inspiration

inspiration, my life

Change is the only constant

So I have been doing some reflection. I can become quite a miserable person. I always want something more out of life. And while sometimes that seems like a rather ungrateful thing, I just get bored easily. I can’t do the same thing over and over again.

I have tried to find the perfect routine, the perfect cleaning schedule, the right way to live. But in reality, I want change. And I want it regularly. I like having things to look forward to. I like experiencing different things.

And on the other side, I am sort of a lazy, depressed homebody and I have a hard time kicking myself out the door and going on the adventures that would make me happy.

I want to try to be more adventurous in life. I sit and I plan every day with a very strong sense of duty and a very small sense of adventure. I usually want to get things done for the sake of getting them done instead of for the sake of doing them.

So I want to make a change. I want to build more change into my life regularly, so I’m not doing the same thing over and over again (and becoming miserable as I do it). I have some ideas:

  • Switch out how I plan. Try new apps, new planners, and new methods–not in an attempt to find the perfect way, to be continually interested in new ways.
  • Switch out routines. Instead of trying to stick to the same exact morning routine (and continually failing at it), switch things up. Take a bath instead of a shower, or switch orders, and mix things up.
  • Try new recipes regularly, and try cooking in new and different ways that excite me.
  • Switch out productivity blocking, software, and rules regularly (I always find new ways to waste my time).
  • Go on adventures to try new things and do things in different ways. Learn from other people.
  • Create regularly in new and different ways. Draw or paint or play an instrument or sing or create a video or whatever.
  • Dare myself to do new and exciting things–such as working on classes, going on dates with my kids, and trying new things.
  • Physically push myself to do better. I know I don’t like to do the same sort of exercise every day, so I want to switch it up more. Maybe try running for a week or a bike ride or aerobics class or whatever.
  • Be mindful of the exciting changes that happen around me, such as changes to my children and changes to the weather.
  • Organize my things in new and different ways.
  • Limit what I have to do in favor of things I want to do. And make the things I have to do more interesting so I want to do them.
  • Experiment.
  • Listen to music. Sing. Dance. Create.
  • Take joy in the current moment instead of worrying about what the future will bring.

 

inspiration

Fear not

Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness. (Isaiah 41:10)

The scripture mostly speaks for itself. I have been afraid, but then with the Lord’s help, I’ve been able to do what I need to do. He has helped me and upheld me and it’s been okay.

It’s been a bit exhausting with all the changes that have happened in my life lately, but he continues to guide me to a better path–a path that may not be filled with an easy, happy life full of riches and everything I want–but it is a path that will lead me back to Him.

I am surprised sometimes that even when I am having difficult times, when I trust in the Lord, so many problems just don’t seem to matter anymore. They are still there. And they hurt sometimes, but His love is so strong that it can provide happiness in very difficult places.

inspiration

Problems

I’m lighter when I’m lower, I’m higher when I’m heavy. (“Nico and the Niners,” Twenty One Pilots)

So there was a diagram in a book I just read (Get Out of Your Mind and Into Your Life) about how we respond to problems. We all have problems. But there were two ways to respond to problems: one is that you keep trying to be a better person and go forward to what you want to achieve in life and hold on to what you value. And the second one is that you run away from problems, and you hide so that they aren’t as hard, and you value that you want to not feel pain the most.

We get to choose our perspective, our attitudes, and what we do day after day. If we have goals for ourselves and are constantly trying to become better, our problems are going to be a lot different than when we just want all the problems to go away.

I was recently reading a post from a difficult time in my life–I was very busy with school and facing an uncertain future. And while I had to read hundreds of pages and write dozens of papers, all while trying to serve others and be a good daughter and friend, I found that I found a deep amount of happiness.

I am happy when I am pushing myself to do more with what I already have.

I do not always do that. Instead, I try to avoid the problems of tiredness and exhaustion and disappointment and all of that, and I find myself not pushing myself very hard some days. I say I can take a day off and watch TV. Or I can just check things online. I need a break.

I don’t need a break. I am more tired when I take naps and sit around all day. I am unhappier when I watch lots of television.

When I engage in lots of projects, when I go on adventures with my kids–when I choose to push myself to do more and do it better–then I find happiness.

