Life together is messy.
This here, is the aftermath of life in community. Of a meal together. Of children playing loudly in the same room where adults sit and chat. .
Housekeeping and I were never really best friends. And if I’m being totally honest, there is a part of me that likes the fullness of being with others in my home to spill over into the following day, so I sometimes like to relish in the mess for a couple of extra hours because it reminds me of the time we enjoyed the night before.
It also reminds me to be patient with my own family. My kids. I want the fullness of a life together with them but I don’t want ANY mess. I get a moment today to recognize that very very very rarely does togetherness leave me, and my space in the same state as it found me- and that’s something I should embrace.
I believe these are some of the inconvenient truths about forging, and enjoying the kind of community that saves & heals you - it changes you, it's hard work, it interrupts and rearranges your life.
There is absolutely nothing sterile and controlled about it.
If we want real and transformative, then we need to accept messy & disruptive is just going to be a part of the deal.
Donald Miller encourages us to prioritize our conflict navigation skills. He writes:
“All human progress happens by passing through conflict. You cannot climb a mountain, build a bridge, create a community or grow a business without engaging in and navigating conflict.”
I have noticed that many of us avoid withdraw from, ignore or turn away from the mess. We don’t allow ourselves to be drawn in deep enough, and when we are and it gets messy we pull away. We shut it down. We shut them out. We start again. With new, and hopefully less messy humans. Our lives and relationships stay shallow, and we are lonelier than ever.
I wonder if sometimes the reason why we are so stuck as a society, is if on a personal as well as on a macro-level, we are all just really, really shitty at conflict. We don’t actually resolve anything when we pull away. We don’t actually get through to the other side when we cancel and mute and block.
In this way I see how boundaries are misused. They become a means of terminating relationships, rather than navigating them. They are the tools we use to build giant, impenetrable barriers, rather than bridges. We are stuck, and alone inside our safe, sterile lives. Our ‘boundaries’ are suffocating us to death.
As Brene Brown likes to say, we can only really connect with others when we’re willing to risk the vulnerability.
And as my pastor likes to say, community isn’t found, it's forged.
I believe that in the aftermath of 2020 we may be more disconnected and alone than ever. I know that for many of us, our circles are small… may I encourage you to allow them (no matter how small) to be messy.
Make room for real.
Leave space and grace for mistakes, pain and misunderstanding.
In a time where we are tired, scared and angry - Lean towards one another, not away from them.
Errrrrrg. In the meantime, dishes do need to be cleared and washed and forts need to be packed a way so that we can do it all again tomorrow. And the day after that.
Here’s to making room for others, and their mess... but also our own 🤗 .
One of my and my big kids (6&8) favorite things to do is go on hiking adventures in the woods together.
Today was the first time I took Ellie, who turns 2 next week for a walk in the woods by herself, without the comfort of her stroller and the companionship of her father and older siblings.
You guys, the second she lost sight of the car she wanted to turn back.
I spent a good 5 minutes gently convincing me to follow me into the woods in between her asking where her brother, sister and father were.
Once she agreed to follow me, holding my hand, the farther in we got, the more unsure she became until she finally asked to be picked up.
We were in the middle of one of the most beautiful trails that we had been on as a family before, in the middle of a flock of hundreds of migrating songbirds and she kept looking back to see if she could see the car, and while I was mesmerized by the birdsong, all she seemed to be able to hear was the traffic beyond the trees.
How often are we like this? We are beckoned into wide open spaces of beauty and adventure only to look back to the comfort of the spaces we know. A dirty minivan vs. sunlight dancing in the trees. Four wheels and 7 seats vs thousands of songbirds fluttering overhead.
I hoisted babygirl onto my shoulders and I pointed upward. LOOK! Look at the mama squirrel and her babies in the hollow. Look at that one just two arms lengths from you chattering away. LOOK at all the birdies Ellie, listen. Look at the river dancing in the clearing ahead.
Then the moment we were both waiting for… that sweet little toddler gasp..
Mama! Me go down!
Mama, let’s run!
And we spent the rest of the hour wondering off the path and into the trees, picking flowers, investigating fallen branches, watching the water and flat on our backs enjoying the birds overhead.
At the end of our adventure I had to coerce her back into the car.
