“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.”
~ Book of Ecclesiastes
I’m not a believer in absolute rules about life. To the contrary, you’d probably find me singing life verses from the 1960’s folk song made famous by The Byrds, with originally penned lyrics from King Solomon: To everything (turn-turn-turn) there is a season ( turn-turn-turn). . . .
I was in a season of grounding for nearly 50 years. In odd and sometimes unpopular ways, I was gearing to the earth, the pavement, the grass and the sidewalk. I’m penning some pearls of wisdom on this topic of grounding.
Two Meanings for Grounded
1. Confined at home as punishment; 2. Connected to the ground.
I’m aiming here for definition #2, connected to the ground. However, I’ve often related to definition #1 and feeling confined. I recall more than once telling my husband, “I need to get out!”
Always kind and supportive, my husband offered, “Where do you want to go? I’ll book a flight for you.”
“I don’t need to travel somewhere,” I responded in frustration. Abstract reasoning couldn’t convey to my linear, logical and highly pragmatic husband that “getting out” had nothing to do with visiting new longitude and latitude coordinates on the world map.
My sense of confinement was more mental; I was dwelling inside an unpleasant box and wanted to fly in esoteric rather than physical fashion. This mental and emotional state was with me for decades, a grounding process that invited me to stay put, step down and remain in the background.
Over time, I’d realize that much of my confinement was self-imposed. I’d also discover that my grounding process was working in ways that would prepare me for future happiness and freedom.
A Few Examples of My Personal Grounding Process
As a high school transfer student who realized I didn’t understand second year Spanish, I asked to repeat the prior year of studies. A sophomore, I sat among freshman Spanish students to learn content I hadn’t yet acquired.
Several years later, and the former editor of our high school newspaper, I discovered during the first few weeks of college that I didn’t know how to write. For two semesters, I diligently met with an English Comp instructor who provided me with one-on-one tutoring sessions and helped me learn the fundamentals.
While in my twenties, I declined two job promotions. One opportunity would have brought me to Chicago and the other to Manhattan, but I chose to remain in Florida. For me, warm weather and sunshine trumped higher wages and a greater title.
Years later, knowing sense of self-worth was tied to an income, I resigned from my corporate management position. I wanted to acquire self worth without a paycheck.
I’d quickly become a stay-at-home housewife and a homeschooling mom. These were two roles I’d previously considered beneath me and believed them to be of insignificance.
Women in my neighborhood often tooled around in luxury sedans, played golf or tennis at the country club and traded up on diamonds. But during that same era, I was engaged in cooking, crafts and messy paint projects.
Suburban fame, however, ultimately arose. My notoriety was that of Pooper Scooper Extraordinaire to the canine members of our household: a 75 lb. boxer named Buster and a 200 lb. English mastiff named Lily.
Armed with bottles of Windex and reams of paper toweling, I spent years cleaning low level window smudges, wiping paw prints from kitchen tiles and vigilantly capturing dog slobber before it fell to the floor or flung awry to the nearest wall.
There likely was an absurdity to those years. Home schooling was new and considered suspect or odd. Mastiffs were still an undiscovered breed.
But there was much to be gained from simplicity, obscurity and humility.
Benefits of Being Grounded
Despite decades of grounding — and feeling contained — I eventually realized there were pearls of personal growth and wisdom I’d gained.
For one thing, repeating my first year of Spanish moved me forward in language development. I became so equipped with the fundamentals of Spanish that I grew to love this language. I graduated college with a second major in Spanish Literature, spent a semester studying in Madrid and later travelled as a Spanish interpreter.
A humbling, but earnest, year of English Comp remedial work my freshman year of college yielded me a second semester B+. I counted that grade a personal accomplishment, even if it wasn’t among my highest honors. Taking time to learn phrasing, symmetry and grammatical logic helped prepare me for a future career as a publisher, author and blogger.
Declining corporate job promotions enabled me to maintain the sunny Florida lifestyle that I’d yearned for as a child. Even today, I marvel at the incomparable beauty of our beaches. No title or pay increase could compensate for my happy home state.
The loss of a corporate paycheck converted to gain as I found my own self-worth through the pursuit of new horizons and the development of new talents. Today, I’m as comfortable sporting a Marshall’s dress as donning a more pricey designer brand as income and buying power have nothing to do with my value as an individual.
An era as housewife and homeschooling mother served me especially well. I allowed myself to eat some humble pie in taking on roles I previously considered irrelevant. Time at home freed me to educate my daughter while further educating myself. Those stay-at-home years enabled my daughter and me to read, travel, explore and bond in ways I could never have otherwise imagined.
Finally, what about those hounds, the ultimate credits to my grounding? Buster and Lily eventually walked into Doggy Heaven.
Those beloved pets lived long enough to keep me grounded at home till our daughter moved 1500 miles away for college. The demise of these dogs suddenly freed me to fly onward and upward to new vistas of my own. I’d start a new career as a writer, podcaster, video blogger and speaker on living life happily and authentically – from the inside out.
A lifelong sense of captivity is now behind me. Former constraints continue to dissipate as I continue to grow upward and onward in life. I’m like the tree whose roots grew very deep before piercing through the soil and growing upward toward the sun.
Grounding is not a bad thing after all. The way I figure it, the earth and I have become pretty good friends over the years.
If you’re in the process of grounding, be of good cheer. Seen through the lens of time, grounding is a gift. It brings humility, humor and grace to our lives. Grounding also roots us securely to the earth so our branches can eventually rise safely to the sky.
May your grounding be a blessing, too!
Maura Sweeney is a Podcaster, Author and Speaker
Her mantra is “Living Happy – Inside Out!”
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