Shedding the Wallflower

When I tell my children I was shy and painfully unsure of myself during my childhood and early adult years, they question if I am being truthful. The story sounds made up, to them. But it is true.

I spent most of my first twenty some years quietly looking around, unsure of myself and the world. I preferred to watch people, instead of participate; listen to people, instead of talk.

I tried to avoid situations where I needed to talk in front of others and where I felt under the spotlight. I hated being asked something I wasn’t sure of. When asked a question, my mind usually went blank, then churned like a slot machine circling madly to land on the correct answer. Didn’t all questions have a right and wrong answer? I was terribly afraid of choosing the wrong one,

With this established track record of silence, who knows why during my last half-year of graduate school I listened to my friend who recommended that I pursue a job as an English instructor.

Now why it never dawned on me as I was typing my resume, calling English department Deans, or interviewing, that being a teacher required one to stand in front of a class and talk, I am not entirely sure.

Getting dressed for my first night of teaching at a local college I was scared out of my wits. I wasn’t sure I would have any sweat still left inside of me by the time I arrived.

Remembering the vote of confidence from my friend, I grabbed my notes, and out the door I headed. “You can do this,” she had assured.

Talk about an adrenalin surge. Intense nervousness. A cracking voice. Sensations of nausea. Feelings of being an alien on exhibit. I experienced it all within the first 10 minutes of entering the classroom. Being an evening class, I still had another 100 minutes.

To find out what happened, please continue reading this post, Shedding the Wallflower – Made For Brave Sisterhood, at Crystal Twaddell where I am guest posting.

We were made to be brave. And sometimes that means stepping out and doing the unexpected. #worth and identity #personal growth

5 Tips for a Mostly Balanced Life

 

You can't have a perfectly balanced life, but you can have a life that is mostly balanced for you. Learn 5 tips to achieve your own mostly balanced life.You can't have a perfectly balanced life, but you can have a life that is mostly balanced for you. Learn 5 tips to achieve your own mostly balanced life.You can't have a perfectly balanced life, but you can have a life that is mostly balanced for you. Learn 5 tips to achieve your own mostly balanced life.You can't have a perfectly balanced life, but you can have a life that is mostly balanced for you. Learn 5 tips to achieve your own mostly balanced life.You can't have a perfectly balanced life, but you can have a life that is mostly balanced for you. Learn 5 tips to achieve your own mostly balanced life.Do you ever dream of a perfectly balanced life?

One where you are well-rested from self-care, well-dressed because the laundry has been completed and actually put away, and well-fed as dinner is tasty and on time. Family members are positive and problem free. Work is trouble-free. Your calendar and tasks are working like a well-oiled machine. No errands await. The radar screen registers level and problem free for the next several months.

This perfectly balanced life sounds pretty nice, doesn’t it?

Confession time. I wish I had a perfectly balanced life.

Both my hands are waving in the air like a twisting Tinker Toy.

I wouldn’t mind trying that kind of life. Trying to keep it for a while.

Maybe a long while.

My attitude has been known to get twisted in a snarly knot because I see no perfectly balanced life on my horizon. Or even in the distant future. And more confession. At my age, I was hoping that after putting in all that time and learning all those life lessons, my perfectly balanced life would have now arrived. And decided to stick around full-time.

But it hasn’t.

I also thought by now I would at least know how to organize and maintain a perfectly balanced life.

I am failing at that too.

If you are reading this post because you are looking for the blueprint to the perfectly balanced life or want to know what percentages you should categorize your life into, well then, I have another confession to make.

The perfectly balanced life does not exist.

Not for you. Not for me. Not for your friends.

I hate to be a party downer, but I just can’t lie to you.

The perfectly balanced life is an elusive myth, like the Loch Ness Monster, an alien baby president, or a unicorn herd living among the Antarctica penguins. Okay, maybe it is not quite that crazy, but it is as unattainable as having a perfect life. Raising the perfect child. Or becoming the perfect mom.

The truth is there is no perfect anything.

We like to think these things exist somewhere, and that maybe we can one day become one (or learn how to become one), but the truth is that they exist only in our imagination. Or on our goal board.

There is no perfectly balanced life.

So now you know the bad news. You can’t have a perfectly balanced life. But there is also some good news. You can have a life that is mostly balanced for you.

