Brain Space

Taking care of yourself in the midst of stress.

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       Sometimes the thing we most need to pencil into our schedule and put a big star by is the one that never gets done.  
       Lately my brain has felt like rush hour in downtown New York City. Some nights I wake up and my mind starts running like a Wall Street ticker tape with all the things I have to do and I can’t get back to sleep. Then I am reminded of author Emily Freeman’s words, “What am I giving space in my brain to?” and realize I needed to refocus. 

       I haven’t written much about the farm house lately because most of the work done in January was boring (at least to me): framing, insulation, drywall, electrical, plumbing. The things that are necessary but are hidden s0  behind pretty painted walls. I have been busy picking out appliances, cabinets, sinks, fixtures, etc. It suddenly feels like everything is coming together and I have a ton of decisions to make and items to purchase. Sometimes I feel like my head is going to explode. Ever been there?   

      Instead of good brain space full of inspiration, love, peace, and joy, my brain is full of junk… like a garage that needs cleaning out. It is full of anxiety, headaches, my to do list, worries about my family, the mess in the world, remodeling my farm house, and what am I making for supper? It is full of comparisons and put downs. How does she do it all and I can’t? My brain space is full of guilt and fears.
     One of my deepest desires is learning how to rest even in the midst of stress. How to not let the crazy busyness of life overwhelm me. My stresses are from a life full of blessings, not life and death issues and I try to keep that perspective. I know I am not alone in this struggle so I thought I’d share  a few things I try to do when I’m on overload.
  • Here’s what’s on my night stand.

    Schedule time for yourself. I am an artist, so having time to write, paint,  read, and create rejuvenates my spirit. What is it that makes you come alive? When was the last time you did it?  

  • Play – Go to a movie.  Get together with friends for dinner or coffee. These activities will get you out of your own head space and help you see life from someone else’s perspective. Life truly is good and sometimes we just need to be reminded.   
  • Quiet your soul. When was the last time you sat still without any noise and just let your mind and heart relax? Can you turn off the TV, radio, your phone and just not be available for a short time? How do you connect with your inner spiritual person? For me it comes through prayer, meditating on God’s truths, being still and just resting. I am learning that rest is a form of trust. Can you rest? Schedule it in your life like an appointment. You are not just a body, you have a soul too.
  • Slow down – literally! Drive a little slower. Take time to listen to birds chirping. Take a walk. Really look your loved ones in the eyes when they talk to you about their day. Dallas Willard writes, “God never gives anyone too much to do. We do that to ourselves or allow others to do it to us.” Maybe it’s time to say “no” and not feel guilty about it so we can truly slow down and give our soul rest.

       Just like the space behind the walls that we don’t normally see, our brain space and what fills it is important. If the foundation and the work behind the walls is done correctly, not rushed or done cheaply, it will be a quality house that will last for years.  I can cover up the walls in my house with beautiful artwork, but if the plumbing isn’t done correctly, the walls will leak. 

      I’m learning that what I put in my brain and what I focus on is just as important. I can put a smile on my face and pretend that everything is okay, but if I don’t give my mind space to relax and rejuvenate, my body and soul suffers.

        My son, Alex was driving just a few minutes behind me on the same highway into town last week.   He saw this beautiful sunset and stopped to capture it.   I never saw it. . . . .
     My brain was too full.  I want to change that.  What are you missing? 
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