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What Is Your Body Teaching You? by Kelley Grimes at Cultivating Peace and Joy

“Rest until you feel like playing, then play until you feel like resting, period. Never do anything else.”

~Martha Beck


I relearned an important lesson this week. My spirit believes I can do more than my body agrees to. After months of suffering with painful hives, coping with my youngest daughter being off at college and becoming an empty nester, and then supporting my elder mother after she fell last week, all while working for two nonprofits and my own business, I have become totally physically exhausted. And not just the exhaustion that is remedied with a nap or by resting, but an exhaustion that indicates a need for great change.


Now this is not my first time recognizing I have given more than I had to give. During the difficult years supporting my daughter through her chronic health challenges I regularly felt overwhelmed and exhausted. My understanding about my need to self-nurture was born as a result of that challenging time and I have remained committed to my self-nurturing practices ever since.


So how did I become so exhausted?


In reflecting on this question, I was reminded that my dad was around my age when he had his first bypass heart surgery. Wow did his body try to teach him a lesson! It took my dad a few more surgeries and life challenges to lead him to meditation and the intentional daily practice of transforming his stress. Even with his commitment to meditating twice a day and resting regularly, his habit of giving too much of himself undermined his physical health. March marked the 18th anniversary of his death.


So feeling this level of exhaustion is truly a wake-up call.


I realize that my desire to live a rich and meaningful life has provided me an infinite number of opportunities to give of my time and energy. Even with my self-nurturing commitment to only say yes to things that bring me joy, I still find myself in this predicament. And since my spirit says yes and ignores any feedback from my body, I continue to give more energy than I have and thus am experiencing exhaustion.


So in the spirit of self-nurturing and self-compassion, I am holding myself publicly accountable.


I am now in the process of exploring new ways to live a rich and meaningful life without becoming physically exhausted. I feel blessed to recognize my profound need to change my pattern of working/giving without having to live through a health crisis like my father. I have no idea what this new way of engaging in my life will look like or exactly what boundaries I will need to set, but I am giving myself permission to rest, play and allow the process to unfold.


I am also giving myself permission to view this lesson as an opportunity to acquire a greater understanding of self-nurturing rather than a failure of my self-nurturing practice.


I am so incredibly grateful to be on this journey and to give myself the time and space to reimagine how I want to live and how to more effectively balance my giving and receiving. I look forward to sharing my journey with you and the insight and wisdom I receive.


May you listen to your body and the lessons it can teach you and may you nurture peace in the world from the inside out!

Kelley Grimes

Sending you so much peace, love and gratitude,

Kelley Grimes, M.S.W.
Counselor, Author & Speaker

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Join the discussion 29 Comments

  • Lore Raymond says:

    Appreciating your tender transparency with, “…So in the spirit of self-nurturing and self-compassion, I am holding myself publicly accountable.” I seek to do the same, Kelley. As always you take your real-life events and artfully weave them into soul-full musings for pratical applications. Namaste~ xo

  • leila says:

    ‘I am now in the process of exploring new ways to live a rich and meaningful life without becoming physically exhausted.’
    thank you Kelley. this is exactly what am going through right now. my body feels like it is shutting down and the exhaustion is unexplainable.
    i needed this so very much.

  • Josephine says:

    Celebrating you! I didn’t listen to my body when I should have and had myheart attack at 48 years-old! It’s a wake up call I don’t wish on anybody. Now I listen better, yet there have been some unpleasant surprises! Best wishes as you change and grow, I know you will do well!

  • Andrea says:

    Oh, Kelley… I’ve got lots to share (privately) on this topic. Publicly, I’ll say it once took being hit by a truck to slow me down. Slow learner? Yes. Sometimes. Sending lots of love your way.

    p.s. I love Martha’s advice for you!

  • Hi Kelley, Oh I hear you on this one and NOT listening to my body had me chronically ill for almost 7 years. I have since learned to check in regularly as the body does always send us messages – we are just not taught to receive them unless we are sick and then “go to the doctor”. I am so glad you have heard your body and are listening to its call. I am wishing you a beautiful time of rejuvenation. Thank you for sharing this very important message! Much love, Jenny

    • I love that you have learned to check in regularly with yourself Jenny and thank you so much for your encouragement around my message and need for time to rejuvenate! Thank you so much!

