What I Know For Sure

By Katie, 6:20 am

What I know for sure is that something’s gotta give.

What I know for sure is that my plate is overflowing.

What I know for sure is that I’ve once again been trying to play the role of Miss Over Achiever, Do-It-All, Superwoman. I’m the proud owner of a new house and a new job promotion. I’ve joined a new church and started a new role as a non-profit Board member. I’ve started volunteering in the community and contributing to a creative writing critique group. I’ve doubled my commute and quadrupled my responsibilities and commitments.

What I know for sure is that even though all of these things make my life richer and fuller and more exciting, they also require a whole lot of energy and brain power, of which I seem to have a finite amount.

What I know for sure is that at the end of the day, I’m finding myself with a choice. I can either cook a healthy dinner or I can blog. I can either sneak in a bit of exercise or I can blog. I can either spend an hour relaxing with my husband or I can blog. I can either indulge in some new interests and hobbies I’ve found or I can blog.

What I know for sure is that I need to start choosing the former.

What I know for sure is that true health – the whole self health I’m always talking about – requires living with awareness, with mindfulness, with an appreciation for the present moment. It requires cutting ourselves some slack and lovingly accepting our limitations. It requires slowing down, stopping to smell the roses.

It requires all of the things I haven’t been doing.

What I know for sure is that I will be taking an indefinite hiatus from blogging.

What I know for sure is that this decision has been incredibly difficult, which is why I’ve taken a long time to come out and say it. I know I will miss everything about blogging – the writing, the connecting, the sharing. I know I will miss all of you immensely.

But I also know that stepping away is what I need right now.

I know for sure that in taking a break from Health for the Whole Self, I am in essence embodying that blog title. I am choosing to prioritize my health in the broadest sense of the word.

What I know for sure is that this is a decision all of you can appreciate.

Finally, what I know for sure is that I am deeply thankful for the opportunity to connect with all of you. I am thankful for those of you who read, who commented, who e-mailed. I am thankful for those of you who agreed and for those of you who challenged. I am thankful for the ideas that have been shared and the encouragement that has been given, by all of us.

Until we meet again! ♥

Some Thoughts on Giving Back

By Katie, 5:15 am

Have you ever been in the middle of a tough situation and had someone say to you, “Well, at least you’re not starving to death/living in a war-torn country/hit by a natural disaster/facing a terminal illness”?

I absolutely hate when people say that.

Essentially, it’s the flip side of the comparison game I usually talk about; instead of comparing ourselves to people we deem more fortunate, we compare ourselves to people we deem less.

I find this problematic for two reasons. First, it seems to de-legitimate (I think I made up that word) whatever struggle the person is facing. When we should be showing compassion and empathy, we instead say, “because your life isn’t totally in ruins, you have no right to feel sad/upset/frustrated/stressed/etc.” Second, it attempts to use the struggles of other people to force us to feel better about ourselves. So instead of showing compassion to those in need, we capitalize on their struggles to downplay our own. Not cool.

Having said all that, I do think that one of the best strategies for managing the challenges and difficulties of our own lives is to get out there and help other people with theirs – not in order to minimize or devalue our own struggles, but rather to experience the joy that comes from connecting with others and lending a helping hand. Not to mention that giving our time and efforts to help others is just the right thing to do.

I’ve been reminded of all this through a program I’m participating in called GIVE (which stands for Getting Involved in Volunteer Experiences). It’s run by an organization in Baltimore called Business Volunteers Unlimited, whose mission is to connect the business and nonprofit communities through volunteer efforts.

Through the program, I’ve been able to give back to the community in a way I simply wasn’t doing before. One time I helped put together furniture for an under-funded high school in the city. Another time I helped with the upkeep of one of the few green spaces in the urban jungle. And just this past weekend, I worked with refugees from Ethiopia who are currently job-hunting; we practiced interview questions, looked at online applications, and discussed options for schooling.

I wish I could say that my motivation for participating in the program stems entirely from a selfless desire to help others. But I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that part of the draw is the warm and fuzzy feeling I always have afterward. It’s hard to focus on my day-to-day stresses when I’m actively giving back.

Participating in the GIVE program has shown me that while comparing “down” isn’t a healthy way of boosting myself up, getting out there and getting my hands dirty in volunteering is.

Do you do any volunteer work? Do you find it helps you as much as it helps those you’re volunteering with/for?

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