Facebook App and My Brain

I’ve been severely ill. The kind of sick that has hijacked my entire life, week, etc. I’ve found myself napping, resting, and otherwise counting the days in number of hours until my next dose of medicine.

My thought life has been my real life. My prayer life has been exposed. And I have a love hate tension for these trials because of the nature of conviction that comes from having to identify areas of compromise or failure. 

Being so sick and laid up causes me to reevaluate. What are my priorities? Am I planning for these or flying by the seat of my pants? What are my goals? Am I creating actionable steps to accomplish them? Or Am I allowing the day to get ahead of the plan? 

One area of conflict in my life lately has been my use of Facebook. At first, I blamed my makeup business. I figured that I was having an adverse reaction to direct sales, and that maybe being a “salesperson” was creating the feeling of my soul being sucked out of my body. (This is not a good – feeling soul-robbed.)

See, I’ve been using Facebook to spread the word about my Younique business. I love the makeup and skin care products. So, I have done what many others are doing, and I posted the information to Facebook for all my friends, family, and acquaintances to see.

But it wasn’t Younique that was actually causing my soul to evaporate – it was a very simple little thing.

The red circle with a number indicating notifications. Below is what I posted to my Facebook group about the problem.

FACEBOOK APP and My Brain:

Being so ill has allowed me a lot of time to just rest and think. I have a hard time with the forced stillness, but it always proves helpful to me in reflection. Because of this reflection, I’ve stumbled upon a problem that must be rectified.

I can’t stand the distracting nature of notifications. When using any app, the first thing I do is go to my phone’s system settings and disable the notifications (or I “hide” them). But with the FB app, the red circle still pops up with the number of notifications which could be anything from someone else commenting on a picture of a friend (which most of the time I just ignore these, I mean why do I need to know?) to someone actual engaging with me personally.

When I started regularly using Facebook as a means of spreading the word about Younique’s sales, I immediately had a lot of “reasons” to check Facebook – answering questions, posting promotions, filming live videos (fun!).

Slowly, but with gaining momentum, I started using Facebook more and more. My connections with people were really growing too. I loved the engagement, the opportunities to pray, the laughs from clever memes, etc.

What I didn’t love was the SWISS CHEESE my brain was turning into. Gradually, my ability to focus on a specific task was lessening. I was constantly aware of where my phone was and I wanted to “just see if there are any new notifications. I won’t spend lots of time on the News Feed, just notifications.”

But my prayer life was starting to suffer. Instead of staying focused, my own soulful thoughts intimately shared with my Savior were now peppered with distractions from what I had shared or wanted to share…

I realized that I was falling for “Facebook Addiction” – hook, line, and sinker.

I don’t think what has happened to me is unusual. A lot of people in direct sales get over excited about their products and want to connect to drive their business, and when a person isn’t disciplined and grounded often they burnout and blame the business model or products for their negative life circumstance. That isn’t the case for me.

I’m not burnt out on Younique. I honestly only spend a few hours per WEEK working on “business-y stuff.” The products are EXCELLENT and I will continue to stand by that.

I will continue to use this group and Facebook for that matter! BUT I will be disciplined about it —>

1. Only on my computer or Chrome on my phone – but not on the app.
2. Only during 3 time slots: 6:30 – 7am, 1 – 1:30pm, 8:30-9pm
**More boundaries to be created as my behavior is assessed after these two are trialed.

Facebook was robbing me of being educated. The time spent checking and rechecking the app was splitting my attention span in half, quarters, and even smaller. I was finding that I couldn’t complete a mental thought even while in silence.

This is unacceptable. I prize mental fitness, yet my mind was becoming flabby and lazy.

Photo credit.

So! Back to my year of READ with renewed vigor, resolve, and boundaries. It isn’t that I was wasting hours on Facebook, but with Facebook on the brain I was not able to use my time well when I had the time to do something purposeful.

Back to the books folks!


What if her interests aren’t “good” enough? (How I’m raising an independent woman.)

IMG_0798 - Copy

My daughter and I were watching TV together over the Christmas holiday. A commercial came that was glorifying new cars.

(Side note: I’ve trained my kids to analyze and pick apart commercials. Their critiques of products sold on TV are hilarious.)

