Surviving vs Thriving

Screen Shot 2015-05-05 at 1.19.05 PM A while ago I went to a conference where the goal was to learn to work from a place of rest rather than merely resting from our work. As someone who tends to go, go, go until I literally cannot, I found this intriguing. In a more applicable aspect to my life, what this meant to me was instead of always striving to make more money, I could learn to find more fulfilling activities which would, in turn, make more room for joy, love and The Things That Really Matter (even though I’m not completely certain what those Things are.)

I didn’t really get that information at the conference but I have been sitting on it and determining what this means for me. The one takeaway I had that weekend was my craft business took more time and energy than I received. I’m a person who likes to make things – A LOT of things. But recently my hands have been hurting and I’ve been unable to do the things I do. Plus it got all caught up with obligation to make things I don’t necessarily like to make. I look at my yarn stash and think of all the things I wanted to make for me, but can’t because I’ve got about 2 dozen projects for others to get to first. And those things keep getting messed up. One knitting project has been frogged so many times I’m no longer sure I know how to knit anymore! Anyway, I decided to let the craft business falter for now. Maybe in the future I will pick it up again. Or, maybe not.

I was using my craft business as a way to survive. The first craft show I did as a new knitter (I just kept making hats and purses!) was out of the abundance of my play. I made about $300 (which was really good! I had only a 3′ square table to display on!) and people were excited about my product. Over the years I’ve made as little as $3 at the very same show. Once it became an obligation, give the people what they want rather than give the people what I love, the fervor died off.  Some people can do it – gather the trend information and create what is current and sell it by the bucket. That is not me. I need to infuse myself into a project because my best work appeals to only certain people.

But I’m not writing this post today because of my craft business. By letting go of the business I was able to make room for something else. Writing has become increasingly important to me. I used to think I was a failure because I wasn’t a 22 year old star writer like (insert name here). I used to wonder why I was still struggling with this notion, why I was not seeing myself move forward in this goal. But guess what? I was. I was still writing, sporadically, yes, but still writing. And living. I was definitely living. The whole good, bad and ugly of life was constantly at my doorstep.

So, about that working from a place of rest thing? I think we do a lot of right things for the wrong reasons. We sign up for the bake sale because we don’t want the other moms to think less of us. We take on extra projects at work so the boss can see how competent we are and give us a raise. We say yes to things we should say no to because we’re afraid that it won’t get done right otherwise.  We don’t ask for help because we don’t want to admit that we can’t do it all alone. We trudge forward cloaked in obligation and self-sacrifice waiting for someone to intuit that we are over-committed and not ask us to do more than we can bear, all the while building up a grudge because we haven’t claimed our own rest, simply for the fact we do not believe we are worthy of it. And that legacy of “do it all, despite yourself” gets passed on from generation to generation. We HAVE to MAKE room for rest.

To work from a place of rest starts from these personal acknowledgements:

  1. I am valuable – if I believe I have no value, how can produce valuable things (like children? Ouch!) What I’m saying here is if parents don’t claim their self-worth, how are their children going to claim theirs?
  2. I am allowed to say no – I have found when I say no to something, other women think I am joking. It is because women typically will say yes to things because they think they should, not because they want to. My saying no does not devalue me, in fact, it adds more value to my yes.
  3. Self-care is not selfish – nor is it merely maintenance. Self-care is taking care of all the aspects of you so that you can pour more of yourself into others. If I’m helping you put on a production but I am tired and hate the work, my assistance is tinged with bitterness and resentment that is unhealthy for all who are involved with me.
  4. Giving yourself permission to say no is not the same as bowing out of all the things you find unpleasant – you have to learn to say no to the things you can. If they need help cleaning the church kitchen and there are only 2 of you, you should probably say yes. If there are 30 people, you can safely say no and walk away. If you’re the only one who knows Power Point and your boss needs a presentation in an hour, say yes. And ask for help. Practicing your “no” will give you discernment and allow you to better direct your energy.
  5. Don’t be afraid of what people think – people are fickle. They will think badly of you for any host of reasons you cannot control. As long as you are kind-hearted and truthful you shouldn’t be worried about what they are thinking. And face it, according to what I see portrayed in media, a good part of the world thinks the Kardashians are valuable, contributing members of society, soooooo….do you really want to pander to that common denominator?
  6. Take a minute – not sure whether to volunteer for the school bake sale? Ask for a day or two to make your decision. If they press for an answer right then, say no. If they aren’t willing to give you the time to gather your thoughts before committing, it is safe to say working on that project will be more of a hassle than it’s worth. The kids will still get their band uniforms or whatever if you don’t make cupcakes.

If you embrace these acknowledgements you are on the way to making more room for rest in your life. You will be more enthused about the projects you take on and your energy will spread. In the end you will be more productive, more fulfilled and you will have made room in your life for any little surprises God wants to throw your way. (If you don’t believe in God, just ignore that last sentence – it’s still sound advice.)

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