Podcast

Episode 75 – Rebekah Lyons, Bestselling Author and Speaker

It’s important that we talk about anxiety and depression. Because in one form or another, we’re all on the journey of better mental health and searching for renewal. Yet the “fix” for our symptoms isn’t always clear, and often we feel alone in the struggle. Today, long-time friends Rebekah and Jessica take us through their own stories and give practical advice. We hope the honesty of this conversation is helpful for your life and story!

TRANSCRIPT

Jessica: Hey everyone! Welcome back to the Going Scared podcast. This is your host Jessica Honegger, founder of the socially impact fashion brand Noonday Collection. Are you ready for honest and vulnerable conversations that will inspire you towards action? Join me here every week for conversations on living lives of purpose by leaving comfort and going scared.

My guest today is Rebekah Lyons. Rebekah was actually in town for Jamie Ivey’s live Happy Hour here in Austin, so she stopped by the office, which is awesome. Rebekah is actually a good friend. We have known each other over the years, and what I love about Rebekah and the story she shares today is she struggles with anxiety, and she chronicles that in her first book, Freefall to Fly. And I kind of thought it was in her past—she had panic attacks, and then she worked through it, and now she doesn’t deal with anxiety anymore. But, in fact, her newest book, which just released—and she was just on the Today Show with her book—was really written because she had a relapse into anxiety. So, it’s just another reminder that those struggles that we have in our life, when they come back up we can sometimes kind of see that as failure instead of just embracing what is and that there’s just a new lesson to be learned. We truly are like onions, and healing is a journey—it’s not a destination. And that’s really what I appreciated today.

Her newest book, Rhythms of Renewal: Trading Stress and Anxiety for a Life of Peace and Purpose, is where we camped out today, and it’s because it’s a topic that I am extremely passionate about. We really talk about what are those rhythms that we can have in our life that do bring rest, that do bring renewal. She gets really practical in that book, and we get really practical today. So, I’m excited for you to give today’s conversation a listen.

As always, I would love for you to hop on over to wherever you review podcasts and give this podcast a review. Let me ask you a question. Have you listened to any Going Scared episodes, and it’s been helpful for you? If you answered yes to that—only if you answered yes—would you please hop on over, give us a rating, give us a review. It helps more people find these conversations.

I’m really excited to have you here, Rebekah, because we’ve been friends for many years.

Rebekah: Yes, we have.

Jessica: And it was a couple of years ago, and I don’t know if you remember this, but we were sitting around in a hotel room after IF:Gathering, and you were talking about seasons. And you were talking, I think, about the sale of a house somewhere maybe, and it kind of launched you into this whole thing of really going deep and thinking about seasons. And now you’ve written a book on it.

Rebekah: I know, I know. Because the rhythms really are seasons. I love how just all of nature and creation in our bodies work in rhythm. And it’s gotten my attention a lot these last couple of years, because I have found that I’ll have one rhythm really strong and the other three are perhaps depleted, and they’re suffering. It’s like, if our body has a heartbeat, or breath, or everything pulses in rhythm, but if one thing gets off, then the whole body is out of balance. And so, you start to feel that ripple effect with me personally, but then my family and then my friendships and then my work. Because it’s not because I’m not doing good things or not passionate about the things I love, but it’s just that I’ve gotten out of rhythm.

“If our body has a heartbeat, or breath, or everything pulses in rhythm, but if one thing gets off, then the whole body is out of balance. And so, you start to feel that ripple effect … it’s not because I’m not doing good things or not passionate about the things I love, but it’s just that I’ve gotten out of rhythm.” Rebekah Lyons

Jessica: Yes.

Rebekah: So, I’m paying the price for it. It’s like why you go to the chiropractor, for realignment.

Jessica: And so, this idea of seasons helps to realign.

Rebekah: Right.

 

Mental Anxiety, Physical Panic

Jessica: So I want us to know your story a little bit more, because I’m curious how … you talk really openly about anxiety, and you’ve had your first panic attack, and you write a lot about that in your first book, Freefall to Fly. And that’s really still a part of your message. So that’s what I really appreciate. So, here’s what I appreciate is that, oftentimes as writers, you write this book, and then you kind of like, "OK, what’s the next lesson that my next book is gonna be about?"

Rebekah: And you’re like, "Wait, I’m still learning the same lesson."

Jessica: I’m actually still learning the same lesson. How am I gonna keep writing books? I need to learn a new lesson. But I think that is what I want to talk to you about is, how does anxiety show up in your life now?

Rebekah: Sure.

Jessica: Because I think we think it’s one of those things that you get over, and even I’ve struggled with depression and anxiety in my 20s, after marriage, and I got mononucleosis, and got depressed for the first time. And I think depression, anxiety, maybe you can talk about how those work together. And then after I had my first daughter, so…

Rebekah: How did you come out of that each time?

Jessica: So, my first time, it was a good year. And I finally went to … this is kind of before Brené Brown. It was like you go to therapy, any of that. But then I finally had gone to a therapist. And then I randomly … this is so random. I opened an Oprah Magazine, where they had done research that exercise had proved just as effective as Zoloft. And so, I started everyday exercising, and that actually is what altered sort of my chemistry enough. And then what came out with my daughter, I think, to be honest, was eventually, I think, as a Seven on the Enneagram, I’m so high capacity. And then it wasn’t until starting Noonday that I kind of had a place to put my angst to my energy. So, I think that also spent some of my…

Rebekah: Yeah, your creative outlet.

