Full>Busy

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Well, I’m back less than a month since my last post so we’ll consider that a win for the team, right?

I wanted to check back in with an update since my announcement that I’ve removed the word busy from my vocabulary.  On December 24th I announced that for the year of 2017 I’ve given up busyness.  The truth is, this has been surprisingly easy and incredibly rewarding.  I know that sounds impossible.  And honestly, if you’re my friend in real life it will surprise you even more.

Last year I traveled not only around the world (US to New Zealand to Australia) but about 15 times domestically (not for work).  I hosted 10ish houseguests for overnights, regular book clubs (2), bible studies, and a high school youth group.  As I heard other people talk about how busy I am, I kept feeling surprised (also, maybe, a little annoyed).  Something has to change, I thought.  I do not want people to immediately think ‘busy’ when they think of me.

So I’m fasting busyness and replacing it with fullness.  I thought when I set about this commitment that the result would be doing less.  The truth is, I’m doing more than ever.  Hang tight, this might make sense in a minute.  I realized that I was organizing and scheduling my life to death.  When I stopped doing that and left a little space in my calendar (and my brain) I actually got MORE done.

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In December I hosted a birthday party for a friend and promptly fell in love with my friend’s friends.  I heard myself say ‘we should do this every month’.  Normally I avoid saying things that sound like me volunteering to organize something.  But who doesn’t have a  night a month to have fun?  Last month, we went to paint pottery.  We ordered Uber Eats sushi or Chipotle and met as soon as we could all gather from work or for some, waiting for their husbands to get home from work.  I painted the platter in the picture above.

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I started leaving my Friday mornings open to just be at home.  Amazingly, this resulted in purging my garage, every closet, my kitchen cabinets, and even old DVDs I never watch anymore because: Hulu.  I finally planted flowers in a pot for my front porch and repotted succulents for the back porch.  I took a Friday morning and drove to a local plant grower and talked with him about the kind of sun my porch gets and my crazy life of travel and what I might actually be able to keep alive.  I bought a pot with drainage (because apparently succulents need that).

You’re probably thinking, great, you took a morning off and you planted flowers.  So what’s that really say about getting more done?  Well, I’ve also read 26 books towards my goal of 125 this year.  I took on meeting with gals who are also reading through the bible in a year. I booked flights to see my best friend, to take my nieces and nephew on individuals dates, and I took a weekend to fly down and help my Mom move.  I even texted a friend who’s going through a hard time and said – girls weekend?  Let’s get out of here.  And we are.

In the next two months my college roommate AND my best friend are making trips down here where I get to take them to the beach, cook them meals, and take them shopping.  I even sat down this week and made a list of fun things we could do while they’re here and their favorite food and drinks I want to have on hand for their visits.

I’ve learned to cook new meals and bake new goodies.  I’ve had room in my head to remember birthdays, special events, and I’ve spent more time praying with and for my friends and family.  I scheduled all my dentist, doctor, even skin cancer checks for the year by mid-February.

Saying no to busy has meant a lot more spontaneous ‘yes’ too.  Yes to brunch on Sunday’s after church.  Yes to ‘can we come over early to hangout before group?’.  Yes to writing hand written letters with my 5 year old niece.  Yes to facetimes with my friends and their kids who live far away.  Yes to watching a coworkers new baby so they can get out of the house without paying for a sitter.  I’ve even somewhat kept up with laundry this year.

So maybe this just sounds like I’m doing things I always should have been.  True.  But somehow in the busyness of my life before I never really felt like I was enjoying those items.  I sent cards and acknowledged birthdays but I didn’t have time to really think about them.  I made trips to visit people but I got there and it was like whew, I’m exhausted.  I read books and I loved it but I rarely had a quiet morning with coffee to do it. And yes, sooner or later the laundry got done, the drawers got cleaned out, and friends got a phone call.  In fact, I may have been more ‘perfect’ in 2016 but I’ve definitely been more ‘present’ in 2017.

The best part is this – I like full Becca a lot better than busy Becca.  Because she’s fun.  She says ‘hey, let me teach you this new game I got for Christmas’ when she’s sitting out in the driveway chatting with her neighbors.  She enjoys sitting on FaceTime learning about the stretchy dinosaurs her nephew loves.  She thinks to offer to lend a crimper to a friend attending an 80s event and to send ‘hey this flight is on sale -come visit me’ texts to her friends so they can plan a beach trip.

