The Powerful Gift of Doing Nothing

Make it happen!

Stop waiting!

She who dares, wins!

These are just a few of the posts I’ve scrolled across on Instagram. I love me a good, positive vibes account. And if that account is also turning out some quality photography… well, swoon. They got me. I’ll double tap the crap out of it.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m all about truth bombs and spreading around the sparkly stuff life is made of. (And if you follow me on Instagram, you’ve probably noticed I turn out my fair share of inspirational quotes.) But all the words folks are tossing around, encouraging people to get up off their tushies and do something, is not always what I need to hear. Sometimes the last thing I need to do is get up and do something.

Yes, I know.  Not so long ago I wrote a blog post about doing something, anything, when you just don’t know what to do with your life. I stand by that post. But today I’m writing in defense of doing nothing.

That’s right. Nothing.

Hear me out. It’s like this…

About a month ago I learned I will be moving to Chicago with my husband and toddler son come July. I’ve known it was a possibility for a while; Jeremy applied to grad school last fall. But I refused to make any plans until I knew what I was dealing with. I did zero research on neighborhoods, schools, or housing. Nothing. When my family tried to talk to me about what it will be like to move across the country with a baby, I stopped them cold.

“I can’t think about this now. I’ll go crazy if I do. I’ll think about this tomorrow.”

I just went about life as usual. Doing this. Doing that.


The Powerful Gift of Doing Nothing


But since this mammoth move started staring me in the face, I’ve felt differently about things. I’m normally a planner. I make lists, flow charts, and outlines for big projects. I have an accountability partner and a mastermind group whom I consult with regularly. I create Pinterest boards and bookmark folders to keep track of research. AND I carry an old-fashioned day planner in my bag, while also using Trello on my phone to help me get from point A to point B. I really like making things happen.

Except when I don’t.

There are times when my day planner stays in my bag, just taking up space. I ignore my Trello alerts and neglect to check-in with those who keep me accountable. I abandon my to-do lists and nothing gets done.

My husband is so happy about our upcoming move to Chicago. He’s ecstatic. And he should be. He worked really hard to get to this place professionally. And I’m happy too. I’m excited for the academic gold mine he’s about to dig into. I’m excited for the adventure that’s about to unfold for our family. Change is good.

And it’s horrible.

I want to make this move but I don’t want to leave my friends and family. It feels funny to be excited and mournful at the same time. My sadness and joy don’t cancel each other out. I stand here holding each one simultaneously. I look out towards September and I feel hopeful… and absolutely paralyzed. My life is in transition. It’s about to turn upside down in ways I can’t even fathom at this moment.


Do Nothing


I felt something similar in the final weeks leading up to my son’s birth. I felt like I should go out and see people, connect, and experience life without child for the last time. I kept pushing myself to do things. This could be the last chance for _____ in Lord knows how long. There were so many things to fill in that blank. But I really didn’t want to go anywhere. I didn’t want to see anyone. All this pushing led me to a restroom stall in the Beverly Center, where I broke down in sobs. My mother swept me up, took me home, and ordered me to get in bed. Bless her.

I’m not a very pregnant, sobbing woman at the moment, so it’s unlikely anyone will step in and cut me off from all the doing. I’m going to have to do it myself.

And while I’m at it, I give you permission to cut yourself off too.

There are times in our lives when we just need to process, to hibernate, to tune in or tune out – whatever feels right. Sometimes we need to step off the roller coaster long enough to stop spinning. When we do, we can get excited for the big stuff ahead. (Tweet that!) Forcing a smile and a let’s-do-this attitude will not make the transition easier. It actually robs us of a really important step: synthesizing the old with the new, what was and what will be. I feel like this is something that can only happen alone, in a cocoon-like state of withdrawal. And if not alone, then only with our core people at our sides to light the way.

I’m not advocating that anyone check out for months at a time. There is a limit to this period of life. We can’t live in transition forever. Though, I will say that doing nothing is a monumental gift we can give ourselves that brings clarity, peace, and eventually joy.

I love all the motivational mayhem happening on social media right now. But I don’t want to hear it. I’m not there yet. I will be. I just gotta step away from project #doallthethings for a moment while I wrap my mind around this change. And once I do, you can bet there will be a flow chart guiding my heart directly to Chi-Town.



2 Comments on The Monumental Gift of Doing Nothing

  1. Casey
    April 21, 2016 at 6:57 pm (3 years ago)

    This is so wonderful and SUCH an important reminder. So well said, thank you 🙂

    • JazmineAluma
      April 21, 2016 at 8:15 pm (3 years ago)

      You’re welcome! We all need to duck out every once in a while. 😉


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