As a busy mom (what mom isn’t busy? I should probably stop saying this but, I digress.) And someone who struggles and wrestles for joy and peace, I’m no stranger to feeling overextended, overwhelmed and sometime, if I’m being completely transparent, lackluster.
I become disoriented, a thick fog seems to overcome my mind and I can’t see within three inches of my messy kitchen sink or the three laundry baskets that need folding. If you know me you already know this is a problem. If you’re really close to me you’re going hold up—Kelsey doesn’t care about these things, she’d rather go on an adventure than wash the dishes. Insert motherhood—a refining, and often times, confusing journey.
It changes your brain, your feelings, your outlook, your thought patterns, but most intensely, it changed my clarity, joy and spontaneity. A sudden jerk into unforeseen and uncharted territory. What now?
What if you feel like motherhood robbed you and you can’t reclaim your mind?
Or, what if sometimes motherhood doesn’t feel the way we thought it would? (or, just life in general—let’s be real.)
What if it looks so different than we imagined, what next?
These are the questions I’ve been asking myself lately and let me tell you, it ain’t easy to process them, it’s a heavy load. But I’m a firm believer in asking the hard questions because it always amounts to substantial growth.
Are you familiar with these questions, too? Do I sound like I’m in your head?
Who am I anymore? I can’t remember the things that really ignite me, how can I when I can barely find my bra (I know you’re like #samesame, so glad you’re here.)
This past year I’ve been on an intense journey of reclaiming my mind. Reclaiming clarity and truth. A process of deep discovery. This process has been hard but it’s one of the best I’ve chosen thus far. It’s real, raw, confusing, and liberating all mixed up to serve you a cocktail of owning who I am and seeing myself through a lens of wild acceptance, truth, and freedom waiting on the other side. I mean, what could be better?
I’ve chosen to take a hard look at my life and think why do I feel these things? I shouldn’t, right? (ah, the great lie, more on this later.) So I effort, I try to pull myself up. I try to distract myself. I try to rest but I’m left feeling restless AND exhausted. TRY TRY TRY, EFFORT EFFORT EFFORT. It’s just all really draining, especially for a person with limited brain capacity to begin with. (I’m a dangerous woman without caffeine.)
Usually when I’m really tired or overextended I tend to look and focus on what may be draining me. But I think I’m slowly finding that this is the all-consuming never-ending unicorn question (the path to never never land.) It’s draining, too. Maybe the better question is what gives me life—what makes me feel ALIVE?
If you’re still with me, maybe you’re familiar with this process or maybe you’re ready to unfriend me (that’s okay, too.)
I’ve noticed a shift when I choose to focus on things that bring me life, instead of the things that drain me—that’s where the magic happens. A subtle shift of focus and aligning with the things that give you life instead of taking away from it.
I think I’m going to call this my exercise in choosing joy (with intention, of course) and I’m hoping it can help someone who can relate.
Here’s the exercise, which I will be making into a PDF later so you can take your own notes and keep a joy journal or whatever you want to call it. Journals are still trending, right?
1. Whose am I and who does God tell me I am? AKA tune into scriptural truths.
2. Who is God? (more scripture)
3. What were the things that brought me intense joy when I was younger, or another way to look at this is: what would you lose time doing?
4. What do I do instead of choosing the things that bring me joy? Another way to look at this is: what takes a lot of effort/what exhausts me quickly?
5. STOP doing things that make you lifeless—the cycle of house chores and the constant barrage of laundry, dishes, clean the kitchen repeat may give you the instant gratitude you want to feel but it will not ultimately give you the freedom and joy you’re seeking.
6. STOP saying to yourself “I SHOULD” be doing…XYZ.
If it’s one thing I’ve learned over the last few months of intense counseling it’s this: SHOULD IS A LIE. I’ll let you think on this one for awhile.
7. START asking “what brings me insatiable joy?” “what gives me life?” And do those things.
8. Stop thinking you can ultimately condition yourself into doing things you hate/repeating these things. They will not give you joy, they will not fill you up, they will not give you purpose, passion or freedom. They will also not make you a better person. They’re terrible task-masters. They’re a LIE.
9. In order to identify these behaviors and tendencies, I like to make a “NOT TO DO LIST.” Yep, I write down the things I don’t want to do and I permission myself not to do them. But don’t stop there. You best have your joy list ready.
10. Ask yourself if your internal dialogue is one of truth or lies? Would other people tell you (honestly tell you) the things you tell yourself, the way you choose to look at yourself? Is what you’re asking condemning or life-giving?
11. Question your “expectations” are you living in light of your expectations or your reality? Do your expectations need to change? Mine almost always do and I feel an immediate joy come when I don’t feel the pressure of undue expectations.
12. Let someone into your struggle. My husband Josh fights for my emotional well-being and joy. He reminds me of who I am, and who he sees. Sometimes we need to be vulnerable and ask for encouragement. (hi, miss independent.) And lastly, call your mom because according to your mom, you’re the best thing that was ever created on this side of the Mississippi and if you don’t believe it, she surely does and she will preach.
I don’t know about you but if I don’t have a list I can turn to, to help redirect my focus, help give me very specific direction, I lose focus, traction, productivity and feel defeated quicker than I started. (hi, I told you motherhood changed my brain.)
We cannot hope to reclaim joy if we are out of alignment with who we are and who God made us to be. It’s truly that simple.
So who are you, really?
What makes you, YOU?
Relish in those things because the author of Life relishes in who you are (even all the mess.)
Your mess and quirks are your fertilizer for growth. So often we think we have to put our uniqueness aside, which leaves us feeling pathetic, unauthentic, unengaged and purposeless. Not things I want to feel. This inhibits us from showing up as our best selves. It inhibits authentic relationship. We live in a time where we are so far removed and independent yet absolutely crave and want for authentic vulnerability. Authenticity is an amazing host, because it encourages it on both ends, for both parties involved, a true win-win.
CHOOSING joy sometimes is just that: a choice, in life YOU ALWAYS GET WHAT YOU CHOOSE. (good or bad.) So, choose well.