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Life's Little Lessons

"If you ask me what I came into this life to do, I will tell you: I came to live out loud." – Emile Zola

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Listen

I don’t always do it, but when I’m intentionally listening, my body tells me what it needs and my inner compass tells me which way to go. I’d say it’s usually spot on, but I’ll leave room for error because sometimes *read MOST times* I have my own agenda.

For example, the other morning I wanted nothing but coffee and something quick and sweet, but my body told me I needed water and chicken. Yes, chicken. So there I was at 7:30 AM, sitting on my couch with a plate of grilled chicken and a large glass of water. It wasn’t what I pictured, but my body was right. I’m stressed out and substance is something I am craving.

Nothing quick. No empty calories.
No shallow relationships.

I read an article this past year about the top five most stressful life events and it made me feel somewhat better in regards to my current state of inner chaos. They are:

  • Death of a loved one.
  • Divorce.
  • Moving.
  • Major illness or injury.
  • Job loss.

After reading the complete article, I felt like an over-achiever. 3/5 in one year. I can do hard things.

Truth is, we all have particularly great seasons of life and conversely, particularly not great seasons. When it’s your turn to get chewed up and spit out, you’re left feeling understandably disheveled and out of sorts (and for someone who struggles with control, it’s even more of blow when you feel you have none).

Resetting your life is both physically and mentally taxing and I’m not sharing my journey looking for sympathy because you and I both know how quickly the tables can turn. I share because there’s a difference between living “in theory” vs living “in reality”. We THINK things are going to go one way. We THINK we’ll handle things differently when they don’t. As much as I’d like to show up all pretty and pressed, real life is kind of rumply and it shows. No one is exempt. Life doesn’t have any qualms with randomly placing a bitter cocktail in front of us and telling us to drink up.

And to that, I say, “Hell to the no.”

We do not need to drink up, but we do need to listen. Just like how our bodies can’t function well for too long on only caffeine and cookies, our hearts can’t heal if we are out looking for the next quick fix. Listening to what we really need is important. I realize only now how much I filled my life with a lot of empty moments because I did not want to stay uncomfortable. My longing for ease created a bunch of short cuts that only delayed an inevitable process IN me. And all processes have their day. And their way.

Friends…please sit quietly in your heartbreak and listen. Sit quietly in your anger. In your longing. In your confusion. In it all. Listen.

Listen to what YOU need. There’s a time and a space for other people’s good opinions of what you should or shouldn’t do, but only you can choose how and when you get up and shake the dust off your feet.

Learn to trust the voice that is whispering inside of you. Learn to trust yourself.

Rest

All my big work to-do’s are done and another crazy and hectic school year is coming to an end. One more Friday.

All school year I said I wanted to take one day and not work in between bus runs. No sitting in the office going through mounds of paperwork, no cleaning the house for the five hundredth time, no laundry, no book club reading, no running errands. To me that time looked like sitting on the couch catching up on Season 2 of Game of Thrones and this morning I did just that.

I physically rested both my body and my mind and my heart breathed a huge sigh of relief.

“Thanks.”

I understand now why God calls for a day of rest. It wasn’t just so we could show up to Church (because sometimes that feels just as much like work as work does). It was so we could reset ourselves to our very core, to Him. To ourselves. To one another.

I got two episodes in and understand now why my oldest daughter told me not to get attached to characters. I then leisurely made my way across town for a lunch date with a friend and was so excited for my time with her because I didn’t feel rushed to get to the next thing. Guess what she talked about?

Rest.

Now her rest may look different from my rest but the premise is till the same. She is hitting the reset button just the same as I am. We are all trying to figure out how to balance this thing called life. Juggling schedules and wearing numerous hats in a 24 hour time period leaves many of us exhausted, even if it’s jammed packed full of good things and people. I have discovered this year that I love being around people and most would classify me as an extrovert but the core of who I am is very introverted, requiring a lot of alone time and quiet. When I get up each day and jump into the next thing or don’t  establish healthy boundaries or don’t make time to give my head and heart a break, I stop breathing and find myself holding my breath hurrying from one thing to the next.

That is not living.

That is just getting shit done.

I am beyond saying that’s life and calling it a day.

The whole basis of rest goes back to this:

Guard your heart above ALL else for everything in life flows from it. (Proverbs 4:23)

This pretty much embodies listening to an Audience of One and an Audience of One alone. If you people please much, you will have a hard time guarding your time, your schedule, your boundaries, your everything. Seriously, if your gut says no…maybe it’s a no (and no one has ever died from saying no that I am aware of). Most importantly, a lot of things sound good, especially if you’ve got a lot of well-meaning people offering advice to you on what you should and shouldn’t do. I personally am finding, the smaller the circle of influence you allow into your life, the better. Fewer voices = less noise. Walk with people and have people walk with you whom you confide in and trust but keep that number small. I think you’ll find you are able to hear God’s voice more clearly when you do so because ultimately it is He that helps you guard your heart.

So long story short is this…make time to rest friends. One day a week pretty much needs to be allotted to nothingness which in the long run, adds up to a whole lot of happiness, wholeness and peace in your life. Give your day away to go, go, go and watch your frustration, anxiety and weariness grow.

Make the time for the people and the things you say are important to you…make time for YOU. If Game of Thrones is your way to chillax, then please. Permission granted. You won’t do anyone or anything good when you and burned out from top to bottom. I mean, you’ll look pretty and amazingly hot, but ouch.

