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My sabbatical-vacation gifted me with unforgettable memories – touching a dolphin in Charleston’s Stono River, walks down Holumdersteig (Elderberry Hill), swimming with my granddog, and watching the two small birds I fed on the back porch become a flock of precision fliers coming in for the seed. It also gave me time for serious introspection. The books I’ve read, walks I’ve taken, yoga I’ve practiced, and meditation I’ve done have convinced me I had been spending too much time working and too few moments in quiet contemplation. Having the luxury of free time to examine my life until now and how I want it to be going forward led to my setting a challenging goal – discovering who I am. I have no timetable other than time itself and no one but myself asking the question. Like all of us, I have multiple answers – mother, grandmother, aunt, cousin, sister, teacher, and friend – but those words are descriptions of relationships. I needed answers to the real existential questions: Why am I here? What am I supposed to be doing? If I don’t know the answers to these questions, how do I know what comes next? I turned to some of the books I’ve read and found encouraging stories of how others have been brave enough to just be themselves and rejoice in that. Insight Yoga author Sarah Powers lent fresh understanding into the two reasons to enjoy a daily yoga practice. First, regular practice teaches us how “to heal and fully inhabit ourselves.” Second, a daily practice “accelerates our ability to help, heal, and naturally love others.” In her first book, The Gifs of Imperfection,”Dr. Brene Brown encourages readers to embrace who they are, warts and all, and live a wholehearted life. As she says, we all need to go to bed at night knowing the truth of these simple words: “I am enough.” A heart-to-heart talk with my daughter before I left her home and all the good times we had helped me see who I am with more clarity. She listened to my tearful frustration that all the books I was reading were saying to be myself and do what I want to do when those were the two things I was seeking! It took a few days of walking meditation back home before some words came through to my heart – help; listen. I couldn’t wait to text her over the thousands of miles and seven hours of distance to let her know I had my answer. I am a helper! I am a listener! I can be compassionate and empathetic. I don’t even have to look for people to help – as if there were a heavenly plan in action, my telephone and email account are letting me know who needs me when and where. As writer Natalie Goldberg says, “Our task is to say a holy yes to the real things in our life.” Yes!

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