Here’s one thing I’ve noticed since I’ve been back from my summer Internet break: there’s a lot of talk right now about being rather than doing. Some of the smartest people I love to read are encouraging us to remember that life isn’t always about doing, doing, doing. And that who we are doesn’t equal what we do. To that, I raise my glass and say a hearty amen.
But here’s the weird thing about me. After taking a much-needed break and reading a few solid books, I get motivated to do the whole being-over-doing business. And so I go hog wild setting up systems in my life to be. I roll up my sleeves and declutter my wardrobe like a madwoman to make sure I’m not spending too much time dealing with clothes I don’t love. I call our kids’ school to let them know we’re going back to homeschooling so that we can better claim our time as our own, and then I spend long waking hours planning for the school year. I reclaim my commitment to read books that encourage simple living—to being and not just doing—and then I spend late night hours filling my wish list on Amazon.
I start doing, in other words. In order to be. Oh, the irony.
I don’t know if it’s my highly-autonomous personality or what (I’m an INTJ), but once I decide something, I am focused and determined and gung-ho about that thing until I feel like it’s done. When there’ s a new season rolling around (typically a new year or the start of a new school year), I get all jazzed about starting off with a bang. And then I ultimately try to do too much. Which leads me to burnout and discouragement. And then vain attempts to try and tweak the system, until I realize that oh yeah, I’m not allowing enough margin in my life to just be.
So I take a break. And then I re-remember the whole being-over-doing thing, which gets me excited, which leads to my over zealous tendencies again. And on and on the cycle goes.
I’ve been back from my break for a little over a week now, and here’s how things will be different for me this time: I’m going to ease in to things. I’m going to approach this whole living well thing as though it’s a journey and not a destination, because well, it is.
Practically speaking, it looks like this for us right now:
• We’ve got house projects waiting for us, but the Pacific Northwest summer doesn’t linger forever. So we’re going to spend more time this month canoeing and camping, and leave the stairs-painting business until the fall.
• We’re going to homeschool again, but instead of pushing out of the school-year gate with a bang, we’re starting with this: reading, writing, and math. That’s all. And once we get that groove, then we’ll ease in with some history and science, and then maybe a little art and music later. I know from experience that if I try and do everything at once, like I’m tempted to do, I’ll hate life by November.
• My knee is officially getting better (I tore my ACL in February and had surgery in March), so I’ve been given a green light for easy exercise. My body wants to start running miles. But I’ll hurt myself and will probably get discouraged at my pathetic run time, so instead, right now I’m focusing on daily walks and low-key hikes. The running will come.
I’m all about the being over doing, but I can’t do be. If that makes any sense. I can be be, and I can do do (cue the Chandler jokes), but I know I’ll get discouraged if I overcommit my fall, even with the best of intentions. I can still be my party animal planning self, but without overdoing it. I’m going to learn from my break, and still live like the journey is just as enjoyable as the destination.
Because it is.
What are some ways you’re going to ease in to your goals and projects this fall?