I believe we learn more from our experiences when we take the time to reflect on them. Establishing a rhythm of reflection has been an incredible practice for my personal growth in every way and as I take a step back from my weekly rhythm and take a bigger look at the season as a whole, I'm convinced reflection is essential to move forward with intention.
This spring was kind of a blur and yet it felt like it lasted forever. For me, every week looked similar in the regard that I was at home (abiding by the stay at home orders) but looked vastly different in reference to what God was stirring inside of me. There's nothing quite like uncertainty to expose matters of the heart and though it'll take time to unpack it all, partial reflections matter.
So, here's a small list of things I learned this Spring, in no particular order:
1. How to say and make charcuterie...
I made a charcuterie board for our last small group session before the stay at home orders were in place. I couldn't have told you the name for it then, only what it looked like, but now I can say I know the proper term.
Charcuterie is by no means new, but it feels new to me, and I find a bit of joy in the simple art of saying it and putting it together.
It reminds me to notice the delight of ordinary things.
2. Incomplete thoughts are okay...
I am such a slow processor, especially when change happens quickly and continually. I wrestle with feeling behind which only results in more internal conflict and that's when the spin cycle begins. This makes me either shut down, or attempt to cope with the spinning by way of escape, rushing through, or numbing the confusion.
As the last few months have unfolded it has taken me a while to figure out what I actually feel or think, but instead of trying to figure it all out, I learned that its okay if my thoughts are incomplete and I learned how to give them words.
In my notes app or in my journal I gave them space with scribbles, half sentences, and messy paragraphs. It wasn't that writing them made them clear, but that writing them gave them a voice to be heard. A form of surrender for my mind and my heart, to let go and be in the tension.
3. A walk makes everything better...
I'm not even joking. I can't tell you how many walks I've taken already this spring and without fail, they always help reset my mind and my heart. Short ones, long ones, some with kids, but most without. They've become the most efficient way for me to get out of my own head, process how I'm feeling, calm down, find inspiration, or simply relax.
4. To look for the light...
"In the darkness, we can better distinguish a light. Perhaps in isolation, we can better distinguish community?"
I wrote that question in the notes app on my phone when the stay-at-home orders were first set in place back in March. And though I have seen a lot of ways we got it very wrong, I have also seen a lot of ways we got it right. Witnessing relationship, love, and connection in the absence of physical presence together was a light in the dark for me. I have never been more touched by the beauty of people than in the lack of getting to be with them.
5. Moving forward means taking imperfect steps...
It's the story of motherhood, for me.
The story of being a writer.
And the story of being a pastor's wife too.
Basically, I don't really know what I'm doing. But in each new season, as life continues to hurl challenges and wind down broken paths, I'm learning to keep stepping and to continue on in uncertainty. And it all looks very imperfect.
But, if I hesitated until I was ready to do anything, I would do absolutely nothing at all.
6. Family time doesn't need to be extra...
I once believed family time had to be something extra than ordinary. Having varying limitations with six kids has remedied that belief and I've since traded my list of ideas for the adventure of the already.
Someday, my kids will grow up and have fond memories of selecting a can of bubbly from the fridge for pizza and movie night as a family. A rhythm that already existed became the extra special without any of us realizing it was happening. It's nothing fancy, but it's something we all look forward to every week.
7. It's never too late to start again...
It has been well over a decade since I applied myself to learning the piano, but I recently started playing again and have found so much joy in revisiting something I forgot I loved.
Turns out, practicing something old can teach you something new. (Read more about that here)
8. Painting with kids can be fun...
When it comes to painting a room I tend to be a perfectionist. I also easily feel stressed about the potential of unrepairable messes.
I wasn't born this way, I learned it through my own mistakes.
Against my better judgment, my kids and I ventured to paint all the trim work and walls in our basement (a project I've wanted to do for five years and have put off out of dread). Well, it turns out that children are entirely capable to paint well, and working with them on a big project is actually quite fun. For a week straight we painted every day while listening to music and had a blast doing it. They laughed at my dance moves and I didn't yell when they spilled the paint.
9. Waffles are better without syrup...
There was a week straight I ate waffles every day for breakfast. Maybe not the healthiest of my food choices this spring, but I tried to justify it by eating them without syrup.
Turns out that waffles actually taste better that way. If you throw some berries on top and a dollop of coconut cream, that's all you need. Eating them is sort of like a dream.
Now just don't have them every day for breakfast like I did.
10. Sometimes rules need to be broken...
I have this decorating rule about putting furniture in front of windows---I don't think windows should ever be covered. However, we recently purchased a king-size bed and the only place it fits in our bedroom is in front of the window. And since I didn't want to diminish more of the natural light in our room we broke another one of my rules and got rid of our headboard.
Turns out, some rules need to be broken, because I love it. I have a perfect view of the stars from my pillow and often fall asleep looking at them. And with the window cracked to feel the evening breeze and hear the birds singing in the morning, it makes me feel like I'm sleeping outside with all the comforts of my room.
Now it's your turn. What is something you learned?