Sometimes I start my day with this question: “What gift can I give myself today?”
On some days, a particular word immediately comes to me. Yesterday it was “stretch.” And I knew I wanted to move my body, so I went for a morning walk, even though we had a sweltering day here.
On another level, I knew stretch meant something else. And I made a phone call I’ve been putting off for a while — the conversation was going to be a stretch for me, but since “stretch” was the gift, I knew it would be okay. And it was.
Sometimes a word doesn’t immediately come to me. So then I let an image bubble up in my mind’s eye.
Once, I saw a heart, with wings. I wasn’t sure what it meant at first, but then some words came to me: courage, Cowardly Lion courage. And flight. On that particular day, flight meant literal flight — I gave myself permission to take a trip I’d been on the fence about, and booked my plane ticket.
And permission is another one. It’s one of the most powerful gifts I can give myself, but I have to be reminded of this often. And, I need to get specific about it. Permission to what? Once, I asked this question and an image of me sleeping bubbled up. I needed permission to rest that day.
Another day I asked, permission to what? And an image of me reading from my novel-in-progress to a large group of people bubbled up. Ahhh. Permission to be seen.
What other gifts have I given myself? The gift of endings, of allowing things to end — even things that have been a success and are still successful. The gift of beginnings, of stepping into what is new, even when I’m unsure of the first step and the second is hazier still.
Some of my favorite gifts are curiosity, wonder, and play. Sometimes the gift is tenacity. Sometimes it’s sovereignty. Sometimes the gift sounds something like “no ground to give.” And I know I want to focus on holding boundaries that day.
The gift can be something concrete and material as well. One time the image that came to me was of an exceptionally gorgeous journal I’d seen in a shop down the street. It had a filigreed gold cover with a turtle on it. The journal was expensive and I knew I didn’t want to spend the money on it right then, but the image of the turtle reminded me of my belief in taking slow, steady steps; that so many of our worthwhile journeys are marathons, not sprints.
One day last week the gift was “soft.” I was feeling extra-hard on myself that morning and my energy felt tight, rigid. I knew I needed to shift into soft energy. And I moved through my day with so much more kindness toward myself, and therefore, toward the world.
That is why I make my focus what I can give to myself. I like to think I’m pretty good at giving to others, but in truth I can’t give what I don’t have.
Want to try it? What gift can you give yourself as you move forward in your day?
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