Do you have certain books that you can or cannot read at certain times of the day? For me, I am reading Crushing it! by Gary Vee and Present-over-Perfect by Shauna Niequist right now.
Whenever I read Gary Vee’s hard-hitting, expletive-littered book, I am ready to kick some ass creatively and shed all of my concerns about what others think. I can’t read this book at night, otherwise I am up, working and planning world domination. Actually, looking back, I should have been bought the audiobook instead so I could get my daily dose of Gary while folding laundry and doing the dishes. I need a little push in those departments.
Given that I am a recovering night owl whose decent sleep window has been severely limited by ranch life and raising young children, I need all the help I can get. Enter Shauna Niequist and her book. It’s honest without being too heavy and the chapters are short. Not that it puts me to sleep, not at all. Rather I am able to quiet my mind, skipping the night time anxiety. Niequist is also beautifully eloquent about her faith and God’s hand in her life. She weaves in great quotes from scriptures, music lyrics, and poetry and classic literature.
The chapter I’m on in Present-over-Perfect is about stillness, more specifically about God’s call for us to be still in our spirit, to cultivate an inner stillness that we carry with us. Physical stillness is no problem for me. Left to my own devices, I am really good at relaxing and recreating. Spiritual stillness or mental/emotional stillness is tough for me and a lot of people in this day and age.
I can hear all of the parents of young children laughing hysterically at the idea of stillness given that their lives are ruled by little humans biologically wired to run until they collapse. And is mental/emotional stillness even possible in a time of smartphones and social media, and play dates and meetings? Errands and ballet and gymnastics? And traffic and driving and driving and driving? Or if you are a cattle rancher, you are trying to get feeding done before the snowstorm hits and a cylinder on your tractor goes out, and your cows start calving a week earlier than they are supposed to? And you need to get your permits done today and the accountant is asking for your tax info because it’s already the first day of March?! I have to hope that it is.
So the big question: how do we, people with kids, jobs, spouses, cultivate stillness in our lives? Specifically, how do we cultivate stillness in our lives while working in ranching? Niequist answer for herself is silence and prayer. Maybe Sunday at church is your still time, but I would challenge you to find a way back to God every other day of the week too. I know that many people use meditation and yoga to find their stillness. My sister finds her quiet center by running (what a weirdo).
I do think that many ranchers find their stillness in their work and I have experienced it myself, specifically the tasks where there is nowhere else for me to be and nothing but the task in front of me, like waiting for cows and calves to pair up when the weather is good or harrowing fields in the spring.
This week, we have some serious snow here on the ranch, at least two feet. The interstate was closed and school has been cancelled. And the kids and I have been together a lot in the last week. It’s been an incredibly good opportunity to practice cultivating stillness. Did I mention that I am snowed in my little house with two bored kids? Please send wine.
I would love to know how you are cultivating stillness in your life, please leave me a comment below.