A top three for 2018: hourglass, enneagram, and sabbaticals

 

The space between Christmas and the New Year is like a blank page between chapters in a book. The pause between those two chapters lets you catch your breath to reflect on what’s happened and prepare for what’s to come. With all that could be said about 2018, here are the top three things that shaped and impacted my life. Whatever your top three or ten are, I hope you are able to take a moment or two to look back as well before jumping into 2019.

The life changing magic of an hourglass

My brother and sister-in-law gifted me a beautiful hourglass for my birthday and it changed the game for daily quiet time. Once my kids stopped napping I realized the deep need in my soul for quiet space and time each day. Figuring out a consistent and enforceable routine that didn’t involve screens felt insurmountable most days.

One day the hourglass showed up on my doorstep in a brown amazon box. One afternoon after admiring it for a few weeks, Edith wanted to play with it. That’s when it happened — quiet time in her room for one hour with the hourglass to keep track. Since that day she and Frederick, when he has school off, spend a whole hour in their room playing, looking at books, and sometimes staring at the sand so intently they fall asleep.

The steady stream of grains is soothing and reassuring. The visual of time passing through the funnel cues the most restorative part of each day for everyone in the house. That hour of peace and stillness refreshes my introvert heart and mind like no other.

For the love of the Enneagram

For two years I thought I was an Enneagram one. I took an online test in 2016 and it labeled me a one so I read all the things about ones. Some of them resonated, but it wasn’t life changing or mind blowing. This past spring after reading The Road Back to You by Ian Morgan Cron and everything changed. If you don’t know anything about the Enneagram, it’s an ancient personality typing system that categorizes personalities in nine main types.

After reading The Road Back to You, I realized I wasn’t a one. After reading the chapter on fours it felt like something finally clicked. It was a giant mirror that reflected all the inner thoughts and feelings I experienced but could never fully verbalize — all the gross, yucky stuff and all the distinct, wonderful stuff too. The Enneagram provides language to name certain thought patterns and motivations that bubbled beneath the surface. It also gives tangible, practice-based steps to grow and develop healthy reactions and responses to ruts in thinking and emotion. Most importantly it cultivates compassion for yourself and others; something sorely needed these days.

Here are a few keys and resources if you want to begin this journey. The first thing to keep in mind when beginning is to read through a good summary of each type — even the best quiz can’t reveal your inner motivations. The second thing to consider are the numbers on either side of the one you think you are. For example, when I thought I was a one for two years neither of the numbers (a nine and a two) on each side of the one resonated with me. You will have your main number, but also a wing number that resonates a lot with you as well. For example, I’m a 4w5 which looks quite different from a 4w3.

The third thing to do is think about what you’re like when you are emotionally healthy and unhealthy. Each number will draw on the positive characteristics from one other number in health or negative characteristics from one other number in distress. A four in health will take on the positive characteristics of a one (which may be one of the reasons I tested as a one) and will take on the negative characteristics of a two in distress. The fourth thing to do is to look at the subtypes of each number. Every number has three subtypes and it was this last step that unlocked everything for me.

Here are a few resources if you want to get started or dive deeper:

This is a great website outlining subtypes — it’s incredibly valuable to read the brief paragraph of each subtype.

Books

The Road Back to You by Ian Morgan Cron

(most accessible and easy to read)

The Path Between Us by Suzanne Stabile

(all about relationship dynamics between enneagram types)

The Complete Enneagram by Beatrice Chestnut

(a thorough and in-depth examination)

The 9 Types of Leadership by Beatrice Chestnut

(a valuable resource for employers and employees)

The Enneagram: A Christian Perspective by Richard Rohr

(written in the 1980s; it’s the first book I read and full of helpful tables in the back)

Podcasts

Typology with Ian Cron

Sleeping at Last — Ryan O’Neal has written songs for numbers 1-7 and will be releasing 8 and 9; the songs are beautiful and the podcasts go behind the scenes describing the songwriting process for each number

The EnneaApp is a helpful and well-organized resource — the paid version is worth it!

Pushing pause on social media

My word for 2018 was rooted. It was a year to go deep and dig into things below the surface — spiritually, emotionally, socially, financially, in marriage, in health, and as a parent. In order to do this well, I felt the need to step away from the buzz and noise of social media.

