Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Day 31-At the End at Last

Here we are-the final post of the 31 Days of Being the Person series!   Since Lucy inspired this series, I thought it would be fun to end with a picture that she drew at school.  I found this on her vocabulary worksheet.  That is sweat, not tears on that person’s face.
I have to admit, I’m a little relieved.  My sister said it best a few days ago.  She said that it must be challenging to take a close look at my life every single day.  It has been.  I’ve looked at the good of who I think I am and the gaps of who I want to be.

I noticed a few themes in this series.

I am so grateful for the blessings in my life.  I am grateful for where I am on this journey. 

I didn’t realize how much I still thought of survival mode.  It’s almost as if my body has some sort of muscle memory.  Even last night as I drove home after a late night of work and meetings, I caught myself remembering what that was like.  Driving to work in the dark.  Bracing for the fatigue.

Honestly, I’m glad that I still think of survival mode every once in a while.  It taught me many life lessons.  And it was in survival mode that I started to make changes.  I always thought that once I “had the job I wanted, made enough money” that I could start working on myself.  I had to start where I was.  I had to start with eyes that burned from sleep deprivation and bitterness from the burdens I carried.

In the past 31 days, I saw a lot of who I wanted to be.  Someone who encourages, who shows compassion and kindness.  Someone who is intentional about doing those things.  I would like to think that at times, I am that person.  But I need grace.  Because I make mistakes.  I am harsh when I could be gentle. 

I am also learning that trying to be this person is tiring.  I thought that maybe I was being selfish in saying that.  In admitting that there were days when I was empty, with nothing left to give.  But I wasn’t designed to carry the burdens of the world.  Those burdens are too heavy.  I am allowed to let those go.  I am allowed to rest. 

I hope that by reading this series, you didn’t interpret this as a guidebook on how to live your life.  I have been searching for how I should live.  Each one of us has our own journey.  There is no “right” way.

I also hope that you have been encouraged.  Encouraged to find the person that you want to be. 


This post is the last in my series:


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Monday, October 29, 2012

Day 30-Compassion

Most days, compassion leaves me a little raw and worn out.  Exposed to the pain of this world does that to your soul. 

Sure, a lot of it is the work that I do.  Meeting people at the worst moments of their lives, seeing them hurting.

Some of it is also being a parent.  Trying to protect the tender heart of your child.

I had no idea that when I had kids, I would ache for them at times.  Making friends, school work, dealing with a bully.  I simply had no idea.

Some of it is all of those other roles in my life-wife, daughter, sister, friend.  I want to be there.  I want to share in their stories.


There are days when compassion overwhelms me.

There are days when I have nothing left to give.


I don’t want to become someone who is numb to the world, numb to the pain of others, numb to the life around me.  That actually scares me.  That one day I won’t be fazed by the pain of this world.  That I will stop feeling.

That’s why it is so important to recharge.  And rest.

So when the next day comes, I will be able to share someone else’s story, ease someone’s ache.  And it will still sting a little.  The sting that reminds me of my humanity.


This post is part of my series:


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Sunday, October 28, 2012

Day 29-Kindness

A few days ago I attended parent teacher conferences.  I’m always interested to hear how the girls act when I’m not there.  What notes of their personality shine through.

I keep thinking about what Lucy’s teacher said.  She discussed how sometimes, she will pair off Lucy with some kids that may be a bit challenging for other students to deal with because “Lucy is patient and kind.”  That would have been embarrassing to cry at a conference, right?  Well, I didn’t.  So don’t judge.

My heart is still bursting with pride, though.

Kindness.  I love that word.  It implies caring and intention.

And it is a choice.

Every day I have moments where I want to be quick witted and mean (and sadly, sometimes I am), but every day I remind myself, “What can I do here that would be kind?”  It’s sad to me that sometimes the harsh response is the first one that comes to my mind, or the first response that I put into action.

I think about Lucy at school.  There’s often pressure to go with the rest of the kids when responding to a situation.  Lucy could make a choice to be cruel to kids who are different or simply distance herself from them.  Instead, she makes a choice to be kind.

