Saturday, March 9, 2013

The Lost Art of Selfishness

Selfishness is a lost art.... Not the selfishness that might first come to mind –spending money you don't have or making decisions that benefit one to the detriment of all. That concept of selfishness is something we need to purge from our society in general.

I am thinking of the kind of selfishness that most of us have given up in favor of selfLESSness.... The selfishness we need is the kind that allows time for family and time to ourselves; saying “no” to taking on one more project or hosting one more event... As moms (and even worse –working moms) we often think selflessness is the way of life and more is better – more sleepovers, more play dates, more sport participation. We forget sometimes saying no is in someways an opportunity to say yes – freeing up time for spontaneous fun or just relaxed family time.

We also forget that we need time for just ourselves too. I have been blessed (although sometimes I didn't see it that way) over the last three years with the opportunity to take time for me. I've read lots of books (both fiction and non-fiction), taken lots of runs and even managed one or two solo getaways. I've had the time to see where I've been, to forgive myself my mistakes and to get an idea of where I want to go (and to pray for the vision of where He wants me to go!). It has been time well spent, time I encourage others to take. So often when we have a major life change – a move, a divorce, a new job – we want to take off running, to make friends, find a new lover, make our mark. Learning to step back and see the road ahead is a skill well learned and can often translate to even more success in the new season of life.

One of the things I've discovered from all this 'me' time – it isn't something I'm willing to give up! My quiet mornings spent reading, my snowdays spent writing, my runs – all make me the person I now am. I have no desire to return to that hard-charging career-minded person who always says yes. I find the balance of today is much more exciting, challenging and rewarding.

So go be selfish today –take a few minutes (or hours!) to yourself. Discover it isn't always a bad thing to do!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

The Process of Life

Life is such a process. And so often, we want to push that process – make it move on our time. To be “over” that hurt or injustice quickly, like ripping a band-aid off to get the pain over faster. We spend our youth waiting for the next milestone – drivers license, high school graduation, college selection.... Then we reach that coveted adult status and start looking to marriage and children – then we can't wait for them to grow up so we can travel (or just sleep through the night!). And then our children are suddenly grown up and we wish so much they could regain that innocence, that we could smell that sweet baby smell on them again...

And this process doesn't necessarily apply to just emotional milestones . When we were in Afghanistan an aid worker commented once that there is a process to development as well. A country moved too quickly through the process is never really successful – they don't learn the lessons of each stage to apply to the next more technical or industrial phase. Sometimes I think this is true of people as well.... We have to move through each stage to be successful in the next one.

And, we each have to travel our own road through life; no two trips are the same.
Even someone who is experiencing similar life stressors, who may be walking the same walk, will describe much different scenery. I have a very good friend who I am so thankful for, who has been sharing similar experiences for the last two years. We often laugh that it is a good thing we don't fall apart on the same days; if we did who would carry who?? In reality, we both fully recognize who is in control (and it isn't either of us!!) and know if we both stumbled at the same time there is still another there to pick us up and carry us along.

And when you finally reach the end of a difficult journey and the light is so bright at the end of what has been such a dark tunnel you can see that the struggle was worth it. Without all the lessons learned it would be impossible to be successful at this new place, this new stage of life. Sometimes the darkness helps you to appreciate the light all that much more!!!!

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Jeremiah 29:11

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Happy New Year 2013

Hard to believe another year has passed... It seems just yesterday I was sitting at this same laptop, typing up a list of goals I had set out in January 2011! I seem to have missed the list in 2012.... January is one of my favorite times of the year when everything seems so fresh and new; our slate is wiped clean and things seem so much more attainable. The beginning of school has a similar feel but that often stresses me out more with the pressure of new teachers and the school supply list that grows every year.

This year has started like most – I tackled closets: thinning and purging for all three of us the things we've outgrown or just won't wear anymore. I (finally!) cleaned off the laundry room counter and found a place to put all the charging stations for the various cordless tools. And, what was the biggest chore on my list became one of the best afternoons: cleaning out the garage. I put both kiddos to work, initially to a litany of complaints, sweeping and sorting all their outdoor toys. What was initially the most daunting of the cleanup – taking apart our old soccer goal – became the most eye opening. I pulled the goal out and handed my boy a box of tools (the rotten net had gone several months before but the rusted nuts were too time consuming on my first attempt). He promptly set to work finding the right tool and enlisting his sister to hold the pliers when things needed it. He managed to safely dismantle the frame and then together they cleaned everything up. I was so impressed by his maturity and diligence – not quitting when the right tool was hard to find or yelling at his sister when she tried to help. My lesson – he is growing up and ready to handle more responsibility (and needs to be challenged like this more often). I might have to invest in a safer/lighter lawnmower soon and hand that job off to him, too!!

In addition to all the purging and cleaning I've been pondering my goals for the next year and am surprised at how similar the themes are to the ones I set two years ago...

Spend more time with God – reading and focusing on His plans for us

Focus on our health – making time for the dentist, checkups and various things that get pushed back between work and other demands

Encourage the kiddos to see their strengths and make more time for fun

Continue to save in preparation for 2014's big challenge of retirement

I'll try to keep you all posted on our progress.... So far we are 12 days into the new year and things seem to be shaping up pretty darn well!!