I haven’t blogged in a month. In fact, this will be my second blog post in as many months – breaking from the pattern of weekly or bi-weekly posts I found earlier in the fall. I realized this today and it made my sad, not only because of the pattern of writing that I lost but also because of the patterns of life that I lost along with it.
Fall is busy. There is no way around it. With the start of school and football season for Kelly and the start of the programming year for me, we are running 100% more often than not. It’s the most typical time for burn out and stress and fights about nothing, because we give so much of ourselves to other people and we don’t have much to give to each other. When we do get time together, it’s typically watching TV on the couch and falling asleep after about 20 minutes. Then it’s shuffle off to bed, set alarms, sleep and toss and turn, and do it all again. Our weekends are full of games and catching up and events and then the cycle starts over and over and over again. We love our life, but fall is still chaos.
Fall also feels like a time of mourning in a way – while I love my boots and sweaters and football, I would still take summer and sunshine any day. I miss warm days and sitting on the deck at night or out by the fire pit. Winter is my least favorite season for a lot of reasons, with the first 100 including snow in some way. I often tell my husband that if he didn’t love winter so much, and if (most) of our immediate and extended families weren’t in Michigan, we would not be living in Holland. But, we are here, and I somehow survive the December-February span each year until my beloved spring and summer return.
The one positive to this new winter season, snow and all, is that it forces me to slow down. If you know me well you will know that driving is one of my biggest anxiety triggers, and driving in the snow amplifies only makes it worse. I’m getting better at facing it, but the snow falls over the past week and our house sitting on a country road next to a corn field haven’t been very helpful – for example, getting stuck in the giant drift that was our cul-de-sac yesterday morning put me in a funk that I’m not sure I’m out of yet. I don’t trust winter and it seems like the snow and wind and cold pick a fight with me all season long. But, on days like today where I’m in a funk and don’t want to drive, even though the roads are decent and I easily could, I choose instead to stay home and work here.
My morning was spent partially on the couch with my eyes closed due to a headache, but partially relaxing: eating leftovers for lunch, looking through online deals and paying credit card bills, listening to new favorite music and catching up on TV shows, and now writing for the first time in a while. If the weather wasn’t cold and snowy, I would have pushed myself to be out and about this morning, and I think that I would be just as tired now as I was at this point yesterday. But I’m not – I’m relaxed and I’m happy and I’m productive, which is a rare combination these days.
So, on this cold December day with a winter storm approaching in the next hours, this is my question for you: how do you need to slow down in your life? We all need it, especially before the holidays, but there is a unique answer for each of us. For me, it’s letting my extroverted heart enjoy time spent alone to recharge, to let my brain slow down and my anxiety lessen, to take time for me and my home and my husband and my heart.
I don’t know what you need to do to slow down, but whatever it might be, I want to encourage you to do it. You don’t need to be crazy like the rest of West Michigan and push yourself to keep a normal pace in the midst of holiday blizzards and freezing temps. If you need a night at home, do it! If you need to say no to another school or church event, do it! If you need a movie night or a Netflix binge session, do it! Only you know what is best for yourself and the pace that you can keep. We can’t push pause on our entire lives, but I’ve found that by pushing pause for a few hours at a time and taking advantage of the small breaks that our schedules give us, the rest becomes a lot more enjoyable and fulfilling.
I’m enjoying my chance to slow down today so that I can keep going tomorrow and the days the come – will you enjoy your chance, too?