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Grab your hammock and leap into yourself

How often do we forget to take time for ourselves — to really understand what it is we want, what we like, what we prefer to do and not to do? It is easy to fall into being something for everyone else; to shape our lives to live up to the expectations of others. But who are you for you? Have you asked yourself? Am I truly me? Is this who I want to be?

A while back I took a bold move. I gave myself permission to relax and enjoy a beautiful day regardless of the list of chores I had scribbled down. It was actually a difficult choice for me. Doing what is expected can be an overwhelming habit to break, even when the expectations are your own. In the end, I shook off any ridiculous feelings of shirking my self-assigned responsibilities and grabbed my hammock. It felt ridiculously rebellious. I may have even looked over my shoulder as though someone might be looking and chase after me calling me a slacker. It is funny to think back on.

At the time of this story, I had owned a hammock for over a year. I hadn’t yet used it. I was actually beginning to wonder if I was a person who hammocked or if I was merely a person who said she was a person who hammocked. I want desperately to be the person I imagine I am. I don’t want to simply refer to her. I want to be her. So, off I went. After finding the perfect spot and selecting the ideal trees, I went to work.

As it happens, setting up a hammock is quite a bit less work than I imagined. After clearing the first hurdle of how to secure the hammock, I was faced with getting in. In order for my tush to not scrape the ground, the hammock had to be up high enough to compensate for my weight. After figuring out how to get the strap up the tree trunk high enough to serve my purpose, I needed to figure out how to get in without a step stool to assist because the center of the hammock was now set squarely at eyelevel. At this point the hammock has yet to be relaxing. It sure looked inviting, gently rippling in the breeze along the wooded shore.

I take a quick glance around. Is anyone near? Perhaps there is someone who can provide a foothold, like I need when I want the food product on the top shelf at the grocery store. Nope. What’s a girl to do? I took a running leap. As luck would have it, I landed in the center of the hammock. For a moment I was frozen, firmly holding the fabric waiting for it to crash down to the rooted forest floor. But then, I cautiously settled in. It felt like a kind hug at the end of a long race. I hung out among the trees for an hour of delicious rest.

My mind was at total rest. I began to take stock of my life. I decided I liked who I chose to be, who I am choosing to still become. Shouldn’t we all? Sure there are areas I want to cultivate and others I’d like to repurpose. But on the whole of it, I am comfortable in my own skin.

As I gently swung in my hammock, I started believing everyone should stop what they are doing and get in a hammock. I was enjoying myself so much I wanted to share the experience and feeling with the world. This line of thinking took over my thoughts as I relaxed. Everyone should be happy like I’m happy. But happy wasn’t the right word. Happy is temporary. In that moment I was perfectly content with me and the life I’ve created.

What I’ve come to realize in this part of my life is the joy contentment brings. Contentment used to be a word I shied away from. As though being content meant settling. Not only did I avoid contentment as though it was mediocre, average and far too easily attainable, I often viewed it as “less than.” Why would you be content when you could be so much more? Yet, content is defined as a state of peaceful happiness. That doesn’t seem like a terrible state of being to strive for. We often work hard at crafting a life that’s built in someone else’s image. In the long run, only we can know what is best for us. Take a look at who you are. Really. Are you satisfied? Do you stand tall? You should. You are a valuable individual. You matter. Keep going. The journey to your best self is a daily adventure.

Lesslee Dort is a board-certified patient advocate who firmly believes knowledge is power when it comes to being in control of one’s health. Reach Lesslee via email at lesslee@friendstogethermi.org.

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