One month of the year has passed us already. We’re already on the eighth day of the second month of 2020. And to be quite honest, January felt like an eternity and a blur all at the same time.
The day after I posted about A Deeper, More Undistracted Year, my grandmother passed away. Four days later, we went back to school. Then it started snowing, one sister came into town for the weekend, I left town the next weekend for a work trip, and another sister came into town the following weekend. Oh, and I also had to finish report cards by semester’s end.
It was a lot.
Much of my plans for January went unmet, although I do have to say I did complete a month off of Netflix, and I hardly missed it [although – I did watch a few episodes of The Office on DVD – but it counts as bonding with family members, right??]. I read more, especially in many of the small moments I used to grab my phone.
I wrote a little more. I pushed myself to write blog posts, even when busy. I wrote more in the story for my kids in my classroom.
And I do believe I’ve been growing in intentional prayer times. Our prayer study at church and Bible study has helped immensely with that.
Everything else kind of fell by the wayside. But sometimes you have to do what needs to be done, and even the best-laid plans must be interrupted.
But now, in February, I’ve come to the first weekend where I don’t have any commitments, and I feel like I can breathe again. And it brought to mind a phrase I read in a book one time [my apologies that I can’t remember the title] – about creating margins in your life and your schedule.
Margins that aren’t crammed full with appointments, meetings, and to-dos. Margins that allow for spontaneity, for rest, and for pausing. Margins that let me linger a little longer by the window during my quiet time. Margins that give permission to suddenly stop by the sporting goods store and buy a bicycle. Margins that provide time to nap on the couch or have coffee with a friend at the last minute.
Community is such a good thing for our souls. And I’ve had some rich tastes of it the last several weekends. But other weekends are for quiet, routine, “homey”-ness – that allow us to take care of small projects, cleaning, and other such things.
Both are good, and both feed the soul. And I’ve come to find that when we don’t create those margins, our minds become overloaded and life begins to feel chaotic. And our souls don’t get the rest they need to recharge and pour back into other people.
So, I’ve decided to be intentional about creating margins in my schedule, both this month and this year. Some weekends are planned for friends and get-togethers. And some are planned to be at home. Some weeknights have after-school meetings – and some are open so that I can take up last-minute opportunities when necessary. Or go home and ride my pretty new bike. Or spend an hour writing.
Space to pause and breathe allows for more creativity, more thought, and a more ordered life. So, if your life feels a bit overwhelmed at the moment, think about what you could say no to in order to create more margins. You don’t always have to have an excuse to not go to something. In fact, your excuse could simply be, “I need to stay home and rest.”
And we need to be okay with allowing other people to have those margins in their life. It’s healthy to have some give and take in our schedules. It’s healthy to have some white space in our planners that we don’t know what will fill it yet. It’s healthy to be still and allow our minds to stop racing from one thing to the next.
It might not be possible in this season of your life. But maybe you can look ahead and plan for some margins in a few weeks or months. It will be a gift that your mental health will thank you for.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go light some candles, do some yoga, and soak in the beauty of this weekend’s margins even more.
What peace lives in the openness of these margins.
Photo by Neven Krcmarek on Unsplash.