On impact

November 1, 2011

One of life’s arenas that has a history of scratching at my trust is one I’ll call Impact: how much, or how little, I’m changing the world. I tend to feel like life is good when I’m contributing tangibly and obviously to people beyond my own home, and to feel restless and moorless when my energy is spent exclusively on private things – things only I or my family will see.

This was particularly true during my kids’ infancies and toddlerhoods, but just as poignantly through the seasons before and after those, when I was (before) writing a novel and (before that) doing deep inner work around the loss of my childhood faith and the meltdown that caused in every crevice of my being. After my kids’ infancies and toddlerhoods I was feeling a strong call to turn outward, but not yet clear about what that “outward” would be. And finally working for what felt like EONS to vision and actually launch this site.

And all of that – every one of those seasons – was fraught with a nagging feeling of not-enoughness for me, of needing to hurry up to do something different or more, to finally translate all the (hard, hard) work behind the scenes into things other people could see.

I wanted to matter, for sure. So there was the need for validation in my mix. But I also felt intensely like I had good things to offer the world, and like something important was getting hidden or wasted by all my private years. Such a pity, my bones would groan.

The longer I live, however, the more drastically different my view of all such things has come to be.

You couldn’t have convinced me of this then – “then” being every season when my work was mainly private – but from where I sit today, every ounce of what I’ve done in private has been woven into my public life now. All that hard inner work, the years of therapy, the reading, the journalling, the years when I had nothing left to journal and hardly anything to say, the blood, sweat, and tears that got poured into that novel (which, by the way, sits muse-like in my closet, informing my life and work constantly, yet noncommittal, still, as to whether it wants to get readied for publication), the diapers I changed, the gazillion fights I’ve refereed, the looooong afternoons with one and then two little beings in my care:

All of it matters. All of it has changed and continues to change the course of our whole world.

And I’m wondering whether you might need to hear this, too. Hear that nothing is getting wasted. Hear that if you’re in a private season, a season of grief, or a season of some other inner transformation; hear that if your work is mainly with your kid(s); hear that if you’re in a season of working on some project that who-knows-when will see the light of day; hear that even if you’re hiding, or just barely getting glimmers of, or slinking around the background of whatever it is you feel is yours to do right now:

All of it, every last thought and choice and movement, is getting woven into the fabric of our world. All of it is helping you and other people wake up. All of it matters, immensely.

And lest you take this as caffeine for your inner perfectionista who’s just looking for reasons to feel uptight about the small stuff too (Ack! My sucky parenting is getting woven into the universe!! My lack of discipline is affecting us all!! I can’t lift a finger without fucking something up!!), don’t.

Really. Don’t.

Give that part of you a hug and wish her well and go back to your business of being awed by the ways the little things aren’t little at all, and the quiet seasons of dormancy, and the frenetic seasons of young parenthood, and tumultuous seasons of private upheaval, and those stretches where you just don’t care and want to numb out to it all: all of them are of impact, and are necessary for the shedding of old things and the cultivation and growth of what’s new.

Don’t let the seasons of others – seasons that might look more glamorous and wonderful from the outside – dissuade you from this truth.

Everything belongs. I couldn’t say that with more than a whisper for most of my life, but here I stand today, feeling that to my core. And with love for you, and hope for the very place you find yourself right now, pouring from my heart.

I wish you peace. I wish you ease in your growing pains. I wish you hope for your bright future.


If you’re new here, welcome! I post articles once each week that explore trust, and how to nurture more of it. Signing up for my rss feed or free ebook are great ways to get a feel for what happens here. I used to devote each month to a different theme, so if you’re interested in seeing those themes and an annotated page of articles for each one, click here. Again, my warmest welcome!
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29 comments   |   Filed in: Meditations   |   Tags:   |  


  1. Beautiful post, Kristin – and wonderfully thought-provoking.

    I remember a Buddhist teacher I once listened to sum up the entire teaching of karma in two words: “everything matters”. And when I’m tempted to see small things as unimportant, I try to remind myself how tiny a seed is compared to the plant – or tree – that it eventually grows into.

