Daily grind tip

*Big thanks to my friend Henry Petty for sharing his thoughts with us in today’s post.*

timeDuring the daily grind, we seldom find time for ourselves or a chance to really focus on “me”.  This is a great technique to cope with the daily life, to break it up a bit, to focus on yourself and to care for yourself.  If you’re finding yourself wondering where the day has gone and going to bed feeling empty and unfulfilled, this is for you.

Get an app on your smartphone that will go off every 2 hours during the day (there are lots out there).  When that timer goes off, stop what you’re doing and think to yourself, “How do I feel?  What do I need right now?”

copingcards.jpg (2)Take a few really deep breaths, scan your body and see what kind of pain is there, what it is that you need in the moment, and how you are feeling.Then try some techniques to relieve that feeling or to make yourself feel better.  It could be going for a brisk walk, doing some deep breaths, stretching, maybe listening to some stand-up comedy on YouTube, or listening to your favorite song.  Whatever that is, write it down on an index card.

This coping technique will not only break up your day, but will also make you feel good about doing something…for you!  It will show how grateful you are to be here, to be doing something loving and kind for yourself.

When you have made a stack of index cards, punch a little hole in them and put a keyring or something in them so you can refer to them every day.

We plan. God laughs.

pauseOur plans for the entire weekend fell apart.

A workshop I planned on hosting had to be rescheduled due to dangerous weather conditions. I felt so disappointed. I’d been looking forward to the chance to see old friends and benefit from the shared experience, strength, and hope during the workshop. I was elated that my new friends would have the chance to meet my old friends, too. But since safety was prioritized over excitement (wisely so), we cancelled the night before. At the last minute, I found myself frantically calling people who were planning to attend, letting them know about the cancellation and that the workshop would be rescheduled. In the hubbub of cancelling plans, I forgot to cancel our restaurant reservation and later apologized profusely to the woman who called to be sure they had the right date on their calendar.

The next day, we had plans to attend my sister’s 30th birthday celebration. I made some fabulous hummus and planned on picking up some veggies to go along with it. I picked out a yellow sundress for my baby to wear and my new shirt and khaki pants for myself. I even ensured I’d have plenty of time to bathe and genuinely fix my hair–and that’s rare these days, folks.

But Sunday morning, my niece fell victim to a stomach virus, and vomit was the cancellation culprit. My little sister changed her plans and went on a mini road trip instead. I was bummed that I wouldn’t get to celebrate her birthday with her and sad that I wouldn’t get to spend time with the rest of my family, either, especially on such a beautiful day.

My mentor reminded me over the course of the weekend that, “We plan. God laughs.”

This might be the theme of my life.

I am anal to the nth degree when it comes to planning. I do not like last-minute changes. I certainly do not like guests showing up unannounced. I want to know the date, time, and menu for holiday gatherings at least one month in advance, and preferably two. When I managed the career services department at my alma mater, I created a year-long to-do list, month by month, and my former administrative assistant still uses it to this day to keep herself and others on task and working ahead to avoid scrambling and last-minute chaos.

God knows all of this about me. And He certainly is amused by my inability to give in, flex my schedule, and let go of my plans. I believe this is why He has repeatedly put me in situations that require flexibility, adaptability, and total lack of control. I have made progress. But I’m still a planner by nature.

This weekend, I learned that there are always gifts to be discovered when plans go awry.

Our daughter napping during the rain this weekend

Our daughter napping during the rain this weekend

As my husband, daughter, and I waited for any stragglers who might show up at the cancelled workshop, I brewed a pot of coffee and enjoyed a doughnut we picked up on our way. A friend showed up to post a cancellation notice on the door, handmade by his daughter (and totally adorable). Two of his beautiful and rambunctious daughters accompanied him, and they had the chance to meet our baby and hold her and squish her cheeks for a while. As I nursed my baby in the next room, I heard through the old, thin walls my husband chatting with my friend, discussing landscaping and offering help to one another. The heavy downpour sounded light, steady, and calming to me as I sat right next to a large window, watching the rain cascade onto the shrubs, sipping a hot cup of coffee as my daughter nursed her way to sleep.

