The following is a post from last summer. Since the season of summer travel has begun, I thought it would be fun to revisit the idea of taking someone on a guided tour of our lives. I hope you will share some of your tour highlights in the comments!
This last weekend, I had company from out of town. My visitor was someone who lived across the street from me in Memphis when we were kids. He and his sister were part of a group of kids with whom I played and rode bikes. We had not seen each other since our early teens and had not stayed in touch until last year when our paths crossed in cyberspace.
He now lives in New Orleans, and until this weekend, had never been in the Northwest, which is about as far away from New Orleans in every sense as one can get in the continental US. So for three days, I was his guide, giving him his first impression of the place I have called home for twenty years. I wanted him to see the beautiful scenery of course, but I also wanted him to understand something of the culture here, the inner workings of this city and this region.
Although I never take my life here for granted, being a tour guide for a newcomer gave me the opportunity to look at my home with fresh eyes, to voice what I appreciate about living here, to share my enthusiasm about my life here. As the days went by, I found myself more consciously aware of what was best about the place. Oh, there are faults to be sure, and I didn’t deny them, but I wanted to put my city’s best foot forward, so to speak. And as I did so, I was filled with tenderness and love and gratitude for this community which welcomed me with open arms all those years ago.
It occurred to me that we might awaken this same tenderness and compassion for ourselves by a similar process. If you were going to take someone on a guided tour of your life, what would it look like? If you wanted someone to understand and appreciate who you are, what would you say?
Many guide books include sections on history, culture, places to see, and things to do. A guide book for our lives could include these same sections. What are the significant events in your history? What are your qualities and values that would help someone understand who you are today? Are there any customs or taboos that a visitor should know about? And what are the best things about you, the things you would want someone to be sure to see? Don’t forget that guide books include things to do that are fun! What would someone enjoy most about you?
If you have time and are so inclined, I invite you to be a tour guide for your own life. You could write a guide book or just jot down some notes. Or you could simply think about it. My hope is that a fresh look at our lives in this way will awaken compassion for ourselves. There is a saying that charity begins at home. Compassion does, too. Experiencing compassion and appreciation for ourselves will spill over to others as well.
Enjoy your tour!
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10 Steps to Finding Your Happy Place (and Staying There) is a program to help us develop habits to grow a joyful spirit. Many of us sabotage our happiness by habits that we might not even be aware of. Identifying and changing these habits can build a reservoir of well-being to enhance our happy times and sustain us during challenging times.
Monday, June 18, 2012
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I love this exercise and if we all treated ourselves like the city the we live in when a visitor comes knocking and we show them all the best part of our city. My book would say, this is where I go dancing and this is where I go and retreat and have solice in this beautiful Island that I live at. I would mention that "too much FUN is never enough."ReplyDelete
Great exercise in loving ourselves my friend,
Nancy, It was fun for me to think about this. I didn't really write it down, but I went through the different sections in my head and thought about it. Love your view of fun! Thanks for commenting.Delete
What a fascinating idea, Galen! I must say I also find it quite scary. You've certainly given me something to think about.ReplyDelete
Alexia, Now you have got me curious about going on your tour. Would I be scared, too? Thanks for commenting.Delete
A great idea. I will give it more thought. It's a good exercise in seeing our own lives anew.ReplyDelete
Teresa, I learned a lot from trying this myself. Thanks for commenting.Delete
It does pay to take a new look at our surroundings. It will please us to know that there are many places of interest near our home. God is so good to give us new sight and new direction. Thank you for your sweet comments on my recent post.ReplyDelete
Joyful, You gave me another thought. What if we took God on a tour of our life? What if God took us on a tour of our own life? Hmmm, you've got me thinking about some variations. Thanks for your comment.Delete
You are so right. We never learn more than when we teach...why is that? Lovely idea Galen.ReplyDelete
Baraba, A Course in Miracles says that we teach what we want to learn! Thanks for your comment.Delete
In writing my devotions, I've certainly written a guide to my life, both past and present. It has made me self-examine, digest the good with the bad, and put my best foot forward. What but reflective writing can do that?ReplyDelete
Awesome post, Galen, and great reflections for all of us to explore.
Martha, Ah, you already have your tour guide ready to go! I bet it is fascinating! Thanks for your comment.Delete
What an intriguing post today Galen...I actually have never thought about doing such a thing....how interesting.ReplyDelete
Jo, Give it a try! You don't have to write anything, unless you want to. Just think about the different sections in the guide book and see what turns up from your life. You might be surprised! Thanks for commenting.Delete
What a novel idea Galen!ReplyDelete
When I act as tour guide for myself, up front I warn people that I’m a recluse, and don’t take walk-ins ;-)
Solitude and silence seem to be my best buddies… which reminds me of Emily Dickinson’s poem:
The Soul selects her own Society
Then — shuts the Door
To her divine Majority
Present no more…
However, there are those I welcome with open arms, and you’d be one of them!
