Underwhelmed.

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

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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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When can I rest? {7 Lies that Keep Me from Rest}

When can I rest 7 Lies

One of the trickiest variables in learning time management is knowing how to plan for rest.

Balancing rest and work goes deeper than a schedule. Just having time to sleep, eat, and transition doesn’t mean I have achieved adequate rest. And while scheduling and planning are wise, as a mother and more specifically a homeschooling mother, my life is constant activity. I can’t even be guaranteed that my sleep will be restful.

I’ve often said there’s no rest for the weary. And it’s sad but true when living with little people. They require more than their fair share of attention all hours of the day.

And when I’m weary, I’m more likely to fall prey to some pretty powerful lies. Just like the crushing weight of anxiety I battled as a first-time mom, realizing that this motherhood thing is a lot harder and more demanding that I could have imagined, starting a new week of planning and scheduling for my family of 5 can feel like a weight I can’t bear.

Believing and living a lie has the power to keep me in bondage to a system of futile thoughts and actions.

The bondage is circular and affects both my feelings toward work and rest. For example, if I’m working diligently on cleaning the kitchen but a child comes in and spills a whole bowl of cereal then I feel like the “job” of cleaning the kitchen isn’t done and therefore I’m not allowed to rest. I have a wrong expectation that I’m not allowed or I don’t deserve to rest until everything is perfect.

And when my heart is set on being perfect, I’ve set myself up to listen to these 7 lies about rest:

  • Rest has to be earned. When the job is done, then go ahead a rest. But is the “job” of motherhood ever finished at the end of the day or week? There’s no time clock at my house that gives me the green light for rest.
  • The strong don’t need rest. Workaholics aren’t the only ones that struggle with slowing down. It’s that sneaky pride that bites me and says you can do it all!
  • You have to pay for it (costs may be losses in life and position, or monetarily: meaning paying for a vacation, boat, new toy etc.). I don’t know about you, but my budget just doesn’t allow for planning huge dream vacations and yachts. If I’m pining after what isn’t within my means, then I’m not only neglecting rest but I’m also not grateful for the opportunities to enjoy life.
  • It comes only a couple times a year on special occasions. Holidays are nice, but they cannot refresh me enough to last for the next several months. It isn’t right to bottle up the need to rest and expect that I can get out of a holiday what isn’t there to get.
  • It is a reward only for those who are worthy of it. Sometimes I wait for someone to award me some “time off” to go and rest. I live like being accountable to myself for the balance of activity and rest isn’t enough – I’m longing for others to notice me and my efforts which therefore affirms that I’ve done a “good job” and now am worthy to take a break.
  • You’ll look lazy if you make time for rest. This one gets me the most because I have been lazy. I have wasted time and energy which robbed my family of enjoying a home of purpose, passion, and life. Getting my focus tangled up in too much “big picture” and not enough bite size pieces has led me to discouragement before the sun even rises. So this lie is a twisted truth. I do need to make time for rest AND work. Just because I haven’t worked well, doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t still make time to rest well.
  • It is a means to more work. When my wheels are always turning, and my toe is tappin’ while I’m supposed to be focused on rest this is believing the lie that my rest only fuels me for more work. Work is then the obvious idol in my life, controlling my thoughts even when I’m not at work.

So what should the focus of my rest be? And when can I have it?