Jessica: …my creative outlet. I didn’t have a place of creation. And I think that that is what was almost causing that anxiety. But anyway, that’s me, so I wanna hear it. Yeah, tell me about you.

Rebekah: Well, the reason I ask is, so it’s taken a few years, my first panic attack was in 2010. And those lasted pretty consistently, we just moved to New York City. And it actually came out of it birthed out of claustrophobia, I never had a history of claustrophobia. But when I felt trapped, my body would respond as if I was being held at gunpoint. If on an elevator, on a subway, on an airplane, train, crowd, you name it, if I felt like I couldn’t escape, I would just spin out. And so that continued for about over a year. And faith was a part of that journey with me, but I didn’t really know how to make sense of what to do with this, because I have always been a type A, high-capacity person. And when I got into that season of panic disorder, now looking back, I wouldn’t have known what it was called then. But it was every day and…

Jessica: Tell me what that felt like in your body.

Rebekah: So, I even went to the doctor several times. And I kept saying, "Are you sure that I’m not having a heart attack? Or, are you sure my lungs are working because I can’t breathe?" He says, "Your body is functioning as it’s supposed to, but it can no longer contain the emotional angst that you have been holding in." And I think what happens is, over time, if you’re caring and your high capacity, and you start to feel overwhelmed, your body just says, "Yeah, I’m out." And you can no longer force it. In fact, part of what influenced this book is when I started doing research and found that 77% of our society today has physical symptoms of stress, that’s physical, that’s where the body is going … you can’t get a deep breath, you’re always finding yourself going , just trying to yawn or fill your lungs, or your heart’s racing, you have racing thoughts at nights, your sleep is interrupted, you kind of have a chronic headache, there’s a lot of things and then ultimately, you’re irritable. I’m like, "OK, I’m preaching to the choir right now." But your fuse becomes short because you don’t have enough balance in your life.

“You can’t get a deep breath, you’re always finding yourself going , just trying to yawn or fill your lungs, or your heart’s racing, you have racing thoughts at nights, your sleep is interrupted, you kind of have a chronic headache, there’s a lot of things.” Rebekah Lyons on the physical symptoms of anxiety.

And I’m not the girl that’s like, "Oh, your whole life should be balanced." When I talk about balance, I mean, there’s four categories that we were made to operate in. And we’re not in all four of those in an equal way, we will not have sustained emotional or mental health. So that began in 2010 and 2011, I started to walk out of that into a healing journey of some sort, in 2011, and then didn’t have another panic attack until 2016.

So, I was like, “we’re golden.” I remember, I wrote a couple books about it, like you mentioned. I would never plan to be anxiety girl. But, all of a sudden, I do believe pain becomes purpose when you forge through it on the other side, and you almost have some sense of you carry a little bit of a weight of responsibility, because you look up and you look out and you see people just like you. And when I was sick, I only looked inward. But when healing began, I started to see everyone else and they were all walking through the same things. I was like, "Well, here was my experience. How can I encourage you? This is not the end of your story. Let’s keep …you know." I just wanted to be just some resource to go, "I haven’t figured it out. And we’re all a work in progress, but maybe this might help you or that or the other." So, I didn’t have my first panic attack until 2016. And I write about that in the first intro chapter of this third book. And…

 

Relapse and Renewal

Jessica: Oh, so that’s only been three years?

Rebekah: Yeah. No, that was my relapse one.

Jessica: Relapse. OK, I was like wait a minute, wait a minute. No, OK.

Rebekah: No, my first one was in 2010, so nine years ago.

Jessica: Right.

Rebekah: It ended a year later. And then I went six years without it.

Jessica: And you were thinking after that? OK, so six years?

Rebekah: Seven years.

Jessica: Seven years, OK. And you were probably thinking, "Oh, that’s behind me."

Rebekah: Oh, for sure. In fact, I had been teaching about it. I have been writing about it. In fact, it almost became a crisis of faith. In that moment, because I was locked in this old 100-year-old home in Carmel. My husband and I were hosting a gathering, there’s about 30 of us, we were taking a break between sessions. And they all went in town to Carmel by the Sea. And I had my phone and I said, "I’ll meet you in 30 minutes." And I went to the old bathroom with the all the walls, cement walls were 12 inches thick. And it was made out of stone and old doors, really thick wood. And right as I said, "I’ll meet you in 30 minutes," my phone powered down and died at 30%, which it had been doing for a while and I was too cheap to replace it.

And I just went to the bathroom, went to open the door, and it wouldn’t open. And it was one of those stalls, there’s a small toilet area in the bigger bathroom that was locked. And I couldn’t get out. And I started to completely have the worst panic attack of my life. And it had been so long. And so, I look up and there’s this little window at the top of the bathroom above way high. And it’s this old antique window that I barely think I could fit through, but I was about determined to do whatever I could. And so, I scraped my legs getting out, toppled onto the rocks overlooking the Pacific Ocean, just legs were like jello shaking so hard. And I just say "God, am I a fraud? Like, what is this?" Because there’s not enough talk on relapse, I don’t think. I mean, at least there isn’t in my circle.