Debra, I don't take walk-ins--that was funny. And honest. I need my share of solitude and silence, too, which is why I love going up to my cabin in the mountains. I also enjoy my friends, though, and I would welcome you as a friend, too. Thank you for your kind words and lovely comment.Delete
Wonderful idea Galen!ReplyDelete
Speaking of myself, I live in a place which is known for it's scenic beauty. But just as it's said that we rarely value the place we live in, which is valued more by visitors coming over, we do make it a point to take people around, though prefer to make it a friendly tour. :)
I guess it adds more meaning when we are able to explain things ourselves and interact openly, discuss, and share things while showing the places around, which makes it all the more interesting for everyone - isn't it?
Hadn't really thought of writing it all down though as a guide book, though it sure is a wonderful idea to keep in mind. :)
Thanks for sharing. :)
Harleena, The analogy between taking someone on a guided tour of our physical home and our inner home is close, isn't it?! Thanks for your comment.Delete
This exercise reminds me of an idea from a book I read many years ago as I was working on learning to love myself. The Book was The Dark Side of the Light Chasers. I believe the author was Debbie Ford. I will try to paraphrase. She wrote that we are each born into this world as beautiful mansions. Through the years, we invite people into our rooms. When our guests enter some rooms, they say, "Oh! This is lovely!" However, they go into other rooms in our mansion and say, "Wow, that is such an ugly room. Yuck!" After hearing such a negative reaction, we close the door to that room, lock it, and we don't allow anyone to go in there again. We ourselves do not even enter that room again. Slowly, through the years, we begin to lock off many of the rooms in our mansion that do not appeal to others in our lives. And eventually we are left living in a two room house instead of the mansion we were born into. I think it's important to realize that we are each unique individuals. Some of my personal qualities and my history that others may not find attractive might actually be some of the best things about me.ReplyDelete
Kim, What an intriguing book title! I think that's why it's important to think about what we love in our lives and would like to share with people so that they would know us. You're right--they might not appreciate every aspect, but our job is to present the most important things. Thanks for your comment.Delete
I guess that the way I try to approach life is by trying to be an open book. I don't necessarily just want people to see what most people would consider my "best" qualities. If I closed off all the rooms except the ones I think most people would appreciate, I might be homeless! Hahahaha! My point is that if we love ourselves, we love everything about ourselves. If I was taking someone on a guided tour of Albuquerque when I lived there, I would take them into some of the "bad" parts of town because that's where they might get to experience much of the colorful culture of the area. If I was giving someone a tour of Kim and her life, I would share with them that I have ADHD. They might want me to close that door and lock it, and that's ok, but I plan to leave it open. My ADHD goes hand in hand with my creativity and ability to think outside the box. Plus, it's just who I am. And sometimes when we let people wander into our "bad" neighborhoods, a few people end up liking it. Those are the people I keep inviting back! =)Delete
Galen/Kim, my daughter just learned a "life lesson" about sharing the good and the bad of ourselves. She is very confident young woman and sometimes comes off as "brash" or a little forward when she is among her closest friends. She is well aware of this trait. When she is with people she does not know well, she understands how to "censor" her behavior to be socially acceptable. Recently a long-term friend was "offended" by something she said and called her out on it. My daughter evaluated the situation and apologized to her friend, even though she did not feel that she had committed an offence. Since she valued the friendship she thought it best to take the high rode. The friend rejected the apology and insisted that my daughter had to "change" in order to remain her friend. Needless to say,that did not sit well and things deteriorated quickly.Delete
My point in relaying this story is that not everyone who is invited to tour my life will enjoy the trip nor will they make it to the end of the journey. To be a true friend is to accept all of me - the good, the bad and the downright ugly.
Many years of introspective evaluation have taught me one thing - my good is good enough.
Thanks to you, Kim, and to you, Suzanne and Malcolm, for these additional insights and observations. Just like not everyone will enjoy a tour of a physical location, not everyone will be appreciative of our life tour. In the end, the tour is really an exercise in taking a look at our own lives from a different perspective, regardless of what others like or dislike. Thanks so much for enlarging the discussion.Delete
Galen, I tagged onto Kim's comments instead of responding directly to the exercise you proposed but it did not go without consideration and I wanted you to know that. Thanks for the reminder - to me anyway - that the internal and external self must occasionally be brought into sync.Delete
If I were to give a tour of myself today I would have to tidy up a bit, but mostly people would see passion for life, creativity, devotion to family, reverence for and faith in, a higher power. I'd show them my quiet self, my silly self, my curious self and the part of me that doesn't like to be serious, but can be when necessary. They'd see the girl with wanderlust and the one that is grounded in reality. They'd understand that I do not suffer "fools" but that I do possess patience and compassion with those who cannot help themselves.
