Thursday, April 25, 2013

Self Care: Between Flood and Drought

When we’re examining our lives and the ways in which we are manifesting--or not manifesting--our optimal life vision, it’s important to be clear, honest and erring on the side of self-love and compassion. Being alive in the 21st century is no simple task, and we can easily be sidetracked and distracted from living in balance and wholeness.

My friend and visionary colleague Carol Gino has often used the term “soul drought” to more accurately describe the experience of burnout, and this notion of spiritual drought is one that speaks deeply to me.

 Drought On Many Levels
Living in the high desert of the American Southwest since 2010, I’ve become increasingly sensitized to the preciousness of water. With rain and moisture an elusive but desirable phenomenon, we watch with wonder as the Midwest is inundated with rain, floods, and more water than they know what to do with. Meanwhile, we pray for even a drop of rain as we watch the wind lift our topsoil and scatter it to the four corners of the earth.
And so it goes in our lives, as well. I have moved through periods of my life where psychological, spiritual and emotional drought seemed the order of the day, and the ability to water my inner landscape seemed beyond my ken. I have also manifested periods where my personal landscape was lush with growth and verdant with possibility, and the enormity of this contrast is not lost on me.
Drought Happens—And So Does Rain
Drought can happen in many areas of life, including friendships, marriage, business, family and finances. And when those periods of drought occur, we squeeze whatever moisture we can from whatever sources we can find, tending the shoots and roots so that they survive the dry times in anticipation of their eventual (but not always inevitable) renewal.
In her wonderful book and recording, “How To Love A Woman”, Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes describes what she calls “the life/death/life cycle” of relationship, characterizing the small, temporary “deaths” within loving relationships that must be consciously navigated until life returns and the relationship flourishes once again.
Similarly, we can see our own “life/death/life cycles” in our ability to care for ourselves, and the death cycle could indeed be compared to a period of drought, be it emotional, financial or otherwise.
Drought happens, but so does rain.
Build a Pipeline
When the Midwest is flooding and the Southwest is parched, I often wonder why we can’t build a water pipeline to transport water from one part of the country to another. We debate the environmental and economic prudence of piping crude oil from Canada to the Gulf Coast, and I suppose there just isn’t enough money in transporting water to make this notion viable. But this is a topic for another blog more prone to discuss socioeconomics and environmentalism.
However, I mention the potential for an interstate water pipeline to illustrate a point. If there is an area of your life that’s receiving the lion’s share of your attention and time (ie: your work as a nurse), it may be quite clear that other areas of your life are drought-stricken and greatly desirous of “watering”. Perhaps you’re too exhausted to exercise, or you’ve given up reading, playing guitar, or otherwise nurturing some part of your life that feeds you on a level that nursing just can’t touch.
If you notice that some aspect of your life is parched for attention and energy while another area is inundated, perhaps it’s time to build a metaphoric pipeline from one area of your life to the next.
This pipeline can be fueled by intention, action, and the acknowledgement that one narrow aspect of your life simply doesn’t deserve so much time and attention, and other areas must be fed so that your inner landscape can richly bloom with possibility.
So, when the waters of intention begin to be redirected towards areas long in drought, the blooming will continue if you monitor the “flow” and irrigate when and where it’s most needed.
The Gardener is You
Your life’s landscape requires conscientious care and watering, and there’s really only one gardener. You may petition for help from God, your angels, your coach, your therapist or your spouse, but you’re the only one who can truly turn on the hose, build the pipeline, or otherwise fertilize the soil of your life.
Till gently, water regularly, fertilize wisely, and use your inner and outer resources to create rich, abundant and well-irrigated “soil” that will serve you for years to come.
Happy gardening!

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