This one’s for you.

If you've ever looked around and wondered: HOW does everyone else DO IT ALL? -- I have great news for you.
 
You don't have to do it all. You don't have to keep doing more or keep trying harder. And this book is for you.
 
DO YOUR THING: How to Find Time to Do What Matters is about being yourself and living your values. It's about who you were made to be, and who you are meant to be. It's about living our imperfect lives with purpose. Get your free copy now.

How to hit the “reset” button

How to hit the reset button

When things fall apart — and they do — my impulse is always to grab the wheel and start steering. Don’t stop to think! JUST ACT!

This would be a good plan if I was in the driver’s seat of the minivan, but in the rest of life — it’s not always best. The better plan is the one that starts with me telling myself: Don’t panic. Deep breaths. This will be okay.

The bad news is, I don’t always believe it right off. The good news is, it takes so much energy to convince myself not to panic that I don’t have enough energy left over to jump in and do a lot of damage. So, phew.

I always mean to give things time, to wait on operating instructions, I do, I just have a tendency to forget that I meant to do that. So I’m reminding myself.

1. Don’t panic. No really. BREATHE.

2. Pay attention. Go into observer mode. What’s really going on? What does it all mean? Have aliens taken over, because that is always a possibility.

3. Ask questions. Ask good questions if you can possibly manage it. (Sometimes I can! Then there are other times.)

4. Repeat step 1 as needed.

Everything falls apart sometimes. I’m pretty sure that’s just LIFE. It does that. But then we get to reevaluate, we get to notice what’s working, and what’s not, and why.

Don't panic. Deep breaths. It will be okay.

This week at Simple Homeschool, we’re talking about what to do when your homeschool plans go a little sideways.

It happens. It doesn’t mean you have to throw your ideals and philosophies and long-term goals out the window, it just means: this is life. Thank goodness.
 

Some seasons, our interest-led learners are interested in everything. They read, they ask questions, they conduct experiments and plan projects.

But what do you during those other times, the times when inspiration has left the building? What do you do when no one seems interested in much of anything? What if it turns into all pajamas, all Legos, all day? You know what I’m talking about.

Well, first, you don’t panic.

(Sound familiar?) Get the whole story at Simple Homeschool.

How to be free

Your life doesn't have to look like anyone else's.

Growing up, I was always really concerned with following the rules. I wanted to do all the right things, and if possible, get some applause or at least maybe a gold star sticker.

That works fine as long as everyone agrees on what the rules are, and they’re things like “follow instructions” and “finish your work.” Done and done, gold sticker please.

But most of the time the rules are more mysterious, and it’s unclear who’s in charge of the stickers. And it gets worse if you have kids. I would like a handy checklist, and instead parenting is loaded with all these weird expectations.

There are expectations about the hand-knit sweaters your baby will wear and about the organic vegetables your baby will eat.

There are expectations about meltdowns in public, and how your kids won’t have any.

There are expectations that you won’t run out of clean clothes every third day or so, and that you won’t run out of diapers. Like, ever.

For awhile I thought if I just tried harder, I could hit enough of the expectations to make those gold stars appear. BUT NO. You meet the vegetable expectation, and the laundry one starts nagging at you. And then the “enrolling your kids in enriching activities” one. And then the “everyone sleeps regularly” one. Expectations multiply like fruit flies, or dust.

There’s the expectation that you have a “meal plan” and actually know how to “cook” the meals you “plan.”

There’s the expectation that you’ll keep your life—I mean your house—no really I mean your life—organized and antibacterial.

There’s the expectation that you cart around a diaper bag stocked with enough food and clothing and wipes and toys and blankets to survive a three-day blackout.

At some point, sitting on the unswept kitchen floor in my pajama yoga pants, letting my toddler feed me smashed-up crackers out of her sweet, grimy little hand, I realized something.

Those expectations don’t have anything to do with who I was made to be and what I was made to do. I’ll be okay without the gold stars.

