Full>Busy

IMG_6651

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.

16830925_10107705844587608_2626082870240312976_n

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.

IMG_6615

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.

 

Advertisements

Pinteresting: Fall Prep

Normally the queen of overcommitment I’ve decided that I’m sticking with my efforts to not let perfect by the enemy of good.  Sometimes good is quite simply good enough.  As I prepare for weekend upon weekend out of town (literally 6 before mid-November) I was determined to enjoy this season.  I love the fall.  Football season, family, fall treats, and so many festivities – what’s not to love?  But as someone who absolutely hates the feeling of being unprepared and frantic I wanted to work ahead.

After a girlfriend had to cancel her trip to see me this weekend I realized I would have a few coveted, unscheduled hours.  These are rare in my current calendar so I blocked them off and started planning ahead. Always a fan of the ‘why go out and buy it if it can be delivered with Amazon Prime’ camp – I ordered my supplies in advance with a few exceptions.

The goal was to spend my Saturday morning at home stocking the freezer for fall events and the Wednesday night high school bible study I’m hosting.  Knowing that my weekends are spoken for nearly until 2017 it seemed wise to work when I can, right?  I took to Pinterest in advance and found recipes for cookie doughs that could be frozen and used like homemade break and bakes (or slice and bakes).  I used these two recipes:

Slice ‘n Bake Vanilla Bean Sugar Cookies

Notes: I made 3ish rolls of these slice and baked cookies and froze the rolls (wrapped and then placed in a ziplock).  I COULD have stashed the supplies for the icing but let’s be real six.weekends.out.of.town – so I bought buttercream frosting and sprinkles and stocked the pantry with those.  Slice, bake, ice, sprinkle – insta hostess.

Chewy Ginger Snap Cookies

img_5077

Notes:  This dough is legit.  I followed the full instructions (for once) and I froze them a little before putting them in the ziplock so they wouldn’t stick together in the freezer. I made 5 dozen frozen cookie dough balls.  I also followed the link that gave instructions for freezing and as recommended I took the time to write the instructions directly on the ziplock bags.  The point of prepping is that it is easy on the back end, right? I didn’t want to dig for the recipe and wonder ‘what temp? how long?’.

img_5027

Also, years ago I found an epic pumpkin recipe that I have made about a million times since.  I’ve made 6 loaves in the last few weeks to stock the freezer and wanting to give a few as gifts. The recipe makes 3 loaves (the perfect amount: 1 for you, 1 for someone else, 1 for the freezer amiright?).  By the way, I always generously put chocolate chips in every loaf.  I thought I would share this recipe too for all you pumpkin lovers.

Becca’s favorite tried and true pumpkin bread recipe.

You’ll notice in the background that in a weird fit of ambition I FINALLY tried making homemade candles.  This is something I’ve been wanting to try for years. One of my girlfriends who made candles for Christmas gifts a couple years ago gave me all of her leftover supplies (Thanks Sierra!) and I ordered the rest of what I needed with Amazon Prime.  I started small with Lavender and Honeysuckle fragrance oils.  Those are two scents I was confident I love in candles (not combined).  Over the past year or so I’ve been saving old candle jars (thanks to Pinterest I learned how to get the wax out of them) and tins to reuse.

I also used dried rose petals from my birthday flowers to pretty up the tops.

 

Was it worth the time?  Yes!  I used my prettiest tins for gifts for 2 of my close friends who had birthdays (with a loaf of pumpkin bread, of course).  But I’ve been burning my own as well and really enjoying it.  I will say, I think I failed to put enough fragrance oil in my first batch so I was more generous with my second.  You can even get creative with what you make into candles. I used this old coffee tin that once held espresso on my coffee bar (it was too cute to toss, right?).

img_5095

I promise to do these post more regularly. I really have been trying new things from Pinterest left and right.  It’s just taking the time to report back I’ve been slacking on.  OK, and blogging in general.

If you want to know some of what I tried and you follow me on Pinterest you can also keep up with my ‘Pinned That, Done That board there.

See you back here soon.

What Five Couples have to Say about Managing Money

One of my 2015 goals is to read through and put into practice a book called ‘Praying For Your Future Spouse’. Keeping with that theme I thought this would be a good time to ask some questions of couples I know and love. I’m taking in this advice in hopes that it will help me pray realistically and creatively for my future spouse and myself this year. Also, the more wisdom you can soak up in advance the better, right?

So first up I asked some of my favorite couples what financial advice they would give me about this season of life (dating) that I could put into practice now as well as what I should know as I move towards or into a marriage eventually. They didn’t disappoint. I do want to preface this by saying that I’m not using any names. Also, I did try to get a wide range of opinions from people who got married young, a former single mom (now married), people who got married later in life, single and double income households, people my age and people older, couples with kids and some without, etc. Please note I took some liberties in wording these (instead of typing out word for word their texts or the conversations).

Here’s what they gave me:

1: Make sure whomever you marry doesn’t have a lot of debt and if they do, try to get them to take care of that before marriage. My husband and I rarely fight but when we do it is primarily over money and the stress that it causes. Also, make sure that you are on the same page with a budget and that you know each others spending personalities. I should say don’t spend above your means with a wedding but I did and it was worth it – it was the best day of my life.

Also, go into marriage with the thought that whatever both of you earn becomes your money as a couple, regardless if both of you work. When you get married the two become one and that includes income.

2: Talk about money a lot, work on getting on the same page. We had no grid for combining everything and having one account – one of us wanted too, one of us didn’t. We finally decided starting with the wedding: everything was ours. No my part and your part. We don’t have anything under one name and not the other. And we both have all the passwords. This doesn’t go with what we learned in Dave Ramsey – but I would also say start saving for retirement now, at least a little bit each (if you’re two income).

