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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Peace - What Happened When I Slowed Down

Here's the next installment of "Life Lessons from Jessica's Life Lessons."

It was brought to my attention by a friend (and confirmed by My Love) (and reconfirmed by my new favorite author/twin-separated-at-birth, Shauna Niequist ) that I have an addiction. To work.

And the main visible evidence of this is that I was obsessed with my to-do lists.

So I prayed about it and I went without. And it was hard. I literally had to move my favorite to-do list app to the deepest darkest corner of my iPod Touch and swear to myself not to look at it unless I was planning a menu/grocery list for the week!

You'd think a type-A personality would self-destruct without her to-do lists. And it's true, I was a bit difficult to live with for a few weeks... constantly jonesing to DO SOMETHING while forcing myself to glue my tush to the couch and read a book. Just for fun. A novel. Or watch a movie with the kids. Or sit outside in the sun chatting with Jesse... while there were still dishes in the sink or emails to answer or projects to start or organizing to do or laundry piles to fold or photos to edit.

I know. Normal people seems to possess this fascinating quality... a simple ability to live in the moment and be okay with the mess of life. Being able to say, "this is now and the rest can wait." I, apparently, do not.

I picture it like this... Old Me was frantic, constantly on the go, constantly on her feet, constantly stressed and mentally fatigued. Old Me was generally a positive person, but really only because that's her natural disposition. Technically, she was usually negative, cranky, and distressed because the internal boss she'd set up (to-do lists can be a mighty tough slave-driver) was never satisfied.

You got the feeling when you talked to her that she was almost out of breath or something. All. the. time. 

Old Me was running at break-neck pace. But then she slowed to a stop...or is at least trying to. And the funny thing is, as everything and everyone seemed to keep right on running, it didn't bother her. And it didn't bother them! As all those things, those things that made it onto the never-ending to-do lists, whizzed by or got left behind, she was comforted by the quiet. 

New Me is practicing taking a lot of deep breaths when her fingers twitch for the LISTS. New Me is slowing down my mind and heart.

Walking, so to speak. Or heck, just sitting sometimes!

I can still run if I need to. Trust me. There are days where "slow down" just can't happen until after the girls are in bed. And I can still run with the best busy moms and hold it together on those crazy days. But I've learned this about myself: I can't keep up that pace over time.

The freedom I'm finding in saying that out loud is astounding!

Life shouldn't be frantic. Mess is normal. We're humans. I have little girls. My husband works crazy shifts.

"There will be more of life to experience tomorrow. And the next day, and the next day. And I don't have to be running after it all the time. Breathe, rest, practice the idea of enough... Full life is lived when the whole system works together, when rest and home and peace live hand in hand with taste and sparkle and go." (Shauna Niequist, Bittersweet)  

So I'm learning that to-do lists must be a tool, not a god that bosses you around and freaks you out and turns you into a cranky-pants wife and mom. 

Stay tuned for how this is playing out practically for me! And seriously, join in on a conversation with me! I'd love to hear your own struggles with "to-do or not to-do" in the comments!


  1. I'm proud of you! I bounce back and forth in extremes: having to do everything perfectly without the tiniest interruption (and getting angry when I'm inevitably interrupted), and then getting so overwhelmed by all there is to do that I shut down and our entire home life slips into chaos (and not the fun, carefree, live-in-the-moment kind... just the stressful, can't have any fun because we can't see the floors or tables anymore kind!) But my addiction is usually to order and control. And when I'm there, it's such a challenge to give a little of that up for the sake of messy, imperfect quality time that feels to me like procrastination. But that's what these kids will remember. The fun. Not the detour from mommy's sacred plan. The plans can wait- these kids are growing UP!! Thanks for sharing.

    1. Yes! Exactly! I could so easily hustle and bustle my way through every single day, and sure, I'd feel very "accomplished" at the end of the day. But there would still be more. It's hard to remember... the "to-do list of life" will never truly be done. And in the meantime, you've got to actually ENJOY the life you've been given! At least that's what I'm trying to do. Enjoy the children. Enjoy the housework. Enjoy the kitchen prep. Just enjoy. Love you friend, miss you.

  2. I cannot tell you how much I identify with this as well. I know I'm not a mom with kids, but it comes out in other ways all the same. I've been trying to learn that doing enjoyable things just for the fun of it is perfectly acceptable *even when there's a bunch of things "to do" on my list*. So, this is really encouraging to read. Also, I read Bread and Wine just a few weeks ago..SO good! She's got some fantastic thoughts and I really learned a lot from her book.

    1. Oh Maryah I would never assume it's just a "mom thing"... these problems are just so much more noticeable to me now that they really effect my family! So gold star to you for recognizing this tendency in yourself now. It's a lesson that will serve you well for the rest of your life. And if you're anything like me, you'll have to KEEP reminding yourself of it... every five minutes or so ;o) And you'd love Shauna's other books. I highly recommend. Hugs!