I turned 40 this summer and honestly, 40 feels great. It offers all sorts of permissions to be really, truly, wholey myself. I mean, by this point I am certain in who I am and what I will accept; I’m not gonna step around toes so much any more. I mean…
I’m 40, YOU aren’t the boss of me.
Additionally, I’m leaning into permission for grace in all sorts of ways. There is space for grace for my body and all it has experienced and accomplished. I am loving finding ways to nurture it in health instead of beating it into submission (or ignoring it and hiding from the world). I don’t need to try to force myself into some fully subjective societal construct of beauty. I’m 40! I don’t need you to like my ass!
On top of all that, I’m relaxing into knowing that life goes on even if I’m not perfect. I can make mistakes, adjust, and mive forward without drama. Imagine that!!
This new decade of life, besides providing confidence that comes with age and experience, slipped me a gift in the form of some new and welcome changes for my day-to-day world. For the first time in my almost 16 years of parenting, ALL 6 of my kids are in school. They are spread across 4 different schools, but they are ALL gone from the house during the day. Just me, the cats, the dog, and the chickens are at home from 9:15am-2:30pm. The silence has been amazing and taking shower (or a poop) without children in the bathroom talking at/to me is unreal.
But..I’ve never done this before…this whole alone-and-in-charge-of-only-myself thing is totally foreign to me. I mean, I grew up in a family with 2 brothers, an extrovert dad, and a homebody mom. Then I moved into a dorm-style living situation in college. Then I got married and worked full-time until I became a mother. I have never been “on my own” during the day. I’m completely thrilled and also a bit overwhelmed—I feel almost unmoored by the freedom in front of me. I have 5.25 hours each day “to myself” and feel a little frozen trying to decide what I want to do.
Of course, there is the mom/keeper-of-the-home side of me that thinks about how clean I could get this place. I also think about all the DIY projects I could bang out in a month. Then there is all the art I could create, and all the trails I could hike, and all the hours I could volunteer with refugee families, and all the books I could read, and all the yoga classes, and all the baking projects (I WILL conquer cinnamon rolls one of these days!!) And napping!!! How could I forget about napping?!?!?
However, after the “Creating Space” series I know that some relief from doing/producing/striving is needed in my days. I’m beat, just plain depleated. I don’t so much feel physically exhausted, but I feel like Bilbo Baggins described himself before he disappeared at his birthday party:
“I feel thin, stretched out, like butter scraped over too much bread.” (J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Rings)
The past few years have been emotionally draining with plenty of unexpected changes on multiple fronts. My fight-or-flight stores are drained and I need to shift so that I can rebuild all that lost ground.
Neghar Fonooni (@negharfonooni), an inspirational yet delightfully salty voice on IG likes to say, “Energy in before energy out.” I’ve neglected the “energy in” part for so, so long but have had the “energy out” part on full blast. My butter can’t spread across all my bread. Time to change all of that.
So, I want to get this right, honor myself, use my 5.25 hours wisely. At the risk of sounding like Aerosmith (boy, I’m quoting a lot today), I don’t want to miss a thing. But, I also don’t want invite too much into my world or put my energy into the wrong things.
Nevertheless, I am not going all paralysis-by-analysis here; analyzing myself into a corner is a bit of a habit with me. I’m going to start simple and loosely structure my days with plenty of space for mistakes, new growth, and/or modifications.
I know for certain from my “8×11 Life” page that I need space for experiences and feelings (adventure and belonging, 2 of my core values, btw). I am filled to the brim with feelings. I am basically emotion in walking, human form. I am going to try giving myself time alone to manage those feelings–processing, releasing, and coming back to equanimity. I’ve unsuccessfully put my emotions on the back burner for the past decade. It hasn’t been pretty. Barely touched emotional processing has bubbled over into anger, frustration, resentment. Like I said, not pretty. That can’t continue. I must use this gift of time to cultivate patterns of emotional wellness and long-term stability.
However, if I live only in my emotions I will become disconnected from reality. I need experiences to ground me, connecting to the greater world around me. I need the woods, different cultures, to create art, laugh with friends (and cry…I do love a good cry with friends), and eat good food.
So, I’m building my weeks and months around 2 foci: alone time for feeling my feels and experiences to connect my feelings to the world.
The loose structure is where I put these ideas into action. Have you read that quote about goals without plans are just dreams? Yeah, I bet you can guess I have tons of dreams. I do. I dream of traveling the world, building a teepee, racing a half Ironman. I have no plans in place to accomplish those, so they stay in dream form for now.
My days alone are real and need a plan. Here is how I’ve loosely broken down my days:
Monday: Groceries and prep for the week, personal appointments, housework, take a nap
Tuesday: Writing work, reading, baking
Wednesday: Writing, hike/explore a new neighborhood, family appointments
Thursday: Art day!!! Also a secondary hiking day.
Friday: Friday Farm Day! DIY and farm chores, friend time
Weekend: Family time, writing, exploring new places together, church, friends
I’ve really loved my time at home the past 4 weeks of the school year, investing into my rest (remember our discussion here?) so that I can be the best mom/wife/woman/human to all the people in my world. I have been pretty serious about honoring the structure I need, too. I felt bad doing it, but I’ve said no to lunch and coffee invites multiple times over the past few weeks. I love my friends but…my butter, ya know?
How can you set up your days and weeks and months to honor your needs? Do you prefer a more rigid structure or a loose one? Do you thrive with almost no structure? For those of you who work full-time, what do you do to honor your needs? I’d love to hear from you.
Connect with me over on IG (@bigbeautifuladventure) to see pics of how my daily routines work out over the next few weeks. I also post hilarious pics of my adventures with my kids and my farm life. I also have a cat that I swear sends me death threats via kitty telepathy. You can see her glaring at me over on IG, too.
Keep on keeping on, Brave Hearts!!! See you back here soon.