Celebrating my 40th. By Stopping.

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Celebrating my 40th.  By Stopping.

I turned 40 this year.

And after years of nonstop going, going, going, I decided to celebrate with stopping.

I know some people thought I was crazy. They looked at me funny when I told them my plans. But I didn’t want a party. Or a big celebration. I just wanted to stop.

So I rented a condo on Lake Michigan for the weekend – and I sheepishly told my husband he wasn’t invited – at least for the first part of the weekend. I think he understood.

“You actually become more alive.

This is what stopping can do.

There is nothing passive about it.

And when you decide to go, it’s a different kind of

going because you ‘stopped.’

The stopping actually makes the going more vivid, richer, more textured.

It helps keep all the things we worry about

and feel inadequate about in perspective.”

– Susan Komnives, Leadership for a Better World

 

Then, for the first time that I can really remember, I stopped.

Completely. 

 

Just like Komnives said in her book. No Internet. No cell coverage (thanks to my spotty AT&T service). Just me and a few crashing waves from the lakeshore.

Instead, I spent time reading and looking at entries from the last few years of my journal. I brainstormed. I reflected on the highlights of my life. I remembered and thanked God for those he’s put along my path to encourage and teach me. And I dreamed of what my future could hold.

 

By this simple act of stopping, I learned a couple of things:

 

The view of Lake Michigan from my condo.

1- There is power in remembering.

I recall as a kid  hearing Bible stories in which God asked his people to remember. He even asked them to sometimes create a monument to commemorate the event. I know I thought that seemed strange at the time. But now I get it. By remembering, we begin to recall times and places where God met us in an awesome way. By remembering, we can now go back and view those individual brush strokes in our lives and see how they have come together to paint an amazing picture. And that is powerful.

2-  Never stop dreaming.

For a long time, I felt I was too busy to dream. And I think maybe a part of me was also afraid to do too much of it because I might be disappointed with the outcome. I had a hectic job, and I felt like I was a hamster running nonstop on a wheel. But I had no idea how to get off of it. Somehow I thought that was part of the journey to becoming “successful” in life. But it was a lie. The reality is that we need to cultivate and listen to our dreams. They point us to our passions, and they give us glimpses of who God made us to be. And my opinion is that we need to begin brushing them aside less and embracing them more. Even if it’s terrifying.

So this year, to celebrate my 40th birthday, I stopped.

And by simply doing that, I somehow found it easier to celebrate and gain perspective by remembering my first 40 years and dreaming big about how to spend my next 40.

And now, like Komnives says, the “going” really is all the more vivid, richer and more textured.

It’s like seeing the world with completely new eyes.