The Next Right Thing: Soulcare


Today, as I drove my daughter to summer daycare, I was dressed and ready for what has become a routine for me. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday–as best I can–I hit the gym in the early morning. During the week, I do so after I drop my girl off at daycare (I call it summer school with her) and the other days, when my husband is off work, I leave the two of them asleep and slip out before our day together has begun. I did not get the luxury of going to the gym and working out on my own hardly at all during the school year because of scheduling, location, etc. So, this summer, I determined to get that back. To work on regaining my strength and tone and generally doing something¬†just for me. And, for the most part, I’ve enjoyed it.

This week has been harder, however. The weekend ushered in a downswing in my emotions that has been hard to kick. Rationally, I acknowledge that the cause could be a combination of several different things that are physically beyond my control, but that doesn’t make it any easier to endure, does it? I have tried to go about my normal routine of working out, running errands, and taking care of some teacherly work (curriculum revisions for the new year), but, as I drove this morning, I found myself making a decision. Or, rather, I found myself asking a question, and this is what it was.

Does my soul need care more than my body does today?

In other words: is going to the gym what I need to do today or is the right thing to do something else?

As you know, my reflection focus for this year has been on doing the next right thing, taking just the next step. So I asked myself what was the next right thing for me today?

The overwhelming reply that filled me within was: “Soul care over body care today.”

That does not mean that I cannot or won’t still take care of my body. For me what that means is today is not a day to traipse myself out to the gym. Today, the next right thing was to come home, to stay in, to closet and care for me and my soul. So I came home, I opened up my laptop, and, in the quiet of my kitchen and solace of my earbuds, I listened to an episode of Emily P. Freeman’s The Next Right Thing podcast. Episode 36: “Stay in Today”. Sounds utterly perfect, right?

Oh-ho! But wait! It gets better.

This episode wasn’t anywhere near what I thought it was going to be. It wasn’t about staying in and closeting yourself for self care at all. Instead, what Emily talked about was infinitely more poignant and pointed for me today. She spoke about just this very topic: doing the next right thing. Just the next step, not a hundred more down the figurative road. During this episode, Emily stated something about herself with which I identify 100%:

“No one needs to tell me to make things complicated.”

Making things complicated is easy for me. As she listed off examples of how she manages to complicate things for herself, I might as well have been doing a hallelujah dance on the other end of the internet connection, because everything she does, I do, too. As I stated in my first blog post of this year, I am not good at sticking to limitations. I am not good at just taking one step. If I don’t actually take a few more, just in case, my brain will certainly precede my feet there. I can imagine a whole year down the road and feel guilty about not accomplishing things that I haven’t even attempted yet. I can think myself into tears over an imagined conversation where a pretend person states fictional disappointment in me, my work, my mothering, etc. I am not good at taking just the next step, doing just the next thing.

But today I am going to try, starting with sitting in the quiet and listening to that God-appointed podcast (really, His timing and leading were perfect). Then writing this blog post.

Today, I want to tenderly hold, fill up, and care for my soul as well as my body, because I cannot live without either.

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A Greatness I Never Expected


Now that I have had a few minutes to sit and breathe, I think I am ready to talk about this. This past Friday, I did something completely new. This past Friday, I did something terrifying. This past Friday, I did something I felt wholly unqualified to do. But I did it anyway.

This past Friday, I stood up in the church and community that I grew up in and spoke to the 2016 graduating class of my old private school. I stood up almost on the same spot where, sixteen years ago, I had given the valedictorian address for the graduating class of 2000. At thirty-three years old, I stood up to give these graduates whatever guidance, admonishment, and encouragement I could.

Yep. I felt totally unqualified to perform this task, but I did it anyway. Let me start at the beginning.

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A Long Way from Home – Day 6: What Am I Waiting For?


Highlights from my morning reading: 

Simply Tuesday, Chapter 5: “Success and Envy”, by Emily P. Freeman:

“True smallness is an invitation to live as I was meant to live, to accept my humanity, and to offer my ability and my inability, my sin and my success, my messes and my masterpieces into the hands of God.” – pg 94

“What is good for my inner health is often frustrating for my work [as a hard worker who is also a slow processor].” – pg 95

“The soul and the schedule don’t follow the same rules.” – pg 95

“I cannot wait for the world to stop to embrace my permission for slow.” – pg 96

“And here’s to not letting our slowness boss us. Embrace it and learn it, but don’t force perfection. Let slow do what slow does best: nourish, strengthen, and hold.” – pg 97

= = = =

When  I read the bolded statement above, I gave a little mental wince, as if I had been caught out. And I was in a way. This is what I have been doing, is it? Waiting for the world to stop, or to at least pause a little, so I can embrace slow for my soul and take some rest. Something this week is teaching me is that I cannot wait around for someone to offer to slow my world down for me, to give me a chance to rest and care for myself. I have to take the initiative, ask for the help, and slow down when I need to slow down.

My weariness is catching up with me. I can truly feel it today, the tiredness sitting heavily on me, urging me to just stay in bed and sleep, sleep, sleep. Unfortunately, that’s not entirely possible with a three-year-old child and grandparents with their own schedules and engagements to keep. So I have done my best today to occupy my daughter with her own self-activities in between play time and meals so that I can rest as much as I can. It’s been a good day.

The days are winding down and soon I will be home but I will do my best to make the best of these days, to slow and rest and to listen and come away when my heart and soul feel called.

A Long Way From Home – Day 5: Taking Care of Me


Total honesty right now: the thought of this trip honestly terrified me for the better part of a month. Ten days away from home, sans my husband, my partner, my helpmeet? But, while I miss him deeply and dearly, I have made a discovery this week. Well, a re-discovery.

Self-care feels amazing! I am a better me when I do it, when I take care of me.

I have taken time every day so far this week to do something just for me. Something that I want or feel called to do. Whether it’s to take a walk, sing, sleep, write, read, script emails or letters, whatever. And it feels just grand! It has been a long while since I cared for myself, despite the many, many, MANY admonitions and insistences of loved ones. It is not for lack of support or help but usually out of a stubborn inner-thought that I need to handle this by myself, pull my weight, that I need to take care of everyone. This became starkly apparent to me when, on a Sunday morning, as I rushed through combing my hair for church as my husband was putting our daughter into her car seat for us to leave, I had a brutally honest thought:

I take care of myself the least.

It has reverberated back through my mind over the past few weeks. I’m not saying it to brag or to make it a point of pride. It’s the way I am, for the most part. The way I have always been. But this week is reminding me of the importance of self-care and the lessons that I have learned from such women as Jessica Turner (The Fringe Hours), Lysa TerKeurst (Unglued), and Emily P. Freeman (Simply Tuesday) about embracing the small moments and giving myself time to recoup and replenish. After all, you cannot pour from an empty cup.

Self-care not only refreshes me physically and helps to balance me emotionally and mentally, but I also find myself more spiritually attuned, more ready to sit and listen for and hear and see God in the everyday, in the small moments, and the fringe hours hidden within each day. That is just amazing and uplifting and challenging all at the same time. I am hoping that and working to make this a habit for when I return home, to my everyday Tuesdays. That I will continue to take time for self-care and soul refreshing/replenishment. It really does do wonders!

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