Getting Perspective 30,000 Feet In the Air

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Sometimes, I need a little perspective. Because when I'm immersed in the details of planning, creating, teaching, and making music, it's easy to lose sight of the bigger picture. And sometimes, it takes getting to 30,000 feet above the earth to get the perspective I crave.

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Florida palms | Getting perspective 30,000 feet in the air | @ashleydanyew

A few weeks ago, SD and I flew south to sunny FL. He had a composition residency (rehearsals, presentation, and two premieres), I had a visit with church music friends (choir rehearsal, duet practice, and three services). 

We packed our bathing suits, new books, and clothes we haven't worn since last summer, and left our new home nestled in two feet of fluffy white snow.

The airport was quiet as we navigated to our gate, sandwiches from Au Bon Pain in hand. We nestled into our seats and I looked out the window (because SD always lets me have the window seat) at the grey morning sky.

I'm one of those people that stills turns off my phone when flying. I know you don't have to anymore, but I like the quiet, the escape, the freedom to spend a few hours getting lost in a new book, my thoughts, the clouds.

I think about my life, my calling, my marriage and reflect on the season of life I’m in. I ask myself questions: Am I content? Am I where I should be? Am I listening to God’s voice or the voices of others? Am I serving humbly and with my whole heart or am I holding back?

I jot down my thoughts.

Getting perspective 30,000 feet in the air | @ashleydanyew

SD and I talk a lot about our priorities: the privilege of doing work we love but also the need to save part of ourselves (our hearts, our attention, our energy, our creativity) and bits and pieces of our days for each other.

It’s a constant inner negotiation - making sure we don’t work too hard, give too much away, inch too close to burnout. Ensuring we remain rooted and grounded in our relationships with God and each other, investing in each other, being kind, being a good listener, carrying each other’s burdens instead of just unloading what we’re unable to carry any longer. We’re always learning how to do this better.

I doodle these things on the back of my boarding pass.

Lettering Sketches | Getting perspective 30,000 feet in the air | @ashleydanyew

When the rhythms of our days and weeks begin to take over, when I find myself clinging to the repetition of my weekly to-do lists because it feels safe, I know I need a change. I crave it. I need to break free, escape the monotony, be inspired, breathe.

"I've learned the hard way that change is one of God's greatest gifts and one of his most useful tools . . . . Change can push us, pull us, rebuke and remake us. It can show us who we've become, in the worst ways and also in the best ways. I've learned that in many cases, change is not something to run away from, as though we could, and . . . change is not a function of life's cruelty but instead a function of God's graciousness." - Shauna Niequist, Bittersweet

I’m learning that sometimes, it’s about creating space for spontaneity in our schedules: more time for long walks and hand-holding and good conversation; for keeping quiet company; for playing music together - for us, for fun; for doing and sharing life together (even the little moments, like cleaning up the kitchen or shoveling snow or DIY kitchen makeovers).

I’m learning that new seasons, new rhythms bring new struggles and new fears. New opportunities often bring more questions and new challenges, more grace.

And there, 30,000 feet in the air, I found a new sense of perspective.

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This week, I hope you pursue the things that bring you joy. I know it's a crazy time of year with Easter just a few weeks away, but I hope you take some time to be filled, to be renewed. Create space for spontaneity in the midst of the mundane. Make room to breathe, room to listen, room to grow.