Searching for Moments and Space

I’ve been writing and thinking a lot about pause and creating space lately. Mostly, this is because I’m not doing a very good job at actually creating these places in my day and so, I’m looking for moments that already exist.

IMG_8829From walking to school to the poetry I’m reading and all those other little moments, I’m learning to find what is already there.

It’s hard. In my mind, I know that every Tuesday, I have an hour and a half to write. And then it takes some time to settle in and I switch a quick load of laundry and… There’s always something else. For the most part, I’m pretty protective of my time. But I also love meeting up with friends because, without those face-to-face connections, community is hard. I use some of my “me time” to volunteer in Bea’s classroom because creating relationships with her teachers and classmates is a high priority.

In my imagination, I’d love to have a little writing shed in our yard or a weekend cabin to retreat to. Really, that shed would go unused because the reality of this phase of life is that all my work happens in the middle of everything, at the dining room table. And weekends are filled with all those little moments that create our family’s culture, not retreating somewhere on my own.

We were talking about this balance the other day in my MOPS group. Of loving these years and struggling to create time and space. Of pouring ourselves into our kids and families and recognizing those outside things that fill us with life and joy.

I’m leaning into these small spaces. It’s still frustrating on some days but the more I look for those moments that are already here, the more I seem to find.

How do you include moments for yourself in a busy day? What seasons did you find this easier or harder to do?

Linked with Five Minute Friday, a time to write without editing. Today’s prompt is “include.”

Squeezing Thousands of Years Into a Minute

I’m reading a book about the history of food and modern farming. I find it incredible that, even though we’ve been farming since 8500 BCE, it’s still a blip in the history of humanity and digestion. Our bodies still haven’t adapted to a sedentary, grain-based diet. (See: An Edible History of Humanity by Tom Standage, pg 4.)

kees-streefkerk-352874-unsplash
Photo by Kees Streefkerk on Unsplash

If 150,000 years can be compared to a minute and a half, I need to rethink my view of adaptation. I ask the girls to adapt all day long – from an unplanned errand to a switch in who picks up Bea from school, teaching flexibility is a surprisingly big part of the parenting process.

Or maybe it’s part of the human process. I like a predictable schedule and often wish I could adapt to surprises and changes with more grace and ease. The reality is that I need time to process new ideas and perspectives. I often read the news or a book and then need to dig deeper, figuring out this (new to me) information.

I’ll emerge and want to talk about it with Frank, only to realize that I’m unloading a bunch of internal processing in the course of a conversation. Essentially, I’m asking him to squeeze hundreds of thousands of years into a couple minutes.

Ok, my analogies are mixing but what I’m remembering is that adaptation takes time. Yes, in the course of human history, 150,000 is a blip. We haven’t been farming all that long so of course our digestive systems haven’t had time to adjust. And yet, we’ve been farming long enough that none of us have any ties at all to our hunter-gatherer ancestors. We wouldn’t know how to survive, even though it’s the foundational norm.

I’m giving myself grace as I deconstruct and rebuild foundational norms, whatever they may be. When I get discouraged at the slow pace of society in general, I’m remembering that these long years are a blip in history. I need to stretch back and remember that life is a slow process and adaptation is often imperceptible.

Are you able to adapt quickly or do you need time to process? How do you ground yourself in history?

Linked with Five Minute Friday, a time to write without editing. Today’s prompt is “adapt.”

Books Referenced:

51INTf4BPsL._SX327_BO1,204,203,200_Disclosure: Amazon Affiliate links included in this post.  If you click through to Amazon, any purchase you make supports this site. 

Paying Attention to the Spark

Whenever I’m feeling stuck or unmotivated, I turn to the experts. I might search for a book or a webinar or an article in hopes of getting unstuck. If someone has gone ahead, I want to learn from them! Often, this works. I get a piece of inspiration or am distracted just enough to refocus.

IMG_8753But sometimes, I’m still stuck. The other day, I listened to a free webinar from an expert that turned out to be an hour-long sales pitch for a paid site. (You get what you pay for?) I got a few nuggets from the beginning but left feeling at a loss. I had been given just enough information to feel even more confused.

