Just Life

Choose | May 2021.

Today is the last Tuesday of May … time to check-in with my OLW. In our fully-vaccinated bubble, choices abound, as do opportunities for connection (as I wrote about last month). My Friday morning prayer group met in person (mostly – we did have one woman joining from Texas via Zoom … it worked great having her “there on the laptop”) last week. and last Saturday, our Atlanta family gathered at my brother’s house to celebrate May birthdays (my brother, my nephew, and my sister-in-law’s mom all celebrate this month). It was the most people I’ve seen indoors unmasked since last March. and it was delightful.

HUGE apologies to the oldest generation (my mom’s knees off to the left, and Lydia’s mom’s off to the right – GAH!) and to leaving out Sara, who was seated to my right (and probably very happy not being in the photo at all)

of course, any opportunity to see those little boys – look how TALL Sam is! – is always a fun time!

When I wrote about Connection last month, I had no idea things would move as quickly as they have to open up. Turns out my second intention – More Stillness – has provided some helpful balance.

My small group finished reading Brené Brown’s The Gifts of Imperfection (Amazon link) this month. Most Fridays, we’d discuss one of Brené’s guideposts; it wasn’t a lot of pages, but oh my goodness the discussion was rich. Guidepost #8 – Cultivating Calm and Stillness – was especially meaningful. I love Brené’s definition of stillness:

“Stillness is not about focusing on nothingness; it’s about creating a clearing. It’s opening up an emotionally clutter-free space and allowing ourselves to feel and think and dream and question.” ~ Gifts of Imperfection, p. 138

She mentions that walking alone outside is one of her favorite ways to Be Still … she’s moving, but she’s finding that emotional opening (p. 140).

For me, a solo run to the lake – now a Sunday morning ritual (thank you Carolyn, for this framing!) – is that kind of time. I leave my earbuds at home. Once my feet and my breathing find their rhythm, my mind is open … for feelings, thoughts, dreams, questions, and occasionally, if I’m lucky, an answer or two.

It’s also my dark-early-morning-quiet time with my journal, a devotion, and 10 minutes of centering prayer.

Sometimes it’s reading, or knitting, or a conversation with a friend. Often it’s saying “no”.

and almost always, it’s a choice.

Huge thanks again to Carolyn for hosting … and to y’all for reading. xo.

12 Comments

  • Carolyn

    The intentional pace at which you read _Imperfection_ with your small group really inspires me, Mary. I read the book alone, so my pacing was totally different. (But I have a feeling it was designed for group reading?) I can imagine how rich your discussions have been!
    And Choose feels like a wise guide as the world reopens so quickly and we all have to start choosing between connection and stillness in a way that we haven’t had to in a while. And, for some of us, with whole new perspective.

  • Kat

    Having read Gifts of Imperfection for me… I appreciated my ability to stop, pause, and ponder things she talked about. But, I think it would be wonderful to read it again with a group to discuss. I love these little tidbits you have shared and seeing them from another perspective brings new light to things! Thank you for sharing.

  • Sarah

    Goodness, seeing that group together is such a balm for the soul! (Also, I love how the little boys have their own lounge chairs.) I hadn’t thought about it in this way before, but I guess my daily walk is my stillness time. It’s not that I’m staying still, but rather I am focused entirely on myself, with no work emails or phone calls to distract me. It’s no wonder that it’s a highlight of my day.

  • Bonny

    I’m so glad you can all gather together! We’re not quite there yet (vaccinations, pregnancies, and geography are at play) but we’re moving forward. I’ve been thinking about stillness during my recent walks, mainly because there seems to be so little of it! The cicadas are loud and constant here in MD, and the frequency seems to be one that just assaults my ears and grates on my nerves. I am taking my earbuds on walks now and turning up the volume!

  • kym

    I used to walk (or work around the house) with headphones all the time . . . audiobooks, podcasts, music in my ears. But for the last few months, I’ve found myself preferring to walk or work in silence. I didn’t make the choice intentionally . . . it just sort of happened. And I’m really enjoying/appreciating the silence. My podcast-listening has pretty much plummeted off a cliff (and I don’t seem to mind at all), but the centering stillness is a welcome substitute! Thanks for sharing your “choice” reflections this month. XO

  • Alexa

    Such a pleasure to see the happy gathering of family members across the generations … (We’ve not managed to see my son yet, as he’s in Europe and regulations there and ehre do not permit it.). I always enjoy your thoughts on what you’ve been reading and thinking. Stillness is such an inner quality, isn’t it – not bound up with the absence of movement at all. Hoping you continue to fnd your balance of inner and outer.

  • Carole

    I’m very grateful that we have an abundance of choices to make these days after so many months of having very few choices available. Stillness and silence are excellent choices for certain times.

  • Jane A. Wolfe

    What a lovely meditation on your one little word. I am having a hard time both remembering to post and also gathering my thoughts. How wonderful to see a family together.

  • Penelope Witthauer

    LOVE the family picture and the freedom for which it stands. I always love hearing about what you’re doing – someday we’ll have to talk about how your days look. I need more structure. Love your blog and being able to see you every week!

  • Katie @ The Cozy Burrow

    Your quote from The Gifts of Imperfection beautifully sums up why I chose it for my word this year… and now I really want to read that book! For me – it’s not about my body being still at all. It’s really about being able to connect with myself even when everything around me is total chaos. It’s ALSO about saying ‘no’ to a jillion new projects and interests (and stayiing off of IG helps me with that).

    I’m thrilled to know that we’re both thinkiing a lot about stillness this year – it’s as though I have a partner on this journey.

    I love the picture of your family gathered together. What a gift after all this time!

  • Lydia

    Again, I am having to bing read blog posts. Our gathering felt like such a return to normal- we are fortunate and blessed in so many ways. Looking forward to more to come. I definitely need to add this book to my morning reading. xoxo