July 13, 2012

The Sweetness of Doing Nothing

This is the last guest post to be published. As I look back on all of them, it's funny to me that there seemed to be a strong theme. I told everyone to write whatever they wanted, and they sent them in over a three week time period, but there seems to be a few central points they stress- that life doesn't go as we expect or plan but that's okay, and to slow down or get away to savor it. Although so many of these bloggers told me they weren't sure what to say, they said every single thing I needed to hear, and hopefully blessed you, too.

Charla's post is one of the slow down posts. It's a post you'll want to come back to and savor every once in a while. Her writing is the kind that can both soothe and challenge. It's sweet and easy, while giving you the energy of hope. And while she wrote very kind things about me, the truth is that this first paragraph of hers is a mirror image of herself.   

Hey, ya’ll: it’s Charla from Love, Charla. :)  I'm so thankful to to be featured on Erika’s space today.  Erika is, hands down, one of the sweetest, most encouraging people I’ve met through blogging.  Every time I see her pop up in my feed, I know that I’m going to be changed in some way.  Her honesty and transparency, through the good and the bad, is something I deeply admire and desire to display in my own life.  She’s one-of-a-kind, but the world undoubtedly needs more people like her.

Thank you, darlin, for having me in your corner of the world today.

Two weeks ago, I was preparing for my boyfriend to return home from a 7-month deployment.  The night before, I was curled on the edge of my bed—one hand holding my toes, the other holding a bright pink polish, my cell phone in the crook of my neck. 
My best friend was the one on the other end of the line, telling me she already couldn’t wait to hear all about my Marine’s return.  I blew on the wet polish on my toes and smiled.  “I’ll text you tomorrow, as soon as I can.”
A long sigh came from the other end of the phone.  “I don’t want you to take this the wrong way…but for the next 4 days, I don’t know you.  We’re not friends.  I don’t WANT to hear from you.  And I don’t want to see you Facebooking, Instagramming, Pinteresting, emailing, texting, or doing anything, excepting spending time with your damn Marine who’s been gone for 7 months!  I’m banning you from technology.”
I laughed.  Oh, how I love this girl.  “Well, can I at least post one Facebook status to say that he’s home?  I think I deserve that!”
“Yes, you do,” she agreed.  “I’ll give you that much.  But after that, if I see anymore, that’ll be 15 years of friendship down the drain!”
I don’t know if she knows this, but I needed her butt-kicking.  Because she knows me too well.  I’m not HUGE on technology.  I’m definitely not the girl that sits over her phone 24/7.  But there were so many times during my 4-day weekend with Ethan when I went to reach for my phone.  To take a picture for Instagram.  To post a check-in on Facebook.  And not even out of desire, but more out of obligation. 
Us women…we are known to be doers.  From the time our feet hit the floor in the morning, we are striving for the perfect body, the perfect hair, the perfect marriage and family, the most accomplished career, the prettiest garden, the most perfectly manicured nails.
And there can be a beautiful glory in the striving of our days.  But it can also wear us out.  Exhaust us.  Make us feel nothing but inadequate.  Sometimes we need the reminder, from someone who loves us, that it’s okay to just be.  That sometimes the world needs us to do nothing more than to just. be. still.
So, this is my letter to you, sweet, beautiful friend, giving you the permission to be still.  To enjoy life’s perfection in this moment.

