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About Crystal

Crystal Ellefsen lives in San Diego with her husband and son, where she writes, works, explores, thinks, drinks coffee, writes, makes videos, paints, doodles, sings, and writes some more. Until recently, she published here and elsewhere as Crystal Hadidian, the 'single parenting contributor' around these parts.

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Starting at zero

I just got married, folks! And so far, my first two months of not being a single mom have been jaw-dropping. To be honest, I’m still a little in shock to be experiencing daily help, support and burden-sharing.

But, I’ll save all that awe and savoring the exchange of love for another time. I’m going to let it soak in some more before I attempt to say something public about my transition from single parenting to a blended family.

Starting at Zero

Today, I want to talk about starting at zero. A new year is always a natural time to rethink your habits, routines and priorities, but getting married and moving create an entirely new book in life, not just a new chapter.

It has been wonderful to have such a big life shift because it’s a fresh slate to make choices about my life, instead of just continue in unhealthy or unintentional habits.

My husband and I have determined that in our first year as a family, we want to start off creating good habits that will continue the rest of our lives.

To be very honest, only weeks after the wedding, I started to heap all these crazy expectations on myself. It was as if not having that single mom status meant I would suddenly have the capacity to add a thousand extra things to my to do list.

Thankfully, that crazy-talk in my head was short lived. That life of being over-committed, frazzled and exhausted is not what I want. It’s not the example I want to set for my son about how to live and it’s not the way I actually want to live.

grey-family-drawing

Single Parent to Productivity Machine?

I didn’t get married so I could accomplish more. Productivity was certainly not on the list of reasons. At. All.

I got married to share life with my best friend. Life. Share life. And sometimes there will be busier seasons. We know that.

But, as much as possible, we are trying to be intentional to not have a schedule that results in just rushing from one thing to the next, checking people off a list instead of being fully present with them.

And it’s not just about time being with other people. It’s also about planning to have unplanned time alone and together. It’s about making sure that not every second of our lives are scheduled.

Don't overschedule your life. | TheArtofSimple.net

Choices, Not Assumptions

For me, I like the idea of starting at zero. Choosing the absolute essentials and then making intentional choices about every single commitment and responsibility in my life. I am a creative visionary who gets things done. This can occasionally lead to… shall we say… having too many projects and commitments on my plate.

The absolute basics for me are my family and my job. For me, that is starting at zero. I love my family and want to invest in them and enjoy them, especially in this big transition.

My job isn’t optional because we need the income, but I also value working hard and contributing there to the absolute best of my ability. I want to continue to improve my experience and output at work with intention and care, improving work-related habits to reduce stress and increase quality. (I didn’t put God on that list, because for me, He is somewhere before that zero, not on equal playing field with any other role or responsibility.)

After my family and the responsibilities of my job, everything else is a choice, not an assumption. I have been reviewing everything I’m involved with, from volunteering at my church to even being a contributor on this blog, and making a conscious choice about whether that activity is right for this season of life.

Just because something is a good opportunity doesn’t mean you have to do it.

If you haven’t checked out Tsh’s book, I highly recommend it. Genuinely recommend it. And not just because I have the privilege of being a part of the community of voices here. I think she has articulated something in Notes from a Blue Bike that will be the next major cultural shift in our country and it’s refreshing to hear her personal stories about what that transition looked like the Oxenrieder family.

For years I have been craving a life of intention instead of survival. Sometimes circumstances make survival the only option for a while. Trust me. I know that all too well. Sometimes you do the best you can, recognize what you can’t control, and trust that things won’t always be that hard.

But, then there are seasons in life where you can start at zero and decide what actually matters without busyness being default.

For me, starting at zero means this:

1) Family
2) Job

On top of that, I’ve chosen to intentionally limit my creative side projects this year, keeping the focus on writing here and my Art of Forgiveness project. There’s a few other important commitments I’m making or keeping, but it’s intentional and limited.

What does starting at zero mean for you?

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