“Don’t tie your string to anyone else’s balloon.”

I heard this loud and clear as I struggled with a mishmash of feelings Monday morning. I was rested, yes, but I was definitely not refreshed.

My weekend was spent focused on supporting a girl in pain who was searching for relief and distraction. I focused on my amazing husband who was creating change and growing massively in his professional life. I was keenly aware and present to both of them expanding and growing, and I committed myself fully to being there for them.

Once again, I forgot about me. Silly girl.

No wonder I awoke Monday morning feeling a bit cheated on my weekend. I gave myself up, laid myself down for those I love, and forgot to take care of myself in the process.

Don’t get me wrong. Being of service is one my passions, perhaps my strongest passion and it fills my soul. It’s just that my desire to serve is sometimes so strong I overextend myself, and then things get wonky. The very thing I feel passionate about seems to be juxtaposed to my desire for joy, that joy that fills me up, floats my boat, lights my fire.

I’m learning to recognize earlier when the serving goes from joyful to draining and that’s real progress for me. I’m not completely deflated, just a little cranky, and that is way easier to correct. A little self talk, a bit of me time, some heartfelt connections with my girlfriends and I’m all set and ready to go.

Thus, the balloons, the perfect visual. They are happy and naturally buoyant, and just plain fun. When I hold my string to my own balloon, I just bounce up, literally pulling toward the sky with excitement and anticipation, and there’s that word again, joy.

Over serving is like tying my string to someone else’s agenda, their life, their experiences, and boy does it feel awkward. Exhausting even.

It’s so much healthier for each of us to have our own string, our own balloon, allowing us to find our natural way to float. And in doing so, we all easily support each other with a light heart.

This handful of balloons is a little reminder that each of us is happiest when we hold onto our own string. I’m picking the spunky red one!