“With this open time…
You do not have to write the next bestselling novel….You do no have to get in to the best shape of your life…You do not have to start that podcast.
What you can do instead is observe this pause as an opportunity. The same systems we see crumbling in our society, are being called to crumble in each of us individually. The systems that taught us we are a machines that live to produce and we are disposable if we are not doing so…The systems that taught us monetary gain takes priority over humanity…The systems that create our insecurities then capitalize off of them.
What if we became curious with this free time and had no agenda other than to experience being? What if you created art for the sake of creating? What if you allowed yourself to rest & cry & laugh & play & get curious about whatever arises in you?
What if our true purpose is in this space?
As if mother earth is saying: We can not longer carry on this way. The time is now – I am reminding you who you are. Will you remember?” – Emma Zeck
I saw Kristen Bell repost this quote on her Instagram last night and it hit me like a ton of bricks….or maybe like a sledgehammer. Had I not been laying in bed, I think I would have done a slow sink into the carpet.
I am an achiever by nature. Even my Enneagram* type is called “The Achiever.” And that is not simply a coincidence.
Two nights ago, I was laying in bed scrolling through Instagram for a long time. I haven’t done that in over two years when I committed to getting off social platforms for my own sanity. But with the things the way they are in the world these days, with all the self-distancing, I have felt a huge need to connect with others and to not feel overwhelmed by this uncertainty that has no defined end.
As I scrolled, I laughed…A LOT! It’s hard to not be amazed by all the creativity coming out of the human race during this time. I also really appreciated all encouraging sentiments and perspectives from around the globe, the amazing ideas people are posting on how to entertain their kids, and all the ways people are trying to stay engaged with one another during this time. BUT, when I put down my phone I also felt this HUGE weight on my shoulders.
In that moment Josh walked in and I just asked him: “Do you feel like you have this huge weight on you…like that we have to make this time count? That we need to use this precious time and do more educational things with the kids and serve others and help our community. I’m seeing all these people on social media doing so much, taking advantage of this time to achieve all these awesome things. I feel like I am failing. I just don’t want to emerge from this moment in history with regrets, regretting I could have done more.”
Spoken like a true Enneagram 3, born into a family of already high achievers in general, my questions and comments could not have been more core to who I am. I know not everyone feels this way, my husband included. He is living in the moment, taking each day, each hour, even each minute as it comes. He is enjoying just being at home with the kids and slowing down his pace of work. Me, on the other hand, I have been feeling this huge sense of responsibility. And in that moment I wanted to immediately get out of bed and make a list of all the things I needed to accomplish with the kids over the next few months, write out a daily routine/schedule, list out all the home projects we should work on, schedule daily video calls with family and friends, and consider all the people around us who could use our support, and how to help them out in our community….uff! Sounds exhausting, right? But at 10pm at night, it took everything in me to not grab my planner and just start…start something…
Don’t get me wrong, none of those activities are bad things, none of them are harmful. They are actually really positive things. But my motivation behind doing them is what was harmful. And my husband of almost eight years knew it. He knew I was trying to overachieve, to be a “machine” as Emma Zeck so eloquently put it. I was allowing social media once again to make me feel inadequate, like I was missing the mark. Rather than feeling uplifted and connected, I was feeling like somehow I was failing at this whole social distancing situation. My own belief, my own sin, of believing I was worthless by not achieving XYZ during this time, was a sensation that was absolutely crippling me. My husband just looked lovingly at me and reminded me that my comments were “such a Michelle thing to say”. He also looked at me with a bit of sadness and told me that while my ideas were good, that my perspective was pretty skewed. I realized in that moment it didn’t have to be this way.
Here is the thing, we all know this is going to end eventually…but the when, the how, and what we will all look like once we emerge is still very much to be determined. We are in “unprecedented times,” as every other email I have gotten from retailers and vendors so kindly has reminded me. We can try to plan and do and achieve, but for what? We don’t really know where we are going.
What if we just actually allowed ourselves to live in the present, taking one moment at time…to become adventurers and see where our steps take us. Plans and structure are good, they are needed especially if you have little kids in your home. But children are also fantastic at just being…at allowing adventure to just permeate their inner core. So what if we just discovered our inner child and not had this invisible standard we are suppose to measure up to? What if we just allowed the moments to unfold before us.
I started writing this early this morning, having a flash of inspiration and huge need to express myself. My two older boys woke up and came downstairs…breakfast time. I put my computer on the kitchen counter to prep for french toast, trying to type my thoughts out while throwing milk soaked bread into a skillet. And then I paused…I paused when my two cuties came up to me with spatulas in hand saying “Hi-Yah!”, wanting to attack the bad guy, aka mommy. I could have brushed them off…I could have chosen to say “let’s play after breakfast”. But instead in an uncharacteristic fashion, I reached into the drawer, I grabbed my own weapon (another spatula)…and in a flash, turned our kitchen into a scene from a ninja movie. This only lasted like 5 minutes, before I realized the french toast was burning and was snapped back into reality. But for 5 minutes, I paused…and played. I played simply for the sake of playing…
So my prayer this morning for me and for you, especially for all of you achievers and planners, is that we PAUSE….we pause long enough to realize we are not what we do, we are not worthless because we aren’t coming up with 10 genius activities to entertain our kids every day. We are not failing because laundry is piling up and we aren’t completing household projects. We are not useless because work projects are going slower than usual due to work from home circumstances. And we are not ineffective because we don’t start our day with a clear agenda and plan.
Instead, let’s remind ourselves that while the world may seem like its spinning out of control, we get to pause and be reminded that we are worthy simply because we are human. There is no need to achieve…only a need to be. And for now, that is more than enough.
[*Enneagram: If you have no idea what the Enneagram is, I highly recommend it. In its simplest form, its a personality test. But it is really so much more than that. It is a self-discovery tool that can help you in all areas of life. If you find yourself with a some extra time on your hands (which I have a hunch you may just have), I highly recommend starting looking in to it. Here is a good place to start.]