I chatted with some friends who aren’t even part of this particular field, let alone experts, and through our conversation, a few ideas were sparked. I was able to take those small nuggets and figure out ways to use them.

It’s a reminder that, while the experts are important and valuable, there are so many moments in which I find the help and inspiration I need from sources that aren’t proven or expert at all. When I put aside my to-do list and focus on playing with the girls, I feel refreshed in other areas. When we get outside and soak up the sun, when I turn off the noise of social media and Google searches, when I read a really good fiction book unrelated to anything I’m working on, when I remember to pause and breathe and take in the big picture – this is where I’m refreshed and most likely to unstick my thoughts.

I know this isn’t breaking news – that getting outside and turning off all the voices is healthy – but it’s news I need to remind myself of again and again. When I’m feeling overwhelmed, instead of looking for the answer, I need to just be in the moment. The answer will come (or it won’t and I’m learning to embrace that, too) but most often it’s a little spark at the back of my mind.

Today, I’m putting aside a lot of ideas and papers. I think I’ll even stack them up and put them in the basement for the weekend. The girls and I are meeting friends for a ramble at an open space and we’ll run and soak up the sun. And I’m sure some ideas will show up in the midst of living life.

How do you get unstuck? What experts do you find most helpful? Where do you turn when you need to get away from books and overthinking?

Linking with Five Minute Friday, a  time to write without editing. (As evidenced by so many run-on sentences in this one!) Today’s prompt is “stuck.”

Appreciating Spring Snow

One of my favorite things about springtime in Colorado is that the weather changes quickly. The other day, it snowed in the morning and by the time we picked Bea up from track practice in the afternoon, we were wearing t-shirts and enjoying the sunshine and dry ground.

IMG_8673We’re up in the mountains, decompressing from tax season. We’ve found the importance of getting away after such an intense season. When we stay at home, we fall into old habits and patterns. A change of scenery is the break we need to reset.

Yesterday, we went swimming in the hot springs near our rented cabin. The girls loved climbing the rocks around the creek, finding the best natural pools to splash in, and soaking in sunshine and family time. We woke up this morning to a wintery landscape. Our mountain views were obscured with clouds, the trees had a perfect outline of snow clinging to their branches, and Frank started a fire in the wood stove as we ate breakfast, played games, and did puzzles.

I know a lot of us are itching for actual spring – for blossoms and predictable sunshine. I am, too. I can’t wait to plan our garden and put away the winter clothes. But I also appreciate this quick turn of weather. It’s a reminder of our family’s current season, as we reconnect and refocus on life as a family of four. In a lot of ways, reentry is like a Colorado spring. There are sunny beautiful memories, there are cozy wintery moments, and there are gales and winds that kick up the dust.

I’m remembering this takes some time and after years of practice, our expectations for these post-season getaways are much more realistic. We shut down, limit our screen time, and focus on the four of us. But real life doesn’t actually stop. The girls still bicker; I still long for alone time; Frank still has some business to wrap up. Those moments seem much more bearable and pass much more quickly when we’re intentional about this time of reconnecting, and I’m glad for these pattern breaks as we enter this next season of spring and a more normal family life.

What is spring like in your part of the world? Do you like unpredictable weather? How does that translate to your daily life and expectations? 

Linked with Five Minute Friday, a time to write without editing. Today’s prompt is “turn.”

Pausing to Enjoy the Summit

When I moved back to Colorado after college, my dad and I would spend summers hiking the 14,000-foot mountains around Colorado. We’d wake up before dawn so that we could be stepping foot on the trail at sunrise. We’d hike all morning, eat an early lunch at the 10418255_10152599208242938_297764949818653760_nsummit, and then hike down before the afternoon thunderstorms rolled in. I loved having lunch at the peak. It was a reward for hard work and it gave us time to pause and really enjoy the scenery. What’s the point of “bagging a peak” if you don’t stop to enjoy the view?