One of the best things we’ve done is save up a month of our income so that we are budgeting and spending last month’s money while this month’s goes in to pay for the next. So we always have a full months income in our accounts. That has been a huge help for us. We also decide at the beginning of every year what to do with our extra four paychecks – since we budget for 4 paychecks a month but we’re both paid every other week.

3: Taking into account what I already know about the things you’ve already done or are doing financially there’s not much I would tell you – you’re in way better shape then I was before I got married. But I will say that when you have a family your priorities change. I would suggest thinking about and preparing a way for you to stay home with kids if you decide you have them and you want too. That’s not something you can decide and immediately do – it usually takes planning. The earlier you plan for that the better, even if you don’t end up wanting/needing too use the plan.

4.  Be honest. Don’t hide any debt or spending from each other. Be realistic – know that neither of you is going to completely go without spending on something that’s been a big priority for you as a single and don’t try to ban them, just create boundaries, reasonable ones.

5. Make sure you’re on the same page philosophically about money. They say it is one of the top things fought about in marriage but we never have because we’re like-minded. While you’re single be conservative fiscally. Pay off debt if you have it. Have an emergency fund and save for future cars. We’ve paid ourselves monthly until we need a car and then paid cash. Prioritize your money – like tithing. How much and will it be before taxes? Making sure you’re on the same page is essential.

Another thought: figure out who will handle the finances (primarily). Someone told us early that we should decide on a dollar amount early that we wouldn’t spend over without talking and praying about it. Early on that really helped us; we haven’t done that as much in later years and after income increases.

Lastly, having different perspectives on money as a couple will definitely be a hurdle but it’s not a showstopper. The big thing I would suggest is making sure you both get debt free before you get married, even if that means taking a second job.

Ok this is Becca again. This wisdom and advice was just too good not to share with you all. In fact, I’m thinking this won’t be the last time I share the advice of people smarter than me on this blog this year but this financial advice seemed like the perfect way to open 2015 on the blog. I would actually LOVE to hear your advice as well no matter where you’re at currently or where you hope to head. Send me an e-mail at rebeccaholmeschristensen@gmail.com

One less. One more.

41Esg8ZX8dL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_

Although recent political campaigns may have poisoned the word for me, I’ve always been a lover of change. At a young age I figured out that if I wanted to badly enough I could always find a way to change my situation. Sometimes changing it was far more difficult than allowing it to stay the same but my parents will tell you, I was never a child afraid of hard work.

So when I received the opportunity to read and review a copy of Robbie Vorhaus’ book, One Less. One more., it was the subtitle that drew me in: follow your heart. Be happy. Change slowly. Having just finished the I Am consulting program I feel newly empowered to live a positive life and to change my habits which are in turn changing my life slowly but steadily. So this book sounded right up my alley.

Before I continue I do want to say that I am a Christian but I do not stay within the confines of Christian literature. There are many amazing books out there authored by people with conflicting beliefs and I am comfortable with that. However, this book had a particularly new age feel to it that was a bit out of my comfort zone – for example, Vorhaus writes that the most magnificent mentor in the universe is our spirit and heart. Of course I would disagree with this as I believe the most magnificent mentor is our creator, Christ. However, agreeing to disagree on a few points I did still have some takeaway ‘nuggets’.

Vorhaus writes, ‘Mastering your life and fulfilling your heart’s purpose is not a race, it’s an adventure’.  I love this.  For the better part of my twenties I have been choosing to see everything in my life as an adventure and I credit much of that to my Dad.  When I first bought a home and was literally sleeping in the living room on an air mattress because I didn’t have furniture yet he told me when I looked back these would be the best days of my life.  These adventures.  So as I’ve moved, traveled, worked, written, read, blogged, baked, and slowly built a life I love it has been with this attitude – that the journey is an adventure to be savored and enjoyed, not a race.  Or as Hugh Downs is quoted, ‘A happy person is not a person in a certain set of circumstances, but rather a person with a certain set of attitudes’.

Perhaps the best takeaway from the book for me personally was this nugget: your head always wants to speed things up, but your heart needs to savor each moment and slow things down’.  I can’t remember a season of life when I wasn’t in a hurry.  I applied early acceptance to college at 15 and was enrolled by 16, taking classes and working towards my adult life long before I would really be an adult.  I spent my senior year of college applying, interviewing, accepting and preparing for my career and left the day after finals and two weeks before graduation to start work 17 hours away.  By 24 I’d bought a house.  By 25 I was already scheming how to get said house paid off.  I’ll never forget a conversation I had with my Dad where he said, ‘Becca, sometimes I feel like you’re trying to be where I am.  But I had a 30 year head start.  Relax.  Enjoy this.  You’ll get here’.  So for me and my crazy head, this was a good reminder to let my heart savor these incredible seasons.

This book has some practical advice for enjoying your life while reducing the things that hold you back.  As I mentioned there were some concepts and ideas that conflicted with my own beliefs but as I usually know to be true – there is wisdom to be found despite the differences.  I’m thankful for people like Robbie Vorhaus who share my belief in personal responsibility and that who you are and the life you live are ultimately ‘on you’.  More than ever I appreciate people, like Robbie Vorhaus, who believe in loving life.

The two things that immediately influence other people are the expression on your face and the clothes you wear.  Even if you don’t think you have the money to spend on expensive clothes, buy the best you can afford.  Think of the clothes you wear and how you dress as an investment in your success. – David Cottrell, Monday Morning Choices

I love this – it costs nothing to have the right expression on your face and very little to appear ‘put together’, you can definitely do that on a budget!

 

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.