Jessica: Leading up to this, where there are some signs?

Rebekah: Well, one thing I do know is I had been doing so much output in my life. I was probably traveling every weekend to teach. There were writing deadlines, we have three children at the time, our oldest has special needs. He has Down syndrome. So, there’s a new … there’s just a special dynamic with that. My husband runs full time job, plus he also travels. We had just moved to Nashville. Yeah, there was a lot of transition. And so, I probably didn’t have a lot of margin and capacity emotionally. But it took me out. And I just kept going to God, I was like, "What is this about? I don’t know what to do with this now." And that night, I kept just working it out with him and tried to tell Gabe. And finally, I just sensed in my spirit God say something like, "I don’t promise that fear won’t come knocking, but I always promise a way of escape." And it was this comfort to go like, we haven’t all arrived, and adversity is not gonna come in our path, or the thing that used to take us out isn’t gonna try to come back in. Because there is a muscle memory there, there’s a temptation to kind of go, "Oh, when things get stressful, this is how I respond."

“I probably didn’t have a lot of margin and capacity emotionally. But it took me out. And I just kept going to God, I was like, ‘What is this about? I don’t know what to do with this now.’ … And finally, I just sensed in my spirit God say something like, ‘I don’t promise that fear won’t come knocking, but I always promise a way of escape.’ And it was this comfort.” Rebekah Lyons on an anxiety relapse.

 

Rest: An Essential Rhythm of Life

But it was more to just remind me that even when those things come, like He’s near, and He’s with me, and there’s a piece I can sell and going like, "I’m not in this alone, there are some practical things that I could put in place." And so, I started studying and reading just like what did God establish when He created the world or me? And I just learned so much about how everything has been made in rhythm, like day and night. Even Creation, the story of it is just like sun, moon, day, and night, evening, morning, first day. And then all of a sudden, you’ve got seasons, those are in rhythm, you’ve got land and sea, then you’ve got Creation. You’ve got humans with pulse and heartbeat and all that. And I just was just reminded that He’s not casual about rest. And I realize I wasn’t doing that very well. I kind of felt like that was the first thing that could go.

“I just learned so much about how everything has been made in rhythm, like day and night. Even Creation … you’ve got seasons, those are in rhythm, you’ve got land and sea, then you’ve got Creation. You’ve got humans with pulse and heartbeat and all that. And I just was just reminded that [God is] not casual about rest. And I realize I wasn’t doing that very well.” Rebekah Lyons

Jessica: Did you think like you were … were you walking around this sense of like, "I’m actually practicing rhythms right now"? "I’ve got rhythms in place." You know what I’m saying?

Rebekah: I think I had enough to get me by. But what I wasn’t looking at was the backlog of the last few years. When you think about Sabbath, whether it’s a week practice, or maybe it’s every seven years, you take a whole year off or you take a week you take one day off after the end of six days. I was realizing there was a lot of output happening but never an extended break. And so, for me, it was just more I had to be intentional with that following summer just to take the whole July with the kids. And I had the luxury with my work as a writer to do that. Most people don’t always have that permission. But there was intention that went even towards that. And I go, "Well, though, what can I do right now? What can this week look like?" And so, the book is really about four rhythms that I believe are essential for sustained emotional, and mental, and spiritual health. And they are rest, restore, connect, and create. And there’s two input rhythms, rest and restore, and two output rhythms, which are connect and create.

“[There are] four rhythms that I believe are essential for sustained emotional, and mental, and spiritual health. And they are rest, restore, connect, and create. And there’s two input rhythms, rest and restore, and two output rhythms, which are connect and create.” Rebekah Lyons

And so, Sevens on the Enneagram are awesome at output rhythms. They are connectors all day long. And they are creating, and you walk around this office, and it’s like, wow, you’re like connecting create on steroids, which is amazing. But just as much as you’re pushing hard, and the connect and create, you actually have got to almost force yourself on the rest and restore. Because you can’t give what you haven’t received. And so, we can operate off of the rest from like three years ago go, or the awesome vacation we took last July. But the truth is, we’re still pumping out connection and creation 50 other weeks of the year. And so, the rest is gonna still be depleted. It’s just time, it’s like numbers, it’s math. And so, I really wanted to get serious about rest because I knew if I was really getting that every day, and I read a chapter on morning routine, I talk about taking a walk in nature every day because to me it just quiet things. And there’s … I do one on routines for deep sleep, how like if you go for a walk at sunset and the red light from the sunset, the sun, the natural light, actually is melatonin for your body versus the blue light of a phone that you look at before you go to bed, which tells you to wake up, there’s like some simple things that we’re just not aware of.

So, rest is more of that inner life, that spiritual rest, exhale, prayer. For me, if I’m waking in the middle of the night, and my thoughts are just racing, I’ll get out of my bed, because if I stay there, it’ll last forever. But I’ll just interrupt that, get up, go. Just go to the other room, I might kneel for a minute and just go palms up. I’m just gonna do a posture of exhale right now. And I’m just gonna start and do my piece. And you don’t have to do that for very long to reset, or these racing thoughts, they don’t need to be here.

