I had unwittingly jumped off a cliff. My husband and I adopted three children under three, a sibling group, and my life was forever changed. We took a step of faith into the dark and had no idea where we were going. Except we love children. I love to help people. I’m the oldest child of a very large family, and my husband is, too. We weren’t going in blind, but it sort of felt like it. It was a huge leap of faith.

woman typing on computerI call the time before that in my life BK (before kids). BK I knew who I was, where I was headed and frankly which side was up. I usually knew what day it was, had personal projects I liked to do and read and spent a lot of time with my husband. We spoiled our dog almost to insanity.

AK (after kids) I was drowning. But, I was deliriously happy. My husband and I were living a dream come true. I don’t want you to think for one minute that anything I did was wrong to me at the time. I enjoyed every minute of losing myself. I think much of what I did was necessary to meet the needs of my young, demanding children at the time. I quit my job to become a full-time mother. It was a complete lifestyle change–2 incomes, no kids, to 1 income, 3 kids.

Sacrifices had to be made, and we lovingly made them.

Mother in wheelchair at park with childrenI’m sharing this because maybe you, too, have lovingly overextended yourself. I know that many people in the “helping” professions like nursing, elderly care, teachers and those caring for young children regularly “burn out.” When we grieve, or experience major health, ability, relationship, or even location changes, we can feel lost. I didn’t even realize what was happening at the time, but I was burning out.

I feel strongly, now, that self-improvement begins with knowing and being aware of yourself. I had let my role consume me. I no longer ever thought about what I wanted or needed, instead, just doing what had to be done. I’ve always felt like the hero is the one who solves the problem. I had dropped all my other interests to focus on this one role and calling. It was glorious. I felt like a hero and I was so blessed, but there were side effects.

I spent half the morning trying to get my children dressed, fed, and their fabulously curly hair under control. They just couldn’t seem to get the routine. One day I was tired, frustrated and not dressed, fed, or having beautiful hair, either, when I saw myself in the mirror. I wondered, “How can they “get it” if I am not modeling it?”

So, that is my challenge for you today: to love [yourself] as your [neighbor] (see St. Matthew 19:19).   Even if you don’t feel lost and you are incredibly focused, maybe you took off with your 2015 goals sprinting through the gate, let’s take a moment to look at ourselves in the mirror.

The number one cause of physical fitness failure is burn out–”too much, too soon.” Is your pacing working out for you? Are you caring well for yourself, physically? I have to admit that this January I’ve had far too much exercise and not enough rest for my own good. Is how you are “improving” yourself a regimen you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy?

Or if, like I was, you are lost somewhere in the midst of swirling roles and responsibilities, having a hard time finding yourself, take heart. There so many things I’ve learned I’d love to share with you. Maybe something I’ve learned will help or give you an idea. In the mean time, I’m sending you what hope I can and suggest you take hold of your name. I’ll explain what I mean.

Self improvement DarEll

To read more of DarEll’s work, click the picture.

When I was a year or so into motherhood, I had lost my name. I was “my honey,” I was “mom”. I was a “teacher.” But no one called me by my name. My sister gave me a gift for my birthday. It was a hand-sewn, pink calico heart-shaped pillow with “DarEll” embroidered across the front. When I received it, I cried and cried. My sister must’ve thought I’d lost it. Her gift helped me realize how much I missed myself.

So, today, I’m wishing you a cosmic, heart shaped pillow, hand embroidered with your own, unique name. Remember who you are. Take care of your body. You are not gone. I promise.

One of our other bloggers, Nanette, had some additional good thoughts on all of this. Check them out.

Namaste (a yoga term meaning “the divine in me honors the divine in you”),

DarEll S. Hoskisson

About DarEll Hoskisson
DarEll S. Hoskisson loves to do hard things, but not too hard. She shares her own challenges, goals and experiences as she guides you into a realistic path of self-reflection and self-improvement. She shares tips on how to find, know and trust yourself so you can decide if other’s suggestions are right for you. DarEll has the world a little upside down—where work is play and play is work. She actually thinks other people’s problems are fun to try to solve and lights up with a personal challenge. She loves people, harmony, and excellence. She also loves useful things like tools and ideas that make work faster, easier and more fun. DarEll married in 1993 and graduated from BYU (1995) with a bachelor’s degree in English and Secondary Education. Since then she was adopted by 5 children and has worked with many non-profits. She is currently a certified personal trainer and group fitness instructor—leading pilates and yoga at her local YMCA. DarEll lives in Florida where she enjoys her family, nature, her work, and encouraging people to live well. She periodically posts her poems, what she is learning, and service opportunities on her personal blogs: https://personalabridgements.wordpress.com and https://darellhoskisson.wordpress.com

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