Full Capacity is Quieter Than I Expected

I have the honor of sharing some thoughts at SheLoves Magazine about my “One Word” for the year: Capacity. At just about a third of the way through 2017, I’m finding that I may have misunderstood my word and I’m learning to pause and recalibrate my expectations. Head over to the SheLoves to read the whole article, but here’s an excerpt:

Annie-Rim-Quieter-Full-Capacity3We’re in the midst of a chaotic season in our home. With two young girls, life is always running at full speed. My husband is an accountant and the weeks leading up to the April tax deadline are extra busy and stressful. The other day, I pulled out some frozen chili for dinner. While I was defrosting it I noticed it seemed a bit chunkier than normal chili but the frenetic pace of early-evening solo parenting pushed the thought to the back of my mind. When my husband, Frank, came home from work and reheated his portion he asked, “Did you add sour cream and Frito chips to the beef stew?”

It wasn’t a huge mistake, but it’s one that totally encapsulates this season of life. I am running at full capacity, often to the detriment of the details that make up the big picture. Did we have a hot meal for dinner? Yes. Big picture! Was it the meal I had planned? No.

When I claimed “capacity” as my one word for 2017, I felt pretty good about it. My word for 2016 was “enough” and I felt that this would be a good follow-up. I had spent a year calming my expectations, sitting at Jesus’ feet, channeling my inner Mary rather than my dominant Martha. But now, I was ready to fill up that space! Martha has a place in my life, too, and I was eager to be open to opportunity and live to my fullest capacity. A third of the way through this year, I’m realizing how deeply I have misunderstood both of my guiding words.

Enough isn’t a pass to sit back and let life pile up around me, knowing that I am truly enough. And capacity doesn’t mean filling my time to the brink, even if it’s full of really good things.

Recently, I was reading Brené Brown’s book, Rising Strong. At the beginning she says, “The opposite of scarcity is not abundance; the opposite of scarcity is simply enough.” Read the rest over at SheLoves and please join in the conversation!

If you picked One Word for 2017, how is your journey going? What have you discovered, four months into the year?


Feeling Satisfied but Not Full

I love meals that begin with champagne and end with port. One of my all-time favorites was a date night at the now closed Le Bar Lyonnais in the basement of the super-fancy Le Bec Fin in Philadelphia. Frank and I dressed up, even for this more casual venue, we spent hours eating beautiful food, paired each course with its correct drink, and left feeling full-but-not-stuffed.

Champagne in Yellowstone

One of my favorite splurges is going to fancy restaurants and eating slowly for an evening. The portion sizes always leave room for the next course and I leave feeling satisfied but never over-full.

I’ve been thinking about life lately and how easy it is to stuff it full – to add activities and commitments and all the good things that build into relationships and community. It can be hard to say no when every single thing is life-giving.

But I want to be satisfied, not full. I want our days to be filled with goodness but not stressful. I can be very protective of our schedule, trying to find that balance.

I wonder if heaven is like eating at a super-fancy restaurant? We are satisfied but not full. We have enough time for all the goodness without all the stress.

What is your favorite fancy restaurant? What are ways you feel satisfied but not full?

Linking with Kate Motaung’s Five Minute Friday, a time to write without editing. Today’s prompt is “enough.”

Living in Kairos

We had a long day yesterday. Or, rather a long evening. In hindsight, I guess I could pinpoint some buildup, but something switched at dinner and our pleasant family time unravelled to wild imaginative games which made bedtime a time of struggle rather than rest.

IMG_9696It’s those moments of parenting which seem so, so long and which seem to zap my energy faster than what I’d imagine running a marathon would be like. (I’m no runner, but I’ve watched people cross the finish line. I think I wear their expression every night around 5:00…)

In A Circle of Quiet, Madeleine L’Engle reminds me of the two words for time in Greek: chronos: measurable, linear, clock-driven time and kairos: immeasurable time that encompasses life – time at the dinner table, in prayer, with babies.

L’Engle says,

I sit in the rocking chair with a baby in my arms, and I am in both kairos and chronos. In chronos I may be nothing more than some cybernetic salad on the bottom left-hand corner of a check; or my social-security number; or my passport number. In kairos I am known by name: Madeleine.

The baby doesn’t know about chronos yet. (p 245)

I am up early this morning after this rough night. I just nursed Elle back to sleep and, rather than trying for one more hour of my own, I come downstairs, sit across from Frank and find time for something that makes me happy, for something that reminds me of my name.

