Steven and me at the Roman Forum in Rome.

Steven and me at the Roman Forum in Rome.

A few weeks ago Steven and I had the incredible opportunity to do some traveling in Europe. We left our “busy” life behind and shared two weeks of adventure, train journeys, great food and lots of laughs. We could not have asked for a better way to celebrate our 25th birthdays. For me, this trip was much more than a vacation… it was a wake up call to enjoy the simple things in life.

For the past two months I had been stuck– trapped in a season of over-doing it, self-inflicted stress and a state of people pleasing. I thought I could do everything, and tried. I took on too much work, accepted too many responsibilities and pushed my brain and body over the limit. I lost unnecesary amounts sleep and saw an anxious side of myself I had never seen before.

I lost the beauty of life’s simplicity and got caught up trying to be everything to everyone– finding identity in my packed days and busy schedule.

During our trip I didn’t have a choice– I was forced to let it all go. I took two weeks off work and unplugged from everything except the adventure at hand and my hubby by my side.

While roaming through the Netherlands, Germany and Italy, I saw old friends, experienced new places and spent every minute with my best friend. Without Internet, I rarely had the opportunity to get online. Yeah, it was difficult at first, but it was EXACTLY what I needed. There were no impending deadlines, no Facebook notifications, no emails to respond to… just Steve and me, and each other’s undivided attention.

These two weeks taught me to slow down… way down. I can’t do it all, thank God. The time off reminded me to take deep breaths, count stars, find shapes in the clouds, hold Steven’s hand, smile at strangers, learn new things, appreciate smells and tastes and live more vibrantly.

Sadly, it is way too easy to get caught up in life. Before we know it we can be buried in the uncontrollable worries of life, dug deep down in the details, suffocating ourselves by our own expectations.

Our two-week trip opened my eyes to the expectations I had placed on myself. The unmet standards were set by yours truly. I was crushing my own creativity and unnecessarily distracting myself.

On our vacation, I ate pizza without feeling like I needed to drop and give myself 20, I read an AMAZING book without feeling guilty I wasn’t doing something more “productive”, I didn’t wear makeup, I drank wine, beer and full calorie soda, and most importantly, I took the time to see a beautiful side of my husband. I witnessed his kindness and adventurous spirit I had been too busy to take note of for a while. I had been so distracted with my own “stuff”, I had forgotten to watch him with wonder and appreciate his unique personality created to fit perfectly with me.

This trip was a refreshing change of pace. Sadly, never-ending vacation isn’t a practical long-term solution to life’s stress and busyness, but I want to take so much of what I learned into my new routine.

My prayer for my 25th year is that I accept God’s gift of His perfect peace and rest– true comfort only He can provide. I don’t want to sweat the little stuff or stress over mistakes. I want to eradicate the word “busy” from my vocabulary and make time to enjoy the sweet blessings of life. I pray He gives me wisdom to invest my time wisely and to spend more time seeking Him, instead of seeking “what’s in it for me.” I pray I can always put people before profit and progress, and find a healthy new balance of work and play. I am going to get rid of unnecessary distractions and unplug more often. I don’t want to find identity in my busyness anymore, but instead, solely in Christ.

25 is going to be a great year.

Are you placing unnecessary expectations on yourself? What little things in life do you want to enjoy more?