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Current Status: Nobody Doing Nothing

19 June 2017

Today sitting here drinking a cup of coffee is task one for the scariest day of my career.

Weekday morning tasks for the past seven years were trying to sleep in three more minutes, get up, work out, try to like coffee, pull off wet hair, get an outfit together that I'll hate by 11 am and, for the past few years, also convince Heidi to hurry just a little bit more so we can be on time to our days without being a bad Mom who makes her feel rushed. It was a gruesome but beneficial daily activity that taught me discipline. Before 9:00 am five days a week? Only made me stronger. Today though, and for the indefinite future, my weekday morning assignment is to actually use my front porch swing (for the first time since we bought it seven years ago) to greet the day in gratitude and stillness. It's something I thought must be nice to be able to do all of those hundreds of days I was glancing at this swing while holding back a dog and squeezing myself out the front door, my arms filled with bags and backpacks and a toddler running through my legs. The doing it is now a different story. It is its own gruesome but good. 

There's no place to rush to today or person to be for other people. My new work assignment is to try my best to not rush anywhere but instead embrace stillness for a change. It's time to find out who I am and want to be instead of making my life being someone for someone else. My last job of a very wonderful seven year arc of career opportunities ended Friday when I realized it had served its purpose of making me a more interesting, resilient and learned person than when I began a few years ago and, for that reason, it was no longer fulfilling. 

I was thankful to pick up Deepak Chopra's 7 Spiritual Laws of Success after knowing I needed some silence and felt like I was onto something.
Then there was this prayer by Susan Paolo Cherwien at our church the same weekend - ah!

I'd like to think I've been a diligent worker and young career gal. I've had mentors, milestones and five year plans. I've been nearly everything I'm supposed to be. It's now time to drop the "supposed to" and focus on being the person I am called to be. This is a scary change for me, knowing the stillness and smallness it takes to hear these answers. I've believed all my life the worst thing I could be is nobody doing nothing. I've believed the more I can impress someone with the elevator speech of what I'm doing and the more recognized I am for my work, the more I must be using my life and making a mark on the world.

A well timed image from the inspiring lizzie somabut

The question now is: what do I do that leaves a mark on the world and what are things I do to feel more worthy and accomplished? How many are the same? 

I've been smacked in the face with this Scripture verse (you knew one was coming) so much this year it might be one of my first to know by heart, 
"He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?" (Micah 6:8) 

And it's not that I ever didn't want these things, to do justice and to love kindness. I just needed them to occur on a well-oiled career track that pointed to a corner office at a recognized brand that garnered me press worthy accomplishments and the praise of my peers. That's all. 

And I do think I did justice and spread loving kindness in all of my work, which I am proud of. The walking humbly is the tricky part, especially to career goals like I had. 

The past year and half walking humbly and learning its rewards have been my biggest life's work. January 2016 I was thrust into the scariest unknown. Everything I knew about my sense of self, family life, security and future was null and void in a minute, besides one thing: that I knew God and He knew plans for me. They were impossible for me to see as I was buried under a pile of lead blankets called grief, but when I stopped fighting and trashing and lay still and powerless, there was a knowing His plans were there. 

It took a massive personal overhaul, but I was able to relearn pain and unknowing as signs of great changes to come and God's plan manifesting for you if you're willing to dig in and listen closely instead of run away. I did that in my relationship with myself and relationships with my family, with God and even with possessions and appearances. It was one of the most terrifying, difficult and freeing things I've ever done. 

Then I knew it was time to take the same scary process with my career and how it plays into my calling and sense of self-worth. And that sucked because my job was fun and a lot of great people are there. 

I had advisors in my best interest when I told friends I was struggling with feeling fulfilled balancing work and life tell me to lean out of my job emotionally and look around for my next move before I left. While I may have done the stupid thing to walk away without a calculated backup plan, I'd like to think I did the right thing for myself and the people I loved and worked with through such formative years. Honesty was a brutal and beneficial part of my job. I couldn't get so used to wearing my heart on my sleeve professionally and then turn away from all the good that's done me at the end while trying to fake my way out.

