Redefining the Bottom of the Well

Filling the Well

Two weeks ago I sent out an email to some mom friends; I had hit a dry patch. It was rough, and it wasn’t the type of feeling that shakes off after a nice latte or fresh air.

I was stale.

I felt like something had to give. I was questioning my writing, my influence, and even my teaching style. Maybe it all had to change.

I felt at a loss.

Contemplating choices for the future turned ugly, and I began to feel like a failure in what I was doing. The successes and efforts paled. Getting back into a place of living color felt impossible.

I turned inspiration into a burden and felt overwhelmed.

My greatest gift had become my greatest need.

So I boldly asked for encouragement. Hey, I’m feeling down and funky – and I don’t mean the spunky, dance moves kind – would you please be able to give me a lift?

A miracle sparked. I’m not sure why or how, but just the asking and the receiving – the process of figuring out what I was needing and pursuing it – gave me the momentum I lacked. I got back on my feet.

And just like that, the season changed.

We started exercising again. (By we, I mean, my son and I.) We got haircuts. We went to the library again. I wanted to read for leisure again.

fills the well haircut


Accidentally, I had stopped prioritizing these things or life had gotten in the way, but one thing was certain – I learned that I couldn’t encourage from an empty well.

I learned that coasting on a full well doesn’t last long either; I need daily, quality connection with life to feel fully alive.

And reaching 50 degrees helps too.

fills the well kids fresh air

In recent years I’ve learned that I have so much responsibility to own for how I feel. Steady emotions aren’t reserved for those of a certain disposition or personality type.

My emotions require more maintenance or inspiration to function at my highest potential. So I have to own the work that it takes to function and stay stable. It’s a balance, and it’s a process.

Emotional progress can be tricky when I take into consideration circumstances and seasons, so I’ve decided to redefine the bottom of the well. I need to create a false bottom. In order to prevent the total dry out, I’ve come up with signs of dryness:

  1. TV watching instead of book reading
  2. A bunch of demanding little commitments: daily, weekly, monthly – regular engagements that drain without the balance of commitments that fill and inspire. (This one isn’t usually a problem when church attendance is regular, but it has been lately – we’ve had someone vomiting or running a fever every-single-Saturday for the past 3 months.)
  3. More than 3 life experiences that I need to share with my spouse: I know I’m headed for an emotional dry place when I have a backlog of things to update my husband about. I need him to know me, and when I’m waiting or unable to share with him – my feelings fade.
  4. Lack of fresh air, color, music
  5. Too much sugar (And now I have guilt. I just ate a tootsie roll. Maybe I should move this to the #1 spot.)
  6. Clutter and a lack of concern to clean, avoiding simplifying because it feels too hard
  7. Sleeping in, I need to be a self starter – no one else will start my day for me.

I’m committed to learning how to live life to the fullest. And I’m truly thankful for the grace to live with a full well, feeling inspired and satisfied. I hope you do too.

Affiliate links to the books pictured above (at no cost to you, these links support this site – high five!):
Persuasion (Vintage Classics)
No More Perfect Kids: Love Your Kids for Who They Are
The Writing Life
Fifteen Minutes Outside: 365 Ways to Get Out of the House and Connect with Your Kids
Seasons of a Mother’s Heart, 2nd edition
You and Me Forever Workbook: Marriage in Light of Eternity

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