What does kindness look like to me?  A smile, a caring word.  Taking the time to listen to someone’s story. 

Sometimes kindness is silence.  Not responding with a harsh comment or making a judgment on someone.  Sometimes kindness is tucking in a whiny, overtired child without giving a lecture.  Sometimes kindness is taking some quiet time for myself before the kids, who are just being kids, lose all their privileges for the day. 

Kindness is about those choices that I make.  I don’t always choose kindness.  I can ask for grace.  The grace to choose kindness in the next moment.


This post is part of my series:


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Saturday, October 27, 2012

Day 28-Taking Risks

Last week I mentioned that I wanted to go on a longer, challenging run but was stalled by how crummy I felt.  Part of that was fear.

Sheesh.  Common theme here.

It’s ridiculous how much power fear has over me.  I modify runs because I am fearful of getting lost on a trail or going too far until I’m worn out and can’t make it back.  I modify runs because I might have some pain (normal aches) and am fearful of getting injured.

This week, I ran that trail loop.  I ran on a cold, cold morning.  I ran after it had snowed, and the trail was muddy.  I had to stop several times to remove big chunks of mud from my shoes (hopefully mud and not horse poop).  I ran even though I wasn’t sure how to get to the trail that went back to my house.

When I finished, I was numb.  Literally numb, it was cold.  I took a super hot shower. 

I think the run was somewhere around 8 miles based on my time.  I can’t track it because I don’t remember exactly where I ran. 

The distance doesn’t matter.  I felt good exploring the unknown.  I felt good taking a risk.

I’m sure that Sister Runner would approve.


This post is part of my series:


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Friday, October 26, 2012

Day 27-Understood

As I have mentioned, over a year ago, I started to make some real change.  There were moments that helped me change my perspective.  Words that I heard before pierced my heart that summer. 

One of those moments that summer was in church.  So here I was, in the middle of this change, starting to feel that shift in perspective and still burdened by survival mode, and this was one of the readings:
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened,
and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me,
for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  
For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.
Matthew 11:28-30
I had heard this before.  That day, I was struck by the verse.  That day, my heart was understood.  That day, I was being called to give away my burdens. 

I wish I could say that at that moment, I felt relief.  To be honest, I started to feel the full weight of the burdens I had been carrying.  The overwhelming exhaustion.  The uncertainty of change.

It was so hard.  I worked seven days a week, I couldn’t rest.  I had to go another job.  I felt so isolated.  It was as if Billy and the girls were completely separate from me. 

On that day, in that moment, I felt understood.  No one else “got” it.  Family and friends tried to sympathize with me.  They listened.  They made suggestions.  But they never understood the weary in my heart.  I couldn’t expect them to.

There was comfort in the understanding-all you who are weary and burdened.  Yes-that was me.  It wasn’t just the physical drain.  I always thought I had to carry the weight of our family.  I had to do the “right” thing.  And what was in my heart-the bitterness, the fatigue, the glimpse of hope-was all understood in that moment.

I knew that I had to let go of these burdens.  And there was relief knowing that-you will find rest for your souls.  I was allowed to let go. 

Of course, that was only one moment in a string of moments that helped me change my perspective. 

That verse strikes me today.  My life looks a lot different.  I don’t have the same burdens and worry, but they don’t just disappear forever. 

They can become replaced with new worry. 

But I am understood.  My heart is understood.  And I am allowed to let go.

 **I also wanted to say "Hi!" from all of you joining me from 2day I Choose.

This post is part of my series:


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Thursday, October 25, 2012

Day 26-Balance

I am guilty of getting caught up in the to-dos of life.  I wake up in the morning, and my eyes scan for projects-laundry that needs to get done, garbage that needs to get taken out.  In the evening, there are dishes to be done, clutter to be put away.  I’m constantly seeing projects.

And of course, in the middle me trying to accomplishing the to-dos, the ladies are always wanting attention.  A story that needs to be read, homework to be checked, a game to be played.  A moment.  They want a moment with their mama.

I’m going to let that sink in for a moment.  Every day, I have people who want to hang out with me.  I am truly blessed.  And it really is as simple as that.

