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. 

Travel Journal: New Orleans

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This is a guide for all you homebody introverts who love a good adventure and want to see the world, but don’t love being drained beyond reason by the time you get home. In this series, I share my city tips on how to conserve your introverted energy and have the best time ever all at once. YOU. CAN. DO. IT. Some people like to call this traveling, but I like to call all trips a vacation. Welcome to a vacationer’s guide to easy travel. You’ll see me uses (+) to denote added energy and (-) to denote lost energy. 

5 Things to Do:

Ferry Boat Ride ($2 each way) 
Energy Level: +5

Practical, relaxing and scenic all at once. If you decide to stay across the river from the French Quarter, this provides views, seats, and a very short “cruise” across the Mississippi. Bonus points for a sunset ride and enjoying the water.

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City Park + Sculpture Garden all at once!
Energy Level: -5

This is just a park, but it’s a pretty park with great trees, interesting sculptures, and a playground. It was fun to walk around this area, appreciate the art, and take a break on a bench every once in awhile.

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Bourbon Street
Energy Level: -10000000

We simply just walked down the street and looked around. Josh bought a drink at one of the stands along the street, just to have the rebellious feeling of carrying a drink in the streets. New Orleans is the only city that allows it, so it’s basically a cultural experience, right? This is loud, dirty, entertaining, fun, and mostly draining if you hate crowds, but love a good scene. Walk through it anyway.

Jazz Bars
Energy Level: +5

After walking along Bourbon street, listen with your ears for the sound of live jazz. I’m sure you’ll find it – just walk towards it until you’re inside and sitting. Ahhhh, jazz music and sitting and drinking. The best. Once you’re inside and find a seat, it’s very relaxing and chill. It’s just getting there that’s the hard part! We went to Fritzel’s and Maison Bourbon Jazz Club. We looked up other places, but ended up here using our mere instincts and grit (ears). Let your ears guide you, people!

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Harrah’s
Energy Level: +2

Casino. So, this only works if you’re with someone who likes to play cards or throw away money into machines. Josh likes to play cards, or that’s what I call it. 😉 This is inside, which was great on a rainy day. It was a surprisingly calming to be in a clean space that felt organized and maintained. (Contrast: Bourbon) This is also called #compromise. I don’t play cards, but had a leisure stroll around the casino and thought about taking a small nap in the bar area. (I didn’t. But I could have. It’s all about having that option, you know?) I ended up watching Josh play cards which was actually entertaining.

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Book Shops: Mid-City Book Shop & Garden District Book Shop
Energy Level: +5

I love a good local book shop. It’s hard for me to justify dishing out $20 for the latest book, so I rarely every buy brand new books. But, I love looking at the locally featured authors and the selection that each shop has. It’s quaint, quiet, and cute – and that for sure refills my energy for a bit. Bonus points for sitting and reading part of a book for a bit, too.

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5 Things to Eat:

Cafe Du Monde (+5)

The line goes by super fast, especially at 11pm at night. Or, it did when we were there. It’s worth the wait to get a table and sit down, don’t be deceived by the “to-go” line that looks shorter. In my opinion, it’s probably not. This gets a +5 energy rating because SUGAR COFFEE DOUGHNUTS, ya hear?

Hansen’s Snow-Bliz Shop (+8)

Refreshing, snowy, and yum. This is a shaved ice place, but with ice that is super smooth and flavors that basically make it taste like ice cream. Thus, it’s the perfect blend between shaved ice and ice cream. Aka the best things ever invented.

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Canjun Seafood (-5)

Crawfish is hard work, so there’s that. There’s no pictures of this because who can pick up a camera when your hands have absorbed all of the juices involved in crawfish. So very tasty, but so much work.

Restaurant Rebirth (+100000000)

An introverts dream! Small, quiet, not crowded, comfy, great bathrooms, and the best and most fancy seafood we’ll ever eat. This is a fancy pants place where you have to be prepared to spend a lot of money, but it’s totally worth it. If anything, you can save all your money eating just this meal and beignets the whole time. It’s worth it. Best and most fresh seafood we’ve ever had. Reservations only. Do it.

Mojo Coffee (+2)

Low key coffee shop that is spacious, has good bathrooms, and good coffee. We had to sit outside in the cold, but that was a small price to pay for the laid back atmosphere and break from the hustle and bustle of the city. Bonus points for reading a book for just a couple of minutes. It’s always worth it.

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Summary:

New Orleans is known for being a crazy party city, but with the right stops throughout the day and a little bit of research in picking out a cozy, yet lively jazz bar for the night, it’s totally doable. I didn’t feel drained at all throughout this trip and my husband Josh and I were quite proud of our ability to stay out #alldaylong. Feel free to leave questions in the comments below! Happy vacationing!