Hi. It’s the middle of 2020. We’re living through a pandemic and a revolution. I wonder how you’re doing? If I could ask you in person right now, would you struggle to answer too? I can honestly say that in the last 3 months we’ve had some of our best and worst moments as a family.
The world is expanding and contracting so quickly that I feel like all my synapses have slowed to a crawl. As a typically s-l-o-w processor even on a good day, I’m finding I have to actively resist the urge to just shut it all down. To tune (hide?) out.
I think there’s a difference though.
Between tuning out and turning inward.
That’s my goal right now- to turn inward and keep my eyes and heart open while I get low and quiet in my own life. I’m very much in a season of listening instead of speaking. Of input instead of output- both spiritually and creatively. Of asking questions instead of knowing answers.
I did make a list of 10 things I learned this Spring, and I thought I’d share them here with you, in hopes they might help you turn inward as well. This is a practice I adopted from one of my creative mentors, Emily P. Freeman. I mean, I don’t like, have her on speed dial. We don’t have pillow fights and discuss our weight with each other. She does however, quietly mentor me without ever knowing it. Her work has always mattered to my own. You know what I mean?
Anyway, here it is:
10 THINGS I LEARNED THIS SPRING:
- I can approve of my own self (but it’s a lot harder than it sounds). As a recovering people-pleaser who sought out the approval of just about everyone, discovering that I can approve of my own self has been revolutionary for my joy, my confidence, and my inner life. Here’s the catch though, in order to truly approve of my own self I have to get super honest. I have to level up in some areas where I’m not currently earning my own approval. Basically, I have to do the work. Go figure.
- I’ve been saying “bad wrap” instead of “bad rep” for 38 years and now that I know the correct term, my mind is sufficiently blown.
- I’m no longer distracted by my body. For about a solid decade after my last baby was born, I was quietly waging war against my body. There’s something mysterious and nuanced that happens to a woman’s relationship with her body after giving birth. I can’t speak to your own experience, but for me it was the beginning of a great disconnect. I no longer identified with the body I was living in and I rejected it. I gained and lost weight like it was my job, yoyo-ing from one extreme to another, always putting the weight back on, plus some. Every time I moved through this cycle it chipped away at me. I lost confidence. I lost the ability to trust myself. It just took so much ENERGY to keep waging the war. Too much. The amount of mental & emotional real estate this one part of my life occupied was exhausting. So I stopped. 2 years ago I decided that I didn’t want to waste any more precious energy on hating my body. I wanted and needed physical change, but I decided to focus on changing my mindset first. I started practicing coming home to my body and learning how to love it intentionally. This has been some of the deepest, hardest, and most rewarding work I’ve ever done. As I began making peace with my body and learning how to trust it, listen to it, and love it I did lose weight, but I’m most proud of the inner shift. The one that nobody can see on the outside. After years of tumult and shame, the peace and freedom I’ve found in this area of my life have allowed me to focus on OTHER things. What a gift. Once my body became an ally instead of an enemy, I was no longer distracted by it.
- Iceburg lettuce is actually pretty great. Why did iceburg get such a bad wrap (rep) anyway? So what if it’s not as nutrient-dense as romaine? Okay, fine, it’s not a “superfood” like kale. You know what? I give exactly zero craps about any of that. It’s crispy and crunchy and delightful and it has changed my salad game entirely. No more wilty, soggy, leafy greens. ICEBURG, y’all. Look into it.
- I’m beginning to believe that ‘my next right thing’ is to stop trying to figure out my next right thing. Clearly this year took a much different path than any of us expected it to. For me, 2020 has turned out to be more about letting go than taking hold. Letting go of old mindsets, habits, ideas, vices, relationships, expectations, jobs, rhythms, plans… I have no idea what happens next, but for right now, I’m delighted to receive stillness, simplicity, and the mystery of it all.
- If I go too long without physical intimacy I turn into the worst version of myself. Moody, critical, paranoid, insecure, dramatic, intolerant. Kind of an all around nightmare. Listen, this is…awkward? Delicate? It’s just straight up TRUE. Pretty much every time I get in a weird head-space maritally, I can directly trace it back to the amount of sex we’ve been having. Which brings me to number 7.
- Sometimes my body knows things before my brain does. Whether its anxiety that my mind hasn’t acknowledged but that’s clearly present in my body, or a simple need for closeness/intimacy, or whether it’s that mom-radar-spidey-sense that causes the hairs on the back of my neck when something doesn’t seem right- I’m slowly learning to stop and listen to my body because it actually knows what’s up.
- My kids are mortal enemies by day and best friends by night. They will argue all day long over who gets to ride shotgun in the car, who ate the last bowl of fruit loops, who looked at who wrong or didn’t knock on the bathroom door, or whatever banality seems unforgivable in the moment, but the second that the sun goes down and it’s time for bed they have an unspoken agreement of preferring each other’s company to sleeping alone. So every night he drags his little air mattress into her room for a sleepover. Sometimes they fight some more after I tuck them in. Sometimes they laugh and confide in each other. Sometimes they sneak one more cartoon. It all makes me immensely happy. (Related: at ages 13 & 10 they still request tuck-ins and no matter how tired I am I still do it because I know the clock is running out on that one.)
- I hate it when people tell me about the dream they had last night. No matter how funny or convoluted or dramatic it was in your head, I probably won’t “get it” when you explain it, and it’s probably because I have a hard time caring about imaginary scenarios.
- I’m equally scared that quarantine will end and that it will never end. Are we doing this part right? Will we look back on this time with fondness or guilt? Are the kids alright? Will I ever be in my house alone again? Will crowds ever feel normal again? Am I educating my kids enough about Black Lives Matter? How different will the world look when we start experiencing it again? I have zero answers here. These are literally questions for God.
So I guess that’s it for now, folks. I’m getting low and quiet, I’m listening and noticing, and I’m wondering how you’re doing over there.
What might your list would look like? If you care to share one thing you’re learning right now, I’d love to hear it. Leave a comment and let’s dish.