wading through weariness

turtle joshua-j-cotten-noUFOAxHOq4-unsplash

Image Credit: Joshua J. Cotten on Unsplash

I took a wonderful vacation week with my family. We spent most of the time outdoors in the gorgeous Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina. The minimal phone and internet contact refreshed my soul.

When I came home, I was grumpy for days. At first, I couldn’t figure out why when the time away had been so restful. Then I recognized reality had hit me hard as soon as I walked back in the door.

Illness and lonely deaths. Financial struggles. Storms and disasters. Injustice and hatred. Uncertainties. Limitations.

Anger. Discouragement. Fear. Desperation. Depression. The emotions wear me down.

So, I went back to thinking about perseverance, resilience, how to survive thrive in these crazy times. I went back – again – to some of the basics and am attempting to live them out. Maybe they will help you too.

  • TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF
    Eat healthy foods. Drink plenty of water. Exercise. Sleep enough. 
    I know. I know. We get tired of hearing this, but these elements are proven powerful for our well-being. It is a constant battle, but anything we can do to strengthen these habits will help us get through the hard times. It’s true.
  • ACCEPT THE NEGATIVE EMOTIONS
    We are living through a never-before, stress-filled event that impacts every area of our lives. There are no quick cures and no easy answers. Recognize the emotions stirred up are real and valid and unpredictable and continuous. They WILL accompany us. There is no reason to layer self-criticism, shame, or condemnation on top of what is already a heavy burden.

Whatever amount of acceptance for human messiness (impatience, blahs, lack of productivity, weight gain) you have given yourself – it is not enough! ~ Juliet Funt


  • SHARE HONESTLY 
    Safe and trusted friends and family can be an essential source of comfort, encouragement, and motivation when we can’t come up with those ourselves. It takes humility and courage to admit that we aren’t doing well and need help, but I have received enthusiastic, willing, even grateful-for-being-asked responses. Don’t isolate or hide your problems. We need each other.
  • PRAY AND JOURNAL
    I’ve learned to start each day with my hands open and a simple prayer asking God to show me what He wants me to do that day. I’m not great at it, but journaling (thoughts, day’s happenings, gratefulness) also has a way of giving me perspective and purpose in dreary days.
  • TAKE TIME FOR THINGS YOU LOVE
    For me, this means getting outdoors – getting glimpses of God’s unique animal and plant creations near our home. I’ve also taken up small-space gardening – herbs, tomatoes, and butterfly-attracting flowers. It does not have to cost a lot of money or take a lot of time. Small amounts of joy give energy to combat weariness.
  • LEAVE SOME SPACE
    As we go along, we learn how this new normal is affecting us. Back-to-back Zoom meetings are exhausting – we need less screen time, breaks between sessions, and Zoom-free days. Remember, we cannot do all things. Each “yes” to one thing is a “no” to something else. Say “yes” and “no” thoughtfully and intentionally.

I know the pandemic and its effects are dragging on longer than we anticipated. The weariness of the continual stressors drags us down. I write this for myself and with a hopeful prayer that it will give you lift for the days ahead.

If you feel comfortable, please let me know in the comments how you are doing. And if you have another helpful reminder for us, please share that too. 

wrapping up 2014

IMG_1231I have a fun hangover.

All of our grown children came home – plus extras – for two weeks now. People slept in every room of our small townhouse. Imported belongings invaded every counter and every inch of floor space. We saturated days with fun and laughter, adventures, deep conversations, and delicious, not-necessarily-good-for-you food. We delighted in long-standing traditions and created new experiences this first Christmas in our new home. We connected at mind, heart, and spirit. It was an incredibly rich time.

My energy level is a bit low now, but my heart is full.

That seems a fitting condition for the year I christened last January with the word “fulfill”.

These family days together were a dream fulfilled. So is living in this new home and the purposeful work I get to do with my husband. One night at dinner, we all reflected on the past year and answered questions about our greatest challenges and biggest achievements and how we grew or matured or changed through both. I am satisfied with the responsibilities and goals I fulfilled last year and by the choices I made to feel fulfilled personally at this stage of my life. It has been a great year.

There have been hard times too. Death, pain, and poor decisions by loved ones crushed my spirit and drove me to my knees. The aching desire to be present in two – or three or four – places at once has weighed heavier than ever. Community, country, and world conflicts and tragedies have burdened my soul.

And so I consider my word for 2015.

What are my passions? What do I want to do? Where will I prioritize?

I’ve read many a great post about end of year reflection questions and have re-worked some of them for us here.

  • Where did you thrive last year?
  • Where did you struggle?
  • If you had to describe your 2014 in three words, what would they be?
  • What was your biggest time waster this past year?
  • Where did you best invest your time?
  • What, or who, are you most thankful for?
  • What advice would you give your early-2014 self if you could?
  • What one thing would you do differently and why?
  • What topics did you most enjoy learning about?
  • What did you learn about yourself?
  • What was a favorite compliment that you received this year?
  • What is one thing you can do next year to add meaning and relevance?

Maybe you’d like to take time to answer these  – and any other favorites you have – and choose a word for 2015. Find a quiet place, your favorite beverage, put your feet up, and enjoy the process.

I’ll post my word next week. I’d love to hear what you choose!

thriving in transition

stepping stones

Photo credit: ffela / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

transition. change. newness. different. upheaval. shift. passage

Last week I joined some teammates to offer a dinner and discussion for those who have come to work in our office from other countries. We had all experienced moving to a new place and there was much empathy expressed. We talked about the emotions, information, difficulties, and helpers.

While transitions can be painful, they are a source of creativity, growth and transformation.
~ Linda Naiman

No transition is easy – whether it is a new country or a new job, new city, or new stage of life. Here are a few things I have learned that help us to thrive, even during a difficult time of change:

  • Develop optimism – Be realistic, but also optimistic. Optimistic people tend to see troubles as temporary, controllable, and specific to the situation, whereas pessimists believe troubles are permanent, uncontrollable, and will undermine EVERYTHING they do. Healthy perspective is powerful. How are you viewing the transition?
  • Find meaning and purpose even in hard times – Staying connected to the important people in your life or doing something to help others lessens the focus on personal pain and the temptation for self-pity. What could you do for somebody else?
  • Take control – Focus on what you CAN do – small steps, little things, your personal care: sleep, exercise, nutrition; quality time reading or praying. What is something positive you can do today?
  • Be creative – Creative expression has the power to heal emotions, lower stress, and nurture the soul. When we get completely absorbed in a creative process, we relax and refresh our energy for the transition process. What creative outlet could you enjoy in your new place?
  • Improvise – Resilient people know how to solve problems using a variety of available materials. Do you remember the movie, Apollo 13? Mission control helped the crew use spare spacecraft parts to protect their limited air and return to earth safely. What could you improvise today to meet a need or fill a gap caused by your change?

Is there anything you would add to this list? What has helped you make it through change and transitions?