Everyday Stuff

Essential Summer Living: Deciding What NOT to do This Summer

So, it is almost here, and I for one cannot wait! Summer!!! Honestly, I do not know who is more excited, me or the kids. I have said that many times in jest; however, I am realizing as we draw closer and closer to the end of the school year that it is, in fact, very true.

This has caused me to pause and ask myself, “Why is it that when someone asks the kids how many more days of school, I can answer quicker than they can!?” (Eight days not counting weekends.) Why is it that my heart yearns for that last day as much if not more so than it did when I was in elementary school? Could it be that this is a sign of an overcommitted mama?

Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy all of the things that I take on and volunteer for and participate in throughout the school year and sports seasons. In fact, a huge reason why Tim and I have chosen for me to stay home is so that I can be available and involved and plugged in. I highly encourage volunteering and plugging in at the kids’ schools and sports teams, so that you do know what’s going on. The other parents know you, and you know your kids’ friends, and oftentimes this will allow you to address issues before they become problems. Kids will open up to you more, and you will be much more in the know just by being around. This being said, it is possible that you can get so plugged in and so committed that your extra obligations, all in the name of supporting, encouraging and being there for your kids, pull you away from the one place you are needed most – your home. Sometimes this is a physical pulling away, but more times than not it is a mental and emotional pulling away. If you’re running ragged and pulled in so many different directions to support so many people and give so much of yourself to the next big project that your children and your husband only get the leftover, exhausted, grumpy bits of you then are you really serving your true purpose?
These are the questions I am currently grappling with, and I am intentionally not overbooking our summer to allow plenty of time for deep connecting with my kids, relaxing and actually thinking through what things are essential and what things are not truly adding benefit and value to our lives. When might taking on one more thing no longer qualify as worthy when compared to the inevitable trade-offs?
Many of you know I am a podcast junkie! Recently, I was listening Season3, Episode12 of the “This is Your Life” podcast with Michael Hyatt in which Michael interviewed speaker and author, Greg McKeown about his book,Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less. This interview was so thought-provoking for me that I could not get it out of my mind. For the next week it seemed like everyone I listened to was referring to this book. Finally, I could no longer resist buying my own copy and digging in.
While I am only about 1/4 of the way through it now, already I have come across some great points that I am savoring and find myself meditating on for hours on end – while I run around and do the multitude of year end things I have to catch up on, of course. McKeown says, “The way of the Essentialist rejects the idea that we can fit it all in. Instead of making choices reactively, the Essentialist deliberately distinguishes the vital few from the trivial many…” He also talks about making the wisest possible investment of your time and energy in order to operate in your highest point contribution by doing only what is essential. A point he continues to drive home is: Less but better.
So I’m asking myself – Could I do less, and yet be more? Could I do less and accomplish more? Doesn’t doing less make me any less? What if doing less actually makes me more of who the Lord created me to be? Greg drives the point home by really hitting at the heart of our mommy guilt when he says, “It’s about the emotional discipline necessary to say no to social pressure.”
The diagram below (from chapter 1) is one I absolutely cannot get out of my mind. It describes so much of how I have been feeling over the past year+. It makes perfect sense. In fact, when I turned the page and saw this (at 10:30 at night with Tim sleeping soundly beside me) I gasped, “That’s me!”
I truly plan to spend the next couple months by the pool or on the beach (Thank you, Lord that I live in a Florida beach town!)dissecting my life and my commitments and attempting to totally renovating how I make decisions in the way I run my home, live my life, and give of my time and energy. I highly recommend this book for your summer reading. Take some time to reevaluate whether you are overcommitted. Are you struggling to do a little bit of everything, or are you truly doing all you can with the few things that matter most?
I could keep going, (I mean really, when couldn’t I?) but I really want to get back to reading! I’ll close with one final quote from the book. “The ability to choose cannot be taken away or even given away – it can only be forgotten.” Have you forgotten that, yes, in fact, you do have the right to choose what you give yourself, your time and your energy to? And by all means, don’t forget the trade-offs! Saying yes to someone else usually means saying no to your family to some degree. Now, hang on…calm down. No, this doesn’t mean you can never say yes to anyone else, absolutely not, but are you saying yes to others far more than you’re saying yes to your home and your highest calling? I challenge you to slow down and give it some thought. Do you love your life – because you should!
“The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it [a]overflows).” John 10:10 (AMPC)
“She considers a [new] field before she buys or accepts it [expanding prudently and not courting neglect of her present duties by assuming other duties]; with her savings [of time and strength] she plants fruitful vines in her vineyard.” Proverbs 31:16 (AMPC, emphasis mine)
“Every wise woman builds her house, but the foolish one tears it down with her own hands.” Proverbs 14:1 (AMPC)

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