Sweaty, sporting a new gaping blister and beginning to feel the stiff prickle of lactic acid in my legs, I arrived home from my intense morning workout to read a text from my man friend that said he had just been offered a ticket to Burning Man. Immediately, I felt a rigidity to rival that of my weary thighs spread across my chest, up through my neck and into my face, forcing my lips into a frown and my brow into a forbidding crease.
Noticing the turmoil of mixed emotions that tore through me upon reading this simple message, I registered with some surprise that, while I was excited for my man friend and happy that this opportunity had fallen into his lap, the hungry feeling that made my chest crawl uncomfortably was none other than envy. Forcing myself to focus on the happiness I felt on his behalf, I texted back a congratulatory message and went about my morning, preparing to see a client. I brushed aside the rising emotional bubble, told myself that I had too much to think about and needed to focus on my work, and what was I envious for, anyway? I hadn’t planned on going to Burning Man this year and I have other projects that take priority.
My man friend and I spoke on the phone a few hours later while I made my way through slow-moving traffic. As I drove past the exit to my old neighborhood and saw the trail where I used to run along the water stretching out into the distance, sharp pangs of longing and loss punctuated the envy that bubbled up like a sour taste from where it slouched, heavy, in my gut. I swallowed it as long as I could and tried to stay fully present with him in his excitement, but when it felt as though I would choke or have to scream and cry, I finally admitted my feelings.
As this confession poured out of the part of me that feels like an ugly, demanding child—the part that I’m reluctant to reveal to anyone, let alone to a new relationship—I heard myself say that I wanted to receive a gift like that, something that would allow me to go on vacation and have someone take care of me and not have to the person who does the caretaking. I heard myself acknowledge that living a life of service is something I love, and that offering healing and holding a container for the well-being of my community is inherent to my role as a Shaman. And yet, in that moment, I wanted nothing more than for someone to acknowledge all of my hard work and struggles and reward my enormous efforts with a trip to Burning Man.
I indulged in a moment of piteous self-assessment as I sat on the highway surrounded by semi-trucks. My eyes burned from staying up too late writing the night before, my legs were stiffening into hard masses and my fresh blister stung with the drop of sweat that rolled down my ankle. I had just completed an energetically draining session with a very challenging client and had several more hours of work to accomplish when I arrived back at my temporary home. I felt my shoulders roll forward in response to the tightness that flashed across my chest and throat and sent sharp tears to prick the corners of my eyes.
Reflecting on this conversation hours later, I know that I will always live a life of service and will continue to offer myself and my work for the well-being of my community. The fact that I had such a strong reaction to my man friend receiving a wonderful gift tells me that I have been severely neglecting my own daily self-care lately. I felt these realizations creep across my brain like gentle friends coming to soothe my grumpy, demanding inner child. I have been pouring so much energy into my work and single-minded focus on my business that I have not nurtured the part of me that loves to have adventures, meet new people and play. Rather than wishing that someone would come rescue me with a vacation to the desert so I can take a break and receive from others, I must offer myself the care I deserve so I can live sustainably from a place of balance and empowered fulfillment of my own needs. I felt my breath slow and deepen, my shoulders softening as I articulated the thought, “I must fill my own energetic cup with nourishing care and joyful experiences in order for me to truly offer myself in service to others.”
Ultimately, I am the source of my own joy. I am my own best resource for happiness. When I find myself wishing that someone would swoop in and offer me those things, I ask myself these questions: What steps do I take to ensure that my energetic cup is full? How can I actively nurture the health of my body, mind, emotions and Spirit? If I feel as though I need validation for my work, how can I acknowledge my own efforts and recognize my amazing achievements?
I commit to renewing my healthy habits of simple, daily self-care to nourish myself on every level: physical, mental, emotional and Spiritual. I commit to honoring the needs of my inner child to ensure her continued health and happiness. I commit to filling my own cup so that I may offer myself to the world from a place of overflowing joy and fulfillment.