The moment the first spring crocus finds its way through the earth’s brown crust and stretches toward the sun, we feel the power of renewal. Things may have been ‘snowed over’ for a while but no one shows us renewal better than Mother Nature. As women, our situation is not dissimilar. Our days are covered in one layer of responsibility after another. Popping our head above the seemingly endless layers to experience renewal takes but a moment, and when we do the rewards are plentiful. We are not only more effective at work but feel more personally satisfied as well.
When Arianna Huffington discusses ‘The Third Metric’ she describes it as reducing stress and prioritizing wellbeing instead of just focusing on money and power. At Huffington’s first conference on the topic Senator Claire McCaskill linked her ability to renew herself to special moments. She described such a moment on the morning of the conference. With her daughter in a New York hotel room, they woke up, ordered room service, and watched Sex and the City. “I had my renewal moment at the crack of dawn watching Carrie and her shoes,” she said.
So how do you find those special moments? Like Senator McCaskill any time spent with my adult daughters will do it for me. But when that isn’t possible yoga, swimming and massage will get me out from under. Then like the crocus, I can take a moment to feel the warmth of the sun. Friends have shared other ideas that work for them such as biking, walking by the ocean, stepping away from technology, gardening, journaling or reading poetry. We are no different than the battery in our laptop or mobile phone. If we don’t take time to recharge we’ll crash and lose our ability to function.
Stress experts advise us to take ‘renewal breaks’ throughout the day as they know it’s like stopping to catch your breath after a sprint. None of us can operate ‘full-steam ahead’ all day, every day. We need to hit the pause button by taking some time to ‘just be’, for it is in these moments that we will feel recharged and rejuvenated.
Renewal requires some quiet. When you quit thinking and just feel that’s when you connect. I have a friend whose guiding principle is one she learned from a wise Aboriginal Elder who said: “Sometimes I sit on my porch and think. Sometimes I just sit.” This same friend often talks about the importance of dedicating time to ‘not do’. She sent an email while on vacation noting that we are so busy that even on holidays it takes several days to turn off. “I went to the beach yesterday with a beer and a book. I sank into my beach chair and just sat. Two pleasurable hours simply flew by”, she told me.
Oprah knows the value of this and consequently has a three pronged energy policy based on “Reserve, Restore and Take off Sunday’s.” Early in her career when she was working hard as a reporter she became depleted and realized that if she was going to be successful it meant conserving her energy. Now, if she begins to feel exhausted, she pulls back and takes time for herself, even if it means literally going into a closet. Sundays are always a day when she does nothing but sit around in her ‘jammies’. She calls it her spiritual base of renewal and I dare say it is the quiet, unscheduled time that provides the opportunity to experience those special moments. Renewal requires accessing deep feelings which just isn’t possible when we are overwhelmed and rushing around.
Those special moments provide us with renewal because they connect us with our essence, the goldmine inside of each of us which makes us unique. Robert Mason Pollock describes it in his book, “Navigating by Heart.” In it he says, “The larger purpose is to still the mind, and the outer senses, in order to give access to your inner self and your inner resources”. He invites us to cast off the inevitable negativity, doubt and illusion which come from the external world to find the wisdom, perception and guidance which lie within each of us.
Only by finding a quiet environment is that possible Pollock says, but once we connect we’ll feel a sense of calmness, our face will relax, there will be a gentleness in our eyes and a deep resonance when we speak. When we do this each of us can relax more into who we are. This authenticity is attractive. People will be drawn to you. Your quiet confidence will make them want to help you reach your goals. There will be more flow and you’ll be more effective at work. Additionally, you’ll feel more satisfaction in the freedom and power of being yourself.
Ultimately, renewal isn’t about finding your purpose but rather taking a break from those demands. By taking time to leave the layers of your life behind, even for a short time, you can connect with what makes you special. By getting you out of your thoughts and into the feelings in your body you’ll find the spirit and energy of your core essence and those special moments will bring you renewal.