On being confident

Confidence is a scary thing for me.

If I’m too confident, I run the risk of being “found out” or embarrassed.

If I’m not confident enough, I run the risk of being trampled over, overlooked, and dismissed.

Or, so I think.

I’ve always found confidence to be much of a paradox. Both high & low confidence in extremes are annoying to me when I experience them in other people.

I’m nervous about fully engaging with the confidence that I hold because I fear what it could do to me. I want to always be a learner, somebody who is humble enough to always recognize the opportunity to learn from each person around them.

As my confidence develops, I find myself backing down from it. It’s as if my fear of failure keeps me always on guard. And, it’s as if my self-doubt will guard me from falling into a place of complacency.

I can be confident in where I’m at and who I am because I’m doing the best that I can with what I have.

I can be confident in the decisions that I make once I’ve made them because there’s no way to control others’ responses …and that’s not my responsibility to do so, anyway.

Confidence doesn’t mean that I drop my role and identity as a learner. But, it does mean that I embrace where I am at a specific moment in time, knowing that my best is good enough.

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On neighborhood kids

It was a bright and shiny summer day, a mere 100 degrees at just 9:30 in the morning. I’m minding my own business just taking in the moments of a morning dog walking session, when out of nowhere runs a kid across the lawn.

Franklin the dog, of course, goes wild. He’s screaming and barking and yearning to get to the kid. The kid has that gleeful expression of a child who is both fearful and intrigued. A paradox of wanting to play and wanting to run.

I, of course, being the great school teacher that I am, have to engage in conversation with this kid and give him an opportunity to grow in courage and new experiences — that’s what anybody would naturally be thinking about, right?

I ask, “Do you want to meet him? He’s really nice.” Meanwhile, my rabid dog screams out viscous words in his own dog language.

The child jumps up onto an electrical box trying to get out of paw’s reach from my ever so intimidating 16 pound poodle.

“Please, please just get him away from me!” shouts the child in a both amused and excited, yet not fearful voice.

As we walk away, of course Franklin instantly turns into the most adorable dog ever with no trace of the vicious creature to be seen.

“Wait, wait! Can I pet him?? Please!!!”

We turn around and Frankin trots up and puts on his most civil dog face.

This child and I proceed to have a pleasant conversation about Franklin. As we walk away, I realize, “Hey, wait…where are you supposed to be right now?”

“At my Granny’s…but I live right here,” as he points to the door, “I’m just getting something then going back.”

 

 

On taking calculated risks

So, I married an Eagle Scout. But, in case you didn’t know, I’m the opposite of an outdoors-woman. As a child, I never learned to ride a bike because it was too hot outside and it just didn’t seem that worth it. (It’s okay, I learned to swim. I am not that deprived.)

The thing about the outdoors that I’ve gleaned from the last quarter of my life being with Josh is that the outdoors is only as fun as you make it.

Enjoying the stillness of a campfire and staring out into the stars. Not fun if you are upset about the mosquitoes, but much fun when you are taking in the beauty of nature.

Treading over lightly snow covered banks. Not fun if you’re scared of falling and getting your butt wet, but much more fun when you’re willing to go for it and experience the thrill of a safe fear.

And, that brings us to our visit to Joshua Tree National Park. Essentially, it’s just the desert. Full of cactus, rocks, and Joshua trees (duh.)

Although walking through the desert in such hot, arid weather was bearable. It was much more fun when we got to the huge rock parts where we could climb all over them.

Now, I’m no climber.

But, on this day, I was a climber.

A happy climber.

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But, also, a scared climber.

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It’s funny that when you take a “risk” and nothing bad actually happens, your hindsight bias tells you that it wasn’t actually that “high” or that “hard.” Really, you’re just relieved that the perceived fun experience turned out to actually be fun.

One of my favorite things about actually being in the outdoors and exploring nature is obviously using them as easy metaphors to life. Nevertheless, I’m thankful for adventurous friends who have pushed me into deserts and mountains.

A change of plans

I love planners. Out of all of my beloved new school supplies each August, picking out a new planner was always my favorite part.

I also love google calendars. Plotting out my weeks and months way ahead of time and mentally readying myself for what is to come relieves my stress.

Planning is my favorite thing. I love spreadsheets, formatting, and documenting what’s about to happen and thinking of all the ways things could happen.

Some things that are planned are events that I’m not looking forward to. So, when it turns out that they are changed – whether ahead of time or in the moment – I welcome that sweet relief of getting out of something you didn’t want to do in the first place.

But, when a change of plans hits my carefully curated google calendar, and it’s definitely not what I had in mind…

Well, you can imagine.

Let’s just say, I’m not as graceful and flexible on the inside as I often try to portray to the outside world.

A change of plans and I, you could say that we aren’t exactly best friends.

I don’t like when things come my way that throw me off.

I don’t like when things happen that I’m not prepared for.

And, depending on how big of a deal it is, it takes me varying amounts of time to adjust my mindset, take a breath, and accept these new plans as my new reality.

Sometimes, I grow to resent it not unlike a small child who just wanted to go eat some ice cream at the shop that is closed.

Sometimes, I can even be a grown human adult and accept it, of course, quickly adding it to my google calendar as if that had been the plan all along.

Either way, I’m thrown off.

And, either way I respond, I know that it’s good for me.

Thus, to this next season of unexpected plans and plans that will change constantly without warning, I’ll try to be slightly more friendly to you and embrace you with a hug.

Changes and I — I think we are going to be okay.

 

An open letter to summertime

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Dear Sweet Summertime,

The ease of waking up and the welcoming presence of a new day give me peace.

The freedom of laying in bed for way longer than necessary and no pressure to get up at a certain time.

The collection of colorful mugs of cold brew each morning, not those evil travel mugs and their symbols of hurry and busyness.

No make up, no hair brushing, and no contacts for as long as I want.

The uncovering of emotions that I forgot I had because it was nestled safely underneath the more glaring issues of children and parents and learning.

The space in you brain to adequately reflect on the other areas of my life, such as the church group I lead.

The slow walks with Franklin and the quiet mornings watching him on the patio bark on birds.

The energy to enter hard conversations and let it take up my entire brain space.

The capacity to love others with greater awareness and intentionality.

The blank white space on my google calendar.

The quiet music playing from speakers filling the living room and dining room with its’ melodies.

Slow and careful handwriting across pages of journals writing whispers of prayers, shouts of joy, hidden dreams, and anything else that I want.

Hot summer afternoons spent by the pool with a good book and the smell of sun screen.

Vacations spent connecting with my husband and the memories to be made.

Sand between my toes, rhythms of ocean waves crashing with no plans of stopping, and a summer rain shower that makes sure you know there’s no such thing as a perfect day–but it was pretty close to perfect.

The constant process of relearning to relax, slow down, be still, and be present in each moment.

Summer, these are the reasons I love you.

But, I know you can’t stay forever.

Just, please go slowly.