I had a tough time with my most recent birthday, feeling like 35 was more near mid-life if one pays attention to averages than any other age and in all honesty suddenly feeling “old” in many ways. The physical being the most obvious and lament worthy, the wrinkles, the grays, the aches and the pains are more pronounced than ever. I started doing tri-athlons this year (isn’t that crazy?) and each time I trained and for days after, I HURT. I also started playing soccer again. After 15 years away from team play and 6 plus years of pregnancies, I started up again, and it hurts. I grew up playing soccer! I love soccer! In my mind I thought I’d have so much going for me with all that childhood and adolescent experience behind me. The reality is, I have to work hard to run fast and when I do I usually pull muscles. (Luckily it is fun and I play with really nice people that I care to spend time with.)
Beyond the physical, I am taking stock. A year and a half ago I lost my son at the end of my pregnancy and plunged into the depths of grief that has fundamentally changed how I experience and perceive life. That is another story for another time, but for this time it influences my “mid-life” birthday in such a way that I feel I must get on with doing the things I hope to do with my life, because it will pass, too fast and there’s too much I want to do.
1. Slow down
Funny this would be my first goal after stating “there’s too much I want to do” but that is why it must be first. A therapist of mine once said “you like to live a full-life, I see it as a pouring out of your intellect and creativity.” I loved that! What a positive spin on my active life. That was before kids though, and there is no possible way I can pursue all my passions and still be the mom and provide the life for my kids that is nurturing and honoring of them. I must set those things aside, for a season, in pieces if I am to be the mom I hope to be. I must slow down, slow us all down (my husband and kids like adventure and experiences too) and make space for us to play, tickle, read, nap, go for walks, have conversations that matter. If you have practical advice in this area, I would love to hear them.
2. Listen and Respond to God’s voice
So often I wonder what God might have me do in a particular situation or season of time and wish the map was clear before us because I swear I would follow it, free will and all. As a little girl I prayed every night “Lord, help me to be the girl you’ve created me to be” and still I hope above all that I am living out God’s purposes for my life. The problem is, He’s not always clear, there isn’t a formula and the magnitude of love He has for us comes in giving us many options. I am a planner, so I contemplate and I worry, I fret and I weigh all options. I am a slow decision maker and the concepts of God’s will and our freedom of choice can feel like some mysterious equation that I must work hard to solve. Lately, though, I have heard God speaking, loud and clear, about some things, and felt Him pointing me in certain directions in more pronounced ways than usual. My hopes, in this new year of my life, is to create space to listen – through reading and studying my bible, praying and times of silence – and be bold enough to respond, actually doing what God is telling me to do. That is always scary and exhilarating for a worry wart like me.
3. Pursue Passions
In order to be the mom I want to be, I need to do a few things, outside of mothering, that feed the other areas of life that interest me. So often inspiration will hit me, and then I look around at the dishes, the laundry, the stack of papers that perpetually piles up in my kitchen, and then a child comes into focus and there is ALWAYS a need to be met and I set that idea aside, swallow it down, hoping for a window of time, later, to pursue it. When days go by and the time doesn’t come I get discouraged and wonder why I allow myself to hope to pursue these bits of inspiration anyway. I can’t give up hope.
God laid it on my heart a few years ago to write. There is so much going on in my head and my heart that I want to get out in a meaningful way. Looking around, I realized I write all the time; I keep journals for each of my kids highlighting special moments in their lives or simply writing letters to them as they grow up, I write in a hand full of personal journals, one in response to sermons, one for my life in general, one in my purse in case an idea or thought hits me on the fly and then there is the myriad of post it’s, receipts, random word documents that I jot down and idea or trail of thought before I lose it. So really, it is something I already do, I want to put purpose and priority to that. This blog is part of that.
3. Love Like Crazy
Yes, it is a sappy country song I heard the morning of my 35th birthday, but my aha moment was in the lyrics. In losing my son I felt a huge numbness come over me that was part normal response to grief and part coping with feelings that could sear me if the numbness didn’t take over. In grief therapy we talk about layers of our loss, and the loss of the easily excited, exuberantly hopeful parts of myself was a sad layer of my loss. In grief therapy, I would ask our counselor when I was going to feel like “me” again and she would say that I would feel something similar, but I am forever changed by the death of my son. This new self can is full of goodness too, but definitely different. A piece of me had become a bit guarded, fearful I guess, of loving anyone so much that it would devastate me to lose them. This year, when I come up against the fear and numbness that stifles feeling of big huge love and joy, I will remember to love like crazy. I invite you on this journey with me