More with less

IMG_2979 There's been a common theme lately, a constant word and phrase hovering above my conversations. Sometimes the word is said loud and clear, other times it's merely a head nod or look; a shared, quiet language that says, "You’re feeing that way too?"

Less.

We want to commit less.

We want to say no more.

We want to make room for God to shake things up and open our eyes to the people we've been planted beside.

We want to lighten our loads and not feel an ounce of guilt for it.

I think that's the tug of war here, the constant fight in our hearts. Can I grant myself permission to say no even when someone or something wants me to say yes?

And I think there is power in listening to that fight within, the roar or grumble beneath. There is power in recognizing our own limits and boundaries and choosing to honor and celebrate them, rather than apologize for it.

We won't be it all dear one. We just can't. We won’t be the best wife or mother or friend or coworker, all the time.

We won’t always have the right words to say. I have to say this one on repeat.

And reminding ourselves of this, gently, is a good thing.

How freeing is it to let go perfection? To put our measuring stick away and trust that someone else's successes means good things could be coming our way too.

It just might not be today.

Today, your more might mean being faithful in the little.

It might be simple and quiet. It might be without any glamour or shine. But it’ll be good; it’ll be full of purpose and meaning.

And it's so hard to wait. It's so hard to unclench our fists and surrender control. I struggle with this one daily because we live in a world of more. We live in a time of excel, achieve, build your platform, work over time, wake up early.

Walk really fast.

And sometimes these things are good. There is a season for early mornings and late nights. There is a season to be challenged and stretched to new limits. It's energizing and empowering to dream big and wide, to constantly be looking for ways to be better, to love more fully, to extend more grace, to open our home.

But I think a really important question to ask is this: am I using "busy" as a crutch?

Do I surrender, bow down, lift up my hands to "busy"?

Put plainly, do I measure my own worth by how full my calendar is? Have I let "busy" become an idol?

If I am being honest dear one, if I really let you in to the deepest, insecure parts of my heart, I’d say yes, I do those things because busy is comfortable.

It's all I've known and seen.

It's more comfortable to fill every square inch with something, anything, rather than sit alone at a coffee shop with a journal and phone turned off.

But busy comes at a cost, right?

When we say yes - always, when we open our door - always, when we commit and volunteer and raise our hand first - always, we fail to give our body, mind, and spirit permission to practice mindfulness and intention.

And I know those words get tossed around a lot. They sound pretty and sweet but what do they even mean?

To me, they mean savoring the cup of coffee in my hands, feeling the warmth from the mug press into my palms, the softness of the rim as I take a slow, steady sip.

It means looking at another person, really looking at them, and honoring the space you are in - a coffee shop, waiting room, or grocery store checkout line and recognizing that this moment is big, it's huge, it isn't small and insignificant.

It means listening with all that I am so you know you’re story, all the bits and pieces matter. That it’s a story worth sharing.

It means doing less to leave room for creativity. The best ideas need space to breath and foster. They need long walks and evenings at home making soup and stories around a campfire.

I don't want to miss what could happen because I'm too busy planning what should.

What about you friend? Are you in a season of busy? How are you finding ways to practice intention and being present?

xoxo

Why I Write :: Part 1

IMG_2803 I won a D.A.R.E writing competition in the 4th grade.

We had just spent the whole year learning about drugs and alcohol and were asked to write a letter to a "friend" struggling with a substance abuse problem. 

About anytime anyone sipped a beer during that year I'd be on their case. Which to someone who does not have a problem could be a wee bit annoying. 

"You sure you want to do that Dad?"

I'd be nearly standing over you reciting statistics and facts, while your patient, loving self would just smile, listen to me sweetly and take another sip once I got off my soapbox.

Sorry pops.

I'll never forget when my teacher told me that my letter [that I admit, I worked really, really hard on] had been picked and she wanted me to read it in front of the entire 4th grade class. A local police officer handed me a microphone while a bunch of kids sat cross legged on a carpet made of blue, red and yellow squares.

The boys fidgeted while the girls sat in lines braiding each others hair.

It was as if I had won the lotto.

It wasn't the fact I got picked and was asked to read. That part actually made me pretty nervous. Elementary school was full of awkward, hurtful moments. Anyone else?

What mattered more was that someone thought I had something that should be shared. Someone told me, "You are a good writer."

And still to this day, nearly 18 years later, it sticks. I remember that moment as if it were right now; typing on these keys, just returned from yoga, sipping my coffee and getting a second helping of oatmeal bake.

Those moments stick y'all. Those moments of feeling all filled up. Like maybe you're flying and standing on solid ground all at once.

They stick to the core of who we are and what we're made of.

Some moments are good, we hold on tight and grip them with all our strength. Moments like riding in the car with my mom, telling her that I thought Grandma should live with us instead of that big building full of people she doesn't know. I didn't know it then, but I look back now knowing full well my life changed drastically for the better.

There are those other moments that stick and we'd like to see them go. We'd gladly take a giant eraser and get rid of the parts that make us cringe or ache.

Regardless of being good or bad, or if we even dare to remember - each one shapes us. Each one is part of a map, drawing in detail where we've been and where we might want to go. They are a reminder of home, of truth, of where we get filled up.

Writing is my chance to come home. It's my sacred spot. It's my surrender when I have a hundred stories floating around my head and I have to put them down. It's my challenge when I get stuck and think I have nothing to say.

You always have something to say. Even the days you feel completely ordinary and simple. When it feels like life is on repeat. You still have things to say.

I imagine this blank white space as a dear friend, "How are you? What did you learn this week? What are you proud of? What are you willing to let go of? Tell me about the best cup of coffee you had."

You have a gift, that when shared, makes you happy. There are days we forget what it is and our feet are confused where to land. But think back, be it yesterday or 15 years ago, when you felt full and purposeful. When you felt like you were living out loud. Write down what you were doing, who you were with, where you were and how it all made you feel.

The sweetest thing I've found is that circumstance and age and location never have to dictate joy. That fullness we get to keep and carry with us, if we choose.

So I write. I keep on writing. Even when I don't know what to say. Because I know it fuels me and reminds me of where it all began, when I was nine years old and heard, "Maeve, you are a good writer."

And I don't say that toot my horn. I don't say that I've arrived. Because most days, if I am being honest, I don't think I'm a very good writer. I forget when you should use a comma or semicolon. I mix up there, their and they're. [Have I left any out?!?] I worry my words are way too emotional and think, "Do folks know I am silly? Do they think I take life and myself way too seriously all the time?"

But that attitude is paralyzing folks. That attitude is what took me 5 years to start a blog.

So I encourage you to think back. I encourage you to ask yourself the question - what can  I share? And if you can't answer that question [it's okay] ask someone who can.

Chances are, the things you are good at bring you a lot of joy. And that joy brings other people a lot of joy. And Lord knows, we always need more joy.

So start dear one, start right where you are - practice it, fight through it, get messy, start over, and do it all again.

xoxo

p.s. Tell me, why do you write?