Practicing What I Preach
I love the work I do. I can barely call it work, more like my purpose, my passion, my calling. I love sitting across from people, looking in their eyes, and really seeing them, their spirit, their strength, their pain, their potential.
A couple years before I left the school system, I started providing spiritual direction to a few people after school hours. One day on my way to meet a client, I considered calling and cancelling our session. I had a long difficult day at work and was completely exhausted. I was sure I’d have nothing to give my client. I didn’t want to waste her time if I could not be fully present with her. But my need to follow through with my commitment was greater than my need to rest, so I met her anyway.
When I left the session, I felt energized. My exhaustion had evaporated. I was strengthened instead. That’s how I knew this was my life’s true work. Anything that can energize me when I’m drained, the same way a long afternoon nap does, must be my life’s true work.
I knew when I started my wellness practice that I would love my work. It turns out though there is an added benefit I was not expecting. I didn’t anticipate the benefit of practicing what I preach.
It only makes sense to practice what we preach. We’re more credible that way. A nutritionist who teaches us to make healthy food choices then makes those same choices herself. A running coach chooses to run with the same proper form he teaches. A librarian encourages a love for books because she is in love with books herself, the smell of them, the feel of them. They practice what they preach and so do I.
During those times in my life when I get frustrated with myself for not being brave, bold, fearless enough, I tell myself, “You are enough. Who you are is enough. You are growing and learning and unfolding. You will get there, but today you are enough exactly as you are and where you are.” I tell myself that, because I would tell the person sitting across from me that and I would really believe it, so I must tell myself the same thing.
When I am overwhelmed by life, when life seems to be spinning out of control, I soothe myself the way I would someone else experiencing the same thing, “Take a deep breath. You’re going to be ok. Everything will be fine. Just take it one day at a time, one step at a time. You have all you need within you in your connection to the Divine. You are stronger than you know. All is well.” And then my pulse slows and my breathing deepens and I feel my own strength, my own capacity to manage my life.
Anytime I am stressed out and exhausted and realize I have overextended myself, I whisper to myself, “Take time to rest. Let go of any obligation that’s not essential. Allow your body and your spirit time to be restored. Care for yourself. Nurture yourself. And don’t allow one ounce of guilt about it. You need it. You deserve it.” And so I rest and am restored. What other choice do I have? I would say the same thing to a client, to a friend who is feeling the same exhaustion, so I am compelled to say it to myself.
What I preach is love and compassion for self and others, so I love myself. What I promote is carving out time for self-care without feeling selfish or guilty, so I care for myself richly.
What I share with the world is the importance of being present in the moment, taking deep breaths, truly experiencing our lives, so I remind myself to be fully awake in my own life. What I encourage is trusting that everything will be ok, no matter the circumstance, so I tap into the belief that all will be well.
What I support is going easy on ourselves, not judging ourselves, accepting ourselves, perceived faults and all, and so I am patient and understanding with myself. What I teach is to trust in the unfolding, and so I am reminded to trust that I will have every answer I need in my life exactly when I need it.
What I preach is the power of gratitude, and so I am grateful, so grateful for this incredible life with all its challenges and lessons and beauty and grace. I am so grateful. I am so grateful to be practicing what I preach. My life is lighter, my life is fuller, my life is richer because of it. Is it any wonder why I love the work I do? Our life’s true work benefits ourselves as much as it benefits the world.