Sunday, January 3, 2016

In 2016: Simplify

I have written this post in my head a dozen times the shower, trying to fall asleep at night, driving home the day after Christmas with sick kids. Every time it starts and ends a little differently, but the essence is this: Simplify. This word has been rising up in my heart for months, maybe years now. Simplify. Focus. Be Present. 

In May of 2014 I joined the world in owning an iPhone. Framed as a Mother's Day gift, it was a practical purchase aimed at assisting me in running my online Etsy business, helping me keep up with this growing blog, and allowing me to train for the half-marathon I was planning to run later that summer. A year and a half later, I can say that in many ways my iPhone has done all those things, and perhaps even well. I completed the half marathon as well as a triathlon, I have paid our mortgage most months through my business and I have published a book birthed from this blog and the community surrounding it. 

But I quickly learned that my iPhone did one other thing best of all: It beckoned my attention 24 hours a day, creating stress and a lack of focus in life.

I realize it's probably not fair to shift so much blame onto an inanimate object. I mean, it's just a tiny electronic device, right?! And so I have tried to establish better boundaries, drawing wisdom and motivation from Safford's book, Hands Free Mama. I can own the fact that it is ultimately my relationship with my iPhone and the boundaries (or lack thereof) that I enforce with it that are the real issue. And yet, for me, owning an iPhone has been a stress-inducing, distraction-creating, presence-sapping existence. It has been like having a large, flashing To Do box always at my side, incessantly waiting to be checked. And being a list-maker and a list-checker, I am drawn constantly to the need to check - check my email one more time, check my blog comments one more time, check my social media feed one more time. 

And so I check. And then I feel guilty for being "sucked in" to this distraction yet again. I ask my kids to wait while I send a quick email, hush little mouths in order to post a photo to social media. I try to keep my business and blogging and social media plates all spinning at all times, and frankly, I do it pretty well. But there is a cost, and for me it is the health of my soul. Because I cannot seem to find a boundary that allows me to own this device and remain present in life. 

If this whole journey into telling my story has taught me anything, it is to offer myself and others far more grace and flexibility than any hard, fast rule could ever allow. And so, as I head into 2016, eager to find simplicity and presence in my days, I am not setting any New Year's Resolutions, I am simply setting my iPhone down. I am walking away from this blog for a season, signing off of social media for a time. I am turning off the flashing To Do box, maybe even leaving it at home for a day. Not as a hard, fast rule; not as a strict, forever boundary, but as a means to creating distance between myself and the distractions that are keeping me from peace and presence. I am simplifying.

Telling my story here at NBrynn has really given me back my life. It has brought me back to myself and allowed me to journey through so many hard seasons and difficult emotions that I would never have been able to do without the written word. I will forever be thankful for the platform of this sacred space in allowing me to tell my story. May you find such a sacred space in your life, and may we meet someday, face-to-face.

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