Sunday, January 3, 2016

Resolution #1: Honor Yourself

As the new year unfolds, most of us start it by making lists; lists outlining ways we can be better and do more. Be it volunteering for an organization, giving more time to the church, or spending more time assisting family or friends, we often set off busying ourselves giving to others at the expense of our overall well being. Without even knowing it, setting out to be our best often involves us giving our best to everyone else. However, a recent incident reminded me that the most important resolution that needs to be at the top of our list is to honor ourselves and, if possible, to do so first and foremost.

When a  dear friend recently came into town, she sent out a request for dinner with her closest girlfriends. We were all elated and went about our task of trying to find the best night to meet and the perfect restaurant to do so. As usual, with so many great choices, suggestions abound and we struggled to settle on just one location. At an attempt to simplify matters, the visiting friend asked one of our girlfriends to host us at her home, so we could spend more time catching up without the time restraint of a closing restaurant. Not an earth-shattering request, but what happened next did rock my world. The friend--in a loving and gentle way--declined. Honest and without lamenting, the friend boldly but gracefully shared that she was not in a "head space" to do so and that she simply did not have the energy that hosting required and, with that, we finally did settle on a restaurant, which we gathered at the next day for an awesome dinner and great conversation (we did close the restaurant down), and had just as a delightful evening out as we would have had lounging on our friend's couch with wine glasses in hand. 

However, days later, I realized my friend's bold move was still lingering in my thoughts. So much so, that I reached out to tell her how much I admired her for honoring herself, because I knew how much courage and resolve it took for her to stand by and up for her feelings. In fact, when I told the friend how much I applauded her decision, she admitted sending us that message was like having an out-of-body experience, and I totally understood that. You see, like most women, giving unselfishly to others, is what bonds my sister circle. Yet, it's also often the chief topic of conversation when we get together, i.e. how tired we are, frustrated we are, or disappointed we are as a result of a lot of that "selfless" giving, all because we, more often than not, choose others first over ourselves. 

Seeing my friend love herself enough to honor herself first was even felt in the words she used to decline. There was no disregard or malice in her message; no self-loathing. She simply let us know she was giving herself the love she needed to show up at our gathering as her best self. And in doing so, she reminded me that if we desire to continue being our best for others, we have to start by being "lovingly selfish" with our time, energy, and space. We have to learn to decline the dinner invitation when we're fatigued; to decline the opportunity to sit on another committee when we're struggling to make meetings for the one committee we're already on; to decline chaperoning that one school trip when we're barely keeping up with that week's work; to decline hosting that dinner party when we're simply too exhausted to do so and, in exchange, to accept saying "yes" to whatever it is our mind, body, or souls need more of at any given moment. 

As I once heard an inspirational speaker say, there's a reason flight attendants instruct passengers to put the oxygen masks on themselves first in the case of an emergency before helping others. It's a reminder that unless you care for yourself first, you're of no help to anyone else. Ironically, as I write this blog post, Keeping Up with the Kardashians is playing in the background and this particular episode finds Khloe telling her sisters she's exhausted meeting all of the requests being asked of her. Her sister Kourtney suggested she simply take a day, off to which Khloe responded, "I can't. No one will understand that." Well, no one has to understand that. The only people that need to understand that, and know the value of that, is ourselves. And learning when to say "yes" when we need to and "no" when we need to, is the first ingredient in living our best lives ever. 

So, as we embark on making the next 362 days as great as they can possibly be, let's start our list of resolutions with vowing to honor ourselves first so that we can--with proper peace and renewed energy-- honorably serve others.