Tag Archives: rest

Day 23: Self-Care (31 Days of Simple Truths)

31daysOfSimpleTruthsWe have to take care of ourselves. It has been such a long process for me to learn this. What is it for us, especially as women, that struggles so much with this concept? Why do we feel guilty? Why do we feel that we have to prove our toughness? (Ok, so that one is a loaded question with complex layers of answers.)

Equally hard has been learning that the way you need to take care of you may not be the same as the way I need to take care of me. There’s a significant amount of listening to ourselves—our own unique hearts and souls, the unique message the Spirit is  breathing into each one of us.

In many ways, I’ve gotten better about this, especially when, as a mother, I realized I would never be able to properly care for my kids if I wasn’t caring for me too. But sometimes, I still forget. I push too hard. I carry too much. And then I get knocked down hard.

I’m dealing with my second round of sickness within a month’s time, which is pretty unusual for me. I forgot to take care of me during the crazy, and now I’m paying for it with a struggling body and discouraged soul. But I’m thankful for the deluge of rain being dumped on our area this weekend. It is forcing me to slow down, to listen to what I need, to do something about it.

How can you take care of yourself this weekend?

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Filed under 31 Days of Simple Truths, Healing

Day 17: Getting Away (31 Days of Simple Truths)

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

We’re camping this weekend. It was a chore getting ready for it, but I’ve been really looking forward to this time. I need to get away, even if it’s short and sweet.

While being self-employed offers a good bit of flexibility, one of the downsides is no paid time off or holidays. If I’m not working, I’m not getting paid. That might be nice if I ever write a best-selling book or something, but right now, it’s hard. Any “vacation” time is preceded by piling in the work hours to make up for when I’ll be off. Not so fun.

Sometimes, I can use it as an excuse to not get as much rest as I really need. And sometimes, it’s a legitimate excuse. But just because something is tricky or complicated doesn’t mean it’s impossible. It just means a little creativity might be required.

Because long periods of extended rest are not really an option right now, I’ve learned to weave patterns of rest into my days, weeks, and months. But more importantly, when there’s a chance to get away, I take it.

A change of pace and scenery does wonders for the soul. So I’m fully embracing the fresh air, the hiking, the playing. (Maybe not the tent sleeping, but hey, you take what you can get!)

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Filed under 31 Days of Simple Truths, Family

Day 10: Rest Days (31 Days of Simple Truths)

Image Source: Unsplash

Image Source: Unsplash

All my life, I heard about the importance of a Sabbath rest – a weekly day set aside for rest, but I never regularly experienced this bliss until just over a year ago.

We started going to church on Saturday nights, something I previously thought would feel weird. I was so wrong. It was the complete opposite of weird. It was perfect.

What used to happen was that Saturday was for catching up on all the things that hadn’t been done all week: grocery shopping, house cleaning, errand running, etc. Then, Sunday was spent at church. And then it was Monday, and I was constantly tired. Maybe church is restful for some people. I don’t know. And I’m not suggesting that I didn’t like going to church. But it was a scheduled thing, somewhere you needed to be, and in my case, a place where I still had responsibilities and expectations to meet.

All that shifted for us when we went to a church with a Saturday night service. Saturday mornings, I did the grocery shopping, midday I took care of things around the house, in the evening we went to church. And Sunday? We rested. We played. If we felt like it, we did a project we’d been trying to get to. And by the time Monday rolled around, I was refreshed. I stopped dreading Mondays. Who knew?

We’ve moved now, and we need to find a new church. There seems to be a shortage of Saturday night services in the area. And we’re trying to figure out what to do.

But something is different for me. And the issue isn’t really one of whether Saturday or Sunday services work better. The real issue is that I’ve discovered the bliss of an entire day set aside to rest every single week. And I’m not going back to the way life was before. Whatever day of the week it has to be we’ll have to figure out. But this is the simplest, yet most profound truth I know right now: Rest is everything. It is essential. It’s worth fighting for. It’s worth saying no to things for. It’s worth whatever you have to do to make space for it in your life.

Do yourself a favor, and schedule some regular rest into your week.

