I woke up this morning feeling kind of heavy, a bit depressed, and not particularly excited about my nicely planned yet spacious Saturday. Then I felt an extra layer of disappointment that I wasn’t feeling good on such a nice day. I spent some time trying to get clear on why I was feeling low – and clarity didn’t come.
The image arose of my putting my disappointing mood in a purse and inviting it to come along with me into my day. This helped to bust up the sense of my feelings being the ruiner of my day. I found myself feeling less struggle, feeling lighter. I became more able to enjoy my husband’s outrageously funny remarks about something at work, more able to enjoy how soft our Molly’s fur is. (Doggie, not child, by the way.)
What else needs an invitation to be included in my day? What other feelings need some tenderness? I am going on an international trip in 6 weeks and could admit to myself that I’m not just excited – I’m nervous! That fence between excitement and nervousness is awfully narrow to walk on. I prefer to be excited – but it might make me feel best if I push down the protective fence and allow both.
I once heard that expanding the size of your personal world is stressful. That stress might look like difficulty making decisions, being fussy or irritable (I prefer the non-pathologizing word “fussy”), or simply a physical, shaky feeling of anxiety.
I didn’t make the decision to go on the trip just by listening to my heart and gut feelings. I also asked myself three questions:
· What was the joy per dollar ratio? This would be fulfilling a lifetime wish of mine and Michael’s. It was a risk, but we think we could have an enriching, hugely fun time. It could be a very high joy per dollar ratio.
· “What works?” is a question I ask myself daily when I am choosing how to spend my time, money, and energy. “Does the trip work right now to make my life happier?” At this particular time, could the cost create enough long-term stress that might outweigh the joy of going? After a realistic look at finances and checking in with our nervous systems, we concluded that the trip worked. Michael and I committed to going to Africa.
· Another question that helps me step back and see the big picture is “Would I truly regret not going this year?” The answer was yes.
So with my nervousness, excitement, and now-faded low mood, I step forward into my day feeling a bit more whole.
Judy O’Neill, MSW