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.

 

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Top 6 Books of 2016

Best Self-help genre:

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I loved this.  Loved. It was one of the only books this year I gave the full 5 stars on Goodreads.

Best tough topic fiction:

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I’ve been a Jodi fan for years.  In fact, I’ve read every book she’s published.  Ever.  And one of the things I love most about about her writing is that she touches topics that other people wouldn’t dare.  Small great things was so exceptions.  A bold topic, beautifully done.

Best Audiobook of the Year goes to:

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Read by Reese Witherspoon (who I major fan girl over) – I loved this audiobook!  I’ve heard mixed review on the book as a whole but the audiobook, I loved.

Best fiction read:

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Credit to my friend Lauren Barbian for suggesting this book and author to me.  I couldn’t put it down.

Best autobiography:

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I can’t for the life of me remember why I’ve always loved Diane von Furstenberg but reading about her life this year completely fascinated me.  Love her even more after reading her fascinating life story.

Read for the New Year:

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I love time management books and this one didn’t disappoint.  The study of real people’s time logs to figure out how they made the most of their 168 hours.  A great read to start a new year out right.

Full list of all 104 (so far) books read in 2016 can be found by friending me on Goodreads.

 

Out of a Fiction Rut

Good morning –

After being in a particularly bad fiction rut and losing steam with my reading for the year in general I was excited when a copy of A.D. 30 was offered to me.  Having never read Ted Dekker myself but hearing my friend, Joy, whom I use to do book club with and still share reading thoughts with regularly via text message rave about him I thought, maybe this will get me going again…

I couldn’t have been more right.

This book was unlike any I had read before!  I normally avoid Christian fiction because it lacks the writing skill that non-Christian fiction has and frequently feels ‘cheesy’.  Not this one.  A.D. 30 was beautifully written and full of love, emotion, intensity, and depth.  By the second chapter I was hooked and despite being a rather long book, moved through is quickly, my eyes searching for what was coming next.

Maviah, the outcast daughter of one of the most powerful Bedouin sheikhs in Arabia, finds herself being responsible for saving the Father that has never loved her and her people., among whom she has never truly been accepted.  Follow along as she experiences loss, love, redemption, and salvation.  She escapes as her city falls under attack with two slaves who promise to take her to King Herod to beg him to rescue her city from siege but on her journey to win over Herod and save her Father and his people – she meets Yeshua.

Having never been into the historical fiction genre I wasn’t sure that I would get into this fiction-meets-scripture novel but Dekker does Christian historical fiction just right.  Accurate in his use of scripture and in his depiction of Christ’s character but enough fictitious story writing to keep you engaged and unaware of how the story will end.  So, if you’re as leery as I was about the combination of historical fiction and Christian fiction – give it a try.  I wasn’t disappointed and I doubt you will be either!  In fact, I believe Dekker might just have a made a fan out of me.

Thankful for an early release copy of this book to get me out of my fiction rut but now I will have to anxiously await the sequel.  Meanwhile, I hope that many of you will read this story of rejection, murder, love, healing, forgiveness, royalty, and redemption. Follow Maviah on an incredible journey across the dessert from one kingdom to the knowledge of a different kind of kingdom and King.

Not familiar with Ted Dekker?  Here’s a little more info from his bio:

Ted Dekker is a New York Times best-selling author of more than thirty novels with over 5 million copies sold worldwide.  He is known for thrillers that combine unforgettable characters, adrenaline-laced plots and incredible confrontations between good and evil. Dekker was named Best Inpirational Suspense Author in 2012 RT Book Reviews Reviewers Choice. HIs book, The Bride Collector, was named one of the NPR’s “Top 100 Killer Thrillers” of all time. Two of his novels, Thr3e and House have been made into movies with more in production.  Dekker and his wife, Lee Ann, live in Austin, Texas.

A.D. 30 is now available for purchase.  My copy was received for review by Shelton Interactive but all thoughts and opinions written here are as always, my own.

2015 Beginnings

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As I mentioned in my most recent post about finding balance, I’ve begun my fall task of planning for the next year.  Fine, fine I should say here that you shouldn’t feel bad if you’re not working on your plans for next year yet – I love to plan.  This is ‘my time to shine’ as my neighbor would say.  Planning and goals is my sweet spot.  I love goals like most people love puppies (oh wait, and I don’t actually love puppies, which is probably weird).

Since I’m really excited about a the first goal to make my 2015 list AND I could use a few suggestions I wanted to go ahead and share that I have decided in 2015 I will be cooking my way through an entire cookbook.  That’s right people: every single recipe.  I honestly wish I could remember where I got this idea because it sadly wasn’t my own genius (if you mentioned it to me, whoever you are, thank you!).  I am stoked about the idea though.  It will give me a great excuse to cook more, entertain, feed people, and eat out less.  Also I assume it will make me try some things I wouldn’t normally (Lord help me if I have to eat mushrooms).