Sunday, after the birthday party was cancelled, I found myself with an entire day that required no plans, no schedule, and no need to wear real clothes. So I stayed in my comfy pajamas, wrote my teaching philosophy in preparation for a job interview, and took a much-needed nap that afternoon while my daughter did the same.

Sunset on the porch with my baby

Sunset on the porch with my baby

As I watched the sunset with her on our rickety old porch later that evening, I thanked God for the changes in our plans. I had needed time to breathe, time to write, and time to rest. I just didn’t know it because I hadn’t stopped moving long enough to admit to myself how totally exhausted I felt.

I plan. And sometimes God laughs.

This weekend, I think He just shook His head, orchestrated changes, and smiled as He watched me savor my coffee, gaze at my sleeping baby, cover myself with three blankets at three o’clock in the afternoon, and admire the damp, green life light up in our yard as the sun melted over it.

 

 

It’s about time!

Photo by Sarah Crowder of Phoopla Photography

For the first time in four years, I’m going on vacation.

Four years is considerably too long for a person to go without taking a real break from real life for a really long time (well, at least for a week). But life happens–at least, my life happened to me, and I found myself pinching pennies, getting divorced, and working multiple jobs to make ends meet.

Thankfully, when James and I moved in together, he decided that I’d spent way too long taking care of other people and working myself into a tailspin. When I searched for a job after relocating back to my hometown, he suggested that I look for something that would give me flexibility, a lower level of stress, and bring me some level of happiness.

It took me a while to climb aboard the S.S. Wallace, kick up my heels, and hold onto a tall glass of lemonade (or a nice cold beer) and let go of the ingrained notion that if I weren’t making more and more and more money, I must be doing something wrong. Choosing to make less money–by choosing a job which brought me happiness and plenty of flexibility–proved to be the right decision for me at the time. Later, when I started working part-time instead of full-time, I decided to spend the extra time going back to graduate school.

Now, having just finished my first semester of school and feeling pretty darn proud of myself for pulling excellent grades, I’m heading off to the beach with my new handsome husband to kick up my heels and grab a glass of lemonade (hold the beer. . .  I’m pregnant :).

I couldn’t be more grateful.

P.S. Please forgive the temporary lack of posts while I build sandcastles, fish right along the beach, and consume as much delicious seafood as possible.

Living a Kit Kat life

Thankfully, I finished my first semester of graduate school with flying colors.

It reminds me of the way I felt as an undergrad during Christmas and summer breaks; I always felt like I’d just jumped off a train and couldn’t stop the forward momentum in my body. For the first few days, I had the eery sense that I should be doing something else–writing, reading, studying, something! But there was nothing else to do. So I finally rested.

Perhaps due to my pregnancy, or maybe as a result of age or maturity, I certainly have no problem jumping off the train now. The same night I finished my last final, it was an easy transition from desk to couch, popcorn in hand.

I remember many other times, when I was younger, driven to earn more money, and motivated by comparing myself to other people I graduated with, I frequently felt completely exhausted, overwhelmed, and tense because of the number of duties I’d willingly tossed onto my overflowing plate. But I kept saying “yes.” Volunteer for another fundraiser? Yes, please. Add one more social engagement to a calendar spilling over with obligations? Sure, no problem.

I’m grateful that today, I’m no longer motivated by the desire to earn more money, and I very rarely catch myself comparing Bethany to everyone else. I revel in the moments when I can do what I love. I live a Kit Kat kind of life, taking breaks when I need them and refusing to feel guilty for doing so. I create more of these moments by minimizing the number of times I say “yes,” making sure each of those times reflects not only a genuine desire to help but also is matched by a plentiful opening in my proverbial planner (I don’t even own a planner anymore, by the way).

It feels wonderful.

You should try it.