Those expectations are not about love. They’re not about grace. They’re not about connection. They’re not about truth or beauty or authenticity or even about reality.

And you know what? We don’t have to listen to them any more.

Life is not a board game. Families are all different. The rules are made up and the points don’t matter. (Such a bummer.)

We each get to follow our own path.

1-for freedom

There’s a scripture that says: for freedom you have been set free.

For freedom. Not you have been set free so you can follow someone else’s rules. Not you have been set free to try to measure up. Not even you have been set free to amass a really big sticker collection.

For freedom.

Freedom from judgment. Freedom from caring what everybody else is thinking and saying and doing.

Freedom to be yourself—the self you were made to be, the self that no one else can be.

Freedom to do your own thing—the things you were meant to do, that no one else can do.

I was made to be me, on purpose. You were made to be you, on purpose. Your history, your personality, your passions and interests and experiences and skills and talents and preferences: on purpose.

There are things you were made to do, and things you are meant to do. (And there’s a whole bunch of other stuff you don’t have to do at all.)

Your life doesn’t have to look like anyone else’s. It just has to look like you. And mine just has to look like me.

That will be enough, and that will do.
 
DoYourThing150And OH HEY did you know I wrote you an ebook all about being yourself and doing your thing?

I have a free copy for you right here.

Here we are

here I am

At church on Sundays, Evelyn empties out my purse like it is her job and she is trying to win Employee of the Month. (Really she is a toddler, and we are not breaking any child labor laws.)

I take out my sunglasses and my phone and a square of chocolate, because those might not survive her love and attention, and then I let her have at it.

Eli watches over her shoulder and snatches up anything that might be useful for making noise.

Sunglasses case: yes. Bang it on the folding chairs to keep the beat.

Keys: jingling, okay yes.

For everything else he is the Put It Away Police, trying to stuff all the things back where they came from—which then gives Ev more to take out. This is what we call “teamwork.”

It is also what we call “keeping them happy while the grownups sing and stuff.”

Because we like to sing, but it’s hard to do when little people are trying to run away out of the building. We have to assume they intend to play tag with the speeding traffic outside. Or maybe they’re just trying to remember which way to the playground. Either way, it’s easier if they stay put and empty our personal belongings under everyone’s feet.

Last Sunday we sang a song that said: Here I am. Sometimes I’m not excited about songs with a lot of “I” in them, because I know me, and I’m not that great. I have good intentions, but I’m inconsistent and I miss things and I mess things up. Nothing to sing home about, you know.

But we sang and Evelyn kept at her work. If the chair in front of us were a filing cabinet, it would be full of lip balm.

Here I am, and out came my wallet and notebook. Here I am, and she pulled out a matchbox car and another notebook.

Here I am. She found three seashells that looked like tiny unicorn horns. A black pen. A green pen. A purple pen. A different kind of black pen. 47 band-aids. Millions of tiny hair ties in rainbow colors. A turkey feather and another pen.

All the things I carry, spilled out over folding chairs and blue carpet. This is what I’ve got. This is what my days are made of. A turkey feather and a gross of pens.

You might think I would have more useful things in there, but no. This is everything.

It reminds me of the way a bird builds a nest. We watched a hummingbird on our yard last week, gathering twigs and sticks and bird fluff and molding them into something recognizable. It was very much a “let’s see what we we can do with what we have here” kind of situation.

What do we have here.

Hair ties to restore order in a very small way, for a very little while.

Matchbox cars to meet someone right where they are, in their car seat and their boredom.

Pens and journals to mark the moments.

Chocolate square because come on now chocolate doesn’t need a “because.”

I don’t know what the turkey feather is doing in there. Maybe somewhere a turkey is cold.

Here I am.

Not here I try hard, not here I keep score, not here I am doing my best to be bigger and better.

Here I am.

Here I am

What if this is our offering? Here I am.

