Monday, January 5, 2015

The Value of a Slow Life

In December, our family had the pleasure of visiting Ft. Walton Beach, Florida on an unexpected work vacation.  Mr. Butler had work stuff going on during the week so the kids and I had normal life with a phenomenal view!

The 6 months prior to this trip had been too full.  I overextended my physical body, jammed too much into our schedule and refused to accept no.  This negligence in listening to the needs of my body and family resulted in some major health problems that forced me to slow down and absolutely quit some days.  Seriously, not a good time for anyone.  But I started getting better and this trip slowed the freight train I'd been traveling on to a nice snail pace.  It was just what I needed, but it had to end.  Every time I get busy or stressed I can't just take a relaxing vacation.  So, as I prepared to return home and over the next few weeks of the busy holidays, I contemplated how simple abundance could begin to describe my life.  I couldn't change the era in which I was born.  I couldn't deny stress existing in my life from time to time.  

But there are some things I absolutely can change.  Things like organization.  When things have a place, a schedule, a plan, it simplifies things.  Staying on top of household management reduces my stress and strengthens my ability to handle other stresses when they come better.  So, first Monday back after the holiday and thanks to God's mercy I'm well and getting (and keeping) life more organized.  

I have power over how often I pray and study,  My communication barriers extend into my prayer life.  When life gets complicated or hard, I tend to shut down. That means even from God.  But of course that's the worst time to do so and it doesn't have to be.  Simply expressing to God (and others) what I need help with is a struggle but it's also the lifeline to moving past the hurdle.

The most challenging thing I have control over is how I value a slow life rather than idolizing the quick and urgent.  The contrast of our modern society with 50 or 100 years ago is constantly made, but then brushed aside with acceptance of 'life is just busier now'.  But I'm beginning to realize that this urgent busyness is just another temptation of our age like overspending, materialism or pornography.  Just because the neighbors have drunken parties until all hours doesn't mean I have to.  Same goes for so many things, yet because a lot of people feel compelled to demand neck-breaking speeds and packed schedules I feel like I have to as well?  The urgent and hectic will always find its way into your life, much like sorrow or sin, but we shouldn't give it a room to stay in as long as it likes.  

My instincts have always valued slow things like nature, growing your own food, building your own things and doing life for yourself rather than outsourcing the hard stuff.  All of that takes time, though.  After a very hectic and dysfunctional 6 months, I am convicted about the way I want my family to do life.  There is always a lot that can and should be done and I am learning that putting it off only makes life harder.  Still, working hard does not mean working stressed, rushed or frantic. Simple abundance starts in my heart and in the way I do life today.  

Today I wait with smiling eyes.  Today I try again with hope.  Today I ignore the billions of other people that pretend to be in my back yard.  Today I honor the ones set before me with focus and intentional love. 

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Where Did All My Social Grace Go?

One of my favorite things about being human is our ability to change for the better.  For all of my high expectations and grand desires, I have some large cavities where my social grace should be.  I think and feel so much, but the things I intend to express and demonstrate have a difficult time coming to the surface in the moment it's needed.  Not everyone can be the perfect host or the most gracious conversationalist, I know.  Still, it has effected my friendships and I'm understanding how valuable friendships are to my health.  And that means I need to change for the better.

In the past I've gotten angry at certain quirks I possess and try to ignore or change them.  Things like I'm bad under pressure (even mild pressure) or being tired or overstimulated makes me more emotional and reactive.  Ignoring them didn't change the painful outcome.  Trying to change the way my body is wired is pretty hard too.  So what do you do? Being wired or even conditioned a certain way doesn't necessarily justify the results.  The only thing, next to prayer and God's mercy, that helps is to accommodate and plan for the quirks. 

We have some pretty special new years traditions that I love, but aren't ideal for an awkward highly sensitive person.  This year I felt a victory because I took a necessary break to catch my breath, let my kids rest, etc.  I suppressed the fear that I might miss something and instead did what my family needed.  A victory for sure, but I still found myself reactive and keeping a distance from those I desire a better relationship with.  

The double-edge of adulthood is that you're able to unearth the pain and distortions of youth and hopefully put them to rest indefinitely.  The trouble is what you're left with sometimes leaves much to be desired.  When I was a teenager I really thought of myself as a people person.  I could soak up the dynamics of people and loved to over-think what it all meant.  Now as an adult I realize I'm not a people person, but more of a principle and deep feeler person.  I can stick to my guns and feel the weight of the world with the best of them, but it has left me poorly skilled in friendship. 

In 2015, I want to make a difference.  One of the most significant ways I can do that is through what I teach my children.  We often learn how to have friends and be a friend from our family.  I don't want to leave a legacy of awkwardness or arms length relationships.  I won't ever be your hostess with the mostest, but I'm praying this year I will learn the skills and habits of being a good friend.  If you ever want to teach me some friendship skills or help me practice, feel free! Just be prepared for a few deer in the headlights interactions at first!