In the stressful world we live in there is always a reason not to do something. Just read any self-care quote or article and you are given permission, even encouraged, to not push yourself. Not get overwhelmed. It’s ok to relax.
And, yes, it is good to relax. And self-care is important. But it’s easy to use those phrases to justify giving up too soon, not trying one more time, or hiding away from your problems while renaming it a sabbatical.
It is often in the middle of the hardest times where the best ideas or motivation form if you are willing to be open to it and actually look for it.
And if I seem harsh today, just know I’m looking at myself in the mirror while I type.
I have made finding excuses an artform. But I was raised with a better example than that. Let me tell you about my father; Olie Suis.
His entire life, along with that of my mom) is worthy of an entire book. One I should have already written, if not for the excuses I’ve made along the way. But I want to focus on two seemingly insignificant moments in time that I’m hoping will drive my point home.
My father had diabetes and due to complications, he lost his right leg above the knee. Now that’s a devastating loss at any age, but he was already in the later years of his life. This could have been a sign for him to slow down, and practice some self-care. But that wasn’t quite his way.
His first obstacle was driving. He had a small Ford truck that he used to get around town. He didn’t travel far at that age, but he did enjoy the short trip into town or visiting with fellow farmers in the area.
But it’s hard to press the gas without a right foot. So my dad could have given up driving. He could have told his friends there would be no more visits and sent me or my mom to run his errands.
But he didn’t say “I can’t drive without a leg”; he asked instead, “How can I drive without a leg?”
And the answer was his cane. Now I will go on record as saying this was probably not the safest idea he ever had. I never said my dad wasn’t stubborn or a risk taker. But he did look for solutions. And his solution was to use his cane to press the gas pedal.
And thankfully he never got caught or caused any damage to himself or others. But he did continue to drive for as long as he could. His independence and freedom (and stubbornness) were important to him. He found a way.
Then he lost his left leg about the knee. To be sure now he would just give up. Who would expect a double amputee senior citizen to do much of anything, right? Except he expected a lot from himself.
So every morning, after breakfast he would put on both artificial legs and go out to the barn or the field or the garden and find something to do.
Then my roof needed fixing. And we could have hired someone to do it. Because my dad could have easily said “I can’t get on the roof with two artificial legs.” Instead, he asked, “How can I get on the roof with artificial legs?”
And the answer was to carefully climb up the ladder and just do it. There are days when I don’t think I can take one more ‘weary’ step and then I picture him up there, alone, fixing my roof.
He never looked for excuses, he only looked for solutions.
I’ve grown soft over the years. From too much convenience. Probably from too much self-care. Shoot, I actually had my groceries delivered yesterday for the first time in my life. In my defense, I had a coupon and I was sick, but still. What would my parents think of that? Most likely that I’d lost my good sense and cents.
I am 100% sure many of us over-extend ourselves. With family. WIth work. Even with social commitments. It is ok to say no sometimes.
But it takes discipline and honesty to tell the difference between using an excuse to get out of accomplishing something and looking for a solution to get it done even if it’s hard.
Because the bottom line is, you can get away with doing less. If you want. You can excuse your life away. But what do you have to show for it? What legacy are you leaving for those behind you?
I’m not suggesting you do something dangerous or reckless. And I know some days it takes all our strength just to get the basics done.
But I do believe we find what we are looking for. Search is a verb. It requires action, imagination, and intuition. If we diligently look for ways to make our lives better, complete our tasks, and pursue our goals, we will find ways.
If we are looking for excuses they are a dime a dozen of pennies on the floor.
What are you willing to search for? What are you willing to risk?
What great invention or solution or life hack is just around the corner because YOU didn’t give up?
What am I able to accomplish if I stop making excuses?
What kind of world could we live in if we all learned to:
Hope WIth Abandon