Spring is winding down and with it comes another round-up of things we learned with Emily. The silly, the serious, and whatever those things are that leave a mark on life is a practice that I enjoy and has taught me to pay attention to every aspect of my life. I hope that these lessons I share here will ignite something in you to join into this art of paying attention.
The sound of emergency vehicle sirens when I’m driving make me panic. Even as I’m typing this my heart is beginning to race because sirens=complete anxiety. I never know what to do–move to the left or the right?drive faster? slow down?– and I fear that I’m going to do the wrong thing, frustrate the emergency personnel, or even worse get pulled over, if it’s a police car behind me. Maybe it’s a personality thing, or has something to do with my Enneagram (I’m a 6), but even if I see that the vehicle is coming from the opposite direction–like it was yesterday–and nothing is required on my part, I’m still a mess. It’s fine. But, anybody?
Winnie the Pooh was a real bear. No, he wasn’t gold with a red t-shirt, but this story is fascinating. (Skip this paragraph if you want to check out the book and learn on your own). There was a soldier from Canada who found a cub bear at the train station on his way to training for war, bought the bear from the trapper who had her, and took her to his battalion with the Canadian army. She became a mascot of sorts for them, sailed with them to England, and then when they headed to France for battle, he gave her to the London Zoo. It was there where a little boy, Christopher Robin, came to visit “Winnie” and loved this bear like his own. A.A. Milne was Christopher Robin’s father, and he wrote the stories that we know as the Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. Who knew?
Front doors are expensive. Our front door is fine, it works and it’s not falling apart. But I’ve never liked it. So we looked into buying a new door, the wooden craftsman style that we love. Wow. You could easily spend over $1000 for a brand new door. A quart of exterior paint from Home Depot costs $17. So, we painted our front door a nice cheery yellow and it feels brand new. Sometimes the littlest changes make the biggest difference. As soon as I finished painting it I realized that we have three more exterior doors on the house, plus three on the detached garage. Am I supposed to paint them all the same color? I think we need more paint.
Sometimes you can be emotionally attached to your clothes. My favorite pair of skinny jeans had a hole in the knee, and I wore them for awhile like that. But then the hole grew bigger and it started looking like an actual hole, not an intentional one. So, I cut them off. And I almost cried because these jeans changed my life. Well, not actually, but they played a significant role in the process. You can read the full story here. The temptation to keep the bottom part of this pair of pants was strong, but I snapped a picture instead and I’ll hang onto it as a reminder. More to this story appeared in an email to my blog subscribers, a place where I share bits of my life that don’t appear on the blog. I’d love for you to join me there. Just click here to subscribe.
Creating projects that matter make me come alive. Emily P. Freeman has had a significant impact in my life through her writing, and when she announced that she had an online course for creatives, called Create + Complete, I was immediately interested. I signed up to take it and during the month of March worked on learning how to create and finish a project. My project ended up looking a lot different than I originally planned, but it was invigorating, challenging, hard, deep soul-work that I loved. My project is almost finished (you’ll be hearing more about that very soon), but even more than that I realized what it is that I’m passionate about. As a slow processor with a lot of ideas, and not a lot of time, I’m still figuring out how to balance my actual life with the creativity that I love, but it’s taking shape and I’m learning how to navigate and prioritize my various responsibilities–and dreams–in life.
Spending a little bit more money for food that is healthy and tastes good is worth it. I’m trying to cut back on my sugar and carb intake, which is not easy to do. Instead of going on a crazy diet–totally impractical for my family–I’m just making better choices on what I choose to eat. This means having snacks on hand like almonds and craisins, and eating this Greek yogurt for lunch (or an avocado drizzled with balsamic dressing–SO good) instead of a sandwich. I don’t like plain Greek yogurt, but this kind tastes good, plus it has crunchy sweet add-ins. The protein count is high and my appetite is satisfied for a long time.
The side of bed that I sleep on makes a difference in my quality of sleep. Growing up I always got into my twin sized bed from the right. The covers were pulled back that way, I generally slept on my right side, and it didn’t matter where I was, or even if I had to share a bed with a sibling, this was how I had to sleep. We started off this way when Bradley and I got married, but over the years we’ve switched sides from time to time. Most recently, after Cooper was born we traded sides so I could be closer to him for middle of the night feedings. He’s now 18 months old and not sleeping in our closet anymore, so I asked Bradley a couple weeks ago if we could go back to our original sides. He agreed. And can I tell you something? I am sleeping ten times better than I have for the past 18 months! If you’re having trouble sleeping, I’d recommend giving this a try. You might discover that the side of the bed you sleep on really does matter. I asked Siri her opinion, and an interesting article came up about how sleeping on the left side of the bed makes you more cheerful. Hmmm.
I take myself, and life, and all the things, far too seriously. While out to dinner with the women from my community group at church, it was brought to my attention that snap chat filters are highly entertaining. In my annoyingly serious way I stated that I was 35 and therefore didn’t have time to learn how to do Snapchat. What is wrong with me? I bother myself with my inability to loosen up and enjoy silly things. My friend has sent me a few messages using various filters and I crack up every single time. Do you know what I did this morning and almost made the kids late for school? I downloaded Snapchat. Yes. I need to lighten up and this is a step in that direction. You might see my use of these filters on Instagram, if you’re into that kind of thing.
Choosing rest is difficult but rewarding. We decided to take a break from big projects over Memorial Day weekend and focus on our family. This might come easily to some of you, but Bradley and I are both task oriented people, and when we notice what needs to be done (drywall in the mudroom, Master’s degree assignments, fixing the back steps, cleaning out closets) it’s hard to ignore it. We had four days off that could have been used to accomplish a lot that has been hanging over our heads. But we chose to rest instead, trusting that God will provide the time to finish those things. We both felt refreshed, rested and re-energized to care for our children after four days of setting the work aside. It’s amazing how this God-given practice really does good for the soul.
What did you learn this spring?