A Peaceful, Easy Feeling

“Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair.” — Khalil Gibran

When my sons were younger, my world revolved around them.  I believed that all “good moms” put their children’s needs before their own, and I still believe this . . . for the most part.  After all, somebody needed to make sure their bellies were filled, their teeth were brushed and their little bodies were scrubbed, their homework was done, their ball uniforms were washed, their questions were answered, their fears were calmed, their imaginations were nurtured and their little cheeks were kissed as they drifted off into slumber–and more often than not, those responsibilities fell on my shoulders.  But that was okay; that was my “job,” and I was happy for the opportunity and for the satisfaction and love I felt in return.

As my sons grew older, they needed me less, but by then a change in my career path had created new stresses and additional demands on my time and energy, and so I continued to put the needs of others before my own.  But that was okay, too, because I was an over-achiever, a perfectionist, and–by golly–Super Woman; I could do it all.  (And I’m guessing there are more than a few readers out there who have felt the same way.)

Now that my children are grown and gone, though, and I’m facing the end of my career, I have finally come to realize how much I have neglected my “mental well being” over the years.  Oh, sure, I occasionally immersed myself in a good book, but even those stolen minutes made me feel guilty, and while reading provided a much-needed emotional escape, it did nothing to feed my soul or nourish my body.  I could have been a much better, stronger, and calmer parent and educator if I had allotted a little more time for ME instead of overextending myself until I felt overwhelmed, exhausted, drained, and ready to punch a wall.

“All batteries need recharging.  For most of us, however, the idea of taking time to replenish our energy seems like a luxury we can’t afford, or not important in the context of all the other things we need to do.  In truth, it is only when we make our self-care a non-negotiable priority that we can put forth into the world the very best of ourselves.  The quality of our relationships and our level of efficiency, clarity, and productivity skyrocket when we are approaching life from a sense of overflow and not running on reserve.”–Frankie Perez, http://www.facebook.com/MindGym

I can’t change the past, but I’m doing my best to change the present.  I still get overwhelmed and over-stressed at times; I still work every week day (and more week nights than not), but if you show up at my house unexpectedly on one of those rare occasions when I’m not working, you still may not find me at home.  There is a good chance, however, that you will find a week’s worth of mail scattered across the kitchen table, last night’s dinner dishes still in the sink, and a bedroom door closed so that you can’t see the bed I saw no reason to make before dashing out the door.  If it isn’t too cold and the sun is shining, I’m most likely on my bike somewhere, pedaling against the wind, or I’m traipsing around the countryside, toting my camera and looking for the next great shot.  In other words, I’m feeding my soul, relaxing and recharging–and I highly recommend it.  The dishes can wait–and so can everything else.

And that is my advice to you:  Stop putting yourself on the back burner–find something that feeds your soul and fuels your passion and make time for it.  Even if you still have children at home and countless responsibilities demanding your time and attention, stop thinking of taking time for yourself as a luxury and start treating it as a necessity.  You will thank yourself later (and I’m guessing everyone else in your life will, too).

I read somewhere recently that everyone needs to occasionally eliminate the word “should” for a day, and so I did this last Sunday afternoon and again this past Saturday.  On both days, I knew I “should” stay home and clean house, I “should” finish the laundry and I “should” write a blog–but in each case it was such a beautiful, warm, late winter day that the wind was whispering my name, and my camera was singing me a love song.  So I made a conscious decision to leave all the “shoulds” behind and go play, and within minutes my worries had drifted away in the breeze.  Some of the pictures of my “playtime” are posted below . . .

Waterfall, II

Waterfall over the dam at the Old Grist Mill at Rockbridge

Hodgson Mill

Hodgson Mill

The Old Grist Mill

The Old Grist Mill at Rockbridge


Dandelion ... too pretty to be a "weed."

Iris Is Sticking Out Her Tongue

Miniature iris at Dawt Mill

Blue Sky, Yellow Flowers

Blue sky, puffy clouds, yellow flowers ... a peaceful, easy feeling.

About icedteawithlemon

I have recently retired from a 30-year career in education in one of the best school districts in the world. I hope to spend my second life reading, writing, photographing, traveling, biking, cheering on my favorite baseball team (the St. Louis Cardinals), and soaking up glorious sunshine. In my spare time I enjoy playing with my pet tarantulas, trying out new flavors of chewing gum, and knitting socks for prison inmates. I'm almost positive that in a past life I was one of the Seven Dwarfs (most likely "Grumpy"), and in my next life I'm going to be either a taste tester for Hershey's or a model for Victoria's Secret's new line, "Bloomers for Boomers." I want to travel country back roads, singing Vanilla Ice songs at every karaoke bar and rating bathroom cleanliness at every truckstop. And someday I plan to own a private beach where skinny girls aren't allowed. I want to be a writer when I grow up. "Our truest life is when we are in dreams awake."--Henry David Thoreau
This entry was posted in Advice, Aging, Health, Ozarks, Parenting, Simple Pleasures, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

19 Responses to A Peaceful, Easy Feeling

  1. Excellent!!! I could feel the change that your path is in the midst of making and the way that you have chosen to embrace it. I also got the ‘Peaceful, Easy Feeling’ phrase….my fellow hippie chick.

