This birthday has been the best, thanks to my Justin.
Here’s the deal… (as Ella would say, which she got from Justin)
One of the things I’m horrible at doing is maximizing down time. It wasn’t until marriage, 7.5 years ago, that I realized the importance of mapping out vacation plans (not just location but activities), not working at all when on vacation (unless critical), not cramming so much into Saturday nights (laundry can wait! Watch the movie in peace. No pseudo-multitasking for once!), and other good quality-of-life details.
No, Justin didn’t give me a pep talk on any of these nor did he send me passive aggressive hints—not talking about it all but texting links to magazine articles on creating a healthier existence. He has modeled it.
He works hard. He works well. And then he plays. Sometimes he washes dishes while watching the Winter Olympics. He gets on the floor with our girls, raising them into the air on his feet while lying on his back. They love being little airplanes. He’s the reason we play hide and seek almost nightly. His latest win is pretending to call Papa Johns and asking if they have random ridiculous toppings like dirty diapers. Ella LOVES his antics and asks for more.
He’s not always stress free but he has taught me to value my time, family time, and work time.
For years, just about every work project had a deadline to the tune of “This should have been done two years ago even though no one asked for it and even though I can’t do this on my own nor can I complete it soon…and I’m a failure.” It’s a terrible tune but I sang it over and over and over again. Around November/December 2016, I could feel myself burning out. I wasn’t able to name it as such right away. I was pouring a lot of mental energy into trying to reconfigure work-home balance, actualize work dreams, and, in the meantime, take care of what was actually current and necessary. I was getting better at distinguishing between necessary and “simply a great idea” but still had a lot that I was processing. My vision was clouding.
As 2016 rolled into 2017, I was very pregnant and contemplating ways to revitalize my vision. I didn’t want my then 2 year old and the baby within me to grow up into who I was at that moment—a frustrated workaholic. My word for 2017 was “Change”—something had to change. I was desperate but I wasn’t going to do anything drastic like making a huge life change while hormones are raging through my body. I knew the change had to begin with my thought process, my sense of worth, purpose. I wasn’t about to quit my job. I wasn’t about to consider moving. I needed a clear head.
As the year progressed, I still found myself trying to do too much—it’s a very hard habit to break. But again, I desired change. I started asking myself how I wanted to end the day. “By the time you go to bed, what do you most want to have accomplished? By the time you go to bed, what unfinished business will frustrate you the most? By the time you go to bed, what’s that one thing you’ll regret not making time for?” I don’t remember where this idea came from but I thank God for it.
This morning, four months after moving to a new city and starting a new job, I began to stress out about how I was going to spend the day. Today’s my birthday. I’m now 39. After a rough night of sleep (kids!), I didn’t think spending the morning writing (a favorite pastime) in a local coffee shop (a favorite location) would be the smartest idea. I’d surely fall asleep. If I managed to stay awake, my prose would surely stink. But I wanted to be in a favorite zone. I also wanted a few other things and wasn’t sure how to piece them all together in one day. I also knew that I couldn’t take the whole day off nor did I want to. But I was growing frustrated with my perfectionism-induced indecision.
That is, until I did two things. I asked God to help me figure it out and I thought about how I wanted to end the day. And as I now wrap up the day, trying to type my happiness into the record books before sleep overwhelms me, I feel so good. I’m learning to play. Thank you, Justin.