My family and I stepped out of our regular lives for a few weeks at the end of the summer and we did lots of sitting and reading and the kids lots of swimming and swimming. My Man read so many good books on the topic of rest and replenishment and care for the soul and as he read, he learned things (go figure!) and as he learned things, he’d share them with me.
One afternoon he asked me, “What are some activities that replenish you?”
It took me a few minutes to answer because I’d never thought about the things that replenish me. I could tell you in about 4 seconds the things that deplete me which happened to be his next question. I didn’t have any earth shattering answers, nothing surprising to the second question and really, not anything amazing with which to answer the first question either.
You’d not be surprised to learn that some of the things that appeared on my “replenish” list were reading, baking, watching mystery shows on TV as a family, reading, spending time alone, stringing together a paragraph or two in this space, spending time with my Man, good ice cream, running…oh, and reading.
The “deplete” list was equally predictable and very likely the same as yours-is there anyone on earth who looks forward to unloading the dishwasher or bleaching the dishrags? Anyone look forward to having difficult conversations that need having?
If there were no shocking revelations, what’s the big deal about the two questions?
The big deal is that just the mere action of realizing that there WERE things that did “fill my cup” and there WERE things that tipped it over was so helpful to my "everyday”. Now, when my heart grows dull and my perspective on the things of life grows a bit sour I know that there are some real things that I can do to help! Here’s the biggest thing though, I’m learning that when I get involved in one of those “replenishing” activities I should not, as most busy gals tend to, feel guilty about enjoying that activity. Instead, I should freely lean in to it knowing that I’m being replenished…nourished, if you will by a bit of doing what I love.
It works on the “depleter” end of things too. There are things in this life that I have to do whether they nourish me or not. Things that make life in this world run smoother and with less angst are unavoidable and must be accomplished…believe me, if you ignore them those things grow either in actuality (laundry) or in stress (an activity that makes going to the dentist seem like a party).
IF however, you KNOW that you have an activity that sucks the life right out of you, you can face it with wisdom. One of my big depletes was dealing with a calendar that was busting at the seams with little or no downtime at home to breathe. So, if I see a nasty week on the horizon, I can make sure I’ve got a good replenishing activity or two at the ready. I can also make sure I’m not taking on any extra projects that week and that I’m getting enough sleep, etc. I’m learning it helps to play offense when it comes to the unescapable depleters.
There were a few depleters on my list that were not “have-to’s” and when I realized what a drain they were, I eliminated them from my everydays. Sound harsh? Imagine that you have a pair of pants that fit you poorly. They either pinch you in the wrong places or you spend every other moment pulling them up and adjusting the pockets. By lunch time, your pants have made you a cranky mess and at the end of the day you are relieved to remove them and put on anything else.
Next week, you have a choice, do you put the pants on again? You could, but you’d be choosing to end up cranky. Your other option, assuming you have another pair of pants, is to part ways with the pants! Why keep doing something that drains you? Why keep putting on cranky pants? We’ve all got to delete the unnecessary depleters.
Now, it’s your turn. Take a few minutes sometime soon to consider what those activities are in your life that run down your batteries. Knowing what they are will go a long way to figuring out how to deal with them in a more fulfilling way. Then ask yourself the fun question: What are the activities in your life that nourish you? Give yourself permission to be involved regularly in these pursuits (but don’t forget the laundry in the process!) so that you and those who depend on you can benefit from the nourishment that will inevitably follow.