Take it from me…rest is a healer and doing nothing is more than ok.

 

The Day I Cancelled My Week and Saved My Life

I could feel it coming on, the urge to cancel. To hole up and escape. Every now and then, I find myself longing for slow, for home. I actually find this quite crazy since our home is a complete hub of continuous activity. We have children, five of them, but they aren’t toddlers. They are KIDS, as in TEENS who eat more than my husband and I combined. Kids who are active and stay up later than I do at night. Kids, whom for the love of God, talk ALL. THE. TIME and have their own opinions and schedules. Plus, we own our own business, a couple cows and a pig and home is where it’s ALL at, like literally.

And home is where I most like to be.

So when I get out of sorts and only get to spend snippets of time here, I pray for God to encapsulate our county with a snow storm so we are all forced, as in mandated by law, to stay put. When a snow storm doesn’t hit, I day dream of a real life zombie apocalypse without the zombie’s so I can hunker down for long periods of time and regroup in order to survive. Both thoughts secretly bring a smile to my face and also strike me as somewhat concerning. Is this thinking the onset of my becoming a flesh eating hermit? I call my therapist and schedule a visit and then I check the weather, just to see. Snow is in the forecast but not good snow, just nuisance snow that won’t bury us deep and that doesn’t count. Besides the whooping cough that recently hit our county, everyone seems to be in relatively good health and for this, I give thanks.

But damn. I recently bought milk, bread and eggs. Please don’t let it be for nothing.

I open my calendar and I begin. I cancel everything possible to negate, even the therapy appointment I JUST scheduled. Lunch with a friend. Errands. Doctors appointments. GETTING MY TEETH CLEANED. You name it, if it did not involve my work or the health of my children (like feeding them), it was wiped off the face of this weeks planet. Then the voice of reason rises within me and says, “Was that all really necessary?”

Um. Well yeah. Maybe no.

Years ago I did a personality test that clearly labeled me as an EXTROVERT. It made perfect sense and actually FED my need to GO GO GO. The striver in me LOVED being an EXTROVERT. It was like some little badge I wore, all shiny and freshly pinned. I loved being known as outgoing and involved. It was as if I was an octopus with my right hand in it all but it soon became a crutch and an excuse. Overtime I found myself living in a vast vacuum of contradiction. GO GO GO is not at all WHO I am and I KNEW it. After years of struggle, I realized that SLOW or FAST has nothing to DO with my external environment but my internal one. I realized that guarding is necessary because my internal environment is vitally important and influences my outer environment, just as my outer influences my inner if I’m not careful.

Such a tricky, sticky balance.

Maybe it’s because I’m starting to grow up after all these years. Maybe it’s because I’m settling into my skin and getting comfortable with being ME. Perhaps I’ll be THAT older person; contrary and odd, but I love the quiet to think and just BE as I pine for a slower pace. I crave making time to REST and RECENTER and REGROUP and when I don’t make time to RESET my internal alarm, I get all discombobulated and begin praying for snowstorms and apocalypse’s.

That’s when I hear His voice chide.

YOU did this sister. YOU.”

Because you know, I have a tendency to blame…

And He is right. I forget sometimes that “no” is a word and not just a word in some sentence but a COMPLETE sentence. A COMPLETE paragraph. A COMPLETE book.

No. I cannot be concerned with what someone else thinks when those words cross over my lips. I cannot be bothered with guilt or riddled with shame. The only person who has to live my life at the end of the day is ME and if that truly is the case, then I am the one who will have to live with the choices that I make. Heaven on Earth or hell as a reality…the choice is mine.

Learning to say no when no is needed has actually led me to my YES when my yes is needed. BUT…if I’m tired and have expended all that’s inside of me, I have little to give to my YES and those are very sad moments in my day that take my feet out from under me like quicksand…

My biggest YES are these fine people living in this house I long to be in.

I know now why the Lord created Sabbath (Genesis 2:2). THIS is why He rested. He wanted to enjoy WHAT He had and WHO He had created. He wanted to appreciate them and be filled with gratitude and proper perspective. He RESTED, RECENTERED and REGROUPED. He modeled how to take a day, ANY DAY, and just BE. Jesus often gave up being the center of attention to purposefully retreat to “lonely places” to be with the Father and pray (Luke 5:16). He knew. We need to say NO in order to say YES.

We ALL have a YES and our YES overflows from WHO we are.

Our RESET button continually changes over time and looks different from one another. What brings me REST might not to you and vice versa. Let’s just be ok with that. For me, it is being home. Being HERE, in my crazy house, cooking dinner for my hungry kids. Living in my car as a I zoom kids around. Taking a bath at night and slipping sleepily into bed by 9:00…

We NEED that one day, I most certainly DO. I just totally canceled my whole entire week and all I needed was ONE day to reboot and recharge so guess what? Tomorrow’s back on, I won’t cancel it. I’ll show up confident that I can do whatever is in it without incident. I LIVE in a better place when I make time for a slower pace (ok that was just weird rhyming that I did NOT intend, but I’ll leave it). You get my point?

Guard your heart. Seriously, those are LIFE words. In the end, it is how you will save it. (Proverbs 4:23).

Much Love-

August

Round Table Discussion:

*Do you intentionally set time a side each week to REST, RECENTER and REGROUP? Why or why not?

*What is a RESET button for you?

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