Life-Giving: a reflection

I love a good reflection tool, and so here’s one I found from Emily P. Freeman, who is one of my fav writers and also a four. You can use this to reflect on the previous month, the year to date, or just a season of time. Do it when you can, and please comment to tell me what you find–We all could use a little more “life” in our lives, and I’d love to hear about what that looks like for you.


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“For me, in a cabin on top of a mountain is often a place of reflection.” -Claire Florine

My most life-giving “Yes” so far this year:

In Julia Cameron’s book, The Artist’s Way, (which is one of my all-time favs by the way), she suggests taking yourself on an “artist date”. This doesn’t have to be going somewhere to do art, but it could be. All it is, is going somewhere and doing something by yourself that feeds your soul, your creativity, and brings you life.

My husband is wonderful, and he works to give me some “me time” each week so I can have a break from the kids and just do something I want to do outside of the house. For the past two years, I have pretty much done the same thing each time: gone to Starbucks and spent time writing and/or reading. While this is very nice, the monotony was getting old, and I needed something more exciting to feed my soul and spark  creativity… like the “artist date” is meant to do.

So, my most life-giving “yes” so far this year has been to take myself on an intentional “artist date” every week. My favorite one so far was heading to Hyde Park to walk around campus and the Smart Art Museum. I wound up in Dollop Coffeehouse and spent some time doing writing exercises and sketching with water color pencils. It was lovely.

My most life-giving “No” so far this year:

This one is simple. Putting the phone down while I nurse my baby has been so life-giving, and has helped me on this journey of “less”. My little one nurses at least 4 times a day, for at least 10 minutes each time, and I found myself scrolling through my phone while he drifted off to sleep before naps or bedtime. This would sometimes spark the temptation to browse online for more of what I don’t need. It’s much easier for me to embrace “less” and refrain from spending money when I don’t look around for things to buy. Being on my phone was a temptation to look, and so putting the phone down was a very life-giving and money-saving “no”. It is helping me break bad habits and an unhelpful spending cycle.

A bonus: I’ve also found it to be so freeing to just sit and think or pray while I nurse. Being present is also something I am working towards for this year. Putting the phone down and just being with my baby has been wonderful.

Something I want to leave behind as I move into March:

I want to be finished with feeling bad about my limitations as a mother of littles.

This has truly been a struggle for me. Shortly after I had my first child, a wise friend told me that I could not compare myself now with myself before a kid–not my body, my capacity for friendships, my schedule, or how clean I could keep my house. I think it’s taken me until now to also realize that I cannot compare myself now with two kids to myself before with just one.

Lately I have been finding myself in situations where I feel the need to apologize for my lack of availability, focus, and resources for other people. This lack is coming from a place of needing to give time, attention, and energy to my kids, and not much is left over for other commitments I might otherwise have been able to do.

I have noticed situations where this comes up repeatedly, along with a nagging sense of guilt. I think I have decided that I am tired of apologizing for the season of life I’m in and for my completely normal human limitations. At this time, my kids absolutely need a certain amount of me and what I have to offer. I suppose they always will. What I have to offer is also different than what others have to offer, and my capacity is not the same as anyone else’s capacity. There is only so much I can give, and I want to trust that the people who love me and know me understand that, and that they know I am doing the very best I can.

Leaving these bad feelings about being human–a sometimes depleted, exhausted, sad, distracted, and forgetful human who becomes these things for reasons entirely different from any other human– well, that certainly will be life-giving for me.


What was your most life-giving “yes” and “no” during this past season? What do you want to let go of moving onward into the next? I’d love to know.

four

The other night I realized I had mistyped myself on the Enneagram. This, after I just linked to the “One” description in my previous blog post, indicating that I identified as such. This lead me to read this description, extensive, and written by scholars of the Enneagram Institute, and I could not see myself in it. Only a shadow of who I was trying to be or how I thought others saw me.

This is a poem I wrote about this process. It’s unclear, but I guess that’s a nod to this whole self-discovery thing… or whatever. Also because Type Fours are said to be the most complex number on the Enneagram. Go figure.

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Find this here.

 

“four”

 

I’ve been drinking copious amounts of coffee these days

I blame it on the peppermint taste

and the nights up late

laundry sits unfolded but clean

and I come up for air in between

between the kids’ naps and those loads and our arrivals and his departures and contacts on this reject-phone

I do, I do

I do see beauty in this mess

but I recognize my tendency to be

thoroughly drenched in tragedy

swinging back and forth, yes, in between again

in between the lines of these pages with a borrowed pen

but in between the delirious highs and the moody lows

there is a deep-seeded part of my heart that knows

I have been hiding from who I’ve always been

and pushing past and away from the people who knew me when

It’s easier and far more beautiful

to stand behind a well-written metaphor

but each time I hear a song I once knew by heart

my eyes fill with rain and I play my old part

the one listed in dusty playbills, burned cds, and poetry written on gum wrappers found in worn coat pockets in my childhood closet…

what is it? I can’t make out this role…

it’s my soul

I don’t chew gum anymore, or act on stage

but poetry cuts in deep during this “melancholic” rage

maybe I am hiding behind this extended metaphor

maybe my heart needs to break to be sure

this, here, this mess upon my sleeve is proof

of what I’m not sure, but it feels like truth

I’ve been drinking copious amounts of water these days

gulping down tears for fears (and the cure, and alkaline…)

I don’t believe I’ve ever really been one to pretend that I’m fine.