The other day I was hiking through the forest with a dear friend. We hadn’t seen each other in six months so we had a lot to catch up on. As we wandered along, I pressed her to fill me in on her life, happy to hear all her updates and peppering our chat with curious questions.

And then the conversation turned to me. I gazed around and rattled on about business and the remodel. And of course my family.  She casually asked what I’d been doing for fun. So I launched into stories of my kids’ soccer games and a highlight of the past week – my son’s cross country meet.

After a few minutes she stopped, touching my shoulder to slow me down.

“Mary Beth,” she asked. “What about you?”

I stared at her. Stumped. Stammering, I responded, “Well, I’m working out …”

She looked me in the eye, tilting her head slightly to the left and raised an eyebrow. She didn’t have to say anything. Speechless, I shrugged my shoulders, she gave me an enormous hug, and we continued on our path.

What about me, I thought later. I had recently gotten my hair cut. Did that count? Not really – I had gone to the salon to make sure my appearance is presentable and professional. And when had I last gone out into my beloved garden to simply feel the loamy soil on my hands? Recently, it was all about finding vegetables to feed my family, pulling weeds and getting the beds ready for the winter.

I know I’m not alone. My clients struggle too. With finding a way to carve out space just for themselves. For a moment of peace where there is no agenda, no list of action items, no thoughts of who they need to please, impress, serve, answer to…

Why is this so hard? Are we avoiding ourselves? Is it a fear of being “selfish”? Is the pace of this world really just too lightning fast?

I’m afraid I don’t have all the answers. I just know that I need to find a way. A way to stop, to be still, to honor myself.

Perhaps later today I’ll stroll out to the chicken coop, sit down and simply enjoy their antics. Not worrying about eggs to collect or poop to pick up. I’ll simply stroke their soft feathers and laugh at their cackling. Yes. I’ll just put that on my “to do” list.