when your life is stacked too high

when your life is stacked too high

In the course of a month and a half, I broke six objects.
I can’t recall breaking anything in years but now I am continually reaching for a broom.
I broke several succulent pots, a lovely amber ware platter affectionately called the ham plate, my flat iron’s landing place, a large baking dish, small and extra large measuring cups and a porcelain message board.
During one week, it seemed every item I reached towards shattered, the opposite of the Midas touch. I was constantly pouring a waterfall of useless pieces into waste baskets.
Once I moved beyond feeling incredulous, the majority of these crashes could be narrowed down to rushing on my part and items either stored improperly or stacked in precarious positions. Despite broken things being a part of life, each one of these accidents could have been avoided. Most of the occurrences were simple disappointments but one was a piece which held sentiment, not easily replaceable as the others.
Day after day and week after week, I would recount to Carl the contents of our garbage can. Some days I would throw up my hands and shake my head over my foolishness but other times I pointed a finger of blame away from my frame.
Yet I was the one who had been doing all the pulling and pushing, grabbing and moving at the speed of hurry, not him.
It’s easy to stack our lives too high, crammed so tightly, if we attempt the removal of one piece, one activity, one commitment, the fallout resembles losing at Jenga.
I can no longer keep sweeping up the broken pieces scattered at my feet without examination. Each piece represented the wreckage amassed from my relentless rushing and busyness.
Besides this ingrained habit, these mishaps occurred because I hadn’t put those items away properly. A rushed person plus a teetering tower equals calamity.
Platters need to be stacked two high instead of to the ceiling. When every inch of shelf space is utilized, the contents risk being crushed.
Recently I spent several hours across a table from a friend, neither one of us had our phones on the table or checked if an alert rang out. Time was checked only when we realized how much time had passed. I am grateful this hasn’t been an isolated occasion . I have left each person feeling seen, heard and important, I hope they felt the same. This isn’t to say a rushed cup of coffee equates the opposite because sometimes life demands brevity. However to sink into the luxury of time and not the pinch of other obligations can be as different as freeze-dried and french press coffee.
As I look back on my most important conversations of the last year, each required time, to get to the point, to blossom, to be courageous enough to share fully and deeply. Don’t underestimate or shortchange time spent with others. How awful to witness cracks form due to the weight of too much outside pressure.
When my days are filled to overflowing, I instantly feel stressed. I can’t fully be present or engaged when my time is limited and lack control from annoying outside forces like traffic or construction zones. I also feel a sense of dread whenever I know my day will demand sprinting. The hard truth is most of us know on either side of relationships when one party is squeezing time between engagements.
I am trying to look at the squares and rectangles of my planner and expand the margins. Not to add more items but to establish more room for the people and activities I want to nourish and cultivate. I can accomplish this as easily as leaving for appointments 15 minutes earlier than usual. These bonus minutes create a windfall of less clock checking or fuming when inevitable traffic jams occur. In fact, I wonder how many car crashes are due to a driver rushing and attempting to insert a vehicle into too small of a space?
There are two camps perhaps, neither one is better than the other, which is the best news.
The first camp is comprised of those who have figured out how to wrangle each day’s given hours to meet its demands and carve out sufficient time for connecting with others and themselves. This is Camp Whole as they have aligned their lives with a healthy balance of time, commitments and margin. Well done, Camp Whole.
The second camp is for those who find themselves in short supply of time but ample quantities of broken pieces. The pace required to keep up has become unmanageable and discouraging. Welcome to Camp Mosaic. You have the opportunity to pick and choose which shards belong to create days sewn with peace and contentment. You get to decide which parts no longer make the cut. Mosaics create beauty from brokenness. Mosaics reveal a new image from a formerly whole object. Well done, grabbing your glue gun, Camp Mosaic.
There is no competition with either camp because each has the same goal or destination of balance, one camp simply needs more adhesive. Each camp either remains or is being remade.
I am endeavoring to not put ink up my calendar if it will squeeze the vitality out of what already resides in a box. I am slowing down my time with people, so I can look them in the eye and linger over sacred words.
It’s been close to a month and I haven’t shattered anything lately. I have been clearing out some items which have only been taking up space in my house, no longer serving a purpose and helped build unsteady towers.
I am slowly adding epoxy to the broken places of a hurried life.

This post is part of The Slow Collection. You can read the first post here.


photo credit: Unsplash

monday line-up

monday line-up



One of my favorite parts of our home is our living room mantel.

It is quite long and deep in dimension.

I tend to change the view more often than just seasonally.

The six weeks comprising the month of May and the two weeks before

school ends feel like a manic sprint.

I decided to place my ducks front and center.

I need to remind myself that this is the only place where

“my ducks are all in a row”!

I can feel myself breathing rapidly and more shallow.

I wake up with sore muscles as if my sleeping has been

more work out than restful.

I know the pace I am trying to keep but I fear I will stumble

off the back of this treadmill of events and tasks.

I have to-do lists scattered everywhere including the one

ever-lengthening in my head.

Do you feel the same?

Did the dawn of Monday carry more a sense of dread

than anticipation?

I think it is time to take an inventory.

I am not talking spring cleaning of closets and drawers.

It is the perfect time to take a rest inventory.

I will write about this important assessment later this week,

so please come on back.

Leave the ducks on the mantel where they belong

and banish them from residing in your expectation.



two benches

two benches

This is a short tale of two benches.

The first bench was centered in a mecca of activity and artificial grass.


On the first day of May, Portland reached 90 degrees.

This 70 degree loving gal headed to a tree-shaded bench

while Caleb and friends played soccer on the Adidas campus.

There was constant activity on this concourse and I found myself feeling

as if I had stumbled into a visual catalog

of Adidas apparel and footwear.

Despite the hustle and bustle of those clad in 3 striped uniforms,

I opened my book and settled in to read.

Every so often I would raise my head and see soccer balls sailing

into the ocean of sky then I would quickly return to my page.

The second bench was nestled in the midst of creation and chirping birds:



This day was not a blue saturated sky day.

The morning was hazy and cloud heavy.

Squint in the center of the photo and you might see Mt. Hood camouflaged

under an umbrella cloud.

Courtney and I were high atop the world at Mt. Angel Abbey.

We circled the grounds, smiled and greeted the monks.

Upon hearing the bells toll, we felt centered as

we entered the church, fumbled to quickly move the

ribbon markers to their assigned places

in the prayer binders

and found a pew to unite our mouths and hearts with others.

For me, I mainly tried not to weep.

After wandering through the bookstore and

feasting our eyes upon homemade confections,

we found a bench overlooking the town below and

felt our cares and concerns from ground dwelling

take flight.

It was a challenge to command our knees to straighten.

But our burdens felt lightened as soon as we

lifted our bags of

mementos and fudge and

began our trek back to the parking lot.

Books and rest are of key importance to my days.

I sat upon two benches last week in two different settings.

One crammed full of activity and the other whispering serenity.

Would you believe I found rest in both places?

It is essential to learn how and when to rest.

Rest is an action as well as an attitude.

My hope for you this weekend is that you will

find rest in familiar and new ways.

I believe it is possible to find rest anywhere.

Look for those spaces of time where you

can carve out some precious moments of heart rest.

No matter how many people surround your day,

take a breath and make it your pursuit to find

a sanctuary in the midst of the clamor.

Who knows who might catch a glimpse

of your heart at rest despite the landscape?

Your example might give others permission

to rest right along with you.

It’s an open invitation…join me!