What Do You Want or Need?

what do you want

What do you want?

She feels unheard and unsupported. She knows she is loved and that her life is amazing, and yet there is this undercurrent of anxiety or sense of something not quite being right that plagues her. She has voiced concern and expressed that she needs a little more help around the house and feels frustrated that he is not giving her “permission” to let go of more. But maybe she needs to give herself permission. And maybe, the real root issue is that she has not yet come to a place of clearly discerning what it is that she truly wants and needs.

Sometimes blame or frustration with another person is simply a symptom of feeling frustrated with ourselves. And when we quiet ourselves, or take the time to hash out our feelings with a friend or sister, we see the truth. We see that we have been afraid to do the hard work of sifting through our needs, conflicting wants, and our responsibilities to get clear on who and how we want to be for this season of life. What we will prioritize, what we will be willing to say no to, what we will not compromise on. (Watch this funny but telling video on blame)

Maybe we need to stop looking for permission from another human being and begin by asking ourselves, “What do you want and need?”

The conversation will then look and feel different emerging from this place of greater inner clarity. We will then speak with greater calm and confidence. We can advocate for ourselves more effectively and take personal responsibility for that which we control.

If you saw her and her life you’d probably imagine that she has no concerns. She is beautiful and competent and financially stable. But she is also often close to tears. Her worth is very wrapped up in her family’s happiness and wellbeing – but we cannot control other people – not their moods, their decisions, their personalities, their struggles or successes. She has high standards and a huge heart and is also a little overwhelmed and undernourished. But she has reached out for support. And after chatting a short while she realizes that in a decade she has not stopped long enough to actually ask herself what it is that SHE wants or needs.

It is so easy to live busy, loving and serving our families, or doing the next responsible thing, but neglect ourselves until we feel… not unhappy with our overall life… but somehow drained. And like we need more or different but can’t quite identify what.

When is the last time you paused and asked, and truly listened in for the answer, “What do you want or need?”

This idea of asking you to pause, to get curious, to listen in, and uncover what it is that you want or need is central to the work I do. I come alongside and support with education and encouragement, but the goal is not for me to dictate how you should look, feel, behave. Rather, I help you dig in and decide for yourself who and how you want to be. I invite you to explore, let go, become more fully yourself, identify your strengths and weaknesses. And then I offer you a safe space to step into who and how you choose to be.

If you are in this place, ready to begin living with more clarity – more purpose, health and JOY-  a dip your toe in starting place would be my 30 Days to CALM Mini Course. A deeper dive with me might mean saying yes to my signature course, REVITALIZED (read some of the testimonials here)!

So what do you want or need?

I love using worksheets and simple Life Visioning exercises in my own life and with clients or the women who take my classes. They are simple but profoundly useful tools. Whenever I feel an undercurrent of anxiety in my life it is a sign that I need to pause and listen in. But also to pull out my sticky notes and work sheets and remind myself that I get to choose who I become – I get to craft a life that is meaningful to me. I get to slow down, and say no, and say yes to those things which nourish me deeply and help me live unshackled and full of purpose, health and JOY.

Some women love creating Vision Boards to get clear on what they want or need but a blogger I follow, Rachel W Cole, recently invited folks to create a Fulfillment Pyramid to identify those things which help us feel and live well-nourished. Well, this is right up my alley and I joyfully joined the party!

Her PDF (free if you sign up for email updates on her website) provides the printable to create your own pyramid as well as some suggestions to get you started. There are a multitude of ways to make use of the pyramid idea and I may create a few of my own. But to get started, I trusted my intuition and filled in my Fulfillment Pyramid with information that I already check in with daily (my Mission and Mind-Body-Spirit Intentions), at least monthly (my 10 S Doing Words), and occasionally (my Back to Basics list and my Foundation of Belief about who I am or my identity-I’ve added to that section that I am a child of God).

You can see my quick, decidedly unglamorous first pyramid in the photo above. You artsy types will probably want to make yours prettier; you can make these with your children or students. Maybe yours will simply contain one word or meaningful image per side.

Rachel has asked readers who create a Fulfillment Pyramid to share them on social media with the hashtag #fulfillmentpyramid. I’d love for you to tag me, too, or share your pic with me.

So again, I ask: What Do You Want or Need? And if you don’t know yet, are you willing to do the hard work to uncover the answers?

Krista xo

P.S. keep your eyes open for a gift I am putting together for you all – encouraging and inspirational tips, resources and suggested action steps to help move you into deeper Mind-Body Nourishment. These tips have been gathered far and wide from some of the beautiful women in my online and local circle of contacts who work in women’s health and wellness in some manner. They are doctors and doulas, coaches and counsellors, nurses, energy workers and writers. Sign up for email updates to get yours!

Wise Women

wise womenWise Women is the seventh guest post in a series called “Your Life in Progress.” In this series we hear from other women like you and I – women who are learning to love and care for themselves well. They are taking risks, making mistakes, trying new things and letting others go, sometimes struggling, but ultimately pursuing beautiful, gentle lives of purpose, health & JOY.