    I had to smile as well at your comment about not letting the seasons of others dissuade me from my own truth. That’s not just metaphorical for me! Being down here in the southern hemisphere as everyone up north is talking about going into Autumn and seeing snow on the ground is somehow that little bit more jarring than it has been in previous years – maybe because I haven’t interacted with people who are seasonally aware quite so much in previous years?

    Blessings and thanks – TANJA

    Comment by Tanja — November 2, 2011 @ 1:38 am
  2. Tanja, I love the seed/plant metaphor. And yes, that must be so strange to have people talking about a totally different season!

    Comment by Kristin — November 2, 2011 @ 2:50 am
  3. What a gift!

    This is fantastic. And *exactly* what I needed to hear today.

    THANK YOU! :)

    Comment by Lisa — November 2, 2011 @ 3:47 am
  4. Oh, I’m so glad, Lisa!! :)

    Comment by Kristin — November 2, 2011 @ 4:00 am
  5. Kristin, how do you know? How can you zing my heart with every single one of your posts? I shared it both on Facebook and Twitter. We SO need to hear what you have to say.

    Comment by Mary Montanye — November 2, 2011 @ 5:22 am
  6. Thanks so much for sharing, Mary! I’m delighted when things resonate.

    And as for the “how” question, I really do try to listen intently to what needs to be said. I sometimes write whole posts that end up not getting posted because something in/outside me says that’s not what needs to be shared today. :)

    Comment by Kristin — November 2, 2011 @ 6:37 am
  7. This is just brilliant, Kristin, and quite possibly my favorite of your posts.

    It’s so important that we each remember this. So important.

    Huge gratitude and love to you, my friend. You are such a gift.

    Comment by Christa — November 2, 2011 @ 8:44 am
  8. Thanks so much, Christa. All my love back.

    Comment by Kristin — November 2, 2011 @ 9:30 am
  9. I so much needed to read this today!
    Thanks, again.

    Comment by florencia — November 2, 2011 @ 10:45 am
  10. My pleasure, Florencia!

    Comment by Kristin — November 2, 2011 @ 11:43 am
  11. Thank you so much for this post Kristin, it really hit close to home today. I am in one of those inward, private times. And it seems to be dragging on forever, close to 6 years now. I have been processing, also, the transition out of my childhood faith, and disfunctional childhood. Trying to shed the burden that has been too heavy, and unspoken, for too long. Sometimes it simply seems to be getting heavier. I feel like I want to burst with things to share and give to those around me, but I feel unable to. Thank you for affirming, that this time is not wasted, this time is not lost.


    Comment by Leah — November 2, 2011 @ 12:07 pm
  12. Leah, it sounds like you’re in such a pivotal time in your life! And like it’s really hard. I’m sending so much love.

    Comment by Kristin — November 2, 2011 @ 1:00 pm
  13. One of the things that occurred to me as I read your post and the comments that follow is how often we think that inner time is wasted time or selfish time or even dormant time. I am reminded of pregnancy – that’s nine months of inner time to the max. And if you happen to be one of those women whose pregnancies don’t show much until the end (I was NOT one of those women!) then much of that inner time, that development, that creation of another human being who will enter the world with a mind and soul of his or her own, is unseen, not understood, and often overlooked. But that is arguably the most important time in the universe – the growth of new people.

    So as we all go deeper, enter into autumn and spring, both of which are crucially important times in the life of the planet and all its inhabitants, I hope we will learn to be more merciful with ourselves. Let the healing happen. Let the new life germinate and grow. No matter how long it takes.

    Let’s not apologize for or try to explain away the stages that we are in. As we acknowledge and embrace our own stages, we encourage others to do the same. We get to teach those around us, those in our homes and across the globe, that everything they do matters. It touches everyone and affects everything.

    We are doing such important work – and every bit of it, every word, every poem, every book we read, every journal page we fill, every tear we shed, every cup of tea we sip, every hug we give away, every child we raise or help to raise, every spouse, partner, or lover we embrace, every question we ask and answer and learn to live with, everything matters.

    Thanks again, Kristin, for speaking these truths so beautifully.