How do you live in the balance between chronos and kairos?

Linked with Kate Motaung’s Five Minute Friday, a time to write without editing. Today’s prompt is time.

Me Time in the Margins

Bea’s current favorite manipulative phrase is, “I just haven’t had enough daddy time!” (Or mama time or grandma time or whomever she thinks will give her what she wants time…) Today, I told Bea that I needed some me time.

She had absolutely no idea what I was talking about. In Bea’s perfect world, we would all breathe, eat, and sleep together. It would be rare for a moment to pass without some sort of physical contact and we would snuggle down and nest.
That sounds like some sort of horror to me. In fact, the thing I long for most is 24-hours to myself. No one else. When Frank joked that I would be bored, I totally didn’t get the “joke” and was furious that he would suggest that.

My constant companion

My reality is that me time is tough – if not impossible on some days. Right now, I’m writing this on the floor with Elle popping herself out of the boppy and Bea curled up, playing a puzzle game on my phone and exceeding her allotted screen time for the day. (And even that doesn’t stop her running commentary.)

I was talking with some fellow writers in a Facebook group about finding time to write everyday and one woman said, “You learn to like Calliou if you have to.”

And that’s the point, I guess. There’s never a perfect time. I have a few unfinished drafts of posts that sound choppy because they are because I wrote them in spare moments, grabbed here and there. I’ll go through and edit and eventually post them – hopefully. And I’ll settle for good but not perfect.

Reading War & Peace while Elle sleeps and Bea is in dance class.
Reading War & Peace while Elle sleeps and Bea is in dance class.

In this year of embracing enough, I’m also learning to embrace not enough. There’s not enough time, but there never will be and so I’m learning to squeeze my own life-giving activities and projects into the margins. And those margins add up to something bigger.

So, if you see a typo or an incoherent sentence, remember I’m typing this with a baby in my lap and a preschool talking by my side. And let that be a reminder to take time to fill your margins with things that make you happy, even if the setting or the timing isn’t quite perfect.

How do you make time for things that bring you joy? (This isn’t just a mom thing – finding time is tough for most of us!) Any practical tips or advice?

PS- There’s a whole book about this called The Fringe Hours. I haven’t read it yet, but after reviewing this, it sounds like I need to. Have you read it? Recommend?

One Word: Enough

When Bea was born, I transitioned to the role of motherhood fairly easily. Yes, there were tears over lack of sleep and anxiety over doing it right, but in reality we had it good. For her first year, we snuggled and stayed close to home.

Rim2015-0074As she grew more independent and I grew more confident, we hit a good stride. Our days started to fill up and I felt like I was able to find a good balance between being a stay-at-home mom and fulfilling my own goals and needs. I got a part-time job that combined several of my passions and fit our schedule perfectly; I became a leader with my MOPS group; I was successfully part of three book clubs; we continued to volunteer at church. On paper, it looked like I had learned how to balance life beautifully and in many ways, it was true.

When Elle arrived this summer, things changed. They shouldn’t have. Elle is such an easy-going, happy baby. It should have been easy to incorporate her seamlessly into our established routine.

In reality, the transition to two has been harder than I’d like to admit. Harder because as great a sleeper and as content as Elle is, she’s still a baby. Our nights are not as restful as they could be and she still has her own needs with our schedule. Plus, Bea has needed so much more in the midst of our new normal.

I tried so hard to keep everything perfect and together. And as I did, I felt myself slipping into self-criticism and anxiety. Why couldn’t I keep all my commitments and fulfill them perfectly? Slowly, I’ve had to step back from certain things and really weigh my “yeses.”

I’ve had to swallow my pride often to say “no” and to recognize that certain commitments aren’t feasible at this time. I know for outsiders, this is healthy and there’s no judgement. Internally, I was judging myself and my abilities.

As the year ended, I decided I wasn’t going to pick One Word for 2016. Or that my one word would be survive. At a particularly low moment, I felt a stirring and the word enough came to my mind.

You are enough.

I am enough of a mom. Enough of a wife. Enough of a volunteer, a friend, an employee, a reader, a blogger. I am enough for any or no labels. I am enough.

So, I guess I will choose a word for this year. And it feels humbling to have to say it out loud. My word is enough. Because I am.

If you could choose one word for this coming year, what would it be?

Check out OneWord365 for word ideas and to find others with your same word.