I was talking about boundaries with a friend of mine recently, and we’d been playing with the metaphor of building a certain kind of house. She’s establishing/re-establishing some foundational aspects of her life, and I made an analogy to having a really strong foundation for a house laid and then asked, “What will you build on top of it?”
We traded ideas about treehouses, giant indoor trampoline parks, secret doors, and we decided that whatever it was, her house needed a moat. And not just a cutesy, Pinterest-worthy moat, but one with dragons and giant alligators and a huge freaking drawbridge. Something to keep people and things at bay that didn’t belong in the house.
All I could think was, “Yes. More moats, please.”
It got me thinking about where I could use more moats in my own life. Since I’m pretty sure my HOA wouldn’t be too happy if I installed a real one, I settled for looking at three areas where I could create some moats of my choosing: practices, people, and thoughts.
I am a chronic overscheduler. If there’s blank space, I’ve had a long-standing practice of cramming something into it. 2 spare minutes? Sure, I can fit about 3 things into that! The problem is that it burns me out and makes me feel terrible, and I’ve been working hard to shift this recently. I wouldn’t say the moat is fully built yet, but it’s getting there. I’ve noticed that if I don’t schedule meetings before 9am, I am much more at peace throughout the day. Protecting my time in this manner ensures I have space to be more present with my daughter before school and time for my daily practices that help me be at my best. It also means disappointing people, saying no relentlessly, and learning to be ok with things perhaps taking a little longer to land on my calendar. I’m building a moat with a giant red dragon in it to help me protect that morning timeframe.
People came up next. Two in particular. I’m drawing a temporary mini-moat around one of these with a really strong drawbridge. The relationship is shifting, and it’s painful. There will still be ongoing interactions, but I’m engaging much more intentionally with this person to ensure the painful stuff stays out as much as possible. For the second person, it’s a big, wide moat. There’s a narrow rope bridge to cross if we’re going to interact. A protective alligator or two live in it, but mostly as a warning and a reminder to myself to check with my intuition before engaging with this person.
After that, I had to consider whether or not there are thoughts I have that might be moat-worthy.
The answer to that was a resounding yes. With plenty to pick from, I’m starting with one: “I haven’t done enough.” I play this on repeat more than I played, rewound, and played again my Boyz II Men tapes when I was in junior high. (Yes, we still had tapes then. No, we don’t need to talk about it.) This thought pops in at the end of the work day, around bath time for my little one, after she goes to bed, when I’m trying to go to bed, and often when I wake up in the wee hours of the morning. This thought is getting a DEEP moat. Nothing spiky or perilous in it, but a dark, blue, deep moat. No drawbridge, either. If I’m going to cross over and hang out with this thought, it’s going to have to be intentional and a time-investment. I want to make it as hard as possible to get to this thought so I can stay on the other shore and remember all the ways I have done enough and AM enough.
I have a feeling this concept is only getting started in my life. If you want help identifying some areas where you need a moat of your own, let’s connect!