On this trip, I was able to check off three, yes three, of my biggies on “My Bucket List.” It was a spectacular trip! And, it was more than just the trip or the place, God was speaking to my heart the whole way. In fact, He is still teaching me lessons from Italy and we have been home a week! Just today, He taught me another lesson as I opened my laptop! REALLY! Well, stick with me….
Before I left for Italy, I was on stress overload. I was hoping that Italy would be my “catch-up” time. Well, OBVIOUSLY I had never travelled abroad, much less to Italy. Ha! Italy was perfect for my stress overload. I was forced to getaway, refresh, renew, unplug, and make sweet memories. It was incredible. In fact, I am forever changed from my trip to Italy–more on that in a bit.
BUT! I got NOTHING done.
All of those outlines, the research, and preparation are still there in my iPad–untouched…COMPLETELY. I didn’t get to work on any of my editing, writing, and definitely not any of my websites and web projects that are long, long, long overdue. Oh, let’s open up that iPad and give you a complete glimpse inside–I didn’t even get to watch the long list of movies and TV shows or read any of the new books on my Kindle app that I downloaded for the long flight.
Nope! I was as unplugged as I guess I could handle without getting stressed out–there was a period of 48 hours that I had NO INTERNET, NO EMAIL, NO TEXTING that was beginning to test me and I am so glad it was the last 48 hours of the trip.
Well, except for only a few emergency emails and updates on Facebook so my family would not worry (and so they could kind of “take the trip” with me through photographs). Just those things ate up my battery charge for the day and the internet time I was allotted.
This was SO good for me!
I needed this getaway. It was just perfect! I got the perfect amount of rest, the perfect amount of romance (Well, I could always stand more of that but this was VENICE so you can imagine that I am just a romance-addict if I wanted more!!!), the perfect amount of going, the perfect amount of socialization (and new awesome friends!), the perfect amount of planning, the perfect amount of exercise, and even the perfect amount of Italian food, even Gelato (REALLY–I lost 7.5lbs!!).
Go back to when that lesson began. Right before the trip, I was on stress overload. Not really because of my calendar, which has been a problem before but I am always watching out for this one. Not really because of my mind, which has a tendency to take things way too serious and get way too analytical for my own good. It was not even because I was not managing stress well. It was all of the STUFF hitting me.
I did well. Looking back, I am amazed that I am not sitting in the corner somewhere rocking myself. That month before the trip was one of my all-time most stressful months ever. If you look at the list of life-stressers, I had almost all of them going on in the course of one month. SCARY! But, the hardest part was not all of the change, letting go, keeping on moving forward, feeling mushy (ALL OF THE TIME), it was the little things that just kept on pushing me when I was needing to get a grip on my totally new normal!
That is what I noticed just a few minutes ago when I turned on the computer for the day. Well, first let me go back to my lesson…
Again, before the trip, I think the stress could best be pictured as a hurricane. Growing up in South Mississippi, I KNOW hurricanes. The devastation can come from the hurricane as a whole, but normally it is the little things that bring the most devastation–the floods, the tornadoes, the hail, the winds. In fact, when you are smack-dab-in-the-middle of the hurricane, things can seem very peaceful.
This is where I was as my husband began Law School, my daughter got married and moved to South Dakota with her husband (GO AIR FORCE!), our house was hit by a storm (still have the tree on the house), and on and on (this does not touch the list of things going on that month). It was not any of the big things that were stressing me out. I am very accustomed to life and having to roll with the flow. What was wearing away at me was all of the “life clutter” that was wearing away at me. The little things. The little crisis situations. The melt-downs (not by me or those I would expect). The constant push and pull. The messes everywhere SEEMING to need me to fix them.
Felt this yourself?
They were the things that were stressing me out.
I could not clearly see what was really bothering me in the midst of the storm. I just gave it all to the Lord. I know that is always the best thing to do, but it was a bit different. I was so overwhelmed that I didn’t know what else TO DO. I knew that He would take care of everything and give me a peace that He had given sooo many other times before. And, He did. Well, along with a big lesson that I am not going to forget very easily.
Ready for that lesson?
If I want to live the life of my dreams, I am going to have to get rid of the little distractions, annoyances, stresses that are stealing away time, energy, focus, and clarity.
