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Living in the Hum: Lessons from Hummingbirds
When I ask women if they are incorporating self-care into their lives, I usually get strange looks, tentative nods, and mumblings about having taken a shower day-before-yesterday. These women often are dedicated women. Dedicated to family, careers, causes, and community. What I notice, is that, while these are often meaningful commitments, they do not always represent the passion of the dedicated women behind them.
I was a high school English teacher for 15 years. This, my most accounts, is a noble profession. And I enjoyed it. And I was good at it. I had strong relationships with students, faculty, parents, and other school community members. I was able to “reach” THAT child. You know the one. I held leadership positions on my school. I valued education (and still do!), but it wasn’t the thing that could awaken the little hummingbird inside of me. You know. That THING. The thing that makes you feel energy coursing through you. The thing that you could do for hours without tiring of it. That thing you wish you got paid to do! For me, that thing was the study and coaching of all things spirit, mind, and body.
When I was teaching, I often left the classroom satisfied. I knew I’d contributed to the essential growth of young humans readying themselves for the “real world.” I enjoyed the collegiality of working in a school, and I loved being around adolescents. But when someone had a problem–from a learning challenge to a bad break-up–that’s when I would start thinking of the holistic approach: Did you get enough sleep last night? Have you tried journaling? What did you eat for breakfast? Have you been getting exercise? What about meditation? Even for 90 seconds? Have you been getting enough Vitamin D? While my colleagues would look at the student-work and ask questions about test scores and brain function (all important pieces to the puzzle for sure!), I would wonder about the student’s body, mind, and spirit. This kind of “problem-solving” is what really got me “humming.”
The hummingbird flaps its wings 50 times a SECOND! It does this to hold itself up and obtain that which it most needs: nectar. It’s an interesting cycle. The hummingbird has the fastest metabolism of any animal whose body temperature is internally regulated (think humans vs. fish). To stay nourished, these little birds must eat more than their own weight in nectar each day. At night or when food is scarce, they fall into a state of torpor which is similar to hibernation.
That’s interesting, Stacy, but what does it have to do with us? I’m glad you asked! I would argue that we often live in a state of torpor ourselves, doing what we need to do and cutting out the pleasures and passions because we’re just trying to get by! What if we, like our friend the hummingbird, decided to “live in the hum”, dancing from metaphorical flower to flower, not just “getting by” but actually THRIVING?
For me, this means working with people, asking lots of questions, and helping them figure out the questions that will bring them closer to the right foods, movement, and spiritual practices that will fully bring them into alignment. It means performing Reiki and R.E.A.P. It means providing Angel Card Readings. It means learning about the human body, and fun new exercises, and alternative medicine, and numerology, and intuitive healing. For me, living in the hum means creating space for these passions to be alive in my world. It means turning off the TV, declining invitations from time to time, paying someone else to clean my floors, and getting up a little earlier to start the day with one of these joyful practices.
What about you? Are you thriving? Are you in torpor mode? Are you “living in the hum”? What does that look like for you? How can you create more space to live in the hum?
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