But I feel like this needs to be my motto for right now: less... less.
I tend to have high expectations, which can be a really good thing. But it can lead to a lot of stress and disappointment, so I'm going to try something new for a season: expecting less. Of myself and of others.
This seems a bit counter-intuitive, and my brain doesn't really like the sound of it. It goes against a lot of what I've been taught - to go for the gold, that if I can dream it I can do it, to reach for the sky, to push myself to be all that I can be. Normally, I want to be more creative, a better mom, a better writer, all things to all people, more, more, more... but this can lead to a feeling of never enough.
I want to be enough.
Here's one good example of expecting more of myself. Derek and I drove to Vermont to a funeral this past weekend - a nine hour trip each way. We drove Friday, went to the funeral on Saturday, then drove Sunday. Guess how many books I packed to read for a writing project that's fast approaching... 25! 25 books. Now that's just stupid. But it's not the first time. I pack all of this work, and then I'm disappointed when it doesn't all get finished. So on my way to Vermont, I told myself "expect less." Whenever feelings of stress would come to mind because of all that I had to do and the limited time before my deadline, I would say to myself, "less... less... less." And I had a great weekend!
"Expect less" could be a great motto for this Christmas season too - but probably not too many stores would use it as their slogan. It's something I want my kids to learn - to expect less, not more more more. Like my grandpa, who as a child was thrilled to come down on Christmas morning to find his dinner plate filled with nuts, candies, and one big perfect orange. Predictable, but very special.
This tree struck me today because during this end of autumn season, it is expecting less. Each day it will hold less and less of the colour and vibrancy and fullness that the leaves and seeds bring. Soon it will be bare - the least it can be. Preparing for a distant season when it will again blossom and grow exponentially. Outwardly less, but inwardly holding much potential.
It speaks of gentleness and rest to me - not necessarily as the way I'll be forever, but for a season - because this is what I need right now. Even in the midst of deadlines and funerals and sick kids and travel - perhaps especially now - I need to expect less of myself. And this feels freeing and calming in a weird and wonderful way.