I know how this goes.
I have just come off of three straight months of book promotion and all of a sudden I am without four major commitments to sprint to between kindergarten and preschool pickups.
I am in "in between time." The time where I should be finding the floor beneath the sea of paper notes, magazines and discarded shop vac in my teeny office. The time when I should be thinking of superb creative ideas to pitch. The time when I should be following up with, I don't know, 630,000 people. The time when I should be blogging, should be going to yoga to deal with my bum hip, should be, should be, should be.
And the "should-bes" take up residence somewhere between my eye sockets and ribcage -- just kind of sitting there, a thousand unwelcome squatters -- blocking my view, making it difficult to catch a breath, SUCKING ALL LIFE OUT OF ME.
So, I Facebook. Obviously. Because that will take care of things. Just the ticket! Let's do this thing.
Fat babies. Check.
Crazy-making debate about whether you're a good mom if you: (a) clean (b) don't clean (c) drink at 3 o'clock in the afternoon. Check.
Breaking News! Paleo diet is more eco than Veganism. What?!
This is what happens every time I let the stealthy "should-bes" in, what happens when I try to push on instead of stopping and being in it. What happens when I don't take my own advice to slow long enough to start listening.
Listening to my body's wisdom: Go outside and sit awhile at the picnic table. Breathe it in: the dewy morning, the symphony of spring.
Listening to the thoughts that say: Get down on the floor and clean up. It will be good for you. Let's get this thing organized, because as you physically sort the items, you'll be mentally sorting things out, too.
Listening to the quiet voice: You were made for more. You are more than the sum of these shoulds or should nots, these momentary successes and failures. You are more. There is more. Stop and stay awhile, my child: You are loved.
It's amazing what happens when we start listening to the right voices, when we take ourselves out of the 140 character chatter and make space.
We all need space to create. Space to hear. Space free from the constant urge to produce and consume. Space to rest. Space to notice the wondrous detail of the people and world right in front of us.
Like most 21st-century humans, I am burning the candle at both ends. When I feel the world spinning too quickly and have a moment's respite, I don't look up, I look online. I scroll through Facebook because, well, that's what I do. This indifference to an obviously compulsive behaviour lets a day slip quickly by.
The "should-bes" in our lives clamour all around us 24 hours a day, more so now than in any age in history. Not only do we feel the constant need to create, produce, and succeed in every facet of our lives but also the expectation to chronicle our every move on Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. No one can keep up. Not one.
Instead, it is in composing a life, in letting our yeses be yeses and our noes be noes, that a sense of clarity and lightness floods in. There can be peace because we have chosen how to spend our time. There can be joy in self-forgetfulness when we stop worrying about posting everything out into the ether, instead delighting our loved ones with our presence, anecdotes and ideas.
I'm sitting cross-legged on the floor now. The recycling bin is looking rather full. I found a thing or two I'd forgotten about: a photograph of my daughter and I on the beach last summer, a note from Jess saying thanks. I think I'll send her a reply.
That seems like a good place to start.
Christina Crook is an essayist, TEDx speaker and author of The Joy of Missing Out: Finding Balance in a Wired World (New Society Publishers, 2015.) #JOMO has appeared in over 100 publications including The New York Times, Psychology Today, Hands Free Mama, Utne Reader and Huffington Post Parents.
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