So, I’m taking suggestions as to a semi-heathy but still delicious cookbook to work through.  Someone did already suggest I pick a baking one but I do not think I need to make that many sweets in a year and that seems like kind of a waste of ingredients since I can’t eat baked goods as meals for weeks on end. Or at least, I shouldn’t.

Also, still accepting additional suggestions for 2015 goals.

She Lacks Balance

During my 12ish weeks of ‘consulting’ I figured out I have two major problems: I have a hard time making things simple and foundational (I overcomplicate everything) and I have a tendency to be an extremist.  When I take those personality tests, as I’ve done four times this year through different companies, I always return the result of being a high achiever.  Self-motivated I can always finish a task list with the best of them.  While going through consulting he pointed out to me that while nearly every single person who makes goals needs to identify their ‘why’ for each goal, I am that freakish one in three-million (his numbers, not mine) who would complete the task out of sheer will even if I didn’t know why.

As I get older, read more, go through consulting,  and learn about my personality I continue to desire balance.  I don’t want to change.  I love that by the time my friends wake up on their days off I’ve been at it three hours with a workout, clean house, blogpost, hour of reading, and a crockpot meal going.  That pace brings me joy and I honestly feel more relaxed by cooking and cleaning then I would by staying in bed til 9 or 10am.  Now let’s insert the big but here: I do want to be balanced.  When (crazy) people like me are out of balance we get ridiculous about silly things.  You know what has brought me the most clarity on this?  Dating.

We were watching a movie the other night and I made the offhanded statement that I really needed to cut myself off from movies and TV until I catch up on my reading goal.  I absolutely hate being behind on anything as you might imagine and having my goal glaringly reminding me I’m 2 or 3 books behind gives me anxiety.  To which he responds ‘Don’t you think that the 50+ books you’ve already read this year is achievement enough?  You could just enjoy your reading for the rest of the year and stop pressuring yourself’.

Oh.  Wait.  You’re right.

Goals are good and healthy and for me they kind of make the world go round.  And writing them down, which not enough people do, make people increasingly likely to end a year where they wanted too. But, for those of us who become obsessed, sometimes we need someone else to help us find the areas that lack balance.  If I finish this year having read only 60 books, that’s ok.  Not reading at all for a year, that would not be ok with me.  I desire to be someone who is always learning and growing through written words and I don’t see that desire changing anytime soon.  However, reading 60 books instead of 75 and enjoying my life a little more along the way?  Well, that wouldn’t be such a failure now would it?

Before I close this post I wanted to say that I have begun my fall task of determining my goals for next year and I’m already feeling excited about them.  I’m trying to choose goals that will give me more balance, freedom to enjoy life, and let me be more creative in the year to come.  I anticipate that 2015 will not be any less eventful then 2014 has been but I’m using the knowledge and understanding I gained this year to make next year my best and perhaps most balanced year yet.

Dream Journal – October

To say that past month as flown by would be an incredible understatement.  I began my Dream Journal I previously shared about on September 5th.  I promptly departed for a 5 day birthday weekend in Indianapolis full of shopping, family, friends, and football.  Flew back on a Tuesday and drove straight to training for my new role at work in Orlando.  Back to work Wednesday.  Left again Saturday for a girls weekend road trip to Jacksonville with more friends, family, and football.  And so, September flew by in a frenzy of fun.  But I had set my wunderlist to remind me on Oct 5th it was time to revisit the dream journal.

So this week I sat down with my dream journal took a deep breath and reread what I had written a month before.  Then I read what where I had challenged myself to start.  And as I wrote my second entry I was a little surprised with the outcome of my first month.

One of my list items I had wanted to achieve was going back to school to acquire my MBA.  But the truth is, after finally going to an info sessions and getting the full scoop as well as analyzing the financial side of it – I’m taking it off the list.  Not because it seems too hard to too out of reach, in fact, it was more attainable that I had expected both academically and financially.  I took in all the facts and I thought and I’m continuing to pray but truth be told I just don’t feel that burning desire anymore.  So I’m letting that one go.  It’s amazingly how big we make things in our head when in fact they could be quite simple.  It took me 6 years to attend that info session and a week later I knew the answer was ‘no’, at least for now.

I don’t believe in taking the never approach to life.  10 years from now I may have infinite time and wisdom available to pursue this and I may want it again.  Right now, though, it just doesn’t rank high enough to receive the resources and time it would take.  As it turns out, I don’t want it as bad as I once thought.  So it’s off the list until further notice.

