I don’t know about you, but it is really hard for me to take a day off. Even when I am not technically working, I am always pressuring myself to get things done, check things off of my list, and to be productive. I have been on a sabbatical from my work as a counselor, and have only recently begun stepping back into that role on a very limited basis. So in these months that I have not been working, I’ve enjoyed resting, catching up on piles of paperwork, organizing my desk, and doing some much needed updating in our house. I’m in the process of turning three teen girl rooms into adult rooms, and if the popcorn ceiling doesn’t kill me, the posters and paraphernalia will. I have loved settling into a routine of quiet and being able to walk my dogs, enjoy beautiful days outdoors, cooking good food for my family and spending time with friends I haven’t been able to see much over the last five years.
Graduate school took its toll on me. At the age of 47, the school piece was challenging. The last paper I’d written was 30 something years ago, AND it was written in long hand and typed on a Smith Corona. While in school I completed three, 150 hour internships. After graduating in 2012, I spent two years logging 1500 clinical client hours, in addition to 150 hours of clinical supervision. To be honest, I had no idea that after completing the degree program it would take another two years to be fully licensed.
Did I mention that two of my three daughters married within five months of each other? Yep, we had a December wedding in 2013 and a June 2014 wedding. And the June wedding and reception took place at our house. It was a crazy, beautiful, stressful year for our family. Looking back, I wonder how we even got it all done. By the fall, I realized that I needed to step out and take a break. At Thanksgiving, I began my sabbatical and slowly settled into this slower life.
Except that after the first couple of weeks, I found myself once again feeling self-imposed pressure to get things done. I found a wonderful little yarn shop and began learning to knit. The shop invites people to sit and knit every day, and there are people who do that several times a week. I found a little community in this group of knitters and every time I go, I wish I went more. I enjoy talking with the other knitters. It’s wonderful to have someone available to help me when I mess up, which is often. I really love knitting. I love the yarn, the colors, the notions, and let’s face it, knitters are nice.
But here’s the thing, I have a hard time letting myself knit. Crazy, I know. There are all these things that need to be done, and I am that girl that feels like I need to do them first, before I can do something for the pure joy of it. This is a sickness passed on to me by my mother, who inherited it from her father, my grandfather. Unfortunately, I’ve passed it to my daughters too. I have always attributed my value as a person to how much I got done. So the more I did, the busier I was, the more worth I had. Except that it’s not true. Nothing I do or don’t do makes me any more valuable to God. I know this is true, but it’s still hard for me to believe most days.
My husband Will is a huge outdoorsman. He loves to hunt, fish, camp, and hike. And for the 28 years we’ve been married, he has made time to do the things he loves. And he pursues them with passion and gusto! Whatever Will does, he’s all in. Years ago we vacationed with some of his co-workers, and at one point his boss said to me, “Will vacations as hard as he works!” Very true. Very true. So last week I had a tiny epiphany. He came in the door after after work and said what he says every day. “What did you do today?” And I said, “I went fishing.” Will laughed and asked me what I meant. “I decided that when I get to go to the yarn store and knit, I’m going to call it fishing.” I went fishing today sounds better than I knit all day, right?
Mary Oliver writes, “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” Well, I want to soak in and savor the quiet times. I want to read when I need to clean my house. I want to knit when my To Do list is long. I want to fish more.