JoeAnna (9 years old) looks at me and asks, “What’s the big deal about buying a new car? Why do people get so excited about it?”

“Well, it’s kind of the same feeling as getting your driver’s license when you turn 16. Learning to drive is exciting, and some cars are more fun to drive than others.” I reply.

“Is it illegal not to have a driver’s license?” She asks.

“If you’re driving and you don’t have a license, then yes. You’ll get in big trouble.”

“But what if you don’t drive, do you have to have a license?”

“Well, no. You do not have to get a driver’s license.”

“Oh good. I think I’ll just roller blade where I want to go. I could get a job as a waitress and live here when I’m an adult. I think I just want an easy life.”

“That sounds good to me!” I say while trying not to laugh.


My dear Joe is a hard nut to crack. She lives in her own mind so much that it’s often difficult to get her full attention. Example: “Joe, please brush your hair.” I find her brushing her teeth. Only the word “brush” penetrated her brain.

In her mind, she is constantly creating big plans for expanding upon her latest obsessions: Legos creations, Daily Prophet articles, MLP collections, etc. She dreams big, plays big, and feels big. As she navigates late childhood, I’m watching her try to categorize everything. Black or white. Good or bad. Easy or hard. As she processes this information, she’s making her own connections that aren’t always reliable. Like, everything hard is bad (or should at least be avoided).

And I can’t blame her. Who doesn’t want to avoid pain at all costs?

While I recognize the importance of teaching her to stretch and reach for personal goals, I believe it’s more important at this stage in her development (forming categories of safe and unsafe things) for her to know that I’m always, unconditionally safe. I want nothing more than for her to grow into a woman who confidently believes that her mother supports and loves her no matter what.

But she won’t grow in believing that I am truly safe if I don’t value her current plans for her life. If I hear her statement that she wants to live with me forever, and I refuse to affirm that, then I am not listening to the cry of her heart.

She can’t grasp the reality that as she evolves into an adult and ages into her unique self her interests will change. Right now, she believes that because her feelings are big, her feelings won’t change.

If I correct her feelings and try to tell her that she will change her mind (because I’m sure she will change her mind), then I am pushing her to spread her wings too quickly. I do not want her to be scared by thinking that I want her to be independent of me too soon. If she doesn’t feel ready to be independent of me, then any thought of a future where she isn’t in the comfort of a safe place will be avoided.

The truth is she will become independent of me – that’s the whole goal of parenting a child into adulthood. Healthy independence is gained through embracing personal responsibility and identity, and it should not be confused with individuality.

So, I am fighting to keep her heart safe while fueling her individuality, honoring her feelings, expanding her personal responsibility, and praising her attempts at doing what she views as “hard.”  

To put these goals into action, I’m designing a life project for her that I believe can do 2 things:

  1. Reassure her that the life she wants (an easy one) is fine by me. I want her to be affirmed that I love her just because she is and not because she does. I know that her heart craves security, so I vow to be her safe place by offering her loving words and deeds.
  2. Curate opportunities outside of our home for her to see and experience what her future could hold. I want to give her a taste of a loftier future. By seeking out other caring adults who have similar interests to hers, I believe she will see that trying and reaching are worth it.

I’ll write more on what this “Life Project” will entail as we get further into it, and I hope that if you have a child who feels stuck or avoids work that you will not approach them with a “get going” attitude.

Maybe they don’t need to be motivated.

Maybe they need to just be accepted.

Maybe my Joe just needs to hear:

I am for you, and I will be with you. If being a waitress is truly what fuels you and causes you to come alive, then I will be your biggest cheerleader (and biggest tipper too).


*** I’m sharing this story with Joe’s permission.


Planning Your Year-at-a-Glance: Homeschool Planning Tip #3

HPT 3 Year at a Glance

Maybe you’re like me and the rush to start planning for the next school year has already faded.

Don’t give up! One thing I continue to learn is that baby steps in the right direction, with the long view leads me not only to my destination but also to a sense of personal satisfaction.

So, let’s jump into the planning tip for today: Get your planner ready now.

This coming school year, I will be using the Ultimate Homeschool Planner. To learn more about this planner, click here.

