Shauna Niequist — renowned author of books like Present Over Perfect — and I, we’re really great friends.
(I mean, in my head at least)
I took a mini-retreat to get my head on straight about why I do what I do, and Shauna’s words joined my prayers at the helm of the journey:
- If I quit my 9-to-5, why am I NOW tempted to work 24/7, Lord?
- Why do I still feel SO freaking awful telling people no? But strangely love saying no at the same time?
- What things did You knit in me to love, and how can those show up in my life at 28?
Like nearly half my Instagram feed (it feels), I read Present Over Perfect ... and got more business advice than I was expecting.
Here’s what I learned.
1. Eating disorders still don’t work as a stress-management tactic. Self-care? It does.
Many of y’all know my little — ok, fine, rock-bottom life-changing — story of being partially hospitalized for generalized anxiety, depression, and anorexia in 2015. In a nutshell, it was how I coped with overwhelm and stress.
“Self-care was for the fragile, the special, the dainty. I was a linebacker, a utility player, a worker bee. I ate on the run, slept in my clothes, worshipped at the altar of my to-do list, ignored the crying out of my body and soul like they were nothing more than the buzz of pesky mosquitoes … You don’t have to damage your body and your soul and the people you love most in order to get done what you think you have to get done.”
Takeaway? Schedule self-care into your to-do list.
For me, maybe it’s a calligraphers’ guild evening, an abstract painting class with Augusta Wilson, or a lunch break (like, an actual lunch break) on the patio with a book in my hands.
2. The world (aka my business) won’t crash if I arrange it to do less.
I basically just broke all the marketing rules the internet is screaming:
I didn’t send out an email for 6 weeks. I had an incomplete website up. I sent out 55 emails in a funnel with … no text in the body field.
“Wrung out and over-scheduled to the point where even things I love to do sound like obligations, and all my deepest desires and fantasies involve sleep and being left alone. My greatest dream is to be left alone? Things have gone terribly awry … What would happen, what would be lost, if I stopped, or if I slowed down to a pace that felt less like a high-speed chase all day, every day?”
Girl, if you need to do you, do you. If that means your business is going to be a hot-mess-express while you take out the trash, let it be.
Takeaway? The Lord is to be trusted. Despite snubbing all the internet marketing rules for SIX WEEKS, I still got work (too much work), I still had an income, and nothing exploded. I’m not saying this always happens. I’m saying that we weren’t created to run ragged.
And maybe by nobly repositioning things to go after what matters– even if it means ignoring the “rules of the game” while we do it — things will come out okay in the end.
3. Hold close to your essential self in your work.
I HATE the term “work/life balance.” I do.
Why the heck is my work not part of my life, I think?
I personally feel like my work is an extension of my heart and my dreams, or at least it should be, so I don’t want to set it up offense-vs.-defense style on a football field warzone in my life.
So when I sat there on a train from Paris to London this summer reading Shauna explain how she found her senses attuned to the things she’s loved since adolescence, it clicked. That’s me, too.
I thought that my midlife season would be about pushing into a new future … and it is. I thought it would be about leaving behind expectations and encumbrances of the past. It is. What I didn’t know is that it would feel so much like recovering an essential self, not like discovering a new one.
Get to know it, the way you get to know everything in the world about someone you’re in love with … This self — this fragile and strong, creative, flip-flop, and ponytail self — she’s been here all along, but I left her behind.
Have you read the book? What did you think?
And if you’re interested in scooping it up, here’s the link to Shauna’s books on Amazon!