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Filed under 31 Days of Simple Truths, Change, Church, Rest

Day 4: Family Time (31 Days of Simple Truths)

31daysOfSimpleTruthsI’m slipping in at the last minute, after a day spent with my family. We made pancakes, went for a hike at a nearby nature preserve, then cleaned up and headed to my cousin’s wedding. I’ve just tucked two munchkins into bed who wore themselves out dancing, eating cake and running in circles with second cousins they rarely see. It was a good day, and as my body starts prompting me toward bed, I feel how much my soul needed it.

I’m very task-oriented. I get things done, but sometimes, I can lose sight of people in the process. And I can definitely lose sight of me.

With boxes still unpacked, walls that need to be painted before pictures can be hung, a week of homeschooling to prep for, and work hours that I’m behind on after all the moving and being sick, it was tempting to come up with a to do list for the weekend. But I’m finally learning (isn’t that nice?), and I paid attention to the needs of my family and the needs of my own body & heart.

We rested. We played. We watched movies. We enjoyed autumn’s belated arrival to Texas. We caught up with relatives we haven’t seen in awhile. And now, the week ahead seems a little less daunting.

It’s been said before, but it’s a truth worth saying again and again—sometimes, we need a little less doing and a lot more being.

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What I Never Noticed About Seasons

New life is emerging, even in unexpected or hardened places.

New life is emerging, even in unexpected or hardened places.

On Monday morning of this week, I could not drag myself out of bed.

As if a weighted blanket was holding me down, I could not even will myself to move. I finally managed to open one eye long enough to catch a blurry glimpse of the clock, then squeezed them shut again at the realization of how much I’d overslept.

Eyes still closed, body still unwilling to budge, I laid there and began to mentally rant at myself. Great job, Adela. You’ve thrown off your entire day . . . again. You were a mess last week after Daylight Savings. You can’t do this again this week. You’ll never get anything done. How do you think you’ll make a dent in your never-ending to do list if you can’t even wake up early . . .

(Seriously. Who needs the rest of the world to make us feel not good enough? I can manage just fine on my own.)

So before I’d ever made it out of bed, I had thoroughly belittled and berated myself, as if somehow that would provide the necessary motivation to war against my obstinate body. I dragged myself to the bathroom to begin getting ready, and because no one makes smart choices under the influence of dense brain-fog, I also stood on the scale during this process. Commence mental beat-down #2.

By some miracle, I managed to get the kids up and dressed and fed everyone breakfast without any total disasters ensuing. And I knew in my bones I’d best make time for my morning pages and sipping coffee slowly if I wanted to rescue my day from the oh so precarious position it was dangling from.

Pencil in hand, moving across the pages, thoughts finding their way through the clouds and into the light—and suddenly this sentence appeared on the page: I wonder if part of my struggle has been the result of warring against the season.

This thought stopped me in my tracks for a moment. I’m all about seasons. I welcome each one with its own special little ritual. I savor their unique nuances and invitations. What had I missed that was causing me to be at war?

Even considering the previous week, when Daylight Savings robbed an hour of my life and messed up all my rhythms by letting darkness extend into the morning, I kept fighting—trying to keep the same schedule, the same pace, the same routines—and I miserably lost the fight. Why had I not given myself grace and space to adjust?

As I fleshed all this out in my journal, another question for myself emerged: What would it take for me to look ahead—to see what season is coming and to make the necessary preparations and adjustments? What would it take for me to remember and show myself  grace in the nuances of each season?

I glanced at the calendar and was struck by the realization that the first day of spring was coming. These last few days were the final days of winter. I felt myself resolve to breathe in the final moments of rest before turning my attention to the bustle of spring.

And then there it was. A revelation that literally left me with my mouth hanging open as I stared down at my journal. Maybe you have seen this before, but I certainly have not. We often talk about the pattern God established in creation by resting on the seventh day. For the last year of my life, I have deliberately worked to weave rest into my schedule—at least 30 minutes to 1 hour in every day, and at least 1 day in every week. But I have never seen the much bigger picture.

God perfectly and strategically wove rest into creation through the cycle of the seasons. Spring and Autumn are the working seasons; Summer and Winter are the resting seasons.

Think about it a moment. Spring is for planting and birthing; it is for clearing away excess and remnants of dead things. If there is any hope of sustaining life for the rest of the year, there is a lot of work to be done in this season. Autumn is the harvest season. We reap the fruits of our labor, but it takes additional labor to gather those fruits. It is time to prepare and store, so there is no lack in the winter. If there is any hope of surviving the long dark and cold, there is a lot of work to be done in this season.