Twice this past year I deleted Facebook and Instagram from my phone and didn’t go on any social media for a whole month. In January it was a fresh start that freed up mental and emotional space to just be — to be with my brand new baby, Hugo, to be present for the beginning of a new year, to be myself without comparison or competition.

In July the sabbatical created room to fully engage and connect with Frederick and Edith who were on summer break. There wasn’t a compulsive pull to check in with the rest of the world when the most important people in my world were right in front of me. The photos I took were entirely for our own memories rather than experiences shared with my social network. We went on adventures and soaked up the summer free from the swirl of social media activity.

I still checked into email and Facebook messenger for personal messages as well as texting — pausing from social media didn’t mean isolation. It meant intention. Rather than stumbling into interaction with friends and family, I took it upon myself to foster and reach out in a deeper and more personal way. Social media is so valuable when handled in a healthy way and from a place of wholeness rather than out of boredom or lack. When we come to it looking to receive affirmation, get attention, or find validation it fractures what’s already frail in our souls. When held in its right place we can come it to looking to give care, share appreciation, and connect in meaningful ways.

Taking two months off this year helped keep social media in a healthy place and reminded me to approach those platforms with intention. I would love to hear the things, small and big, that shaped your life this past year.

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A theme for the year

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A couple years ago I heard about the practice of choosing a word to characterize each year. Rather than making New Year’s resolutions, this creating a framework or tone that would be a theme the next 365 days. This is the third year I’ve done this and each year I’ve been surprised by the word I land on after prayer and thoughtful consideration.

In 2015, the word was rest.

In 2016, the word was productive.

In 2017, the word is slow.

Maybe there’s a pattern forming that I’m unaware of, but either way it’s been a life-giving and valuable key that unlocks how I approach day-to-day activities and mindsets. Our family went through a lot of massive changes in 2015. We moved cities, changed jobs, switched church campuses, and embraced a new community. In the midst of all the upheaval, rest formed the underlying foundation of each big change as well as the mundane activities that made up our days. Rest did not always mean peace. It was a state of mind rather than a descriptor of our actions. In 2016, my two kids were older and more independent and the dust had settled from the previous year. Productive became my mantra in personal interests, daily chores, and engagement with friends and family. I wanted the time spent with people to produce life and deep connection.

This year, the word is slow.

Slow is a scary word to me. It’s scary because it’s contrary to my natural instincts and personality. Ever since I can remember, I have always tried to accomplish the most amount of stuff in the shortest amount of time. My brain immediately begins figuring out the most efficient way to do whatever needs to be done during the week, day, hour. I often find our biggest strengths are also our biggest weaknesses.

Slightly inspired by the Danish word hyggethe word for 2017 is slow.

Slow in my reading life. In my devotional life, I felt convicted to dive deeper and read slower. Poetry and memoirs and biographies force me to pause and think so I’ve filled my to-read list with my favorite poets and individuals I want to learn from.

Slow in food and meals. The slow food movement is growing in popularity and want to take time to garden and use foods that are in season more than ever this year. It’s also about savoring and lingering around the table at meal times.

Slow in relationships. It will take every ounce of energy to force myself to slow down and not rush the time I have with people. This means so many things. It’s enjoying the moment of reading several books to my instead of getting itchy to move on after two or three. It’s sitting leisurely with my husband and just chilling with no agenda. It’s about leaving margin in my days and weeks rather than filling them so that they’re bursting at the seams.

Slow in communication. Making snap judgments and pronouncements comes so easily and it’s time to slow down and pause before speaking. Last year I started to write letters to friends. The act of putting thoughts down on pen and paper rather than a quick text or message does amazing things for my soul. One of the most thoughtful gifts I received this Christmas was a wax seal set and it will be getting a lot of use.

Slow in work. For most of my life, I squeeze as much as I can into everyday. I desire to slow down and give more attention and care to the important as well as the menial tasks and find joy in each of them even when they’re difficult, dull, or demanding.

So here’s to slow. Slow in consuming things. Slow in savoring the moment. Slow in seeing the world. Slow in embracing rather than rushing through the season, which is oh so tempting on these cold, January days.

If you were to come up with one word for the year, what would it be? Hoping you all find something that brings joy, purpose, and definition to this new, beautiful year ahead.

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