I am partly redefining what “ambition” and “success” look and feel like and mean for me. I will be experimenting with “letting go” whenever possible, prioritizing those activities, things and people who bring me joy, connection, and aliveness over constant productively and efficiency.
“There should be…”
“It would be great if…”
These three thoughts have been daily habitants of my mind for as long as I can remember. And not just the thoughts but the subsequent desire to act, to do. I mean if somebody should do something, I’m somebody, so why not me?
Before I go further, I warn you that this column is about me, and it’s the only authentic way I could write my final Emotional Wellness column.
In the four-and-a-half years I’ve been writing this column I have shared my perspective and resources on a variety of topics related to emotional health ranging from Anxiety, PTSD, Suicide, and Domestic Violence to the value of Mindfulness and Self Care. It is my own increased attention to the latter two that led to my decision to let go of writing this column.
Despite practicing and preaching mindfulness, it is not a natural state for me most of the time; rather, being mindful, slowing down and “just being” are practices I need to be vigilant about. I am fortunate that I have opportunities on a daily basis to practice mindfulness in my work as a Therapist. So being mindful (paying attention to and noticing “what is”) about my busy-ness has repeatedly forced me to re-evaluate my natural desire and drive to accomplish, achieve, and make a difference while simultaneously recognizing the limits of my time, energy, and ultimately, the finite span of my children’s childhoods. I have come to terms with the reality that because of the many significant and wonderful additions to my life in the last 10 years, I have taken on more and more without letting go of many responsibilities or expectations of myself.
So it’s no surprise that those who know me lovingly remark on my constant state of “doing,” being productive, being efficient. I have a friendly reminder next to my desk AND a daily prompt on my phone that reminds me “more ideas than time.” This has been my feeble and unsuccessful attempt to temper my overzealous ideas with the realities of time, parenthood, marriage, friendships and oh yeah, sleep: that daily chunk of time our bodies need to recharge that affects our mood, attention, memory, patience and energy levels. I’m tired of being “too busy” and well, just tired. I know I’m not alone.
In the midst of writing this column, I took a break (see, less efficient already!) and read a magazine article by Reese Witherspoon in which she describes being asked by a friend what she wishes she could change about herself: “Sometimes I wish I could turn off my ambition. Every Monday I have a new idea of what I want to accomplish, or how I want to effect change…” I have said those exact words except it’s not every Monday, it’s every day, most hours of the day.
I am partly redefining what “ambition” and “success” look and feel like and mean for me. I will be experimenting with “letting go” whenever possible, prioritizing those activities, things and people who bring me joy, connection, and aliveness over the coulds and shoulds of constant productively and efficiency. I encourage everyone to stay alert to their own coulds and shoulds as well and mindfully choose what matters to you for your own emotional wellbeing.
So long, farewell…to you, and you and you (sung à la the Sound of Music, aka JOY: ) Thanks for reading. Be Well!
Dawn Schatz is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, certified Domestic Violence Specialist, and founder of Appoquinimink Counseling Service, now located at Wellbeing on Main in Middletown. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (302) 898-1616.