    • Yep, love those Eagles and their timeless music! And thank you … I know it’s easier for me to relax a little with retirement so close at hand, but I really do wish others would try to do the same–I regret not making more time for myself a long time ago.

  2. DCircle says:

    Mrs. E… Love, love, love the ‘peaceful, easy feeling’ you have invoked in this blog. Too often we forget to stop and smell the daisies, and even the dandelions. Life has gotten to hectic for most and a constant reminder to slow down and enjoy it is a lesson one can’t stress enough.

    Your pictures are enticing me home! I long for the days when I can spend hours revisiting the beauty of the countryside I call home; the beauty and history I had taken for granted.

    “Beauty is the gift of God.” ~ Aristotle

    • Thank you so much, Donna. I know it is easier for me to “stop and smell the daisies” now that my children are grown, but I also know I would have been so much happier if I had taken my own advice years ago. And photography has opened my eyes to the world around me in a way that nothing else ever has–I feel like I’ve been sleep-walking through life and missing so much of the beauty that surrounds me. I hope you can make it back “home” soon just for the purpose of enjoying this beautiful place (and I’ve got a retirement party coming up at the end of June that might be the perfect time for you to make a slight detour south!). 🙂

  3. Time to stop “shoulding” on ourselves … love this. Love that your dishes are waiting while you’re out doing 🙂


    • Thank you, MJ–and nice play on words! Honestly, it takes very little to entice me to leave dishes soaking in the sink until a more convenient time (or until someone else takes pity and does them for me). I hope you can soon enjoy a “should-less” day as well …

  4. janetmorrison says:

    Ahhhh….I completely relaxed for the brief time I spent looking at those photos. Reminded me of heading to Dawt and Hodgson to take my own photos. I’m grabbing my camera later this morning and heading out as well.

    • I’m so glad … and good for you! Although I’ve always “enjoyed” photography, I just a few months ago started realizing its “healing” powers … I can lose hours taking and editing photos, and I feel so relaxed during and after. Enjoy your day!

  5. Kip Light says:

    Excellent photos! As Janet said, they are just as relaxing to peruse as the photography hobby is to you. Above all, excellent advice. After 30 years of office work, helping raise two boys, night school and driving a tractor trailer across country for weeks at a time, I can certainly relate to your sentiments regarding taking time for yourself being advantageous to your well being. Now that I’m prematurely retired (disabled and not able to get out much) blues guitar has become my “do for myself” activity. Thank you for your thoughts, the excellent writing and the enjoyment received from your hobbies results.

    • And thank you for your very kind words (especially regarding my photos, since photography is a relatively new passion and one I’m still learning). I’m sorry for the reasons behind your premature retirement, but I’m glad that you also have found a “do for myself activity” that helps you to re-charge. I wish I had taken the time years ago …

      • Kip Light says:

        You’re quite welcome. Pardon my late reply, for some reason I never got notifications of a lot of things. I, too, wish I had started years ago. Photography was one of my hobbies in the 70’s and 80’s (lots of concert shots that I need to have digitally converted from slides.

  6. Kim says:

    Hi, Karen, I am so glad Mary posted your blog. Remember me, your childhood neighbor?
    I LOVE the daffodil photo, it is one of my favorite flowers, and the shot you captured is awesome. Keep devoting time to yourself, and keep up the good work!!! Kim (Whitfield) Stenger

    • Of course I remember you–hello, neighbor from long, long (long) ago! Thank you for your kind words; the daffodil is one of my favorites, too. I hope all is well with you …

  7. Jamie Adams says:

    Your advice “Stop putting yourself on the back burner–find something that feeds your soul and fuels your passion and make time for it” is excellent. Most people just keep waiting and putting it off.

  8. John Bradley-O'Neill says:

    It’s no wonder to me why your writing and choice of words and phrasing are eloquent and as smooth as a calm bay…your physical environment is sublime and serene. Awesome photos. Where do you live anyway…on the opening theme footage of the old Newhart TV series (Vermont)?!

    I feel we enter new phases of our lives long before we realize we’re there…hence the anxiety and frustration.

    • Thank you, kind sir! I live in the Ozark “Mountains” (hills, really), and yes, this area is both sublime and serene. And your idea of our entering “new phases of our lives long before we realize we’re there” is very interesting–and most likely very true as well. Something to think about …

  9. warren gunter says:

    i too have been accused of putting others before myself. always have. for me, its rewarding to know that i have helped someone else. maybe left a mark on their lives. i have always thought that when i leave this world, that i would be remembered. that i wanted my life to mean something. and i think it does. i know that when my friends or family need something, they always call me. and i am always glad to help. but i have also taken some time out for just me. “re-charging the batteries”. and it has helped me to be more able to be there for others when the call comes in. so, yes. do things just for you. its a good thing.

    • Between being a wife, mother, and educator, my time has never been my own–until just recently. It’s a very different experience, this taking time for myself, and I sometimes still feel guilty about it. But I have noticed a big improvement in my attitude and emotional well being and wonder now if I had done a few more things just for me throughout the years, would I have been a better wife, mother, and educator? I don’t regret a minute spent performing all those “duties,” but I realize I probably could have done better. Keep “re-charging the batteries” and keep doing for others; I’m sure your efforts are appreciated.

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