It’s very possible that as you read this is makes no sense to you because you’re fun all the time and never flustered.  I hope for your sake that you don’t care quite as much as I do about to do lists, tasks, and clean floors.  But for me, I’m celebrating the wins.  That when your friends say they’ve had a bad day you get to say ‘come on over’ and you put down what you’re doing and just be there.  I don’t get to do this all day everyday but I get to do it.

So cheers, to slow mornings and full lives.  To scheduling less but somehow doing more.  To having room in your head to solves a few of your friends problems.  To being thoughtful and fun.  To getting a lot done but knowing when to just be present too.  Trust me, full is so much better than busy.

Oh and here’s a bonus.  The recipe for the best cake I’ve made in a WHILE: Pink Champagne Cake.

 

Enemies

Every morning after I finish my time in the word (the bible) I follow that up with 20 minutes of educational reading.  The idea came from a book I read about leadership years ago and since then I’ve always tried to stay consistent in the habit of reading.  Readers are leaders, after-all.  My most recent morning read has been a book called ‘Monday Morning Choices’ by Dave Cottrell.  I chose it because I read a book of his several years ago, Monday Morning Leadership, that changed my work life.  When I saw this newer book also by him I thought, I need that in my life.

This week on Tuesday my chapter was called, ‘choose the right enemies’.  I immediately thought, whew, not really what I want to start my day with but I kept reading and as it turns out, it was a great message.  While I didn’t know what to expect from the lesson it was primarily focused on being a person of integrity and surrounding yourself with people who purpose to be the same.  Or as they say in the book ‘either walk with the tallest or walk alone’.  This doesn’t mean your isolate people who are not of the same values as you, it does mean however, they don’t make your inner circle.

Cottrell defines values as ‘the accepted principles or standards of an individual or group’.  So why does it matter if my friends and closest coworkers share my principles?  We naturally purpose to please the people in close proximity to us.  If you’re my friend then I value your opinion of me and my decisions possibly even enough to ask for your advice – so I need to make sure that you value the right things.  Or maybe I shouldn’t say the right things but the same things that I have set as the standard principles of my life, morals, and workplace practices.

So why does having great values and choosing to be closest to those that share them mean we have to have enemies?  Well, if doesn’t mean that we seek them out but it will inevitably mean they will surface anyway.  There was a section of this particular chapter that was appropriately titled ‘no need to create enemies …they will surface on their own’.  So make sure they are the right ones.  The book recommended that you make your enemies in the work place these people:

– Backstabbers – those who betray a confidence or those who constantly discredit others

– People with short tempers – they are often catalysts for anger and discord at any moment

– Those who lose control by drinking too much at business functions

– Rebels against authority – they are on a collision course with failure

– People who rarely do what they say they are going to do

Now, some of these don’t apply to your workplace just like others don’t apply to mine.  For example, I work for a Christian organization so there isn’t drinking at my business functions so over-drinking at them would obviously not be something that comes up.  But I included all of these because what doesn’t apply to me might still apply to you.  The takeaway from today to put into action is this: Choose your enemies and your friends very carefully.  A bad choice can be devastating to your career.  So, surround yourself with people of like values, and maintain your allegiance to those values’.

I loved this chapter because I have spent much of this year focusing on taking personal responsibility for everything in my life.  Through the consulting process everything good or bad came back on me.  How I handled things.  How my choices lead me to a certain result.  And ultimately keeping all the focus on what I can control: me.  So this chapter reminded me that choosing my cohorts and my values and sticking with them in all circumstances will keep me on track with being the type of friend, person, girlfriend, coworker, etc that I desire to be.

I like to shed light on the positives when I can so let me tell you how applying this has worked for me this week.  The sweet gal who sits across from me at work and I have been talking a lot about goals and our home lives.  I shared with her some ideas of how I get things done around the house early in the mornings before work because it frees up my nights for ministry, relaxing, time with friends/boyfriend, etc.  We share the value of keeping a clean, orderly home but not allowing that to take away from things and people that matter more to us.  We texted in the mornings all week encouraging each other and sharing the successes of our early morning mission.  A few days later she came into work and handed me a thank you present and told me that applying some of what we talked about had not only made her more successful but had drastically increased her confidence in herself so tangibly that her husband had even noticed!

Two days later my alarm would go off and I would want to snooze it.  Actually truth be told I did but just as I laid my head back down because of her and her encouragement – I got up!  I didn’t want to let her down.  I rolled out of bed, drank an extra cup of coffee, and still achieved all of my morning goals before work.