It’s hard. Because I have to stop myself running away from the pain and tiredness of trying myself. But it’s worth it to try.

When we try to choose NOT to have problems, we end up with the problems that we hate the most–like depression, regret, and a wasted time.

When we choose to hold onto what we value, we often will find ourselves with the pain and problems of loving others, be engaged in good causes, having good work to do–and yes, sometimes we will be exhausted and hurting, but we will be heading upward to the place we need to be.

And God will help us do the work that we need to do. His way is not really harder–it’s happier. It’s better, for He provides a way even though the problems seems great. He will help us see simplicity in complicated problems, feel strength in weakness, and give us protection and safety in times that are hard. And even though following Him can seem difficult, it is always worth it.

inspiration

humility

Humility is not about thinking less of yourself, but thinking more about everything else.

It doesn’t require putting yourself down, but lifting others up.

Humility means that you have confidence, but you are honest about what you can and can’t do, and you see how others can help you.

Humility is realizing your place in a greater whole. It’s being a member of a team and a group and wanting the group’s success more than your own.

Humility is trusting yourself and trusting others and knowing that you can’t go at it alone.

Real humility is not demeaning, but the opposite: you gain self-worth and confidence as you realize your place and accept the help and support that have always been holding you up.

inspiration

The joy of a simple life

I am currently reading a self-help book that drives down the same, worn-out path of trying to convince the reader that they can accomplish a lot because the author has accomplished a lot. If the reader follows the path of the author by doing specific things, then the reader will also be successful. And usually success is defined in a specific way, such as wealth, career accomplishment, and general productivity and happiness.

This is a false narrative.

We all live different lives. Some of us won’t ever be successful in certain ways–we have struggles, and sometimes those struggles never go away. You may not make much money. You may struggle to spend your time wisely. You might struggle with mental health, making daily happiness seem impossible. You might fail in career goals. Your family might fall apart in a way that can’t be put back together again.

It’s a lie that we can all achieve a certain kind of success.

But that’s okay. Because you don’t need that sort of success in your life anyway.

We are given are specific circumstances. We do the best we can, and we make mistakes. But we keep trying. And while we do want to be the best we can be, that may mean that we live a simple, unnoticed live, filled with problems.

My Grandma Jane lived a simple life. She was an incredibly talented woman in many different ways: computers, crocheting, sewing, bookkeeping, genealogy, and more. But she dealt with a huge amount of challenges in her life–health problems, infertility, financial struggles, family difficulties, and trying to overcome her own weaknesses.

I love my Grandma Jane very much and she means a lot to me. She helped others in small and simple ways, and that was enough.

Sometimes we get so caught up in being successful in the certain ways we want that we forget that the small and simple things we do are so much more important.

I don’t want to live in a big house and have lots of money. I don’t want to get the best grades or a high-profile job. I don’t need to start a successful business or publish books or whatever.

Because my life doesn’t have to be successful in those ways at all. I want to love and serve in small and simple ways. I want to keep trying even if life become difficult. I don’t need to be noticed, because I am already loved.

 

inspiration, my life

You can cry about the spilled milk … after it’s cleaned up.

So it’s about 5:30 in the evening. I really want my husband to be home. I’ve been working on some things on the computer, which means that either my kids are watching way too much television or the house is a wreck. When I get off the computer, I find that it is both: the house is covered cracker and brownie crumbs. A can of cooked carrots has managed to make a presence in every single room of the house. Half my books are on the floor. And the kids have been binge watching YouTube videos yet again, even though I told them not to (I’m getting a device to shut off the TV; I hope it works).

In the middle of this, I look down to see that my daughter has something nasty on her leg. Yes, it’s poop. It’s not her poop. The poop belongs to the naked three-year-old. He’s naked because he successfully went poop in the toilet earlier and he never got himself dressed again. But this time, he pooped in the toy room. I am glad it’s not on the carpet in the living room like it was two days ago.

So I have to clean up the poop. When that is done, I just want to cry because there is still so much to do.

But I think to myself: Not right now. You can cry about this in a minute, but right now you are going to clean everything up. And then I clean (most of) it up. (When I’m done cleaning, I write this blog post.)

