“Healing is a small and ordinary and very burnt thing. And it’s one thing and one thing only: it’s doing what you have to do.” Cheryl Strayed
Cheryl Strayed, author of the memoir Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, had to hike for months to get her own life. I have to write blog posts and a manuscript to get mine. It’s that simple and it’s that hard.
I blogged about my qualifications to write relationship posts in 2016 (What Qualifies Me? (writing about relationships)), knowing how unqualified I feel to write the second part of this year’s focus – getting your own life.
Mark Twain said, “Write what you know.” An unknown author said, “Teach what you want to learn.”
I’m combining the two quotes. I know I’d like to learn how to get my own life.
I also know my husband and kids want me to learn. However, they are three of my biggest distractors, but that’s because of me, not them.
Lots of events happen to bring us to the point of willingness. One of those things for me was a friend’s question, “When’s it going to be my turn?”
Anytime her husband, her three adult children, or her extended family and friends need something or they have anything go wrong, she’s on their speed dial. She said, “I feel overwhelmed by their needs and confused about when to help and when to say, ‘No.’ There’s plenty I’d like to do, but when would I ever have time or energy after dealing with them and their lives.”
I would let the mailman derail my plans if he decided to tell me about his bad day. I’m not sure it’s because I’m compassionate. I think it’s more because I’m a coward. I am afraid to live my life.
I hated understanding.
I wanted to scream at her, “Why don’t you stop enabling everyone you know and get on with your life? That’s what would be most helpful to you and to your family and friends … seeing you live your life.”
Like Carl Gustav Jung said, “Nothing has a stronger influence psychologically on their environment and especially on their children than the unlived life of the parent.”
Women tend to attend to others. It’s our maternal instinct whether we have children or not. Sometimes we want to help. Sometimes we’re expected to help. Sometimes we don’t know better; we don’t know we have choices.
I lived up to my title that I was voted in high school as “Most Dependable.” It’s not dependable, though, to throw up in the parking lot outside the door to my kindergarten classroom because I’m concerned about letting down my students. I ended up driving back home that morning feeling dizzier and weaker than on my way to school.
I lived this way for years. Stopping the insanity of being overly responsible for others was an initial step to getting my own life, but it wasn’t the end-all. Just because I stayed home when I was sick didn’t mean I was living my life.
Since the start of my writing career, I’ve watched myself like I imagine you’d watch yourself during an out-of-body experience. If my behavior weren’t so maddening, it’d be comical because of all the ways I distract myself from writing my manuscript.
After my daughter got engaged, I misinterpreted her busyness and fewer phone calls as meaning she wanted to plan her wedding without me. I felt left out. Who can write through these kinds of emotions?
When we straightened out our misunderstanding, we had a lot of wedding planning to catch up on. Who can write when overwhelmed with details?
When she got pregnant, she lived four and a half hours away. We agreed that I’d try to be there when the baby was born. When she got pregnant again, it was good that she had moved closer because my job this time around was taking care of their little one while she and her husband were at the birthing center. Who can write with deadlines more important than their own?
Our son’s wedding was the same year as our second grandchild’s birth. Who can write with this much going on?
My husband had two health scares the same year. He’s fine, but there were months of tests and stress. Who can write under this kind of pressure?
As significant as was each of these events, an abundant number of women live their lives and live out their purposes under circumstances as special, busy, and weighty. Being distracted from our lives doesn’t mean we love and honor others more. It means we love and honor ourselves less than we should.
Making my way back to my blog to write about distractions is an attempt at getting my own life and being more qualified to help others do the same.
What are you distracted by? What are you distracted from? What’s the first step you can take to getting your own life?
In This Together,
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I have learned that it\’s never going to be my turn, because my life is not about me. It\’s about responsibility, about helping, and about being an encouraging voice and heart.
It\’s great to see you here, Andrew. I hope you\’re doing okay.
Your words are wise, as always. Thanks for sharing them. I learned those things, too, but then I took them too far. Way too far. I didn\’t think I could be too responsible, too helping, or too encouraging, but something went awry in this part of my life. I\’m blogging to get a handle on it. I want to be all of these things and more, but I\’ve had to also learn that sometimes it has to be about me even in the face of Christians saying JOY is Jesus, Others, then Yourself. I\’ve drafted a blog post about that acronym (that\’s what it\’s called, right?). Anyhow, I\’m almost sure it\’ll be met with resistance. However, I almost died making my life about everyone else. I\’m watching friends who are dying doing the same thing. In fact, I\’ve watched a couple of them already die and it breaks my heart I didn\’t ask if they were okay, if they were maybe doing too much, if they maybe needed some time for themselves. I mean, I know we\’re supposed to strive to be like Jesus, but, in actuality, we\’re not Him. I have to remind myself of that when I\’m getting wound up a little too tight.
I bet you didn\’t expect all this. I didn\’t either, but I appreciate the chance to share on the topic. I\’ve mulled it over in my head for years. Finally decided to put it out there and wrangle with it in front of friends. Thanks for being in this together.
