Thrive

Two Books, One “Problem”

So a couple weeks ago I mentioned the nonfiction book Godspace. I’ve also been reading Thrive and it has been interesting to me how many overlapping themes both books have covered. The two books are written from two very different perspectives with different goals and in many ways are not the same at all.

Thrive

The author of Thrive is the cofounder of the Huffington Post and a highly successful business women in today’s culture. She was inspired to write this book asking us to consider (and re-consider) our culture’s definition of success and the impact it has on our “true” success. She explores an alternative definition, success based on more than money and power, encouraging readers to get sleep, unplug, and give to others. 

Same Difference

Here is one common theme – the importance of self-care, as distinguished and equally necessary to pouring out. The question: How do we define success?

Both authors shared from both their experience of culture and their own personal lives. Both were passionate about what they wrote and backed up their stories and ideas with outside perspectives.

A Second Revolution

I enjoyed the many and diverse quotes sprinkled throughout Thrive, including those of a more classical tradition. Huffington is of Greek ancestry and also shares about the important people in her life, especially her mother, sister and daughters. She says that it is going to be the WOMEN in our world who primarily lead the revolution for us to SLOW DOWN and to REDEFINE what really matters. She suggests that the first women’s liberation movement was just that – the “first” – and that now a second is needed.

Recommend

I did not agree with everything Huffington wrote, but I found her writing intelligent, her perspective on culture spot on and her candor refreshing. If you are looking for a perspective that challenges the status quo (and simultaneously reflects everything about it), give this book a read. The questions raised in both books are good ones, even if the solutions are only partially shared.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the ideas discussed in either book!!

Opinions, part 2

I wrote Opinions, part 1 because people’s opinions have felt weighty lately. People’s voices have felt louder than they should, in a way that they haven’t since that dismantling years ago. I wonder what God is up to.

One thing I learned before was that feeling as I am now was an indicator that I needed to withdraw from people and spend time with my Father. I learned that his voice was easier to discern in the quiet, and I grew to love the silence and the stillness. I learned how to fight to preserve this time as necessary for my soul. As a way to refuel so that I would be equipped to love others.

Something interesting happened as I began to experience freedom from the weight of people’s opinions. I became less self-trusting, and more self-confident at the same time. I knew my tendency, and as I spent time listening to God, I was more sure of how to listen and respond to people. I was able to wade through opportunities with freedom, confidence and joy.

When Jeremy and I got married, our separate, large communities began to feel like more than we could keep up with and we similarly felt the need to withdraw. We needed to spend time together and with the Father, building a foundation. Looking back, I feel like it was a gift, almost like the Father covered my ears with his hands so I didn’t even have the option of discerning opportunities.

As we have been drawn back into shared community more recently, I have felt the din of the crowd growing louder. And not just in community, but everywhere – at work, with family, old friends, new neighbors. My instinct is to withdraw, to assume I must have forgotten to spend time with my Father. I must need some quiet.

But I feel Him calling me into something different this time, and I’m perplexed. Am I hearing Him right? I feel like He is asking me to listen, to engage, to hear them. To be sure enough that He is leading me that I’m able to wade through opportunities and to discern to what and in what way to respond.

I don’t like it! I’m afraid I will give people’s opinions too much weight. That their voices will drown out His, and that I will be back on the roller coaster. It’s not that I haven’t struggled with this since, I have, I do. It’s something I keep coming back too, but now it almost feels like He is asking me to “get on board” and trust that He will be with me.

I wonder if He is reminding me of my struggle, making it feel fresh, so that I can relate to some women in my life who are learning similar lessons now. I wonder if it’s so I can right about it so others can read it. Or I wonder if it is His voice at all…

Am I trying to do more than He is calling me to? Am I doing what others want? What I want? What He wants? Or is all this simply a reminder to seek Him…

P.S. As mentioned last week, I wrote this post awhile back, and at the time was feeling “in the thick of it.” More recently, particularly, the last month or so, I’ve felt the call  to rest once again and enjoyed opportunity to do so. Interesting how God works, isn’t it? 

Free January De-clutter Calendar

 Have you ever found yourself staring at your closet, or your pantry, and wondering where do I even begin?

No one ever told me how long it takes to set up a house!

