Eight years ago, I worked about 65+ hours a week as a school administrator, while earning my Master’s degree online in Educational Leadership. One particular week, I worked late on Friday and spent Saturday morning leading school detention before showing up a few minutes late to my son’s soccer game. Then, I came home to study for an online class. As soon as I woke up on Sunday, I jumped on the computer with several assignments due. Hours later, my husband handed me lunch at my desk because I had yet to get up from studying. I didn’t have time to take a break.
Later, I realized that it was a choice.
My daughter was six years old in kindergarten. Each week, my daughter’s teacher allowed the class mascot, Olivia the Owl, to visit one of the students over the weekend. This weekend was my daughter’s turn. The kids were to photograph how they spent the weekend with Olivia and make a collage for the class to see on Monday. As I was working from my desk for probably the sixth hour straight, my daughter slipped me this note to remind me that there wasn’t much time left with Olivia…
Here’s what it said. (Let me translate for ya)
“I love you but I really have to tell you something. Today is the last day to spend time with Olivia. Please finish your homework.”
It really hit me. These moments that we have are always fleeting.
It is just as important to know when to take a break to rest or play as it is to work hard. I constantly put work and school in front of my family. While those things are important and even necessary, I had a choice. I could hit ‘pause.’ I could make time for the simple things in life.
I got off the computer. My daughter, Olivia the Owl and I jumped on the trampoline, rode bikes to the park, played dress up, read books, and had a tea party. We photographed the whole thing, printed pictures and made a collage. It was an amazing afternoon spent with my daughter who went to bed smiling. Later on, I finished my assignments.
This day was one reminder for me to take a break.
Over the years, I have had things happen, often difficult things to overcome, to remind me to slow down, rest in Him and spend time my family. I have faced a lot of tragedies in my life from my daughter’s ski accident to my son being diagnosed with Cushing’s disease. Most of you have, too. However, what I remember most is when I felt lost, helpless or overwhelmed with emotion, I called out to God. Every time, He answered.
While I know God doesn’t test us or cause bad things to happen, I know that He wants a relationship with us. It may be a coincidence, but I do feel the times that I am consumed in the world, less with Him and my family, that something happens to rock my world. I am slowly reminded of what is important.
It’s like life gets hit with a ‘reset.’
In 2014, I quit my full time job to stay home with my kids. My husband and I just bought our home. It was a scary time financially, but one thing I can trust is that God always provides. We are actually equipped with everything that we need… some kind of skill, talent, knowledge or the ability to grow those into trades or services that our world needs. Some opportunity or financial blessing always happens when we need it most. For this reason, my husband and I have always felt faithful and equipped that if we work hard, we will be blessed.
This year, I chose ‘rest’ as my ‘word of the year’ in hopes of being more intentional with how I spend my time. I want to lead a life of contentment and purpose without constantly feeling overwhelmed. Therefore, I want to focus on taking a step back from work when I need to recharge. It isn’t about doing nothing, but choosing to enjoy the simple things in life.
By the end of last year, I let myself become busy all of the time. I spent most of my day, 7 days a week, thinking about, creating and posting content online. The rest of the time was spent doing other decor related projects. I said ‘yes’ a lot. By committing to more than I could handle, I allowed my priorities of being a wife and mother, my health and relationship with God take a backseat to work.
I do feel like I have a dream job! I usually work from home, have a choice in projects that I accept, flexibility in my schedule and a creative outlet. I share the gifts that God has given me… Isn’t that our purpose?
However, my purpose slipped from wanting to share fun DIYs and decor ideas to proving my worth to the world. In doing so, I allowed my self worth to be determined by what the world may see as successful. This looked like snagging as many collaborations and decorating jobs as I could, and getting 1000’s of likes on Instagram.
If I fell short, which often happened, I never felt good enough. Nothing that I did was ever enough. I felt overwhelmed and stressed. I projected these same feelings onto my kids and my husband. Bless their hearts, for real!
Finally, my son asked me ‘if this is your dream job, why are you so stressed?” He was right. It wasn’t that I didn’t enjoy the process or my work, but I was trying to do all the things, all the time. I lost my ‘why!’
In January, I hit ‘reset.’ I set aside time in my day for myself. This included morning walks with my miniature dachshunds Scooby and Scout, quiet time with Jesus, coffee and journaling. I cooked homemade meals for my family each evening. Y’all, I have cooked more dinners in the first 2 1/2 months of 2020 than all of 2019 and 2018 combined. I’ve gone to my daughter’s cheer competitions and basketball games without documenting it for social media. Meeting friends and phone calls with friends became more important than answering comments on Instagram. Family game nights replaced my evening instagram posts.
I will never regret spending time with my family or self care. Never will you.
It’s important to find that balance between living with intention and just going through the motions. Every action that we take and how we react to the world around us is a choice. I would like to think that I have gained more self awareness over the past few months. In addition, I have learned to set healthy boundaries and routines that don’t leave me feeling overwhelmed. I still have goals and dreams, but they don’t consume me nor define me.
The lie that I told myself is that I have to keep up with every other successful blogger that’s constantly working her business… growing her instagram, attending workshops, creating blog posts 5-6 days a week, getting published. These girls are my friends, some that I do aspire to be. However, with where I am today, it’s exhausting, y’all!
So, I realized that I don’t have too… I took a step back to reevaluate my priorities and goals. I realized that I don’t have to be going 24/7 or be the best to be MY best. I can’t keep up, so I am giving myself grace to just do what I can each day. I have time set aside each day for my self, my kids, my husband, and friends or family.
I can trust the process, trust God’s timing and trust in myself to pursue a life that feels fulfilling. I can love where I am today without feeling the need to do more and be more. I can be good without being the greatest. I can take a break, but then get back up. I can choose how I spend my time. You can too.
My kids are 14, and 21. They need me now just as much as when they were 6 and 13. Well, maybe not that much because they can do their own laundry and cook, but emotionally, they need me.
It seems like every time that I lose my way, God provides me a roadmap. He gives me time to take a break, yet still provides for our family. He reminds me to give myself grace and know that I am not letting anyone down if I rest. He forgives me when I get lost in the world, but is always there.
So, as you are at home with your kids, facing this pandemic called Corona Virus, just know that this may be the nudge we need… to do less work, to be physically and emotionaly available to our families and to reach out to Him. We can make the most of this time together by embracing the simple things in life.
P.S. Thank you to the medical providers, grocers, farmers, service workers and anyone who is still working outside the home, so that we can continue to get what we need to carry on our lives. I see you.