(Last fall I flirted with buying one of these even while writing all my Bullet Journal posts. A friend of mine picked one up so I was able to see it in person – that makes a huge difference to me when considering any purchase – and I was impressed.)

Cara's Samsung June 8 031

I still believe that just using a Bullet Journal can be best for keeping all your thoughts, plans, and agendas in context – the homeschool mom needs to simplify, right?

This year, I wanted to try something different.

The Ultimate Homschool Planner will allow me to write in so much in advance, and for that I’m grateful. With the new baby about to make her arrival in just a couple weeks, I want to be able to have as many ducks in their rows before life takes a major shift in momentum.

Because no matter how much money I spent on the curricula and resources, they won’t use themselves. I need to make a plan.

Start with a “Homeschool Pause” (see picture above). I listed out what my feelings are, milestones to expect, discipline issues (self included), and challenges and temptations. I will use this list (I’m actually not a big journaler, my thoughts and feelings best come out in lists) to fill in the pages of the Ultimate Homeschool Planner.


Next, beginning to fill it in:

  1. Read everything. I know it’s tempting to skip “Introductions” and I’m all about saving time and being efficient (skimming is fine for some intros), but for homeschool resources – I believe it is best to take in the author’s point of view before forming your own. For example, the creator of my planner Debra Bell recommends setting aside a whole day for your first year-in-advance planning. But I’m not going to do that. I see her point for why she recommends it, but I know it doesn’t work for me. Picture this: I ask my husband for a Saturday away to plan for the next year. Said Saturday arrives and I start off by going to my favorite coffee shop. After ordering, sipping, and finding the “best place” to set up my whole shah-bang I realize I’ve wasted an hour. So, I feverishly start to read the introduction while being distracted by the couple at the next table who just started a political conversation. Ugh. This isn’t going to work. I decide to finish my coffee and pack up in order to go to the library where it will be quieter. But….there are just a dozen other distractions at the library. So, in short: #1 I plan best at home, #2 I plan best in short spurts. But I read her suggestion and I’m implementing it in a way that works for me. IMG_4148
  2. Research your state’s requirements for the number of days you will need to account for school. (Read this in depth post on state requirements for homeschooling.) Then in either your planner or Bullet Journal make a spread of the whole year – block out vacations, holidays, and any other known special days. Gage which months will be heavy school months and which ones should be light. Keep in mind how many total days you will need to account for. IMG_4149
  3. Set goals for each student. This goes back to the first post I wrote on why planning now is important versus waiting until August. Ideals, dreams, goals, and the like get cast off in the rush to just get started when running late. The whole August overwhelm takes over and these important things are forgotten in the face of the urgent. So, do it now! Write just a few short and sweet goals for each child. What are their interests? How have they grown or failed to grow this past year that needs your encouragement and focused attention? List 3-5 character goals, and 3-5 academic goals. These may be items that fall on your shoulders in order to see them accomplished. Don’t expect that just writing down “learn to spell” will magically occur for that child without your direct involvement. So, be very careful how many things you list, especially if you have a larger nest. IMG_4150
  4. Family Priorities. Why do you homeschool? What do you want the greatest point of this next year to be? What makes the people who live under the same roof as you different from everyone else in the world? Honor those things and write them down so that you can continue to pray over the list. Use this list when making decisions so that you can have the confidence to say “yes” or “no” to the many options that will come into your family life throughout the coming year. Seasons will come and go – busy, slow, fruitful, hibernation – these priorities will help to keep you emotionally stable as you pass through these changes. 
  5. Write a resource list. Keep an account of everything purchased and intended to be used this year for each child. This is the time to make cuts and additions. If the list is already overwhelming and you haven’t even began your year – cut it out, set it aside or sell it! Don’t pile on more than you can handle. Chances are your children will do a few things well or many things poorly. IMG_4151
  6. Choose a start date. This will be unique to your family. Some school year round, others start on the same date as the public school system in their area. Whatever makes the most sense to you, start with that month and write out that month. Look for potential setbacks and scheduling conflicts now. This will help you again with making commitments.


