Finding Calm after the Jump

Grateful for the adventure of the jump, anxiety-inducing and nerve-racking as it may be. When all's said and done, I wouldn't want to live life any other way.

Anxiety has been brewing inside me. Like the time I stood on a rock cliff staring down at the water more than 30 feet below. It's the classic choice of giving into anxiety and stumbling back down the path that got me here, or not letting anxiety boss me around and jumping anyway.

When the choice was about a literal jump off a literal cliff into literal water, nerves and fear twisted my stomach in knots and grew louder in my ears the longer I stood there. Still, standing there "forever" really turned out to be just a couple minutes, I could see the water I would be landing in, and after jumping it was all over in the matter of seconds.

My nerves settled just as soon as I jumped, and I was full of equal parts pride and relief to have made the jump. That settling of nerves is exactly what I've been waiting for over the last few years, and just haven't been able to find. Until recently.

It started when my middle kid went to kindergarten. This mom of three grew accustomed to chaos over my years of motherhood with my passionate kids. My oldest two now spent most the day in school, and the house became strangely quiet with just me and my toddler at home.

You'd think I'd love the break in the chaos, and I kind of did. Yet, along with the quiet came an unnerving sense of alarm. I'd spent years lost in my purpose at home and feeling like these needy babies would never not need me. Now here I was sobered by the reality of how quickly my 9- and 6-year-olds were moving on and that I hadn't spent enough, or any, time preparing for that.

I became more and more uncertain of my future; my identity and purpose were now all wrapped up in home and my kids. Fear twisted my stomach in knots and grew louder in my ears the longer I wondered what was next for me after almost a decade of being stay-at-home-mom.

Over the last couple months especially, as I looked into a specific job opportunity, I felt like I was standing at that cliff edge all over again. I felt a strong urge to jump, to quickly leap from my life as stay-at-home-mom into the working world. But jumping in life is often a much slower process. I worked on my resume, I did the interview, I even got the job. Each step my nerves only grew, fueling my urge to jump.

That's when I realized it was the landing, not the jumping, that held the release of nerves and anxiety I longed for. So as I went through the stages of the jump, I had only to wait in the uncertainty for the landing.

That's where I am now. I landed. I jumped from the life I've known for 10 years as a stay-at-home-mom into a new reality as a working mom. And I am full of equal parts pride and relief to have made this jump.

There is still plenty I'm figuring out for my future (like learning my new job). I'm also still in the middle of processing and reflecting on the decade of mothering young kids that I'm leaving behind. I'm sure that nostalgia will really hit me when our baby goes to kindergarten this fall.

But for now, I'm just so incredibly grateful. For the years of financial sacrifice that have granted me the privilege of being fulltime childcare provider for my kids through their little years. For countless precious memories that far outweigh all of the challenges. For incredible lessons and growth that only comes in thriving through hard things.

For the adventure of the jump, anxiety-inducing and nerve-racking as it may be.

When all's said and done, I wouldn't want to live life any other way.


also see:
new? start here...
where life happens
returning home to myself
grow your life emails

Where LIFE Happens

Consider what gives you LIFE, and make space for it.

What gives you LIFE?

In the fall, I got a new journal with green leaves etched over a black background and gold foil script on the front. The simple cover of that journal brought me so much life at a time when I desperately wanted more LIFE. The important kind written in big letters with vibrant lines drawn around it.

Life not just for the sake of surface level happiness. But for the sake of deep healing joy; of stepping wholly into the beautiful person God created me to be; of celebrating when others step in to who God created them to be; of living this wild and precious life with deep faith and trust covered in deep peace, contentment, and gratitude.

For the sake of being able to take a deep breath and just know that I am whole and wholly loved, not for anything I've done but for simply being in the One who made me who I am.

Sounds lovely, right?

I thought so.

The day-to-day logistics of living with more LIFE can trip me up if I'm not intentional. I know because I've been there many times before. I'll go through my days feeling little glimmers of a spark of life in me, but it disappears just as quickly as it came.

