Until last year, I have never been one of those people who came up with a word for the year. I’ve always thought it was a cool idea, but I simply was never able to think of one word that described my focus for the coming 12 months.
Last year, as 2016 was coming to a close, my word for 2017 just made itself obvious to me. I knew that “intentional” needed to be my word for the year. You can read a little bit about how that word impacted me here, but it really deserves a separate blog post (which honestly, I will probably never write).
Anyway, as 2017 was ending, once again, my focus for 2018 materialized unexpectedly.
I was listening to one of my favorite podcasts, Typology, which is by the author of a book I have recommended several times, called “The Road Back to You.” I have really loved this book, which explains the personality profile system called, the Enneagram.
Each week, the author, Ian Cron, interviews people who are different types on the Enneagram. I love listening to stories of how people have learned to maximize the strengths and weaknesses of their personality type and grow in their faith through the process.
On this particular episode, he was interviewing a woman who is a 1 on the Enneagram, which is the perfectionist. I was especially interested because I also am a 1.
As I was listening to the interview, I kept thinking, “This woman reminds me so much of myself.” About halfway through the interview, the conversation started to change. The interviewer began probing her on questions at a deeper level. I was answering the same questions in my head.
By the end, he suggested to her that maybe she isn’t a 1 at all. Maybe she actually is a 3, which is “the achiever.”
I’ve always questioned whether I’m actually a 1, because some aspects of this personality type really don’t describe me very well. But as I’ve analyzed other types, I’ve always passed over the 3. I knew for a fact there was no way this was me. In fact, as much as I didn’t want to be a 1, “at least I wasn’t a 3,” I would sometimes think!
But now, as he described the 3, an uneasiness started growing in my stomach. (And I knew I had NOT eaten any gluten!) Just the name of this personality type seemed to describe me so perfectly. Achiever.
If you lined up 10 people closest to me and asked them to choose one word to describe me, I’m guessing at a few of them would choose this word.
I haven’t taken the test again to confirm or dispel that I am a 3. But just thinking about it really started to bother me.
I really do get so much of my value in life from what I “do.” I love to achieve. I’m driven to perform. Most people know me best by what I DO, rather than who I AM.
In fact, I wrote a whole blog post about this realization last summer when I took that sabbatical and visited the lighthouses.
After a few weeks of processing this, it became clear to me that I really don’t want to let another year go by, letting my life be defined by what I DO, rather than who I AM. The word I chose for 2018 was “be.” But that seemed short and hard to understand so I eventually came up with a phrase: “Less doing, more being.”
The problem was, I didn’t even know what that meant. How do I DO less? How do I BE more?
Does this mean I can’t DO all of the things I love? Does it mean I can’t do all of my crafts and write in my bullet journal and cook my crazy food and decorate my house?
I realized that the most important part of “Less Doing and More Being” doesn’t mean I have to stop doing all of the things that bring me joy. It is really about the motivation and attitude that come with my need to constantly achieve. I’ve found that doing things is how I gain acceptance and value. The problem comes when I start to place so much weight on DOing and become so focused on my goals that I Iose sight of building authentic, transparent relationships.
But how do you even track your progress when you are actually trying to do LESS? Where does one even begin?
Thankfully, God started to give me some clues. One of the first was a friend from my past came into my life and reminded me about a book she had recommended six months ago called, “Sensible Shoes.” She had told me that my story about my sabbatical reminded her of one of the characters in the book. I’ve already started reading the book, and some of my friends agreed to read it with me and have a book discussion. Discussing a book with a group of friends sounded like a great first step to build relationships based on BEing, rather than DOing.
After that, several other people reached out to me in completely random and unexpected ways with opportunities to BE together.
So, I guess this journey won’t be one that I get to plan. It won’t involve a goal sheet or a habit tracker. I think it’s going to be more of an adventure of being open to opportunities to BE more often and DO less often. I’m going to be paying attention to my heart and motivations when I start to DO too much. Am I trying to find value and happiness by DOing? And how to I replace that with BEing?
I have no idea, but I’m looking forward to seeing what God has planned for me this year.
I spent most of my morning waiting.