A few other reasons why I like the Ultimate Homeschool Planner are the Monday Meetings, Weekly Reviews, Weekly Planner, Teaching Tips, Reading Lists, Year in Review, and Record Pages. Setting up a planner is more than just writing out dates in advance, it is a means of accounting for your time.


It all comes down to time management. Whatever helps you to be a wise steward of your time with the responsibilities and talents you have, use that!  

Get your own copy of the Ultimate Homeschool Planner or learn how to use a Bullet Journal for homeschool moms.

Up next in this series: Know Your Teaching Style (How to avoid the vices of homeschool moms.)

Related Posts:

Just jumping into this series? Catch up by reading Tip #1 and Tip #2. Also, note that some links on this site are affiliate links. Thanks!

Procrastination: The Real Problem

“Why does it seem easier for some people to make new habits than others? Maybe it’s not so much that it’s easier… they’re just forming a new habit in a way that works best for them. Gretchen Rubin loves studying this sort of stuff, so she and Tsh talk all about habits. Her research led her to this idea that we can each fall in to one of four tendencies – upholders, questioners, obligers, and rebels -and knowing which one you are is monumentally helpful in habit forming. ” -From Tsh Oxenreider’s podcast episode with Gretchen Rubin* on The Simple Show.

Planning ahead, setting goals, and organizing my life has not come naturally to me. It makes me shake my head and smile when I get comments from sharing my “Day in the Homeschool Life” that I’m so organized. Because I used to be the mom writing that same comment to others who I thought had it all together.

The first question in the quote by Tsh seems to be something that is assumed about me. But I want you to know (and my husband can testify) 2 things:

I’m a recovering procrastinator.

And I’m a huge work in progress.

See, I started creating new habits – fighting for them – because I got to the point where I was completely and utterly sick of the way I was operating.

Dirty dishes always in the sink, junk mail always hanging out on the counter, kids’ laundry always lingering days in baskets (this one still needs addressing), and so on.

How do I know that procrastination was my biggest issue? 

Because if I knew someone was coming over, or if for whatever reason I had a “deadline” of sorts then I could amaze us all and accomplish all-the-tasks without needing a week to plan it all out.

Being a homeschool mom made this even more apparent to me because the mess, inconsistency, and failure to start spilled over into planning and executing our daily routine and lessons.

Again, the only reason I fought to start changing is because I was fully sick of what I had created as “normal.”

I think that at the root of an inconsistent homeschool is procrastination. Not knowing what or how to start, no deadline from an “outside source,” no concrete rule or method for what order to do things, and the belief that I couldn’t possibly create a routine that would work.

At the root of procrastination is fear of failure. Oh, how the irony is heavy here. I don’t know about you, but I absolutely, 100% passionately do not want to fail my children in how I raise them. I want them to be excellently trained, educated, and nurtured. But procrastination has the power to trick me into delaying everything because of fear to start anything. How sad!

We don’t want to start what we are afraid we won’t be able to do well or to finish at all. At the end of the day, can we agree that doing something in the right direction is better than doing nothing at all? 

Right. This question is what helped me brave the beginning of change. It gave me the courage to just start.

I deeply hope you don’t live like I did in constant fear of failure because most of those fears you hear in your own head are lies. You can change. You can create new habits. It does count to try again today. Your efforts do matter.

And small change in the same direction over a long period of time does produce a drastic difference. (Just ask me how I know.)

Ready for real change?

I encourage you to be counted as a goal-setter. It doesn’t matter if you have never successfully completed a goal before in your life! Actually, if that’s you, then you are the perfect candidate for Crystal’s course.

You won’t find prescribed methods that must be followed precisely to Crystal or Jesse’s (her husband, the course is co-taught for the dual perspective and fun of it) taste – you will be led on a journey toward being able to chart your own course for your life.

I want you to check it out for yourself – and bonus – there is a 100% money back guarantee. Buy it now, on sale through midnight Monday, March 21st.

Over the course of four weeks you’ll learn:

  • The secrets to successful goal-setting – even when you have young children
  • How to break big goals down into bite-sized pieces and doable action plans
  • When & why you should delete a goal before you even set it
  • The 3 most important accountability sources for goal-setting
  • And more!

The course includes a handbook, weekly videos, worksheets and projects – all for just $25!