A year and a few months in and I’m still organizing…

I would like to simplify and minimize as well, but I’m finding that may be a later step to first sorting and rearranging.

For example, my goal is to have an appropriate amount of clothes for myself for each season – items that I like, that fit well and that actually coordinate. A bit like writing a rough draft though, I’m first having to sort through my clothes attempting to assign a season for each item before assessing the content of any particular season’s wardrobe. 

Between seasonal stuff and school stuff, the process was feeling daunting… until I found this January de-clutter calendar. Check it out… 15 minutes a day x 12 calendars a year = 365 days to organizational success!

Some tasks I’ve done already or in less time, others take longer, but the calendar’s been helpful to me to break the big process down into 15 minute increments and then GET STARTED. If I have time for more, great. If I don’t, I still feel like I accomplished something.

…maybe next year I’ll do a second round and we’ll actually own less stuff! 🙂

Opinions

I wrote this post last winter about circumstances which took place 6-8 years ago.

For most of my life, I have cared TOO MUCH about what other people were thinking of me. First, I made assumptions that I knew what they were thinking or that they were thinking of me, and secondly, I assumed (most of) these thoughts were critical. Maybe these assumptions reflect more what I was thinking of others than any accuracy of others’ thoughts!

I came face-to-face with my own approval addiction at age 27, and it was a dismantling that I found devastating. I began to see, for the first time, how my thoughts were my choice and how I was continually choosing to give people more weight than they could handle. My expectations were high, and while I had always ridden a roller coaster in light of my performance and others’ approval (or lack thereof), I began to see that I was choosing to “get on board.” I also began to experience a lack of approval from many different directions all at the same time.

I entered what I would say was possibly a bit of depression. I stopped caring about everything and didn’t know who I was anymore. During this time, I moved into my pastor’s family’s basement because I knew I needed people to speak truth to me. It was mostly awful… until it wasn’t.

My family was worried about me because they didn’t understand how someone who had always known she was a sinner could suddenly be discouraged by it. What had changed? Why was I dwelling on the bad news when there was more to the story? But you see, the good news isn’t really good until you know how desperately you need it.

As I began to experience the depth of my sin for the first time, I felt its’ despair, heaviness, hopelessness. I knew grace was undeserved, and I was in the midst of experiencing my sin being “worse than I knew.” All during this time, my pastor’s family and others around me spoke truth. I heard what they were saying and I watched how they lived.

They didn’t care for people in the way that I had always perceived care. They weren’t warm, placating or affectionate. In short, they weren’t trying to “make me feel better!” But I knew they cared about my soul. Like in a deep, “I-don’t-even-know-if-I-want-people-to-care-about-me-that-much” kind of way. It was uncomfortable, frustrating, and frightening because it challenged everything I knew.

I also made some dear friends during this time because unbeknownst to us, we were experiencing the same dismantling of our worlds. They were the ones who were in the trenches beside me, trying to make sense of what was happening. Together, we were trying to find ourselves, or perhaps trying not to lose ourselves.

It took a couple of years, this process of my kingdom crashing down and God’s truth actually becoming good news. I’m not exactly sure how or when it happened, but I know that it did, and I know that people were part of the process. A few years later, I visited a handful of people who I wanted to thank for their role in my process, and I was able to declare: God is good! and really mean it.

Reflecting on 2017

2017 was a difficult year. Challenging relationships at work, messiness in community, concern over friends and family who were struggling with various challenges of their own led to a physical response.

“Stress” we call it, but often we are unaware of just HOW MUCH damage it can do. Unconsciously and consciously, I absorbed the anxiety, the “cares” of those around me until I felt unwell. Feeling thus lead to more worry about “What was wrong” only exacerbating the root.

I felt gratitude over tests stating I was healthier than ever, but still I struggled to believe everything was okay. I have no doubt there was a spiritual element to all of this throughout, both reason to confess and circumstances that were just hard. I may never fully understand, but some things I have been reminded of –

There is VALUE in recognizing our limits – stating our boundaries, asking for help…

Sometimes, patient endurance despite seemingly random, but nonsensical circumstances is all you can do…

and finally, our thoughts, words, and actions impact our perspective, so choose carefully.

You are loved, even in the midst of your struggle, and I encourage you to keep paying attention (listening!) to the One who made you, learning to rest in Him.