But tucked in between these busy seasons are the resting seasons. True—Summer is a more active rest. Things that were planted in spring need to be tended; things that were birthed need to be nurtured. But there is a lot of waiting now—waiting to see what will emerge, what will grow. The heat demands that we take it easy, that we drink deep and restore our souls. And then there is Winter, the deep rest. Winter invites us to see beauty even in death. It invites us to slow down and simply be. It demands that some things be let go in order that other things may live again when it is time.

Even physically, our bodies are not going to respond the same way to our efforts at exercise during the cold months. They are conserving energy and insulating us against the chill. Granted, some of us might have a little more insulation than we feel is necessary, but still, our bodies slow down. Think of it as a kind of hibernation for non-bears!

I believe our bodies respond to these seasons even when our minds don’t make the connection, and that is when we find ourselves at war. We are trying to override our hardwiring, and the results will not be productive. We feel guilty because we are failing to maintain our usual levels of accomplishment, and that guilt sets us up for further failure and frustration because who ever made wise choices out of guilt?

So here we are at today—the spring equinox. And I am ready. Because over the last few days, I allowed myself to linger in the final moments of winter’s rest. And while I still struggled a bit to get out of bed most mornings, each day the fog around my brain has been slightly less thick. It is lifting. My mind is turning to plans for cleaning and organizing, for planting seeds—both literal (mmmm, tomatoes!) and figurative (new ideas, projects and disciplines).

I feel like a clarity has emerged for how I need to live, and I am brimming over with excitement and hope. God outlined the perfect patterns, and I want to embrace them. I am even making notes on my calendar to look ahead, so I will remember to be gracious with myself when the transitions between the seasons come.

Here’s to less warring and more resting in the flawless design of each season!

(P.S.: A little bonus thought – what if the reason so many people fail at New Year’s resolutions is because they are trying to plant new things in the thick of the deep rest that is Winter? What if the first few months of the new year should actually be for further contemplating and thinking and planning, with new efforts not actually fully implemented until spring? Maybe we could actually see the changes we long for! I wonder . . .)

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Filed under Beauty, Change, Creativity

Gifts Hidden in the Heat

Photo by Jennifer Upton

Photo by Jennifer Upton

It is hot. So hot. And it is only going to get hotter.

Texas summers seem never-ending. Somehow, when August hits and kids go back to school and people start looking towards autumn, it feels like a cruel joke here. August is our hottest month. Most likely the arrival of September will only mean highs in the lower 90s rather than the 100s. If we’re lucky. Sometimes we get this one day freakish cool snap (8o degrees) and we all go rushing for our boots and cardigans only to find ourselves sweating bullets again the next day.

I’ve endured a lifetime of Texas summers. Every summer I swear it’s going to be the last one. (Oh, dear God, Texas will always be home, but please move me somewhere with 4 distinct seasons.)

There is an art to surviving the suffocating temperatures. You have no choice but to slow down. If you must be physically active, you do it early in the morning (because the heat stubbornly clings to the evening and the mosquitoes are vicious). Any other physical activity had best involve copious amounts of water. Air conditioning is not a luxury; it is a life necessity. Mostly you move as little as possible and you consume gallons of water.

You rest and you drink deep.

***

It is hot. So hot. And I am desperately praying it will not get any hotter.

It feels like my heart has been trapped in an eternal summer. A relentless desert. Well-meaning people say, “It’s just a season.” But that ship has sailed. Seasons last for months, not years. And the heat had intensified to the point I thought I would faint, but then a freakishly cool day came. Only to lead me back into sweltering heat, weary and disoriented and panting for water.

I have no choice but to slow down. So many things have been stripped away, so many others have been let go. It is necessary for survival, to move past the luxuries and decide what is life necessity. There are secrets to living through the heat.

Rest. Drink deep.

I still desperately long for this summer to be over. Many days, I really think I just cannot take anymore. But it turns out the secrets for survival are gifts too. The chance to embrace stillness, to say no, to do less, to focus on simply being. The chance to drink deep, to linger in the hard questions, to find what actually refreshes my soul, to pursue what will quench my heart’s thirst.

