On pressure

In thinking about enjoying a moment, I often think about how the pressure I place on myself can often rob me of the joy to be had in these moments.

It’s at work. On the days when I feel like I’ve lost my temper and failed to plan well, that I can’t stop and see the beauty of the tiny human souls in front of me. The giant grins on the children’s faces when I unknowingly make a joke, and the unsaid appreciation that occurs.

It’s in marriage. When conflict with Josh arises and I wish we didn’t have to argue, that I can’t see past the imperfections of our relationship aka our human nature. The understanding that is being built and the humor that always seems to pop up after the fact.

It’s in my time alone. When I wanted to clean that closet, but ended up not getting around to it or feeling up to it and just choosing to read a book or watch TV. Recognizing that what’s good for my soul is good enough for my time.

I don’t know about you, but there’s so many more places where I put pressure on myself to achieve, check off boxes, dream bigger, and “make the most of my time.”

Yet, in releasing that pressure, maybe I find more of where my heart truly is at and the ways that I need to rest, embrace imperfection, release unrealistic expectations, and take hold of the reality that is in front of me.

 

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N is for No

I either say No too much or not enough. It never seems like I have a balance of saying No in the right times or right places. Is there a book called The Art of NoI would tell you I’m going to be the one to write it, but I think I’ll say no to that after all. 

The following guidelines are for non life threatening or harmful situations. It’s for the trivial, but also the more serious. It’s written mostly from the perspective of an introvert guarding your social calendar. It’s for the pushover trying to forge boundaries around your preferences. It’s for the passive aggressive to be less passive and more assertive.

Top 10 (Optional) Guidelines of the The Art of No:

  1. You cannot abuse the answer NO.
  2. You can’t just say NO for no good reason, to avoid things that are good for you, or to hide from things that are scary.
  3. Use your NO’s wisely, but please do use it and stop overthinking it.
  4. Based on the top 3 reasons, you are allowed to say NO whenever you see fit.
  5. You are allowed to say YES than change it to a NO. You have the freedom to change your mind at any point in time.
  6. If you don’t want to do it, say NO. But, if it’s good for you in any shape or form, think first.
  7. You are allowed to say NO even when everyone else says YES.
  8. You are allowed to say NO even if everyone else expects you to say YES.
  9. You are allowed to say NO even if it might be a mistake, because there is always that risk no matter answer you end up picking.
  10. And, for crying out loud, let your NO be a NO.

What do you need to say no to?

M is for Marriage

I wrote this list when Josh and I were engaged. We had been thinking, reading, and talking a lot about how to “prepare” for our marriage. After awhile of talking about something for so much, there’s nothing else to say and there comes a time where you just have to walk through it.

After almost two years have passed, I see that these ideas are more true than I realized at the time. Here they are:

Things I thought I learned about marriage before it even started, but are still true today:
  1. Getting married doesn’t mean you have arrived. *girl tells story about problems in dating* “And look at us now, we’re married! So it all worked out!!!” ………No. Getting married does not make you a success story and it does not mean that you have arrived. It’s just the beginning. Marriage isn’t a trophy you tote around to talk about your success and victory in dating. No.
  2. Your past sin is not going to ruin your marriage. Maybe this one has a caveat. It won’t ruin your marriage…unless you let it. If it hasn’t been dealt with and brought into the light, then yes. If there is unforgiveness, then yes. I get where the idea that it’s going to doom your marriage would come from. But, just because it existed, that doesn’t mean that your marriage will suffer. There is healing. There is redemption. Jesus didn’t command purity so that when we failed he could use our failure to withhold good from us in the future. He commanded purity because it is for our good.
  3. Getting married doesn’t mean you have to have it all together. I’ve had this idea of what I would be like and what my husband would be like when we got married. It included perfection, an absence of sin, unwavering understanding of each other, and unattainable levels of maturity. That’s not reality. Our problems won’t be solved just because we get married. It isn’t some magical fairy land where the world stops and all your problems go away. Life goes on and the world keeps moving.

On this Valentine’s Day, Josh and I spent time thinking about our marriage and what it means. It’s crazy that tomorrow we are are speaking to college students about marriage. I hesitated to sign onto this because I just feel so beginner. Our marriage is in its’ beginnings still, we are finding our footing, and we are learning a lot.

I hope that we never stop learning a lot.

Through it all, I’m thankful for the parallel of Christ and the Church and a husband and wife. I’m thankful that the redemption that is easily seen in marriage, and for the joy it is to journey in the ups and downs with my favorite friend, partner, and husband.

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I’m thankful for this guy and for everything that makes him who he is. Thanks for making me smile this hard every single day. This one’s for you, Josh. I love you so much.