There’s another one on taking inventory of your life. And part of that is just when what’s right, the SWOT analysis, what’s right, what’s wrong, what’s confused, what’s missing. And sometimes we do it in work, but we don’t always do it in our personal lives. And I found that I have to do that every year, and then do smaller versions of it every quarter. Because each season with my kids, whether they’re in the summer, or it’s a holiday, or all my kids are starting high school as of a week ago, that’s a very different season than when they were in middle, or elementary. We just brought home a girl from China nine months ago, and she just started school this week, I’m in a new season just because she’s now in school, and she’s been with me full time.

And I don’t wanna just skip over those transitions as if they’re inconsequential, because they actually do have repercussions. And I need to be … I think part of its just being more mindful of the dynamics that we encounter every single day. And when we just barrel through them, and we don’t pause to go like, "How am I feeling about this?" "Am I sad? What do I need right now?" We don’t even know quite what we need, we just know we need something. But taking that extended inventory will help us go, "Hey, I might be killing it in the create rhythm. But I’m actually feeling like I need a support and some help to carve space for those other three." So, for me, that’s just what it’s looked like over time to get the inputs back into the output.

 

Recognizing Anxiety, Chronic Stress, and Depression

Jessica: So, I wanted to ask, after you have this relapse anxiety attack, how does anxiety show up in your body post attack?

Rebekah: It still shows up in a … Because there’s varying expressions of anxiety, it’s anything. It can be just chronic stress. The next one is more physical, and that’s where I feel it most now still, will just be like I just need to get a deep breath. And it’s when I’m looking at iCal, pretty much every time. Or I’m just know a deadline’s coming, and partly, if I haven’t gotten active, if I didn’t walk that day, if I’m not eating right, if I’m doing sugar and caffeine, that’s just a no-brainer. That’s gonna make me more anxious. And so, it’s shallow breathing is a physical expression for me or racing thoughts in the middle of the night. That’s my most common … what my body does. I know people have different versions of that.

“If I haven’t gotten active, if I didn’t walk that day, if I’m not eating right, if I’m doing sugar and caffeine, that’s just a no-brainer. That’s gonna make me more anxious. And so, it’s shallow breathing is a physical expression for me or racing thoughts in the middle of the night. That’s … what my body does.” Rebekah Lyons

Jessica: But I think that would be almost a first step, is just becoming aware of those things. Because maybe someone actually is struggling with anxiety right now and doesn’t even necessarily know it or hasn’t even called it that.

Rebekah: Right. Because we’re like, "Why am I having a hard time getting a deep breath?" Why do I feel like … and Curt Thompson, we both just talked about him off air for a minute, but he and I had a conversation at the spring about just centering prayer. And he just said, "If you just slow your breath by half, so you’re normally 14 to 15 breaths per minute, you go down to 6, so that’s 5 seconds inhale, 5 seconds exhale, do that for several minutes," he’s like, "All of a sudden, your whole central nervous system just slows way down, and you’re more in tune and aware of what your body is actually doing." And I think for a lot of us, we feel anxiety, but, like you said, we don’t know what to call it. And it’s not until we slow down, we’re like, "OK, this feels different than the running around I’ve been doing all day."

Jessica: We’re so afraid, though, I think we feel anxious or depressed. What’s the correlation? Do you understand the correlation between anxiety and depression? Because they’re usually lumped together when they’re talked about.

Rebekah: Yeah, they don’t always coincide at the same time. My dad died last April, and depression hit in May. And that I recognized because I was just sad and passionate about nothing. So, for me, depression looked more like, "I could quit everything tomorrow, and it wouldn’t matter." And I just can’t text anybody back. And I’m just gonna kind of hang here in my house and not do much, you lose your passion. And that can also mirror burnout, where you just kind of you just don’t care, you kind of go numb. But depression is when it kind of stays longer, and you just feel sad, like you just wanna cry. Whereas anxiety is the extreme of ramping, where everything’s hyped and amped. And you’re just like everything’s racing. So, it’s the upper, whereas depression is the downer, but the way they can go together is if you feel shame, because you are feeling anxious, and then you kind of condemn yourself. And then you feel depressed. You can’t get out of a loop. So, there are certainly people who’ve walked through both, like, "Will I always struggle with this?" And they’re sad about that. The mind is tricky. It really can … and as we know, as human beings, our emotions can be all over the place. You can feel amped like, as we know, manic depressive. You can feel amped, and really low within a 24-hour or a 24-minute period.

“[Anxiety is] the upper, whereas depression is the downer, but the way they can go together is if you feel shame, because you are feeling anxious, and then you kind of condemn yourself. And then you feel depressed. You can’t get out of a loop.” Rebekah Lyons

Jessica: God, so true.

Rebekah: Yeah.

Jessica: So, you have this panic attack relapse. Walk us a little bit from that panic attack to even to today.

Rebekah: Well, I think maybe … I never asked to be anxiety girl, it was never a message that I wanted to carry. And then you kind of back up in my life, I had my firstborn son, I found out six hours later, he had Down syndrome, that wasn’t something I chose either. And it drastically changed even … But I’m so grateful 18 years later, but at the time, I was just like, in my mid 20s, like I can barely make my husband cereal. And now I need to know how to care for a child who has just things I don’t even know yet.