My rooms are plenty big and not yet full of all I want to learn and do and be. Once in a while I de-clutter and redecorate, but mostly I just keep adding new stuff.
Thanks for the additional comment and the further insight into your guided tour.Delete
Well, I think the best tour guide to my life would be a tour of my library. Of all things, what defines me most is my philosophical learnings. I love being the Columbus of my own mind... why not invite others to join me aboard that journey!?ReplyDelete
rob--That's an interesting approach. I'm looking at my bookshelves now and thinking about what they say about me. Thanks for commenting.Delete
I hope you are not burned out as a tour guide of your hometown! Betty and I are looking forward to seeing the "hidden secrets" of Portland and Mount Hood!ReplyDelete
The guide book of your life is a great way to position an important gift to others. I am writing about this very thing right now and the importance of passing on life lessons to grandkids.
Bob, I'm all ready for you and Betty! We're going to have a great time. I had not thought about the guided tour in terms of a legacy. You have added another meaningful layer to this exercise. Thank you.Delete
I took our Danish visitors on a tour of our city before they left for Canada and it was amazing what I rediscovered about my home turf last year.ReplyDelete
I think being stuck with this plantar fasciitis in my heel and now in my under arm to back problem and I go no where but to the heating pad has given me a great compassion for myself - I feel so powerful knowing myself so well and finding my introversion to be a path to such happiness instead of fighting it all the time/ it was not acceptable behavior in my family of origin. I think I have come into my 60s liking myself so much more and this time out has given me such a friendship with myself and a contentment that is amazing. I liked this post and being reminded Thank you for sharing
Patricia, Sounds like the guided tour of your life would include overcoming challenges to find peace with yourself. Thanks for your comment.Delete
It's wonderful to see your life/home/city through someone's else's eyes. I love the idea of being a guide for own life. You've really given me something to think about. If I were a tour guide for my life, I would show them the best of my life (just as you would your city) and tell them all the improvements that will up and coming. I'd tell quaint stories that would hopefully evoke a chuckle at times and sigh for the good ole days. And yet, because I'm a positive tour guide, I'd remind my visitors that while this is a forward looking city, that appreciates it's past, it also enjoys the moment and all it has to offer.ReplyDelete
Great post Galen!!
Betsy, Like the idea of up and coming improvements, and the humor. Great summary of your tour. Everyone would enjoy it! Thanks for commenting.Delete
I need to think about this one. Everyone's ideas are so thoughtful and worth doing...I had never given this a thought before. Thanks, Galen, for starting the wheels turning.ReplyDelete
Pat, Hope you have some fun with it. Thanks for commenting.Delete
Wow, I LOVE this post! Thank you !ReplyDelete
sheila, Thanks for the kind words.Delete
What a wonderful idea to think about and do. I enjoyed this post. I have had a rough day with adult children and I could use a few refreshing thoughts of compassion and charity at home. I will ponder on your thoughts and perhaps they are answers to prayer today.ReplyDelete
LeAnn, I'm sorry you had a rough day. I also have some rough days with adult children, so I understand. Blessings to you. And thank you for your comment.Delete
If my life was a guide book Galen, it would appear in the humor section of the travel section. I don't think there's such a thing:)ReplyDelete
This is an interesting concept for 'us' bloggers though:) (I love how I've only been one for 3 months but already including myself into the club) Especially when we talk about life and lessons learned. We are guiding people through our own stories about how to confront situations, life, challenges and overcome them.
I'd used life problems as locations and ways to overcome them as directions:)
Vishnu, Only 3 months! You are a blog prodigy! I love your writing, and I agree that humor would be a major focus in your guide book. Thanks for commenting.Delete
Fabulous writing prompt for your readers (as I see in the comments), a person rarely takes the time to reflect and travel through themselves unless they are having a tough time. Why not stop and appreciate our lives when times are good. Wonderful idea (borrowing this for a future post). Hope that's OK.ReplyDelete
Left a comment, but not sure where it went after I hit publish. :-)ReplyDelete
Brenda, Thanks for your comment. I moderate comments, so there is sometimes a delay after you hit publish until I see the comment and publish it. I did this because early on, I had some spam commenters. At any rate, I am pleased you like the post and yes, feel free to use the idea in a future post. I hope you will send me the link so I can read it!Delete
Love the idea. In fact, I love how we can draw an analogy or use various real life processes(for want of a better word)as metaphors related to life. I always enjoy having visitors because it gives me a chance to do a quick revamp. Of course, the question arises - why not spruce up for ourselves? We do that all the time. But it is exciting to do the extra-special thing for guests, isn't it?ReplyDelete
Beautiful post! Glad you reposted. Hugs to you!