It’s so easy to focus on the deficit, the wants or the challenge. Shaking free of that debilitating mindset takes a commitment to forgiving yourself, loving others in their language, and a clarity of judgment to know which voices serve you and which do not.
Most importantly, for obstinate personalities like me, it takes an occasional trimming. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
You see, being a mompreneur, a new parent and a new wife in a new town with two new stepkids and a new rhythm to life all added up to a hazy sense of entitlement. I sacrificed so much, I told myself. I gave birth, for heaven’s sake. I am only one person, I pleaded with the universe.
I wanted to hold on to the former, comfortable identity I had worked years to manifest. I still wanted to design my day, own every bit of my time, and put my wildly creative and random conversations at the front of the queue.
So, in mature fashion, I planted my feet, crossed my arms and, honestly, threw a big ol’ temper tantrum about how unfair everyone else’s needs were on me. I cited my limited time, my limited sleep, my limited patience. Waa, waaa, waaaa. It was honest, candid, brutal, blunt, what have you . . . in short, it was me being a hypocrite.
A few of my wants:
- 15 minutes extra in the shower to condition my hair and reflect
- No interruptions when working in my office
- Zero questions that didn’t feel valid (how dare they ask “What are we having for dinner?”)
- No staying up past the baby’s bedtime, as I clung to that precious window of sleep
- No midday calls to check-in or share stories
- Absolutely no taking away my Starbucks cafe time or midweek lunches
- Two hours (scheduled at my discretion) to catch up on shows or blogs, whatever pleased me
- Unfiltered spending on my sweet angel (fluffy lamb, it’s yours; cute shoes, let’s get ’em)
Was I hurting? Yes. Was I exhausted? Yes, still am. Was I craving intellectual stimulation? Yes. Was I trying to serve others? Yes. Was I doing it with a gracious heart? No. Ahhhh, and there’s the rub. “Service” without the smile is just obligation.
You can choose to perceive how thoughtless, selfish, demanding and flighty others are. Or, you can turn the mirror of clarity and see those very same unsightly traits in yourself. Certainly, no one is perfect. Thank the Lord for that.
It was all a cry for help and a resistance to sacrificing self. Deeper than that it was an inability to ask for help and a fear of losing self.
Funny how we tell the world how much we do, say we do it without expectation and even keep giving in productive ways to benefit others. But, the magical realization is that no gift is truly effective with strings and no one, especially me, can expect others to cater to their microcosm of wants. I had to trim back on the pity, adopt a more compassionate view of my family and set some healthy boundaries.
With those actions in motion, I started to feel liberated from guilt and wanted to enhance that freeing feeling by lightening my body to match my spirit. So, I turned to an organization I have supported before: Locks of Love.
I went to see the talented, charming Demi at Halo Hair Studio. I told her I wanted to donate at least the minimum 10 inches. And here’s what happened . . .
As I got my haircut, I thought about my behavior, burdens and desires. My behavior needed to be improved for both my loved ones and my own well-being. My burdens were self-chosen and could fall to the salon floor. My desires should be honored and voiced respectfully, not by clinging to a sense of entitlement.
By the time I left the chair, I felt lighter, invigorated and more my vibrant self. The lesson is in listening to the voices that serve you and silencing the ones that cause you distress.
I was lucky enough to be able to send my locks along to a little girl, whom I hope feels my love and the swirly curly joy each strand possesses.