Wow, it’s June, and the first week of the second half of the year is about to come to an end. This morning I found myself in a momentary state of paralysis, wondering where on earth the days went, and making a mental checklist of all the tasks, chores, dreams, drafts and photographs that have somehow piled up all over me these past months. Will I ever tick those items off my list?
(My instagrams from the month of May. I guess I didn’t need to ask where the days went.)
It’s actually my first week back at work too, after taking an entire week off to breathe and to reboot. Ahh, let me talk about that later. For now, I want to talk about starting fresh.
Sometime mid-May, I joined a group of women from all of over the world who responded to Lara Casey‘s challenge to start fresh. “May is the new January,” she said, and about 700 of us viewed her live stream to find inspiration, self-validation, and maybe answers to questions we dare not ask anyone or ourselves, maybe because we’re afraid of the answers, or we just don’t have the time.
“How are you, really?,” Lara asked as she began the session. Participants typed in their answers, and some of the ones that I remember clearly were the following:
“I love my children so much but they’re such a handful I don’t have time to pursue my other passions.”
“I’m scared to leave my day job to do what I really want to do.”
“I want to have my own business already, but I’m scared of failure.”
“I’m stressed out, my to-do list seems to never run out of items.”
I’m tired of saying I’m tired.”
I sat there in our dining area, half-way across the world from these women, at 12 midnight (live stream started at 12 noon EST, which is of course 12 midnight here in Manila), quietly listening to Lara, trying to keep up with the chat conversations, and feeling a sense of validation.
Everyone in the room was needing some form of change in their lives. Everyone wants to make things happen but feels stuck and helpless. It may be a little saddening that many of us felt that way, but mostly it made me feel safe knowing that none of these people/women will judge me for feeling the way I do because we’re all somewhat on the same page.
Just to be clear, it’s NOT about feeling unhappy, far from it. I think the general consensus in the (virtual) room was a feeling of overwhelm. There’s so much that needs to be done, and so much that we want to do, and we feel trapped somewhere in between, making us feel unproductive, and lost, and burned out.
Do you feel burned out too? Can you feel your heart screaming everyday, “there’s got to be more to life than this!”?
I think it’s time to recharge your batteries and start fresh. And if you missed out starting fresh last May, how about #STARTFRESHJUNE? (Ok, I just made that up, but hey why not?) The point is, we can always start fresh. There are no deadlines. There are no specific dates to do it. You don’t even have to wait until it’s the start of the year.
We all need to reboot once in a while, clear our thoughts, purge our closets, reevaluate our priorities, maybe even go back to the drawing board. It’s up to us to know when to throw in the proverbial towel and start doing something, that is, if we want anything to happen at all.
Lara gave three tips to starting fresh, and I want to echo them here because, if the 700 people who viewed Lara’s live stream any indication, there’s got to be more people out there who need to hear these things too.
1. Start where you are, with what you have.
The problem with most of us is, we feel that we have to wait until everything is perfect and in place before we can start fresh. We wait until we’ve acquired this or that, or when we’ve quit our jobs, or when the kids are older. While God commands us to wait on His perfect timing, we are often deluded into thinking that life doesn’t happen while we wait.
I like how John Ortberg describes the process of waiting:
For me, “starting where you are, with what you have” means I don’t have to wait until I find time—I have to make time. I don’t have to wait until I’ve developed a certain set of skills to make something happen—I have to embrace my gifts now and make the most out of what I already know and have. I don’t have to set aside my passions for later—I have to pursue them now, with what I have, step by step, one day at a time.
I needed to hear this. I needed to be reminded to embrace who I am and make the most out of what God has blessed me. Whether it’s a few hours at night when the kids have gone to sleep, or my self-taught design and development skills, or my aching desire to weave words together.
Surely we have more than enough to start with, we just have to do it already.
2. Look at the big picture.
What is your big WHY? Lara explained her why very clearly, and I applaud her for her courage to make a stand for her beliefs, without any fear of persecution or rejection. To her, everything is hinged on her desire to glorify God in everything and to lead others to know Him and His redeeming love. My heart was shouting “yes yes yes!” when Lara said these words. I have to say, this is ultimately the core of everything I do (and want to do) in my life, too.
When it’s clear to you what your purpose is, that which is at the core of your heart, everything you do will naturally revolve around that one thing. This also means you will start making conscious effort to strip off everything else that doesn’t uphold your big picture.
It’s actually an effective and practical way to set priorities, to know when to say YES or when to say NO. I’m not saying it’s easy to let go of things that don’t fit into your big picture, it’s actually pretty hard. But even the hardest decision you have to make in a day becomes worth it when you know that you’re doing it for something bigger than yourself.
3. Take the risk.
Now this is the part that’s still making me feel paralyzed until now. Taking risks requires making tangible steps. This is the part where you get out of your head and start doing something concrete. To most of us, this involves something drastic, like sending out your resignation letter or registering your own business or deciding to have kids.
For me, specifically at this point in my life, I have to take the risk of praying for.. (uhm) things. Let me explain. You know that saying, “be careful what you pray for?” I have this mental checklist of things that I know I need to start praying for, but I’ve been putting them on hold for a while. Often times, I’m scared of praying for my dreams, in the same way that I’m scared of dealing with my fears. You see, I’ve seen how God answers prayers, and I know that when He answers prayers, it’s always beyond “anything we can ever ask for or imagine.” Exciting, I know, but scary!
I also know that He can potentially say “NO” to my plans and close doors, which means somewhere along the way He might have to break me so that He can mold me the way He desires. (Which is, more often than not, a painful process.)
Ohhh I love what Lara said in one of her old blog posts:
So, scared or not, I’m going to start taking risks today. And I’m going to start with praying for things I’ve been avoiding to pray for, and letting God mold my heart until “what I want is the same as what He wants.”
Let’s just say, the fact that I’m blogging about these things now and openly sharing my fears and my dreams in this public platform (albeit in riddles!), means I’m making this commitment to God and to myself, with the world wide web as my witness. Something’s bound to change in this life of mine, and maybe soon enough you’ll notice (or read about) what changed too.
So.. ready to start fresh? Let’s do it.
A few other things
As if this post is not long enough, I just want to quickly share what I’ve been reading lately, particularly last week when I took a break:
- Ronnie’s posts have been a constant source of inspiration to me, so when she committed to blogging daily, I’m a happy camper getting my daily fix of her thoughts. She purged her wardrobe recently and a few days later, I was inspired to let go of a bunch of my clothes too. And then she talked about her struggle with learning to rest and switch off, and every single sentence in that particular post made me feel like she’s in my head or something. Thanks Ronnie. Keep your posts coming! I’m counting on you. :)
- This made me laugh so hard, and I happened to have read it while in transit, which probably made me look like a lunatic. Girl laughing by herself, what a weirdo. Haha. But it’s funny! Read it!
- This is an old one, but I’m still a little stoked (one month later) that someone would write such beautiful words about little old me, and place me in a list along with two women I look up to and admire. Thanks, again, Jody.
- Darling it’s okay to have more than one dream. Dream big dreams!
- Seems that I’m part of the 61% who work while on vacation. Tsk, tsk. Next time I take a long break, I will make sure to lock up my gadgets!
- Edit: This post by Rica Peralejo-Bonifacio moved me and gained me more RESPECT for Rica and people like her who choose to take the road less traveled. Hands. Down. God bless you, Rica.
Congratulations if you even reached this point, and thank you for taking time to listen the rambles of my heart. Feel free to let me know your thoughts! :)