  • Laura says:

    So true when we can listen to the wisdom of the body, so much can shift. So many people can learn from this. Love this so much. I would add to support your adrenal glands too which is something I learned in my journey.

  • Katia says:

    Thank you for sharing your truth! It’s always easy for me to believe that everyone else has their life balance figured out, and I’m THE ONLY PERSON EVER who struggles with it. Oh the stories we tell ourselves!

    I’m sorry you are struggling. I’m glad you recognized it for what it is. I’m grateful for your deep honesty.

    • I am so happy that I can support you in dispelling the myth that you are the only person struggling with this issue Katia. Indeed you are not and as always we have so much to learn from each other to encourage a kinder and more compassionate approach to our challenges. Thank you so much for your comment!

  • I feel your exhaustion Kelley. I’ve been there and I’ve learned that when we constantly give to others and put ourselves at the bottom of the list and spend more time “doing” than “being” it leads to exhaustion. Good for you for declaring publicly that you are holding yourself accountable for self-nurturing and changing how you “be” in the world! That takes courage. You may find this book a helpful resource “Learning to Dance with Life: A Guide for High Achieving Women – It’s backed up by evidence from neuroscience, the health-promoting and healing benefits of the arts and eastern psychology.

  • Beautiful post of your relearning and such an important one. I love the Martha Beck quote! What that says to me is that whatever we do to earn income should feel like play — now isn’t that a challenge for many?!

    I love how the theme of change presents itself as well. So right for our times.

    Much love (and R&R)!

  • I have finally, now in my so called “wisdom” years, come to understand that enlightenment isn’t about becoming “awake” and staying that way, but in recognizing when you’re not and bringing yourself back into alignment. the older I get, the more I pick up on when I’m not doing what’s in my best interest and rein myself back in. We will all gladly and lovingly be willing to help you on your journey!

    • I love your wisdom Barb and recognizing that our ability to bring ourselves back into alignment is the real enlightenment! I certainly feel that way about mediation and mindfulness and listening to our bodies lessons is another opportunity to pay attention on purpose. I so appreciate your willingness to help me on my journey. Thank you so much!

  • Debra says:

    Have had a similar experience recently. Becoming aware of it has come sooner than in the past. I rested before I got sick this time. A kind reminder. Grazie mille.

    • I so appreciate that you have had a similar experience and now nurture yourself with rest sooner than in the past avoiding having your body have to teach you louder lessons. That is hopeful and inspiring Debra! Thank you!

  • CK Kochis says:

    I love Martha Beck’s advice. And, yours too!

    Your line, “And since my spirit says yes and ignores any feedback from my body, I continue to give more energy than I have and thus am experiencing exhaustion,” sounds all too familiar. Thank you for sharing your story with us. It makes me wonder why it is that we heed other people’s advice and rarely our body’s feedback (until something significant happens that purposely slows us down).

    May you find the extra minutes and hours on the clock to rest and recuperate. Hugs!

    • Wow you are so right that we often heed other people’s advice over our own body’s feedback until something significant happens. I aspire to listen more and more to my body’s lessons and so appreciate your wishes for more time to rest and recuperate. Thank you so much Cindy!

  • Rachel says:

    Wow, you really captured the core of why so many women develop chronic disease. It is a lesson I am learning too, every day.

  • Tarah says:

    Such a great reminder! Thank you!

  • Maria Dolegowski says:

    Right there with you. The universe has been sending many wonderful opportunities my way… too many, in fact… I love them all, I’m doing as many as I can… and then finding that it’s a bit too much. I still haven’t fully recovered from my last health incident with MS in February, and here I am overloading my plate again. How quickly I forget… thanks for the reminder.

    • So grateful that you shared your empathy and experience Maria with this process of learning from our bodies about our choices with how much we commit to. May we continue to learn deeper and deeper lessons that reflect in new choices in the future. Thank you!

  • Lea Tran says:

    Kelley, what I love most is that you’re giving yourself “permission to view this lesson as an opportunity to acquire a greater understanding of self-nurturing rather than a failure of my self-nurturing practice.” It takes such great insight to come to this loving place.

    • Thank you so much Lea! That was such an important part of being compassionate to myself and open to deepening the learning rather than blaming and shaming myself for my experience. I am grateful for your kindness and comment. Thank you!

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