I had every intention of making this a weekly writing project - this “Life Is” Website Cover Page Blog Series - an ambition that quickly fell by the wayside once I started unpacking boxes. We left Santa Barbara on June 21st, but did not actually move into our new house in Milwaukee until September 30th. And now today - Monday, October 30th - I’m enjoying my first big block of quiet time in my studio since we landed here. Up until now, it has been all about unpacking, putting away, organizing, sorting, unwrapping, and getting things situated under our new roof. There have been a few small adventures in between all the nesting, but the sum total of all my endeavors since the end of September has been a complete break from anything related to writing and work.
There were plenty of moments during this time when I was tempted to berate myself for not being able to do it all. “If you were a real writer, you’d make the time to write,” I’d think. “You announced your series would be weekly,” the admonitions would continue, “Are you a woman of your word or not?” And then there is Transplant, the podcast inspired by our move that I started last spring. I announced in mid-September that I needed to take a break for a couple of weeks, and here I am, six weeks later, with no new podcast in sight. Every week, Monday has rolled around, I’ve pondered the possibility of producing and posting an episode by Thursday, then looked around at the remaining piles and lists in front of me and quickly decided to put it off another week.
Have you heard the one about how to make God laugh? You tell Him your plans.
How many plans, whether big, small, grand, or inconsequential, have slipped through my fingers like sand? How often have I been able to release my attachment to a very particular outcome gracefully? When plans have dissolved, what were the unintended, unforeseen gifts of those adjustments? How do I discern between surrendering to the greater flow of life and plain ‘ole giving up?
After spending much of my life believing I had to, at almost all costs, work harder, do more, fight, push and earn my place (in organizations, in relationships, in my marriage), I recognized the toll this attitude was taking on all the things I valued most (my health, my relationships, my marriage) and thus began the slow, methodical work of unraveling that belief system. It is still important to me to work hard, do my best, and be true to my word, but I’m also learning when to say, “This is enough.”
This past month, I’ve said that at the end of a long day getting our kitchen organized. When I wasn’t able to stick with a weekly writing routine almost as soon as I announced I’d be doing it, I had to let go of my plans and get back to the work of setting up our living room. These moments of surrender have been, naturally, mainly related to our move as of late, but they exist in a wider web of experience that is all about transforming the belief that I had to be it all, do it all, and make it all into a practice of guiding my choices and actions toward the greater flow. Sometimes - maybe even all the time - the options in front of me aren’t all about me, but about a broader, stronger current that carries my husband, family, home, friends, and the world at large. Whatever outcome I am wanting may or may not be the best of all possibilities. The more I can hold onto attachments loosely, and be willing to let them go in service to a greater good, the fewer boulders I’ll run into on my path. All will unfold organically. Everything will flow more gently.
My life has existed under a single spotlight ever since the moving van pulled up to our driveway; it is only in the past week that I’ve been able to shine a light on other places and endeavors. I haven’t written or made a podcast or done so much as drawn a doodle. But because I made the conscious choice to let go of trying to be Wonder Woman and instead keep my sights focused on one specific endeavor - making our home - I’m now able to sit in a studio space I love and write about all the ways I’ve dropped the ball this month and how those tiny acts of surrender enabled me to really enjoy our time of getting settled.
I don’t need to be perfect. I am going to make mistakes. It is likely I’ll continue biting off more than I can chew and need to recalibrate my expectations (and the expectations of others.) After making a conscious effort to embrace these truths and give myself a break now and then, what I’ve learned more than anything is that the world is going to continue moving forward no matter what. I am not going to speed anything up or slow anything down, so the most important thing I can do is do my best, give what I can, and forget about trying to cling to a grandiose set of standards. Sometimes life is about doing less, and enjoying the scenery along the way.