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.

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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.

 

On enjoying a moment

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I’m not really sure how to go slowly.

Even on my slowest summer days, I am still wondering what all needs to get done and what I should be doing to best prepare for my next season.

Even when my husband and I are on the most relaxing vacation with nothing on the agenda, I’m still plotting out our hours in our head, wondering how we can have the most fun possible.

I’m realizing this, though. In the slowest of summer days, I still have to choose stillness. A stillness in my heart, and in my scheduling, and in my body. An invitation and an openness to stop and enjoy myself.

It’s in these moments that I have to force myself to be still and enjoy the freedom, space, and relaxation in front of me.

As the water trickles down through the cold brew filter.

As Franklin (our dog) wants to sniff every blade of grass meticulously before picking one to pee on. 

As I clean out old boxes of “stuff” and happen upon pictures that I must sort through, then take a moment to soak up the joy of old friends and old memories.

As the car in front of me takes just 5 too many seconds to go once the light turns green. 

As I drive to the public library for the millionth time to return books that I never ended up reading.

As I wait on my mind to relax and let the words type themselves onto the screen.

I’m realizing that not everything has to have a purpose or a plan.

That sometimes, we can do things that are purely and unequivocally just for us to relax and enjoy.

It’s not a waste of time to stop and enjoy the moment. 

Why you can embrace each season

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A picture is worth a thousand words, or so they say. I look back on this picture and remember the events that surrounded this engagement photoshoot. It’s really easy to be in the midst of a busy, stressful season and just constantly try to figure out when it’s going to be over. We make our exit plans, research way too many new places to live, and start dreaming of what would be better than whatever is happening now.

I remember wedding planning was kind of like that. When almost every single conversation you have with anybody you see surrounds “How’s wedding planning!!!???” …it’s really hard to not start to shift weight and all your worth towards that one day. And, when the stress starts to build, the pendulum quickly swings from contentment to restlessness to anxiety.

In hindsight, I see some reasons why I should embrace each season:

  1. You’re going to miss out on those sacred moments.

    I see this moment capture in this picture above and my heart swells. I loved this guy when we took this photo, but I did not know what that love would mean in the coming weeks, months, and years. Engagement truly was a sweet time of preparation for marriage, and wedding planning allowed us to hop on our tandem bike using some training wheels. Our wedding was important and provided many joint decisions, but there were not terrible consequences if we got the color of flower wrong. Now, I see how these moments prepared us to make bigger decisions with bigger consequences, especially when it’s hard and especially when neither of us have a clue what is “right.”

  2. People are mobile.

    I think I became aware of this as my college days were closing, and I realized that all of the friends that were an arms length away would soon scatter to cities across the state and country. My very first co-worker friend was there for every step of my first years of teaching, he guided me, supported me, and gave me all his lesson plans. He was the first person I went to when a crisis arose, and he was a steadying force as I flailed around trying to figure myself out. Then, BAM, he moved away. People move away, people move on, and life keeps moving with it. And although this is the most cliches of all cliches, I really should treasure the moments that I have with the people around me. We have these specific days, weeks, months, or years together — and these are not guaranteed to be replicated.

  3. It’s only going to last so long.

    One of our good family friends mentioned this to me. After adopting her second kid as a baby, she shared with me that she no longer cares about if the house is messy or if everything gets cleaned. She’s keenly aware that these years of motherhood will only last so long, and although it’s all encompassing right now, it’s definitely going to be over.

  4. And when it’s gone, it’s gone for good.

    I’m never going to get back these first years of marriage, these first years of teaching, and these years in my 20’s. My twenties are already half gone — sheesh! In the thick of that first year of teaching, I felt everything deeply. Every triumph was as if I had just launched a rocket and successfully landed on the moon. Every disappointment was the feeling of doom as if someone had just snatched my ice cream cone and thrown it to the ground. Yet, now that it’s all over,  I look back on it and am thankful for those trials. My friend Sharon walked with me through that first year, and I see so much of her wisdom to be true…even though I didn’t see it clearly at all. This was a year of refining for me. I’m never going to get a year like that again (THANK GOD.) But, in all seriousness, it was here for a season — and for better or for worse — it’s never coming back.

What season do you need to embrace today?