I know it's May--it's almost June actually, and I'm just now getting around to writing about my New Year's resolution. But who says you can only resolve things in January?
I've been trying the last few years to change from a "to-do" resolution to a "directional" resolution. My word for last year was REST. And although I failed at this almost every day, I can tell you that I thought about rest almost every day too. And some days I even rested. Looking back, I probably should have chosen a more achievable word. But I'm carrying the challenge still today, and someday I know I will understand the idea of rest, at least in the biblical sense.
This year, I knew even before the New Year hit that I wanted to Lean In this year. But before I wrote about it I wanted to make sure I knew what I meant by this. What does it mean to lean in?
Leaning in--to your life, your personality, your relationships, your position in this universe--means to stop running away. It's directional.
And for me, this is almost as big a challenge as REST. Because I'm a dreamer, and I spend a lot of my life in my head. It's a good thing usually, don't get me wrong. I don't talk too much. I think before I speak...mostly. My prayer life is rich. When I read a book, I am completely immersed in the story, as if characters are my friends. I can think my way around most problems, projects, and situations before I've even started. There are lots of good things about being a dreamer.
But dreamers tend to not lean in. In fact, my coping method of choice is the complete opposite. I run. When stress hits, I use escapism to deal (or not deal) with it. I am able to withdraw from my life and into a book, or project, or hypothetical context that doesn't actually help me at all with my life. It's pulling a Scarlet O'Hara and saying, "I won't think about that today. I'll think about that tomorrow."
I'll give you some examples of leaning in.
1) I am not the most enthusiastic chef. I get into the habit of cooking the same thing over and over, because it is easy, or the kids don't hate it. More often than I like to admit, I panic at dinner time and call it sandwich night, or sometimes drive-thru night. (We have even had one or two ice-cream-for-dinner nights, but we were sneaky about it and code-named it salad night. Also known as, Don't Tell Dad Night.)
But the thing is, my role as Chief Meal-Preparer isn't changing any time soon. So why not embrace it? In the last month, Emma and I have started watching cooking shows on Saturday mornings and picking one or two recipes to try. We print them out and add them to a binder. We made ribs, y'all. And home-made barbecue sauce. When it comes to dinner, I'm trying to lean in.
2) We love our house, especially since it is right in the middle of the best neighborhood with the best neighbors, who we've loved on and invested in for the past 6 years. But sometimes this house, which we bought as a family of 4, feels much MUCH smaller now that we are a family of 6. And the kids and their stuff just keep getting bigger. The same space that used to store 6 pairs of Emma's shoes, can now store 2 pairs. But the truth is, without a great deal of Cosmic interference, we're not moving. So instead of escaping into my Zillow app, fantasizing about the next house, the bigger house, the house with the full acre and privacy fence, swimming pool, and room for a pony, I need to lean in to this house. Remember why I love it. Get rid of some stuff (AGAIN). Learn to live with even less. Paint my bedroom and kitchen, build a shelf for the dining room. There is so much that could be done to increase my contentment with our beautiful home.
**Realistically, I need to cut myself some slack here and say that I have been homeschooling for the past nine months, and checking my phone for real estate listings in between spelling tests is a little more reasonable that painting a room. But summer is here next week. And I'm toying with the idea of closing the shop for an extended time so that I can work on some creative home-making projects. Lean in.
3) Here's a hard one. Relationships. Whether it's a pushy friend, a day where the kids won't stop fighting, or hurt feelings in my marriage...it is so SO much easier to dive into a season of Parenthood on Netflix than deal with what's real. Because that might hurt. And the consequences of what is said, even with the most careful wording, might last way longer than I'm ready for. Besides, the Braverman's just get me.
Or, I can put on my big-girl pants and have the conversation. Because even if it goes way worse than I feared (and sometimes it does!) at least I didn't run away. Or put it off till Christmas. Lean In. Even to the really hard stuff.
Leaning in is a lot of work. It requires you to feel things fully and look for the source of pain, guilt, or discontent--root stuff out. Truthfully, progress has been kinda slow. But I'm noticing that accepting what I've been given--motherhood, a secure home, a loving family--and truly learning to be thankful for them, and careful with them might actually take less work in the long run. I'm willing to give it a try.
Do you have any mid-year resolutions? Do share!