We were sitting in a circle at MOPS, talking about having one foot in the toddler world and another toe dipping into The Next Phase. Some of the women are firmly entrenched in the baby and toddler years but a group of us are starting to emerge. We’re not as sleep deprived; our kids are a bit more independent; school is on the horizon. What’s next?

It’s an interesting place to be – on the cusp. I don’t really know how long I’ll be at this summit, overlooking new ideas and opportunities. Part of me wants to just dive in and leave this last season behind. But reality means recognizing that being on the cusp is a slow journey.

I’m watching others take these next steps. They’re starting practices, taking classes, writing books, and pursuing dreams, all with kids the same age as ours. I compare myself and think that I should be ready for this next journey.

I’m remembering to stop at the peak, to eat my lunch, and to enjoy the scenery. I don’t know how long this will take – it could be a shorter pause than I’m anticipating. Or it could be a few more years until this next phase actually happens. I’m remembering to cheer for my friends, to work hard at my own goals, and am learning to savor this particular time in life.

How are you remembering to pause and enjoy the scenery? How do you balance living fully in the moment while pursuing dreams?

Linked with Five Minute Friday, a time to write without editing. Today’s prompt is “other.”

Incorporating Habits into Routines

Next week is spring break. Will you rest during spring break? The family literacy teacher asked our class this opening question. The only woman in the room without kids, she was looking forward to a week of sleeping in, unstructured time with family and friends, and relaxing.

IMG_8552All the moms looked at her blankly. This was not a language misunderstanding; this was a life-circumstance disconnect. None of the moms in the room would sleep in or relax. If anything, our routines would be thrown off for the week and we would be filling long days that were usually helped by the school routine.

Normally, I love slow days. Even though we wake up at the same time, regardless of the weekend, weekday, or holiday, having a pajama morning is lovely. Easing into the day is more relaxing and I love the break in routine.

But I also need to go into next week remembering that it takes time to establish a vacation routine, too. That for as much as my kids need and thrive on unstructured play, having an unstructured routine can be stressful.

Lent is almost finished – just over a week until Easter. Every day, I’ve been reading through the book of Exodus, “giving up” some of my precious writing time to dive into the Bible. For the most part, I’ve been consistent, with just a couple make-up days. Now that I’ve established this routine, I’ve been thinking about what I’ll keep in its place.

Because that’s the point, right? Not to simply go back to old habits but to continue living intentionally, using my time wisely, and recognizing the power of habits and routines.

What kind of routine do you thrive on? And, are you able to sleep in on holidays or do you keep getting up at the same time?

Linked with Five Minute Friday, a time to write without editing. Today’s prompt is “routine.”

Planning Unstructured Time

We had last Friday off of school, the weather was springlike, and Bea had big plans for not doing anything. Her plan for the day went something like this: We weren’t going to get in the car at all, we would play outside as much as possible, we would have a picnic lunch at the park nearby.

IMG_8476I had some cleaning to do so did that while the girls explored our unused backyard. Then we packed sandwiches and snacks, got out bikes and strollers, and headed to the park. We played and ate and made new friends and came home rejuvenated.

It was such a reminder of the importance of unstructured time. Even though Bea had a plan for our day, it included a lot of loose play. When I went to call a friend while the girls were swinging, Bea exclaimed, No! This is just mom, Bea, and Elle time! Just the three girls! No one else!!

She needed focused time and I was glad I could give that to her. There’s a lot about decision fatigue lately. Solutions include wearing a uniform, eating the same thing for breakfast every day, and eliminating all unnecessary choices.

I think it’s funny that we need research to tell us this when all we need to do is look at our kids. Bea knew that, after weeks of structure at school, she needed to rest by having a day of unstructured play. Of course, if every day were filled with unstructured play, the days would be too long and boredom (the unproductive kind) would set in. A little structure is a good thing.

But I can learn so much from my kids about rest and play. When my to-do list seems overwhelming; when life seems overstructured; when I have decision fatigue, maybe I just need to get outside without an agenda, play, and have a picnic.

How do you pause to rejuvenate in the midst of structure? What are ways you find spontaneity?

Linked with Five Minute Friday, a time to write without editing. Today’s prompt is “tired.”