I had an interesting conversation recently about being centered. Each of our lives is centered around something. For me it is my business. It is what I focus on day in and day out. It does not mean that my business always comes first, but I have to admit that I've allowed it to define me too much.
It's worth taking a look at what we center around. The choices are numerous and diverse. They also fall on a scale of healthy and unhealthy.
We've all known someone whose life revolves around his church and trying to do God's work. Most of us would give this focus a plus. If, however, that focus becomes an obsession and the person becomes set on saving the world by converting everyone he knows to a very specific religious life, his focus can become a minus for those in his sites. The same reversal can happen if someone is centered around alcohol.
The poor devil who lives for his next drink is ruining his life one drink at a time. But if he turns to AA and centers around the one-day-at-a-time recovery program, he can then turn his life's focus into helping others escape alcohol. Last month I wrote about my sister's empty nest moment, which many mothers are facing in this month when so many kids leave home for college.
If you are a mother whose days center around taking care of kids, you may be floundering a bit with the focus of your center out of your nest. Those who have other focuses will find the transition easier. Centering can evolve with life, should evolve as life changes.
My sister, for instance, is also a philosopher. Her wonderful mind has always contemplated deep principles which she loves to discuss. As a child I remember her questioning me about what life was all about and that was the topic once again when we took our vacation this summer to visit our Mum in New England. "This time I want to talk about the meaning of life," she announced.
How I love her company and how she stimulates my brain. She doesn't linger over an empty nest. Centering can evolve with life, should evolve as life changes. That empty nest feeling will surely pass and is not inappropriate as it is taking place. People who are planning a marriage often center around each other to the exclusion of the rest of the world. We all know that passes for those who are mentally healthy. That does not mean love stops - it evolves.
Teenage girls may seem boy crazy for a few years, but that can be normal if it doesn't eclipse preparing for their future. Their physical transition from child to adult will eventually achieve equilibrium.
My husband's center is in the woods. I was going to say he centers around hunting, and he does, but it is more than that. He loves being outdoors in the company of his sons and friends. He is an avid and excellent hunter, but that is not all his enjoyment is about. I think it is as much about sitting quietly in a tree stand for hours on end, smelling the fresh air, listening to any sound of movement, watching a bird study him. Then there is the camaraderie of joining a group effort to dress out the meat. I can understand it from a distance, but I know it's a guy thing.
Whatever it is that we find at our center, we have to keep it in balance and examine how it affects our lives. It has to be able to accommodate other important focuses in our overall lives. If I allowed my business to keep me from having vacations, it would be out of balance. If my husband went on a hunting trip over Christmas, it would be a problem for me, and therefore, probably for him. You've heard the saying, "If Mom ain't happy, ain't no one happy-"
It has to fit into my meaning of life,
not be my meaning for life.
I have found it a good thing to consider what I center on day in and day out. I know my business doesn't replace my reliance on a God of goodness, which I hope is my true center. I know it doesn't take precedence over a friend needing consolation or participating in my grandchildren's significant events. But I know I have to be watchful that it doesn't sap my energy or eclipse too much else. It has to fit into my meaning of life, not be my meaning for life.
What is your center? Have you discussed it with your spouse, your best friend, your sister? It was my granddaughter who brought up our discussion. We found it worthwhile to examine and perhaps even consider a tune up.
Jean Loxley-Barnard has been a writer all her life and studied both sociology and psychology at George Washington University where she earned a B.A. Her company, The Shopper, Inc., encompasses all the Loxley-Barnard family publications - The Shopper Magazines and Doctor to Doctor Magazine. She has been in the advertising, consulting and publishing business for 38 years.
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