G is for Generations

G is for the generation of teachers that came before me. They have been more than just mentors and coworkers. Most importantly, they have taught me: 

Why Every 20-something Needs Friends That Are 40-something

I didn’t realize that I had magically warped into an adult until I had my first grown up job and was given an equivalent job description to somebody who could’ve been my own first grade teacher. All of the sudden, the playing field was even and I was considered a peer to the people who very well could have raised, taught, and babysat me.

I didn’t know how to handle this new dynamic. Should I be perpetually intimidated? Do I try to act  just as experienced as them? What do I do with my hands?

Yet, the beauty of a 40-something friend is that they don’t freaking care. They don’t care what I do with my hands or what I think of them or if anybody hates them. They are unashamedly themselves and want me to be the same. They aren’t competing or comparing or keeping up.

I admire that. Because, in many ways, that is the exact opposite of who I am. I care, way too much. I care about what people think about me, and how many people hate me, and how I’m stacking up to everyone else around me.

The ease at which they live their lives shows me what is possible. It is possible to not keep track of what everyone thinks of me. It is possible to not care that somebody is mad, and it’s possible to not take everything so dang seriously. It’s also possible to not take myself so dang seriously.

The decades of life experience that they have has shown me more of who I am, who I can be, and who I will be. These friends and mentors have seen me at my best and my worst. They’ve seen me acting like a capable adult, and also a blithering, crying millennial who just can’t even. They take it all in stride and help me recognize that some days are hard, and that’s just how life goes.

There seems to be comfort in being 40-something. I’m not saying their lives aren’t chaotic, they are. With their adolescent kids causing raucous through their homes and school hallways, they have their fair share of stress. But, I am saying that as far as it comes to being oneself, owning one’s inner strength, and knowing who you are and what you want – they seem to have found comfort in finding that for themselves. And, in each day, I am finding that for myself, too. 

What has shocked me the most is the blessing of the friendship that the decades of life that these coworkers possess have afforded me. Even though I still feel like just a kid to them, never once have they treated me like one. If anything, these people have challenged me to see more in myself and value myself way more than I do. I am forever grateful for the years spent learning alongside them, both as coworkers, and as human beings.

I’ll tuck these life lessons that I gained from them deeply in my heart. Not because they decided that they needed to impart life lessons upon me, but because I simply gained these lessons by watching them.

They may see me as the young, cool, and hip teacher… But, really, I hope that one day I’ll grow up to be as cool as them. Thank you, J & J, for being the first to be these people to me…even for just a short time. 

D is for Dance

In the month of February, I’m challenging myself to write more (everyday), share more, and risk more. Welcome to my A to Z series based on whatever came to my mind first. 😉 Enjoy the ride! 

In college, Josh and I took ballroom dancing classes. As part of the class, we had to rotate partners with a bunch of strangers. It was really fun, for the most part. But, the times where we had to polka around in quick circles with a partner that had no idea what they were doing left us feeling jostled and dizzy.

The communication with your partner matters. Our instructors often talked about teamwork and communication between partners, learning to read the intent of your partner by paying attention to their movements and gestures.

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There are so many analogies to draw between partner dances and a real relationship, so why not?

Here are some ways I think dancing has helped us IRL (in real life…am I relevant yet???) :

  1. Pay attention. While dancing, you have to pay attention to what the other person is feeling, thinking, and doing. If you don’t pay attention to the little signals, you don’t really know what to do. I think the most important thing that Josh and I have learned throughout our relationship is that it’s important to pay attention to each other. In giving the other your full attention, you don’t miss the little things. The little things add up to the big things and it’s a really easy way to remind the other of their worth.
  2. Don’t place blame, just take it. Both of you. When you get confused while ballroom dancing, it’s easy for the leader to place blame on the follower that they weren’t following well. Likely, it’s tempting to for the follower to imply that the leader wasn’t being very clear. Both instances place blame and point out a void in the other. It’s not a bad thing to help each other in certain weak points. But, we’ve realized the importance of each acknowledging our own responsibility and then communicating what could have helped. Obviously, we’re far from perfect at this and probably blame each other more often than not. Oops. We’re working on it.
  3. Have fun! Dancing is more fun if you’re trying to have fun! If we’re trying to be cool and fancy and “good at it,” it’s really not that fun. I feel like that’s the same thing as a couple. If I’m trying to think about how cool we look as a couple, or how much we don’t fight, or make sure everyone knows how much we are in love and support each other, I am way more easily perturbed with things that don’t matter. And, in the end, I’m not really having much fun. I think one of the greatest gifts of a friendship or relationship like this is that life’s experiences can be more deeply enjoyed because you’re with the other. Do it even if you’re not good at it, and have fun with it anyway!

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