Thoughts By Natalie

a most delightful day: finding my freedom.

Yesterday, I had the most delightful day. I feel it necessary to preface this with telling you that I was supposed to be away at a conference all day long (7am to 10pm). I had gone the day before to host a table for Wonderfully Made, but aside from meeting a few interesting people, I felt like it was pretty much a wash of a day. Allie and I made the executive decision that it wasn’t worth it to spend another full day in a near-empty room talking to nobody.

Thus, yesterday started with the feeling of freedom.

Just knowing that I was supposed to be somewhere else made me feel like a kid playing hooky. Brian has bible study at 6:30am on Wednesdays, and while I usually sleep until the last moment before he walks out the door, I woke up early with him—energized enough to make him a cup of coffee before he left!

Once I had the place to myself, I cracked open my bible study homework, for which I got to read Hebrews 11 and learn more about the story of Rahab—a prostitute who ended up in the lineage of Jesus (I just love seeing the way God redeems everyone, especially those of us with junk in our past).

Then, for the first time in months I felt a strong urge to go for a jog (I know, what?!?). I attribute this urge to something I read in Gretchen Rubin’s book The Happiness Project. When she was young, she wanted to redecorate her room to be more sophisticated. Her dad agreed to the room makeover on one condition: that for 20 minutes a day, four days a week she go outside and go for a run. He didn’t care how fast or how far she went—or even that she actually ran rather than walked:

“All he asked was that I put on my running shoes and shut the door behind me.”

That got me thinking, why don’t I do that? Twenty minutes is nothing—I just have to put on my shoes and walk out the door. Thus, today I tried it and let me tell you, it was wonderful! Armed with a motivating new playlist (“Immigrant Song” by Trent Raznor, “Cracks”; by Freestylers, “All Fall Down” by Camo & Krooked, and the like), I found myself doing sprint intervals for twenty minutes on a familiar route in my neighborhood.

If the coffee hadn’t done it, the run certainly did: I was refreshed, energized, and ready to take on the day. While waiting for my post-shower hair to dry, I read a blog post by one of my favorite bloggers that inspired me to reach out to her and ask if she would write a guest post for my blog. Much to my delight, she agreed—and even asked me if I would write a guest post for her! This day could not get any better—or so I thought.

After lunch, I had an unexpected and lovely phone chat with Erin. I admit, I really hate the phone. But I can’t deny how much hearing her voice and having a real (not email or text) conversation made me feel connected, loved, and encouraged.

On top of all of the already-awesomeness that my day had seen, I stumbled across a candle sale at Bath + Body Works (woo!) while walking to Starbucks. Four candles for $20? Don’t mind if I do.

When I finally got to Starbucks—with a big bag of discounted candles in my hand, I might add—my favorite table in the corner was open, as if it was waiting for me to arrive and sit down. I settled in, ordered my favorite super-expensive soy triple-shot cappuccino because I got a free drink card in the mail yesterday, and cracked open my kindle to read for the rest of the afternoon.

I don’t mean to brag or make you feel like my life is perfect, but rather I share this with you because I learned something valuable yesterday—some little nuggets of truth God has been trying to teach me for so many months now: Enjoy the small moments and opportunities to be creative. Don’t feel guilty about the freedom you have in your schedule—you don’t work in an office anymore, so don’t live in bondage to the office mentality. Embrace the freedom, savor it, and use it to live each day to the full.

I’ve needed to grasp this for a while, but it wasn’t until I had a day like today (much like my former office days) where I was supposed to be someplace, but instead had the whole day open to my imagination. In a very real and tangible way, I could see how much I’ve wasted my freedom by trying to live according to other people’s standards: Work hours are from 8 to 6. Find one place to work for the day and stay there. Produce, produce, produce.

Now I see that I’ve had it all wrong, and can finally start fully enjoying the career I’ve been led to. I can read and write and start new projects. I can go for a walk in the middle of the day, or meet a friend for coffee. I can work from my fluffy bed or the coffee shop down the street. Whatever works best for that day is totally allowed and totally okay. I am free to be myself and live by my own set of rules.

When have you felt like you were living according to someone else’s standards?

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  • Rachel Johnson
    January 12, 2012 at 4:33 pm

    I love this, and I love that you had such a wonderful day! Also, that photo just encapsulates freedom to me – thanks for sharing it. And, duh, we’re soul sisters – I totally hit up that same sale at Bath & Body Works for candles.

    I had a total freak-out moment on New Year’s Day because I rested and lounged most of the day instead of doing things I had planned – brunch, yoga, etc. But instead I got quality time with James, plenty of sleep, a clean apartment (this was the day the Christmas tree was removed, the lights were put around the bike, and my decluttering process began), and a really lovely date night at R + D Kitchen. I mean, really, what is better than that, and why was I making myself feel so guilty? I think society tells us that busyness = importance and I fall into that trap time after time. But nothing productive is ever achieved without rest, and God blesses us with the little things to show us how much He loves us (and how much He, too, values rest).

    Whew! Basically just trying to communicate that this post spoke to my soul. I love you, girl!

    • Natalie Lynn Borton
      January 12, 2012 at 4:50 pm

      It’s so funny you say that about the photo–I actually thought of you when I found it because for some reason balloons remind me of you!

      You are so right on here, and I’m with you: “society tells us that busyness = importance and I fall into that trap time after time.”

      Here’s to freedom and not living by others’ standards!

  • Raquel
    January 13, 2012 at 9:31 pm

    It truly was a wonderful day.

    To answer your question: most if not all of the time… but I don’t always fall in the trap.
    You see, I didn’t attend college (not one day), I didn’t “make” a career for myself, was layed off of work and unemployed for almost 3 years. Needless to say, not hearing back from the endless applications and resumes I submitted to the numerous times people urged me to go to school I remained faithfulful to what God has said yes to, full time ministry. Have I felt like a failure? Yes. And I realized that I only felt like failure because I wasn’t meeting everyone else’s standards. When have I felt free to be who God has called me to be, when I am at the center of His will, which has not included college or career… so far!

    • Natalie Lynn Borton
      January 16, 2012 at 3:48 pm

      I love your story! Thanks for sharing, Raquel–and thanks for being an inspirational woman of faith.

  • Nat
    January 19, 2012 at 12:32 am

    Amaziiiiing blog post! I also love that you had a great day, thanks for sharing. You’ve just inspired me to put on my running shoes and shut the door behind me. As always, your words have encouraged me. God truly blessed you with the gift of encouragement and the talent of writing. Hope you have many more days of happiness and freedom coming your way. Take care & God bless!

    • Natalie Lynn Borton
      January 19, 2012 at 12:34 am

      Thanks!! I’m so glad I inspired you to try the out-the-door method for exercise…it’s been such a great addition to my mornings, and it’s so different than when I used to force myself to spend hours in the gym. There’s something so freeing about it. Enjoy those 20 minutes for whatever they are in your life–running, walking, talking to God, or just smelling the flowers!