Last week we took down the outdoor Christmas decorations, something that’s always a little sad for me. We’re one of the neighborhood stragglers on this front because I’m all Oohhh! Let’s just keep them up a little bit longer! But the day always comes when David is over it and removes the white lights and evergreen garlands framing the door and windows. It’s good, really, because if it were up to me I’d make like my inner hillbilly and leave our lights up ’til Valentine’s Day. Or maybe even Easter. At any rate, I feel a small letdown when I look at our now naked house, like the long stretch of winter looks darker than it did before.
If it weren’t for Downton Abbey on Sunday nights as well as Friends on Netflix, I’m not sure where I’d be. (She said with a dramatic slow shake of her head.) Those two shows bring a little light into my January.
Ever since I wrote my last post at (in)courage, I’ve been thinking about what other things carry more light into my life–this month and always. In other words, I’ve been spending some time getting under things and taking stock of what I need to function well. Not only does getting to know myself better in this way make me better equipped to give to others, it helps me avoid burnout and become a better steward of this life God chose for me.
In this process, I’ve learned just how many things I’ve thought of as luxuries in my life when in reality, they feed my heart and soul. Therefore, they are essentials that I need.
I need regular routines in my day to give it a natural rhythm. That’s one reason why I love to party like I’m 90 and drink tea. Tea makes me slow down and enjoy a familiar chorus to the day’s song. In the late afternoon when I have my tea, I peruse my favorite magazines with as many pictures as words or read books with no goal other than to take in a little beauty. Often I’m at home for this, but on the days I’m shuttling kids, I’m drinking tea while sitting in my parked minivan. If I’m at home, sometimes my husband or a kid or two will join me if they aren’t working or doing homework. My tea time is usually quick, but it’s enough of a pause in my day to give me a shot of energy for the evening.
Most Sundays (as well as those rare, slow Saturdays) our family has Quiet Time for a couple hours. During quiet time, I read and/or take a nap. If the kids are home, they can do whatever they want as long as its quiet. When they were little, we made them stay in their rooms for quiet time and told them they couldn’t come out unless they were bleeding, broken, or barfing. Heh. Now that they’re older, the same rule basically applies except they don’t have to stay in their rooms. But like I said, they do have to be quiet (which is harder than one would think it should be). If my regular tea time recharges my batteries, our quiet times give me a regular tune-up.
“The problem is some of us try to take a shortcut and fulfill God’s call without receiving God’s nourishment. . . Twenty years from now, I don’t want to have gained vital and precious experience but have lost my motivation and joy.” ~ Gary Thomas from Sacred Pathways
For some time now, I’ve been aware of how I enjoy these things, but it’s only recently that I’ve discovered how I really need them. Most things in life run like a marathon rather than a sprint. So if I’m going to have the stamina to make it to the finish line, I need to know myself better and live according to what helps rather than handicaps me.
In this process, I’m also learning what are not essentials for me. Before, I’ve viewed these as malfunctions within my personality. Now I view them as excess clutter that weigh me down rather than lift me up.
Unlike most women, I’m a terrible, horrible, no-good multitasker. Accepting this has been such a gift because it means I don’t beat myself up because I can’t rapid-fire check things off my to-do list. For me, quality really is better than quantity. I’m supposed to do one thing well(ish)…then move on. Of course as a mama (one of twins no less), I did and still do my fare share of multitasking. But if it’s avoidable, I avoid it.
New Year’s Resolutions
I’m a bit of a New Year’s rebel and don’t pick a “one word” each year or make resolutions. For most folks, making resolutions helps them streamline their goals and focus on what they want to accomplish in the year to come. For me, resolutions stress me out and make me feel guilty when I (inevitably) break them. So, no resolutions for me (unless you count resolving not to make them an actual resolution).
I’m worth the time and effort it takes to get to know myself better, and so are you. What are you discovering about yourself this New Year? What essentials are you holding onto? What nonessentials are you letting go?