How are you doing? - "So busy...". That is the number 1 phrase that came out of my mouth last year. I'm going to venture to say, it is the #1 phrase I heard as well. So as 2016 came to a close I was busy doing all of the stuff we had planned and at the same time BUSY sorting out how to slow it all down. When I looked back at the year there was 1 big thing missing - time. My first instinct was to think how can I manage my time better, how can I balance this all better? And that's when I realized I was trying to cram more spaces into my calendar.
The problem is there is this big loud idea floating around that says if we can find the balance point, then we can actually do it all. False - you can not do it all and have balance. Go ahead, say it out loud - I CANNOT DO IT ALL AND HAVE BALANCE. Those two things do not fit, they are oil and water, they will never jive. The act of balancing is literally to offset or compare the value of one thing with another...oh Wow, I love this definition. In other words Balance in Life is not the act of trying to fit everything in, it is the act of determining what has value to you.
This is what my heart was doing. I was literally measuring the value of all of the 'things', activities, work, and to dos that were filling our life and realized that I had accepted the lie that lack of time was simply part of life. But if that's the case how in the world do you ever enjoy anything? If you always feel like you're running late, running behind, running to another meeting, running to pick up the kids, running...running...runnning but never getting to the finish line. That my friends is a recipe for drop dead exhaustion. And guess what, if you're always running you will forever be missing out on true community. Because connecting with people takes space and time.
If your calendar is crammed with extra spaces how will community even fit in? And is that even a logical idea, can you 'fit community in'? Is true community something that can be squeezed into the cracks? I'm going to argue no and here's why. It takes time. Not rushed time, but leisurely time to sit and simply listen. To really hear where someone is coming from. To hear another person's heart means you have to slow your own pace down.
So here's my challenge to you - it's the same one I've been giving myself. Simplify your schedule. Instead of trying to cram more spaces in, look for ways to create space. These open spaces are not empty and sad, they are opportunity for community. Protect those open spaces like the county protects green space, these are your refuge.
And this is where dinner fits in. I am so glad I love to eat! I'm so glad that we as a human race NEED to eat. Meals are a natural built in 'green space'. Regardless of what the meal is or how fancy the table is set or if you're even sitting at a table, it is a time where you and your people can slow down and really hear each other.
Lots of the time around our table is spent just doing life together, talking about what's coming up, what happened at school or a funny thing we read - but that's when the deeper moments emerge. For the last 2 years I have had a group of women coming to help prep and serve at the Dinners at CiderPress Lane. This year, we started getting together for lunch once a month to simply eat, no agenda or to do list - just a meal together. This last week we sat and talked about life, where we're all at and the loads we are carrying. I have such deep respect for these women. The crazy thing is I would not know their stories, their hearts, their lives if we had not spent month after month chopping onions, setting tables and doing dishes.
So friends, do some spring cleaning on your calendars and block out big open green spaces. Then fill them by being together around your table, or go on an adventure, meet up for a long lunch or time at a park - let that space be your refuge where you can reconnect and hear each other's hearts.
And since we love setting the table, here's a super easy way to spruce it up! Tromp on outside and clip some ivy and run it down your table. The trick to making it full is to layer it and weave pieces into the bare spots. The ivy pictured below grows in our yard, so I love using it! Add in some lemons and tea lights in jars and you'll have a lovely space to gather around.
Cheers to finding true community in the green spaces in our lives.