There is a new term that is swirling in my head and heart these last few months. The term is Sustaining Energy.
Sustaining Energy. I’ve thought about these two words on a large scale when it comes to our environment and culture, but I’ve never spent much time thinking about the word in application to me as a woman, wife, mom… As a business woman, I’ve spent numerous hours focused on growth, risk, building, risking and growing…but sustaining. The word itself captured me like the scent of bread baking in the oven.
As moms, creatives, entrepreneurs, how do we sustain ourselves…
so we keep from burning out and continue to move forward with all our responsibilities, dreams, desires and those we love?
The answer is probably different for everyone, but this summer I took a hard look at what mine would be. I discovered what I call “Sustaining Energies” in my daily and weekly life. With the guiding hand of Fay’s wisdom (SOAR! Business Coach), Brian, Fay and I unpacked the idea of designing a life that would sustain us on a physical, emotional, financial and spiritual level. It started with a simple exercise.
I drew a big circle on a piece of paper and wrote all my commitments…
around the outside of the circle, things like; Homeschool, Family Relations, Photography, Speaking, TV segments, My Blog, a new Book Project, SOAR! Scholarship Program, Yoga 3x’s a week, Church, Karate and Art Classes for the Kids, Travel… All these elements are a part of my on going life. It’s easy for me to check out and say “I can’t manage all these pieces!” But the truth is that I do somehow, so I can either get intentional about how I manage these elements, or I can feel like I’m always running to catch up. As Fay said, the circle is my pie. I’ve only got one pie in my life, how do I want to divide it up with all that I’m committed too? My heart said, ‘Really?! I can’t find a way to have two or three pies and layer them on top of each other?’ 🙂
After I drew my circle and wrote my obligations around the outside,
Fay asked me to write “Sustaining Energy” at the top of the circle on the inside. She invited me to list things that sustain my energy. These things sustain me in day to day or weekly life. They help me give to all those I love, without burning out. To write them out, see them on paper in front of me, was powerful. Now I knew that much better what to make time for every day, week, month. If I committed to these things, my tank would have less chance of running empty.
Some of my Sustaining Energy ideas are;
-Bikram Yoga, 2-3 times a week
-Getting to bed at 10pm (a bed time that is earlier than normal but what I feel my body asking for)
-Eating Well (Gluten and Dairy give me a fever, so making time to eat how my body needs)
-Taking my vitamins/supplements (knowing I need extra Iron, I make the time to keep a supply instead of waiting till I’m depleted)
-Doing my Morning Pages or Morning Walks
-Reading a Good Book Before Bed
-Date night with Brian
-Weekly Family Meetings with the Kids (a new and wonderful event in our home!)
-Spending time in Thailand
-Having Schedules and Systems in Place for our Family’s Day2Day Culture
-Gardening, Cooking, Baking
-Dinner with a Friend
-Date night with Brian (LOL! I said that twice–must mean something! :))
-Two night escape by myself on a quarterly basis
The last Sustaining Energy was the toughest for me.
Fay challenged me with this one when I pushed back, feeling like this was much more of a “luxury” activity (code for, I don’t feel like I deserve to take that kind of consistent time away from my family.) She said I needed to go away every other month, or even quarterly, and spend two nights unplugged, in a hotel, with nothing I “needed” to do.
She emphasized how vital it is for an artist to spend time in wide open space, creating space whether it’s cleaning out their basement, or going to a spacious place where they can be still, quiet, and allow new ideas, new creative thoughts come to them, and thus, be refueled. I wasn’t sure how to make this work, but I tried it. I cried as I left the house, telling Brian that two nights was unnecessary. Instead, by day two, I realized I was moved by how lonely I was for myself.
On my last trip, I asked the hotel if they had Winter deals.
Turns out, they only offer the Winter deal to those who ask. And it’s two nights for one! I booked my next two trips for this Winter, and I’m already looking forward to the wide open space these trips give my heart.
I’m so thankful for this redirection in our business and family life. Our business and vision is growing stronger every day, but if I’m unable to sustain myself, I won’t be able to keep up. And those I love would suffer. So I’m digging deep into the theme of Sustaining Energies.
I’m not a baker, but have found myself baking Gluten Free bread, and the sustaining energy of this single loaf fills our home on Fall evenings. I find that I am quieter inside, not resisting the stillness, and often retreating in the morning to spend time in stillness. My head is more clear, my actions are with more intention, and I feel like I’m living in Front of the Bus rather than trying to keep up with it. But not just me, the kids too. The more systems Brian and I implement from bed time routines to weekly Family Meeting Nights, the more secure, settled, and safe they feel.
I don’t know if anyone can relate, but I think I’ve bought into the excuse that as an artist, I work best “outside” of systems.
This can get me into trouble if I’m not careful. With running a business and homeschool, we are already outside of the systems around us. And yet, we need to have our own systems to sustain the creative life we are living. The river flows whether I help raise up the banks or not. Searching for Sustaining Energies almost feels like I’m deciding to build up those river banks, so the river will flow in the direction I desire. Does that make sense?
September is for Sustaining. This Fall is for Sustaining Energy.
What are Sustaining Energy ideas you can write in the middle of your circle?