Step 3: Getting Back to Yourself

Weeks or even a couple months may have gone by. The days may still feel gray as you go through the motions to keep life on track–or at least to keep it from jumping the tracks. While the highs haven’t returned yet, at least the lows aren’t quite so low, and then it happens. One day, you’re getting out of your car, and you catch a whiff of your favorite season–maybe it’s a cool breeze that takes you to the first crisp days of fall, and you forget long enough to grin and breathe it in deeply.

Those moments will come, few at first, and then more often, and you begin looking outward, thinking about new seasons. Those moments of ‘in between’, like the space between breathing in and breathing out, are sometimes the clarity that we need: in the moment, fully present, and . . . at peace for once, maybe even in tune with the universe.

The in between is a time for contemplation and re-evaluation, not just of relationships but of life. What have I let go, neglected, that I can focus on now to rebuild* myself? What things have I wanted to do–but haven’t? What did I love as a kid but miss now? And what have I been holding on to that needs to go?

It is a time for freeing up bandwidth, gaining completion on things that have kept your mind preoccupied, and a time for finding new and meaningful things to replace the old. In the process, you will be refocusing on yourself.

Take some time to remember who you are, and why. Look back to where you come from, and recognize (if not celebrate) how far you’ve come. Think about what you like or dislike, your world view, and how you feel about the world around you–or how you felt the last time you were fresh-faced.

Revisit your values, dreams, and goals, and ask the big questions. Besides wanting to be in love, if the other areas of my life as it is now never changed, could I be happy? What kinds of changes would I need to make? Big? Small? Realistic? How can I make them happen?

And one of my favorites that I revisit every so often. It sounds harsh to start but never fails to remind me of what’s precious in my life and to show me what I’m holding on to that I need to let go. If I had to gather up and leave my house in 10 minutes, what things would I choose to take with me?

Extending that to become an exercise for clearing out life, I draw an imaginary circle around me (how big doesn’t matter, it stretches), put all the pieces of my life outside the circle, and choose, one by one, who and what may come inside. My son and family, of course, and closest friends–the people I love. My dog, without a doubt. The Episcopal Church, even though I don’t go to church. A few keepsakes, heirlooms, and photographs from the house. But the telling part is what’s left outside–my job, which I have clung to in an unhealthy manner for a number of years. Being in the town where I currently live–an offshoot of the job thing.

And it never fails to give me fresh perspective.


*Somewhere floating around my house is a Post-It note that says, “I’ve rebuilt myself so much, I should be damn near bionic by now.” When I’m rebuilding, it stays on the mirror where I get ready every morning.


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