An Enneagram One's quest for balance and joy
Amy, the Enneagram 1
I’m a proud and recovering Enneagram one.
I see the world through lists and chores, rights and wrongs, and I have the uncanny ability to do just about anything I put my mind to. I can almost always figure it out…whatever it is. (Thus, my ability to travel to Europe for ten days for $700.) I’m steady and dependable, often strict and matter-of-fact, and on a scale of 1-100, when tested for how much I “feel,” I once scored a meager 16. 16!
In this Enneagram One skin I can easily fill my days with endless tasks and arrive at 10pm still unsatisfied, shaming myself for my lack of productivity, my need for naps, and my inability, once again, to do the unattainable.
I’m a perfectionist and a performer. I love to list to my husband at the end of a long day all that I have accomplished. Somehow this common act validates me. It proves I’m capable and a superwoman of sorts. And the strokes I receive for my jujitsu skills of figuring everything out and setting everyone clearly on a path towards their goal fuels me. My oneness is my superpower.
Ones make the world go around. We are a little bit scary and beautifully necessary. We are also beautifully broken…I am beautifully broken…me and you together.
I never thought much about JOY until 2018. I never thought much about dancing in the kitchen or laughing until I peed my pants. Those things were what the fun people did. Not me. I have always been a bit jealous of the strange, boisterous breed I watch from afar, unable to relate to their sort of whimsy for fear of looking foolish or less than put together…heaven forbid, unsteady.
But what I did think about was how at age 42 I was wound up wayyyy too tightly. About that time I found myself at a breaking point where all of my tricks for living that had gotten me this far somehow just weren’t working anymore. Kevin and I had finally brought home our fourth daughter from Vietnam after a six-year adoption fight of a lifetime. My One skills had been put to their greatest test and we had finally prevailed at what looked like a completely hopeless adoption. I was elated and singing the praises of God’s miracles, while simultaneously at the end of myself. Spent. Done. Depleted. Exhausted.
And I needed to escape.
In those unimaginable days, the world became my safe space. I clicked the seatbelt on a flight from Denver to Vienna or Denmark or Prague or London, and all of my cares…all of my spinning…all of my crazy, miraculously melted away. And surprisingly, what started to emerge were glimmers of pure joy coupled with confidence and bravery. I started feeling again - or maybe for the very first time. My “16” quickly doubled and tripled, and I started to smile and do little jigs on the cobblestone streets when I was absolutely certain that no one was looking.
I met JOY, and I met God in a new way…a way that finally fit like the warm and cozy pair of gloves I was missing. I have been on a never-ending quest for more of her ever since.
This week I have been listening to the sweetest audiobook by Shauna Niequist entitled, I Guess I Haven’t Learned That Yet. It’s one thing to read a book that resonates so deeply with your stage of life, your struggles and experiences. It’s quite another when it seems as if that book is somehow reading you.
Shauna reminded me once again of how desperately important it is to capture the joy that is right here…every day…right in the middle of all of my beautiful mess. She reminded me of how necessary it is to tend to myself…to do things that calm my nervous system and cultivate life and space, smiles and deep breaths, and a deep sense of JOY.
I find JOY and Jesus most profoundly when exploring the world. Travel expands me and creates me, and I love it.
But I have a bigger life and a bigger story. It’s full of schedules and silly arguments, date nights with Kevin on Pearl Street, late night chats with daughters over popcorn and Chick-fil-A sweet tea, and lists of chores to complete. I have a home full of girls and a husband and a 15-year-old, blind and deaf cockapoo. And there is tremendous JOY here, too.
So, even though I try to always have a new adventure on the calendar, I’m also working in just as intentional of ways to make those warm fuzzies found across the pond become real and sustaining right here, too. JOY here.
How I’m Recovering
I am a recovering Enneagram One. I am recovering from the one-way-ness that she has taught me to live in this world. I don’t wish her completely away. She and I are deeply tangled and full of fond familiarity. But be it mid-life or circumstance, I am enjoying what it looks like these days to become a fuller expression of the entire Enneagram. I am One and I am also Four and Seven and all the beautiful digits…and I’m loving the nuances of them all…and the new me that is emerging.
My Four is contemplative…quiet…connected. And with her, this is an example of a way that I am practicing JOY as I wait for my next big adventure.
Old magazines; glue sticks; scissors; a journal; a lit candle that reminds me that Jesus is present; an old, wooden sewing machine table turned desk in my walk-in closet; and Parisian café music playing on Spotify. This is my Joy Here.
This is my act of finding intention and healing in the sounds of ripping and snipping paper away that reveals an image caught by my eye which delivered a moment of delight. I don’t overthink it. I just simply peruse magazine pages while retrieving any image that causes me to pause or smile or notice.
Then I create a collage of something that looks like chaos but feels like intentional beauty with Amy written all over it.
The candle flickers, reminding me of Jesus dancing on the cobblestone streets alongside of me. The music calms my chaotic brain. Creating connects me with all that is deeply inside screaming to be known and noticed and felt. This is my Eiffel Tower…my long European train ride…my dusty, northern Vietnam road. Today, this is my JOY HERE.
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