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I can finally see my office floor! For several months my desk has been surrounded by piles of boxes, files, photo albums, and years of memorabilia. Until recently, I had been slow to unpack, sort, shred, or move the contents of these boxes to where they belonged. However, after I made the commitment to our church’s women’s group, the accountability and deadline I imposed on myself put me into high gear and, with the help of my daughter, I finally claimed my office space as my own.

Little did I know how much I would appreciate opening up the center space and reviewing my possessions, which had been stuck in boxes for so many years. Journals by the dozens, 35mm slides of people I don’t remember from a past photography class, a couple of books I wrote and have yet to publish, and so much more. I shredded bags of old documents that no longer matter. Empty boxes flew out the door as file drawers received their contents. There is much that still needs sorting, but at last there is space…for me.

I feel very fortunate to have a dedicated space of my own and one finally large enough to contain the busyness of my life – past and present interests. It wasn’t that the space hadn’t been there before. It was. I just hadn’t claimed it for myself. And I realize I’ve done that a lot to myself…in the past…up until now. Once I declared a place for myself, my husband and I agreed to plans that benefited both of us and arrangements were made for everything to come into being. It was a relatively simple process; one that I had not bothered to pursue before. I am now taking this experience, this lesson, into other areas of my life.

Part of the delay to take care of myself in this manner, I’m sure, comes from a lifelong practice of taking care of everyone else first. As the “oldest” sibling, as a mother, and even now as a grandmother, plus the type of service-oriented careers I’ve had, created a mindset in me of being more concerned for everyone else’s needs before my own. To do otherwise seemed selfish…up until now. In fact, just the opposite has occurred.

The better I take care of myself, similar to the airline’s example of putting on my own oxygen mask first, the better I can tend to the needs of others. When I declare my place in the world – my world – there are times when I am first and times when I’m not, depending on the situation. However, there is no reason to put myself last in every situation. Thus, I’ve not only claimed my office space, I’m also claiming time to take diligent care of myself…to enjoy my creative hobbies…to visit with family and friends…to take a break or a nap when I feel the need…to engage in work that fills my heart and soul with joy and enthusiasm…to enjoy the NOW moment every day…to share the love for life!

In the process of changing past priorities, I’ve discovered a lightness to living and the ability to be truly authentic. I’m rediscovering who I am on so many levels. As I learn to love myself better, as a precious child of the Divine, there is room in my life and my heart to connect more deeply with others. Now THAT is truly being of service!

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