Your life is your story. Write well. Edit often. ~Susan Statham

Right after I graduated from college, I lived in a college town in Colorado with my boyfriend in a great little apartment downtown above a Mexican restaurant. Once a month, we would walk a few blocks down to our favorite bookstore and buy one book each. It was a fun tradition. On one of these trips, I saw a sign on the bulletin board for a Simple Living Group starting in a few weeks. Intrigued, I signed up for it. At the time, we were members of our local food co-op, enjoyed walking and the outdoors, were vegetarians, baked our own bread and mostly bought used clothing. The group seemed like the perfect way to meet like-minded friends in a town somewhat new to us.

The group turned out to be very enlightening and a great way to meet friends, but not in the way I expected. We read many of the great classics in the world of simple living: Voluntary Simplicity, Diet for a Small Planet, Living More with Less, among others and engaged in meaningful conversations around a table of delicious food and drink. I had expected that. What I had failed to anticipate, though, was that I would be the only person in the group under the age of 50. The others in my group were progressive, upper-middle-class women near retirement. They were all fairly dissatisfied with how materialistic their lives had become and were looking for something more meaningful. All of them felt that simple living was a good first step toward finding that missing piece.

The most important thing I took away from the group, though, was not the lessons of simple living (though I have certainly carried these with me), it was the importance of having what I call wise women in my life.

I have never been close to my mother and until I was part of this group, I didn’t realize what a hole this had left in my life. These women, perhaps because they were so thrilled to have a young woman in the group, took me in immediately and were interested in what was going on in my life. In one or two weeks, these women knew more about what was going on in my life than my own family had known in 22 years. I felt cared for and known, two things I didn’t even know I was missing. And those two things changed my life.

It has been over 15 years since I was in that group and my life has changed a lot. I am married with four children, my husband and I both attended and graduated from graduate school, we have lived in five cities in five states and we have purchased our first home. One thing that has stayed with me, though, through all these changes is the importance of these wise women.

Each time I move to a new place, along with finding the library, the co-op, a CSA, a bookstore, a church, places to hike and a coffee shop, I look diligently for a “wise woman” to befriend, someone who can be a friend and informal mentor. I have yet to fail in my efforts, but it has taken shape in different ways through the years.

When my husband and I were first married, we joined a small church near our home and most of the members were older. We loved the older folks at the church, but those of us on this side of fifty decided to form our own group. One of the women in the group was about 45 (I was about 28 at the time) and she had two sons. We would always chat after church and I considered her a friend. I would watch how she interacted with her husband and sons, taking mental notes. When I found out I was pregnant, she took me in and talked about breastfeeding, childbirth and gave me a huge box of cloth diapers her children had used. Looking back, I feel like I learned almost everything I know about being a mother from this wonderful friend.

In another town, I joined another women’s group. These women were all mothers of grown children and met together to discuss a book once a month, but really, they got together to support one another through the hard work of allowing their adult children to grow up. In a strange way, it gave me hope to look ahead to this stage in my life, even though many of my friends were struggling. I felt part of something larger by being with these women and was honored at their hospitality.

As my children have grown older, I have purposely chosen preschool programs for them where the teachers are more experienced (ideally any preschool program would have at least two teachers, one newer teacher and one more experienced mentor plus any others, depending on the class size) and I mean no disrespect to those just starting out in the profession, but the experienced teachers have been a huge blessing in my life. I have made friends with my children’s teachers (particularly when the year is over, given the need for professional boundaries). I email and talk to all of them regularly and am tremendously grateful to all of them. We share stories, books, articles and hand-written notes. They offer the kind of perspective on child-rearing that is very hard to get when you surround yourself with people in your life stage.

We purchased our first home this year. It is a fine home and is perfect for us. What we didn’t know when we bought it, though, was that we had won the neighbor lottery. Our neighbor is the epitome of a wise woman. A retired school nurse, a former Catholic Worker, a mother of three grown children, a sponsor of refugees- and that is only the beginning. Anne Lamott talks about God sometimes “showing off” and whether you believe in God or not, somebody was clearly showing off when they placed us here. She and I talk in the front yard or on her porch while the children are at school, we all play games together and she has the children over to do crafts or games while I have a break. She is a gift.

These women (and many more I was unable to mention here) will never replace my mother or take away the sense of loss I have because I am not close to her, but I am thankful for the gift of being part of that Simple Living Group back in 2001. It allowed me to realize that I was missing something crucial and to make sure that I took steps to create relationships in my life that would provide a semblance of that missing connection.

I encourage you today that if you are feeling the loss of some important piece of your life, whether it is a relationship, hobby, sense of wellness, or something else, to think a little outside conventional wisdom and see if you can improvise a way forward, no matter how small or imperfect it may seem.

Anything we can do to build wholeness in our broken lives is meaningful work and very worthwhile.

Shana Hutchings

Thank you Shana for this beautiful post, Wise Women, that helps highlight our need to keep putting ourselves out there as we pursue lives of purpose, health & JOY and our need of each other, of Red Tent Women! Shana is an Alaskan Ex-Pat, Lover of the Neglected, Quiet Agitator, Enthusiastic Pedestrian, and Part-Time Writer.