Sunday, November 19, 2006

Inner Voice

By Julie Clark Robinson

"Men for the sake of getting a living forget to live." - Margaret Fuller

It's the inner voice that's going to do me in. Not the trans fats. Not talking on my cell while driving. Not the pesticides on my beloved cherry tomatoes. It'll be the inner voice. For instance, I am a fairly productive person and I realize that I deserve a break here and there. In fact, I wrote the book on it, so to speak.

The message of my radio interviews, speaking engagements and book (Live in the Moment) is one and the same: to help people learn how to cut themselves a break and create their own pockets of joy, every single day. But even as I try to live up to my own mantra, my inner voice nags at me.

"Hot tea with lemon? Are you nuts? Grab a bottle of water, that'll do."
"You can not take the time to plug in your aromatherapy machine and rest your eyes right now."
"Just do your own pedicure this time, no one will notice."

It's not that my inner voice hasn't read my book. The problem with inner voices, I now realize, is that they speak the same language as our outer voices. And in my case, it's the voice of a born and bred American. Who knew that the home of the free and the brave is also considered by many to be the home of the overworked and under indulged?

I certainly didn't. At least, not until I was flipping through the TV channels recently. The show that caught my attention was about the relaxed lifestyles of other civilized cultures. As I flipped away during commercials, one of the first things that became apparent to me was that other cultures do things like siesta and linger…we flip. So I put down my remote and lingered over one program for a change. (Dare I fantasize that there's a drop or two of blood running through my veins that's from somewhere other than Ohio?)

The people interviewed from Mexico couldn't believe how hard Americans work. They, along with Kuwaitis, take two-hour lunches. People in Malaysia consider their bi-weekly massages a necessity, and not only do the French toil only 35 hours a week, they enjoy five weeks of paid vacation every year.

And, as if all this wasn't enough to put a sock in the mouth of my inner voice, I learned that while we tend to reserve massive shopping, the quest for beauty and lingering over many-coursed meals for the holidays, other cultures consider these things to be worthy on a regular basis.

Imagine that! The very things that my inner voice shakes its finger at me for even considering are a prerequisite for a healthy lifestyle in many countries. I like that. From now on, I refuse to consider myself indulgent or selfish over slowing down and enjoying such necessary things as a nap or a massage. I prefer to think of myself as el Phénomène De Santé (translation: Health Freak).
My inner voice is just going to have to deal.

Sensory Exercise: Indulge your sense of smell with your absolute favorite scented shampoo or shower gel - every single morning. (If you don't have one, head out to the most expensive bath & body store you can think of and let your nose have a mardi gras of its own.) Instead of just enjoying the smell every morning, let it be your reminder that Americans are too hard on themselves. Live a little!

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