“Rest needs a full stop.”
Before she was even done speaking them, I was busy scrawling these words in big bold letters across my page of notes. Emily Freeman seems to have a knack for speaking DIRECTLY INTO MY SOUL these days. It doesn’t even surprise me anymore when I hear her words and then my eyes automatically well up with tears. It’s almost like a reflex now. It’s fine. I’m used to it.
But it’s not just Emily.
Random things seem to make me cry lately:
A greeting card that stopped me in my tracks with a clear black and white suggestion.
Who knows, maybe I’m just a sucker for inspirational words. But I don’t think that’s it.
I think this is just the sort of thing that happens when your heart is wide awake and open.
God uses anything and everything to get your attention.
The thing is, my heart has been wide awake all year and I think it may be in need of some rest.
You see, 2016 has been my “Year of Yes”, so for the last 11 months I’ve been saying “Yes” to all manner of exciting things. Things that I’d normally never have the courage to entertain.
For the last 5 years I’ve practiced choosing one word as a sort of springboard, a filter, a gauge, a target, and a conversation piece with God throughout the year. Maybe that sounds cheesy or contrived, but I’ve found it to be a powerful exercise. As I prayerfully considered what word to choose for 2016, I felt as if God had winked at me and whispered, “JUST SAY YES to the adventures I have for you.”
So I did.
I said yes to everything from public speaking, to house-flipping, to bringing home another puppy (because of course I did. Do you even know me at all?), and to dreaming bigger than I ever have before.
While it’s been a wild, rich, adventurous, and meaningful season, it’s also been a bit exhausting. I’ve basically lived in this entire year in a perpetual state of nervousness. Let’s just say that by now I should own stock in good deodorant and calming tea (and by tea I mean wine).
It’s fine. It’s good, even. But sometimes after a certain amount of bravery, you just need to curl up into yourself for a while and recharge. And that’s fine too. It’s good, even.
So now, I’m saying yes to intentionally slowing the heartbeat of my own life enough to inhabit this holiday season with gratitude, reflection, and joy.
I’m saying yes to REST.
But of course, every good Yes requires at least 5 other Nos.
So as we wind down 2016, here are 5 ways I’m saying No to stress in order to cultivate rest this holiday season:
1) I’m saying no to hosting. I normally enjoy opening my home and inviting people in, but after two years of hosting both families for every major holiday, I simply found myself tapped-out this year. And that’s okay. Whether entertaining comes naturally to you or not, it’s okay to be a guest and let someone else host this time. It’s okay to bring nothing but a side dish and your rested, best self to the table. It’s enough.
2) I’m saying no to hustling. Hustle certainly has it’s rightful place, otherwise nothing important would ever get done, but if the sense of hustle is coming from some imagined pressure to be amazing, then I have to stop and remind myself that pressure isn’t real. It only exists inside my own mind. My house will be what it is. My shopping budget will be what it is. Our neighbors may or may not get thoughtful gifts left on their doorstep. I’ll do what I can, what feels right, and I’ll let go of an impossible standard.
3) I’m saying no to missing moments with my kids. Last year was sort of the antithesis of my ideal holiday experience. While I’m deeply grateful that it was spent with people we love, it was also jam-packed with going, doing, hosting, buying, cooking, cleaning, rushing, referee-ing, stressing, and quietly crying in the laundry room because I was fraying at the ends. All I wanted to do was bake cookies with my kids and sip coffee and watch our favorite movies but we couldn’t because THERE WAS NO TIME!
But here’s the thing with time: it’s all relative. We all get 24 hours. There is no magical formula to ‘having time’ for the most important things. It’s just that we have to be the boss of our own schedule. A lesson that I am learning, sometimes the hard way. Which leads me to #4.
4) I’m saying no to poor health. I know what it’s like to feel good in my own skin and right now I don’t. I haven’t been faithfully doing the things that make me feel healthy, like working out, eating well, and getting enough water. My sleep has also suffered, because as someone who naturally internalizes stress, I feel both tired and wired. My body is calling a time-out. A reset. A full stop.
5) I’m saying no to distractions. After an entire year of saying yes, I’m becoming acutely aware of how easily I can get sucked up into the vacuum of distraction and activity. I set out to write for a new project (a good yes) and I wind up spending 47 minutes scrolling through Facebook and Instagram (a good no), then I’m reminded that I should probably post more on Twitter, but I don’t even really like Twitter because it requires a brevity from me than I cannot bear. So I spend another 8 minutes trying to condense a whole paragraph down into 140 tweetable characters. But wait, why was I even on the computer in the first place? Oh yah. The project.
I set out to enjoy a weekend with my family but I wind up spending all of Saturday cleaning the house, doing laundry, and barking at the kids to clean up their art mess.
I could keep going, but you get the idea.
Sometimes distractions cause us to forget our true goal.
And sometimes the only thing standing in the way of us and our true goal is about 75 things that don’t actually matter. So if you too, have a goal of cultivating true rest this holiday season, then join me in saying No to unnecessary stress?
In a world who’s “can’t stop, won’t stop” mantra hurls us towards faster and more and better, let us push back with the full weight of rest.
Of just this moment.
Merry Christmas, friends.