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I am a Widwesterner at heart. I no longer live there, but I spent my formative years along the Wisconsin-Illinois border.

It is cold there in the winter, brutal sometimes. Now that I live in the South, I have realized that there was an urgency to our winter preparations. My dad would spend hours hauling, drying, and stacking wood for our wood burner that we’d begin using in October. Along with the urgency, there was a pioneer-sense of survival that guided how much food we’d have at any given point during the winter months, making sure no gas gauge on the car went below the half way point, having enough salt to sprinkle on the driveway, and on I could go with the things we needed to feel secure with winter’s approach.moonlit field

Throw in the threat of a blizzard, and hunker down. Get ready to jump out of bed at four in the morning to shovel snow to get to school on time. Add in a little fundamental Christian frenzy and you have a recipe for a small apocalypse at any given moment–blizzard or not.

In my family of origin, I learned to work hard, to plan ahead, to worry. I learned to multi-task, to think of everything/everybody else, to rush, and to live far beyond my borders.

I’ve recognized that haste undoes the work of the Spirit–the flow of life, the beauty of time passing, and the joy of letting go.

What is at the heart of my work ethic?
Why do I feel needlessly rushed?

If I am to be honest, it is entirely wrapped up in my self-worth. The more I can do, the more I am loved–that is what my little girl self tells me.
When I am working too hard,

  • people notice
  • my efforts are applauded
  • I think I earn love, respect, and appreciation
  • I lose my sense of self
  • people ask more of me

Upon noticing what is pushing me to go beyond what I can do in a work situation, I have to pause and view my underlying needs (with compassion). And then I align my needs with my goals and collect all of my pieces that I spread over that conference table, on that spreadsheet, in that conversation, during that meeting, and I walk toward wholeness.

Consider what drives you. Is it love, or is it something underneath something else? Does an emotion present itself when you consider your work life? If so, sit with that emotion and allow it to speak to you.

It is worth our time and energy to dive below the surface and to examine what fuels our work ethic. If nothing else, it provides an opportunity to gather ourselves and to move toward what we do want in this life, what we are called to do, and why we are here in the first place.