Things went on without me. This means two things:
1. If I can cut out as much as possible, I will have more time, energy, focus, and clarity to truly step up to the call God has for me.
2. These little things are stealing away more than just my calling, they are stealing away MY LIFE.
God has already been asking me for MONTHS to evaluate all that I do in the light of whether it is really important, vital, eternal. He has been asking me whether my options were trash, trinkets, or treasures. I have been getting that lesson down deep into the “crooks and crannies” of my heart and mind. The problem was in how to clean up things so that I don’t have so many distractions and little stresses. THAT is the part of the lesson that I want to share with you.
IF we are going to be able to work with focus, clarity, and intention, we MUST get rid of these crazy stresses in our lives–the little things. Oh! We might think that we can handle them, but can we? Really?
Do we find ourselves always stressed out?
Do we always feel pushed, pulled, about to fall apart?
Do we wonder where our time is going ALL THE TIME?
Do we wonder why we are not getting around to those things to do that help us reach for our dreams?
Do we wonder why we cannot seem to live the life that we THOUGHT we could live?
The trip to Italy gave me a clarity that I have been needing for a while. I know that I cannot control the changes that come in my life. I know that seasons will come and seasons will go–I embrace that! I know that there are always going to be choices that have to be made. I am good with all of that. However, sometimes I find myself almost drowning with the life clutter and I cannot even see it for what it is. This was one of those times.
1. Relax. Do first things first–MY FIRST THINGS! IF there is time, energy, and clarity of mind left over, THEN I will allow someone else’s FIRST THINGS into my day. If not, I will take time for ME–quiet time, time for a walk, time for a jog, time for the gym, time to bake, time to scrapbook, time for romance, or even time for a nap. Those are the things that fill me up again and give me MORE to give out tomorrow. They MUST come before crisis situations, shiny objects, melt-downs, and, definitely, BUSYNESS!
2. No more allowing the constant crisis situations to rule my schedule. (!!!!) Do you know that NOTHING absolutely HAD TO HAVE ME while I I was in Italy? NOTHING. I have got to remember what Harold says all of the time, “Someone else’s crisis does not mean that it is MY emergency.” If I want to be able to really get things done, I am going to have to keep my eyes on the mark and not get distracted so easily!
3. People DO NOT have to have ME. (Sobering huh?) Sometimes the very best thing for them is running into that wall. They NEED to come to that place that I have come sooo often–where only God will do. That is my greatest secret to success. THAT is what I really want to teach others with my websites, my blogs, my books, my teachings, and even my social networks. He IS the best teacher, the best mentor, the best comforter, the best shepherd. There will be times that He will use me. However, I can rest, relax, and pull away without fear that life on the planet will unravel without me. HELLO!
4. Yes. I CAN turn off the computer for more than one day–not answering emails as they come in! TOUGH, TOUGH, TOUGH–but the 48 hours of being blacked-out showed me that life does go on without me and I can always say I am sorry–however, I cannot get back what really matters if I miss it! No. I will not go out of business just because I go out of town or take a break. (My systems like my shopping cart, autoresponders, and WordPress are made for things like this!) I think that my biggest thing to do right now is to regularly UNPLUG. When I do, if there are things that blow up and go crazy, then THOSE are things that I need to troubleshoot so I can find systems or maybe even help/helpers that will fill that void regularly–who knows, maybe even daily. What WOULD it be like if I could simplify to such a level that I can really stick to only the things that really matter? Just HOW productive COULD I BE??? Hummm….
5. All of those offers on the internet (or mail) are not what I need TODAY or probably any time soon. And, enough is enough! I can unsubscribe from all of this extra email, miss a few webinars, and de-stress! I can also save up my money and invest it into what I really need NEXT. Noble thought, huh?
Yes. This trip had an incredible impact in my life. It is SO worth every penny we spent going away. It is SO worth the time we spent preparing to go. It taught me a life-lesson that is already impacting every area of my life–to UNPLUG.
I will be unplugging more and more so I can live the life of my dreams because TODAY IS THE DAY!
What are YOUR action steps today?
What will you do today so you can truly live the life of your dreams–TODAY????