Summer is abruptly shifting into the hustle of fall and I can already feel my neck tightening as the schedule fills in slowly. My oldest son begins kindergarten next week so we braved the local Walmart today to shop for his lengthly list of school supplies. By the time I made it down to the 24 sharpened Ticonderoga no.2 pencils the warmth of Summer was extinguished, simply a fading memory. These pencils signify less margin, less white space for me and my family. They enable the filling up of the calendar. They mean a less breathable season is ahead, where my soul tends to suffocate under the smoke of responsibility. Growing up in North Carolina I am always just about ready for the changing of the four seasons, as we have a distinct Summer, Fall, Winter, and Spring. However, I am not always ready for this particular jump—from Summer to Fall. I am a sun & beach lover, I thrive on whimsical plans versus planned out routines, and I simply love the season of Summer! Watching it zoom past, as it tends to do mid-August just like all those yellow buses swirling around town, always seems to catch me off guard a bit. I am never prepared for all the unsettledness I feel in my bones as school and work pickup come September.
Thankfully, Emily P. Freeman’s latest book, Simply Tuesday, has successfully released some tension of the season for me in a fresh, welcomed way this year. She says “the soul and the schedule don’t follow the same rules” and I could not agree more. It’s as if everything has been put in forward motion and my body is trying to keep up while my heart is saying: slow down! I have learned over the past decade the importance of creating clear enough boundaries in my life that allow for extra breathing room, yet it requires a great amount of discipline to actually put this into practice. As a mom I want to say yes to many of the opportunities that seem helpful for my children, but I am finding that saying no seems to serve us all in this season of their preschool and early elementary years. Through saying yes to only a few things, it actually provides richer days for us together as a family and much less exhausted little ones who are being trained up as we set a foundation for the rest of their lives.
As a counselor with my private practice I have the blessing of making my own hours and sometimes doing various parts of my job from home. Initially I thought this would make life run smoothly and even set up built in boundaries between my home and work life. Yet at times it seems to all mesh together and I get disoriented between household duties and writing or doing paperwork for my practice. On a regular basis I must force myself to sit down long enough to rearrange my goals for the day. After reading Simply Tuesday I have gained another perspective on striking this balance. When my head starts spinning I am reminded of what Emily says about our efforts to keep up: “relief comes from learning to lean back into small-moment living rather than trying to keep pace with a fast-moving world.” How free-ing is it to remember that we don’t have to keep up! We can take a moment to be still, seek the will of the One who made us, on ordinary days, and tackle a few things He is calling us to at the time. We don’t have to conquer the world, if that either means marketing your business to the masses or having every bit of laundry clean, folded, and put away before bedtime. We can relish in the reality that today we are enough and our small, ordinary moments are sacred.
Another idea that Emily presents in her new book is finding a bench inside ourselves to sit and let our soul breathe. I have followed Chatting at the Sky for about 5 years now and was mostly drawn to it because of the tagline: creating space for your soul to breathe. It just makes me sigh out loud. There are not many voices “out there” these days speaking into that hungry part of us that says: let me be small, let me breathe. Most of the world is shouting: be big, speed up. That motto chokes the life from my spirit. I have lived that life, the rat race, and it always left me anxious and feeling like a failure. There is something so life-giving about surrendering and admitting I am not big enough or good enough to do this life on my own, and that makes my soul BREATHE!
So here I sit on this simply Tuesday, confident in the soft whispers of Emily’s refreshing words, thankful that this life isn’t about flashy lights, big platforms, and people who approve of us. That although we are entering into a season of hustle on the outside, our souls on the inside can pull up a seat on a bench and take the time we need to be reminded that the Creator of all the stars in the Universe made us uniquely and has gifted us beautifully just as He intended for us to be! And we all have so much to offer & have our own “art we were made to live”! For more on that, check out: A Million Little Ways, Emily’s previous book that kickstarted me back into writing more regularly again and starting this very space for M+H.