As many of you know, we joined the Unitarian Universalist church two years ago. While we're self-imposed "summer skippers", the time that we do attend, the community of people I've found there and the lessons I walk away with have become invaluable to me. To further explore why I wanted to be a member of this particular group of people, when I had sworn off organized religion years ago, I joined a small group last year called "Soul Matters" which takes the monthly topic of the church and provides a forum to delve even deeper into the issue through "assignments", readings and spiritual practice. It is through this group, and the amazing women that I share the experience with, that I feel the most connected to my own spirituality and need to give it a lot of credit for my recent summer of change and growth.
This month, the topic was "Grow" (appropriate, right?) and the assignment was to identify a way in which something in your life has grown. You were then asked to bring in a symbol of this growth and share why you chose it. I went with the seemingly obvious...a pint of grape jelly that I made from the grapes at my in-laws. It grew, I processed it, we ate it. But, what became clear to me as the summer of "abundance from my in-laws farm" progressed was that in addition to the literal growth of the veggies and fruits, my relationship with my in-laws, and specifically my brother in law grew because we now had this common ground. I've never had a bad relationship with my brother in law...no family drama (that I'm aware of). We just have been 2 very different people with little to say to each other for almost 11 years but with my running and our shared appreciation of the "harvest", we now can relate to each other a little bit more. Or at least, this is how I feel.
The less obvious symbol of growth was ME. I really feel like I grew up this summer. Coming to terms with my past, feeling happy and appreciative for all that I have in the present and excited about the future. More confident with my own opinions and thoughts. Less worried about what people think of me should I make a social "gaffe". I also really started to understand that the more I had filled my calendar with things for other people, the less full I felt inside. Being a part of boards, groups, committees etc is a great way to get involved. I'm not denying that and I'm grateful for every single person I met because of my involvement in the things I've done since we moved here. But, I really believe that I was trying to fill some sort of "void" within myself by taking on all sorts of responsibilities not directly related to my growth, my family and my relationships. Maybe it's from all that moving around and never feeling secure so if I 'belonged" to a group, I've feel grounded. Maybe it's hereditary to not be able to say "no".
So, I'm pulling on the reigns. Hitting the brakes. Putting requests of my time/energies under a more powerful microscope. If it's not going to directly fill my soul and make me a better person, contribute to my children or my husband's happiness or growth, then I'm sorry, but it's a no. If it's not going to help a friend with their growth/happiness or allow me to spend time doing things that I like/want to do, then I'm going to have to decline.
All good in theory, right? We'll see how it goes in real life.