I will most likely need to remind myself again. But there is hope. For me. For you if you also face intense, never-ending heat. Let’s embrace the gifts hidden in the blazing summer.

Let’s rest. Let’s drink deep.

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Filed under Hope, Rest

Choosing Rest

Image Source: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image Source: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

As my resolutions are forming in this first month of the year, I am structuring them around 5 things I’ve realized I need to choose on a regular, daily basis.

And by far at the top of the list? Rest.

I have struggled with a lifestyle that includes rest for so long, I can’t remember not struggling with it.  I tend to go at a whirlwind place, pausing for a day periodically for something I’ve been calling rest but really has been more like catch-up-on-all-the-other-things-I’m-behind-on day.  I’m also pretty good about taking days for fun with my munchkins, which offers a certain measure of rest, but at the same time, I’m still pouring out, still parenting.  More often than not, when I actually slow down and stop, it’s because my body has gone as far as it can go, and it finally crashes.

There is nothing healthy about any of this.

In my defense, last year in particular I made some good strides in building what my pastor calls “margin” into my life.  But here is where I failed and here is where I am changing: patterns of rest need to be cultivated as a discipline.  Rest is a matter of choosing, and by default, the deliberate choosing – the act of saying yes to rest results in saying no to other things.  Good things.  Fun things.  Important things. (He rarely shouts, but I can almost hear my dad shouting, “Amen!” here.  I’m pretty sure he’s been trying to tell me this for years.)

Rest can feel selfish.  This is my biggest struggle.  There are so many worthy things bidding for my time (and some times they are worth sacrificing for).  But I am not as effective as I could be at anything if I am not taking care of myself – emotionally, physically, spiritually.  None of us are.  We weren’t wired that way.

We need sleep.  We need refreshing.  Our brains need a break.  Our emotions need a break.  Even our spirits need a break.

This process is a challenge for me.  It is a matter of stripping away everything that can go and starting over to decide what is necessary for this season.  It is a matter of restructuring my daily and weekly schedule to accommodate 8 hours of sleep and regular intervals of relaxation.  It is a matter of discipline to stay caught up with tasks in allotted time frames, so I’m not cutting in to my down time later.  I am even scheduling in time to read (definitely the best change I’ve made so far!  I love books!).

Somewhere along the way, I think I adopted that saying, “I’ll rest when I’m dead”, not even realizing I had done it.  But here’s the thing – you live that way, you most certainly will die that way, much sooner than you were meant to.  And by the time you physically die that way, you will have killed everything else that mattered to you in the process.  This is a sobering realization.

Here is what I am learning: rest is not for the weak because they just don’t have the stamina for everything life is demanding of them. It is not an indicator of failure or inadequacy.

No, rest is for the wise because they understand the world doesn’t need more of their time; it needs more of their energy.  It needs more of their focus and their life and their vitality.  These are things a worn out, unhealthy person simply cannot give.  And perhaps most importantly, rest is for people who understand their own worth, who know they are far more significant than simply the sum of all their tasking.

I have not been able to rest well because I have embraced the idea that I am not valuable if I am not doing.  And you know, that is probably true of some people; they don’t care beyond what I’m contributing to their cause.  These are unhealthy relationships, and they need to go anyway.  This is a new process for me, a new way of seeing life, but I am wholly committed to it.

I choose rest.

And you?  What habits/boundaries/disciplines have you established to protect your rest?  How are you choosing to protect your worth over your to do list?  Where do you need to start?

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Filed under Rest, Uncategorized

A New Approach to January

Image Source: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image Source: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

As the final days of December wafted away and January inched ever closer, I felt a small panic beginning to rise in me.  I need to make plans.  I need to think through goals.  I need to.  I need to.

I am not one of those people who belittles resolution-making.  Making things happen in life generally requires having a plan and working the plan while staying wide open to miracles that could gloriously set all your dreams in motion.  There is tremendous value to assessing where you are and where you want to be, honestly identifying what is working and what is not.

What I found myself resisting was the need to have the introspection done, all these goals identified, new habits and patterns and disciplines ready to commence on January 1.  I’ve always pushed myself for this, but I have been battling weariness and I knew.  I just couldn’t make it happen like that.