Instead, I often struggle to find this balance.  The balance of the to-dos vs. living.  I feel that I am often at one end of the extreme, rarely in the middle.

So where was I today?  Closer to the middle. 

I spent some time tonight working on those to-dos and then hung out with the girls.  I asked Lucy if I could hang out with her while she played with her doll.  I love to watch them play.  To see the tender care she gives to her babies.  And I enjoyed the moment.

Some days I may be closer to that balance than others.  And those days when I am feeling guilty about being on the extreme of the to-dos, well, I need to ask for grace and move on.  I think that’s the best I can expect.  Hey, perfection doesn’t exist.


**On a sidenote, I wanted to let all of you know that I (hopefully) made it easier to leave comments on my posts by eliminating the “prove you are not a robot” option.  I did this because of some feedback on how difficult it was to read those prompts and leave comments.  I hope this helps!



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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Day 25-Daydreaming

I’ve been reading some really lovely blog posts lately about being still and getting rest.

It has made me think about how I fill the moments in my life.  Not the big moments, but the small moments.

How often do I have a minute to sit down, and I check my phone or the computer?  Too many.

My mind can’t rest.

I’ve noticed that one of those places where my thoughts really come together is in the car.  I should specify that this is when I’m driving alone. 

On my way to work today, I was listening to some good music on the radio.  My mind started to wonder.  Wonder about things I haven’t had time to think about.  My brain needed quiet to process the life around me.

It reminded me of a time years ago when I was making a lot of long drives by myself.  Spending 10 hours in the car by yourself, without cruise control and only a radio, is a great way to have some quiet time for your brain.

Without this quiet time for my brain, without time to daydream, I feel unfocused.  I feel that I keep going from one thing to the next but I start to lose focus.  Sometimes I get so caught up in the to-dos that I forget about my larger goals.  Real goals, not to-dos about emptying the dishwasher or putting away the laundry.  Real goals about being the person I want to be.

Some nights I intend on reading after I’ve climbed into bed.  Instead, I might find myself staring blankly at the wall for a while.  Billy must think I’m crazy when he walks in.  “Do you want me to turn out the light?” he asks.   “No, I’m awake,” I answer.  There’s something really soothing about letting your mind be completely empty, letting it wonder to a new thought.  I haven’t been doing this enough lately.

So tonight after the girls are asleep, I may spend some time staring at the wall.  My brain will thank me in the morning.


This post is part of my series:


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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Day 24-Connection

Have you ever seen the movie, “Field of Dreams?”  If you haven’t, well, I don’t know what to say.  I won’t judge you, but clearly you aren’t a fan of baseball…or America.  Ok, that last statement was a little judgey. 

There’s this quote in the movie where one character (Dr. Graham) is explaining to another character (Ray) why he gave up on a career in baseball and returned to his small hometown in Minnesota.

“This is my most special place in all the world, Ray. Once a place touches you like this,

the wind never blows so cold again. You feel for it, like it was your child.”


Have you ever felt this way about a place?  So connected?  Maybe there are a few places that touch your soul like this. 

I definitely have a few happy places (as I call them).  Places where I can go that bring me great joy.  Sometimes I can’t explain why, but I feel a connection with the place.

I also have my peace place inside my house.  A place where I can go to get away…to retreat.

When I feel a connection with a place, it brings me peace.  It helps me to relax.  To breathe.  Sometimes I forget to breathe.  I forget to take a deep breath and feel connected.

Today my dad sent me some pictures for my blog.  I’m pretty impressed that he knew how to do this.  He sent me pictures from one of those places I feel connection with.  A place of retreat.

Today, I needed to see those.  So tonight, as I sit here, I am taking a deep breath.  And even though that place is far away, I am feeling connected.


This post is part of my series:


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Monday, October 22, 2012

Day 23-Tenderness

I have been putting off this post.  This post about how to encourage Lucy.  Mainly because it is such a reflection of my faults as a parent.

Lucy has the unfortunate experience of being first in the birth order, which means that she bears the brunt of my parenting mishaps.  They are somewhat ironed out for Katy.