During a fog in my life that kept diffusing these sparks, a friend sent me a beautiful little strip of birch bark. All dried out, it makes the perfect kindling for a fire. In her note she wrote something along the lines of "that song that says 'it only takes a spark to get a fire going' is crap. It takes more than a spark. It also takes plenty of kindling for that spark to land on, and friction to create the spark, and logs to fuel the fire, etc."

I have that piece of birch on my bulletin board as my reminder to not settle for fleeting sparks of life. I need to fuel the fire of my life with the things that set a fire in me. I can't keep warm or cook a meal over a spark... I need to fuel that spark until it becomes a full on flame. And I can't grow a happy and healthy LIFE unless I'm nurturing the literal life that's already in me.

It's taken a variety of things to get to this point where I feel like I'm getting through the fog and really feeling more fully alive. One thing that has helped is asking what gives me LIFE, then making time for those things.

For me it's being in nature, new adventures however simple, updating a space in my home, meaningful connections, and sometimes just plain ol' checking off my to-do lists and feeling like a competent adult.

It truly is the simple things of life that are some of the most life-giving and meaningful. I updated my room in really simple ways, and it still makes me smile and brings me LIFE. I breathe in fresh air as I read on the porch and I'm fueled with LIFE into the next morning. I cheer on my child learning to ride his new bike, and LIFE glows from us both.

Where LIFE Happens

What gives you LIFE?

If you're not sure, here are some places to start...

1. Take a deep breath.

The simple practice of deep breathing is mentioned in every sort of advice on meditating, refocusing, destressing, healing, and energizing for a reason--breathing gives us literal life. This has been the case since we were created when God breathed "the breath of life" into the first humans (Gen. 2:7). Science backs up the healing work of oxygen, but more than that I like to think every intentional deep breath I take repeats what God did in that first breath He breathed--literal life flowing through me. Simple yet life-giving, isn't it?

2. Choose good and true words.

The words we think in our own minds matter just as much as the words we say out loud. We don't always see it this way, but negativity toward ourselves, others, or life is a lie clothed in "full honesty" or "a realistic perspective"--it robs our abundant life (Jn. 10:10). Wise words promote health, and counselors of peace have joy (Prov. 12:17-22). Are those things true of the words repeating in our heads or slipping through our lips? Death and life are in the power of the tongue (Prov. 18:21). If we had to choose, which category do our thoughts and words fall in? Worried thoughts cause depression; but good and true words bring deep healing gladness to our hearts (Prov. 12:25). Are your words life-negating or life-giving?

3. Read Truth.

The Word of God is living and active (Heb. 4:12); all scripture is breathed out by God (2 Tim. 3:16). Much like the breath of God still alive in our breath, I like to think of God's Word being alive and active in my life each time I read or meditate on it. Additionally, when we need a way to push out the negativity and the lies, reading and repeating God's truth is a perfect antidote.

4. Show love.

Jesus came that we might live through Him in love (1 Jn. 4:7-11) and have his light in us (Jn. 8:12). Acting in love and doing kind things--for our family, our friends, our neighbors, people we don't know--is a perfect way to experience LIFE more fully. Maybe even especially when we're not feeling it, there's something to a little doing into the feeling. There's nothing better than to be joyful and do good (Ecc. 3:12). It's a great reminder that people really are what life is all about.

5. Work with your hands.

The simple acts of making a meal, baking, washing the dishes, gardening, or creating something is all the more important in our heavily tech-centered lives. While technology can be tools for fuller more meaningful lives (looking up a recipe, learning a new hobby, making plans with a friend), the actual LIFE happens away from the computer, phone, or TV. What can you do throughout each day to make sure you're leading a quiet life, minding your own business, and working with your hands (1 Thess. 4:11)?

6. Go outside.

When I need a reset in life, I often have to go back to its source--nature. Where trees, plants, grass, and flowers grow with what they were given at creation and no extra effort of their own. It's outside that I remember that this world goes round out of my control, and my life does the same. Just as good things are growing under the mulch down in the dirt with the worms, so is good growing even in the darkness of life. And just as the sun always shows up even behind the clouds, I can be certain God always shows up even when I'm not certain He's there.