It was our first day back into a routine after 17 days of Christmas break, and I had a long mental list of things I needed to do. But I couldn’t move.
I couldn’t get out of bed to tell my older kids good-bye as they rushed off to school. Thankfully, the youngest had a sore throat so I could call the school and them know she was sick without getting up myself.
I knew all I could do was wait.
My lower back was in extreme pain. My head was throbbing. My brain was foggy. And I was overcome by such a weight of exhaustion that I couldn’t think about standing up.
I laid there wrestling my range of emotions. Anger. Frustration. Worry. Anger again.
This is what my life looks like the morning after I’ve been exposed to gluten. I’m not talking about eating a piece of bread or enjoying pizza or cheating with a cookie. I’m talking about accidentally ingesting a tiny, imperceptible, invisible trace of gluten.
I decided to write about it because: 1.) I think most of the time my life looks like all I do is dance from one creative endeavor to the next without a care in the world, 2.) I’m not going to post this on Facebook, which means about three people will ever read it, 3.) I just need to let it out.
The gluten hit my system surprisingly fast. I’ve only had a few incidents like this one during the past year. But it’s scary to me how much harder it hits me each time.
I was talking to a friend at a party when my head started feeling like it was going to explode. My stomach was starting to feel uneasy. And I suddenly felt very hot. My friend told me that my face was red.
It took me a minute to process what was going on. Even as careful as I am about asking questions and making sure food will be safe for me, could I still have gotten some gluten?
The illness was coming over me like a wave now, and I knew I had to get home before it hit my stomach and intestines. I knew what was coming. I knew I needed to be in my own home to handle this. And I knew once it hit, there was no way I would be able to drive home.
The first few hours are definitely the worst as my body goes into overdrive to try to eliminate everything in my system as quickly as possible. If you’ve ever had food poisoning, that’s the best comparison.
The thing that makes it worse is the feeling I’m going to explode. My digestive tract is burning hot from the acid reflux in my throat to the burning in my stomach to the flame in my intestines.
A few hours later, the intense pain in my lower back set in. That pain took me back to the first month when I discovered I had Celiac Disease. I lived with that pain on a constant basis. I couldn’t believe it was back. It feels like I should at least have had the joy of eating a piece of pizza first if I was going to be in THAT much pain!
Once all of the physical symptoms subsided, that’s when I started dealing with all of the mental and emotional junk.
- How will I live like this for the rest of my life?
- How can I live in a society that is covered in gluten?
- What will happen when I’m older and I have an attack like this one?
- How long will it take for me to return to normal?
- Should I tell anyone about this? I’m pretty sure everyone is tired of hearing about it so I should just endure it in isolation.
- What kind of mother am I that I can’t even get out of bed on my kids’ first day back at school?
- How much damage did this do to my system?
I have worked so hard to stick to my super strict diet the past year. I know that my intestines have been healing because I can eat more foods. I’ve even been exercising the past few weeks, which is a huge improvement. I’ve struggled so much with anemia the past few months that it had been hard to even go for a walk. Lately, I’ve been running on my treadmill. What will happen now?
I know that when my body encounters gluten, my immune system goes into overdrive, attacking my small intestine. I wonder how much damage it will do before the gluten is removed. How long will it take for those antibodies to settle down again?
Sometimes I wish I could have a “normal” disease. One that people could understand. One that I could take a pill for or get some kind of treatment. Maybe even one that is curable. I realize that’s just weird to want to trade in this disease for another one. Most of my thoughts are irrational at this point.
Finally, my system has been cleared out after a very painful 16 hours or so. I’m ready to carefully try to find something to eat to start to restore my energy.
I vow not to let this happen again. I try to convince myself it’s not my fault. Then, I tell myself how stupid I am that I took such a risk. Eating food at a party. Geez! How could you do such a thing?
I’m ready to re-enter the world as if this never happened.
I’m ready to start filling in this week’s to-do list.
I’m ready to do something other than wait.
A few days ago, I was talking to some friends about our Christmas highlights. I mentioned that I was really excited about one of my gifts… a bullet journal.