I give you permission to shut off your computer.  To put away your phone.  To walk outside right now and just look at the sky.
To pour yourself a cup of sweet tea and to sit in your favorite chair.  And just sit and sit and sit.  Look out the window.  Say a little prayer.  Think about the tea you’re drinking and forget about the next thing on your to-do list. 
Put the shoes on your children and go for an evening walk.  And walk slow.  Breathe in the smell of freshly cut grass and watch the specks of light reflecting off the leaves in the trees and watch the sky fade from swirls of blue and yellow to the color of midnight.
Forget doing your make-up.  Embrace your messy hair.  Look in the mirror and declare it to be good.  Declare it to be beautiful.
Spend a night in the kitchen, trying a new recipe.  Pour yourself a glass of wine and crank up your favorite station on Pandora and open the windows and dance around the kitchen and relish the mixing and stirring and chopping and exhilaration of doing something different.
Wiggle your barefoot toes in the grass.
Make a bowl of fresh fruit and taste each bite.  Let the juices roll over your lips and down your chin.
Go the nearest body of water--just you and a book and maybe some tea.  Plop yourself in the sand and get to know the feel of the pages between your fingers, as if the whole of it were a long-lost lover.  Put your toes in the water.  And maybe, just maybe, dare to wade in.  Clothes and all.
Hand-write a letter.
Take some pictures of the sunset.
Pull out your old paints.
Turn on some jazz music.
Paint your toenails and watch a good chick-flick.
Call someone you’ve been missing.
And please, for one day, forget.  Forget about changing your house or your body.  Forget imagining a more perfect family, trying to achieve the perfect hair, or becoming a perfect cook.  Forget what the world tells you you’re supposed to achieve or how spiritual you’re supposed to be.  Forget about striving.
Put away those self-help books.  Put down the magazines with airbrushed people.  Forget about all those cliché slogans that haunt you with the fear of missing out on something, anything.  Forget the questions that plague you, like, what are you doing with your life orwhere are you going?
And if you can just do that, if you can pry your fingers open to release the illusion of perfection, it is in those moments that you will actually find it.  When the bridge between Human and Holy is blurred.  When Daily and Divine are not so opposite, as they often feel, but instead, wrapped up into one another.
It is in these moments that I have heard the whispers of God—in the smell of morning and in the taste of a handcrafted recipe and in the feel of the sun on my skin and in the laughter of my mother or best friend or the man I love.
So, when you find one of those moments, hold onto them.  Because, while the perfection we strive for is great, nothing is more beautiful than all the little perfections you’re holding in the palm of your hand

15 kind comments from you:

Anonymous said...

I *love* that black&white photo. Perfect.
Beautiful post, thank you Charla.

Jessica Lynn said...

this was just beautiful!

Kaylee said...

Great words.

Chantal said...

This is wonderful. Such a good reminder to just stop and be in the moment.

Deanna said...

Thank you for this beautiful post! Two days away from leaving my kids for a week, I need to soak them up and SHUT MY COMPUTER! Thanks for the gentle reminder. Signing off!

Anonymous said...

Glad he's home. My husband was a Marine for 8 years and just got back from Afghanistan last year. He's out of the MC now and it's nice to have him home, but there's no feeling like Homecoming, huh?

Sam said...

Great post :) That is exactly what I am planning on doing today before the craziness of work and moving creeps up on me!

Erica @ Mi Todo said...

I normally don't read guest posts when the bloggers I follow are away, but all your guests have really drew me in. Very rare. Thanks!

The New Normal said...

So beautiful...:) Definitely something I need to do more often.

Lindsay said...

Beautiful. Exactly what I needed. :)

Louise Joy said...

I really love this post and the message behind it! I totally agree with everything it says, so often we forget to just, well, forget and instead just 'be'. I've recently decided to switch off my laptop about 5 or 6pm and stop with anything to do with blogging, business or work from 6pm onwards. Now I relax more in the evenings, spend time with my family and usually only pop back onto my laptop if I'm feeling inspired to blog or to watch a movie or something :) xxx

Suzâme said...

Laisser dormir le timing. Dans votre living, juste aujourd'hui, on entend enfin votre respiration, le bruissement des feuilles de votre livre coup de coeur, de la poésie retrouvée...et puis cette musique, un vieux Pink Floyd et alors... vous êtes seule avec vous-même, sans penser à plannifier, contacter...pas de tout de suite... C'était ce que m'inspirait votre texte salvateur...Suzâme

beka said...

i so needed to read this. <3

kate said...

ah charla my love, always a beautiful post. i definitely know that sometimes we focus so much on doing instead of being. thank you for reminding me of the beauty that lies in simplicity and happiness. so wonderful<3

Mama said...

So lovely, Darlin'. Freeing.

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