I have always been an extremely busy and goal-orientated person. Knowing how to manage my time well to fit everything in, has been something I have been doing for years. My childhood years consisted of training 5 days a week for gymnastics. On top of this I did Rhee Tae Kwon Do twice a week and sailing and church on the weekend. My teenage years consisted of setting goals at school and in my chosen sports and working hard towards achieving them. I was involved in our local youth group and church.
When you don’t listen to your body.
When I was 18 and in first year uni, I was diagnosed with glandular fever. I had been working hard for many years academically and physically. Yet I had not been fuelling my body with the best sources of nourishment and had little time to rest. My body had had enough. It couldn’t take much more. My body was telling me to rest! To give it a break, to create a bit of ‘margin’ in my life, a bit of ‘white space’. But with the heavy demands of my university degree, as well as intense training for sailing, there was little time to rest. I was representing Australia at the World Yngling Championships later that year and therefore needed to get back to training as soon as possible.
After a week or two at home, I pushed myself out of bed and got straight back into uni. I didn’t want to miss out on too much of the course work. So I went back to doing all the things I thought I needed to do. I struggled physically and mentally for the next two years. My immune system was the lowest it had ever been and so were my emotions. How could I go from this super fit, athletic, successful person, to someone who was always sick and found the normal daily routine of life exhausting? I had lost my spark and my joy! I am so thankful to God for providing the support I needed through my loving family and boyfriend (now husband).
A few years later I went on to get a full time job as a teacher. It was a love-hate relationship. I loved helping the kids learn new things, but the work load that was expected of me and that I placed on myself was huge.
Then came motherhood, a baby who couldn’t sleep due to severe food allergies, my diagnoses of a hereditary kidney disease and the loss of my dad to lymphoma in 2011. In 2012 we were blessed with beautiful twin girls! But with our son being 21 months when they were born, it meant we had three kids under 2! I was involved in many ministries at church, as well as studying to be a Breastfeeding Educator. It was no wonder I was stressed and my health was going downhill. I have always been that person who says ‘Yes’ if I am asked to help with something. But there is a limit to how many times you can say ‘Yes.’
Reflecting on Time and Margin.
During those years, I started to read books like ‘Margin’ by Dr Richard Swenson and blogs like ‘Becoming Minimalist’ by Joshua Becker. I had a desire to slow down, to reduce the load, create margin, declutter our house, our inbox and our lives. But how do you do this when you are in the midst of it all? How do you do this when your personality is to help others? When you hold on to things, ‘just in case we need it down the track?’ How do you do this with three little kids who need you for everything?
One night recently I went to my husband and said ‘Just like a sugar addict finds it hard to resist sugar, or an alcoholic finds it hard to resist alcohol when it’s in front of them, I find it super hard to resist busyness. It’s almost like I am a ‘busy’ addict. I want to ‘be still’. I want to have less possessions, less papers, less stuff, less commitments. But when I am faced with it all, I find it super hard to say ‘No’.
A few months ago I started reading ‘Rushing Woman’s Syndrome – The Impact of a Never-Ending To-Do List and How to Stay Healthy in Today’s Busy World,‘ by Dr. Libby Weaver. It is an amazing book – I think she wrote it about me. lol But seriously, it really resonated with me. I am a rushing woman! Whether I like to admit it or not. I think many of us are. Dr Libby writes,
Unless we choose to have boundaries around when we are contactable, we are essentially on call 24/7…Very few of us now live off the land in the West, and many of us choose to get nourishment from non-food ingredients out of packs because we are in such a rush – and the quicker the better…We have elevators, escalators, moving walkways, and transportation so we no longer have to climb stairs or walk long distances…Never before have we had a communication system that means we are always connected so that we are simultaneously distracted and overstimulated. Or been ‘too busy’ to prepare our own food. Or do any exercise whatsoever.”
As I read this it made me think…is this what I want for my life?
Do I really want to be ‘too busy’ to exercise, to cook real nourishing food for my family, to answer my kids questions, to sit and play a game with them, to stop and be still, to pray, or to reflect on the blessings I have in my life?
The answer is no!
I don’t want to be so busy, and so simultaneously distracted, that I miss out on the good stuff – the stuff that matters. I don’t want my kids to grow up thinking that Mummy was always replying to a message or an email or a phone call or a Facebook post because technology is 24/7. We have all been given 24 hours in a day – and as much as I struggle to create boundaries around technology, when I am contactable, and so forth. I must! For the sake of my health and the health of my family.
We all have choices to make in our life, but I am choosing now to intentionally slow down, to breathe, to be still and to be thankful. xx