It was the sort of job that I did in the extra little spaces, like nap times and after the kids went to bed. I developed a habit during that time of constantly asking myself "What should I be doing?" Every time the house was quiet(ish), I would reach for my church to-do list and check something off. This little question helped me squeeze a lot onto my plate of commitment. We launched Cackleberry Studios during this time. We decided to adopt internationally and fundraise all the money. In the spring of last year we were doing all of that at once
Then last summer and the stormy, foggy cloud of grief descended. My mental and emotional bandwidth shrunk by half, and my little Productivity Question started driving me crazy. The compulsion to always find something I "should" be doing was a manifestation of my underlying anxiety. Especially when what you "should" be doing is crying your eyes out or wondering why this even happened to us in the first place.
For the first time in my life, I took major steps back from commitments. I learned to say "no." I needed more margin to heal and to take care of myself and my family. It was a hard decision, but it was such a relief.
Fast forward one year to today. We're back to adoption paperwork, and we go to the State Fair with Cackleberry Studios in three weeks! Eek! I'm still me, so I've collected some new things to do, too. I teach with VIPKid, a company that matches students in China with teachers in the States through the magic of the internet. Talk about a cool side hustle. A few early mornings and late nights a week I am in the living rooms and kitchens and even once at a campsite with Chinese students and their families, teaching them English. It's kind of a miracle, and super fun. (Side note: if you are interested in this, I'd love to chat with you about it.)
About a week ago I started noticing that old question bouncing around in my brain again: "What should I be doing?" The answer to that question was an impossibly long list, and I started to notice that it had some things on it that are supposed to be things I do for fun: "I should be knitting. I should be reading aloud to the kids. I should be reading my own books. I should be inviting people over for dinner." I felt the familiar panic start to set in as I felt trapped by all the things I needed to be doing because of asking this question.
I'm learning that I can't run flat out all the time, even if I'm running towards things I love and value. I can't take the turns that way. And while there's nothing in my life that I want to give up right now, I am trying to practice a new answer to that nagging question: "What should I be doing?"
"Nothing, for now." A few times a week, I'm giving myself permission to do nothing, or do only what I feel like doing, even if that's watching TV without multitasking or going to bed super early to read/fall asleep. It's amazing how that small practice of leisure has brought my heart peace this week. I'm still being pretty productive, and the things I haven't finished will be fine until I get there.
God is so good to command us to be still. His presence slips in quietly during these still moments of mine. Not to talk to me or to challenge me or even comfort me, but just to be with me. No agenda. Just to be.
Josh and Emily
We hope that by sharing our steps, challenges, and milestones of our adoption, you will see yourself as part of the community we hope to build around our child as she grows up.