“The acknowledgement of a single possibility can change everything.”
Sometimes the most powerful tool in your toolbox is acknowledgement.
This weekend for a couple of days I had the chance to be part of an annual leadership retreat. The main goal of the retreat was to do anything BUT work. Something that is creative and fun. We took turns cooking the meals and other than that, each person had no other responsibility.
When I signed up for this a couple of months ago, it sounded like a brilliant idea and I was in a headspace of saying “yes” to just about everything. You might recall me talking about my grief really unpacking at that time, so this sounded like it would be great.
The couple of weeks leading up to this were filled with new things that I hadn’t anticipated being part of my schedule. Things like hail insurance claims on my house, new business opportunities and an offer on my late father’s house. Thanks to my healthy mindset daily work through PQ, I watched myself manage these things with more ease and acceptability than I ever had. I would be surprised by the calm things that would come out of my mouth and how little I needed to be upset about things.
As the week of this retreat arrived I almost canceled, due to my schedule and by the day of the retreat, as I was getting out the door hours after I had planned I really wondered what was going to be the point of the next 48 hours and why was I pushing to make this happen. “Wouldn’t it be just as good to stay home and not have to schlep all of my stuff off to somewhere else”, as my brain asked these questions I responded back with “I don’t know and we are going to find out, so relax, you’re going to be OK.” I have come to learn that when I am going into unknown situations, I can be a little nervous and my brain will translate that into a need to avoid and be afraid. It is one of the things I am working on with PQ.
It was a gorgeous 50 degree evening in October, the sun took an hour to set and it turned so many shades of yellow, orange, purple, pink, red and then just became a sliver of orange as I drove West to the retreat center on a lake in the woods an hour from my home.
On the first night we introduced ourselves, shared about our families and what our goal was for the weekend. Now that I was around other people, I was finally getting out of my own head of conversation and hearing where others were at. I had in no way forgotten about the last two years, but it was a shocking reminder to listen to these women leaders express the need to unburden themselves of the responsibilities they had been carrying. They wanted to have just a day or two to focus on something they love and be in conversation with others about mindless things like cooking, husband and children’s needs and their projects.
The first night I went to bed with the biggest smile on my face. They had started playing a conversation game and the laughter, the whole hearted from the gut laughter was amazing and went for hours. I got involved for a little bit, but just had to go to bed, my body told me that was more important. Listening to them laugh filled my own soul with peace. They did the same thing the second night and it was even better.
As we focused on our projects the next day each of them told me more and more about their project and why they were doing it. It really was fun to see them relax. My creative fun was doing a bunch of the new educational marketing pieces I need for my business. To have no time limit and to explore new software’s and create new things was so much fun for me. I created the new book list for 2022 for my book club and I ignored my emails for two days. I read my book for this month’s book club and I laughed.
I allowed my whole body to relax, from my brain to my toes and it was so what I needed.
What surprised me the most was the amount of gratitude I came away from the past weekend with. For the first time in years, I was able to acknowledge to myself, that all of this life balance work that I have been focused on and doing, is really a part of my life. As I heard many of them talk about trying to balance life, work, and family and now starting to deal with their own health issues, what progress I had made.
That’s the thing, I started out with that goal, but it’s not like recovering from a physical injury. That you can see and feel the progress, because you know what it felt and looked like before, so your mind and body know where you are going. When you are carving out a whole new path away from what you already know, I have found that it is a lot harder to measure progress and see what distance is left. As I listened this weekend to other people and watched them, I was able to measure my own progress and really deeply see the distance I have come in my goal to have better work/life balance. I can still feel that I want to take this further, but for today I am going to take time to celebrate the progress I have made. Next time my inner voice says “you can do better, we still have a lot of work to do.” I am going to respond back with, “Yes, and we can focus on that tomorrow. For today we are going to just celebrate the wins and relax. It’s OK, we are getting there. Rest. And leave me alone for today.”
Back to where we started this whole conversation. In my coaching I am always talking about people adding tools to their toolbox of life. From this weekend I have added a new tool. One that reminds us to find ways to reflect, celebrate and be grateful.
Sometimes the most important tool in your toolbox is acknowledgement.