One of my aunts – so wise – commented somewhere that while she knows the value of well thought resolutions, she finds she’s generally too tired after the holiday season to try and work it all out in time for the New Year.  She has a February birthday, and so she gives herself until then to make her assessments and adjust her course.

For me, waiting until my birthday would be pretty impractical (July baby here, so half the year would be gone!).  But I decided to take the entire month of January to rest and to calmly formulate some plans and goals, to allow myself to wallow in some dreams and find out if they are still really what I want.

An awareness has dawned.  I think so often our resolutions happen like an impulse buy – it seems like a good idea at the time, but we haven’t fully thought it through, only to discover later maybe we didn’t want it that much after all.  And there goes another failed resolution.

Add to that goals that are exactly what we want, but they’re never practically broken down into a workable plan, almost guaranteeing their failure as soon as they are formulated.

And the biggest flaw in the mix (at least for me personally) – while the holiday season is undoubtedly wearying and busy, there is still a certain slowing that comes with it.  Regular routines and schedules are temporarily suspended.  Lots of time is made for people and eating and fun.  There’s a certain grasp on reality that gets lost.  And then you sit down to make resolutions and anything seems possible, as if January 1 brings with it a magic re-start switch where you can go back to real life and implement all these new changes to your life at the same time.

Maybe this isn’t everyone, but it has certainly been me.  (And I have a feeling I’m not totally alone.)  The value of allowing myself an entire month to think through these things is that in the midst of my return to routine, I am able to assess what is practically going to work as I take steps for change.  I’ve already been able to return to the drawing board a few times and say, “Ok, this goal is still good, but I need to think of a different approach for making it happen.”

So this post is a little more practical, but I feel there are people out there who get frustrated with this whole resolution process, not because they don’t see the value, but because the pressure has been too high.  Here it is January 13 and maybe you feel like you’re failing already.  And for you, I want to say, it’s ok to slow down.  Give yourself some extra time.  Who cares where anyone else is at with their resolutions and goal-implementing?  The important thing is for you to be able to look back on your year and feel satisfied with the steps you were able to take.

Perhaps take a deep breath, find a quiet moment and begin the process again, allowing yourself some days and weeks to choose direction.  The dreams pulsing in your heart are worth the grace and extra time.

 

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Filed under Perfectionism, Rest, Waiting

Struggling with Rest

My body decided it had had enough today.

I felt it coming on throughout the evening last night.  The ache slowly seeping into my limbs.  The swelling beginning in my throat.  The last bits of energy oozing out of me.

And today I have been barely able to move.  I mostly laid on the sofa, alternately attempting to work and taking short naps.  And confession: I let my children watch at least a week’s worth of television in one day (um, thanks, PBSKids).

I felt so guilty.

Never mind that I have been going like a whirlwind non-stop since at least June.  Never mind that we just went through some pretty significant life transitions coupled with one of the most spiritually intense seasons I’ve ever experienced.  Never mind that I chase a 4 year old and a 2 year old from sun up to sun down every day.  Never mind that my husband’s job has him working insane hours that leave me feeling like a single mom at least 90% of the time.

How dare my body give out on me!  How dare it decide to rest.  And the question nailed me all over again: why do I feel guilty when I need rest?  Why does it seem wrong to take care of myself?  What lie have I believed that causes me to only pay attention to the needs of my body and heart once they’ve been pushed to the brink?

I mean, even in writing this post, my initial primary motivation was to at least be able to say I’d accomplished something useful today.  As if rest isn’t useful.

But I also felt compelled to push forward with these thoughts because I know I am not the only person who struggles with this.  And no matter the significant strides I have made in this area, it continues to be a struggle.  I have to fight tooth and nail for Sabbath, for rest.

But I do fight and will continue to do so.  And I would urge you to do the same.  Because it’s necessary and life-giving.  And if it became a habit, a pattern, we could most likely avoid being knocked out of the picture for big chunks of time.  Besides, your heart is most beautiful, most inspiring, most strength-giving when it is at rest.  And your physical body certainly functions better.

So while it may be hard for you and I to believe sometimes, let’s keep telling ourselves until we’re convinced: we are worth it.  We are worth the time and effort it takes to refresh our hearts and bodies.

And now I shall go back to laying on the sofa doing nothing.

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Filed under Healing, Perfectionism, Rest