Life spins at an inconceivable rate. I keep waiting for it to slow down and give me a breather—a chance to sit by the window, sip a warm cup of coffee, and ponder the meaning of life. But it never stops spinning. In fact, it seems to keep speeding up. Or giving me the appearance of slowing down, just to get a “gotcha” at the end of everyday in the form of a remembered one or two more “to-dos.”
Basically, life can feel like a good, run-on fragment.
But I’ve had enough. I’m tired of spinning with the world and dancing to the beat of the “just keep moving” drum. I’m tired of running after and redirecting toddlers all day everyday, organizing and reorganizing every ill-placed toy, trying to prove or impress or outdo on social media or in person, and repeatedly shuffling through daily to-do lists only to find a new list tomorrow.
So this year, I’m choosing simplicity. I’m choosing to stop spinning. Me, not the world. The world can keep on spinning—round and round, bend on down, reach up high and touch the sky. But I am stopping. Sure, I’ll still be responsible and organized and get some things done. It’s part of life, part of human, part of me. But I’m saying “no” to extra. To excess. To extremes. Anything that requires me to move and groove at full capacity all day, everyday.
A chasing after the wind.
I’ve tried to do this before. Tried to give a hardy thumbs up to peace and space and quiet, only to be shut down by my own generalizations of what simplicity looks and feels like. This time, I’m being specific. I’m choosing specific times to switch on the achieving, accomplishing, grand-slam-for-the-win-and-that’s-the-game-folks human I need to be. And I’m also choosing big, glorious chunks of time to be anything other than a doer. Chosen, carved out, sacred hours to sit, be still, read, write, draw. Time to play piano and browse art books. Time to think, process, pray. Time to hold my chunky little newborn and drink in all the wonderfulness contained in that boundless chin and those roly-poly thighs.
Because she’s worth it. She’s worth all the good things in the world, including my big, glorious chunks of time.
Making space isn’t as hard as it seems. It’s really just a choice to stop. To say “no” to a bunch of pulls and shoulds and invitations. To say “no” to fixing all the fixables and refereeing all the squabbles and redirecting all the no-nos. It means leftovers for dinner and unswept floors and children who Geronimo off debatably-too-high couches onto just-cushiony-enough floors. It means deciding not to give advice and letting people be people and choose what they choose… whether it’s a four year old little boy or 34 year old redheaded man. It means saying “no” to stress or anxiety or dissatisfaction when chaos happens and tantrums ensue and letting the day unfold as it will without attempts to task-master all the disorderliness.
And then it means saying “yes” to all the too-often-forgottens of life. To the light glittering and jumping off the shiny green leaves of the lemon tree right outside the living room window. “Yes” to the long-ignored, white and black keys of that gorgeous instrument in the corner. To the sweet and sour aromatic goodness coming from the neck of that irresistible infant. To the blank page so desperately wanting to be filled with word and thought and all the feels. Saying “yes” to that spasming child who “just wants attention” and should be told “no” for consistency sake. Saying “yes” to one more song or book or jump or cuddle or all the above. Saying “yes” to a week straight of nights in, sipping a glass of tasty and verbally processing all the big and little questions of life with the one who means the most to me but often receives the least of me.
I have five small children to raise, a husband to befriend, and a home to run. I do love order, and chaos can unnerve me. I have to feed hungry bellies. And I need to teach my littles to do what’s right and be responsible and have compassion and get the pee inside the toilet. Those are true statements. But I’m making a choice this year—lots of choices, really—to not be undone. To not give away my peace or sanity or stillness to a constantly spinning world. I’m choosing to find joy and wonder in the movement of all the people and things in life while I stay firmly planted in one place. No keeping up, no outrunning. I choose to let my toddlers be toddlers and offer patience and compassion and empathy and a “probably so” every ten minutes if it means keeping my peace. I choose to look into those big, blue eyes of the four year old who has one question after another after another and recognize the incredible gift innocence and unlearnedness can be. I choose to put down Facebook or Instagram and pick up the foam sword, fighting my way through the pretend jungle or fort or battle and right into the very-real-hearts and memories of my little people. I choose to say “come sit with me” instead of “clean up clean up everybody do your share.” To say “thank you” instead of “here’s how I do it.” To say “take your time” instead of “hurry up.” To say “be brave” instead of “be careful.”
I’m not advocating irresponsibility or laziness or preventable trips to the emergency room. Merely simplicity. And that looks different for each person and family and season of life. But it doesn’t happen on account of wanting it or agreeing it would be good. It happens when we make choices. When we set the borders and draw the lines. When we are picky and choosy and specific so we can be open and free and playful. When we make the time and the plan to be unplanned. So 2019, whether or not you give it to me simple, it’s what I’ll give to you.
Until next time, Ana