What's on your beam?

Once a week, I said. How hard can it be? I'll publish a new blog post once a week. Ahahahaha, yes well, let me wipe the tears of mirth from my eyes as I tell you, the best laid plans rarely survive enemy contact (or so says Helmuth von Moltke). And so it is that, after almost a THREE month break, I am back at the computer, typing away. 

It's not that I didn't have anything to write about. No, there is always something to write about. It's that I had a lot on my beam. Bless Jen Hatmaker for giving me words to express how I felt. Wait, you don't know Jen Hatmaker? OK, I don't really know her either, but her book, "For the Love: Fighting for Grace in a World of Impossible Standards," was the first book we read in the book club of which I was a part in Georgia (oh how I miss that book club) and I've had a soft spot for this funny, genuine lady ever since. Author's note: go buy the book, you won't be sorry. Now back to my hiatus. 

At the end of August we moved out of our house and into a hotel. This is where I give heaps of thanks for good friends, because we moved into the hotel with two children, and NOT two children AND two cats. For the love! After five days in a hotel, we boarded a plane and began our epic adventure (turns out the adventure hasn't yet ended. Maybe the epic adventure is just life?), where we visited family and friends in five different states across the country. At some point, writing fell off my beam.  

Ms. Hatmaker encourages us to think about what's on our beam, those things that really need to be done. Not because of anyone else's expectations, or of perceived obligation, but because we find value and believe our time to be worthy of the things we allow to take up the energy and space in our lives. If they're not worth it, off they go! And so it was, that for 2 1/2 months as my kiddos and I traveled from Georgia to Washington State and back (and many states in between) I took writing of my beam. 

And now it's back, and it has me wondering. What's on your beam? Or perhaps the better question is, what could you take off your beam? The holidays are the worst for adding seemingly obligatory items to our beams. They really are. It's the parties and presents and shopping and cookies and cards!! It's so much!! I know, I know, some of it is lovely and doesn't feel stressed or "required." Keep those things! Your beam should be FULL of those lovely things! But those items that make you feel crazy? Take them off!! You can actually do Christmas cards in July! I know, that's when I do mine! You can say "no" to one of the many holiday parties to which you're invited, and instead stay home and drink wine with your spouse, quietly and happily wrapping gifts (yes, it's true, gift wrapping does not have to be a frenzied, last-minute event). See a fabulous item in February that you just know Aunt Margaret would love? Buy it!! Then put it in a closet and get it out before Thanksgiving, when you can wrap all your gifts in peace and send them out on Black Friday. Believe me, nobody is in the post office on Black Friday, they're all out shopping. You'd have the place to yourself! Think about all of this for next year, and for now, ask yourself these questions: 

"What can I really do without? What activities are truly stressful and simply not worth my energy during this very busy season?" Then take them off your beam. Write cards in July. Say "no" to the bake sale or cookie swap. Pay a little money for gift-wrapping; I see these things all the time that benefit non-profits, it's like doing two things at once- checking off a task AND helping a great organization. Get creative about how you're going to get through this holiday season. And relax. Not writing didn't hurt me, and saying "no" or "I'm so sorry, but it's not going to work out this year," won't hurt you. Practice this, "That's just not where my family and I are putting our energy this year." Pssst.... that may be from Jen! Buy the book, but read it in the New Year, after all, you don't need one more thing on your beam.

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