From last January
Beloved

From the Listen series
Where is the voice of love in my struggle?

From the Rest series
Learning to Rest

GodSpace

One of my favorite authors has a new book out!

I was especially pumped about GodSpace before reading it because it promised to include topics that Keri Wyatt Kent has written about previously, in books which have challenged and encouraged me, while expanding in new directions.

Topics such as: Sabbath, Hospitality, Worship, Simplicity, Gratitude, Generosity, and Critical Thinking.

I was especially curious to see the big picture of how creating space for God connects to each of these topics from her perspective – years spent living and writing – knowing that I am particularly passionate about this concept and some of it’s implications.

I started reading GodSpace over the break, and I have not been disappointed!

It reaffirmed ideas I’m particularly passionate about in ways that encourage me to pursue living, reading and writing in a way that is unique to me. It also fleshed out inherent challenges in each of the topics presented, many of which I have or am wrestling with, and thus, also serves as a reminder that all of life is a journey. I appreciated hearing from someone who agrees spiritual practices are worth writing about, and who has gifts that are both similar and distinct from mine.

Highly recommend!

Unplugging

I spent the last week of the year (mostly) unplugged.

Digital Sabbath
For me, unplugging is primarily about disconnecting from my phone (and email). I’m fairly disciplined when it comes to technological limits, but it’s the needs and requests of others that trip me up. I’m conscientious so I think about EVERYTHING, A LOT. Often this translates to me spending time and energy on what another may not even take in.

So unplugging for me is a wonderfully freeing, yet challenging weekly routine that I’ve adopted to help me keep things in perspective. A reminder that I’m free to disengage, disconnect, and in fact, I’m not at all responsible for others. At the same time, a break often refuels my desire and capacity to connect with a renewed clarity on what’s important.

Interestingly, many in the technology industry are paving the way for a weekly digital detox, and as I learned while reading during my break, some are also taking the last week of the year off! I didn’t know about that last part until mid-way through my week, but I found the week to be a refreshing, though not easy detox.

Staycation
Here’s how my week went down. I was all caught up on my correspondence, it was Christmas, and I turned my phone on to put it on airplane mode… only to learn I was not all caught up on communication. For a moment, I hesitated, but then I realized there would always be “one more” and in essence, this was the very reason I had decided to unplug. So I did.

The first three days I felt liberated. Free from thinking about other’s concerns, coordinating anything, able to rest and enjoy. I felt this way despite some necessary communication which brought awareness of more requests. A needed reminder that most things really can wait. The fourth day felt luxurious, like I’ve accomplished what I set out to do, but an extra day is a gift so I’ll enjoy it. Yesterday and today have brought anticipation of re-connecting and a desire to give in early. I know I could, but I also know I’m free not to and that is a place I want to stay in all year – plugged in or not 🙂

Do you ever unplug? Comment below about your experience!

Resolutions 2018

I don’t usually make new year’s resolutions. Some people say they are designed to be short-term, as in everyone brainstorms great ideas that they try for a few weeks, or months, but ultimately, everyone plans to eventually fail at them. Who wants to sign up for that?

There are a few changes I want to make that are ultimately up to me. Some choices that I have the power to control. Some choices that have become habits that I don’t necessary want to do, but that it will take self-discipline to change. Some resolutions to begin as this new year begins that I hope will become more and more true in my life. So one thing I’m going to expect is to fail, but not to give up, to be gracious with myself in the slow process of change.

Here are two:

1. consistent sleep – a 3-part goal involving going to bed and waking up at a consistent time that allows for 8 hours of sleep!
2. less tv, more reading – sometimes it’s so much easier after a full day to watch a show, or 2, but Jeremy and I both want to spend more time reading as part of a way to unwind.

How about you? Did you make any New Year Resolutions this year?

4 new lives!

There is much to celebrate.

  • One of my oldest and dearest friends, Jenny from Virginia had a baby girl, Amelia Rose.
  • I was recently able to hold week old Millie Lynn, Laura the Lovely’s sweet, now 3 wk old baby.
  • My baby cousin Markie is all grown-up and GETTING MARRIED TODAY! Brianna, we are so bummed not to meet you in person, but excited for you both and all those who are able to travel to Ohio for what is sure to be a fabulous, fun and festive wedding!

Prayers for health, safe travels, and more joy for all.