For those that know me, every year I like to focus, not on a new year’s resolution (those just don’t work for me), but a word of the year. I was introduced to this word of the year journey back in 2013 and decided to implement it immediately.
Pretty simple, right?
- 2014 I focused on Being Intentional. I published two books. Scared but I did it.
- 2015 I focused on Balance. I began the daunting journey to say no in my life and strive for balance.
- 2016 I focused on Consistency. I was introduced to Paleo Lifestyle and ran my very first Spartan Race with my brothers and cousins. Healthy choices have been consistent!
Ok Cool. Through the years, I’ve placed focus on these and as much of a perfectionist that I am, I’ve learned to be ok with not perfecting each. I am intentional about pursuing them continually and being persistent on purpose.
As I review my 2016 and ask God to order my steps in making better, balanced, wiser, intentional and consistent decisions for 2017, I decided to add another word to my bag of (paleo) nuggets [duh rumh dshhhhhh] – SIMPLICITY!
Sounds so simple, but somehow, to me, it feels like trying to do a cart wheel while lifting a 215lb weight. Yea. Figure that one out.
You see, I’m kinda, sorta, a lot of bit complicated. As simple as I want and plan things to be, somehow, they always end up so dang complicated because of ME. As I did inventory of my own life, I had to admit that I inherently have a type A personality (call it a strength or a defiant weakness), but I can be a bit much. Because I like to do a bit of everything, I end up trying to DO everything a certain WAY!
I create vision boards in the beginning of the year. I am self-motivated. I work out and cook my own food. I enjoy graphs, excel sheets, color coordinated closets, queen of google drive, forms, clean rooms, organized by food groups cabinets and refrigerator, clear mind and a simple plan of action. Simple right? When I am presented with a challenge, it gives me an opportunity to meet that challenge and exceed expectations. So I go in with great excitement and expectation. I love transformation stories. I don’t leave or give up until I see the fruit of my labor. Any space that I am to spend significant time in, I convert into my personal safe haven. I can never leave it as I found it. Any position I apply for, I go above and beyond the call of duty to love and serve and implement. Though very selective, any relationship I engage, I go deep and address the hard things. I want everything to be meaningful.
As a result, I’m over the top on scheduling, planning and proposing them. And here’s the kicker, I want everyone to adhere to those plans. So while efficiency can easily be attained in my mind, not everyone fits those molds I create. Sometimes in an attempt to simplify things, I end up complicating it for those that surround me. Try living with me for a week and you’ll see what I mean. Just because I like simple formulas, doesn’t me those formulas work for those around me.
But that’s the catch. I have a goal in mind and my frustration comes in when I don’t see the results as I envisioned them or when it goes against what I PLANNED. I know there is a potential there and if it doesn’t sprout by the time I carefully calculated it should and how I think it should, I’m inclined to get annoyed and moody if I allow myself to go there.
In continually striving for balance, I’ve accepted that living a life of faith, love, family and friendships proves to defy every measure of calculation. I mean, every minute detail. A prime example is me trying to calculate, plan and strategically set goals for the day, when my, then 3 years old, daughter cuts her own hair with school safety scissors while doing homework.
As I stared at the chunk in my hand, all I can ask myself is How? Just…. How? I thought those were safety scissors and didn’t cut through hair! Well, Zinai and I discovered that they did. When I asked her what was she thinking when she did it, she said she needed a haircut like Mommy… Go figure!
Thank God it doesn’t cut fingers, but that nice chunk of hair cut right in the front hurt like it was my own hair! Needless to say, it deranged my plans for the day and for her natural hair care journey I had so lovingly and carefully devised! For the next 8 months I decided to figure out ways to do her hair without chopping her beautiful kinky curly locks but cover up the deep damage she did in her 2.5 seconds of creative 3-year-old hair cutting adventure. Talk about a conniption in the making!
So I had a choice to make. Wallow in my frustration or use that frustration as a teaching moment for her, but as a learning challenge for me. So, I went with the latter!
I decided to let her know that we go to professionals for haircuts but I taught myself how to braid in this journey of natural hair care and protective styles until it all grows back. Then we can go for a nice trim when that time comes. I couldn’t braid quite like the professionals, but I tried it my own way. And it worked! And the icing on the cake? Because I’m already a creative artist, this was a new way of teaching myself a new form of art while carefully managing hair care and making sure my daughter isn’t miserable while I’m doing her hair. Another opportunity to bond AND use strategies (CUE IN THE TRIUMPHANT SOUND OF TRUMPETS!!) You can’t even tell all that hair was gone, right?!
So it’s become a whole routine now. Washing her hair, deep conditioning, detangling, twisting, hair tie, styling, and learning natural, healthy ways to maintain her locks beautiful along the way. All while keeping her entertained with sing along movies, word games, reciting words of the week, planning our next adventure and/or telling each other stories!
Perfect. Now it’s not a challenge, but rather, it’s a cherished moment! Right?
But not everything turns out with a happy ending. There are challenges that I’m not meant to take on. There are boundaries that need to be set. There are things that need to be delegated. There are relationships that need to be fed while others are already dead. There is purpose to be fulfilled and communities to serve. And what I end up doing is complicating my life trying to do it all for all, by myself. I burn myself out trying to do both – what I’m called to and simultaneously run to where people are calling me to. Somehow I convinced myself that I am a self-sufficient “make it happen” machine that needs little rest and recuperating time, but then I get overwhelmed, frustrated and moody when I don’t. Then my alone with God and personal time gets the cut back. I wasn’t meant to keep running like this. NOPE!
I’m wondering if you can relate?
Because of my natural tendency to do all and be all, I take the time to evaluate where I am every now and again to see if what I’m planning to do is actually necessary. Although doing Zinai’s hair and maintaining it well has become second nature and an amazing bonding experience, I’m ok with trust worthy stylists taking it on for me (and yes, Shaun helps too!). Of course I still do the main washing and deep conditioning but I certainly bring or send products and warn about not doing it to tight.
So I ask myself often: Are my goals realistic? Is my to-do list manageable? Do I really need to go on that trip? Do I really want to take on another task or design project? Is that network and organization yielding fruit? Is this work out regimen working? Is that monthly expense necessary? Do I really need to go to that birthday party? And the list goes on. I have to make myself think these things through. So that’s why it feels like trying to do a cart wheel while lifting a 215lb weight. (By the way, I just learned how to do a cart wheel like 2 months ago! LOL!)
It’s challenging for me to say NO to things I CAN do naturally or CAN TEACH myself or LEARN. It feels foreign to sit and do or say nothing. It’s almost uncomfortable to not have a plan of action, even if it’s a vacation. So it’s work for me not to be on plan, work and/or do mode. But as Shaun reminds me continually, just because I CAN do it, doesn’t mean I’m SUPPOSED to do it. And the less time I spend doing unnecessary things, the more time I spend doing meaningful things!
Shout out to Stephen Reid of @shotbysteph for the great shots!
So it has become so clear to me that what I need is not another major world changing plan, project or platform. What I need is SIMPLICITY. Period. Maybe you do too?!
So how can we simplify? I’m embarking on a journey to figure that out. I’ll share as it comes and hopefully it’ll be fun, healthy and helpful!