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I have been listening to Glennon Doyle’s new podcast: “We can do hard things.”
The conversations are like music to my soul. I feel like I am having a conversation with a friend, where we talk about things that matter. No bullsh*t. No pleasantries. Just real. It is so refreshing. If you haven’t already heard the podcast, I recommend listening.
A revelation came about while I was listening to an episode on self-care.
Someone called in to ask, how do you take care of yourself when you know what you need, but you can’t get it?
Being a teacher, he expressed how during the pandemic, teaching was beyond the capacity he could handle. He asked, what should he do?
As a mother, with an under-one-year-old, I felt the statement, “I know what I need but I can’t give it to myself.”
Need sleep? Need time alone? Need anything for yourself that takes longer than 35 seconds? No. None for you. While that is somewhat of an exaggeration, some days it feels all too accurate. However, Glennon’s response hit home for me.
She talked about the simple power of saying, not this.
She went on to describe that we don’t always have to know how to fix something to acknowledge when it is no longer working for us. Sometimes, not this, is enough to put us on the right path.
I have recently gone through a not this transition. Leaving a relationship of eight years was my not this. I had no vision of what else. I did not have a plan to make everything better. I just knew the relationship was no longer working.
I was sitting in a park on a beautiful Saturday morning, and the power of Glennon’s words came home for me. I go to this park because the energy is happy. There are markets nearby, and people are out in throngs to enjoy the sunshine and each other. There are usually lots of full, happy families (or so it looks from the outside).
I don’t fit into the “full, happy family” description, and sometimes that is like a knife to the heart. Some days, I look around and see the full, happy families and feel nothing but lack.
I feel guilty for my little boy because he doesn’t have a dad or grandparents to swing him around. I feel somewhat like a social pariah. I want to belong to the “full, happy family” club, but that isn’t me or us. What I realized, as I was sitting under the shade of a tall, wise tree (I swear trees give me their wisdom when I sit under them), was that in order to create a life for myself that is full with what I desire—I need to go through a not this phase.
Similar to a gardener who wants to plant a flower bed in an area covered in weeds, it is not enough to want a garden. They can’t just start planting flowers amongst the weeds. They have to say not this to the weeds. When they have weeded the garden bed, they can start to plant their flowers.
For a time, there may be bare earth. It is not going to be exciting to look at. They won’t have the fragrant flowers to enjoy. But there is a deeper satisfaction that comes from knowing what it was. They feel a sense of accomplishment, with their dirt stained hands and sore back, that they were able to clear the space.
They got rid of what was no longer working. They can stand back to appreciate, not the beauty of the dirt, but the beauty of the open space they have created; so something more beautiful can grow in its place.
That is exactly what I have done with my life.
I am standing back, looking at a bare field of dirt. Sometimes this can feel depressing, empty, blank.
It is easy to compare to the gardens next to mine, teeming with life and beauty. But a quote by Tim Hiller,“don’t compare your chapter one to another person’s chapter ten,” applies here.
Yes, I may be standing in front of a plot of bare dirt. But there is beauty in that as well, if you know where to look. If you zoom back, you will see the girl with dirt on her face, shovel in hand, and a presence that conquers the storm.