It’s okay to cry over spilled milk. I’ve done it before when my kids have spilled bowls of cereal FOUR DAYS IN A ROW. But it’s better to cry about it AFTER you clean it up. You’re already upset, so it’s not going to make things worse to actually clean up your messes. It might actually make it better. And if it doesn’t, when you’re done cleaning, lock yourself in your room and let yourself feel awful for a few minutes and take time to breathe. It’s okay.

inspiration

We aren’t perfect

The biggest surprise I’ve had in becoming an adult is that I’m not very good at this.

I guess when I was younger, I expected that I would grow up and be a stable, happy, functioning adult. And while I knew I wouldn’t be perfect, I guess I figured that I would at least be competent.

Instead, sometimes I am a complete wreck.

And I want to be better. Of course I do. We all do. But sometimes it’s really hard. Life is harder than expected.

Part of this is being a parent–there is nothing quite so humbling as being a parent. Being a parent requires you to basically be good at everything at the same time. It’s an extreme sport in patience, faith, teaching, loving, and more. Every parents makes a whole lot of mistakes because sometimes there are no easy answers.

But I have to start separating myself from my extreme expectations of being able to do everything and do it well. Life isn’t like that.

There are messy days in life.

Days when I cry over spilled milk. Or I just don’t feel like talking with anyone. Or I say no to good things. Or we eat cereal for dinner. Or I binge watch random videos I don’t even like.

I want to get rid of the messy days and I want to get rid of them for forever. But I’m not perfect. Life isn’t perfect either.

But I don’t need to be ashamed that I’m not always on top of things and I make mistakes, sometimes large mistakes. Because the perfect person I’ve envisioned is just in my head, an ideal that I made up and that isn’t part of how the world really is.

I don’t need to expect perfection in myself or perfection in others. But what I can expect is that I keep trying and I keep moving forward.

I may never overcome some of my weaknesses. But I can keep trying my best to do the best I can, and be happy in my efforts. My efforts mean something, even if the results are less than impressive. I can keep trying.

I am worth something. I am worthwhile. I am doing better than I think I am.

It’s funny–I write these essays and I’m not always very good at what I’m writing about. In fact, sometimes I’m really bad at it, which is why I’m writing the essay. And sometimes I keep learning the same thing over and over and over again.

Because knowing something in my head for a minute is a lot different than learning how to live it. And so I will keep learning the same thing over and over again, and maybe I’ll get just a little bit better at it every time I keep trying.

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How to have a bad day

I have bad days. And I have really horrible days. I would really like all my days to be good days–but that’s not realistic. I’m going to have bad days. I’m going to have days when I wake up tired and cranky. I’m going to have days with bad news and things that go wrong.

So how do I learn how to do deal with the bad days so they don’t become downright awful days that I deeply regret?

Here are five ideas.

1. Acceptance. 

I can’t change the past. Or predict the future. And sometimes, I just have to accept what is right now. Even if it isn’t what I want. I can’t change certain things, and trying to change them by worrying about them over and over isn’t going to help me or anyone else. I have to accept things I don’t want to: I make mistakes. I get cranky. I have off days. But I can accept those things, because they happen. They are real. Accepting it makes it way easier to deal with.

2. Forgiveness. 

I need to forgive others, I need people to forgive me, and I need to forgive myself. Forgiveness means I’m going to let go of anger and resentment and shame. I’m going to realize that mistakes are not definitive. And I’m going to keep trying to do the best I can.

3. Release Expectations. 

Sometimes the reason I have a bad day is because I was very much expecting Plan A, and then I have to deal with Plan B (or C or Z) instead. When I hold on to Plan A, I am miserable. But Plan A only exists in my head. I can let go of it. I can get rid of the expectations I had for perfection and happiness and just exist with life as it is. I can embrace Plan B and accept things aren’t going according to plan. Because Plan B is the right plan: it’s the plan that actually exists.

4. Remember Priorities and People. 

Sometimes I prioritize things that are not very important–like having a clean house or getting everything done on my list. I need to take a step back and realize my real priorities: family, becoming a better person, and serving others. People are more important than things. When everything goes wrong, there are still people who I love and who love me. They are more important than the things that went wrong.

