When I turned 40, I begin to really examine what was important in my life and where/how I wanted to spend my time. It is probably not a coincidence that I started practicing yoga around the same time. Now that I am 50 – I celebrated the big 5-0 last week – I am even more committed to reflecting on and living in a way that is true to who I am and what I value. It will be no surprise to you that what I value most are family and friends – meaningful relationships. My relationship with my husband continues to amazes me. Why? Because we have been married for almost 30 years. Just yesterday I said to a friend “that is a long time” and she replied “I think it is the perfect amount of time”. I loved that response. It is perfect, but not because it is perfect because it is not. Does that make sense? In the imperfections of life is where we grow the most. And during the 30 years of our union, there have been ups and downs. However because our relationship is built on a foundation of love, gratitude and respect, it grows as we do. We also have a tremendous amount of gratitude for how solid our relationship is and we do not take that for granted. Why am I writing about something so personal (yeah, my husband might ask that too)? Well, this blog is about Living Life and I think it is important to reflect on our relationships and celebrate why they are working, think about why they might not be working and make changes moving in the direction of what is best for whoever you are in the relationship with, which may be a marriage/partnership, a friendship or a relationship with a family member.
Right now take a few moments to think about the 3 most important relationships in your life. Start with the first person you thought about and ask yourself the following questions: When you think of this person that you share your life with, do you smile? Does the relationship bring you joy? Are you able to be your authentic self in the relationship? Does the person lift you up and support your full potential? Do they love you unconditionally? If you answer yes to most or all of these questions, that is wonderful. If you do not answer yes to most or all of the questions, you might investigate why not. Just take one step at a time… think about what it means to you. And as you wonder about this, do not pass judgment, just be with the thoughts and feeling and notice how it makes you feel. Then think about your role in the relationship and ask the same questions about yourself in the relationship. When the person thinks about you, do you think they smile? Do you bring them joy? Do you allow them to be their authentic self? Do you lift them up and support their full potential?
We know relationships are a two-way street and my hope for today is that we take some time to reflect on those we are most significantly involved with and think about the impact we have in each others’ lives. Let’s all stop being so busy and reflect on what we truly value. At the end of the day, what is most important is those we love and choose to spend our time with, so by reflecting on this and paying attention to what is most valuable in our lives, we can hopefully move in the direction of improving our relationships and either changing or eliminating those that no longer serve us. Over the years we have all likely read many stories about people who are faced with a life crisis (illness, death, job loss, divorce, etc.) and how the folks affected by the crisis will sometimes express that it took this particular situation for them to realize what was really important to them. By doing this relationship reflection exercise today, it is my hope that we can think about this without it being precipitated by a crisis event. How we spend our time matters…. Who we spend our time with matters…. Our life choices matter!