Tuesday, February 7, 2012

do everything better and other revelations

I have a fan-freaking-tabulous friend who sends me chapters from a book I really cannot wait to read. and re-read. and write quotes on my mirrors. and my forehead. hails, you are correct. shauna niequist and I...we're kindred spirits. thanks for sending me words of wisdom at precisely the moment I need them. here are a few tidbits from this chapter called things I don't do...

And this is what Denise told me: she said it’s not hard to decide what you want your life to be about. What’s hard, she said, is figuring out what you’re willing to give up in order to do the things you really care about.

I don't have much to say about this except it gave me food for thought. rejuvenated me a smidge. made me want to give up a little less.

then shauna starts talking about how she's a list maker. how she makes to-do lists every day. and boy, can I relate...

At one point, I kept adding to the list, more and more items, more and more sweeping in their scope, until I added this line: DO EVERYTHING BETTER. It was, at the time, a pretty appropriate way to capture how I felt about my life and myself fairly often.

I read this and thought...yes! I feel this way ALL the time. I'm totally adding this to my list. thanks shauna!

it sounds like it should be the new nike slogan. I can just see a picture of a girl running in her sports bra and toned abs, looking all concentrated and determined with DO.EVERYTHING.BETTER. underneath it. can't you?

BUT, then I kept reading.

It also explains why I tended to get so tired I’d cry without knowing why, why my life sometimes felt like I was running on a hamster wheel, and why I searched the faces of calmer, more grounded women for a secret they all knew that I didn’t. This is how I got to that fragmented, brittle, lonely place: DO EVERYTHING BETTER.

The three together, DO EVERYTHING BETTER, are a super-charged triple threat, capturing in three words the mania of modern life, the anti-spirit, anti-spiritual, soul-shriveling garbage that infects and compromises our lives.

She was right. Deciding what I wanted wasn’t that hard. But deciding what I’m willing to give up for those things is like yoga for your superego, stretching and pushing and ultimately healing that nasty little person inside of you who exists only for what people think.

and shauna proceeded to make a list of things she does do and then a list that most of us never make. a list that is by no means popular, and may seem counter-productive to many. a list of things she doesn't do.

I'm thinking that's a hard list to make. and she admitted it certainly was for her. because, as she mentions, not being able to do everything, and having things that you don't do, can make us believe that we are weak. that we are less than so-and-so. but she is right - doing everything better is really just exhausting. draining. pointless. and mythical.  

I'm going to make a things I don't do list. it's going to be hard, but I've already thought of a few. things I don't like to admit, or things I put on my do better list. no more. here are some things I don't do:

I don't decorate or find cute items to put in my apartment. it's just not me. nor is it a talent of mine.

I don't do crafts/make cute items that could be used to decorate (see above).

I don't cook (for now. I think this is a season thing, because I want t, but I just don't have the time to do it now).

I don't accesorize well or keep up with fashion. if I could wear a t-shirt and jeans and flip flops every day, I'd be just fine with that. for now, I'll just let my friends help with this one when I want to look nice.

I don't get manicures and pedicures. if I paint my toes regularly, we're lucky. if I paint my finger nails, expect me to be trying to pick the remainder of the patches off a few weeks later.

I'm sure there are more, but I'm new at this. I want to be good at everything, and for a long time, I thought that the above made me a pretty cruddy female. but I feel a little freer now.

are there things you don't do?

It’s brutal, making the list of Things I Don’t Do, especially for someone like me, who refuses most of the time to acknowledge that there is, in fact, a limit to her personal ability to get things done. But I’ve discovered that the list sets me free. I have it written in black and white, sitting on my desk, and when I’m tempted to go rogue and bake muffins because all the other moms do, I come back to both lists, and I remind myself about the important things: that time is finite, as is energy. And that one day I’ll stand before God and account for what I did with my life. There is work that is only mine to do: a child that is ours to raise, stories that are mine to tell, friends that are mine to walk with. The grandest seduction of all is the myth that DOING EVERYTHING BETTER gets us where we want to be. It gets us somewhere, certainly, but not anywhere worth being.

-shauna niequist


Michelle said...

Wow. whoever this shauna niequist is...well, she seems smart and awesome. think i'll try to make a list of things I don't do...

thanks ash for posting. you are super cool! love you. and thanks to your friend who sends you chapters from this book. :)

jenna said...

Ooo... I have read her book, "Cold Tangerines". Are these quotes from that one? Or her book "Bittersweet". I remember feeling stirred, convicted, and understood reading that first one. Such good stuff.

May GOD bless us as we try to honor HIM by excepting our limits and thriving in the giftedness that HE has designed us to have.

ashley said...

Michelle - Shauna does seem quite wise! I'll tell Hailey thanks for you, too :)

Jenna - These are from "Bittersweet", which I cannot wait to read! Feel free to borrow it if you so desire.

Thanks for reminding me that God has created me with these strengths and weaknesses and that He will help us accept our limits and use the strengths He's given.