    Comment by GailNHB — November 2, 2011 @ 1:40 pm
  14. Gail I LOVE that second to last paragraph. Just gorgeous. And I love that idea of questioning the notion of dormancy, too. “Fallow” time usually doesn’t mean that at all when it comes to inner things.

    Comment by Kristin — November 2, 2011 @ 2:48 pm
  15. AAhhhhh. Thank you. xoxo

    Comment by pamela — November 2, 2011 @ 8:45 pm
  16. My deep pleasure, Pamela! :)

    Comment by Kristin — November 3, 2011 @ 6:52 am
  17. Touche’ to the post and comments. This small print struck me. “all of them are of impact, and are necessary for the shedding of old things and the cultivation and growth of what’s new.” I believe everything I have gone through has been for my growth, and then I am there for the next person-to stand by them knowing they will make it and share in their burden of a similar issue. The rest(not a waste-I am in this now, thinking underproductive, BUT NOT), frustration, inward time, outward focus, doing the best as a parent, marriage counseling, relationship hurts, finding myself, grief, joy of the morning, seed growing,etc, etc. It all has an impact on me and the world. The bad stuff is a learning tool- it taught me and some,my children saw,it showed them we can overcome and become stronger. Hopefully, through this journey of life,WE WILL NOT BE SO HARD ON OURSELVES and know it all is important. ” To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven”. You are a mirror to our hearts. Thanks, as always.

    Comment by Shandeen — November 3, 2011 @ 9:25 am
  18. Thank you, Shandeen. And yes: here’s to self kindness.

    Comment by Kristin — November 3, 2011 @ 10:36 am
  19. Kristin, you are SO right on.Thank you for posting!

    Comment by Barbara — November 3, 2011 @ 2:13 pm
  20. [...] On Impact All of it, every last thought and choice and movement, is getting woven into the fabric of our [...]

    Pingback by xiane dot org » Take a break on November 4th: — November 4, 2011 @ 8:07 am
  21. I started crying when I heard this, and all I can say is THANK YOU for the very bottom of my heart. I really, REALLY needed this so very much. THANK YOU.

    Comment by chel — November 4, 2011 @ 8:53 am
  22. Barbara, thank you! And Chel, I’m so glad this came at the right time. It’s an honor to be doing this work.

    Comment by Kristin — November 4, 2011 @ 9:46 am
  23. Love you Kristin! xoxoxo

    Comment by Miranda — November 5, 2011 @ 7:12 am
  24. I’ve had to come back to this post a few times this week, first to let my inner perfectionista quibble on negativity and fear, but then to sense the hope threaded throughout the post. It also involves leaning into trust (as your Trust Note suggested too), for I have often felt marginalized about the impact of my teaching work and so uncertain about my life’s work. However, the sense of hope in this post was comforting. Thank you so much, Kristin, for writing with such understanding, compassion, and hope.

    Comment by Tiffany — November 5, 2011 @ 7:01 pm
  25. Thanks for this post! Many of the seasons you described have descended upon me this year, completely uninvited. Thanks for reminding me that there’s a reason for them.

    Comment by Noel — November 7, 2011 @ 11:54 am
  26. Thanks, Miranda. :)

    Tiffany, I’m so glad for the comfort. And I wish we could sit down for a cup of tea; I’d love to hear more about your work.

    Noel, all those seasons at once sounds really hard. Sending love to you.

    Comment by Kristin — November 7, 2011 @ 12:06 pm
  27. I hadn’t read this until today, and it spoke courage to me in a difficult season–and you posted this on my birthday! So I feel like it was special in both content and timing. Thank you for putting into words the encouragement that so many of us need to keep growing and being more fully who we are.

    Comment by Lori — November 9, 2011 @ 7:09 pm
  28. This is wonderful. What we heal in ourselves, we heal in the world. It’s so easy to think of our relationships at home as a place we don’t have to show up and work. Thank you for this reminder that it’s the place we need to show up most. xoxo

    Comment by pamela — November 10, 2011 @ 9:26 pm
  29. Thanks so much for your words and love you pour into this site.
    I needed this so much, while being on a project that might never see the light of day.

    Comment by Suki — November 22, 2011 @ 8:07 am

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