Friends, don’t mistake familiarity with destiny. Don’t get too attached to the minivans inside yourselves.
I am a human parent, need to recommit to my ideals on the REGULAR, and I choose to lovingly lead my daughter down pathways (although unfamiliar) that are for her good, her joy, and for her flourishing.
I was not angry that she was afraid, I was not upset by her attachment to what she knew. I did not disparage or judge her tentativeness. I just embraced her and invited her to trust me.
Some of you may feel led into the woods, past the point you’ve been before and without the people who usually go with you.
Just because all you can hear is the hum of the traffic beyond the trees, doesn’t mean thats all there is to hear. Listen.
You are not alone out there. You will not be left alone in there. If you need to, raise those arms and ask to be lifted up onto your fathers shoulders. Ask for some perspective. Ask him to show you things you are unable to see or hear from where you are.
You’ll be running out ahead of him, picking flowers and marveling at the beauty of your path soon enough.
“If its burning you out, it probably doesn’t belong to you” - Lauren da Silva
We've all been there...done the hard work, taken the deep breaths, mustered all the courage to establish the healthy boundary… or like, barely a week ago - compiled a list of ways that 2021 is GOING to be different.
But somehow, the things just don't stick.
And so maybe if you’re determined, you try ONE.MORE.TIME....
And alas… more of the same. It just doesn't stick.
And so we focus our energy on just living with whatever it is we couldn't fix without murdering anyone.
Just so that you know… there is something about your values... and your boundaries and visa versa that hardly anyone talks or even knows about.
I am here to share with you why your boundaries and maybe even your New Year’s resolutions won't stick.... and what to do about it.
Your Boundaries & commitments won’t stick if they aren’t aligned with your core values.
Here’s the thing: If your commitments don’t grow out of authentic & honest recognition of what actually matters to you - you’re going to have a hard time sticking to them. Sometimes we commit to losing weight when deep down we love food more than we love being thin...sometimes we are subconsciously more committed to our comfort zones than we are to growth, change and success. And sometimes, deep down, we actually want to succeed or make a mark on the world outside of the home (rather than stay home with the kids).
This can look like a hundred different things for a hundred different people - but if you had had trouble sticking to your commitments, or your boundaries you might want to spend some time figuring out whether or not you’ve made a commitment that doesn’t in fact matter as much to you as you like to pretend it does.
Your boundaries reveal your core values & true commitments.
The flip side of this is that our internal boundaries - that is the feelings of anger, frustration and resentment that rise up inside of us when they are being violated are basically like small warning lights on the dashboards of our lives trying to let us know that we are betraying something or some part of ourselves that actually matters to us.
Again, this may look different depending on the person… but I am going to go ahead and be honest and say that one of the things I need to function is some silence, and physical space around me (I am basically bubble boy, but without a literal bubble). Additionally, one of the things I value in terms of motherhood is raising children who are empathetic, independent, considerate and helpful. I could follow some really frustrating parenting advice or rather, ideals around motherhood, which basically imply that I should be available to my young children 24/7 and allow them to hang all over me all day (and LOOOOOOVE it) but after 5 mins of that life I am basically about to go full chernobyl on them all and blast our family into smithereens.
No good reader, I say things like: “no, please don’t touch me, I don’t like that... I will let you know when I am ready for snuggles” and I heed their own requests for space. Things like “hey guys, we are going to have a silent hour - and you may not talk to me, unless you’re on fire”, also work wonders on occasion.
Any other type of mothering would be me living a lie, and not only do I value honesty and authenticity as an act of courage - I also know that should I be wrong about this, that I am secretly selfish and deprived - the only way that’s ever going to change is if I show up honestly, as I am and open to growth.
Noone has ever experienced lasting transformation because they’ve spent 5 years pretending - “faking it until you make it”, always has been and always will be the worst advice. We get help (and we can give it) where we struggle, and we can become less selfish, less judgemental about what is, posture ourselves towards love and grace, and understand that values aren’t made of concrete.
They, like you, are allowed to change, grow and mature. When we don’t take ourselves too seriously, and when loosen the death grip we have on them, we make room for change.
