I sent this lovely picture (to the left to the left) of the oh so stylish SJP to one of my close girlfriends, Serena, and said “I’d like a photo op like this please.” Her response was “I can make that for you.” I didn’t doubt that she could because she is one of the most talented creatives I know and I am beyond grateful that I get to call her friend. We continued texting, about anything and everything including the winter storm threats both of our cities were under, her asking in response to my day not being what I needed when I was going to let it go and go be the best version of myself, and good words I heard earlier in the day from one of my favorite podcasts, Chrystal’s Chronicles with Chrystal Evans Hurst. “Listen to your life.” I texted Serena. Her response “And what’s your life saying?”
Can I just say that only a real friend responds like that. Only a real friend asks the necessary question and waits for the vulnerable, unmasked, scary to text or say out loud answer. “It’s saying there’s a lot I need to shed/let go of.”
She called me after that text and kept doing what good friends do. She shared some things she noticed when we last got together a few weeks ago over tea but waited for a better time to speak on them. She encouraged me and shared how excited she is and has always been about my gifts, talents, and goals. Lastly, she agreed that there are still some things that I need to shed.
We ended the call with me expressing deep hope for a snow day the next day, because what I needed almost as much as I needed to go to sleep, was to be purposeful about listening to my life. I just wanted a moment. A sweet tea, journal, pen, bible, moment to listen to what my life was saying.
Well blessed grown man Jesus heard my prayers. Around 6am, jut after hitting snooze for the second time (I was listening to my body) a text came through from my college saying campus was closed for the day. Hallelujah! I tried to go back to sleep after a round of group texts with family, but only for about a half an hour. Then I was up, sipping tea, and reading the devotional I purchased for Lent. The overarching theme in the passage for the day- timing, including the time for what was. I took it as a hint to make sure I made time to listen to my my lie today about what there still was for me to shed and let go of.
I won’t lie. I didn’t immediately grab my journal from my side table, ink pen, and curl up in the chair by the window in my bedroom. Nope. I got on Pinterest, Instagram, checked personal email (it was a snow day, I was not trying to check work email), etc. I got up and enjoyed some banana chocolate chip pancakes and then made my way to the gym. Don’t worry, the snow in my part of the city was still fairly reasonable to navigate and my gym is like three- ish blocks away. Walking there would be my warm up.
In fact, there was no “sweet tea, journal, pen, bible, moment” because life isn’t a moment. It’s a series of moments. So throughout the day, throughout the moments that made up my day, I did more tuning out and more tuning in to listen to my life. I paid attention to what I was attracted to on social media. I took a 2 hour nap. I didn’t answer each call that came in and was only the initiator of a few calls that went out. I didn’t even immediately respond to each text that came across my phone screen. I chose low impact machines at the gym and didn’t watch any of the televisions playing a steady stream of political news. I was selective about how I spent my time today, tuning into the decisions to be made about upcoming travel, financial commitments, time commitments, heart string commitments, telling my entire truth to a student who emailed me from my former institution about the ways in which racism, discrimination, and inequity were pervasive on campus (and from what she shared, still is) during my tenure there.
I’m still working through Valerie Burton’s book Successful Women Think Differently. Recently I answered a series of questions helping me understand what helped me to be at my best in my relationships, finances, career, health, and faith. When I look at my responses to those questions and think about the words of Chrystal Evans Hurst, “Listen o your life,” it was crystal clear that during my best moments, I was at my best in terms of listening to my life. My boundaries were firmer, my work aligned with my beliefs, spending wasn’t a means of coping or purchasing items to look happy in an effort to overcompensate for misery, exercising 5 times a week wasn’t something I even though twice about, and I made decisions that aligned with my beliefs and the goals I had that best allowed me to live from my strengths and on purpose. The more I listened to my life, both to what I needed and wanted, the better I was.
I want to encourage you to start listening to your life this week. Listen to what your life is telling you. Don’t hush the whispers for rest, for connection, for exercising. Don’t roll your eyes at her voice to write more, connect face to face over coffee with a friend instead of texting, make reservations for date night with your bae to nurture your relationship. Resist putting your fingers in your ears when she says call a therapist to help you navigate the burn out, depression, anxiety, or PTSD. When she says you need to spend some time dreaming a new dream, dream on. When she says you need to assert yourself, strategically and confidently go forth. When she says draft the resignation letter, draft it on the nearest napkin if you have to. When she says you are on the run, it’s okay to ask if you running from or running to. Listen to your life. Can you hear you now?