The boat approached a small, emerald island jutting out of deep blue waters and we finally got a glimpse of our paradise for the next 7 days.
The surroundings were surreal - so stunningly beautiful that they seemed plucked out of a movie (indeed they were… the movie The Beach was filmed in the area).
Then we saw it...
Tucked into a small cove flanked by soaring limestone cliffs was the resort where our beachfront bungalow awaited us on Lagen Island in the Philippines. My heart leapt in my chest with excitement!
Finally… I could relax and let all of the stress of the past weeks go.
We’d arrived at the the family vacation destination of our dreams despite all of the hurdles life had been throwing at us, all of which come with the territory when you’re a parent: the seemingly endless doctors visits and countless sleepless nights when your child is sick. Being able to go on this vacation at all was a true gift and I was determined to enjoy every moment of it.
But if you’re a parent and a solopreneur, allowing yourself to actually enjoy and embrace the good parts of life isn’t always that easy...
Especially if they come on the heels of one of life’s unscheduled down times that’s added to an already miles-long to-do list. In my recent situation, three weeks were eaten up by doctors visits with my son, ten days was allocated for vacation, plus two weeks of no school for spring break after that.
I was looking at over 6 weeks of virtually zero opportunity to get things done for my business. Had my son not been so ill for so long, I would’ve been able to better prepare my business for the off-time… but things didn’t happen that way.
I easily could have...
Let myself get totally stressed out about all of the lost work time I and the growing backlog of to-dos
Beat myself up for all of the opportunities I missed out on to connect with potential clients and promote my work
Kicked myself for not posting enough to social media, getting up new blog articles when I "should" have and generally putting my entire business on hold
And if I had done these things, I would’ve robbed myself and my family of one of the most amazing experiences of our lives.
But I didn’t let the negative self-talk take over my thinking.
Instead I made the conscious choice to simply enjoy the gift of my family being together in a tropical paradise.
Which got me to thinking about how we choose to allow or disallow ourselves to simply receive life’s goodness when it comes our way.
(I’d add that simply being alive and healthy each day are the biggest gifts of all and yet are the gifts we take most for granted until something happens to remind us of how quickly those can vanish.)
Here’s the thing…
We’re in control of how much of the good stuff we choose to let ourselves take in and truly enjoy because we are in control of the choices we make, the attitude we choose to have about a situation and whether or not we accept life’s gifts.
Let me ask you...
How many times have you not permitted yourself to accept a gift - whether it’s a physical gift, a compliment, an experience or time itself - because you felt you didn’t deserve it?
In what ways are you short-changing the joyful times because you’re letting yourself stay hostage to the woulda-shoulda-coulda monster?
Do you regularly criticize yourself for all the things you didn’t do or generally not getting enough done (instead of giving yourself credit for the things you did manage to do)?
I realized years ago that I could either let the tough times be a great teacher from whom I quickly learn the lessons or a sneaky thief that robs me of my current and future happiness (with which I've had plenty of experience already, thank-you-very-much).
Now that I'm a Mama CEO, I have endless opportunities every day to beat myself up for perceived shortfalls in both my family life and running my business, if I choose to indulge that impulse.
And, I’ll be honest, sometimes that little demon sitting on my shoulder telling me I haven’t done enough or that I’m not good enough gets a dig in once in awhile. I’ve really worked at letting go of the high-pressure, overachiever, life-is-sacrifice, mommy-martyr mentality of the past.
The most important step I’ve taken (and you can take) to quiet the negative mental chatter and open up to receiving life’s goodness is to remind myself of what’s truly important to me: family, a life of joy, contribution, service and integrity and a building my business in a way that supports these values.
And when I remember this, I naturally make choices which empower me to have more of the things that I want most, as well as have the strength and endurance to make it through the tough times.
So I ask you…
- What decisions would allow you to receive and let yourself enjoy more of life’s good stuff?
- What might you need to do differently or how might you need to think differently in order to have more of what’s truly important to you?
As for me, I couldn’t be happier with my decision to leave my to-do list for another day and really enjoy our hard-won vacation. We went island hopping in some of the most spectacular surroundings I’ve ever seen, explored secret lagoons and sat in awe of an inky sky blazing with millions of stars as we listened to the ocean surf. I even managed to paddle board around the resort’s lagoon without falling off! (Who says old dogs can’t learn new tricks? ;-) )
Here’s to enjoying the gifts this adventure called life gives us and allowing ourselves to receive even more!
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