Monday, August 15, 2011

Natalie: My 5 Values (1 of 72)

This weekend my family took a trip up to the White Mountains in NH. We drove around quite a bit and I loved looking at how people in rural areas kept their homes. I’m a city girl at heart but the past couple of years, I have wondered what it would be like to have a home on some scenic piece of property and keep a really nice garden, do lots of canning, even keep a few chickens. At times it sounds idyllic and farfetched yet I saw a lot of homes this weekend that had just that set up. It looked simple. I’m not very good at making lists. Don’t get me wrong I have made plenty to-do’s lists over the years. I can honestly say that I have crossed off some big ticket items on my past priority lists but when I think about what I value and what’s important they tend to be concepts that involve the people, places, and things in my life.

The 72 ideas in 72 days project is appealing to me because despite the many attempts I have made over the years to create life changes that lead to me living in an authentic and simple way, I still feel overwhelmed and out of control most days. For years I wrote in a journal religiously. I found it cathartic. It helped me sort out the mess in my head. It helped me feel grounded. I am hoping to stick with this blog and challenge myself to being more reflective about areas in my life that feel really messy.

Here it goes:

1. BALANCE: I am an expressive arts therapist over the years I have used the arts for my own personal reflection and the idea of balance would come up a lot for me. I am not a workaholic or a total slacker. I find it important to have meaningful work (both paid and unpaid) as well as being an excellent mom, wife, friend, daughter, etc. I believe that changes need to be made regularly in order to maintain a balanced life. There are, however areas of my life where I feel completely out of balance. My relationship with food and my body for example. I love food and enjoy cooking using the freshest ingredients however I am also a closet binger and at times purger. I know how critical healthy nourishment is and I know in a lot of ways I deprive myself of that. When I deprive myself of what’s healthy I feel unbalanced. I’m hoping this project will allow me to dig deeper than I have to find a simpler way to maintain balance in all areas of my life.

2. CONNECTION: I have clinical depression and most people do not know how hard I work to make social and relational connections. Deep down I am scared to reach out to others and I’m really good at isolating myself but I really dislike that about myself. Being connected to other people is really important to me. I did not have the best role models for making and maintaining healthy connections. I love my husband and my son. My connection to them is my biggest priority. My other priority is making community connections for my family and friends and for my clients. As a therapist, I believe that healthy connections are the thing that helps lift depression, lessen anxiety (over time), and build self esteem.

3. CREATIVITY: I value the ability to create. It has taken me a very long time to internalize the concept that I truly am an artist. I believe that the gift of creativity lies within everyone. I love being a woman and that I was able to create my son and I love that I can nurture his creative spirit, his imagination, his ability to problem solve, and discover the world. Being creative happens in more ways than just the artistic sense. I didn’t always understand that. I love being able to nurture other people’s creative abilities.

4. PLAY: I am definitely the type of person who can take themselves too seriously but being able to play, laugh and just to have unbridled joyful moments makes life feel less stressful. Just this afternoon, my husband and I were running in circles with my son around his train table. While I don’t always have the energy or time to play with my son all day long, I always make moments for unstructured silliness or just moments to sit beside him and watch him line up his trains, look through a book, or play with his trucks. Play is important for adults to. It can be just about anything even work if you truly enjoy what you do can be play. For me playing is a lot of things but what I miss the most is sewing. I’m hoping to find some time to play with my sewing machine over the next couple of months.

5. LOVE: I have experienced a lot of anger in my life and I mean that I have felt angry a lot. I know that the anger is a huge part of my depression. If I am not careful, I can get sucked into a cycle of rage and sadness that can destroy me. I value love: feeling loved, being loved, knowing how to love others and also knowing how to love yourself. I never thought I could experience the love I have for my son. His smile, the way he says “mama,” the little giggle he makes when I tickle his belly. There are so many moments in the day when I just cannot believe how fortunate I am to have this amazing little person in my world. I grew up in a household where I witnessed a lot of self hatred. I want my son to see me love and care for myself as well as love and care for others. I want him to experience a mother who can be generous with love, compassion, and forgiveness.

These are the things (so to speak) that I value….well if I had to just pick 5 at least. As important as balance, connections, creativity, play and love are to me, I struggle to keep them well - balanced on a day to day basis. I place high expectations on myself to be perfect and can be very hard on myself when my perception of failure creeps in. I have a difficult time holding on to the concept that I deserve balance, connections, creativity, play and love. I often complicate my life and do personal damage through self sabotage. I guess that why I am planning to commit to this 72 day project because I deserve to simplify.

Natalie 08/15/11


  1. Wonderful post, Natalie. :) Your honesty and openness is very touching, and I'm grateful for the chance to be on this journey with you for the next few months!

  2. Thanks Mitch. Let's see where 72 days will take us!

  3. I loved reading this and can't wait to talk to you more about it. Thanks for sharing so much :)And by the way, you are a great friend (and we are similar in so many ways!) :)


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