Once I was asked, “When are you your best self?” I was told to write it down and put it in a place where I could see it daily. One example I was given of how to see your own “best self” is to look through the eyes of your dog. If you’re having a difficult time seeing your own beauty and strength, it can be pretty clarifying if you imagine how you are greeted at the door when you arrive home from some time away, or when you picture the delight in your pup’s eyes when (s)he greets you in the morning. To your dog, you are everything: Capable of all things, giver of all treats, shining sun of all suns.
The purpose of writing a Best Self Mantra is really to create a single, clarifying sentence, like the espresso jolt of your life force, or the thesis of your paper, to reflect on daily. It reminds you to see your own strengths and to focus on the ways you can grow. This growth mindset is similar to that of a gardener or a parent or painter or cook–all who start with a single seed or vision–or an investment banker who knows the value of one small cent and how it will invariably grow over time: It’s the idea you have for who you hope to be, or how you hope to turn out someday. But before you can get there, you have to gather all the ingredients into one place. You have to take stock of what you have. And what you have is an imprint that is impossible to replicate. It’s wholly yours: You, your hopes and dreams, the things that keep you going every day.
This morning, nearly a year after I wrote my Best Self Mantra, Brian and I awoke early to greet the day together over coffee and creative thoughts. I was browsing through my files, looking at old writing, and I found my single-sheet piece of writing about my best self–and it’s still spot on for how I want to live. Today, I’m printing it out and tacking it to my writing studio wall. I’m going to check in with it frequently. It’s longer than it’s “supposed” to be, but it has all the visioning stuff that I need to keep me grounded and focused when I consider my goals.
I’d like to share it with you here and ask if you might like to write your own Best Self Mantra along with me.
Would you care to try it today?
If you can, find a quiet space in your day. Spend some time with the questions: Where do you want to go? Who do you want to be? Who are you now? Who were you as a child, when innocence and dreams were paramount? Who will you be when you’re very old and very tired, and your life that you lived stretches out behind you like a beautiful panorama?
Pull out your journal and pen, or your laptop, center your thoughts, and write it all down.
Obviously my take on things is highly personal; it’s about my life, and the people I love, and the things that hold meaning for me. Yours will be different; yours will be about you and the things that matter to you, the things you love and want and hope for, the things that keep you grounded and connected.
My Best Self Mantra–written last year; still true today:
I am at my best when I believe in myself, in the goodness inherent in me. When I hold onto that belief like a core of strength inside and don’t let it go, don’t let it shake out of fear that I have done something wrong, done something incorrect, made a mistake—the world is made up of many layers. At least I am a force for good in the middle of it all.
I am my best self when I go running. The feel of breath in my body recharges and centers me, it clears my mind and is like a ballast for my spirit. I am able to run off my demons and reach a truer form of me.
I am at my best self when I am gardening. I like the feel of soil in my hands. I imagine the life that I will grow. I feel humble and grateful to be a channel for life.
I am at my best self when I am cooking. I love sorting, washing, feeling the food, gathering the herbs and spices. I love the process—filling the pot, watching it simmer, seasoning it, imagining how my kids will grow from it. I love that they like salt and flavor and a hint of spice. I think it will make them more interesting humans to eat whole, still-dirty-from-the-soil food.
I am at my best self when I am climbing trails in the forest. I feel a jolt of connection to the earth and the sky and I feel the higher intake of oxygen from the trees and moss and loam and I am strong, connected, resilient, unstoppable.
I am at my best self when I hug my husband or look into his eyes. Everything comes to a standstill and all there is is the feeling of being alright, of being loved, of being in a circle that pulses out into a force field of protection and a universal strength that nobody can ever permeate. He is my twin and my completer, and while I fundamentally believe that we can all stand tall and strong on our own, I know that Brian and my hands were meant to twine together and stay locked and strong forever.
I am at my best self when I hug my children and feel their magic and delight, their tiny multiplying cells that are endlessly growing them into wonderful people. I am at my best self when I tell them they can do anything, be anything, be themselves, and rule their worlds.
I am at my best self when I imagine building our children their own small houses on our property so that they will always have a place to live and be safe and loved no matter how far they travel or how old they become.
I am at my best self when I am cleaning the house. Putting one thing away and then another, folding the laundry, cleaning the countertops, sweeping the floor—engaging in the endless process of clearing the surface for what is next and creating a sense of order so that we are free to grow and focus on living.
I am at my best self when I write. One word and then another, building and weaving and stopping. Starting and growing and observing. It’s the place I feel that my mind and heart are fully aligned and doing what they were meant to do.
I am at my best self when I look up and look around and take it all in. When I remember that I am tiny but I am strong and my space here is important. I am at my best when I feel the connection to my time here and all the generations to follow. I am meant to build an enduring foundation for my children and grandchildren and all who will follow—a legacy of our farmhouse, our property, our gardens, our abundance, the story of Brian and me, the books we are meant to write and illustrate, the lasting permanence of finalizing our efforts into immovable structures and printed books and hearts that beat fiercely. A knowledge that I will live this life once but the force field of Brian’s and my love, that circle, will resonate out into the world forever.
And what about you? What is your Best Self Mantra? When are you your best self? Where do you want to go? Who do you want to be? Starting today, let’s both remind ourselves to take it one day at a time. One day–not someday.
With love and a big shiny belief in you and all your dreams,