Liberation – what does it even mean? Freedom from personal responsibilities? Freedom from time? Freedom from pain, emotional or physical? Freedom from negative situations? Burning your bra?
I think becoming liberated means all the above and then some…it just takes a creative approach.
I chose this topic for personal reasons: it all began with “the great clean-out.” Yes, you know the one: you look around one day and decide to dig in and clean out a room, your life, all of it, whatever – once and for all. In my case, I started in my art studio with books, boxes, supplies and old files that I’d never kept quite as organized as I could. All was going fabulously well until…my back went. Shortly thereafter, a knee acted up. From there – a crazy tendonitis flare in my right arm.
Right arms are incredibly important in general, unless you are lefty, in which case you likely wouldn’t overuse your right arm anyway. Regardless, having taken many deep breaths and applying a ton of creative thinking since all of this began, I’d like to share a few things I’ve learned in the hopes that something in my experience will help you:
#1. Listen to Your Body – I know, I know, we say it all the time – but really, how much smarter and liberating is it to pay attention when something starts to ache instead of “pushing” to get it done and proving you can take a little pain? In the end, you lose a lot more time recovering from an injury than you would have by simply taking it slow. Here’s where it gets even more liberating – you also get to say, “no” to household chores and family responsibilities so you can implement self-care.
#2. Little Things Become Really Silly: When you can’t use your arm, there is no point in caring what your hair looks like because you can’t fix it anyway. This is particularly liberating, because we truly look better with less attention on outer appearance and more focus on enjoying the moment – so this time-saver is not only liberating, it’s a definite keeper.
#3. Do it Differently: Yes, “necessity is the mother of invention” so, this month’s “in progress” (Featured Art above) is my legitimate first attempt at painting with both hands, and I’m learning a lot. I’m guessing that not depending fully on my right arm for the rest of my life will be easier on my body – and, very liberating.
#4. Prioritizing: This relates to #1 and #2, because getting your priorities straight applies to family, friends, and most of all – yourself. With limited physical or emotional resources, knowing when to say “no” (and following through) is very liberating.
#5. Mindfulness: Yes, everything takes longer when you have pain of any kind – but slowing down is a terrific opportunity to really be present, and notice what’s good, which leads me to…
#6. Gratitude: While we never ask for life challenges, they are a magnificent opportunity to reel things in, and focus on what’s good. We’ve all heard the phrase, “Whatever you focus on, grows.” The choice to access inner strength, switch our thoughts from “what’s wrong” to “what’s right” and really feel the good stuff is one of the most powerful, healthy and liberating things we can do.
So, the next time challenge hits, I invite you to implement the above six steps – at the very least, your mind will move away from your difficulties – that, in itself is liberating.