Look at This
Nemo dat quod non habet
(You cannot give what you do not have)
Have you ever had one of those moments when you know you should do something, but you just can't find the energy or motivation? Even when you try to dig deep and find that extra something it's not there to be found?
That was me last month.
I hit the wall on December 24th. I hadn't bought a single present for anyone; not my children, my parents or even my wife. And the next day, I didn't make any phone calls to my loved ones. My emotional, physical and mental engines had shut down. For me, it wasn't one day a time; it was one second at a time. I asked myself how I let this happen.
In the previous three months, Raquel was promoted to admiral and was transferred to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. This necessitated leasing our townhome, setting up an apartment in Maryland and our home in Hawaii. I was in the process of getting my book published while adjusting to life parenting without Raquel. Between all that and travel back and forth-my reserves were depleted. I was running on empty.
This experience reaffirmed for me the old lesson that taking care of me is the most important thing I can do for myself and others. I used to struggle with this idea because I thought it was selfish. The first time I saw the airplane safety demonstration where parents are advised to put the mask on first I thought; what kind of parent would do that while their kid is turning blue?
But it's not selfish--it's essential. I can't help anyone else if I can't help myself. One of my favorite Latin expressions is; Nemo dat quod non habet, which loosely translated means, "You cannot give what you do not have." If I want to give love, time or attention to anyone or anything, I have to have the capacity to do it. If I don't have personal capacity, physical, mental or emotional, then I am going to give less than my best in every area of my life; as a husband, father, writer, speaker, coach or friend.
So my top resolution this year is increase my personal capacity and there's lots of ways to do that, starting with getting more rest. I can't always control what time I go to bed, but I can control what time I wake up, so I'm resolved to get up at the same time every morning. I can always improve my nutrition and my exercise regimen and have begun to do that, too. (If you'd like more ideas on how to increase personal capacity, I'm happy to share those with you: email@example.com).
I've kicked in my resolutions and it's already paying dividends. I have more capacity, I feel better and I'm ready to give my best today and every day. And who knows? The girls might just get birthday presents this year.
Fortunately, I did have enough capacity to take a few pictures (Raquel, Taylor, Aly and Grace getting an unexpected wave from behind at Waikiki Beach)
This blog is an extension of my book, Look at This, stories that look at life's moments and my search for the meaning, purpose or insight that is hidden in every one of them. I welcome and encourage your comments, ideas and stories and I hope that this is just the start of an exciting conversation that keeps getting better. Thank you for reading!