“My best friend gave me the best advice. He said each day’s a gift and not a given right.” – Nickelback
About three weeks into the school year, I found that severe headaches plagued me. And I was confused. I loved my new job. God was blessing the children’s ministry. My husband and I had finally developed a good routine for weekday evenings. So why in the world did my head feel like it was on the verge of explosion? When I shared how I was feeling with a close friend, she asked a simple question that led to a series of events which I now entitle – the detox project. “Have you been drinking enough water?”
On the surface, the question’s simplicity could not be more obvious. Yet, the underlying implications are monumental. My mouth dropped, and I replied with a just as simple, “well no – no I haven’t.” You see, I had been over-consuming caffeine to fuel my never-ending to-do list. Vacuum at least one room a day, mop at least once a week, help your husband put away the laundry, play with the kiddos, read one book a day to Braden, exercise, take your “me” time, finish grading the papers, come up with exciting lessons, stay in touch with friends, watertheplants, paythebills, callsuchandsuchforherbirthdayfeedthedogworkonchildrensministryfliercalltheelders……….No wonder my brain was about to explode! And worse was the list of items that I wanted to do but sat on the back burner until I could get through my current list. I had created a cycle so that when one item fell off the list, it was immediately replaced with another item from a separate list.
And the solution was simple, the end of the vicious cycle – drink more water.
1.) Detox. I got rid of caffeine for the next few weeks – no sodas, no coffee, no random fruit juices. I got back to naturally produced liquids like water, milk, and the occasional orange juice. I also got rid of my infinite to-dos. I deleted Soda Crush, my favorite time-killer. I decided for the 500th time that work had to wait until after the kids fell asleep and so would preparations for children’s ministry projects, which left me with this random 2-3 hour block of nothing to do before dinner. I, at once, replaced that time with mindless scrolling through social media and my favorite to-do list item, cleaning. God smiled at me and shook his head, “Nope, Brittany. That’s not it either.”
2) I filled my peak hours with items that cannot be undone. I started playing with my son. Sometimes we played for 15 minutes, sometimes an hour, and sometimes even two hours. I use the term “with” loosely. I left my phone and followed him upstairs to play trains, puzzles, or whatever activity Braden chose that particular day. 80% of the time I was simply a spectator. Braden always gives you the slowest, worst, broken toys. And most times when you are playing “with” him, you are watching him crash the trains together, run them into the wall or off a dresser to see which one wins all while waiting on your turn which may or may not ever come. But, he always makes sure that you are watching. “Did you see that mommy?” “Did you see the red monster truck win?”
Since I had nothing else to occupy this random block of time, I chatted with friends and family. I read the same book to my daughter and helped her put the contents of my purse back into their correct locations over and over. I gave her a kiss and then a hug, then another kiss, another hug, and then another and another until I lost count. I lived. I loved. I laughed. And you know what I noticed….
3) Nothing fell apart. As a matter of fact, life started coming together. We all know that as soon as one load of dishes goes in, a separate dish mysteriously appears in the sink. Laundry piles go on forever, and a finished stack of graded papers is quickly replaced with a new stack ready and awaiting teacher’s ink. But time with my husband and my children, conversations with my sister and my best friends – these moments are irreplaceable.
Nickelback politely reminds us, “Every second counts ’cause there’s no second try so live like you’ll never live it twice…do whatever it takes cause you can’t rewind a moment in this life.” (If today was your last day)
Drink more water.
I do less now than I have ever done, and I am living the best days of my life. True happiness came when I set aside all of the items that must be done, and replaced them with moments. With giggles, kisses, laughter, and love…with ordinary things. And that is what makes my life extraordinary.