How often do you take time “off?” Off from social media, work, your to-do-list? At the end of this past year, I took some time off during the holidays to recharge. During the break, my husband, Aaron shared with me from an account on Instagram, @farmranchlife, that said, “You wouldn’t plant a seed and then dig it up every few minutes to see if it had grown. So why do you keep questioning yourself, your hard work and your decisions? Have patience, stop over thinking and keep watering your seeds.”
Does any part of that quote resonate with you? Have you ever wondered when you will have put in enough time at work to get that promotion? Or have you ever been involved in an organization where you hope you are helping enough and making an impact on the community? Maybe you have a side job that you hope grows into your full-time job and are anxious to grow it, but it seems like it’s taking forever.
I must admit I have started many things over in the past 36 years of my life and have often quit because I didn’t think it was going anywhere or maybe it wasn’t having the impact, I hoped it would. In other words, I was too busy spending my time digging up my seeds and staying the course and watering them. Which ultimately led to me quitting whatever I had been passionate about at that time and then feeling like a failure because I didn’t stick with it.
My podcast, Grounded in the Middle, was one of those things I decided to commit to last summer, but in the back of mind knew that it was likely it would just be another failed attempt at something I thought at one time was a good idea. When beginning I wasn’t sure if I would have something new to share every week and while I’m used to it a little more now, I still find it a little silly that I sit alone talking into a microphone with no one to banter back and forth with. But here I am, a new year, and Season 2 of Grounded in the Middle was launched and it’s all because of a shift in my thinking.
How many of you claimed a New Year’s resolution this year? How many of you didn’t? I asked this question on my Instagram account at the beginning of the year and I found most people were not going to make any resolutions, but many were setting goals. I fall into the second camp of not declaring a resolution however, I committed to a word. Routine. I don’t know about you but after we were a few months in to covid in 2020 my routine walked right out the door, unlike me, and it didn’t begin to return in 2021 until the end of August as our children headed back to the classroom.
With having to be up by a certain time to feed the kids, and get them to school, I found myself slowly starting to realize how much I had missed my old friend, routine. I started reading in my devotions again, was coming home after dropping off the kids, motivated to accomplish tasks before needing to pick up the kids to take to soccer. The routine showed me a renewed sense of purpose. A purpose I had had troubles embracing since leaving my job as a teacher. Never did I ever think such a simple thing as routine would become something I’d find a renewed appreciation for but also something I’d ever have to work hard to obtain.
While I’ve been trying to hit my stride finding routine, I have made more of a conscious effort to not over commit so that I can be more intentional with my time and allow a little bit more time for myself which I have struggled with since starting a family. Are you currently or have you ever experienced a time when you managed to put too much on your plate? Did you find that you were thriving, or did you find yourself in a state of just surviving?
Charting Your Path
Coming out of a roller coaster of a year, I have decided to make a commitment to myself, a commitment to my church, and a commitment to my community because those are areas in which I feel are important to me. What does that look like? For myself, I am making healthier lifestyle choices and this podcast a priority. As for church, I am making it a priority to be take care of myself spiritually. And last, I have committed to being a member of our local historical society board in effort to preserve and share the history our small town.
Having those commitments and our family at the forefront of my mind is allowing me to find a focus, purpose, and direction for the year ahead. These commitments also feed what I have found I thrive on such as doing something creative, feeding my soul, socializing, sharing history, being challenged, and awakening the teacher in me.
Having spent time roughly sketching out the year ahead, I first had to spend time reflecting and evaluating the past year and decide where time was well spent and where it was not. Within that reflection, I questioned the amount of time I spend a week on the podcast. I typically have one day for writing, the next recording, the following editing and scheduling. With a family and unexpected surprises, as well as horrible internet, it usually takes a good three to four days to accomplish a task that could likely be completed in a day or two. So, I had to really think about whether it was worth my time, and I decided it was because of the feedback I just so happened to receive while I was contemplating if it was worth it. The connections made with others and the meaningful conversations in which I’ve had were reason enough to stick with it.
While receiving feedback can help us determine if our time is being well spent or impactful, many times we don’t receive feedback and we have no idea if we had any kind of ripple effect in the world. It’s like the bird feeder my son gave me for Christmas. I hung it Christmas day and each day would check to see if there were birds out on the perch of the feeder. Every time I checked, there were never any birds and I wondered if the birds couldn’t see it or maybe they didn’t like the feed. I eventually quit checking the feeder but one day caught a glimpse of a small chick a dee eating. By the end of the week, the feed was half gone.
Another example of a similar situation was our letters to Santa stand. Parker and I were packing up the stand the day before Christmas Eve and a gal who lives on the next road well behind us stopped. She mentioned how she appreciated the farm stand this summer and that her children came up from Nashville and brought their children to the letters to Santa stand and got their candy canes and reindeer feed. She thanked us for doing it and before she left said mentioned how the farm stand really provides a community feel. Little did she know that I had already been considering not putting out the letters to Santa next year, but after she stopped to thank us, I realized I was given a reminder it’s important that we stick to the passions we feel led to even if you aren’t aware of the impact we’re having.
Moving Forward with Intention
As you move into this month and through this year, I hope you will take time to jot down or think about the commitments you have. Are they commitments that you still enjoy? Do they bring out the best in you? Is there anything you could add or delete? Do you have a hobby or a side hustle you love and wonder if it will ever take off? Do you question your impact in your community or church? Are their voids that need to be filled with commitments that energize you or make you feel successful?
It’s my hope for you, that in whatever it is you decide to commit to or recommit to, in this world each and every day, you are not only a part of a ripple from which was started by someone else, but you also create a ripple for others. Lean into the things you love the most so when you go out into your day, you are creating positive and meaningful ripples for not only yourself but also other. And for those who feel as though they are waiting for this to be their year, remember the quote I shared at the beginning from farm ranch life. “You wouldn’t plant a seed and then dig it up every few minutes to see if it had grown. So why do you keep questioning yourself, your hard work and your decisions? Have patience, stop over thinking and keep watering your seeds.”