I often get pulled aside while out in the community to talk about my blog. And the number one question people ask me this about my Hands Free revelation is: “Where did this all start?”
Although I can remember the moment of my Breakdown-Breakthrough awakening so vividly that it still brings tears to my eyes, I cannot articulate exactly how I got to that point.
However, I can say with one hundred percent certainty that the Breakdown-Breakthrough moment resulted from two years of distraction overload.
With every “yes” to involvement in extracurricular activities and volunteer opportunities, with every buzz of the phone and ding of incessant email messages, with every mistaken belief that I could regain the time I was losing with my children, my breakdown came closer and closer; the price of distraction grew heavier on my shoulders and weighed down my heart. As I lost sight of what really mattered, the light and joy in my eyes diminished. My precious God-given talents were spread so thinly that they felt like burdens instead of gifts.
No longer could I ignore that voice in my head that said, “Something is not right. This was not how I want to live.”
Right before my Breakdown-Breakthrough moment in July 2010, I visited a particular place called Conner Prairie. While there, I had a profound experience that I believe was the spark that ignited my Hands Free revelation.
I can liken this experience to trudging through a dark, cramped tunnel and suddenly hitting my head on something. When I look up to see what it is, there is a rainbow; there is an answer; there is a way out of the mess I have made of my life. Yes, Conner Prairie was my saving rainbow that I knew I must grasp or I would surely drown.
Here is the story of the moment I saw the rainbow…
In early July 2010, my daughters and I drove north to visit family in Indiana during the girls’ summer vacation. One day we visited Conner Prairie, known as one of the nation’s finest outdoor history museums.
Conner Prairie is designed as a historical town complete with a one-room school house, a blacksmith, live baby animal barn, and a town doctor, just to name a few of the features.
Not only can you walk inside these structures, but the women and men that work there dress and speak according to the time period in which they portray. For a little girl who wanted to be one of “Pa’s” daughters on “Little House on the Prairie,” I was as excited as my daughters about this experience.
It was about mid-way through the tour when we walked into a beautiful two-story home. Inside, the women were making homemade noodles and pies. We could only stand in the kitchen for a moment before a pool of sweat (or perhaps it was drool) began to collect beneath our chins. We found reprieve in the quaint sitting room. Between the soothing pink salmon walls and the wide-open windows with fluttering white curtains, we were instantly cooled. My daughters looked around at the old fashioned hats on display and then quickly went on to the next room to investigate.
For some reason, I couldn’t get my feet to move from this room. Although I could hear the giggles of the girls, the shuffling feet of the other tourists, and the voices of the noodle makers in the kitchen, I was overcome with the feeling of tranquility.
A warm breeze softly touched my face and solidified that I was in the most peaceful place I had been in a long time. Suddenly I found myself wishing an unrealistic dream, as if I was a little girl.
“I wish I lived here. I would love to live in this time, in this place,” said that longing voice in my head.
As I looked around to see what a day in this home might entail if my wish came true, I quickly noted what was not present from my current life. I noted there was no telephone. Obviously, there was no cell phone, Blackberry, iPhone, or other communication device. No flat screen television to speak of, no computer or high speed Internet, no mouse or modem anywhere in sight.
Sadly, those were the things I noticed. Those are the things I decided made this life so appealing to me. And for a moment, I was a bit ashamed. After all, I lived in a beautiful home with all the communication “luxuries” that aided in the quick and easy completion of life tasks. And here I was wishing for something more…or actually, something less. Simply simple. How badly I wanted this beautiful life.
I finally moved from that brief escape from the reality of my life and walked on. But something had occurred to me in that moment: I may not be able to live here in this placid country home in 1822, but there is no reason why I can’t take aspects of this way of life and apply it to my own.
And that is when I took my first step into a Hands Free life. I grabbed my Blackberry and adjusted the sound to “all notifications off.” And instantly, the beauty of that day was not littered with frequent buzzing, chimes, or rings. My focus and undivided attention stayed firmly planted on my daughters’ beautiful faces and inquisitive voices as they experienced this wondrous place with their fully present mom.
Later that evening I decided to check my Blackberry. Quite a few emails and calls had come in that day, but I hadn’t missed a thing. And even more importantly, I hadn’t missed a thing that MATTERED.
That, my friends, is the best answer I can give in response to the question, “Where did this all start?”
By the grace of God, I hit my head on a rainbow. And when I looked up, I finally saw the light.
When is the last time you turned off all notifications your hand held communication device? Try it for a few hours. You might be surprised at the tranquility life holds when you choose to let go this one distraction. And if you feel so inclined, click on the “share” button below and send it to someone else who might need to hear the words, “Look up, my friend. A rainbow awaits.”