published in Life Balance by Maryanne | July 13, 2011

Are you a Leaky Lena?

(updated June 26th, 2014)

“Is this then what happens to woman? She wants to perpetually spill herself away. All her instinct as a woman – the eternal nourisher of children, of men, of society – demands that she give. Her time, her energy, her creativeness drain out into these channels if there is any chance, any leak.”

— Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Gift from the Sea

Here are seven signs you may be a bit of a Leaky Lena:

1. You cringe when the phone rings, dreading the next demand on your time.

2. You are unable to find a single hour in your week to spend doing something just for you.

3. When someone asks you to do something you don’t want to do, the little voice in your head screams “NO!” and yet you still hear yourself say, out loud, “Yes.”

4. You are exhausted, cranky, resentful and not much fun to be around . . . and yet you just keep on smiling because it is your lot in life to be all things to all people.

5. You have a sneaking suspicion that although you are oh-so-busy doing all the things you “need” to get done in a day, none of these activities are actually moving you any closer to what you HAVE to do before you die.

6. Solitude means being left alone while going to the bathroom (on a good day).

7. You feel guilty if you sit down and do nothing but close your eyes or have a cup of tea for twenty minutes.

If you found yourself relating to some or all of the above, then you might be in need of repair…because we all know what eventually happens to leaking boats. However, as a former busy-aholic myself and thus still vulnerable to the next shiny distraction that comes along, I know I’m not the best person to be shelling out advice on the matter.

I shall refer instead to the wisdom of another writer, Anne Morrow Lindbergh, who literally wrote the book on why and how women give relentlessly of themselves — and how to begin to plug those leaks. The book, written in 1955, is called Gift from the Sea. I won’t tell you how many times I’ve read it but I suspect it’s about as many times as an alcoholic has to read the Twelve Step Program before the messages start to sink in.

Here are a few sample treasures washed ashore in Gift from the Sea:

“Eternally, woman spills herself away in driblets to the thirsty, seldom being allowed the time, the quiet, the peace, to let the pitcher fill up to the brim.”

“With our pitchers, we attempt sometimes to water a field, not a garden.”

“I believe that what woman resents is not so much giving herself in pieces as giving herself purposelessly. What we fear is not so much that our energy may be leaking away through small droplets as that it may be going ‘down the drain.’”

“We are hungry and not knowing what we are hungry for, we fill up the void with endless distractions, always at hand – unnecessary errands, compulsive duties, social niceties. And for the most part, to little purpose. Suddenly the spring is dry; the well is empty.”

“Purposeful giving is not as apt to deplete one’s resources; it belongs to that natural order of giving that seems to renew itself even in the act of depletion. The more one gives, the more one has to give.”

“Women need solitude in order to find again the true essence of themselves.

“I find there is a quality to being alone that is incredibly precious. Life rushes back into the void, richer, more vivid, fuller than before. It is as if one did actually lose an arm. And then, like the star-fish, one grows it anew; one is whole again, complete and round – more whole, even, than before, when the other people had pieces of one.”

“Only when one is connected to one’s own core is one connected to others, I am beginning to discover. And, for me, the core, the inner spring, can best be refound through solitude.”

And with solitude often comes slowing down – even if it’s just long enough to take a few deep breaths and perhaps catch a glimpse of thy serene soul.

If you haven’t yet read Gift from the Sea, or it’s been awhile since you have, then perhaps pick up a copy this summer and give it a read. If you can do this at a beach, even better…and you can bet your bottom sand dollar that’s where I’ll be 🙂

Maryanne Pope is the author of A Widow’s Awakening and the Founder and CEO of Pink Gazelle Productions Inc. Maryanne also writes short stories, articles, screenplays and play scripts. Please visit www.pinkgazelle.com for details or to sign up for her e-zine.

5 Comments

  1. Maryanne on March 26th, 2012 at 11:17 am:

    This comment is from “Anonymous”:

    As I read the 6 signs that one is a leaky Lena, I thought a little bird was on my shoulder poking me saying, that’s you! I hate to admit it but every one of your signs applies to me!!

    However…with sign #4–I AM exhausted lots of the time, but do really well at not being cranky! Heck I’ve take up jogging again if I feel I’m getting too resentful of people taking pieces of me, or when I’m edging toward cranky, I crank the stereo up LOUD and hit the treadmil.

    Your article has got me thinking…I really need to stop the LEAKS.

  2. stacey on March 28th, 2012 at 9:53 pm:

    Oh,how true! I shall have to pick up this book, M.A. You always know how to rock ’em/sock ’em…one, two, punch! Driving the reality home…Love ya for it!..S.

  3. Rosemary on March 28th, 2012 at 10:11 pm:

    Words of wisdom for sure. I have spent the past 8 months repairing the “boat” and sourcing the causes for the “holes”. Solitude is good…. Helps keep the balance between keeping productively busy and supporting others and being good to yourself.

  4. Lynda on April 1st, 2012 at 6:28 pm:

    This is so true. We need to love ourselves and look after ourselves first so we can look after instead of resent those who matter.
    And if we love ourselves then we enjoy our own company.
    Thanks for sharing Maryanne. Keep up the great work and great
    reminders we all need it from time to time and to support one another! Thanks for Sharing (i’ll post it too) many people would love to read your blog weekly. Lynda

  5. Elaine Mansfield on November 20th, 2014 at 12:00 pm:

    I plead guilty. I can’t blame my husband (he died) or my sons who are supportive adults. I do blame hearing loss for adding a sense of stress to most everything other than solitude. Or I can blame the push that happens when a book is published. But before the book was published, there was the push to get it published and, before that, the push to write it… Do we see a pattern here? Oddly, one of the calmest times in recent years was just after my husband’s death when the striver in me knew the most important thing was to be in nature, meditate, and survive the day. Thanks for reminding me about what matters. I’m out for a walk.

Leave a Comment

This blog is kept spam free by WP-SpamFree.