Tuesday, March 22, 2016

On Choosing No

Image source: Supernatural Underground

I'm a people pleaser, at heart.  It's not something I'm particularly proud of, and it's something I wish I could change about myself.  I get really upset with myself when I disappoint someone or let them down, and recently, I'm struggling to be ok with having to let people down sometimes.  I try not to complain very much regarding my work-school-home life balance, mostly because I know that I have chosen all of these things for myself.  I chose to be the breadwinner for our family until Scott finishes school and to be married to him and supporting him as he finishes his program.  I chose to apply to graduate school and to begin a program while still working full-time.  I chose to buy a home that needs a lot of TLC even in the midst of busy-ness at work and school.

But what I'm having to choose now is the word no.  And I'm not a no person.  I'm a yes! person.  I say yes to everything, whether it's babysitting for someone on a work night or going out to dinner when I know money is already tight, or grabbing a cup of coffee with someone when I really should be doing my readings for school.  I stretch myself very thin by saying yes! to everything because I don't want to miss out on any one part of my life.  But I'm getting tired.  And I'm starting to feel overwhelmed.  And I'm looking at our bank account and our half-stripped wall and the amount of sleep I'm getting each night, and I'm needing to choose the word no to preserve my physical and mental health.

There's a verse in the Bible, in Matthew 5, that says to let your "yes" be "yes" and your "no" be "no."  Lately, my "yes" means maybe.  And instead of being authentic and intentional in how I live, I'm being wishy washy and flakey.  I'm committing to plans that I have no business committing to, and when I back out of them, I'm left feeling guilty for letting someone down.  The other day, someone asked if I wanted to go see a movie with them this week, and I just flat out said no.  And my friend looked surprised, but I felt good in saying no.  Because it meant that I had freed myself from being flakey at the last minute and backing out of plans-- it meant that I was confident that it wasn't a good use of my time or money to go see a movie on Wednesday.

I remember when I was in high school at NCSSM, a place where I was challenged with saying no more than ever before, we were told that we could choose 2 of the 3 S'es: sleep, study, social life.  They said that if we did all 3 while there, we would surely find that each area suffered.  So instead, choosing 2 out of 3 to do well was recommended and encouraged.  It was like we were granted permission to say no to some things.  For me, I chose sleep and studying.  My social life was minimal but I still made friends, and people understood that other things needed to come first.  I wish that all of life came with this permission to choose to say no to things that will not benefit you or provide a full, rich life.

I don't think that it's healthy to always say no, in the same way that I've learned that it's not always healthy for me to say yes.  I'm desperately searching for that balance.  I don't have many friends that are in the place I'm in-- a place of being young and married, being the primary financial support for the family, and balancing full-time work and school schedules.  I'm not trying to overly romanticize this or make myself seem like a victim, but it feels lonely sometimes.  It's hard to choose no when friends from work are going out to dinner after a tough shift and I am choosing to go home to dinner with my husband or piles of schoolwork.  But I know that it's better than choosing yes and feeling guilty about it later for either overspending, not completing necessary schoolwork, or having to back out of plans last minute.

So mostly, this is a post to ask for forgiveness and grace when I have to say no.  It's not that I don't want to grab dinner with old friends or spend hours at the mall on a day off.  It's not that I am being selfish or stingy or a prude.  It's that I feel like I'm falling apart when I try to do it all, and in the spirit of my word nurture this year, I'm having to choose no every now and then.

Thanks for your listening ear and your grace.


Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Small Joys: volume 23

I'm one shift away from Spring Break and am so READY for a little break from work and school.  I have a couple of books tucked away to read and am hoping for warm weather, sunshine, and lots of time to decompress.  Grab your cup of coffee this morning and let's read about what's going on this week.

No. 1: Fresh Thyme coffee.  Oh my, this is a dangerous new habit that I've formed.  It's the first joy of the week mainly because I'm sipping it as I write this and have found that it gives me life (or energy, at least) in the midst of long reading assignments and papers for school.  One of our friends introduced us to the Salted Caramel roast and we've not been the same since.  It comes in whole bean, too, which we really like since we grind our own coffee at home.  If you're near a Fresh Thyme grocery store, don't walk past that coffee aisle! Grab a bag :)

No. 2: Becoming an Aunt/Uncle!  Scott and I found out at Christmas that my sister-in-law and her husband are pregnant!  We just found out this week that it's a sweet baby boy.  They are coming to visit us in April before she gets too pregnant to fly, and I can't wait to see her cute little baby bump.  We are so excited to welcome this new life into our family and only wish that we were living closer so that we could be there for all of the little moments that make having a little one so special.

Ashley & Chris announcing their baby boy!

