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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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.

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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