Last week—in the nervous anticipation of a new school year—I threw my hands up and let go. To hell with it all, I’ll just rest.
This week—in the inevitable starting up of demands and a quickly filling calendar—I took one step after another, and listened. Is that a game plan I hear?
First, I am reminded of my phrase for living this year. Simplify: life-giving or necessary. In essence, this means I am to simplify my life, stripping off anything and everything that is holding me back from living out my most beautiful and passionate self. This means taking a tedious inventory of the people, events, and commitments in my life on a daily basis, asking myself if each one is either life-giving or necessary. Anything that does not fit into those categories must be let go. At least for now.
I thought I did a pretty good job of pruning my life at the turn of the year. I quit blogging in January, I stopped stressing about my social life (or lack thereof), and I did my best to choose exercise because it was my pill for mental sanity, not my attempt to get thin. But I am learning just now that saying no to things in my life for the sake of simplicity may require more than turning down what does not bring me life. It may also require that I say no to things that do bring me life.
I stumbled across a video this week [here] of Elizabeth Gilbert (author of Eat, Pray, Love) discussing the importance of saying no to things that we want in order to “say yes to the thing that we really, really want”. She perfectly sums up this idea by calling herself the bodyguard of her great work, which at the moment is a new novel. (Watch the first 3 minutes, it’s worth it.)
That is my new game plan. I hereby name myself the bodyguard of my great work, which is the Doctor of Nursing Practice degree that will be mine next May. I will protect it, nurture it, and determine to say no to things that may even be life-giving—such as writing or exercising or visiting family & friends—if at that moment they may be a hindrance to what I really, really want: to successfully, and with great passion, finish my doctoral program.
But there is one side note. I also do not want to lose my sanity, my growing and vulnerable heart, nor my precious, deep connection to my family of three. And so there must be balance. Ahh, that one word that always draws me back, always concludes my inner struggles, always ends every debate. In the end, I am the bodyguard of my great work, which can only be accomplished as I remain sane and wholehearted and intimately connected with others.
Guarding my prize is the goal, simplifying is the strategy, and balance is the secret weapon.