The end of January arrived, and life rushed in full swing. Track season is upon me. Students have settled into their new semester schedules and started to show their true colors. And of course, my own children demand uninterrupted, constant attention for the final precious hours we have daily together after work ends and home life begins.
New Years resolutions are holding on for dear life, and I ran head first into a brick wall. For a day or so, I sulked. There’s nothing like hitting a brick wall to bring pain. For another day or so, I sat and looked at the wall and rested, slept by the wall, woke up next to the wall, and sighed as I recognized the wall was still there – unmoving.
My current state brought to mind some important questions that I asked myself. Was navigating this brick wall even necessary? I have created some new habits, and they appear to make things easier, but I was okay before. I got along just fine before I implemented changes. Maybe I need a little time at home to wrap up some of the loose ends from a long day in the classroom. And wasn’t it me that talked about the importance of “me” time amidst all the chaos? I mean, mindless hours of staring at television shows I have mild interest in at least gives my brain a small break for some recovery. And then, as always, in the middle of my self-dialogue (prayer – as I have come to know it), that ever familiar still, small voice began speaking.
“Is this what you want Brittany? Exhaustion and headaches are your final answer. This is your final answer. I can hardly believe you came this far to stop and turn around. I think you have forgotten how physically and emotionally drained you were. You had nothing left to give your husband and your children but leftovers of yourself, and that’s how you want to live? Permanently?…”
And I smiled and shook my head. And I began again to face the wall and decided to share some lessons I’ve learned in my navigation process:
Lesson 1: Recognize when you’ve hit a brick wall. One does not simply plow through a brick wall. Brick walls do not simply appear nor disappear. As such, you must know when life is trying to tell you something because the more you run into that wall, the more pain you will endure as a result. No point in wasting energy trying to push an immovable object. Stop pouring yourself into things that cannot or will not change and see them for what they are – brick walls.
Lesson 2: Determine whether the wall is telling you to let go or to move forward. Or perhaps a combination of the two. In my case, there are lifestyles that have to stay on one side and changes that need to make it to the other. I managed to pick up some of my old overachieving, perfectionist ways. I felt the weight of the load immediately. As soon as I failed to recognize that I do not have to do it all, to try to be everything to everyone, I found myself with nothing left to offer. Thus, the wall told me both to keep going and to stop simultaneously. One cannot keep going and begin to maneuver a brick wall while shouldering a separate bag of bricks… so before I could keep going, I had to set down the extra baggage.
Lesson 3: Develop a navigation plan. Do you plan to climb over or to hammer away? What will you do when things get tough? What will you do when you are worn out? What will you do when everything in you wants to give up but your only choice is to keep going? How do you stop doing all of the things that “must be done” to concentrate on the things worth doing? How do I play with my son when there’s laundry and dishes and mopping and sweeping and trash and lesson planning and grocery shopping? How can I move forward when I cannot muster the energy to pull myself off the couch? How can I inspire others and live my faith when my own inspiration and faith are down to the size of that dern mustard seed?
It is here where plans are most essential, when you put in place something to do when you can only live in autopilot. Maybe you engage in prayer disguised as dialogue with oneself. Maybe you read an inspiring word from someone else. Maybe you stare in the faces of the ones who love you most in the world, and know that they love you even when you could not stand yourself.
Lesson 4: Never give up. Whatever your decision, stick with it. Even brick walls can be navigated. They can be climbed. One can go around them. They can be demolished as though they never existed. Do not allow the brick wall force surrender.
My reality: I have yet to meet a brick wall without a door. And until I find the door, or climb, or finish my walk around, or chip away bit by bit, I’ll continue to live in each moment, because the strength alone gained from navigation creates a life that is ordinarily extraordinary.