Spending quality time with people trumps work-a-holism. All the time. I believe that with everything I am.
It doesn’t really matter that I believe those words, however. Because the sad truth, for me, is that it’s always been work first, then relationship. And sometimes work took so long, relationship just didn’t happen.
Maybe it’s the subtle messages I picked up on a child. Work hard, then play. Do it right or not at all. A clean house is a sign of an orderly mind. Burn the candle at both ends while you’re young so you can enjoy life later on.
It comes as no surprise that I married a man who bought into those same misguided principles. Throughout our marriage, we constantly preached the value of connection while we ran around with our heads chopped off! We had a remodeling business for years—gave our time to crafting cozy spaces for families to enjoy, yet never slowed down to enjoy our own. When the remodeling industry tanked in 2008, we built a small assisted living facility, catering to families who desired to have their loved ones cared for in a more quiet, intimate setting than most institutions were able to offer. But for 8 years, we never came up for air. We volunteered at church— teaching and giving and serving—all the while committing to so much extra stuff that we’d fall into bed exhausted with the effort.
Between the two of us, we had plenty of ideas and visions of how things could change.
Last July, my husband and I decided we’d had enough with imagining. We actually took the first intrepid steps to slow down that vicious hamster wheel we’d been running on. We quit our jobs, sold our home, and bought a beautiful, but slightly run-down property in south Florida with a guest house and space for a second rental suite that would allow us to cater to visitors who seek more than just sun and relaxation– to create a unique place where guests can slow down, be pampered, and connect.
Our hope was that this sort of life would bring a sort of balance to our own hectic existence as well.
Old habits die hard. But for the first time in maybe ever, we began to push back the frenzy and carve out space for living. It began with a painful recognition of all we’ve sacrificed on the altar of pursuit—and to just live differently. To rest. To play games or kayak or go to the beach with our adult kids. To read, reflect and commune with God. Cuddle our new grandson. Sip a glass of wine the front porch with a friend who needs to talk… now. Cry or laugh on the phone with siblings. Help the guy down the street put up a fence. Write. Grab lunch with my mom. Road trip home to see family.
We still have times of busyness, but it is no longer all consuming. And we seem to be able to better gauge what is really important—and what is just screaming unjustly at us. Mostly, I’m beginning to make a habit of going slow, breathing deeply, and taking in all the beauty of this space that is growing around me. It’s something I intend to get used to.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. My yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30