And so, I think by walking through that, coming out of that now, it was just the sense of going, "All right, we’re gonna put one foot in front of the other.” If faith plays a part for me of trusting that God is the Prince of Peace, and He will be my peace when I don’t feel peace, then I can again go back in that posture of surrender or like laying down my day through an exhale, practice our centering prayer, whatever that looks like, and just say, “I’m gonna ask that you would open the doors that need to open, and you would close the doors that need to close. Because I trust you know what’s best for me.” And so, there’s been some work things that the doors closed, and it hurt my feelings. And then like a year later, I’m super thankful. And then there’s some things where He’s like, "I’m gonna invite you into something that you’re gonna be terrified of like adopting, now you choose Down syndrome." I just adopted a little girl 17 years later named Joy, and she has Down syndrome. And I was at first terrified of that decision. But we’d been … at that point, Kate was 17. We’re like, "Well, we’ve done this, we feel more equipped for it." She’s super aware, super … just she doesn’t miss anything.

And I think part of it, she lived in an orphanage till we brought her home. She was in a foster home for a few months, but then had to go back before we got her. And she just was hyper aware. She watches everything and mimics everything, she doesn’t miss a thing. But she does wake up joyful. She’ll come out of her room, like she can barely open her eyes, and she’s like, "Hello!" when she hears us, and it’s like the kitchen morning crazy, and she cracks me up.

Jessica: Wow.

Rebekah: Yeah.

 

Taking Time to Care and Dream

Jessica: I think what I’m trying to piece together is you’re walking through then sort of a relapse, but you also … I mean, you’ve launched a … you had another book in there, you’re adopting a child with Down syndrome. I mean, you’re still moving. So, when we think about seasons, when I think of seasons, like spring, summer, it almost has these big chunks of time. We just vacationed in on this tiny little island off of Vancouver. And it’s called Bowen Island, it’s part of the Sunshine Coast. I happened to find this house on the internet. I don’t even know how I found it. But it was like a glass box perched on a cliff. And I didn’t know where it was, I had never heard of this, but I was like, "We gotta go stay in this house."

Rebekah: We’re going.

Jessica: We’re going. And it was just as magical more magical than the photos.

Rebekah: In real life.

Jessica: But it had a 14-foot tide. And so, in the morning, the tide was way out. And that’s my kids went mussel collecting, and we made fresh mussels, and you saw all the starfish, but you couldn’t actually take the kayaks out and stuff, because you would have had to walk through a lot of rocks and stuff to get there. By the evening time, it was a completely different environment. The tide was high.

Rebekah: Every day.

Jessica: Every day, and that’s when we paddle boarded. And so, it really set the rhythm of how we spend our days on vacation. But it sounds like with you, it’s like some of these seasons can almost run parallel, because you’re still walking in the society. But then you’re still making these decisions of adoption and decisions to even write a third book, and you’re in the middle of launching a second book. So, talk to us about that.

Rebekah: Right. Well, I did have to slow down. I took three months off social media the summer after my dad died because I could tell that I was hemorrhaging publicly. And I wasn’t gonna take care of my heart if I just didn’t get quiet. I do think last summer was out for me. A good part of last year, I was a lot quieter online. Because I was writing, and writing for me is actually cathartic.

Jessica: OK, because see, that’s interesting, because on one hand … So yeah, so you’re pulling back, so it’s like restful for you to not be on social, but then you’re still producing, but creating is rest for you.

Rebekah: But it doesn’t feel … It’s like my art is life-giving if I’m actually processing some things, to see how it comes out. Does that makes sense?

Jessica: Yeah.

Rebekah: It doesn’t mean it’s all gonna make its way to the publishing table. Because I’m like, "Yeah, that’s all raw. That was a little much. That was for me.” But when you get it out, you realize it, you’re healing, you’re crying, and you’re healing, and there were a lot of writing moments where I was just getting it out. But there was a healing happening even in the creativity as long as there wasn’t pressure of a deadline. I pushed that deadline back again, and again, and again.

Jessica: That’s what I was gonna ask. OK.

Rebekah: And I don’t do multiple…

Jessica: This is your pattern, Rebekah?

Rebekah: Yeah. Pushing things back.

Jessica: Pushing the deadline, the book deadlines. I think we’ve had that conversation.

Rebekah: Right, yeah, I don’t do multi-book deals for that reason because I don’t personally know what’s around them…

Jessica: When it’s gonna come.

Rebekah: I don’t know what I don’t know.

Jessica: Right.

Rebekah: And I like to have a little bit of freedom to go, "OK, we’re gonna take a pause between these two projects, because I need to work some stuff out personally." Or, you know, I know as working moms, our kids might be going through a season coming up that we don’t even know is coming, and we need to have more capacity for that.

Jessica: Yeah.

Rebekah: So, just creating a little more space and margin in our work allows for if that tide does come in, for us to not be powerless. We can actually go, "Oh, I can move some things in such a way that this is something that’s not so overwhelming, that I can’t know where to begin."

Jessica: Yeah, yeah. So last fall, when you’re writing, it was to be writing a book or were you just like kind of practicing your art?

Rebekah: It was writing these rhythms because, guess what was so fun for me when I took a tech detox? This is what actually brought me out of the depression.

Jessica: OK.

Rebekah: So, when I took the three months off, I learned three things. I started sleeping again, because I just didn’t ever have my phone on me. So, there was no, like, short attention span, distraction thing happening. So, I was super present with my family. Gabe’s like, "You’re the best mom I’ve seen in the last two years." And I never even … it wasn’t a condescending comment.