* Gretchen Rubin well-known for her bestselling book The Happiness Project (which I am currently reading – and loving!).

And her newest book, Better Than Before is now available in paperback.

Not in the Accountability group? Well, join now! I’ll be sharing more on what The Happiness Project is teaching me this week. You won’t want to miss it. And contact me with any questions.

As always, thanks for reading! There are affiliate links in this post. To learn more about how and why I use these click here.

Productive without pressure, and joys without regrets. January 2016

Focus on Function don't pine after perfection for B2S

On one hand, I can’t believe January is over. We are already 1/12 of the way through the year. I don’t feel like I accomplished a “January” amount of fresh-starts and goals.

But on the other hand, I’m thankful January is over. I love the lived in feeling of an everyday life. I do enjoy reflections, projections, and motivations for personal change, but like with everything – too much of a good thing is just too much.

So, here at the end of a good start to the New Year, I have a few things to share about what I’ve learned: January 2016 edition.

1. I can’t stand reading a fiction ebook. I had no idea this was the case before attempting to read Five Brides for our book club this month. Non-fiction ebook? Sure. Digital cookbook? Love it. But this experience reading fiction on a screen has made me want to throw an old fashion tantrum.

2. I have learned a way to trick myself into being energized by (some) social engagements. This is a huge one. I’m writing a whole separate post on it because it has kind of changed everything about me. From introvert to functioning extrovert. Okay, maybe not that far, but close. I no longer severely dread having to be in public, which I used to do even with close family and friends. I can now leave an engagement feeling lifted up and not drained to the core. I am able to reflect positively on my contribution to the situation without regretting all the ways I deflected, avoided, or stalled.

3. Kale salads are kind of my pregnancy “thing.” I’ve been trying really hard to eat primarily vegetables, fruits, nuts, and meats. (I got this book from the library to help me understand this way of eating.) I’ve shared my new Pinterest love for finding recipes on my Facebook page too. It’s amazing what a great recipe can do for my overall well-being.

Photo from MMD

Photo from MMD

4. I made a list of books I want to read in 2016, and I thought it would feel stifling. I thought I would rebel against a predetermined plan for what to read, but instead I feel free from the overwhelm of “there are so many good books to read – how can I ever choose the next one?” feeling.

5. I’m loving the podcast What Should I Read Next by Anne Bogel. I like hearing people talk about the books they’ve liked, disliked, and what they should read. I’ve never been a huge fiction reader because I don’t know which books at the library would be worth my time (I learned quickly that borrowing 12 titles only to return all 12 unread isn’t worth the effort). This podcast helps enormously, and Anne is just plain pleasant to listen to.


6. The pros and cons of Apple products: The iPhone camera is highly superior to other phone cameras. This lesson learned has been a painful one. I’m still working through the transition. That said, we are also happily ditching Apple. We tried to love our Mac Mini, but it is just too slow. The operating system doesn’t allow for the level of management we are used to – for instance we can’t schedule system updates, we can’t see when programs were last opened or for how long they ran, and it doesn’t have a great file structure. I do, however, love the track pad and multiple desktop functions, but those things don’t weigh as much as the things I dislike. So, we are saying goodbye.

7. Educational theories: I’ve been researching and evaluating educational theories for about a year. I was introduced to Classical Conversations (CC) in February 2015, and I honestly had had no exposure to the classical model before that time. Being the hungry-to-understand-everything person that I am, I set out to tackle this option and either determine if it A.) Was for us. OR B.) Was not for us. With a solid why for whichever choice we made. But I still can’t figure out what is right for us and it’s consuming a lot of my mental space. We are planning on attending another CC informational meeting soon, and I’ve set the deadline for decision for March 30th because we leave for the Great Homeschool Convention on March 31st.

8. I finally got to start a new Bullet Journal in a real Dotted Leuchtturm 1917. To describe the love I have for this journal would be to take way too much space and time. Let me say, trust me, the dots are amazing. Please, for the love, try the dots. (If you love writing in a journal or specifically Bullet Journals, then you really need to try this journal.)