I really struggled with myself as I was questioning my feelings at work, because when you list out what I had: a husband eager to share the load, superior child care equidistant to my home and office, a thriving little girl loved by her parents and my coworkers, great friends to work with and an environment where I can wear my hair wet to work probably 100 days in a row and still be consistently referred to as professional (this last part being the scariest thing to walk away from), I was close AF to "having it all." It was hard not to convince myself I should feel lucky for what I had and put a little more grit into making it work for all of us. The only catch was recently learning how easily things go bad for me and my family when I put my happiness and integrity on hold. So I set my golden ticket on fire and can only hope sitting in the ashes long enough will bring me a next spark.

Naturally, when my news got around there were questions or statements about leaving to be a stay-at-home Mom and that I wasn't going to be a working Mom anymore. These camps are something I never fully subscribed to from the get go. The camp I feel the most in, especially now, is for those who want to make an impact with their lives and know a lot of that begins with being happy and loving your family. I'm ready to use a little more space in my days to discover how that comes to me and then weave it into something new. Maybe it involves a job at a large company or maybe it's leaning in to helping a three-year-old girl know she can change the world by being herself. 

These Mom titles remind me what a falsehood the idea of permanence is, as if we pick a lane at our child's birth and decide that's who we are until college move-in day. Nothing has been less true in my life than the idea that any one thing stays the same forever. I've been on top and thought I had life beat for good and I've been in such grief I literally wondered if I would ever crack a real smile again, both in the past three years. And I think the more we fail to embrace change and make it a constant, the more life will do it for us. 

Even though I'm trying to do as nothing as possible for a bit, I'm preparing myself for the gut hit and how to answer when I'm asked what I'm "doing" when I see people over this next chapter. So, my new elevator speeches for what I'm currently doing may be:

  • Being still enough to be able to hear what God's plan is as it's whispered to me.
  • Reading something and writing something every day, even if neither of them are of the quality to inspire change in the world. 
  • Shamelessly enjoying one of my 18 summers with Heidi for as many days of it as I can.
  • Sleeping for the first time in two yearsthanks first to a hungry baby and then a year plus of nightly panic attacks. I had a full night of sleep recently and that stuff does not mess around with how good and sane it will make you feel. I wrote myself a prescription to shamelessly sleep at any hour of the day for any length of time until I am sick of it. 
  • Getting to know my husband again. Remember how he was the best thing that ever happened to me? Me too and I'm sure I'll remember why with just a few more minutes of eye contact a day. So far so great. 
  • For the first 30 days of Life 2.0, I'm allowed to get a ridiculous amount of Vitamin D and possibly a tan for the first time in eight years. The sun makes me happy and we've been barely seeing each other for the sake of workdays and productive weekends. We're going to reconnect.
  • Remind myself when it comes to work, "important" and "acknowledged" are rarely the same thing. Run the "Micah test" to find the next things that encourage me to do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with my family and community. If they also make me excited and happy, it's a go. 

I'll keep you updated...

Off Schedule

07 October 2015

"So, Heidi today pointed at her belly a lot and said 'Mommy baby'...we just thought we'd ask if anything new was developing at home! You know, you're the only mom in Heidi's class that isn't waddling in here for pick up."

It wasn't unusual to talk about new words or phrases from Heidi with her teachers, or what she really loved in her lunchbox or a certain book she took to in circle time. This update caught me a little off guard. Had I missed a homework assignment for class? 

They are on to something. Not only is their anecdote of the other moms in Heidi's class true, most people I am friends with that have a baby Heidi's age are expecting or planning on it. I think lately the talk from other people online regarding the effect of these types of questions can have on people is great. What if I was trying to get pregnant? Not to mention the fact that it must have slipped the teacher's mind that Heidi is adopted. I tend to see questions for face value - random conversation makers and people being curious. It's just enough of a question to make me second guess myself. And some days I'm a little too worn out from being a mom to give myself the pep talk that it's fine to be a mom on my own schedule.

When Markus and I got married, we knew we wanted to wait up to five years to add a baby to the family. We were young and had spent a lot of time living apart from each other. It was a decision I am constantly thankful for as we raise Heidi. What happened along the way, though, was other people had babies. The nerve! It made me feel, even with our own needs and plans, like we were behind. Like there was only a certain amount of perfect babies that would ever be born to this planet and we were going to miss one. Occasionally, I got a little too focused on it and missed the goodness of the season we were in. It could feel like everyone else was on schedule and we were off schedule. 

