“Do you remember anything that you do for fun?” he said.
Dang. This is a question I might expect and — let’s be real — enjoy from a wide-eyed fan who is in awe of my work ethic, wondering just how does Kelsey do it all?! … This is not a question you want your husband to ask you during a rant about how stressed you are.
Worse, not a question you want to struggle to answer!
I honestly couldn’t remember. For years, drinking was my fun. Once I finally woke up and climbed out of the den of smog, I think I realized just how much time I’d wasted. I realized there was so much work to do, so much to learn, so much to share.
Plus, I’m big — huge — on being intentional. It’s a key to success that I see over and over again in my interviews. These people aren’t messing around guys. If they chose to wear a blue shirt today it’s probably because blue makes them happier, or reads better on camera. Or is psychologically proven to make them work faster. Or it’s one of few shirts they have because they cleared out all the clutter from their life and now have a Steve-Jobs-inspired capsule wardrobe. Or it’s woven together by women who are making a living from salvaging fabric scraps and the $59.95 they spent on it changed 123 lives in a remote village somewhere. I digress.
In effort to make the most out of every second, have I become a serious, square, workaholic zombie shell of myself? Is this who I am now? Is this success? Is this fulfillment?
I told him I’d get back to him and ran out of the kitchen in a rush of awkward embarrassment. Who doesn’t know what they like to do for fun!? Certainly not the woman he married…. Ah. Let’s to go there.
Back then, I was still planning on being the next Adele. I wrote songs. I sang every week at church in our non-denominational Jesus-loving alt-rock band. I sang everywhere, actually, the car, the shower. I sat and picked through chords, figuring out songs from the radio on my hand-me-down-piano. I played gigs at bars and coffee shops and corporate events. I sang the national anthem at NBA games. I auditioned for musicals and American Idol and all kinds of opportunities.
Then I gave up on that dream. Said Adios to a giant part of my identity. Got rid of the piano. There were many good reasons for giving that up. I think it was the right decision.
But good decisions can still really, deeply hurt.
To numb that hurt, I drank. In the numbness, I think I started to forget myself. When I finally quit drinking there were two giant chunks of my identity removed. What’s left? Who am I? What do I do for fun?
— — —
I want to be best friends with a lot of my guests, but especially with Glennon Doyle Melton, whose episode comes out this week.
She is hilarious and real and warm and kind and can speak the truth like few can. In her book Love Warrior, she wrote about an epiphany she had. Overwhelmed with life and pain, she decided to take a few days and go to the beach. She sat and watched the sunset and something clicked. She explained that the beach, that beauty, was something she needed, regularly, for her soul. We often think about our physical needs, mental needs, family needs, financial needs, maybe emotional needs — but what about the things our soul needs? Things that fuel us in the core of our being? The things that we were created to love?
When I read that portion I knew. I sent my husband a text “I know this is random. But we need to buy a piano. Soon.”
— — —
When you start listening — to life, to loved ones, and I believe to the Holy Spirit — plug in the Universe if that makes you squirmy — you’ll hear amazing answers.
Get this. About that same week, my church worship pastor asked me to join the worship team, and to start singing solos. We now attend a Church of Christ church, and solos are not a normal thing.
I go to our first rehearsal and sitting in the sound booth at the back of the sanctuary is a full size weighted-key keyboard. Did I mention we go to a Church of Christ church, as in, no instruments?! I asked where they got it, they said, “Take it! We never use it and it’s taking up too much space!” It’s no baby grand, but since we have a tiny house, the lightweight design with the weighted keys made it a perfect fit. I looked down at the cheap Casio, sandwiched between desks and boxes, and I swear it was almost glowing. I was probably glowing too.
When it arrived I sat and sang for just a few minutes, my toddler was anxious to bang on it and it was nearing her bed time, so I didn’t even get through a whole song. But there at the keys I felt what Glennon wrote. “Hello soul. I am learning what you love. I will get more of this for us. I promise.”
Drinking was not truly fun, despite what I told myself, it was escapism. I see a lot of that in our society today, and not just in excessive drinking but in binge watching, overeating, excessive working, compulsive buying (I’m looking at you, my fellow suburbians) binge reading, obsessive exercising, the list goes on.
Even though I’m a rare case, I think many people lose touch with their soul, with fun. Some reasons? How about the consuming role of motherhood, the pressure of adult responsibilities, or oh, I don’t know, the ignored spirit-crushing depression you never dealt with after giving up on a dream? Just some ideas off the top of my head.
Somewhere along the way, most of these successful people I study identify and remove escapism. I’m not saying they never go to the movies — even Tony Robbins does that — but they quit trying to hide from the pain and beauty of life. Brutiful, Glennon calls it. They realize life is both brutal and beautiful. They face who they really are, head on. They find things they really enjoy and make time for them in their meticulously blocked off calendars. Michael Hyatt goes fishing. Gary Vaynerchuk attends every New York Jets game. Marie Forleo dances.
Dig deep — underneath your role as a mom, your life’s work, the mundane of the everyday — and uncover the fun again.
Figure out what fuels your soul and make time for it, because I’m pretty sure it’s a vital component to becoming your best self and give the world you best work, and remember, we need you!
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This post also appeared on Medium.com.