I used to be spontaneous and silly, warm and whimsical. I used to dance in the kitchen and eat cake for breakfast with my kids. And then for a while things got a little complicated and a little busy and in order to keep up with my life and schedule and commitments, I had to hustle, multi-task, always staying five steps ahead, always planning, always ticking things off a list.
There wasn’t room in the system for spontaneous and silly. The life I signed myself up for required a level of strategy and structure that made me feel, over time, like I was running military operation, not living a life.
In October 2012 I said, I can’t live this way anymore. 2013 was the year of Prayer, Rest & Self-Care…but it was also the year of a book release, so maybe we broke even? I did make progress living into those three words, but especially in the last five months of 2013, my travel and speaking schedule did some damage, and I fell into 2014 a little worse for wear, sick and disconnected.
2014: the year of MORE LOVE, LESS HUSTLE.
When I say hustle, what I mean is that voice that tells you to get up off the couch as soon as you sit down for even a second. That voice that says with these ten minutes you should be able to accomplish these seventy six things. That voice that says you’re never done, you have to push harder, think ahead, plan ahead, hold it together, go, go, go.
HUSTLE isn’t about your job, necessarily, or my job, necessarily. I know people who work more than I do, longer than I do, with a lot more success and pressure…and they don’t hustle. And I know people who have very few demands on their time or very little financial pressure or whatever…and they’re always, always hustling.
It’s about your to-do list, but more than that it’s about what it is inside you that made you sign up for all that. Nobody made me take 30-something work trips last year. There’s always pressure from various corners, of course, but at the end of the day, I made choices that drove me further and further from the life I want to live. The need for a change began that October in that hotel room, and I’m still working toward a new way of living. I think it might take a while.
But here’s the good news: it’s working. It’s working. I’m a better person than I was that October in Texas. I’m a better parent. I’m a better partner. I’m less angry. I dance in the kitchen again. I’m remembering what it’s like to not be tired all the time.
I’ve said NO to some big and small things in this season—so hard for me to say, of course, for a million reasons. But saying NO lets me say YES to the most important things: my husband, my boys, our family and community, our church.
And it’s working. I’m enjoying our boys more than I ever have, soaking up time with them, tickling and listening and playing. I love this season of their lives and I’m thankful to be here more, in it more, with them more.
And wouldn’t you know it? It’s easier to have a great marriage when you live in the same house more often than not, instead of meeting in the kitchen with our roller bags packed–me just departing, him just arriving, talking through kid details & next week & the next week & the week after that & see-you-in-who-even-knows-when? I love spending time with Aaron, and I’m so thankful to get to be with him more in this season.
I believed, all those months ago, that if I walked away from some things—things I thought I really wanted, things that people told me were very important, things that would signal success or happiness or whatever—I believed that if I walked away, in exchange for those things, I would recover my own self. I would, possibly, with hard work, re-discover that silly, warm person. And it’s working.
I signed up for a life that required me to live like a soldier. But I’m not a soldier. The best of me is not the tough part. Whatever I had to prove about being a hard worker, being strong, being able…I proved that a lot of flights ago. Tough is not something I want to be. Hard is not something I aspire to. I needed to be those things to live the life I had created, and I’m creating a new life, where what’s required is soul. Love. Laughter. Time.
This isn’t a “work or don’t work” discussion. I’m a working mom. I love working. I’m deeply, totally thankful to do work I love. But I crossed over at some point, and I worked in a way that was destructive to me and to the person I want to become. I peered over that edge and I’m backing away as fast as I can.
This is the new framework:
If I said yes to that, would I have to go back into hustle-mode to do it?
Could I do that thing and still live with a spirit of great love and attentiveness?
Am I able to do this work with laughter and presence and connection to my community, or will it push me back into toughness and list-making, thinking seven steps ahead?
I knew, all those months ago, that I had to find a new way. And that new way is working.
MORE LOVE. LESS HUSTLE.