I have a friend who once said that you could tell the state of her soul by looking at the state of her eyebrows. I think there’s some real truth to that.
The outward condition of our lives really does have something to indicate about our inward condition.
I can be a person who has a somewhat “sensitive” inward condition—which I’m beginning to believe we all do on some level—and so I’m starting to see how my outward life is a telling manifestation of the ease or dis-ease I’m feeling inside.
And, also, if I can put some time and attention into the outward condition of my life, it will sink in, too. Which is a nice trick, when you think about it.
The inward and the outward are symbiotic. This is good to know.
Maybe you’re someone who really does best getting out of the house on the weekends and if you hang out at home too much you start to nit-pick your spouse and obsess about the kitchen countertops and lose sight of the big beautiful world out there. Maybe you’re someone who really does best having some down time at home on the weekends and if you’re running around all weekend long you come home and feel bitter that your life feels like a speed boat you’re getting pulled behind.
Maybe you’re someone who needs a completely bare dining room table because that feels inviting and clutter-free to you. Maybe you’re someone who needs an elaborate table-scape on your dining room table because that feels creative and festive to you.
We’re all totally different, which is also part of the trick. Figuring out your unique life signs.
Some days, and even weeks, I feel pinned down by the weight of the trash on the minivan floor or the dishes in the sink or the piles. I feel like everything around is me is breeding faster than I can get it fixed: toys, laundry, dishes. It all becomes overwhelming.
And if you look at me, you can tell.
These are the times when Steve says in his most treading-lightly way, “Hey, do you want to take some time for yourself this weekend? Maybe go to the salon and get your hair . . . cleaned.”
As I learn to be a better companion to myself, I see that one of the ways I can take care of myself is to pay attention to the life signs that help me live with more space, breath, creativity, and ease.
Here are 7 “signs of life.” If these things are happening, there’s a good chance I’m doing fairly well:
1. I’m talking back to the brain vultures instead of assuming they’re right. The brain vultures are those voices in our heads that are circling, wanting to prey on us. They’re scavengers and they treat us like we’re road kill. I have spent too much of my life buying their lines. I’m doing well when I have the resources to talk back to the brain vultures, to tell them I’m not buying their BS. They want me to chase my worth and take on unnecessary urgencies and all this does is leave me scrambling and depleted. Period. So I talk back. They say: “Leeana, you’re never going to be as good as her over there. You’re never going to be as smart or as interesting. You’re wasting your time.” And I say: “Hey brain vultures, today is not a day for comparison. Today is day for love.” (and sometimes I add: “You suck.”)
2. I can tell you when my next break is coming. When it comes to my life, during this season anyway, I’m just NOT an open-road kind of girl. I need to know exactly when and where the next rest station is. If I have built in breaks (times when I don’t have to be “on” with anyone under three feet tall)—even if they are short and simple—I am able to be much more free and fun. No one, not one single person, can just pony-up all day long, every single day, without it taking some kind of significant toll. I’ve had to learn that this isn’t a deficiency or a failure. And I’ve had to really believe that. I am someone who needs breaks. And if I know when my next one’s coming, I am so much more able to be in the moment. To be clear, a break for me is not ten days in Fiji. It might just be an uninterrupted shower. But even that shower takes coordination at this stage of life. So I’m doing well when I coordinate my next break and make it happen for myself. If I know when that break is coming, I can play magna-tiles till the cows come home. Heck ya.
3. I’m reading beauty. When my internal world is askew, I’m neglecting those things that fill me. I need to ingest art. I need to ingest beauty. One of the ways I do that is by reading. And not just reading books about how to improve myself and my life. Additionally, I need books that are crafted. I don’t know how else to say it. Words are like music to me. And I need a consistent diet of gorgeous words, imagery, ideas. Sometimes we’re just plain empty. And we need to fill up on goodness. We need to nourish that true self. Feed it all kinds of magnificence. This is so very individual.
4. I’m laughing. You know what I’m talking about. You know what it’s like when everything has become so very, very serious. The grind has won. And, woe is me, I’m a slave to the slog. I’m doing well when I’m talking in weird voices, giggling, and cracking awesome jokes. It’s just a sign that I’m looser, lighter, and spontaneous. I’m not rehearsing all the Hard. I’m willing to let there be a light at the end of the tunnel. The laughter indicates that I’m participating in hope.
5. I’m applying moisturizer. In other words, I’m taking care of myself. This is so simple and so difficult and so profound. When we get into “touchy headspace” we start believing the mantra that there’s no time, there’s no help, there’s no space, there’s no margin. I can’t. I can’t. I can’t. And the first thing to go is the time and energy for self care. Putting on a bit of moisturizer. Drinking water. Treating our bodies with the utmost tenderness, like a mother caring for a child. I’m doing well when I’m taking time to be in charge of my own physical health, nurturing the dry parts of me—literally—and sending the message to myself that a dab of rosemary mint lotion really can bring a bit of good into the world.
6. I’m not pulling up a chair to the refrigerator. When I’m in a less-than-helpful headspace, I tend to want a solution that will make me feel better immediately, which is to say I want a fix. One of my life signs is that I’m not preoccupied with finding a solution. I have not allowed things to become so urgent that I must find relief by any means necessary. I am not pulling up a chair to the refrigerator, believing there is a food or drink in there that will solve all my problems. I am not going to the store, making unnecessary purchases, believing there is an outfit, product, or home décor item that will solve all my problems.
7. I’m dealing with the mail. I’m dealing with the visual clutter in my life. I’m believing I can do it. I’m leaning in. The minivan floor, the contents of my purse, the stacks and piles and incoming flotsam and jetsam are not in charge. I am not a victim to the chaos. Do you hear me, preschool artwork? Do you hear me, my little ponies? Do you hear me, receipts? Do you hear me, junk mail? YOU ARE NOT IN CHARGE. I am. I am in charge of creating the life I want to create. I am in charge of the piles. I am! It’s the difference in believing I am a victim and believing I have a voice and a say!
Which one do you most resonate with above? What is one of your life signs?