Thursday, June 24, 2010

Life is a Verb: Week 4

Life is a Verb Thursday is a summertime meme that I have decided to follow as a result of reading the book by Patti Digh.  I found that book to have so many profound statements of how to live - that I have decided to meditate on one statement each week during my three months of summer vacation.

Last week's meditation caused us to ponder what are our TRUE fit into the pair of jeans of our youth, or to recapture the lifestyle that those jeans represent?  I think for me the issue is not to recapture my past, but rather to seek a realistic future.  I have always tried to live my life without regrets, and for the most part, I can look back over the past 50 years and say that I made the best decisions I could with the information I had at the time.  Hindsight is always 20/20, but I cannot look back at the past with the knowledge I have today; that is not fair. I can, however, look at the future with the knowledge I have today and attempt to make wise choices.  

I think for me it is not my old pair of jeans that I try to wear again, but it is someone else's jeans that I want to fit.  I need to learn to be satisfied with ME - to not compare myself with others for I will always find those who are better.  I need to accept who I am; discover my God-given strengths and talents and learn to develop them; learn to become the best me I can, and know that there is purpose for my life.

This week's devotion is something that has been in the back of my mind since summer began:  selfishness.  What is it, really?  Is it ever ok to think of yourself first?

Again, a bit of back story.  This segment began by a retelling of the canned speech flight attendants give before take-off.  You know the case of an emergency, the oxygen mask will drop from the ceiling.  If you are traveling with a young child, please make sure to cover your face first, then take care of the younger passengers.
We don't put ourselves first for fear of being called selfish.   Not to our face, of course, but in those quiet moments when people make infallible pronouncements about others, the kind that allow for now ambiguity....Sometimes I wonder if taking care of others - saving others - isn't simply a diversion from saving ourselves.  If I focus on you, I don't have to focus on myself.  And maybe saving others deprives them of their own agency....Nurturing my own self first in order to be better able to help others - what would this look like?  (page 119 in the Intimacy section)
For those of you who have been following my blog lately, you know that I have been taking care of my mother for the past two weeks.  While this did not come as a surprise, it was not a welcomed interruption to my summer vacation.  I was hoping to be a little selfish this summer; after all, my youngest is now a senior in high school and very independent; I was not going to be involved in academic pursuits; I did not have a summer job.  This was going to be the first summer off in five years.  The above quote is one that is quite timely for me this week.  I hope that you can related to it on some level as well.


  1. I always try to make time for myself. As I keep telling my kids, I wasn't put on this earth to constantly serve others. I really do think time to ourselves is important. We are entitled to it and we shouldn't feel guilty.

  2. I believe people drive themselves to early graves by not remembering themselves once in awhile. Many think that by sacrificing their own selves and tending to others 24/7, that it makes them holier and most Christ-like. I honestly don't see it that way. We have to be at peace with ourselves in order to do that. I've never been the least bit guilty about blocking out time for me, even if it is just a hot bath at night, going out with a girlfriend, or an hour out by the pool.

  3. What a wonderful meditation. I've had this book on my wishlist for a couple years now. Maybe I should follow your suit and use it to reflect/ regroup this summer. Thanks for the inspiration.

  4. This is a lovely and insightful post, Molly. I like what you said about the past and you, I don't live with regrets even though there are things in the past which were many ways, they made me what I am today.

    I also think it is important to take care of ourselves...and no, I don't think that is selfish. In search and rescue (or any emergency situation) we are always taught "scene safety" do not enter a scene which is not safe for yourself...because if you are not taken care of, you can not take care of others. I think this works in life everywhere. If we don't honor our own needs, we cannot meet the needs of others.

    Thanks for a thoughtful post, Molly - it made me think and reflect this morning.

  5. I'm thoroughly enjoying your weekly meditations on this book. I'm also finding the website you recommended helpful as well.

  6. Molly, your post topic is perfect for me at this time. It was very thought provoking and I can feel your struggle with what is the best thing to do this summer for yourself given your responsibilities and also your wishes for personal space and time. I feel that I understand so well.

    I think I must get this book and ponder on the topics as well. Now that my time for parent-care is at an end, I have been struggling with what is next. I was struck by the portion of the quote here:

    "Sometimes I wonder if taking care of others - saving others - isn't simply a diversion from saving ourselves. If I focus on you, I don't have to focus on myself."

    I must think on this. For the last few years, as I was caring for and supporting my parents emotionally, everyone kept telling me to take time for myself. It was hard though. My mother, while a wonderful woman, just did not teach me that. For her, life was serving others. In a good way, but serving. Not for one second thinking of oneself.

    Again, my gratitude for you being brave enough to share this with all of us. I am most appreciative.

  7. I can absolutely relate. If I could get rid of mother and daughter guilt, my life would be so much easier. And when you have an elderly parent to take care of it is very difficult to think about yourself. I try to find pockets of time when I can be "selfish". Sometimes I have more time than others. But that time is precious!

  8. Just a note to say that I've been following your journey through these posts. I don't usually have much to add, but I'm rooting for you.

  9. I think that caretakers (of children or of parents) have to be selfish at points ... if not, you will have nothing left to give. As with everything else, the key is balance and moderation.

  10. I used to put the needs of my family and close friends before me. I read and heard a lot of pep talk of how it was important of think of oneself, but I've believed that was selfish. And then, I moved out of home to start working. For four years now, I've been my own master (or mistress), and it feels awesome not to worry about another person. Over time, I think I have become a bit selfish, at least my best friend tells me that. So I've managed to balance things out for me. I still do have ground rules for myself, but I now don't have issues being a bit selfish once in a while.


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