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Purpose and surprise. #write31days

You were made for rest.

I know more about sleep than about rest.

How much a person ought to sleep, based on age and health and recency of last growth spurt. How a muslin blanket can help very small people sleep. What shade of blackout curtains are needed for napping during full-sun hours. How much coffee to drink when small people wake up too early. All this I know, because it shapes the contours of my days.

I am familiar with rest in a more academic sense.

I do know a few things about it. Rest is not something you earn, rest is something you need. Rest was made for you, and you were made to rest, and I believe that.

I’m terrible at it.

I wish I could say it’s because I have these kids. (Have you met kids? They don’t turn off, is all. There is no pause button.) But rest has never been my strong suit. Procrastinating, maybe, but rest? Not so much.

Limits and boundaries, I’m good with. There’s no one thing eating up all my time, but there are always more things that I could tend to, and there continue to be only twenty-four hours in the day. Somehow rest always gets crowded out.

I’m not recommending this, as a strategy. I recommend the rest thing. And I’m going to keep recommending it to my own self until I start taking my recommendation.

Over the weekend we celebrated Sadie’s birthday. She’s seven. Seven is such a middle age, isn’t it? Not a little one, not a tween, just a perfect kid.

(I remember that I sobbed when my oldest turned seven, because she was practically an old lady already. I guess by kid number four I have worked that out of my system. So that’s good, then.)

Sadie has been quietly in love with horses for a long time, so for her birthday, we scheduled a private riding lesson. Just Sadie, a horse, and a couple of knowledgable young women to teach her about grooming and tacking and walking and trotting.

When we stepped out of the car she said: Owen was right. He told me horses can be stinky sometimes.

And a minute later: He didn’t tell me about the flies, though.

And a bit later: Once you’re having fun, you hardly notice the smell at all!

All this was true.

Also true: for me, at the stable, five out of six kids were paused, because they were not there. The internet was paused, because it was not there either.

More things that were not there: the dishes, the laundry, the dinner prep, the shoe closet that needs tidying again, that crusty stuff that happens when the baby spits out her rice cake and I forget to wipe it up right away. All paused.

I stood outside the ring and watched Sadie bounce up and down in the saddle, and I breathed deep, and it smelled like rest. Manure notwithstanding.

Rest does not mean do nothing. Rest does not mean eat cereal and watch cartoons all day.

Rest means nourish your soul.

Outdoors, fresh air, sunshine, nothing needful at my fingertips: yes, that will do.

I didn’t earn it. I didn’t even see it coming.

It was surprise rest.

Surprise rest is good. I will take that, when it appears.

But. I do not sit around waiting for surprise breakfast, or surprise oxygen. I am not holding out for surprise clothes before I get dressed in the morning.

Some things are nice, and some things we need. I am learning.

Rest on purpose.
31 days of living on purpose.This post is part of a #write31days series about living on purpose.

More about that here, or read all the posts in the series here. I’m letting go of the “every day” aspect on purpose.

Purpose, not predictability. #write31days

Your purpose is not always predictable.

Some evenings you find yourself, long past bedtime, standing with a toddler in your arms. The teething is fierce with this one, and you hold her against your shoulder and sway while she chews at the shoulder of your shirt.

You are near the bed, near enough to reach it, but you know that sitting down will disturb the equilibrium you have swayed into existence, so even though your arms are turning to toothpicks made of jelly, you sway. You shush. You become slowly more damp, a human swamp of tears (hers) and saliva (hers) and sweat (yours).

And you realize that tonight, perhaps for a few nights, you can choose to live with purpose, or to blog about purpose.

Sometimes purpose is not the same as predictable. Sometimes purpose does not mean that you hit every mark, meet every deadline, score every goal.

Purpose means living the way you intend to. It means living your values. In my house, purpose is going to make space for toddlers and teething, even if that means every other thing is put on hold a little while.

So here you are. Here I am. Swaying. As purposefully as possible. For a little while longer.

31 days of living on purpose.This post is part of a #write31days series about living on purpose.

More about that here, or read all the posts in the series here.

Purpose doesn’t have to be tidy. #write31days

1-Your story doesn't have to be tidy.

You’re living your story right now, and I think it’s a story about something true.

I think it’s a good story.

That doesn’t mean you have to know exactly where you’re going, or how exactly you’re going to get there.

You don’t have to know all the details. (I never do.)

We don’t have to know what the next chapter will be, or even the next scene. We don’t have to know what’s coming.

Even if we don’t know all the plot points yet, our stories can still be about something.

We can still choose to value something, to pursue something, to care about something, to believe in something. That’s what our story is about.

Living your story is not the same as being in control. Living with purpose is not the same as being in control. A whole lot of things are out of our control, but that’s okay. We get to choose how to respond. We get to choose what to believe.

Your story does not have to have to be made up of tidy lessons and teachable moments. It doesn’t have to be tidy at all. It can, in fact, be decidedly messy.

When we look back, we can see themes emerging. We can see that our stories have been about something, all along. We have been about something, all along.

We’ll just keep on living our stories until then.

31 days of living on purpose.P.S. – More on living your story.

This post is part of a #write31days series about living on purpose.

More about that here, or read all the posts in the series here.

What’s your story? #write31days

What's your story?

What’s your story?

More importantly, what’s your story about?

You’re living the story of your life right now, and good stories are about something.

They’re about hope, or healing, or redemption, or connection. They’re about things made new or made right or made real. They’re about beauty out of ashes. They’re about truth, revealed.

Good characters are about something, too.

Good doesn’t have to mean nice or pleasant. A good character might be interesting or endearing, righteous or wrong, nuanced and layered, compelling or beguiling or beloved.

A good character can be almost anything, as long as they’re authentic. As long as they’re real. As long as they’re true.

A good story is always about truth.

A good story points to a truth bigger than plot or setting, a truth beyond circumstance or happenstance, a truth beneath action and reaction.

Your story is a true story. You are a true character.

You are not made-for-TV, based on a true story, ripped from the headlines, inspired by real events. You are true. Your story is the real deal.

It’s about you, and how you change over time. It’s about what changes you. It’s about what forms you, and what grows you.

It’s about what light you shine in the darkness.

I think it’s about who you were made to be, and what you were made to do, and what truth you’re meant to reflect.

It’s about you, and it’s about something bigger than you.

A good character makes choices that shape the story. A good story will shape the character, too.

To live with purpose, we have to know who we are, and we have to know what we’re about. We have to know what story we’re living, and we have to know who’s doing the telling.

What’s your story?

31 days of living on purpose.This post is part of a #write31days series about living on purpose.

More about that here, or read all the posts in the series here.