04.13.2016

Why acknowledging your limits is one of the most liberating things you can do.

I recently took a personality test as part of a course I was taking and it was so validating. There are a few things I’ve always known about myself – I’m an introvert, for starters. Small-talk is not my favorite. I need quiet time. I’m sensitive sometimes often. But in no way was I expecting a computer generated report to get me so accurately.

I’ve always been an introvert, but as Jen Hatmaker would say, I’m a “high functioning” introvert, or in other words, an extroverted introvert (did anyone else know this was a thing?!). In my professional life, I’m often called upon to be an extrovert – be it through team projects, networking, or my favorite…meetings. But at the end of the day, playing the “extroverted introvert” card is exhausting. Not to mention, it feels terribly inauthentic.

I have a number of extroverted friends, and there are oh-so-many things I love about these extroverted friends of mine. For starters, they’re extroverts. I love that about them! They can bring me out of my shell, and let’s be honest, I’m not a hermit. 😉 I love a party or get-together once in awhile. My extroverted friends are entertaining and good conversationalists and can make me laugh until I can’t breathe, but one of the things I often hear when I decline an invitation to get together is this: “You’re SO busy.”

It’s ironic, this “You’re SO busy” response, because the truth is, while I’m busy, I’m not busy for the sake of being busy. This year especially, I’ve tried my hardest to be intentionally busy – to fill my time with things that fill my cup rather than things which drain my cup. And part of of being intentionally busy means saying no, which means that lately, I end up saying no more often than I say yes. I don’t like to pack my weekend full of 12 different commitments. Or 3! So if I already have 1 or 2 commitments on a weekend and get asked to meet for a playdate or coffee or a walk, I often have to graciously decline.

Acknowledging my social limits has been terrifically liberating – I have a lower threshold than some of my friends, and I’m 100% ok with that. Really and truly.

Disclosure: I’m guilty of committing to 12 (ok, maybe 5) different social events during a given weekend. I’m not immune to the over-committed and over-scheduled life. But I’m learning so much about who I am and what’s good for my soul – and something about knowing who you are at your core frees you from the guilt and struggle of saying “no” to the things that aren’t YOU.

Now that my girls are getting slightly older (it’s all relative when you have toddlers…at 2 and 4, they feel so old!), I’m finding more time to be quiet, to really listen to myself. Quiet time is like a cold cup of water on a hot day. We all need quiet once in awhile. Some of us need more of it than others, but we all need it. It clears space in our minds and hearts and allows us to more closely connect with one another and the extraordinary Creation around us. It helps us to be more patient and kind with one another.

And I think we can all agree that, introverted or extroverted, the world needs more connection, more patience, more kindness.

How do you find your quiet?

Acknowledging my social limits has been terrifically liberating – I have a lower threshold than some of my friends, and I'm 100% ok with that.

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04.12.2016

It’s the simple stuff they’ll remember.

When I was growing up, my teacher mom had summers off – one of the few trade-offs of being under-appreciated and underpaid the rest of the year. As far as I’m concerned, teachers are at the same level as brain surgeons or saints. I remember *loving* summers because it meant camping, and blueberry picking, and bike-riding, and late night slumber parties with popcorn and milkshakes galore.

There are a few memories that stand out to me every time I think about my childhood. These don’t just stand out to me when I think about “summer when I was a kid,” but when I think about my entire childhood. Here’s what they involve:

My parents did stuff when I was a kid. They didn’t wait until they had exactly the right camping gear, or for exactly the right weather, or until they had a comfortable amount of savings in the bank.

Campfires.

Blueberry picking.

Lake Goodwin.

Bubble Gum Ice Cream.

Slip & Slides.

I could go into detail about each of these memories, but that’s not what this is about.

It’s about this: my parents did stuff when I was a kid. They didn’t wait until they had exactly the right camping gear, or for exactly the right weather, or until they had a comfortable amount of savings in the bank. Did we fly to Disneyland or Hawaii every year? No. But we explored Washington State and the Oregon Coast like nobody’s business.

