Lately, I have been accepting less spinning and seeking calm focus. My head-space has been in a war with the lesser level of purposed activity. It’s as if thoughts and ideas have not transformed into inspired actions quickly enough, and now are cycling in my mind… like cottage cheese. Foggy. Cluttered. Sticky.
The result? I have felt stuck. I find myself wishing that I could perceive REST in a positive light. [I understand the concepts of living and working from rest; I’m just not always the best at silencing the voices that tell me that I am not doing enough.]
I can tell myself all day long, “It’s been non-stop for four years: Diamond Club, HHC Certification, ATT Trainer certification, –>summer camps, surprise pregnancy, ministry movement and events –> start of school, baby loss, sudden loss of Mike, loss of property, loss of Dad, moving Mom, rounds of caring for her transitions, red tape in getting her settled –>hospital executive meetings surrounding Mike’s passing, recording grief music, filming portions of Mike’s story to appease an inner attempt at advocacy –>leading two businesses, trying to see what the ministry should be and do, renovating a home –> All while being a Mom in love with her kids, wanting the best for them, and learning to thread the erratic release of deep sorrow into all of this crazy-beautiful life. Ami, cut yourself some slack!!!”
[Please don’t hear this as a brag-complain. I can clearly see that my sheer exhaustion has rightfully caught me this time. And for valid reason.]
I’m a spinner. Always have been.
I’m a starter. I get a high off of the enthusiasm attached to the next new thing.
The spinning styles from December 2, 2015 until now [depicted above], however, have NOT been ideal. In fact, each time I try to R E S T, something demands movement. Deadlines, jobs, single-mommin’, helpin’-my-mommin’.
I have felt BEHIND on everything for four years. The fun, active, life-generative ideas have been spinning out like sparklers as they land in a puddle, while the urgent has stonewalled, like a stubborn over-extended [and quite demanding] house guest.
In January 2019 [last month], everything within me was screaming “STOOOOOOP!!!” So I booked this writing getaway and waited for it with baited breath, through the 12 intense hospital days with Mom, praying that nothing would thwart this intentional interruption – this desperately needed PAUSE – this break/collapse/stop-time for which I’ve been yearning.
Here’s some honesty as to the fuel of my thoughts of self-sabotage and current wrestle with mediocrity:
With all of the overachieving social media postings out there — you know the people: the shiny, have-it-all-together ones who always seem to be reaching out for more — I had thrown in the towel to the possibility that my personal bests are simply…
…not going to look like that. [The enemy-tauntings sound more like “you’ll never amount to much of anything,” but as much as I’d ream someone else for believing those lies, I must wrangle my own thoughts away from that pitfall, too.]
So a few weeks ago, I read two blog posts that I thought were great – at first. I was filled with “Yes! That’s how I feel! Maybe that’s what’s happening!” Each blogger wrote of leaving the striving to live in the simple. BOTH of them lost me, however, when I reached the ends of their musings. Why? They BOTH wanted me to buy their this-will-change-your-life programs on how I can follow their plans in order to discover my own simple life.
Nope. I felt betrayed as a reader, as they clearly wanted to be the best at living the simple life. [I’m sure deep inside, they battle against the “mediocre vs. be the best” see-saw in their efforts.]
I told my reflexologist last Thursday that my mind has been quite stuck in “Ecclesiastes Mode” — “Everything is meaningless; there is nothing new under the sun…” And then of course, I laughed, because ‘I’m Ami, duh.’ And I cannot ACTUALLY be in the pits. ::sarcasm:: [Do you like that I feel the need to label sarcasm now that everyone is so easily offended, btw? ::again, sarcasm.::]
For weeks, I have been wondering if just about everyone is actually… are you ready for this? … mediocre.
In fact, that is not actually a bad thing. Let me explain…
I attended SO MANY concerts growing up, but my first secular concert in a coliseum was [drum roll, please…]
Gloria Estefan and The Miami Sound Machine! It was such a fun night; my seats were amazing, and I have to admit — the rhythm definitely got me, and of COURSE, there I was, shaking my body and doin’ the conga with the rest of the uninhibited folks who met only friends in those aisles. Not a stranger to be found with all that dancing.
Do you know that I’ve NEVER… N E V E R… told my musician friends this first concert fact? Wanna know why? Because I’ve heard them: “How did SHE make it?!? Her voice is so tight. Her pitch!” and so on… as if to downplay talent through comparing apples to oranges. It’s not fair to compare Amy Grant and Gloria Estefan to John Mayer or to the vocals of Whitney, Etta James, Aretha, Freddie Mercury, or whomever you fancy most. With her people, she just radiated.
