Not Now Doesn’t Mean Never Again

I have this vivid vision, sometimes more than a few times in one week.

It’s of me standing in a nondescript hallway with one door to my left and one to my right. As I stand in the hallway snug between both doors, I find myself confused. Both doors reveal people and adventures and things I’m passionate about so how do I find a way to stand in both? I can literally picture myself standing in a slight straddle position in this hallway doing my best to keep both doors within my grasp, and whatever is beyond them, in my peripheral vision much like a distracted parent might try to do all the things at once.

In my vision, the confusion I feel leads to stress (and panic) as I realize I cannot comfortably stand like that for long, and as I admit to myself even if I could, I really don’t want to. As women we often try to multitask throughout our day, and our lives, but there are studies proving we cannot actually do it well. When you’re focusing on one thing it’s impossible to focus fully on another. As a result, when multitasking you typically end up doing multiple things poorly all at once which defeats the whole purpose of multitasking to begin with! I’ve always been an all or nothing kind of girl so these study results resonate well with me. I’m proud of my ability to focus well on singular things. But the pursuit of trying to see the view from one door while simultaneously enjoying the view in the other feels fruitless and exhausting, leaving me torn between what door is actually really best for me.

When we were in Seaside a few weeks ago we went to Rosemary Beach. If you’re familiar with this little town you’ll probably know the magic that is The Pearl. Black and white stripes with pops of yellow adorn the darling boutique hotel overlooking the ocean and it’s as pretty in person as you’d imagine. While our yearly Seaside trip always causes me to slow down and savor stillness, one glimpse of The Pearl causes the exact opposite.

My mind races, my heart beats faster, and like a force I can’t contain, I immediately I feel compelled to act on everything brewing in my mind and soul. I tell myself all the reasons starting up my workshop again would be smart, I make mental lists for a new type of retreat that will be better than the rest, I want to do more, tell myself I should try to be more (whatever that means), and all at once this once familiar and sweeping sensation of busyness takes over. Yet this year when these feelings hit, it felt two sizes too big. Right now these things don’t fit me. And right now I don’t want to even try and force it because I’ve got other things to proudly wear.

A no now doesn’t mean never again.

I shared this simple sentiment on Instagram that same day we were in Rosemary Beach and it resonated DEEPLY with many of my online friends. So much so it got me thinking about writing this post. And more so about the trajectory of my life over the last few years. How so much has changed and in the process of these layers being peeled back in my professional and personal spheres, so too have my goals, dreams, and ambitions changed. While my changed ambitions do not mean a stagnant life or stalled future, my current season and the accompanying goals I’ve set, looks different than before. Thankfully I’m wise enough at this stage in the game to know my intuition holds weight, and to ignore that fire deep within my gut would be unwise and foolish.

For me, I have another vision and it’s one that includes being very present in my home. It means being present with my family and my kids (plural come fall) because one day that season will have passed and I’m not going to fight against the clock and pretend time will stand still for me. I emphasize the FOR ME part because this heart tug, this needing to be in one spot right now with the freedom to call the shots, is what adheres to my definition of success and what makes the most sense in our home and lives. For others there are dozens if not hundreds of alternative realities, schedules, ambitions, and dreams. And I support all of them fully because our differences make the world go round. What is important to note is that for me, this current season just happens to come with a lot of no’s. Ultimately so that I can be selective on the type of yes’s I get back.

Yes to enjoying those messy but sweet (and exhausting) moments of newborn bliss and toddler adventure that have been bestowed upon us in our marriage and family this season. I fight hard like my friend Emily to not give into the ‘time flies’ mentality but I’m also a realist and believe (know?) most things pass, some quicker than others, so I try to be cognizant BEFORE a season begins to enjoy every second as it unfolds.

Yes to margin in my schedule so I can take a meal to a friend during the day, meet my husband for a lunch date, or get dinner prepped but still meet work deadlines. Margin means I can fill my time and space with worthwhile and pleasurable tasks. It doesn’t mean I’m immune to hard, mundane and boring things (I have to grocery shop, clean toilets, shower, take out the trash, have hard conversations, pay bills, etc) but margin means those things, among so many others especially with running a small but mighty business, don’t feel like annoyances or burdens but instead part of my life and contributions to my family, community, clients, and self.

Yes to have space for self care. And I don’t mean self care as in making time for a bubble bath and glass of wine once a week, but yes to healthy food that fuels our bodies, treating my mental health as I do my physical health, sleeping soundly at night, and yes to knowing I’m living my best life for me. Fresh air, fresh water, using my hands and legs whenever possible, putting down my phone, being present at church. Yes! Spinning my wheels like a jeep stuck in a pile of mud leaves me no where but deeper in the pile of mud.

Yes to carving out a career and schedule that fits my life. Not the other way around. I want to work because I have skills and gifts to offer to customers and clients who see the value in what I do. And I want to work because it leaves me feeling alive and full. I want to start work tasks with joy and eagerness, and end those same tasks with gratitude and fulfillment. Whether I do that in a full time, part time or very limited capacity depends on what works best in any given season. But it’s up to me to determine what that looks like as my family grows, my interests change, and I pinpoint what’s going to be the best use of my efforts.

Yes to leaving room for the unexpected. Whether that means an out of state move, another baby after our second, a big business move, a physical studio space, or just a nice long rest from work with more margin than normal (all things considered in our private lives but not any cryptic announcement for those wondering!), saying yes to the unexpected might mean a lot of immediate and admittedly frustrating no’s. But oh how time can add up in such sweet ways! And space for the unexpected feels like the best kind of validation.

This post isn’t me alluding to a specific plan I need the world to know about but more so is encouragement for anyone looking to feel validated in a current season of less. Or a correct season of pursuing something different than what you’re used to and certainly different than what it seems the rest of us are up to (a lot of what things seem to be is different than reality). It’s encouragement to take things day by day but remember the things you do, say, and pursue now will project you towards a specific destination in the future. It’s encouragement to lean into whatever newness or discomfort you may be called to in the present because a no now doesn’t mean a no forever.

Much love. Xoxo

All photos in this post from Cassie Olimb. We’re so grateful for her ability to capture our growing family.