THE BLOG
06/25/2013 03:16 pm ET Updated Aug 25, 2013

The Morning Greet

Donna Day

I have been trying to get an early start.

I have been finding it has been helpful to begin my day with a grateful, nurturing tone. I have been practicing some daily rituals outside and peaceful activities like reading and visiting with nature.

My day, like the days of many others, is filled with distractions, annoyances and pressures. As an account manager, I face rejection daily, sometimes hourly; actually, my day is not normal unless I am rejected. But faced with having to secure our financial climb out of our loss of income, I have come to rely on my early ritual of nurturing myself and nature in my morning greet.

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Listening has become an important skill for me, my world has opened up more now that I can listen to my surroundings, my environment and act more peacefully about my day. My tone is more serene and open and I can participate in the world more attentively. Working at it to keep the momentum is tricky as issues develop daily, but it has been a good transition from the time when I rushed through tasks in my morning to complete obligations for various part-time jobs along with my full-time job. I was on a mission to get ahead, to keep up with the household budgets we had established.

"Getting ahead" is a popular desire, especially with parents and with young professionals. Parents try to provide more for their own children than they had as children. Some might also push their children to excel academically, socially and personally. Young professionals climb the ladder for the financial gain and social status. We all participate in the race and the drive starts early for some families.

Competitiveness was never-ending in raising four daughters. My middle child would go to sleep with her outfit on for the next day just to be ready and to get a jump-start on the other girls. Truly, those girls of mine have my competitive streak and no doubt they always will. I am now learning that the win comes from inside oneself. Thoughtfulness and caring along with the drive to reach success weighs heavily if not more for our happiness.

For some, this comes naturally, but for others, it is a concept to be practiced. Leaders in the corporate and small business world are becoming more attuned to their emotional intelligence. Side-by-side with this thought is the yearning to reach out to others. The smallest gesture or the minute or two one takes to give undivided attention goes a long way. I have had some extend themselves to me and it has felt like an overwhelming weight was lifted from my shoulders. The personal touch they extended in their greeting or the minute they took with me to extend their understanding was so elemental to my peace of mind for that moment. Understanding, compassion those elements are difficult at times to express, but we all need to be understood and heard and the minute it takes to share those bits of hope is so dear and precious. I truly believe giving begins with the giving care and concern to oneself. It starts inside and grows sincerely with each gesture to others.

As a young mother, this nurturing of self does not come easily. Between those commitments in the home and a career, I felt torn to give myself care and attention. All my time was given to my family and job, and it seemed like no time was left for me. The self dries up though when not watered and nurtured and the love dries up; the effort it took to spend time on myself was excruciating at times. My husband helped me through this. He encouraged and helped out with the children to allow me to exercise "me" time. I slowly began to shed that coat of "martyrdom" and tried on the new coat of "love thyself." It took some time to fit well but I was refreshed and energized. That is so necessary now for my life. So many obstacles seem to have been thrown in my path; I can no longer deny myself time to rejunevate.

Now, as I look around my immediate family, it is a tribute to my mother that my sisters and I are each independent thinkers and doers. One strong memory of my mother is the ritual of her Friday night. She would buy herself a steak and cook it just for herself. She would not make any dinner for anyone else, she would simply reward herself. She did not guilt anyone else or feel guilty for taking care of herself. At the time, I would think it was selfish, and thought, Great, what am I going to do for dinner? or Gosh, why is she so mad? What about Dad what is he doing for dinner? Now, of course, I am really glad she did that, it taught me the importance of taking care of oneself. She would not like it if I called her a women's liber but clearly, she expressed what she needed for herself.

Each sister of mine is equally strong and independent; one sister kept her maiden name back when that was not the popular choice; one sister travels with friends instead of her husband and my eldest sister speaks up for others, but saves the strongest parts for herself. The same can be said for my four daughters as they are each different but similar in their strength to take care of themselves. I now continue to share my passion and strength with them as they embark in their future careers and family and hope they can and will pass on to their immediate love ones to love and nurture oneself first.

I look forward to the new day and welcome the opportunity to start another!