It’s been a little over a week since we got back from a family vacation to the Bahamas. It was a beautiful, amazing experience. I’ve never seen such incredible scenery, and we attended my sister’s wedding while we were down there, which was really special. We stayed at a house on the beach with my parents, and I’m so thankful for all the beautiful memories. Everett and my dad would go for early morning walks down the beach every day, many games were played that week, and we soaked in that view together.
While it was a really good vacation, it was also hard for me sometimes, because I was not feeling great a lot of the time. My health hasn’t been good this winter, and I’ve had a few old issues flare up, which has been very disappointing. When we decided to book this vacation months ago, I was really hoping I would feel better by this time, but things didn’t work out that way.
As I’ve learned in the past, I have this issue with wanting vacations to be as close to perfect as possible. But I keep forgetting that I go on vacation with an imperfect body, and perfection is a very unrealistic expectation.
I got discouraged sometimes on our vacation, because I just wanted to have a good time with my family, and it was disappointing to have to miss out on things I really wanted to do, or hold back because I wasn’t feeling good.
At one low point, I said to Ben, “I just want to feel like myself again!!”
I’ve said that to him a number of times over this past winter, but for some reason, this time was different. As soon as I said it, the question popped into my head: “What exactly do I mean by ‘myself’? How am I not myself in this moment?”
I spent a lot of time thinking about that for the rest our vacation. Why do I feel like “myself” when I’m feeling healthy, and “not myself” when I’m not doing as well?
I kept thinking about how I am the same person no matter where I am. I’m Kendra when I’m at home, and I’m still Kendra when I go to the Bahamas. I do different things in these places, and I feel differently, but I’m still me, just in different places.
And I thought about how it’s the same when I go through rough patches physically, internally as well as externally. This past winter has been very stressful on my body, and it’s become clear that I’m going through a period of burnout. But even so, I’m Kendra when I’m healthy, and I’m still Kendra when I feel burned out. When I’ve said things like “I just want to feel like myself again!” I didn’t realize how I was rejecting parts of myself. I was basically saying, “I accept my body when it’s strong and healthy, but when it’s weakened by stress or sickness, I reject it.”
When this came together in my mind, I realized how disconnected I had begun to feel over the last few months. I was very hard on myself for how I was feeling. I was frustrated because no matter how hard I was trying, I couldn’t turn things around fast enough to feel well by our trip. I was doing all the right things, but I was pushing myself too hard. I wasn’t accepting where my body was at.
I don’t remember when I first heard the quote “Wherever you go, there you are.” But I do remember thinking it was dumb. Of course you are wherever you go. Why would it be necessary to clarify that?
But somehow, as basic as it seems, I had actually forgotten it. I am me, wherever I go. I am me, no matter how I feel. And as hard as I try, it’s not always possible to make every moment, place, or experience perfect and wonderful. But it IS always possible to be there. To be me, to be fully present, fully accepting of whatever the moment holds, even if it’s not the way I would choose. To accept all parts of myself, and not reject that which is hard or painful, but to keep showing up, no matter what.
This was a lot for me to process – it changed how I felt about our trip, and how I approached things. I gave myself permission to enjoy each moment as best I could, but to accept the fact that right now, I don’t feel my strongest or healthiest. It’s okay to disappointed about that.
But when we got home, I listened to a message that added so much more to all of this. It was a message from The Meeting House about wholistic living, by Danielle Strickland. She started talking about how we as humans have a hard time approaching differences between ourselves and other people. When we approach these differences with fear, it causes pain and hardships. But when we approach these differences with faith and curiosity, it brings about healing and understanding.
Then she went on to explain how we need to do the same thing within ourselves. When we feel differences inside us, like new feelings, imbalances, or sickness, we can choose to approach it with fear, or with faith. When we use the filter of faith, we can trust that God has created our bodies in ways that are complex, beautiful, and amazing. When we detect differences within our own bodies, we can respond with curiosity, and ask, “What is my body trying to say? If I stop to listen, what can I learn?”
When I heard her explain this, it felt like the piece that’s been missing all winter. My body has been telling me to slow down for months, but I never stopped to listen to it. I didn’t want to accept that I was going through a hard patch. I just kept pushing, without even realizing it. I thought I was making good choices, and doing everything for the sake of feeling better. But I wasn’t doing what was needed most, because I was just waiting “to feel like myself again” instead of accepting where I was at.
What I needed most was to stop, rest, and accept that for now, this is the place I find myself in. Still Kendra, still myself, and that’s still a good thing.
Things are not perfect, but I’m here. And there is a lot of goodness right here.
I guess a lot of us are currently finding ourselves in some imperfect places or situations we would not choose. The whole world is going through a confusing and difficult time. But we’re here, and there’s a lot of goodness right here. We don’t always get to control where we end up or what it’s going to look like. But it’s always more productive and healing to approach a situation with curiosity and faith instead of fear, and not shut ourselves off from what’s happening, just because it’s uncomfortable.
What can we learn? What is this situation teaching us? How can we lean into it, and allow it to be what it is, for now? What is here for me in this situation that I might never have noticed in any other place, or any other way?
Wherever you go, there you are. May we stop to listen, accept this present moment, and learn to make it a place of faith, curiosity, and hope, instead of fear.
*If you’d like to listen to the message from The Meeting House, it can be found here.