Thankfully, we waited and things turned out awesome. And again, it appears some days that we are off schedule. Now, as certain as I am writing this, I know life is full of surprises. But for now, we're good with the steady good and not focused on anything new, even for a few more years. 

Are we being crazy and getting so wrapped up in Heidi that we're going to have to "start back at square one" or "have to be parents forever?" So far, those haven't been so bad. Do we ever stop being parents anyways? Infant and toddler years are a different planet, but I'm not sure I want to "get it all over with," like I'm sometimes told. Maybe I did it once and when I do it again I'll be a little older and wiser and sure of myself during those wild nights. Note to self: I could also strike it big and have a loving wet nurse! :o)

All this reminded me of my sentiments on when to get married, your life is yours and it should grow as you do, not because you need a baby before an age or another one when your first is however old. If they are close together, I can assure you from my relationship with my 18 months in age apart sister, it is an amazing experience. And if you wait, I can say through my life now, I love nothing more than having all of my focus be on one sweet little soul for the time being, and knowing as she grows how excited and helpful she can be for another addition to our family - one day. 

When I feel off schedule, I have to ask myself who I am looking at - myself or the people around me? For me, life seems to keep happening right on time. 

Simple Things with Paleo Folks

04 September 2015

I blogged at the very end of last year how I was ready for the steady goodness of a simple life, and I have been fortunate enough to receive it in spades lately. I've really worked on my filter and been adamant about keeping evenings, weekends and life around the house easy going and simple. Heidi discovering the world around her right now is just such a joy, so I am trying to make plenty of room for her to do that and for me to take pleasure in watching it. 

We recently downsized her toys to around five in her room, inspired by this Dallas Moms Blog article. She loves to stack, sort and lace beads right now, and it's so fun to be able to easily find a toy that will be a fun challenge and discovery tool for her. Even if it's just 15 minutes before we head out on a Saturday, there's more time to play because it's easy to get started and clean up. 

I've also been working on cooking more, finding simple ingredient recipes without a ton of prep and clean up. I'm making some big advancements and slowly working on a cooking post to share! Around the time I was getting started on this endeavor, a sorority sister of mine reached out to me about her new baking mixes, Paleo Folks. They are everything I am loving right now: simple and organic ingredients, easy to make with items already in my kitchen and just one bowl and the hand mixer to clean when done.

I used to bake a few times a week as a stress reliever and hobby, and I have to admit, it's been a LONG time since a fluffy cake has left my oven. Lately, baking has seemed more daunting than fun. After reading the limited ingredients (in the mix itself and what I needed to add - just coconut oil, honey, vanilla and eggs) and the simple prep, I was ready to try it.

A note on the paleo: I don't follow a paleo diet, but I do enjoy many "paleo" items and appreciate them being grain free, so I know they are safe from gluten. Simple and natural ingredients are always a big plus with me, so I was really looking forward to this cake as a week night treat, when I usually try to limit dairy and sugar. As for Heidi, I stock gluten free and dairy free for her at home, but don't insist on a restrictive diet for her as it hasn't presented itself as necessary at this point. Loubies and Lulu has a great post about restrictive dieting with her kids that I agree with.

paleo folks chocolate cake mix
A super easy and fun night in the kitchen with Heidi, thanks to Paleo Folks!

My mom and I baked so much growing up. Knowing this cake would be simple made me really excited to try it with Heidi! She really liked standing on the stool and the quick dump, mix and bake process held her attention for exactly the right length of time. In one of my favorite (only) parenting books I've read, Bringing Up Bebe, the author references the French baking with small children to teach precision, patience and a healthy relationship with treats. The little project definitely captured Heidi's attention and she was eager to get involved. This was a fun memory and way to break up the week! 

Admittedly, the best part was my little chef heading to bed before our paleo chocolate cake came out of the oven. I topped it with a little coconut yogurt and some blueberries - perfection! 

I'm learning right now with Heidi, less is more. A simple activity together at home is easier, goes more smoothly and can be more memorable than anything else. I'm so excited about this age and all of the things she can do! Next up is probably Paleo Folk's Chocolate Chip Cookie mix. :o)

It's so nice to find more and more companies each day who value wholesome ingredients. Paleo Folks is growing fast - landing on Whole Foods shelves near you and one of the many friendly faces you might see the at GFAF Dallas Expo! Don't forget to enter to win your free tickets in my former post! 

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