I am deeply thankful. For this gift of LIFE, for people to share it with, and for the gift of kindling when I need it most.

Consider what gives you LIFE, and make space for it.


also see:

Nurturing Your Creative Life

Ways to nurture creativity and in turn be revived by a creative life.

"I have a lot of energy and I don't want to waste it."

My 4-year-old had just asked if he could help me fold the laundry. I wasn't quite to the point where I could use his help, so I was making him wait. That's when he told me about his excess energy that needed to be put to good use.

He ran off and played for a bit, and returned inquiring again if I needed his help yet. I said no, not yet, but I was glad he found something to do.

"Yeah." He said. "But this isn't wasting my energy--it's refueling it."

I chuckled, then thought more about that wise statement.

Maybe I can't relate to having a lot of energy, but I can certainly relate to how certain activities refuel my energy and others deplete it. Chores deplete my energy. But writing and making use of the creative pull inside me? Definitely refuels and even revives me.

We all have activities that refuel us, and I think most of us have some kind of art or creativity we tap into for that refueling. Following are some ways to nurture that creativity and in turn be revived by it...

Affiliate links used; see full note below.*

Adjust your definitions.

Until I was in my 20s, I had an image in my mind of creativity, art, writing, and I was not it. It took some expanding of the stereotypes I understood for me to realize: I am creative, I create art of sorts, and more specifically, I am a writer. I've read from people wiser than me that as children of God made in His creator image, we are all creatives and we all create art in our lives. And I agree. The sooner you expand your definitions to include your version of creating art in your life, the sooner you can get to sharing your gifts, your self, and God's image in you with the world.

Surround yourself with people who get your unique struggles.

I had to keep myself from typing "like-minded." The point with this sort of intentional connecting with others isn't necessarily about similar beliefs or ways of seeing the world--except in the constructs of being a creative. The point is take whatever challenges you have with being a creative, and find peers who get it. What areas of your art do your close friends and family not relate? Which language of your creative pursuits do they not understand? Those are the people to go find to fill your need for connection around creating. I'm a part of a mastermind group, a local blogger's group, and a Facebook writer's group; we meet on Google hangouts, in person, and in Facebook comments or direct messages. Each of these places get the unique language, challenges, and joys behind blogging, social media, branding and design, writing, and the inner pull to create.

Become a reader.

This comes up in just about every one of my posts. I spent far too long making excuses for not reading books regularly, and my life is far better now that I make reading part of my daily routine. When it comes to your creative life, there is so much great encouragement, inspiration, and wisdom found in books. The War of Art, Big Magic, and A Million Little Ways are just a few on a life of art and creativity in general. When it comes to writing, Bird by Bird, The Writing Life, and You are a Writer are some of my favorites.

Make creativity a lifestyle.

Always be working on something for yourself. It doesn't have to be a paid project or something shared for praise. Just schedule in that time regularly (daily if you can, otherwise weekly) to put into your creative outlet, whatever it might be. Pick up your paint brush, that needle and thread, the pen, that gardening shovel, whatever your artistic tool might be. Let the practice revive you.

Know your why.

What keeps you at your art? Maybe you hope to make it part of your career, or maybe it's purely a hobby. As you refine your craft, don't let others determine your value. Knowing why you do it can help you keep at it even if you get crickets or critique in exchange for sharing your work.

Diversify your income.

You might get to or be at a point when you want to pursue a creative endeavor as a means to an income. There is nothing wrong with that. Just don't rule out a day job or a variety of sources of income to take some of the pressure off your art.

Be up for an adventure, and do it scared.

Even pros in any given craft have self-doubts. Decide to do it anyway. Experiment, give new things a chance, and see what happens next. You'll never know if you never try.

As long as you're still breathing, it's not too late to find your inner creative and share it with the world, and refuel in the process.


also see:
new? start here...
5 ways to get inspired
grow your life emails

*Note: Affiliate links used in this post. Purchases made through these links could earn me a small commission with no extra cost to the purchaser. This is a little known way to support the writers, bloggers, and online creatives you love. If you choose to do that here, thank you!