That may not sound like successful progress – but to me, it is.  When I set goals I always go back through and cross a few off.  I only have so much time, energy, and resources and I want them to go to the best possible places.  Sometimes that means ‘not now’ to others.  That’s healthy.  That’s necessary.  If you make lengthy lists of goals you will likely get discouraged long before you achieve them all.  Stay focused on a few and when you achieve them, make new ones.  We all need the encouragement of succeeding to keep us motivated.

So what remains?

Owning my house outright.  Many of you know that owning a home was a really big dream of mine.  I lived in tons of different houses growing up because my family was always moving.  Every year or two until I was in middle school and high school and things seemed to slow a bit.  Then I went to college and lived in 4 more.  Then moved to Florida.  And finally after a year and a half of renting here, I bought my first home.  It was a dream of mine though my reasoning may sound a little dark – I just didn’t want to feel like anyone could tell me I had to move again.

While the Lord graciously allowed that dream to come true, I don’t feel that way anymore.  I know that someday I will probably move again whether to a bigger house when I’m no longer a party of one or to another state if the right timing and opportunities present themselves down the road.  And I’m ok with that.  In the meantime, it’s my dream to pay this place off.  I want it to be wholly mine and then it will be up to me whether I keep and rent it or sell it and put the money towards the next one.  This month I got a plan for getting this place paid off in a timely manner. I have a dream age in mind for when I want it done (and it’s probably surprisingly young compared to most).

Travel in Europe.  This month I began saving to travel in Europe. I haven’t really nailed that down anymore specifically as to what I want to see and with whom.  But slowly and steadily I’m putting money in the fund.  I’m going to do it.

Write a book.  This probably requires no explanation but it has always been a dream of mine to write a book and I’m going to do it (whether or not anyone actually buys and reads said book).

Adopt a child.  It has been a lifelong dream of mine to adopt.  Many of you know that my Dad was adopted into an amazing Christian family at birth when his teenage birth mother bravely gave him life and a loving family to raise him.  I want to be that loving, Christian family to a child in need someday.  It has been a dream since my childhood of mine to adopt within the US.  Foreign adoptions that really spiked these past few years, which I love, but there are also so many children here in the states without homes.  My heart is for them.  Lord willing, I’m going to give one a home someday.

So from October to November I’m focusing on saving for Europe and paying off my house.  And doing some soul searching as to what other dreams might need to make the list.

Why Not Me

I forgot how to dream.

That’s what I wrote down the first night I started a dream journal after reading ‘The Dream Manager’.  I sat down and I made myself stay in that spot and be still until I could write down five things I dream of doing,having, or being.  I got teary as I realized how long that took and how hard it was for me.  When had I first forgotten how to dream?

Time after time I put my social work degree to use and I sit across a table from someone and ask them what they want out of life and I help them make a plan to achieve it.  Many times over the past six years of my real adult life I have sat down to help someone make a budget and I say, what do you want?  When they answer that question I crunch the numbers over and over until I find a way to help them get it.  I love to see people win.  I love to see people dream.  And I want to be there with tears streaming down my smiling face whooping and hollering when they get there.

So, why not me?

I read a Jillian Michael’s quote the other day that said: ‘Today I want you to ask yourself this one question.  Why not you?  Why not you to do something for work that you love?  Why not you to have a healthy body?  Why not you to have healthy love?  Why not you to be, have, or do anything you have ever dreamed?  We are so quick to think others are deserving over ourselves.  The truth is that we are all deserving so why not you?’.

After a long while I wrote down five dreams.  I sat and I starred at them and I asked myself that same questions over and over – why not me?  The truth is there is no why.  Nothing on my list was out of reach.  Nothing couldn’t be achieved.  They aren’t small or easy.  They won’t come without sacrifice and hard work.  But I’ve never been afraid to work hard.  I’ve never been afraid to sacrifice to get where I want to go.  So there is no why.  It can be me.  Just as simply as if can be you.

I read my list through one more time and I chose two dreams to start working on that day.  One of them is my dream to travel Europe.  When I was in art school years ago I began dreaming of what it would be life to travel there and see the amazing art I’ve read about and studied.  Somehow it just never felt like the practical thing.  Now I realize, practical isn’t the only thing.  So three weeks ago when I finished that list and I chose Europe to be a dream that will someday some true, I started saving.  Little by little.  It won’t be tomorrow but you know what – it will be someday.  I’m going to go to Europe.  What are you going to do?

Do you need to learn how to dream again?  Do you need to join me in asking yourself over and over why not you?