Don’t spent your time and energy on the people you cannot please or truly at the end of the day, don’t desire to please.  Search out people who will grow and develop you.  Find the people who are hungry to do things better and spend time with them.  Ask for advice from those who are achieving what you desire too.  Will there be people who dislike you for any number of right or wrong reasons?  Yes.  There will be.  But don’t forget, walk with the tallest or walk alone.

This is the beginning of several lessons I will be sharing over the next few weeks from what I’ve been reading and learning about how I can improve in the workplace and in life outside of my cubicle walls.

B

Keeping Up with B

Oh hey, welcome back.  Or perhaps you should be saying that to me after a nearly 2 week hiatus from posting I guess it’s time you and I sat down for coffee and a little chat, huh?  I’ve got mine – so grab yours and let’s talk.

It’s 7:41 on a Monday night and I’m sitting on my red velvet couch thinking about how quiet my sweet little batchelorette pad is feeling in the absence of family. I had a condo full for the past 5 days with my niece Noa, my nephew Titus, and my sister Rachel – with my brother-in-law Chris (or Bresford as I call him) joining us for the last 36 hours or so.

I’m not sure this condo has ever see action like that but man did we have a great time.  It was a tearful goodbye in the driveway as I waved goodbye this afternoon after a weekend filled with good food, catching up, pool days (with my niece jumping off the side of the pool over and over as we cheered her on), the children’s museum, seeing friends, showing them off to friends and coworkers alike, and going hard ’til nap-time when we crashed on the couch to relax and missed those crazy kids while they slept.

Noa is 2.5 going on 12 I think sometimes.  This morning she was carrying a phone announcing to all who would listen that she was texting her ‘paws’ (my Dad) at camp (training camp).  Texting? Really?  Stop growing up, kid.  This weekend unprompted she started saying to me ‘Thank you Noa’s B’ and my heart swelled so big I’m not sure how it didn’t burst from my chest.  I’m pretty happy being hers.

The older I get the more I cherish every second I get with this amazing family I have.  Man am I lucky – the luckiest girl in the world.

So what else is new?  Well…

I just got two new dates to speak (gulp) for our women’s ministry bible study in the fall.  My head is already swimming with teaching ideas on my topics.  

Opportunities to review books here on the blog are coming in fast and I guess I better do a little better job with my reading if I’m going to keep up, hmm?

I have taken a sudden liking to couponing and now every shopping trip is a game.  As you may know – we Christensen’s like to win.  I try not to be ‘that girl’ who obsessively posts her couponing loot and victories but I admit I’m tempted from time to time (read: everyday).  Mostly I try to be content with stock piling (hoarding) my free look on every shelf and cabinet and making goody baskets for friends and loved ones.  Oh and trying to keep our church food pantry full of pasta and cereal.  So if you come to my house and you leave with a random tube of toothpaste – don’t be surprised!

I have finished 46 books for the year – still leaving me 2 behind schedule to finish 80 this year but I’m confident I’ll get caught up.  I am loving this trip through the bible more than the 4-5 before it.  I am more in love with the word every day.

I KNOW you want to hear about my dating life but how about we make a deal – I will tell you any hilariously horrific dating stories from dates with guys who do not follow me on social media AND I will tell you when there’s someone who makes it any great length of time and I think may be around for a while.  Deal? Deal.

Consulting is going amazingly and when we had to cancel this week I was really sad.  Each week I’m learning more and more about myself, how to utilize my strengths, and how to account for my weakness (not make excuses – ever!).  It’s been life-changing. I recently even hijacked my appointment to talk about dating and how to choose the right guy – now THAT was an interesting session.

My small group came to the end of our Crossroads Career study and we were pretty sad to have it end.  But I’m looking forward to the group staying together and continuing on.  I can’t imagine how I got by before those girls and our 5:30am wakeup calls, goal setting, shared to do lists, and insanely encouraging sense of community.  I am blessed.

It turns out I missed my calling to be the host of Clean Sweep but I’m making the most of it by continuing to purge my friends junk.  This week will be my second friend’s house this month that is getting dominated by my OCD clean out and organize overhaul.  So far, my friends still like me – isn’t that amazing?

Well, there’s more to be said but it will have to wait.  I have floors to be mopped and work to return to in the morning.  I hope (but don’t promise) to have a better presence on this blog starting now.