Jessica: No, I get it. I get it.

Rebekah: But I was just like, I feel like I’ve kind of benched myself professionally. He was like, "Well, for whatever it’s worth, watching you with the kids has been really beautiful." And I didn’t even know he’s noticing. I don’t even know that I was noticing. I just think when you take your attention from one thing, you’ve got space for it to go somewhere. I got so much time back. So, I started sleeping again. I started dreaming again. Because we’re all made to dream, right? But we can’t dream if we’re always out fulfilling the dream. We gotta stop the output.

Jessica: You’re not talking about just night dreams. You’re talking about like…

Rebekah: No.

Jessica: Yeah.

Rebekah: Future … no, no, not dreaming while I’m asleep. I mean, dreaming while I’m awake. In my journal, in the morning I found that I was having these original ideas, not because I saw someone else do it on Instagram, but because it actually came from my brain. And I was like, "Oh," it’s like I was recovering my passion just by making room for rest. Because out of that place of rest, creativity, and life and passion does emerge. We just got to give it enough time for that to happen. And so, sleeping, dreaming, and then learning. I was like voracious. It was like, I don’t have to read a book that has anything to do with what I’m teaching or what I’m writing. But I just wanna research the books that inspire me.

“I started dreaming again. Because we’re all made to dream, right? But we can’t dream if we’re always out fulfilling the dream. We gotta stop the output. … I was having these original ideas, not because I saw someone else do it … it actually came from my brain. … I was recovering my passion just by making room for rest.” Rebekah Lyons

 

Restful Reading

And so that summer, I was just like, I couldn’t read enough. And I was like, "This reminds me of who I was when I was eight." I was called Bekah Book. I read 62 Nancy Drew books in fourth grade. So, I, as a kid, would escape into books, and I’m like, I don’t ever have time for that now. But as an adult, I was like, "I’m gonna take reading seriously," because for me it’s actually rest. For other people, like, "No thanks." But for me reading was inspiring again, and it opened even my imagination for this book where it would go. I was like, "I want this to be a book based on research and science."

Jessica: And was it nonfiction, fiction, a little bit of both?

Rebekah: Both. Yeah, both. And some I even pulled out books that I’d read 20 years ago that inspired me in college and to kind of set my feet on the course like The Alchemist, or like Tuesdays with Morrie, or you know…

Jessica: Oh, yeah, tell me more of those.

Rebekah: Oh, they’re so good.

Jessica: I have not read either of those. I have The Alchemist at home. I just haven’t read it.

Rebekah: Yeah, it’s like the adventurous spirit in you, you will resonate with it. It is searching for significance in this treasure. And whereas, what was the second one I mentioned?

Jessica: Tuesdays with Morrie.

Rebekah: Tuesdays with Morrie is about honoring life fully, even in death. It was all about community like this … just the preciousness of relational equity with each other. And I was like, man, in a transactional world, it takes you back to what your heart really longs for.

Jessica: I like that idea of revisiting these classics, because this summer I tended towards nonfiction a lot for the last few years. And this summer I was like, I can’t even handle it, I cannot. So, I was reading I read like Big Little Lies. I read What Happened with Bernadette? I read The Nest, which actually I didn’t resonate with. I literally would go at the airport, I’d be like just pick up a book. And sometimes, depending on the book, maybe it was just this last one I did that was just real beach reading. And I was like, "This just feels like I’m binging on Netflix." Do you know what I mean? I don’t know. I was just kind of like, "What would make reading restful for me, but not in this way where I’m like, taking notes about neurobiology of the brain?" But I feel like, what, you just need those two books.

Rebekah: Yeah.

Jessica: Like, they strike that medium. I feel like memoir does that for me.

Rebekah: Something inspiring like Parker Palmer wrote, Let Your Life Speak. But it’s just done … it’s such a like a hug. It’s not like, "Get out there and do stuff."

Jessica: Right.

Rebekah: It’s like, "Hey…" There’s a chapter called "When Way Closes." And it’s all about like, "Hey, when certain seasons of our life just stop, it’s OK." You know, it feels like a hug. And I think in our vocational life, we’re gonna have those rhythms of new life of like, "OK, it’s time to let go. There’s something new around the bend, it’s time to take a pause, take a break, and then dream again." That’s the cool thing. As long as God has made us creative, it’s never gonna stop.

Jessica: Yeah.

Rebekah: And we don’t need to operate as if there’s not more to come.

Jessica: Yes. There could be so much.

Rebekah: There will always be more.

 

Renewal in Creative Abundance

Jessica: There will always be more. I remember, a friend told me a couple of years ago, I had this idea. And it was kind of one of those like, "Well, I’m gonna save it," "I’m gonna save it for the right moment, for the right whatever." And, oh, gosh, now I’m gonna completely mess this up. But it was this whole idea of just not being scarce in how we approach our own ideas and creativity, and like you offer it, and then more comes. And I think learning to trust that brings a lot more freedom to the creative process. So, that’s why I was curious about your process last fall in your writing, because you were still writing with an end result in mind which I think, for me, sometimes, when my process is tied to an outcome, it immediately can create anxiety for me. And there hasn’t been a whole lot I’ve done in the last nine years that haven’t been tied to an outcome.