What I’m reading:

Posts that relate:

Things that are making me happy:

  • Seafoam. I don’t think I can say this is a “OK” pregnancy craving, but I can say that I love it. It’s a good thing it’s expensive or I would eat way too much of it.
  • Downton Abbey. No explanation needed.
  • Read Aloud Revival Membership! The Master’s classes to be exact. Learning how to create book list that is unique to us and the Education in an Hour classes have been excellent. 
  • Baby kicks. I know it’s probably because this little one is #4 and I’m really used to the feelings, but it’s been wonderful to remember that I’m carrying life inside me!
  • Indoor grill. I’ve been making grilled chicken more lately for dinners. It’s amazing what a simple tool can do to the taste of food. I love grilled food.
  • My toddler in glasses. Pictures coming soon to Instagram. (And I cut his hair too!)

That’s it. I hope you had an enjoyable January. Productive without pressure, and joys without regrets.

This post is linked with Emily Freeman's Let's Share What We Learned post. Click on her name to check out the original post. Also, there are affiliate links in this post, read my disclosure to find out more about that. And finally, subscribe to TheHomeLearner to hear more about home life, learning, parenting, and more for free - delivered straight to your inbox. Thanks for reading!


Timing is (and isn’t) everything.


A photo posted by Cara Thompson (@thehomelearner) on


December felt like a complete wash for me in the area of personal development, planning, organization, writing, and anything else related to goal setting and accomplishing. The month was a blur of nausea, fatigue, and PBS Kids.

I announced on my personal Facebook page that we are expecting (click here for the video of my kids talking about the baby), and right away put curiosity to rest that this baby is indeed a surprise. Unplanned, but very much wanted. Sometimes I realize a little too late that timing is everything.

I wasn’t planning on being pregnant this year (or ever again because of health issues), but here I am in the middle of figuring out what our new normal will be. I’m trying to set new goals and take more steps in the learning journey, but it’s been hard and the timing of life has been tough.

So, while I should’ve written an end of year post, I should have a tidy list of goals for 2016, I should have a plan for the blog in the New Year ready to share with all of you – I don’t. But I’m choosing not to get hung up on the timing.

Because sometimes, timing isn’t everything.

When I get caught up in the calendar to dictate whether I am living in step, I tend to fall into one of two ditches – over eager task doer that pays no attention to my limitations or the people in my life, or crushed pity party thrower who never seems to be able to keep up the normal pace with everyone else (read: loads of false guilt).

Instead, I’m choosing to focus on grace instead of timing.

Timing is important when Crystal Paine announces that her new course will be half off for one day only.

Grace is gentle when I forgot to purchase said course and wake up to find out that I, in fact, will not be getting in on the course this time around.

Timing assumes that all New Year’s Resolutions will be made by January 1st.

Grace trumps timing when I can’t seem to get my thoughts in order by December 31st. (Grace whispers don’t give up.)

Timing is a good motivator but a bad boss, especially when we need to be to church on time.

Grace celebrates baby steps and progress.

Timing keeps a record of short-comings and late arrivals.

Grace says it’s good to keep trying even after failure and mistakes.

Timing says that I have to buy the next great thing for setting goals or I’ll be left in the dust by all the other successful moms.

Grace remembers that godly stewardship is better than compulsion; saying no and choosing to move slowly is better than speed and productivity for the sake of growing in wisdom.

Even though it’s hard for me to admit that I’ve missed out, failed some goals, and am not as ready for January 2016 as I usually like to be, I’m learning again to embrace the hard stuff because it brings me face-to-face with reality that I’m broken. And on the days when my weaknesses are more abundant than my strengths, when the pregnancy trials threaten to eclipse everything else – I won’t center my thoughts on the timing of life, I will center my thoughts on grace. Grace is greater than all my weaknesses. Grace that saves me from myself and the thoughts that tell me I’ll never be good enough. Grace sees me in light of eternity and not in light of my current afflictions.

Here are the grace-centered things on my plate right now:

Getting back into our lessons and homeschool routine.


Taking care of our new puppy (I know, the timing wasn’t the best for getting a pup).

Painfully slowly still settling in to our home. We moved my desk, and I love it!

Working through 31 Days to Clean and Make Over Your Mornings (on sale through January 8th). 

Setting up a new chart system for the kids’ responsibilities.