I am distracted by: the lights of the clock, how weird my face looks reflected in the monitor, the addiction-machine on the coffee table buzzing with an incoming text. I started getting up at 5 this year, because no one is up then and it\’s dark and quiet and awesome. I love that Gloria Steinem quote, the one about writing being the one thing I do where I don\’t feel like I should be doing something else. You go on with your bad self, writer lady. Glad to hear you are blogging.
I laughed at your comment, Tippy. I guess I should say, \”I laughed with you, not at your comment.\” You had to be laughing when you wrote it, yes? Distracted by your reflection in the monitor. 🙂
I used to get up at 6, but it seems those days are long gone. I guess I could try again. I do love writing when nothing else is going on. Sometimes I write in the middle of the night … almost the same as getting up at 5, it\’s just I stay up until 5. Thanks for the encouragement. I\’m happy to be blogging and Gloria is spot on.
Kim, as usual you have hit one out of the park. And you have connected with me and others in a wonderfully kind yet kick in the butt manner. I have invented excuse after excuse for not writing. Admittedly, my husband\’s health crisis was a doozy of an excuse but it\’s my turn and I need to step up to it. Interesting that my 2016 word is truth because that\’s what you just laid in front of me.
Mary, I\’ve thought about you so often. I have no idea how I\’d balance all you\’ve had on your plate and have any semblance of a life. If in your situation, I\’d be so engrossed with my spouse, this blog post would have never seen the light of day. I experienced three or so months in 2015 where I got a taste of what you\’ve been through. I stayed distracted and scared and agitated and frustrated and the list of emotions goes on and on. Did I mention guilty for thinking about how waiting for the result of his next test was getting in the way of the writing I finally committed to? I mean, I was all over the place and seldom at my laptop unless distracting myself on Facebook. So, I get it!
I\’m grateful for your comment and that you shared your word for 2016, as well as your commitment to already following through with it. Your honesty is refreshing, as is your encouragement to others like me.
I am not certain that we are to have our “own” life. We are made as social beings.
“Humans are social beings. In comparisons with Animalia, humans are regarded like the primates for their social qualities. But beyond any other creature, humans are adept at utilizing systems of communication for self-expression, the exchange of ideas, and organization, and as such have created complex social structures composed of many cooperating and competing groups. Human groups range from families to nations. Social interactions between humans have established an extremely wide variety of values, social norms, and rituals, which together form the basis of human society.” (Taken from Wikipedia)
What is my own life? Might be a starting point. I think in terms of what is my place in life? In particular, each situation in which I find myself. I learned that “my own life” is not where I really want to be. Why is solitary confinement so dreaded?
I am but one of many in my life experiences. My “own” life is filled with people, challenges and satisfactions.
Perhaps the question might be “how to I find distraction free time?” (without guilt) to do those things I want to do, the things that bring some satisfaction.
Today is an example of me finding time to read and respond to your blog. As you know we are dealing with a long term family illness that can be stressful and extremely time consuming.
I consider this sharing with you to be both ‘my own life’ and a welcome distraction from my life duties and responsibilities.
Bob, I think about you and Agnes often. John and I pray for y\’all every night. We\’re still on our knees, which has strengthened our relationship, our personal lives, and our prayer life. We used to say we\’d pray for people, then not do it. We meant to, but … distractions.
I appreciate you thinking of reading my blog as a way to have your own life. I also appreciate your feedback. I\’m wading through the topics in 2016 of having your own life while loving the people in it. Feedback from you and others makes me ponder my perspectives, my posts, and my purpose.
Take good care of you and Agnes!
Thanks for sharing, Kim! We\’re in the same boat! Perhaps you can help us both! You keep writing and I\’ll keep reading.
Deirdre W. Edmonds
Law Office of Deirdre W. Edmonds, PA
1500 Highway 17 N, The Courtyard Suite 213
P.O. Box 16064
Surfside Beach, SC 29587
Deirdre, encouragement from friends like you is one of the reasons I keep writing. Thank you! It was nice having lunch with you today.
From Facebook ~
Tami Roberts Hay, Katrina D Owen and Summer Turner like this.
Summer Turner Distraction is a big problem for me. One of my daughters gave me the book The One Thing for Christmas, and it\’s helped me completely change how I do my day.
Unlike · Reply · Message · 1 · January 14 at 8:32pm
S. Kim Henson Okay, that\’s it, Summer Turner. I need that book. It\’s been on my reading list since I watched Michael Hyatt\’s seminar several months ago. But so have a dozen other books. That one intrigued me, though, because having one word for the year has been so effective. I know I need focus. The book sounded like it may offer help with that.
Like · Reply · 1 · January 14 at 10:26pm
Summer Turner I think it\’ll help.
Unlike · Reply · Message · 1 · January 14 at 10:49pm
S. Kim Henson Summer Turner, thanks.
Like · Reply · 1 · January 14 at 11:04pm
From Facebook ~
Theresa Jordan, Carolyn Mason Land, Mary McKerihan Wilson and 4 others like this.
Barbara Hilgeman Thanks for sharing your work Kim Henson. I always enjoy reading your articles.
Unlike · Reply · 1 · January 14 at 7:55pm
Kim Henson Barbara Hilgeman, I love knowing you\’re reading. heart emoticon Thank you! I\’ve missed you.
