Tending the Fire Within

by T.W. Winslow

It's in our nature to want to grow - to experience new things, to learn, to test ourselves, to be stimulated both mentally and physically. When we deny ourselves the opportunity to grow, this can cause us to become unsatisfied with our lives, careers, and our relationships. 

We can get so caught up in our roles and daily routines that we neglect our needs as individuals. Over time this can lead to a general sense of dissatisfaction and even depression. Sometimes we have no idea why we feel this way and begin looking for fulfillment in negative, even destructive ways - jumping from job to job, over-eating, irresponsible spending, extramarital affairs, etc.. 

It's surprising how little it takes to feel good about ourselves if we make a point to recognize our needs as individuals and indulge ourselves from time to time. The problem is, many of us find it exceedingly difficult to make time for ourselves - we're forever putting the needs of our children, husbands, wives, and work ahead of our own personal needs. 

This is understandable as we all want to be the perfect parent, the greatest husband or wife, the one who gets the promotion at work, etc. However, for us to be successful in those areas, we must find time to nurture ourselves as individuals. This need not be a major undertaking. Spending just a few minutes each day reading, working on a hobby or craft project, or just in quiet meditation can make all the difference in the world. 

This doesn't necessarily have to be something you do alone. You can involve your partner and/or your children too. Learn a foreign language together, exercise together - take a family run or bike ride each evening, learn to roller-blade, ski, paint, play the guitar. 

One thing my wife and I did was to learn how to country dance - swing, two-step, and the like. Neither of us were huge country music fans nor particularly graceful on the dance floor. However, we didn't let that stop us. This turned out to be a wonderful experience. Individually we were both challenged by learning new dance steps while trying hard not to crush each other's toes. As a couple this served as a great way to bring us even closer together - providing us with a shared, enjoyable experience. 

The point is not so much what you do, but that you do something - anything. Spend some time remembering those things which you love to do but have let slip from your normal routine, then add one or more of those things back into your life. Or try something new and challenging - take a night class, learn the two-step (if your toes can take the abuse), or anything which you'd enjoy doing.

In our quest to be super moms and dads, great husbands and wives, the best employees, business owners, and/or homemakers, lets not forget to take a little time on a regular basis to be good to ourselves - to grow as individuals, to test ourselves, to learn something new, to be stimulated mentally and/or physically in a positive way. We can't be a shining light 
for others if we don't tend the fire within.