Your values make the best boundaries
If you want sticky boundaries and commitments with a lifespan longer than 24 hours. The best place to start is with who you are, and what truly matters most to you. Don’t waste your energy on a weight loss resolution when you are perfectly happy with the size of your pants. But if you’re not, could you frame that resolution or root it in what actually does matter to you? Your health? Time with your children? The vitality needed to pursue your goals? Stewardship of a beautiful body given to you to love and care for? Don’t pick the answer you think you want to hear, pick the one that resonates deeply… even if one of the objections that jumps to the front of your mind has something to do with what he/she/they will say/think/expect…
I did an online training on this a couple of days ago if you’d like to dig a little deeper (or if you just prefer video):
I also recently did a webinar training called: Whose Life is It Anyway - so if you need some help sifting through the noise of other people’s voices and expectations and identifying what REALLY matters to you… you can gain access to that HERE---->
“Most of us spend too much time on what’s urgent, and not enough time on what’s important.” - Stephen Covey
I wonder if you have ever had your google or apple maps malfunction on you. I am sure there are a multitude of ways in which it can do that, but one of my least favorite is when it miscalculates my current location and then completely fudges its attempt to get me to where I need to go.
Sometimes I can find my way around this problem - like when I am starting a journey from a familiar place/address - like home :P Other times, it becomes a big freaking deal that it can’t figure out where I am, because I DON’T KNOW WHERE I AM EITHER.
And there is no better time for our technology to malfunction on us like when we are alone, late at night, on the outskirts of Dallas for example and for all you know turning left could take you downtown, to Houston, or worse…. To Oklohoma (that’s the Texas rubbing off on me btw). I am usually quite adventurous - but 11pm in the middle of nowhere with very poor internet connection is often a time I struggle to muster up that part of my personality.
We do this to ourselves sometimes, and often at the beginning of a new year when we decide to change our ways, adopt healthier habits and basically transform our entire lives over the span of one calendar year. We fantasize endlessly about our chosen destinations, the goals we hope to achieve and the people we are going to become.
And other than knowing we are unhappy, dissatisfied or frustrated with how things are now, I wonder if we spend any time understanding WHERE we are right now as we plan our path forward to all of those wonderful places, projects and people we are undertaking.
WHY am I unhappy? WHY am I frustrated? WHY am I dissatisfied?
What happened (or didn’t happen) that resulted in me being right where I am right now?
Why are these kinds of questions important?
Because failing to understand or figure out where we are and why may make it very difficult to plan a way out or forward. Not knowing what forces, subconscious decision making processes or desires got us lost and alone to begin with makes it kind of difficult to avoid those same choices again.
An important step anyone can take before they proceed forward in any endeavor is to get curious about the present, and more specifically, to wonder “why”?
I am not necessarily talking about paralyzing extensive psychological excavation here - although a little (or a lot) of therapy never really hurt anyone. But if you notice for example, that you keep falling back into the same familiar feelings of resentment, bitterness, frustration and burnout - or if your relationships with a number of different people are consistently characterised by the same frustrating and painful dynamics. If you keep struggling from the same kinds of setbacks again and again, year after year… then a simple tool you can deploy right now is one word: WHY?
And don’t just ask this once. With every answer (and stick with the first answer your brain jumps to) - ask again, but why?, and again and again and again until you bump into an answer that hopefully, causes your eyes to open wide, your head to tilt back just a little and your mouth to gape open in a little “ooooooooooooooooh…. THAT’s why”.
What you are hoping for - is a moment when you realize something YOU (yes you - not mom or dad or hubs or the kids) are doing or choosing that you can now go on to do and choose differently.
Your maps app will get you to where you want to go way more efficiently once it knows where you are right now.
Your goals/resolutions/hopes/dreams and desires for a new year, week or even today are a lot easier to reach once you understand what your starting point is and why.
If you would like some help with this process, particularly if one of the things you are trying to get the hell away from is feeling bitter, resentful and out of control of your own life. If it feels a little like you’re stuck in the back or the passenger seat of your own life and someone or something else has the wheel… then I would like to invite you to check out the “Whose Life Is It Anyway” virtual workshop - 5 online sessions you can take at your own leisure and guess what - session 1 is all about figuring out where you are right now and why :D
You can sign up for access to that here: https://laurendasilva.org/landing/whose-life-is-it-anyway