The Bigger Picture

Sometimes, I get a bit too in my head.  Not just in the act of over-analyzing things, or trying to make sense of certain events.  Not only in the way I am now trying to appreciate underlying messages or quiet lessons in my day-to-day.

Interestingly enough, it’s taken a career that has spanned some 10 years where I have given my all to others to bring me to the place I am now where my primary focus is me.

I’ve read a number of quotes over the last several months, and while the wording may have been slightly different on each of them, the message has been the same: one of the most meaningful and purposeful ways to live life is to serve others.

I get it.  But I have also come to finally understand too that in order to serve others, I have to be at a slightly better place than I am right now.  My current purpose is to replenish the cup that I exhausted over the last ten years which I did mostly through a complete disregard for self-care.

With all of that being said, it is refreshing to be brought out of my own head and to be reminded of the bigger picture.

Last night, Ian and I went to an outdoor screening of the French documentary Demain.  It’s a brilliant film and asks the viewer some really relevant and thought-provoking questions.  It is one of those documentaries that starts out slightly depressing, in a We Are Currently in a 6th Global Extinction phase, but moves to some incredibly inspiring stories of individuals and groups who are working at making a difference, in an attempt to turn things around while there is still time.

The movie came at a really lovely moment for me, in that for the last several months, (and truthfully far beyond that) I have lived mostly in my head.   While I only stopped working some two months ago, prior to that I was still involved in various positions that had me working alongside some diverse and vulnerable populations.  I will admit that for the last 2 years, I have only been giving a very small and meagre percent of my heart to those jobs and to the people I worked with.  The lack of passion that I was able to give wasn’t attributable to a lack of interest or a lack of investment.  It was a result of my trying to draw from and overly used and never-replenished well.  If I am to be completely honest, and if I am going to continue on with the well metaphor, there hadn’t been any water in the well since early 2015.

As a result of the bone dry well, and my own awareness, my efforts now have been on how to re-fill it.  I haven’t looked much beyond that, nor thought about whether I wanted to extend my efforts beyond myself and my well.

I am reminded though, again as is my habit, that I rarely allow myself credit for the things that I am doing.  The things that are working.  The active nature I do actually have, despite feeling like I am a bit dormant when it comes to issues greater than my own.

I won’t turn this into a platform to barrage you with facts and bits of information about becoming a vegan, but that was a choice I made, in part to do my small piece of attempting to make a difference.

In choosing to adopt a vegan diet-I haven’t yet gone all the way with a full vegan lifestyle-it was a means wherein I was able to get out of my own head and make a contribution; one that I saw had value.

The documentary fuelled a lot of other questions for me, and most importantly perhaps, it excited a number of passions, which I think have been lying quiet now for some time.

In the past, I maintained a lifestyle that I believed was one that would bring the better version of me out into the world.  In allowing that better version to come forth, I was someone who was more engaged in various issues.  I made choices in how I lived which I believed would create some small change, tiny though it may have been.  I volunteered.  I advocated with feeling and intent.  I was a more whole human, whose interests extended far beyond my own benefit.

I would get outraged by things.  I would speak passionately about others.  I contributed.  With all of my heart.

Over the last nearly 3 years now, all of that has gone quiet.  When I look back on these more recent years, I see that I have been in survival mode for longer than I thought.  And in being in survival mode, I had little to extend in terms of passion and interest in anything else, let alone my own well-being.

It’s interesting to look back now, with a bit of perspective to see where that shift happened, and why.

In working so consciously and fervently on myself now for the last several months, I will admit that I have put any other issues that haven’t directly had an impact on me in an immediate manner, on the back burner.  This is what I mean when I say I can get a bit too in my head.

I think this is where the challenge lies for me now: striking a balance between contributing to the outside, while maintaining enough quality self-care to replenish the well so I can continue on in that contribution.   I can see now that after 10 years of giving and giving and giving, and failing to take the time to check-in with my own self, it has lead to a quiet apathy.

I’m still trying to re-define who I am, but I know I am far from apathetic.

With Love,

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Olivia Shaw

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