How to Get Yourself Back

I am a conflicted human being. I value knowledge and productivity, people and noise and creatives, new ideas and getting things done. I also enjoy rest, quiet aloneness, and sleep. Something funny happens during the days though. All the busy makes me forget how much I love silence. So I get up and go with the sun’s wake up, but run out of steam long after it’s bed time. Well, not every day, but most days. Let’s pick a Tuesday or a Wednesday.

  • 6am: Wake up. Hit the snooze too many times.
  • 6:40: Get out of bed with 15 minutes to get ready.
  • 7: Meet the carpool. 
  • 7:30-6pm: Working working.
  • 6:45pm: Home for a minute. Load the toddler into the car and something with protein into my mouth.
  • 7pm: Go to a meeting or a group or a session of some kind.
  • 9:00pm: Home for the night.
  • 9:30pm: Goodnight, little buddy.
  • 9:45pm: Catch up with roommates.
  • 10:00pm: Catch up with husband.
  • 10:30pm: Writing, reading.
  • 11:00pm: Thinking about sleeping.
  • 11:30pm: Asleep.

So you can see how this routine would get a little exhausting. I am very fortunate as this is my schedule only four of seven days. The other three look radically different, more flexible, with travel time, leisure and creative time, play time, face time with people I like, time to clean a bathroom, call a mother. I am so thankful for these days. Of course, they also involve church gatherings, trainings and workshops, planning sessions, lunches, late nights with friends and roommates, all the while dreaming up new things for Manhattan, theWELL and the world. 

Exhilarating. Hard to take a breath. So even when it’s all going great, it still takes all the energy I have to keep it moving. The tragic part is, sometimes I get the sense that I can’t control my life. That my schedule isn’t in my hands anymore. It’s not true, but it feels this way. 


I’m learning to draw lines around my time and my possessions, my advice, my presence, my companions – not all things are equal. But it’s taken me so long to get here.


Tonight Josh said something he says whenever he thinks of it. “Why I don’t I keep John with me tonight, and you can just go somewhere.” It sounds so nice. But I am skeptical. 
    Will there be enough time for me to clean up the wreckage of my brain? 
    Can I dust out the cobwebs, regain my sense of self and hear God in 120 minutes? 
    It’s not enough time, my Panic shrieks, wringing its hands, swooping in to steal the precious time I do have. 


I reminded my Panic that I don’t need 120 minutes to solve all the problems in the world. This is not my only night to figure life out. Getting away for any amount of time will do me good.


Oh. Right. 


I changed into clothes that would be comfortable perched next to a lake or on a patio and away I went. I took the back roads near our house, the roads lined with yellowing rows of corn, in which hover enormous but graceful, spider-like sprinklers. I feel like I’m smack dab in suburbia most days, but I’m so close to country, to farms and barns and vast expanses of sky. 


And my favorite part about living out here: the proximity to several peaceful bodies of water. Tonight I made my way to Tuttle Creek, just in time for the sunset. The two-lane roads dove and swooped through the green hills along the periphery of the lake. I shimmied along, getting a glimpse of sky and then, a glimpse of the water, my view changing every few seconds. It was delightful.


I wanted to get to the water so badly, but I realized, even the drive was healing. The space between me and the small, tiny things I call problems. It took only 30 minutes or so to regain perspective. 

[Tuttle Creek at sunset, iPhone, no editing]

I camped myself along a high bank near the southeast end of the lake. The crickets chirped an evening song, serenading the sun as it slid down the horizon, leaving a brighter and brighter sky behind in its wake. I wanted to take the moments home with me, to remind myself of how close this beauty is, only a ten-minute drive from the place I call home. So I did. But I’ll get to that in a minute. 


My lesson for tonight: getting yourself back is simple. It takes only the slightest bit of intentionality and a little planning. 


Knowing what I love, what brings me back to me and God, is key. It’s nature almost always. 

I scribbled down plans to do this again soon. Here they are:

Things to do to get alone:
1. An hour drive outside of town
2. Borrow Josh’s office for an hour
3. Spend a couple hours at a local body of water or hiking ground
     
Make it happen by:
1. Scheduling time ahead with Josh
2. Getting a babysitter for John
3. Getting up early before the day gets going

Yes, it really is that simple. There are so many beautiful places to go, places with silence, nature and God, just waiting to be discovered, to be heard, to be enjoyed. And it was easy to uncover my soul, to breathe a little easier, a little lighter. 

Every mom, everyone needs time for this. Whatever it looks like for you. There are no excuses left when God is this close and it only takes an hour to reconnect. 
A little treat for you: 

I captured the setting sun, the bright colors in the dimming sky, sounds of nature singing, the water lapping, birds and crickets chiming in. You can hear and see what I saw here if you want. All images were taken on my iPhone, totally unedited, except for a little crop I made on the second one so it would match the horizons of the other photos better. But all the beauty is natural, and even a 5 megapixel phone can see. 


[A couple viewing tips: turn up your volume so you can hear it all – you have to listen close to hear the water, but it’s there. Now imagine you’re here too.]





And the night ended like this:


[This is low quality, but you can see the enjoyment, the ME I got back. Sitting on a patio, drinking root beer, eating chips and salsa, remembering all I have to be thankful for.] 


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