“There will always be more … this whole idea of just not being scarce in how we approach our own ideas and creativity, and like you offer it, and then more comes. And I think learning to trust that brings a lot more freedom to the creative process.” Jessica Honegger

Rebekah: And that’s why Joy in the middle of all that aws such a welcome interruption. Because yes, I had a book deadline, which I did not meet, because we wanted to go to China sooner than we had planned. And I almost kind of wrapped it once she came home, but it only could happen in these few windows of hours. And it was just fine tuning at that point. But this project is different than the first two because I wanted a new challenge, but not in a way that was like, "Oh, because of a deadline." It was more like what’s inspiring me these days, what kind of books, what kind of thinking is helping me go, like, "Yeah, this makes sense of my life. This is a small practical step." But my biggest goal for this book was to that it would be practical, actionable, like small, small, small.

Jessica: I love it.

Rebekah: A tiny little gesture over a long period of time makes a world of difference.

Jessica: It does.

Rebekah: And so, I love … because that’s the thing, and I don’t think anything we make is gonna look the same as the next thing. If we’re staying in tune to kind of just the movement of how God works in our lives, those things are gonna just happen naturally, and then Joy seemed like this massive interruption, but the best part of that is there’s no deadline attached to her beyond getting her home. But there’s no end result. It was about us connecting and playing and making eye contact and just praying for attachment to happen. They say three to six months, but really, it was happening. But even the month before she started school, she’s starting to walk around the house like, "These are my people, and like I feel secure in them." And I know there will be still moments where that doesn’t always look like that. But it was so solid for me as a mom to go like, "She’s secure in who she is right now with us. She’s comfortable enough to be a sassy pants." And I like that. I like that she feels like she’s home. So, I needed that. I think in the middle of all the things that I did try to quality control, I needed that to drop in our lives and go like, "Let’s just take a timeout and see where this goes."

Jessica: Such a beautiful thing that it’s been, Joy.

Rebekah: Yeah. I know.

Jessica: Brought joy to you and…

Rebekah: For sure.

Practical Tech Detoxing

Jessica: …literally a little girl named Joy. So, I wanna talk about your transition on coming out of top tech detox. Because sometimes I think, even in my personality, I find that extremes can be almost easier because you don’t have to be mindful with extremes.

Rebekah: Right.

Jessica: We’re just removing it from the equation, hard stop. It’s like the same thing with food. When I just removed sugar, it’s great. It’s like, "No, I mean, that’s not even an option." But then when I’m like, "Well, I’m not totally … I’m just going to listen to my body, and I’m going to have a piece." And before you know it, the next day, it adds up to like another piece.

Jessica: So, what’s been your transition? What’s your relationship now with tech?

Rebekah: Well, the one thing I do know is when you take a long time off something, you don’t reenter the same, because it did remind me of the things that were real grounding human practices in our home that were … I wasn’t being present fully as much as I wanted to be. And so, by removing that for a long period, when the kids were home, it was not in a season when they were in school. It’s like, "No, we are looking at each other all the time." That re-entry was almost hard. I was a little reluctant. Because, like you said, I was like, I don’t know what I don’t know, I’m happy just escaping this. But I also knew that I didn’t wanna feel completely unplugged. I mean, we already don’t have … I hardly watch TV. It’s like I might as well just live in a van down by the river. Zero contact with you. And that’s not reality. That’s not practical. So, I did re-enter and just started to just … it was weird, though. It was weird. It was like everybody’s at the middle school dance, and I’m coming in late. And I’m kind of like … there’s a new dance move over there, and I don’t know how to do it. It was kind of one of those things. And so, I joked about it with my friends in real life that are active on socials, I’m like, "I don’t know how to like step back in." And I do find, even to this day, a year later, I’m not as active on it as I was then.

Jessica: Yeah.

Rebekah: It tends to not take the priority over what’s happening right in front of me. And I think that’s OK. As long as I still steward it well, and honor it, because I do think there’s so many wonderful things about it. And I do like keeping up with people. And it’s a very useful tool for that. So, now I just make sure I get on a couple times a day, but I watch how many hours I’m on per week. And…

Jessica: You do? So, you kind of take inventory?

Rebekah: Oh, yeah. Because I think when we went to Europe this summer, and I tried to document all the countries we went to.

Jessica: I noticed that. Yeah, but it seemed like you posted … did you post later?

Rebekah: Yeah, I would always post later.

Jessica: I thought that was such a good idea. And that is a great takeaway. Just a good practical, which I know your book is so practical, which is so welcoming. I’m actually on the Myers Briggs, it’s funny. "I am more S than N." Isn’t that weird?

Rebekah: Mm-hmm.

Jessica: So, I think creatives are typically … I’m like E-S-T-P.

Rebekah: OK, isn’t that weird?

Jessica: Yeah.

Rebekah: Apparently though, it’s like the entrepreneur. Well, it’s not weird.

Jessica: Yeah, it’s actually not weird.

Rebekah: That’s who you are.