Here I am, child. Here I am, family. Here I am, friend. Here I am, God. Here I am, with my 47 band-aids and my turkey feather. Band-aids don’t even fix anything. They just make space for the healing.

Here I am.

Here I am, with my history, my issues, my ideas. Here I am, imperfect, a little worn out, with mismatched socks and unruly hair. Here I am.

Here is my perspective. Here is my personality. Here is my person. Here is my presence.

And maybe that’s all we have to do. Maybe that’s all we can do.

What else do I have, really? Does anybody want my hair ties?

Here you are: your own, only self. Here you are: the only one of you ever made.

Maybe here I am is the best and most beautiful thing we have to offer.

Here is Evelyn, all curiosity.

Here is Eli, making a joyful noise.

Here I am, full of questions.

Here you are, all of you.

At home, the hummingbird has finished building her little mud cup of a house outside our dining room window. She sits in her nest and we sit at the table, and we watch each other. Just sitting. Just watching. I don’t know what she thinks of us, but I think she is marvelous.

Why I disabled blog comments

Sometimes creativity develops best in silence.

When I started blogging, I wrote daily-ish updates. It was kind of like an email to everyone I knew. I wrote about what we’d been up to or funny things that happened, and I’d post links to essays I wrote elsewhere.

(I do write essays sometimes. I want to be Nora Ephron and Anna Quindlen and Anne Lamott and Kelly Corrigan and Glennon Doyle Melton when I grow up.)

Over time, though, an email-to-everyone stopped seeming like the best thing for my blog to be.

Why didn’t I write essays on my own blog? Or why didn’t I write about practical life stuff — all that stuff people ask me about offline?

Friends would say things like, “You should blog about [fill in the blank with anything at all]!”

And I would think, “Oh, people who read my blog don’t want to read about THAT!”

Did I ASK those people if they wanted to read about THAT, whatever that may have been? Why no, no I did not, because:

1. asking sounded scary, and

2. I did not want to bother them.

This was a brilliant strategy, obviously.

I’m sure no one else was especially worried about WHAT I posted, but I had gotten myself all tangled up in the post-response-reply web of blogging, and I needed to get unstuck.

So I turned comments off.

I know, I know: comments are the lifeblood of a blog. Comments mean you’re listening, comments mean community, comments are social proof. I know.

And I still turned them right off.

Because while I think I shouldn’t care about these things, the truth was, sometimes I would stress out over how many comments a post received (or didn’t), or how quickly the comments came in.

What did they say? What did they mean? What did it mean if someone didn’t comment?

I would worry over how to respond. Should I reply to everyone? To no one? To some things? Which things? How quickly? How long should I spend writing my responses?

Some of that was about people-pleasing, and some was pride, but some was about knowing myself.

I know that I’m an introvert. I know that interacting with others — whether in person, on Twitter, or in the comments of a blog — is draining, not energizing, for me.

That doesn’t mean I shouldn’t do it, but it does mean I should be intentional about how and where and when I engage.

It’s okay for a blog to be a writing-only place. It’s okay to build community and maintain relationships in other ways.

It’s okay to need a little space between what you create, and the judgment of others. I think I did.

So I started experimenting with quiet. I discovered that without the comments, I could let go of some of my internal filters.

I was able to be more vulnerable in my storytelling.

I was willing to experiment with different kinds of posts.

I had more to say, when I wasn’t worried about how — and whether — others might respond.

I even started seeing my posts as (weird little) gifts I could give to my readers, without expecting anything in return.

Sometimes creativity develops best in silence.

It’s still not the usual way of doing things, I know. But you don’t always have to follow the rules. You don’t have to do things the way someone else would do them. You don’t have to do what other people expect. (She says, to herself.)

That’s what makes you YOU. That’s what makes your projects special and personal and YOUR OWN.

When you find a plan that lets you do your thing more, forget the rules. Do it your own way. Be your own self. Do your own thing.

Even if you’re doing it very very quietly.
 
Why I disabled blog comments