Swamp Life

The Situation

I was drowning in a wetland marsh where limitless "nicety," "control issues," "people pleasing," and "flow" created ambiguity and dysfunction.

Let me give context; I recently read the National Geographic story, Want to Live Longer? The article is about rebooting your medical destiny. As with any longevity & quality of life study, I am aware that there’s only so much science & formula can do. But that doesn’t keep me from being intrigued - errr obsessed with longevity & sustainability.


And so, in the story, once again, "stress relief" is a significant component of longevity. The elusive stress relief that I schedule in my day from 5-8 pm. During this time, I envision a long walk with Nina (our dog), a warm bath, a hot cup of tea while our food slowly cooks, perhaps even indulging in a book or documentary. But instead, I find myself yearning to finish one more task, read one more sentence, plan one more lesson, answer one more text, and tweak a document one more time. I yearn for my phone, computer, or my lesson binder. It’s been frustrating to see how hard it is for me to rest in solitude - something that was once so effortless for me to do. I am shocked at my need for constant numbing, noise, and distractions when I’m not working.

I often visualize myself running through a beautifully wild & hushed forest - past the red maple, bald cypress, willow trees, and white oak. I am aimless in what I am running towards; all I know is what I'm running from. The beasts chasing me are guilt, to-do lists, communications, appointments, perfectionism, and failure. Every time I stay still, they get closer to me...so I never stop. As I run, the low- lying land gets wetter and deeper...

 

The Swamp

Since August, I've been trying to reset & heal - to investigate deeper into why I'm feeling so chaotic. And the answer came from my Pastor, Roy Barrett. He discussed the need for boundaries and definitions. His most captivating imagery was that of a swamp with no clear boundaries or definitions.


The swamp ecosystem is quite fascinating because of its abundance & diversity. So many habitats and living things can survive within its murky waters. It encompasses plants, fish, mammals, trees, and some of the planet's most deadly reptiles (anacondas, alligators, etc.). I love studying and discussing wetlands, marine biology, and freshwater biomes. Still, I don't want my inner life to feel like one—a space where anything and everything can inhabit, and darkness lurks in every nook and cranny.

My life illustrated as muddied, unclear, and without clear-cut perimeters felt right. picture by: Markus Spiske

 

The Shoreline

Physically, I must persevere toward my work-life segmentation, while also mentally, emotionally, and spiritually:

  • Saying "enough is enough"

  • Accepting everyone will not like/approve of/ respect my decisions (or even me)

  • There will be people disappointed in my actions or my "no."

  • Rejection is for my protection.

  • All I can do is my best

  • Mapping out the friendships, projects, and people that take precedence in my life

  • Being okay with being quiet or silent in the moment

  • Recognizing that it will work out for the greater good

  • Relying on faith over fear

  • Meditating on scripture and all things lovely, noble, and admirable

  • Waking up earlier to do stretches, prayers, reading, and meditation that aligns with clear boundaries

  • Listening and then letting it go

  • Being extremely protective of my energy

  • Turning off my phone

  • Observing the thoughts and then renewing my mind

  • De centering self

  • Having an unoffended heart, giving grace & mercy

  • Letting go of control

  • Reminding myself that experiencing constant & consistent daily stress/anxiety is not welcome within my life.

Although this is daily work, I am feeling clearer.

I've even visualized myself stopping, sitting, and resting on the shoreline of a lake in the silent wild woods - taking in the beauty of the white bottlebrush buckeye, the yellow tuliptree, and the coral honeysuckle. The creatures get close to me but do not harm me - they also sit & soothe. And we all look towards bright blue clear waters.

All my best,

Shelby

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