Jessica: But I think because we wanna manifest in the physical realm, super, very practical. I’m a very practical, concrete person. I can also get way into concepts. And like, actually, one nonfiction book I carry around with me is Curt Thompson’s Anatomy of the Soul. And I have to carry it around with me because it is so out there that it takes me a long time to just digest. So, I’m just taking it small bits so I can metabolize it. But all that to say is I appreciate the practicality of your book. And I think sometimes we can hear about seasons, and it’s like, "Oh, I just love the tips about the sun and about taking a walk." And I cannot tell you … I mean, I have been … and it’s been obvious because I’m super transparent on all my podcasts. But I’ve definitely been in a new season, just in the last few months. I think a lot of it had to do with coming off of the book launch this time last year was crazy. It was beautiful. It was wonderful, but all the press tour and all the book tour and just the energy that goes into actually launching what you’ve created. And then the buildup, how it had been a three-year project.

Rebekah: Yeah.

Jessica: And then it just kind of is over. And it’s so different than building a business. Because in building a business, you just keep building, you just keep building it. But a book, that felt … I was so disoriented, Rebekah. I mean, hugely disoriented. And really, for the past five months, and it’s funny because I was at Praxis this year, which is a small community for entrepreneurial, faith-based professionals. And I ran into this man who he runs a $6 billion company that he founded. And he just launched a book a few months ago. And everything I’ve been reading, by the way, for the past few months, if I have been reading nonfiction, it’s all been about silence, solitude, slowing down. That’s where I’m at right now. But anyway, so his book was all about how he had had a crisis at the end of his 30s, a panic attack, just at the end of himself. And then kind of came to faith and just said, "I’m gonna start a new company, but I’m gonna do it differently." And he said, "I’m not gonna work more than 40 hours a week, I’m not gonna have sales goals." And now his company $7 billion. But he is friends … because he loves people. He’d been counseling people and and they said, "You’ve got to write a book, because you got to just multiply yourself on this bigger level." And he has this whole thing about, "I get neutral." He’s from Texas, he’s like, "I go to God, I get neutral, and I don’t make any decisions until I’m neutral."

Rebekah: I love it.

Jessica: So, I ran into him. He’s the first person I ran into, and I was just like, "I’m loving your book." I said, "I just read a book recently, too." And he’s like, "Oh, my goodness, my soul is just now coming back together after that whole book deal." And I’m like, "Oh, my gosh, you are 70, you have $7 billion…" And still that was really intense. So…

Rebekah: It is.

 

Creating an Environment for Transformation

Jessica: All I have to say, I’ve been a little bit … I think the whole post-book situation is just been a little bit disorienting for me, and as someone who’s not a career writer, it’s not like I’m thinking about my next book project. I mean, maybe that’s possible. But anyway, I don’t know where I’m going this with this, except that the season that I am in …

Rebekah: It sounds like you’re in a season of stillness.

Jessica: …it’s been a different season. It has been a different season. And I am certainly craving solitude, that’s what’s been, I will say, saving me, which is why we were talking about Phileena, how do you say it, Heuertz?

Rebekah: Heuertz.

Jessica: Heuertz. So, y’all listeners will be hearing from her because it’s mindful silence contemplative prayer. These are the things that are absolutely saving me right now. And I think my point that I’m wanting to make is … why I want y’all to read Rebekah’s book is because these practices will transform you.

Rebekah: Yeah.

Jessica: And it is creating an environment for transformation. And if you need to be transformed, if you’re like, "I am tired of the racing heart. I’m tired of the interrupted sleep. I’m tired of impulsively picking up my phone at a stoplight. I’m tired of peeking down and checking that text when I’m driving down the street during soccer carpool."

Rebekah: Right.

Jessica: We’re doing things that are actually putting our lives at risk and putting other people’s lives at risk, and yet we think nothing of it. But when we put these rhythms in place, when we embrace seasons, it transforms us. It’s life-saving.

“These practices [in Rebekah’s book] will transform you…. It is creating an environment for transformation. … We’re doing things that are actually putting our lives at risk and putting other people’s lives at risk, and yet we think nothing of it. But when we put these rhythms in place, when we embrace seasons, it transforms us. It’s life-saving.” Jessica Honegger

Rebekah; Yes, it lowers that ambient noise. It reminds us it gets us in tune with our heart again … The things that made you your heart sing, makes those things come alive. The things that birthed what you’re doing right now in the first place, I think it’s really important to come back to center on those and go, "Why am I so creative? Why am I so passionate about this? How did this birth." Because we got to go back to her. Give her room to just exhale, and she’s gonna dream your dreams again. She is, she just needs permission to pause so that she can do that.

Jessica: I love that.

I think it’s so important to stop and assess the season you are in. Life really does work in seasons. And, man, I remember when I first had my baby Amelie, my first little one, I felt so trapped in that season. I didn’t think it would ever end. I mean waking up in wet sheets from the breast milk and feeling like I couldn’t go anywhere without timing it around naps … It was a hard time. I didn’t know that Noonday Collection was just around the corner. And if I would have known that, I think would have just named that season as just being the crazy season where I got to just sit around and watch Oprah at 4 o’clock, and cook dinners, so many other things … go on walks with friends at the end of the day. And so, I think it’s important to ask yourself the question, what season are you in right now? And what are some of those rhythms that you can put in place that will help you live out this season well? That’s the question that I am asking you today.

Our music for today’s show is by my good friend Ellie Holcomb. Going Scared is produced by Eddie Kaufholz, and I’m Jessica Honegger. Until next time, let’s take each other by the hand and keep going scared.