Seasonal patterns are often recognizable by the change of the weather. I can’t say that this is always true. Last year, my home-state experienced an early spring just before COVID-19 restrictions went into effect in March. This was an unexpected blessing because with all the cannots we could at least be outside. What is more typical where I live is to experience March as the snowiest month of the year. January tends to be our coldest month. I remember that the governor closed schools for the entire state on Martin Luther King Day in 1995 because of extremely cold wind chills. Many businesses closed as well. Since then, others governors have had to make this decision. In fact, school districts have been taking similar action in recent years. In 2019, our school district canceled classes because of record cold. It wasn’t just one snow day. It was several over three to four weeks from mid-January to mid-February.
I remember taking advantage of these cancellations by cleaning corners and crevices of my home. I shifted into this unexpected pattern with ease. Because sometimes, at least for me, less is more. Less of a schedule and more cancellations allowed me to get less stressed and get more done. The same happened during the 2020 stay-at-home orders. Some (maybe even most) of what I used to do at this time of year still isn’t happening. I don’t know if these activities will ever be part of my life again. I’m not sure I miss them. I’ve adjusted. I’ve filled my time with other pursuits that will only be canceled if I choose not to do them. Last Monday, I had a moment of realization that what I do on a daily basis matters little to anyone except me.
I wonder, is that a good thing?
At the time I came to this conclusion, I didn’t feel like it was. I was suffering from a headache brought on by doing too much the day before. (Which was Sunday, a day when we are meant to rest. I won’t elaborate on the importance of a weekly Sabbath. But, I will say this: I didn’t rest last Sunday, and I paid for it on Monday.) I discovered that because of these months (nearly a year) of social distancing from people and activities that I am socially out-of-shape. Almost every January, I think about how I can be physically healthier. This year, I’m learning I need to learn how to be socially healthier.
As an introvert, this doesn’t mean I need to be busier or that I need to get out more. Well, maybe a little bit more. But, I don’t want to be as busy as I was before COVID-19. I remember the stress of those days. I don’t want to return to them. (I realize that extraverts do want more rather than less. I want that for you. I know you need it. Just understand, I may not.)
This morning, I also considered another pattern that often happens at this particular time of the year. I almost always have to reassess my yearly goals set a mere three weeks prior around January 1. By the third or fourth week of January, I can tell if I am going to be able to keep pace with my lofty expectations. Rarely, but sometimes, I have to consider raising my expectations. Usually, I feel the emotional overwhelm that comes with setting my personal bar too high.
Bottom-line, my well-being scale plummeted last week. If I were to graph it, the line would form peaks and valleys. Highs and lows. Kind of like the weather we had last week, come to think of it.
The difference between how I spent last Sunday and how I spent yesterday is significant. I did less yesterday, and today I feel like I am able to do more. I still worshiped, I still visited with friends, and I still spent time with my family. Yet, it was at a less-stressed pace. I am recording this observation so that next Sunday I might be able to repeat the pattern.
I think that this is a good thing. I realize it does matter how busy my day-to-day life is or I will continue to be socially out-of-shape. I will cave into myself, I will hibernate too long, and I will be a cranky mama-bear in the spring if I don’t reset and reclaim that balance of less-is-more.
Take this as my encouragement. Rest if you need it. Reset for less or more. Reclaim the day every day.
Then it’s much easier to weather the weather.
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.Matthew 11:28 ESV
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