“I don’t want to live in the kind of world where we don’t look out for each other. Not just the people that are close to us, but anybody who needs a helping hand. I can’t change the way anybody else thinks, or what they choose to do, but I can do my bit.” ― Charles de Lint
Saturday while in a deep triangle pose in yoga I heard my theme for 2016 sound up from my bones: SERVICE.
Earlier that morning I was feeling some irritation around all the work involved around launching a new community initiative to support parents of teens. It was feeling burdensome to handle this on top of training two new staff members, making some key business and financial decisions and working to create more balance in my 2016-2017 speaking schedule. My plate has been very full.
But when I heard my Wise Self whisper in yoga that I don’t have to do this new project, I “get” to do it—to serve others and hopefully bring a little more hope, compassion, understanding and support to the journey we’re all on—everything shifted. I have a blessed life in so many ways and feel it’s my responsibility and privilege—as an able-bodied being on this beautiful and complex planet—to try and do all I can to bring light to darkness. To lessen human suffering however I can.
The other night as I was cooking dinner and waiting for the guys to get home. For some reason, I turned on the news (I purposely don’t watch the news—too fear-based for me). I listened to about 10 minutes of highlights from a national news network on lead-poisoned water, politicians fighting, economic instability and greed, unspeakable violence and human suffering and then quickly turned it off. I felt the sorrow and pain of the worldhit me like a tidal wave, as well as some anger at wishing things were different, and started to succumb to the downward pull. Then, I slowly felt myself rising up and out and taking all this in as a call to action rather than an invitation to turn my back and walk away.
2016 has only just begun, but clearly this year is off to an intense start. This my friends, is not the year to hole up, hold back, and hunker down. This is the year for each of us to dig deep and ask, “What is uniquely mine to do?” And, “How am I meant to serve?”
Serving others looks different for each of us. It doesn’t necessarily mean (but it could) starting a new nonprofit and filling a void in your community—it could be bringing your sick neighbor soup and magazines. It’s less about what you do and more about “doing something.” Trust that you’ll be guided as to what this is.
How do you know if something is “uniquely yours to do?” These are my criteria:
• I move slow, pause a lot, get clear on the need and make sure everything in my being is saying, “YES!”
• I make sure that the volunteer work I’m doing will feed me and not drain me
• I release perfection, embrace “good is good enough,” and always-ask for help
• I pay close attention to my emotions: our feelings are our internal GPS-they guide us on where to focus our energy/time/talents
Today, back in yoga, I heard more wisdom on this theme; my Wise Self whispered, “Renee, don’t forget in serving others, you also need to practice self-care and remain in service to yourself—your heart, your soul and your body.” Serving others doesn’t mean abandoning ourselves. It means both listening to the call of our heart, as well as tending to our heart’s well-being. Thank you, I needed that reminder.
Consider taking a retreat: In transition and seeking space for reflection? I’d love to support you. I have two retreats coming up that only have a couple of spots left (the lodging at these centers goes very quickly). Consider joining me at beautiful Kripalu, the largest retreat center in North America, Jan. 29-31 or at Esalen Institute Feb. 26-28 in Big Sur, CA. View all upcoming retreats here.
Subscribe here to Live Inside Out, a weekly blog written by life balance teacher/coach/self-care evangelist and Career Strategists president, Renée Peterson Trudeau. Offering custom life balance workshops, women’s retreats, training/certification, books/telecourses and individual career coaching, her work has appeared in The New York Times, Good Housekeeping, Spirituality & Health and more. Thousands of women in ten countries are becoming RTA-Certified Facilitators and leading/joining self-care groups based on her award-winning curriculum. She is the author of The Mother’s Guide to Self-Renewal and Nurturing the Soul of Your Family: 10 Ways to Reconnect and Find Peace in Everyday Life. She lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband and 13 year-old son. More on her background here.