Sometimes, compassion arrives when a railroad bolt gets stuck in the back tire of your car.
I suppose this might seem like the biggest inconvenience of all, after all, who would want to leave the house by 6:25 in the morning to drive half an hour to the nearest Costco in order to be the first in line? (For the record, I was also not the only human with this brilliant idea, for my arrival at 6:56 am warranted the coveted fourth spot in line).
But if walking three blocks to the nearest coffee shop to wait for said railroad-bolted tire to be replaced means two hours of alone time the day before Thanksgiving, then yes, yes, yes, count me in.
Perhaps not so ironically, when I left the house this morning, I tucked three things into my bag: my laptop, Ruth Barton’s Invitation to Retreat and a special issue of O, the Oprah Magazine’s Let It Go. As bleary-eyed as I was feeling, I couldn’t help but notice a common theme of rest and retreat between the two readings – an invitation to show compassion spiritually, emotionally and physically so I might be able to show compassion on others.
One of my favorite writers, Simone Weil, says it this way: “Compassion directed toward oneself is true humility.”
That’s a hard lesson for me to learn, let alone implement. As a person of faith, I can oftentimes feel that the last person I should be showing compassion on or toward is myself. As a parent, I can oftentimes let the feelings and needs of my children dominate every area in my life, including my own need to rest and refuel. I can do this in nearly every area of my life, including as a woman, as someone who works from home, as a friend, as a fill-in-the-blank whatever else.
As we continue to step into a season that can be more stress-filled than rest-filled, here are five things I gleaned from the special magazine issue:
*Sometimes, we have to sleep as if our lives depend on it. When I’m burning the wick at both ends, I’m always a little amazed by how much sleep my body needs. According to Chill Principle 3, though, “Sleep makes you smarter, better-looking, more creative. It can add years to your life. It improves the long-term quality of that life” (17). I don’t know about you, but this makes me crave sleep even more.
*Mood foods really are a thing. Get this: eating Brazil nuts really can help your anxiety. Snacking on bell peppers (and other vitamin-C fruits) can help decrease your stress. And, “If your mind is running like a motor when it’s time for bed, tart cherry juice might help” (19). I am absolutely adding cherry juice to my shopping list!
*Employ the 20-20-20 rule if you work with screens. As someone who spends a whole lot of time staring at the words on a screen, I loved learning that “to help maintain a healthy level of moisture and reduce eyestrain, get in the habit of looking at something at least 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds every 20 minutes” (28). That I can do.
Let It Go is chock-full of real ideas of how we can further destress and declutter our lives so we might be able to recharge, find our center and finally relax – and to me, this is exactly what all of us need as we continue to learn what it means to color outside the lines.
I mean, don’t you think?
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