Sparking Joy

Don’t Give From Your Cup, Give From Your Saucer

Is your cup half full? Half empty? I want neither. I want a cup that is so full, that it overflows onto the saucer beneath it. With the self-love, respect and energy that overflows, I want to give to others.

I recently heard this quote on a podcast. People always say you can’t give unless you give to yourself first, and I whole heartedly believe that. When I am at my best – excited about life, energized and healthy, I am the best teacher I can be. I am noticeably more excited about the lessons I deliver, and the kids are equally as invested. On days or weeks where something is getting me down, the energy in my classroom mimics that. We don’t get through as much. There are more arguments. Less laughter and less smiles.

The same rings true for the other people in my life. I am a better wife, friend, sister and daughter when my own cup is filled. I have the energy to be all that.

Some would say taking care of yourself first is selfish, but I disagree. How can I care for anyone else if I don’t care for myself first? More importantly, how can I make sure that I am taking care of myself?

I’ve noticed a few things ensure that my personal cup is full. When all of the following are happening, I’m able to spill into my saucer.

I need to be healthy – which means I need to be eating right. I feel my best when my diet consists of lots of vegetables, some meat, some fruit and tons of water. When I move a lot, whether its a lot of walking or consistent gym visits, I have more energy. I need to be sleeping at least 8 hours a night. Which means, I may not have time for late night dinners with friends or conversations past 7pm.

I need to be excited. I need to have things on my radar that invigorate me and thrill me. Personally, that’s usually a trip on the horizon that I can plan for and dream of. It means I’m reading and learning about new things, and having new ideas constantly floating through my head. It means I’m writing about all of it.

I need to be calm. When things are disorganized and chaotic, I am not at my best. My cup lacks. I need to know that my calendar is organized, that my lessons are planned and that my outfits are laid out the night before. I know myself as a person who does not work well under pressure, so I plan for that. Instead of doing a big project all at once, I divide it into manageable chunks.

I need time for myself, as well as for others. I love my husband, my friends and my family. I appreciate the conversations I have with them, and grow from them. One of my favorite parts of the day is the 20 or so minutes before sleep, when my husband and I are in bed chatting. Sometimes about nothing at all, sometimes about something one of us learned. Sometimes we discuss our plans for the future and sometimes we reminisce on what we’ve done so far. When we have these talks, I go to bed with a full heart. Same goes for the discussions I have with others that I love. And while I love conversations, I also need time for myself. In this time, I think. I play music. I read. I energize myself for the conversations I want to have with others.

I need to feel like I am growing, professionally or personally. Preferably both. Right now, I am pursuing my real estate license, which is making me feel like growth is on the horizon, which is helping to fill my cup. Personally, I am searching for hobbies. Hopefully, when the right one comes along, I will feel growth in that department.

When I do all of that, I feel good. I feel energized and ready to give. It’s important to remember to take care of yourself, regardless of what that means for you. Don’t look at someone else’s self-care plan and mimic it exactly. Think about how you feel when you do things in your daily life, and the things that bring you joy, calmness and ideas are the things you should incorporate more.

When you do that, when your cup is so full that it overflows, your saucer will be ready for others.

Question: What do you personally do to fill your cup? How do you know when your cup is overflowing?


On Friendship

Friends are really hard to make as an adult. As a kid, a friend was anyone who also enjoyed the sand box and eating popsicles. It was really easy to have and make friends when that was the criteria. But what about when you’re an adult? I can’t imagine myself seeing a stranger at the grocery store, who happens to also be purchasing toilet paper and kombucha, and thinking “Wow, that person has enough in common with me to be my friend”.

There are cases where friendships are born out of necessity as an adult. For example, during my first two years of teaching, I worked at a school where I was incredibly unhappy. Luckily for me, most of the staff at that school had similar feelings. Many of us became friends and most of us were at least friendly with each other as we walked through the halls, sharing similar looks of depression. People there became friends out of desperation. We needed something somewhat positive to look forward to. As people left the school, they stopped being a friend to those who remained there. You realized that all you had in common with the people who had been your so-called friend was that you both absolutely hated your job.

Then there’s the longevity friend. You know, the friend you’ve know for over half your life and you couldn’t bear to lose the friendship. It’s a bit like your longest credit line. It’s a credit card with terrible perks, no travel benefits and a low limit, but I keep it around because it helps my credit score. Most of your time spent together is spent reminiscing. This “friend” may irritate the hell out of you. You may not even particularly like this person, however, in respect to longevity, you keep this friend.

These two “friendships” I described are not what a friendship should be. I’ve recently spent a lot of time thinking about what being a friend means to me. I’ve thought about energy balance and friendship. I’ve thought about friendship and how they align to my chakras (JUST KIDDING – THAT’S SOME REAL WOOWOO STUFF RIGHT THERE).  After all that thinking, I’ve decided that I am not going to keep friendships because of longevity. I am no longer going to seek friendships out due to desperation or situations. I’m going to continue to foster the incredible friendships that I have with incredible people, and let go of what no longer gives me energy.

When I say “gives me energy,” I mean this: everything you do takes energy. Getting up in the morning. Sending a text message. Driving. ALL OF IT TAKES SOMETHING FROM YOU. Thankfully, this world also has many situations that give energy back to you as well. For example, it may take a lot of energy for me to go the gym, but I feel an abundance of energy as a result of going. Getting up early takes energy, as I love sleeping in, but I feel far more energy because I took time before the day started to relax and read. In terms of friendships, it takes energy to maintain these relationships. Going out, especially as an introvert, can drain my energy. When I go out with a friend who is a true friend, I leave feeling energized, despite the energy that I spent. I leave with ideas and excitement. I have decided that I can no longer be friends with those people who leave me with feeling drained and exhausted. My energy is of value to me. My friendships that give me energy are of value to me.

When thinking of friendships, you need to think about what you need from a friendship. What traits do you value? I value honesty and advice. I value humor and sarcasm. When you ask a child what a good friend is, a lot of them will say it’s “someone nice”. There are too many nice people in the world – they can’t all be your friends. Be friends with people who help you grow. Find people who challenge you and make you think outside of your usual box of thought. Surround yourself with those that uplift you and make you excited about life.

Friendship as an adult is hard. Find friends, becoming friends, maintaining friends. It’s difficult. It’s work. Don’t invest your time in friends who you don’t truly see as friends. Ain’t nobody got time for dat, you hear?