Like · Reply · January 14 at 8:08pm
Jeanie Johnson I am sorry that I didn\’t know about the health scares. So thankful that all is okay. Great article.., and I totally admire you. I know that you keep balance to the best that you are able. Now
go take care of my decorating needs! (Just Kidding., wait until April) !Love y\’all bunches !
Unlike · Reply · 1 · January 14 at 9:00pm
Kim Henson Awww, Jeanie Johnson. Thanks. heart emoticon We didn\’t tell anyone about the health stuff except our pastor. You know, we\’re so private about some things and so big mouthed about others. LoL. I\’m getting much better about honoring and protecting my writing time. I\’m making it a priority and I feel really good about it. Friends like you help me love myself enough to think I\’m worth it.
Like · Reply · 1 · January 14 at 9:29pm
Jeanie Johnson I love you all! You are definitely worth a ton of gold and I am so happy for you pursuing your dream career. Y\’all mean so much to me! Night night now!
Unlike · Reply · 1 · January 14 at 10:09pm
Kim Henson Jeanie Johnson, we feel the same way. heart emoticon Love you!
Like · Reply · 1 · January 14 at 10:19pm
Peggy New I think much of this angst comes from not setting or knowing our life priorities. And setting reasonable boundaries so that I am able to have a life. I realized shortly after realizing that my hobby income had become a business. Yes it gives me a lo…See More
Unlike · Reply · 1 · January 14 at 10:36pm
Kim Henson You\’re so right, Peggy New. We find a way when we figure out what\’s important. I think with my friend (and me too), we have to figure out what we really want, like you said. I think she really hates helping her family because it\’s unhealthy for her, bu…See More
Like · Reply · 1 · January 14 at 10:47pm
Peggy New I think there are seasons in life. The challenge is in knowing when one season is over and be willing to begin a new one. Raising children is one, marriages and grand babies are another one. Retirement is a tricky one. I knew I had to live my own li…See More
Unlike · Reply · 1 · January 14 at 11:06pm
Kim Henson Peggy New, she\’s talking, so I think that\’s an important first step to breaking her cycle. It is so worth it when we\’re finally ready. Getting ready has taken me longer than I expected, though. The S in S. Kim Henson … it\’s for Snail. LoL.
Like · Reply · 1 · January 14 at 11:18pm
Mary McKerihan Wilson Love this, Kim. I left a comment on your blog also.
Unlike · Reply · 1 · January 14 at 10:41pm
Kim Henson Thanks, Mary McKerihan Wilson. Headed over there now.
Like · Reply · 1 · January 14 at 10:47pm
Kim Henson Mary McKerihan Wilson, thank you so much. Your encouragement means a lot. It really does. If you can even consider this topic after your 2015, I\’m sure I can hang in there with it also.
Like · Reply · 1 · January 14 at 11:02pm
From Facebook ~
Sharon Treacy Carroll
Kim Henson – this is so needed in my life. Thank you for writing this.
You and 2 others like this.
Kim Henson Sharon Treacy Carroll, your sharing this and comment were just as needed. It\’s touchy sharing personal topics. Encouraging friends help.
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From Facebook ~
16 hrs · Myrtle Beach ·
Pefect timing for me Kim Henson to read this as I am distracted daily by my gigantic to do list getting Be Well Meals Cafe opened. Reading this reminded me to #slowdown and to at the very least acknowledge how distracted I am. If I am broken then so is my dream and we all have to remember to leave some space in our day to reboot and heal. Thanks for this blog!
Sharon Treacy Carroll, Joanna Grace Ducey, Peggy Mulligan Pitoscia and 5 others like this.
Karen Stone Mickool OMG, this is SO good! Thank you for sharing
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Kim Henson I appreciate your comment, Karen. heart emoticon
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Sharon Treacy Carroll I needed to hear this too!!
Unlike · Reply · 1 · 15 hrs
Kim Henson Thanks for your comment, Sharon Treacy Carroll.
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Kim Henson Leslie O\’Neill, you don\’t know how much I appreciate you passing along this post and your kind words. I was excited to see you\’re opening a place, but I can only imagine the stress involved. I\’m saying a prayer for you and your dream. heart emoticon
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From Facebook ~
Natalie Rakoci with Kim Henson.
February 10 at 9:26pm ·
Find and follow my friend and fab writer Kim Henson!
You, Summer Turner, Natalie Rakoci, Alice Wilson Roscoe and 4 others like this.
Kim Henson Awww, Natalie Rakoci. Thanks so much for sharing this blog post! heart emoticon Love you!
Like · Reply · 1 · February 10 at 10:12pm
Natalie Rakoci This is SO good! I can so relate! And I KNOW so many others that do to! Love you!!!
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Kim Henson Thank you! smile emoticon
Like · Reply · 1 · February 10 at 10:46pm
Lisa Daniels McLaughlin I could so relate!
Unlike · Reply · 2 · 18 hrs
Kim Henson Thanks for relating, Lisa Daniels McLaughlin. I don\’t feel so alone. heart emoticon
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Lisa Daniels McLaughlin Well written and could have been me! smile emoticon
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