No. 3: Apple Bourbon Candles. Alright, so I realize that Apple Bourbon is more of a fall scent, and you know how much I love fall and would celebrate year-round if possible, but this is just a scent that I find universal for all seasons. Firstly, Goose Creek makes 26 pound versions of this candle, which I accidentally ordered.  I was secretly hoping (after realizing my mistake) that it would still arrive and that Scott would let me keep it, but he cancelled the order.  What a mean guy! Now we have three smaller versions of the candle, which can be found here: Goose Creek.  I found a 3 for $30 deal on this particular one a few weeks ago and scooped them up.  This scent fills your home and makes you want to grab a blanket and a good book to read for the afternoon.

No. 4: Book Club. After living up here for over 2 years and waiting around to join a book club (only to find that none of my friends were in one)-- I started one! I was part of a really special book club back home in NC with some of my best friends, and I was missing that connection over books and friendship up here.  We had our first book club meeting this past week and it went really well! I was ill prepared and was still blow-drying my hair when guests arrived, but I think it was a nice way to connect with friends.  I decided to merge several friend groups and was nervous about how this would go, but it seemed to work out ok.  I'm happy that other people are committed and excited about all of this.  

No. 5: Half Marathon Training.  After a couple of years off from training for half marathons, Scott and I picked it up again a few weeks ago.  Have I mentioned that I hate going to the gym? I loathe it, yet I pay $40 a month for the "option" to go.  I haven't been since the first month I signed up for it.  Mostly because I love being outdoors for exercise when I can.  It takes care of my physical and mental well-being when I can be outside for exercise.  In a gym, I feel the pressure of comparison and a need to do better.  Maybe that's a good thing, in some ways, but for me, it's stressful.  Probably the wisest thing for me to do would be to end my gym membership, but I still want that "option."  Oh, what problems I have!  In any case, running outside has been really fun and really good for my mental health.  We're training for a half marathon in May with some of our friends who are actually going to run a full marathon when we (hopefully) go to Alaska this summer! (Alaska trip pending my school schedule, but I'm super hoping we can go with our friends!)

No. 6: Breakfast casserole.  This is a new thing that's changing my life. Our friends Mary and Corey had us over for breakfast one morning and had a "Christmas morning" breakfast casserole prepared that Mary's family always makes for the holidays.  We devoured it, and I promptly marched home to make my own.  We make it in a big 13x9 dish and it's out go-to for morning breakfasts now when we're heading to school or work.  Looking to simplify morning breakfasts in a delicious, healthy way? I modeled mine after this recipe with minor modifications.  I won't lie, I just throw things into a dish when I cook and go by taste/smell/consistency, so I'm not a great one to talk to when you're wanting a detailed recipe.  But it's been delicious so far, and I'm a fan!

No. 7: Sushi dates.  I had forgotten how much I loved sushi.  I recently got a craving and made Scott stop at the grocery store so I could pick up some of Marsh's freshly made sushi.  I'm not weird about grocery store sushi, especially if I see it being made right in front of me.  We've been on a sushi kick ever since and have visited our favorite sushi restaurant, Asaka, twice in the past couple of weeks.  Day dates can be so fun!

No. 8: Running the downtown canal.  With half marathon training, I'm looking for different places to run other than just my neighborhood.  We're lucky in the fact that we live a few blocks from the Monon bike trail that runs through town, so I hop on there to do my runs on most days.  But sometimes I like going downtown and running the canal, for a little change in scenery.  I love the views of downtown from the canal.

No. 9: Vacation nails.  One of my friends from work, ShaRita, had a really fun color of nail polish on recently.  I commented on it, and she told me she was "channeling her inner vacation."  I immediately loved this idea and got my nails done in a color called Toucan Play This Game by OPI.  Check out how fun this inner vacation nail polish is:

Hello, vacation!

No. 10: Facebook/Instagram hiatus.  My life has been so much richer and fuller since I gave up Facebook/Instagram for Lent.  I have still been getting on Facebook for work purposes (we post trades/overtime, etc. in a forum on there), but the amount of time spent on there for work purposes is nothing compared to how much time I was spending on there previously.  I deleted the Facebook/Instagram apps from my phone which has made it way easier.  I think I was spending hours just scrolling through posts on my phone.  Now, I have a lot more down time, and I'm honestly thinking about keeping this up once Lent is over.  Every time I'm on Facebook, I'm comparing my life to those posting new/exciting things about their lives on there.  

Comparison is the thief of joy.

That quote rings true in my life when I am constantly on social media, peering into the lives of other people.  When I'm not, I'm way more content with where I am and what I'm doing.

Hope you all have a great rest of your week and weekend ahead!

Lots of love,