My four week winter break from school has been an exercise in the pull of opposites: I’ve alternately lost hours on the couch, covered in purring pets, streaming music, surrounded by candles and Christmas lights, napping, reading, and watching college football OR entertaining groups of friends and family, dropping in to friends’ houses for dinner, going out for shopping, attending church services, movies, playing games, and gathering with folks. But when I’ve been working very long days over the last couple of months, that’s exactly what I need—both ends of the life force renewal spectrum. It’s an example of nourishing myself with social feast or famine. Rest AND play. Solitude AND Friends. It helps me find my personal balance and nourishes my life force.
A more introverted friend made the recommendation that I log more couch time and get to bed early. But that is what works for him. I’m an extrovert who has learned to value alone time but I’m still energized spending time with others. Introverts refuel alone and it wears them out to stay busy visiting with lots of people. How about you? What fuels you? People or alone time? Both? This is an important awareness to understand about yourself (and the people with whom you live). Relationships nourish my life force.
What nourishes you?
But this skill is more than simple refueling…it’s about nourishing. To provide what is needed for “growth, health, and good condition” according to the Google dictionary. What nourishes you? If you had no “must do” list pressing at your time and energy, what would you be doing? What would re-energize you? What helps you grow? What feeds your soul?
For me, creative endeavors nourish my life force. I’ve actually picked up my paintbrushes again for the first time since last May. Immersing myself in the colors and the methodical rhythm of the brush strokes carries me into another world. Another way of being. Days later, even seeing the colorful backgrounds resting on the easel, lightens my spirit. It reminds me that there is more to living than just the everyday grind. It feeds my soul.
If you had no “must do” list pressing at your time and energy, what would you be doing?
Nourishment can also mean variety in the same way that our health is optimized by a variety of foods. Writing nourishes me. Sometimes in the form of blogs; other times, as poetry. In the summer, it’s digging in the dirt. In the fall and spring, I like to be out in nature. Your source of nourishment may be physical, mental, spiritual, or relational. Or like me, you may need all of them.
When you recover or discover something that nourishes your soul and brings joy, care enough about yourself to make room for it in your life. –Jean Shinoda Bolen, MD, Author
Protect your life force.
Finally, we all need regular nourishment. We not only need regular feeding but we need to not give it all away. We should hold some in reserve to keep us going. I think that’s what happened to me this past semester and why nourishing my life force has been so intense over the break. I haven’t been engaged in nourishing my life force enough over the last few months. I think I was running dry. This is important feedback for me and a reminder to us all: Protect your life force.
Life is Messy, as we all know. We need to Nourish our Life Force to keep us going so we can spend more time pursuing and enjoying the Marvelous.
Rhea Ann Merck, Ph.D.
Licensed Psychologist, persistent woman, mother of 2 amazing young women, writer, teacher, life-long learner, curious & creative human, lover of life, passionate about making life better every day…