About a year ago, I got an email invitation to join a group of writers and artists that meet in San Francisco once a week.
In the email, the woman who sent it to me wrote:
“I enjoyed looking through your website and blog, as well as some of your articles. Very interesting background and set of areas you work in – you keep yourself busy!”
Her invitation was sweet and I was honored to be included, but for some reason her comment really struck me…
Because I was busy.
Stressed-out busy, actually.
I had said yes to too many things and I was feeling it.
It wasn’t until weeks later, after reading Marcus Buckingham’s book Find Your Strongest Life (I’d heard him speak at a Women of Faith conference and then bought his book), that I realized why I was feeling pulled in so many directions.
“You don’t have five different selves that you can keep separate. You have one life. One mind. One heart. One cup, if you will. Your challenge is not to separate one cup from another, erect boundaries between each, and then somehow balance them all. Your challenge is to move your life, tilt your life, intentionally imbalance your life toward those few specific moments that will fill your one cup.” -Marcus Buckingham
When I read that, I thought about the different roles I had… wife, mom, children’s book author, parenting blogger/writer, volunteer at Courage to Be You, leader of a hospitality team at church, Book Reviewer, Assistant Regional Advisor for SCBWI, working part-time at a publishing company… and that wasn’t even all.
I was definitely wearing a lot of hats and, like Marcus said, many of them were kept on separate shelves from each other as I tried to balance everything. And even though I was passionate about many of the things I was doing, there were just too many things. I had gotten into a pattern of saying yes to pretty much every need that crossed my path.
After realizing this, and after spending time exploring my strengths, I wanted more than anything to take the walls down in my life, eliminate the compartments, and focus on the moments that would fill my one cup.
Gradually, I started to make some changes. And I realized…
Rather than trying to fill every need that comes my way, I could think about whether I was the right person to fill it, whether it fit my strengths or not… or if it would only drain me or take me away from my family.
Rather than volunteering at four different places, I could dedicate my time to one cause that I was most passionate about… and make more of an impact.
And rather than trying to keep my writing projects separate and maintaining two different websites, I could combine my sites into one and pull the different aspects of my writing life together. (Which is why I’ve brought my blog MyCup2Yours over here.)
As I’ve focused this past year more on the areas I feel called toward and applying my strengths in those areas, life has changed.
I’m still busy, but it’s an I-can’t-wait-to-get-up-the-next-day-and-do-it-again kind of busy. And I still wear a lot of hats (although not half as many), but somehow things feel simpler and more focused. It’s been amazing to see everything in my life converge and to realize that all the experiences I’ve had—the good and the bad—have worked together to prepare me for this very time.
I look forward to sharing more detail about all that’s been going on—with parenting, with writing and speaking, and with Courage to Be You and the impact this amazing organization has had on my life, in so many ways. While I’ve been posting on my blog and continuing with writing projects, I’ve been journaling like crazy behind the scenes as I’ve been processing it all, and I’m looking forward to sharing more in the future.
So here’s to New Year of “uncompartmentalizing” our lives – of breaking down walls and removing the separate shelves.
Here’s to spending time exploring what we’re strong at and celebrating those strengths, instead of trying to improve or cover up our weaknesses, or be everything to everybody.
Here’s to intentionally unbalancing our lives so that they are tilted toward those moments that fill our one cup.
And here’s to using our strengths and gifts to help others, because when we do that, we end up finding God’s purpose for our lives and a sense of joy and fulfillment that can’t be found anywhere else.
Have a Happy New Year, everyone. Good things to come in 2012!