By Lisa Selow
The sales woman was kind to me, asking me if I needed help. I was taking my time, which has become a normal thing for me as I heal myself of chronic fatigue syndrome. Rushing around just isn’t an option any more.
She looked down at the dark bluish bruise on my right arm, blurting out, “Oh my gosh! How’d you get that bruise?”
I smiled as she apologized for asking a personal question.
I said, “It’s okay. I don’t mind sharing. I’ve been getting some intravenous nutrients the past two months. We couldn’t get the needle in my right arm last week, so I’m a bit bruised. I asked if we could try another vein and it didn’t work. Luckily, we found a vein in my left arm.”
I explained about my turning to integrative medicine again to heal chronic fatigue since it had worked for me in the late 1990s during my first bout of the illness. It turned out that the sales woman had a family member with similar challenges.
Really, there’s no coincidences. So, it made sense why I had shared so personally with a complete stranger. Maybe some of my journey could help her loved one, I reasoned.
The sales woman was curious about how I ended up getting sick. I didn’t want to keep her from doing her job, so I told her I’d give her the short version. I said I made a dream come true of getting my book published and I worked myself to the max for two years. I explained how I neglected my own self-care at times and how I became emotionally upset to the point of making myself ill.
We ended up having a deep conversation about the price we think we need to pay to make our dreams a reality. We both decided that maybe it could be fun or even easy next time around.
I smiled as I walked out of the store. Even though most days the past year I’ve been faced with two or three symptoms each day of varying degrees such as insomnia, digestive challenges, fatigue, soreness, migraines, and mild depression, I have hope. I know that I’ve healed myself before.
I’ve been doing my best to see this recent health challenge as a gift. I figure there’s some things I’m learning. I’ve been able to return to my passions and hobbies, self-care, and learning how to relax again. My inner teacher knows there’s lessons that I can pass along to (hopefully) help others. Some of these lessons have revealed themselves to me. I share the main ones learned so far here with you:
Sometimes, making your dreams come true doesn’t make you happier. As someone who’s creative, sensitive, and a perfectionist, I push myself really hard. I’m hard on myself to do well and please others, along with my intention to be of service to others on the planet. Talk about pressure! I’ve learned that it’s so important to enjoy the process, not just the result. In hindsight, I see that I would have been much less stressed had I just enjoyed the simple pleasures of writing and marketing my book, instead of worrying about making it all perfect. The cost was not only my health, but my inner peace. I’m working on reclaiming both.
If you help even one person, you’ve done your part. Yes, our human side really wants to touch as many lives as possible. If you’re an artist, healer, writer, musician, or scientist, you might be hoping to reach thousands, if not millions of people. You want to make the world a better place. This shows up for some as working to get as many media placements as possible to spread the message. This can be tiring and even distracting from your purpose of actually helping people. I’ve revised my vision to be helping a small corner of the world, the people or tribe I’m meant to help that I can help the most. It might be only hundreds of people and this is okay. If I kill myself overworking and striving in the process, I won’t be around to fulfill my mission
I’ve learned that it’s not about me. Giving birth to a project or book can feel like such a personal thing. The thing is that we’re all an aspect of the universe. The universe needs us to do its work. We’re just willing channels for healing, writing, music, art, ideas, and inspiration. It doesn’t really belong to us personally. It belongs to everyone. Once we release the work into the world, it will take on its own shape and do what it’s meant to do. We might not have control over the process at all. If you’re working for the higher good of all, things will feel natural. If you’re working for your own ego’s gratification, it might not ever feel like enough. You’ll push yourself to achieve, do more, and be more. It becomes about the numbers, not helping people. I myself took on others’ definitions of success for a short time, which is not like me as one who is prone to questioning societal definitions and norms. I’m learning to be okay with how my definition of success is much different from corporate America’s and some in society. My definition includes life balance, happiness, and inner peace. These are more important to me than media placements, my book sales, my social media numbers, or becoming famous.
I’ve learned that it’s so important to remember who you are when you’re working so hard on a goal or project. If you don’t know and honor your values (what’s important to you in life), you’ll get sidetracked. It is all too easy to be pulled in a million directions, but a bit more challenging to stay true to yourself. I myself noticed the areas I wasn’t being authentic and I’m taking small steps to correct this in my personal life and in my business. I’m already feeling happier.
What about you? Have you ever worked hard to make a dream come true and then, felt disappointed? Have you ever sacrificed your true self to work on a goal? How did it make you feel? I’d love to hear about your experiences. By sharing, I think it helps others to not feel so alone. We’re in this journey together.