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.

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.