5. Let the bad moment stay inside that moment. 

Sometimes I have a bad day because I had a singular bad moment and I spent the rest of the day worrying about it. Sometimes I have a bad week because I had one bad day. I’ve been learning to isolate those bad moments and not let them ruin my whole life. I made a mistake–it happens. I don’t need to drown myself in guilt and then punish myself over and over by making more wrong choices. I can forgive other people for their mistakes. I can choose to move forward and upward.

And if someone around me is having a bad day–I can apply those same things. I can accept that they are struggling, forgive them, release the expectations I had for them, love them, and then hope for a bright future. I’ve had bad days where I’ve sat on the computer dealing with problems in a sour mood–and my husband starts to make dinner, reassures me that I’m fine and it’s okay, and loves me instead of criticizing the fact that I have gotten way off track. I am so grateful for that. I try to give him the space and love he needs when he has a bad day too.

Bad days don’t last. Because usually, life is pretty awesome if we care to remember how many good days we actually have.

 

inspiration

6 Ways to Get Things Done

I have a lot to do right now.

Some people have asked me how I do everything–I don’t think my list of accomplishments is overly impressive or unachievable. I’m mainly a stay-at-home mom, but I also have a lot of things I do on the side. I write books, I blog, I take photographs, I read books, and I try to keep learning. Here is how I do it–and how you can probably achieve a whole lot more than I do.

1. Set goals.

This is the first place to start. You won’t achieve much of anything unless you set it as a goal. Wanting to do something is not enough–it will always remains a wish. A goal must be specific and it must have a deadline. Examples: I will write a rough draft of a book this year.

2. Make a timeline.

After you have a general deadline, you break up the goal into smaller tasks. For example: I will write a 10-page chapter every week. I will write two pages five days a week.

3. Schedule out the day.

I did a lot during nap time when my kids actually took naps. Quiet time can also be helpful–quiet time is when you tell your kids to quietly entertain themselves for a while. Also, sometimes my kids really like playing with each other and I’m not needed. And they go to bed early, so the evening provides some more time for me to work on things.

When you plan out your day, you are much more likely to accomplish the tasks that help you complete your goals.

4. Focus efforts.

Sometimes my kids get ignored for a minute. Sometimes dinner is late and not very fancy. Sometimes the dishes wait. No one can do it all and everyone has to learn to make sacrifices in the right places. If you need more time, try sacrificing social media, reading the news, or watching television.

5. Allow for wiggle room when things don’t go according to plan.

When I wrote a novel in a month last year, I had a goal to write 2,000 words a day instead of the suggested 1,667–because I knew I needed some wiggle room and some space where I could breathe and have a bad day. I probably should have increased it to 2,500 words a day (or just written a novel in two months), because I still got very behind. We all have really good days and really bad days. Don’t get discouraged when you fall behind–it’s better to try and not quite get it done than to not try it all.

6. Believe in yourself.

You can do more than you think you can. You might already be doing more than you realize–and instead of feeling overwhelmed about life and your circumstances, you can be proud of your strength and your efforts. If something is hard, you continue forward with the understanding that you are learning and growing. You can believe that you can accomplish your goals, and you will keep working towards them.

You are the only type of superhero this world has: ordinary people doing one small task at a time. All those small things combine to make something amazing.

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inspiration

Remembering in Hard Times

Lots of my extended family members are going through difficult times. Health problems, marriage problems, life problems. Sometimes I want the problems to go away. Sometimes I selfishly don’t want to worry anymore. Sometimes I genuinely care about someone and I want them to have a break from painful experiences.

I can only do little things like sending a note or a text or saying a prayer. I have been praying a lot for others lately. It has at times been a little overwhelming, particularly when it combines with some of my own worries.

So how do we deal with hard times?

I have found the best way is to remember Jesus Christ. The suffering of the world is so great, yet He has experienced it and so He can succor us and help us through it. We cannot go lower than He was. We cannot go to a place without light. The light of Christ is always there, giving hope in difficult times.

That makes it okay. Hard times happen and people struggle and there can be so much pain, but it is never too much because of Him. He provided a way through it all.

It will get better eventually, even if it gets worse right now. There is hope. And there is happiness in that hope.