This is Day 7 of our 31 Days of Less and More series. To read all the posts in order, start with Day 1 and check out our overview page to see the topics for the entire month.
“A quiet secluded life in the country, with the possibility of being useful to people to whom it is easy to do good, and who are not accustomed to have it done to them; then work which one hopes may be of some use; then rest, nature, books, music, love for one’s neighbor — such is my idea of happiness.” ~Leo Tolstoy
As much as I love that quote by Tolstoy and as much as I would love to live that kind of life, it seems like a faraway dream. A quiet life, full of useful work, rest, books, music? How about a hectic life fragmented by running hither and yon, in a tireless effort to keep all the balls in the air, for who knows what reason, except that everyone else is doing it? Nobody dreams of that. Ever. And yet, that’s how we live. Our world is one big ball of stress and we are often its unfortunate victims.
The constant presence of screens in our lives doesn’t help either. There’s always something going on. The world never sleeps.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
If your life has no margin, no space for rest and reading and music and walks in the park, then you must cultivate that space on purpose and protect it from all the things that would threaten to choke it out.
We all have seasons in our lives where there’s no slack, no room to breathe, but those seasons too easily to take over and become our new normal. Anxiety and stress are like cancers that invade our brain space and our emotional life and make it almost impossible for us to enjoy what’s happening around us.
We all need margin in our lives—for our own sanity and for the sake of serving others. I promise you that nearly every good thing that happens in your life happens in the space between you and your schedule. And if you can’t remember the last time you had one of those moments that took your breath away—by watching the sunset, or noticing how the light dances off your daughter’s hair, or some other such life-giving moment, then you probably don’t have enough margin. And when we lose margin, we lose our humanity.
Margin is the space between us and our limits. It’s what gives us the time and compassion to listen and serve and love.
Here are some tips that may help you find more rest:
- Ruthlessly look at your weekly/monthly schedule. Is it full to the gills? Is there any ‘white space’, any space devoted to just being? Does what you see match up with the hopes and dreams you had for your life? Be honest. It’s not gonna change itself, but if you will purposefully try to make a few small changes—cut the things you can, do well the things you do—I think you’ll find more room for breathing and living.
- Evaluate your sleep. Do you get enough sleep? Do you realize how important it is to rest and rest well? We spend one third of our lives in bed for a reason—we are creatures created for REST! Don’t wear the badge of honor that you don’t need sleep. We all need it and plenty of it.
- Plan some down time in the near future. Go for a hike, read a book, play Scrabble with your kids, make some homemade bread or a pretty linen flower, take a nap or guitar lessons. Do something that will feed your soul and then find a way to make a habit of doing it.
Day 7 Challenge: Take some time today to do something kind for yourself that you don’t normally make time for. Read a book, take a bath, bake cookies, get a pedicure, take a walk, sit and watch the sunset with your favorite glass of wine, do some yoga. Give yourself at least 60 minutes today to rest and recharge. Share what you did or what you are planning to do today on Ruth’s Facebook page!
Are you a frazzled mess? Can you carve out some rest today?
Rene @thedomesticlady says
Thanks, I needed to read this today.
My favorite comfort thing is crocheting. It is so relaxing for me. I try to sit and crochet whenever stress starts to build. Right now I am working on chemo caps and it is such a blessing.
I am absolutely LOVING this series!!! Each post is amazing, filled with truth, challenges, and encouragement!! Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!
Edie Wadsworth says
YES, Ruth! I so agree. Handiwork is so relaxing and rewarding. Thank you so much for your love and support.
You are a gem.
Think you just changed my life, yet again…many thanks.
This is lovely. I came over from Pinterest because of your Tolstoy quote, ended up quoting you on margins on a Facebook share. Thanks for those beautiful thoughts today.
Edie Wadsworth says
Welcome, Lisa! Thank you for kindness and for sharing!
Yes me! I’m tired and frazzled! Help me, how can I carve out some space and peace in the day as a Stay at home Mum with a 2 year old and a 13 month old?
Edie Wadsworth says
You are probably exhausted because you are doing such a great job with your kids, Felicity. Those are such tiring ages, but it won’t last forever, I promise. You may have to take short little moments, for rest, while they nap. Be good to yourself. Don’t fret about the house or a hundred other things that don’t matter that much. You are doing the most important job in the world!!
Sending you love and prayers.
Aw thanks for the words of comfort Edie. being at home with my girls is the best, most fun, rewarding job ever, but it’s also the most tiring! I wouldn’t want it any other way, I just wish for a more even balance. The next few months feel uncomfortably full, and I feel tired just looking at my diary. Still, it’s only a season isn’t it? Still very grateful.
No margin in our lives caused a “forced rest” of three years away from our beloved Brazil. Now we take sleep, exercise, down time, etc. VERY seriously.
I came over to read your post and saw what I consider an inappropriate ad on the right hand side of the screen. It is titled “Weird French Video”. I have never seen anything like this before on your blog (which I thoroughly enjoy!) and I don’t think it was intentional on your part.
I often have my sons and my husband read your posts; however, I don’t want to have to block the screen for them to read any future posts.
I don’t mean to offend in any way. I just thought I should let you know.
Edie Wadsworth says
Thanks for letting me know, Michelle. I checked all my settings and they’re fine. A friend of mine had a similar problem lately and think it was a hacker. I’ll have my computer person check into for me. Hackers drive me crazy.
So appreciate the heads up.
Thank you for the very prompt reply!
See? I figured it was something like that.
You’re a classy lady and I am so thankful you take the time to be such an encouragement!!
Thank you for giving me “permission” to rest. I’m in the middle of Eat That Frog and I was just about to work myself into a knot! I wish I had read this earlier today before I nearly killed myself with my list;) And yes, I believe I will take a break and make a pretty linen flower! I am loving this series!
So absolutely perfectly said, loved this!
I have lived my life by “white space” for years. I learned about the concept of white space from a friend in marketing. I now leave white space on my calendar daily, providing a buffer between activities and/or if not needed pockets of down time-even if only 15 minutes helps me re-focus, rest… Life lived well this way.
Kelly K says
I’m really enjoying this series of MORE – it resonates with my heart and it’s desires. I particularly needed the reminder of the importance of more rest.
This post made me think of the gift of the gospel and the gift of the Sunday/Sabbath rest we are called to. I have been challenged even more since having children that weekly Sabbath rest is a gift and necessary not just a luxury. We START our week out with a whole day of rest to remember that our efforts/work are not what makes us – it’s just hard to live in that gift of rest in Christ the rest of the week
As a full time teacher and mom of two little girls, I am like many, trying so hard to find time to relax. I have recently started playing Relaxation music while I prepare dinner and it is really helping!