No one in the group seemed to know what I was talking about, so I went on to try to explain. It’s a blank journal. And you fill it in with whatever you want. And you get to use colorful markers. And practice your handwriting.
They looked at me perplexed. A few of them laughed out loud.
“Explain it again… You do WHAT?!?” was the general reaction.
I thought that maybe if I just gave them more detail, they would catch on to the greatness of this hobby that is the bullet journal. It’s for people who love to make lists… or just love to write on paper… you create your own calendar pages… and you “journal” but in bullet points, I tried to explain.
Instead of falling in love, they became increasingly convinced that I am nuts! So, I guess most people aren’t that excited about a bullet journal, and if that’s you, that’s OK. I get it.
I tried starting a bullet journal back in 2016. I even wrote a few blog posts about my excitement about it! I started following Instagram feeds and blogs devoted to bullet journaling. But the more I learned about it, the more convinced I became that there was no way I could do it!
Some days, I can barely find time to even write out my to-do list, not to mention, create a colorful page with neat handwriting and carefully framed boxes to record my thoughts. But as I approached the end of 2017, I decided I wanted to give it a try. There’s just something about creating a bullet journal that is so appealing to me!
As I mentioned before, I love pens. I love writing on paper. I love practicing my hand lettering. I love planners. I love doodling. This is a hobby that’s also an organizational tool that incorporates all of those things!
I gave my husband a link to the Leuchtturm 1917, which seems to be the bullet journal of choice for many people. The pages have squares like graph paper, which makes it so much easier to plot out what you want to write on each page. The pages also lie flat, and each page is numbered.
He also got me a creative lettering book and some nice pens.
So, I’ve been bullet journaling for a week now, and so far I love it. Also, so far, my kids have been on Christmas break, and I was off last week and had a lot more time than usual to sit around and write in my bullet journal. Honestly, if I can keep this thing going for two weeks, I’m going to be happy!
Just to give you a taste, here’s what kind of pages I’ve created so far.
Getting started is the hardest part because you don’t want to mess up the very first page in your beautiful new journal. I decided to start by creating a record of our Christmas gifts. Not that we need a record of our Christmas gifts. But it’s straight forward. It’s easy. It didn’t require a lot of thought.
That was fun, so I decided to make some other lists from 2017, just as a non-threatening way to get started with my journal.
I wrote down some significant memories from each month…
…a list of the books I read and my favorite podcasts…
…and I started a list of new foods I tried last year… I still need to complete this list…
I was still a little worried about getting into the meat of the journal, so I used a few pages to just write words…
It’s not perfect or beautiful, but I like to try to write in different “fonts.” 🙂
So, finally, I started the calendar portion of my journal…
First, I created a “future log” with one line for each day of the year. This is where you can write all of the important dates of the year, like holidays, birthdays and days off school. I love that my journal has two bookmarks so I can mark different pages. The pages in this journal also are numbered, making it easy to create a table of contents at the front with the page number references for what’s in the journal.
Next, I created my January habit tracker.
You can imagine how much I love filling in these little squares each time I complete one of my daily habits for the month!
And finally, I started working on my daily spreads.
The fun part about a bullet journal is that you can make all of your spreads look different. I’m still a little intimidated, so I just copied this spread format from someone on Pinterest, and I created a week’s worth of pages in this format.
It includes a “to do list,” a box I labeled “healthy,” which includes my weight, what type of exercise I did that day, how much water I drank and how many steps I took that day.
At the bottom is a box marked “gratitude.” This is the “bullet journal” portion of the book, where I jot down in bullet points the highlight of my day. I’ve been surprised how much I enjoy filling in this box!
So, that’s my bullet journal. At this point, you are either laughing, completely confused or convinced this is something you have to try! Whatever the case, I get it. I can’t even tell you I will be bullet journaling a week from now, but it’s been a great excuse to cuddle up under a warm blanket with some hot tea and write with my pretty pens. And that, my friends, is my idea of fun!
Hey, I’d love to hear from you! Have you ever heard of bullet journaling? Have you tried it? Does it sound ridiculous? Or do you think it’s something you would enjoy? I would love to know!