the busyness that I referred to in my last post. She makes some wonderful points about why so many women live in this perpetual state of busyness. Most of them come down to the fact that now that we have the freedom to do anything we may want, we tend to feel like we need to do it all. As she points out, this just trades the old jail cell of limited options for a new jail cell of trying to do it all. Neither is a particularly helpful recipe for living the good life.
“… for the love of God and my Sisters (so charitable toward me) I take care to appear happy and especially to be so.” –St. Therese, The Story of a Soul
I came across the above quote in a blog entry by author Gretchen Rubin (which I highly recommend, by the way) a couple of days ago. I’ve been struggling with it ever since. St. Therese wrote this line as part of a description of how her fellow nuns would disturb her work constantly all day in their attempt to be helpful to her. However, their attempts at helpfulness were actually the least helpful things they could be doing for what she actually need, making them more of a trial than a blessing.