In 2008, Mike and I were clearing out our Atlanta house for our NC move, and we filled a dumpster with things that held no joy [this was long before the Spark Joy craze]. He threw out papers and journals he’d written and kept for years. I threw out BOXES of old recording projects that did nothing but spark embarrassment of a former life lived.
When I arrived to my room for this personal writing week, I saw that two people from that era [the era in which I was selling those embarrassing CDs] were trying to reach me. They had found this “Ami” that they thought might be the one who sang those songs. It’s bizarre, really. Two of the songs that give me the most flushed-face are almost ALWAYS the ones that people like this who find me ask to hear. Apparently, those songs meant something to them… and they still remember.
This put me on a bit of a trek through the wilderness of my mind and memories. Who I was back then wrote songs for the crazy-joy of writing them. Writing for writing’s sake! Now that’s novel!
I kept a personal goal that I needed to record something every year. Every TWO at the latest. Why? Because that’s what artists with label contracts did. So, why not me too? It made sense to me. So I did. And it was fun. And I sang my end of the promise I’d made in the 5th grade to God to “sing anywhere anyone would listen.”
I’m here, with the goal of gaining ground on Mike’s unfinished writing. But I am also accepting collapse and trying to rest in this fleeting pause.
When I was really young, I loved Second Chapter of Acts, Annie Herring, Keith Green. I loved that whole era of Jesus people who made up songs on the fly, in a living room — not to record it and “bring in the Benjamins.” No, they were living in the moment — expressing earnest gratitude, repentant hearts, and small bits of great worth to Jesus and The Almighty. If they were bringing in any Benjamins, it was the one seated on the couch, not the one in the cash drawer.
I was sitting in the old claw-foot tub, and because of the quick cooling of the water in the cold ceramic, my mind flew back to the season of free-spirited Jesus-loving, with all my quirkiest songs. I kept emptying half of the water surrounding me, in order to refill with only hot. And as I had to do that three or four times [I take LONG baths], this quirky lyric surfaced:
Well, you’d better be hot; be bold
And if you’re not hot; be cold
Cuz if you’re somewhere in the middle
And the teeter-totter takes its toll
You’ll be diggin’ in
Fool’s Gold, thinking you’re a Christian
Fool’s Gold, with the life you’re livin’
Now I may not see that your gold doesn’t shine
But the Lord, He knows the real thing every time
You’ll be diggin’ in Fool’s Gold
Certainly not my finest lyric – Haha! I cringe even typing it here for you.
HOWEVER, as I kept ridding my tub of the tepid water and adding in the heat, I realized that my definition of mediocrity needs to change. I realized that I had been living my best mediocre life, and it sparked a whole lotta joy! So much joy that it was a magnet to a sold-out-for-Jesus guy named Michael who wanted to be just as radical as I.
God’s Love is fierce. Fully extended. Extravagant.
My response to that kind of Love is not to sell the most books or write the best songs. My response is to keep the FIRE of my soul’s surrender ablaze — to say “YES” to any and every thing He asks of me – small and large – that will spread the heat of His Consuming Flame.
The Almighty is not mediocre.
Jesus is not mediocre.
The Holy Spirit is not mediocre.
Therefore, a shining of the Life of God in me is nothing less than an exhibition of the Divine.
I can start each day, “Just as I am,” and turn my eyes, look full, with never-ceasing, loudest praise… knowing that this mediocre earthen vessel, flooded with His Glorious, becomes like a hot spring, flowing healing and restoration.
THAT was my desire; and that deepest simplest desire remains all that I want today.
So, bottom line: I have NO IDEA what this next season will be like.
I may not rise to the top of the dōTERRA company, but I am enormously thankful that it provides more than enough to bring provision to our home! [And I love that I GET to help so many people along the way with a job I LOVE.]
I may not ever be seen as more than a mediocre musician or songwriter [we all feel like imposters anyway — ask the greatest songwriters, and they’ll tell you that the hit moments come from another Divine place, and we are just lucky enough to be there to intersect our gifts in the making.] But I do know this: the depths that flow inside are far more precious than I even realize, and there is great beauty there.
In six weeks, I will no longer be a contracted tutor with Classical Conversations. My friend Jen has stepped into the Director position this year, freeing me to have released that as well.
Friends!!! I’m about to have a simple plate: to love the Lord in everything, to love my kids into their becoming, to love my wholeness friends into places of healing, to enjoy walking into the YESes – whatever they may bring.
And I trust that as I’m living my best mediocre life, surrender is the finder of all solutions.
Be Loved! And then be Bold!