Do what makes you come alive

Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive. ~ Howard Thurman

I’ve spent so much time with my nose to the grindstone on many fronts — researching and understanding my own health problems (now mostly resolved), furthering my career (by means I’m still mapping out), as well as attempting to be the best mother possible — that I’ve forgotten what makes myself come alive. That might sound cliché. But it is well known that when women become mothers, they put themselves last. And so it has been for the past… almost a decade now.

Living life. Feeling alive. Experiencing the joie de vivre has always been a deep part of my soul. Sadly, this all but disappeared when I developed severe and debilitating insomnia, food allergies, brain fogs and more, starting with the birth of my first child, and continuing on through my second pregnancy and into my second post-partum. I had a very troubled thyroid which led to chronic illness that no one could see, let alone fix. And I had to crawl out of that dark hole all by myself. Being a new mom with an infant and a toddler who both needed me constantly, did not make it easier.

But I did it. It took many years, and quite a few tears, but I brought myself back from the depths of chronic illness, fatigue and depression. And my two wonderful kids made it through unscathed. In fact, they’re thriving now.

Moving to New England has become a fresh start for me. My kids are no longer in need of “babysitting” and so now we can enjoy life together. Because we had no summer camps set up, no family vacation plans, and because I am their primary caretaker (happily so) I was “forced” to take my kids to the beach all summer. This, in turn, forced me to slow down my pace of life, and stop to think about the things that really matter to me. All work and no play, makes mommy a bore!

The  littlest of things are beginning to bring back my lust for life – spotting a pileated woodpecker on our weeping cherry tree; naming our resident rabbit “Uncle Pete;” attacking the weeds in the overgrown flower beds of our new front yard; picking out which Witch Hazel tree to plant for winter showcase; trying to catch sand crabs with the kids; discovering a bike trail through the woods just behind our house; perfecting my strokes along the perimeter of the swim area at our local beach, while watching the sun’s rays taper through the silent verdant water underneath. These are things that bring me back to present reality and fill my soul with joy once again.

In this process of renewal, I’ve learned to let go of some things (e.g. the constant tuning into social media), and bring back those things that I’ve neglected (e.g. designated time for reading books). Photography and creative writing both used to make me come alive, but somewhere along the way they fell to the bottom of the priority lists, too.

That is no longer the case. From here on out, I’ve decided that if it doesn’t make me come alive, it isn’t worth doing. And I’m not talking about doing the dishes. You can actually come alive while doing dishes, too (here’s a post I wrote on that…).  But if I’m spending endless hours on tasks that squelch my soul rather than quench it, without return on invested effort, there is no longer any point in doing it.

Instead, I’m going to go do those things that make me come alive.