Two Reading Challenges – both from Read Aloud Revival. (Check out the Membership site! Prices increase soon. Timing strikes again.)

Drinking lots of decaf coffee in my new pour over mug. (My husband knows me so well.)

I’m looking forward to connecting with more of you in the New Year. I hope you are ready to thrive in 2016, and I hope this space will be an encouragement to you in your journey.

Happy New Year! (It’s good to be back.)

Thanks for reading! If you'd like a Prayer For Calm During a Busy Season, I'd be happy to send it to you for subscribing - click here. Also, some of the links in this post are affiliate links - click here to read more about why I use those.




I’m reading Simply Tuesday by Emily P. Freeman and I’m still mulling over the significance of Ordinary Time.

underwhelmed 2

I’m seeing it everywhere, and I’m confronted by my own behavior toward it. The perspective that is tilted in my mind to prefer the feeling of significance that comes from busy and hustle.

Even though I don’t like it when hear myself say “I’m overwhelmed,” I like the feeling of importance that being busy brings.

I’m learning to see my days, seasons, and calendar as a means of creating a new perspective on balance.

Busy doesn’t equal important.

In Ordinary Time, I battle against feeling underwhelmed, and I’m beginning to see that this is the most important battle of my life.

Yesterday was not my birthday. It was a normal Monday with the usual activities: no pressing deadlines, holidays, or appointments on the calendar. And I wasn’t feeling my best. Somehow on a day like this, the simple act of sweeping under the table feels like I’m going to have to move a mountain to find the strength, energy, and motivation to get it done.

This is the battle against the underwhelm. 

And it’s the worst feeling.

I think I complain far too quickly about being overwhelmed when I have appointments, play dates, errands, and other things to do on my plate in the same day because when all of that is wiped away – and it’s just me and my 3 little people looking at each other all day long – I wonder, what’s the point trying to get anything done? It will all be undone, and the work to get the little things (laundry, dishes, sweeping Cheerios) done again mocks me.

Why even set goals, ideals, standards?

It can feel like I’m in a holding pattern of little, unimportant tasks. I begin to feel from the inside out that I may never get to set my hands to the soul-work that I long for in myself and with others.

I’m underwhelmed.

I’m too quick to surrender to the lie of the underwhelming – there’s really no reason to try, this day has no meaning anyway. Or the lie that all the busyness is meaningless too. Or the lie that comes in physical form which I can’t put into words – it’s that underlying feeling of empty that begs to be filled with the 3 “CH’s” – chips, chocolate, and champagne – which never fills anyway, it’s just another lie.

This battling or some days – the lack thereof – leaves me with an ache. A pain that has no apparent beginning nor end.

This pain will slow me down. But I’m old enough now to know that the pain doesn’t define me nor does it last forever. And just because hustle feels invigorating, slow doesn’t have to feel discouraging.

I need to practice gentleness with my inner person and in my self-talk. Encouragement is a wonderful thing, right? Why not learn how to clearly encourage the right thoughts, actions, and feelings on days like this.

Learn to honor the slow days.

It seems to me that when I give in to this low state and wait, life always seems to pick up speed again, projects pile onto the To-Do list, the calendar moves on and fills up, and I’m back to the other end of being overwhelmed.

But oh how often I have regretted wasting time during seasons of underwhelm because I couldn’t see clearly through my feelings and the lies.

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I’ve decided to balance the underwhelmed feeling by working ahead.

Procrastination may fill me with speed, but it drains me of purpose.

So when the lies creep in that I don’t have significance today because there isn’t anything on my calendar, I can look to my long term goals and baby steps. I need to take break down the projects that aren’t due yet and almost seem silly to work ahead on and start them anyway.

I have to stop hiding when I feel underwhelmed.

Today is the perfect day to set my mind on doing just the next logical thing.

Today is my birthday, I’m thinking ahead to the field trip this Friday, and beginning to plan for a speaking engagement in December.

And the idea of taking a few burdens off my future shoulders is nice too. I’m cutting myself a break, doing a little extra work, sitting to sip an extra chai, and thinking positively about my life.

Right now, in the middle of Ordinary Time, in the face of underwhelming circumstances, I can live balanced, purposeful, and gently.

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