For a long time, I had been running. I think I started out dancing. Life was really joyful, and I was twirling through my days. I had creative and faithful friends, three babies, a marriage that had miraculously survived disaster, and I was a well known force in my lively town. I danced to a beat that I set for myself in rhythm with the heart of Austin.
But then my dance got more frantic, and before I knew it, it became an all out sprint. I'm the one who set the pace. Then one day I lost the time, looked up, and realized I couldn't keep up. I had been running for a long, long time. I was weary. What was once light and fun became toilsome. I tried to keep up, I really did, but I couldn't balance making new friends, homeschooling, blogging, parenting, happiness, and navigating a new landscape. Joy felt just out of my grasp.
So I sat down. "Just to catch my breath," I told myself. And then I laid down. "Just until I figure things out," I told myself. And then I pulled the covers up over my face. "Just to focus on me for a bit," I said. But then I hibernated, waiting until everything and everyone around me stopped moving so fast.
That day never came. The world doesn't slow down just because you do, and getting back into the noisy, whirling fast lane is so nerve wracking when A- you never intended to get in the fast lane to begin with, and B- you honestly don't know the destination.
I wasn't depressed. I wasn't sad. I wasn't tired. I was just lost, I guess.
Correction: I felt lost, but I knew right where I was. I just didn't know who I was because I couldn't fit into a tidy little box anymore. There wasn't enough space in my Instagram bio to capture myself because I am full of contradictions. I am both too busy and too lazy. I was resting yet I was restless. I was too full yet not satisfied. I wanted to dance and I wanted a nap. I am a maximalist with minimalist aspiration. I am silly and serious. I am Martha and I am Mary.
2016 was a year of withdrawing from everything while I wrestled through these contradictions and tried to be okay with the fact that the world is rushing, rushing, rushing. I am starting to see that my race is against no one. My race isn't a race at all. It's just life. Sometimes I run. Sometimes I dance.
When Erin Loechner's book "Chasing Slow" landed on my doorstep the day after New Years, I devoured it. Reading her words was like sitting on a porch swing, chatting with a kind and wise friend, hot tea in hand. I cannot count how many times I found myself nodding along in agreement, saying, "OMG. Me, too!"
If you find yourself full of contradictions, this book is for you. If you want to chase down happiness but you're sick of running, this book is for you. If you've ever felt like not enough and too much, this book is for you.
Some of my favorite quotes:
We are doing ourselves no favors when we look to the crowd to tell us where we are.
Social media has caused us to crop out the contradictions in ourselves.
Who would have known that more would make us feel like less?
Erin Loechner blogs at Design for Mankind and Instagrams @ErinLoechner. I've been a fan of her deliberately different way of living and blogging for years, and we became fast friends at Alt Summit and TxSC in 2015. Zondervan gifted me with a copy of Chasing Slow, which drops tomorrow, January 10, 2017. I'd like to thank Erin and her heart in this book for inspiring me to put pen to paper again.