So this post, well, it cuts a little close.  It’s hard to take a look in the mirror and see your faults.  Especially when those faults are imposed on your child.

Lucy has a quiet, gentle spirit.  She is caring and kind.

And there are moments that I find myself being harsh to this precious girl.  I just want her to do her homework, and I don’t want any complaining.  I just want her to get ready for school.  I just want to work on my to-dos without interruption. 

Notice a theme here?  I’m noticing a couple, if I’m going to be honest here.  The first is that this is about me and my “wants.”  This really isn’t about Lucy.  The second is that I often expect perfection when I know that it does not exist.

Lucy needs my tenderness.  Lucy is encouraged by positivity and kind words.  My harshness doesn’t do anything, except maybe set her up for a bad day at school or drive a wedge between us.  Or drive a wedge between the person I am and the person I want to be.

Lucy is spot on with her wisdom.  She has always taken in the world.  She recognizes those moments that should be treasured.  She inspires me to be the best version of myself.

So instead of feeling a heap of guilt about who I have been with Lucy, I am going to think about who I want to be with Lucy.  Gentle.  Tender.  Understanding. 


This post is part of my series:


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Sunday, October 21, 2012

Day 22-Quiet Gratitude

Tonight I am going to bed content.

I rested this weekend.  I drank lots of hot tea. 

I also ran 15 miles over the course of three days.  I realize that may not seem restful, but I needed the renewal.

I did lots of laundry.  And dishes.

I spent time with my family.  We got our pumpkins.  Katy snuggled with her mini pumpkin when we watched Harry Potter.

I only made soup once.

I was grateful. 

I had moments this weekend that took me back to survival mode.  When I drank my first Emergen-C on Friday, I remembered how often I would take those when I worked all the time.  Trying to stay afloat.  When I got sick during survival mode, I had to keep pushing through.  I still had to work that second job.  There wasn’t time to rest.

This weekend, there was time to rest.  I am so incredibly grateful.

Gratitude doesn’t always happen because of those big moments.  For me, a quiet sigh of relief brings gratitude.  I know my journey.  I know how it used to be.  This is one of those moments when I can reflect on the past and be grateful for the present.  And be grateful for the day ahead.


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Saturday, October 20, 2012

Day 21-Present

I was going to do a general post on encouraging my girls, but I realized that I can’t lump them together into one.  They are so different.  Encouraging them looks different too.

Katy knows what she wants.  And she isn’t afraid of voicing her opinion.  She isn’t rude, just blunt.

She’s so tough at times, that I almost forget that she’s all mush inside.  When a bully said, “You aren’t my friend” at the bus stop a few weeks ago, Katy nearly melted.  It broke my heart to have to put her on the bus when she was so tender and raw.

Katy has a wild stubborn streak that I both admire (as a bystander) and am unnerved by (as a parent).  I’m sure my parents would say she takes after me.  Billy’s would say she takes after him.  I’m just going to point out that only one of us still has that stubborn streak as an adult…1.2.3…not it! 

Katy tries to act bigger than she is, but the fact is, she’s still a little girl.  And this little girl often needs a good dose of recharging and family time.

When I notice that she’s starting to act out and get upset, she’s either tired or we haven’t spent any time together…or both.  Getting caught up in the to-dos of life, I often overlook spending precious time with this little one.  And her behavior is quick to remind me.

So encouraging Katy looks like hanging out, spending time with her, showing her that she matters.  She likes to snuggle, read books, color together and watch the Food Network.  She loves to “help” me cook.  She will often break out into song and dance.  You can tell that she is content when she’s singing.  She’s been known to break out into some classic rock, like The Who.  All that she asks, is for me to be present. 

Her spirit often lifts mine up.  I remember one time, during survival mode, when I was tucking her into bed.  I was so tired from sleep deprivation.  I laid my head down on her belly.  She started stroking my hair saying, “It will be ok.”  Each night, she sneaks out of her room almost immediately after I tuck her in for more snuggles and kisses.  The song in her heart is clear every day.

I hope that as she grows, I will continue to show her that I am here, I am watching, and she is loved.


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