I can’t tell you the number of times my parents said we were going to go on a “drive” growing up. What this usually involved was an escape from our middle-class neighborhood somewhere significantly north, south, east or west of us. We’d end up in a small-ish town, explore the highlights, read any historical markers that we might see along the way, and grab a bite to eat. It was simple.

So many of my best memories are memories of pretty simple days.

Now that I am a parent, I often find myself feeling a subtle pressure to “create memories” for my kids. I see amazing birthday decor on Pinterest, Facebook pictures of the annual-trip-to-such-and-such for the holidays, and talk to other parents about which activities they are enrolling their kids in and I think to myself, “I need to get on the ball. I’m so behind!” And this is saying something, because those who know me know that for the most part, I am a planner.

My thirties has brought on a deep sense of nostalgia. Reflecting on my own treasure chest of childhood memories takes a certain pressure off my own shoulders, because I’m reminded that it’s the simple stuff that my kids are going to remember. It’s saying yes to ice cream after school. It’s turning the sprinkler on, even though you dread the tiny, wet, grassy footprints dredged through the house afterwards. It’s going on that drive, destination unknown, knowing that the house is a mess.

We can’t force memories onto our kids. But what we can do instead is embrace the small opportunities – not all-of-the-time, but some-of-the-time – to do stuff. One of those things, at least, will be stored away in their treasure chest of memories forever.

What’s in yours?

03.22.2016

Slowing down and doing.

Hi, friends!

I’m finally getting over the hump fear of starting a blog and instead of dreaming, wishing and planning for it (all in my head), I’m just doing it.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a little rusty at this whole writing thing, which may explain why I’ve spent far longer browsing various blog themes, researching the best widgets to use, viewing dozens of blog tutorials, and sorting through every possible font than I’ve actually spent writing anything. 

That said, writing has always been my medium of choice when it comes to expressing myself. 

So, here’s why I started this blog.

I’ve always felt a tension between slowing down and keeping up, but recently, I realized that not only was I moving at the speed of light, but I was unhappy. Life just wasn’t doing it for me. And the worst part was that all of my own baggage and discontent was spilling over into the relationships that mean the most to me. I realized that so many of my ideas, dreams, intentions, and plans were parked in my head. They took a backseat to the diaper changing, dinner making, crumb sweeping, snot wiping, book reading, schedule juggling and work-life balancing that is life right now.

I recently read a book, and then another book (more on those later), enrolled in an online “field course” about discovering your life’s purpose (who knew those even existed!?), and did lots, and lots, and lots of reflection. Conversations with my hubs, journaling, prayer, and even the field course on your life’s purpose….all of those things led me here, to this blog.

My hope is that this blog will be a reminder to myself, and hopefully one day, to other mamas in the thick of life, to slow down, to make space and to be intentional about doing that thing that all-too-often gets stuck in our heads.

Slowing down and “doing” might seem contradictory. But really, they aren’t. In order to do — to really do what fulfills us and makes us whole and fills our spirits — we need to make space. We have to clear out the junk. Unsubscribe. Opt-out. I have learned that my soul depends on this kind of space.

One of my favorite quotes is from Mary Oliver,

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with this one wild and precious life?”

I’ve thought long and hard about what my purpose actually is. What I really plan to do with my life. But the truth is, I am doing life. There’s no start button that you push to signal, “Ok life, I’m ready to start. Let’s do this.” Life doesn’t wait until we reach the perfect balance of connected-ness, whole-ness, enough-ness, or readi-ness.

We are enough from day one. We don’t have to wait.

If I’m ever lucky enough to run into Mary Oliver, this is what I’d tell her: I don’t know what I plan to do with my one wild and precious life. But what I’m doing today is slowing down and doing something.

I’d love for you to come along.

MY HOPE IS THAT THIS BLOG WILL BE A REMINDER TO MYSELF, AND HOPEFULLY ONE DAY, TO OTHER MAMAS IN THE THICK OF LIFE, TO SLOW DOWN, TO MAKE SPACE AND TO BE INTENTIONAL ABOUT DOING THAT THING THAT ALL-TOO-OFTEN GETS STUCK IN OUR HEADS.

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