This past week, as the kids were hustling to get ready for school, my son stopped and started yelling, “Mom!! Mom!! Come look at this!” There was a praying mantis that had taken up residence on the front balcony. We sat there watching the curious creature, studying its every move. In this case, its ability to remain still as we stared intently and examined her up and down.
When I returned home and poured myself another cup of coffee before getting stuck into work for the day, I noticed she was no longer there.
The next day, she was back.
This time when I returned home after dropping the kids off at school, she hadn’t moved. She was positioned on the screen door so I sat on the other side of the glass, watching her. Later, as I paced the floor taking conference calls and flailing my hands all about (hand talker), I checked to see if she was still there. She had not moved.
Her ability to remain still through the disruption and noise was incredible. Stillness – something I have come to appreciate, particularly over the course of the last several months.
While packing everything up and relocating across the globe can wreak havoc in your life and bring up fears you didn’t even know existed, the gift it has allowed me personally is stillness.
I was talking with one of my dearest friends last week as I have been weighing some decisions I need to make in my life – tough decisions. But, whether you are making a career move, ending a relationship, or moving abroad, major life decisions don’t come easy and require stillness so you can make peace with them.
She reminded me of what the last 7 years of my life have looked like and hearing it from the mouth of someone I adore and respect, it really hit home. For the first time in a very long time, I have an opportunity to breathe, to embrace the stillness of the moment. While it may sound simple, she was right.
My previous circumstances simply didn’t allow me the capacity to make certain choices at certain times in my life. When you are a mother of a baby with another on the way and years of touring has left your husband fighting his own battle with addiction, survival mode kicks in. As a mother and as a woman, you do what you must to make it work.
I had no other choice but to raise my children, climb the ladder, and do so with grace and strength. Sleepless nights spent catering to the needs of small humans, followed by days spent at the office trying to lead a team and build my career. Bills to pay. Mouths to feed. Goals to accomplish.
The magnitude of that responsibility and doing it alone doesn’t leave a person with a lot of time for stillness. To reflect. To listen.
At the height of my career, I was going home to the wreckage of my marriage trying to reconcile my life and how this could happen, not having the space I needed to know what I was supposed to do. Noise at every turn, at every corner. Simply doing my best to be the love and stability that my children needed and deserved. Meanwhile, night after night, my entire world was turned upside down.
The stories I could tell of those years are plentiful and they are heartbreaking. And very few people knew the extent of what was going on. It has only been in the last year, as I leaned into the fear of the unknown and packed up my life and my family to move abroad, that I made a promise to myself to own every truth of those experiences. Stories that could fill the pages of a book (hint) and help a lot of people who might be struggling.
It took the prompting of my girlfriend saying to me, “Jenn, I have walked through hell with you, take this time” for me to realize what a blessing stillness can be. Something I so desperately needed in my life but didn’t know until I had given up everything from my previous life and found myself across the world trying to redefine what the next 20 years might look like.
Bob Dylan once said, “Experience teaches us that silence terrifies people the most.”
What is it exactly about silence that scares us? Finding yourself alone in the stillness of your own thoughts?
I have found that I really enjoy the stillness. I need it. In fact, it has recently prompted me to ask myself, “What do you want?” “Who do you want to be?” And I have been forced to examine the things in my life that have meaning, that have purpose. Some of the answers I have found have even surprised me!
Stillness has allowed me to listen.
A year ago, I sat talking with friends and told them about my plans to leave America post-election. A decision that wasn’t easy but that I knew was the right thing to do for my children. I still believe that to be true today. But, that didn’t make it any easier. Making a tremendous decision like that takes time, takes planning.
The last 10 months have brought a lot of moments for reflection and growth, as well as new opportunities and adventures. Some moments easier than others.
There are things I have realized about myself and my life that I would never have been able to see through the noise and distraction of my previous circumstances. There are truths that I have had to face. Pain I have had to heal from. And choices I have had to reconcile. Stillness has made that possible, as I finally had the freedom and the space to let my heart and my head have a much-needed conversation.
Just like the praying mantis that decided to pay me a visit this week, who sat and examined the situation in stillness, allow yourself to do the same. Align your heart and your head. And whatever you might discover – own it – without apology.
Stillness will present you with the clarity you need.
This week, let’s all allow ourselves the space we need in our respective lives to have that conversation. Whether you are weighing your career options, contemplating a move, or thinking about your personal relationships – extend yourself the gift of stillness.
You may never know what answers lie beneath all the noise and the clutter of your life that you are allowing to distract you from the truth. From your truth.
Cheers to a new week and seeking clarity in the stillness.