What you say?

Yes, you can have a life that is balanced for you and yours.

So how do you obtain this mostly balanced life?


You can't have a perfectly balanced life, but you can have a life that is mostly balanced for you. Learn 5 tips to achieve your own mostly balanced life.Keep these 5 steps in mind when finding balance in life (or how to achieve your mostly balanced life):

 

1. Decide what balance looks like for you (and your family). Quit looking for the right formula. The perfect pie chart that tells you how to divide your time and commitments. Because everyone’s mostly balanced life will look different.

Figure out your needs. A working mom’s life will look different from a home school mom’s life. Balance for a single person will be different from a married person. Figure out what self-care, friendship, commitments, responsibilities, work, play, and expectations are reasonable and healthy for you and your family. What tasks can you accomplish? What tasks can be delegated? What tasks can be hired out? What areas needs more focus, which areas needs less focus? Maybe you need to schedule more time for play and quit working so much. Or focus more on achieving your dreams and less time on Netflix.

Be realistic and honest. You may be able to organize the annual fun run this year, but not next year. So, before you say yes, and take on another task, make sure you are currently able to accomplish what you already have on your plate. Learning to say no will help keep your life more balanced.

Remember that as time moves forward, your balanced life will change, and you will move into new stages and opportunities. So, re-evaluate what balance looks like for you on a regular basis.

2. Everyone’s balanced life looks different, so no comparing or judging. We are all in different stages. Accomplishing different goals. Our families and lives are different. Just like there is no one approach that works with infants to get them to sleep through the night (otherwise there would not be 3, 486 theories on Dr. Google), there is no one system or pie chart that works best for everyone when trying to balance their life.

Some people’s lives will look similar to yours, and other people’s lives will make no sense to you. And that is alright.  Everyone is making choices and decisions based upon their family and situation.

One woman will have the time and skill to make her own cheese from scratch and then make fresh cheese appetizers to bring to the party. Don’t compare yourself to her or you will feel bad about your store-bought cheese platter. And you shouldn’t. Do what you are good at and what you have the time for. Don’t compare and then feel guilty about not doing it all.

But you say. I could make my own cheese from scratch and bring freshly made cheese appetizers to the party and feel better about myself. Yes, you could. But do you want to start playing that game of trying to keep up with every Sally Jane? And will doing that bring balance or unbalance to your life? It may wear you out and bring some looks of admiration from others and some bragging rights, but it certainly won’t make you a better person, increase your worth, or add balance.

You can't have a perfectly balanced life, but you can have a life that is mostly balanced for you. Learn 5 tips to achieve your own mostly balanced life.3. Know your triggers and limits. (And those of your family.) The more you know about yourself  and your family members, the easier it is to plan and maintain a mostly balanced life.

Maybe you have children that need time to unwind and just do nothing. We call them free nights at our house. My family thrives on free nights. Knowing this fact about us, I am careful about scheduling something every night and instead build in nights where nothing is going on.

4. Excelling in one area of life will cause you to fail in another area of life. If you focus on working late every night for two weeks, something will have to drop. Maybe it is making dinner. Tucking the little ones into bed. Going to book club. I am not sure what will get absorbed and put on hold, but something will.

Does that mean you shouldn’t work late? Commit to extra things? Never say yes to opportunities?

No. But let’s be realistic. Realize when you devote extra time to one area of your life, another area will shrink or disappear for a while. This is just going to happen. So, weigh your options.

You know the feeling when you arrive home from vacation and the next morning you feel overwhelmed with laundry, unpaid bills, unread mail, and the 392 other things clamoring to be done? It is because more attention was focused on play and relaxation and laundry and daily tasks were put on hold. Balance is wanting to be restored. It is now up to you whether you will focus on feeling like a failure because of the laundry or remember the success of your vacation.

Part of living a mostly balanced life is realizing these equations and not getting upset or surprised when they happen.

5. Quit trying to do it all. If you have bought into the idea that you can look like you just stepped from a fashion magazine, work full-time, attend all your children’s events, have a clean house, eat dinner as a family, volunteer at the food bank, keep up with your 25 girlfriends, make homemade lasagna for the potluck, decorate your house like a pro, and get 8 hours of sleep a night, than you have been hoodwinked.

No one can keep up a schedule like this for very long before falling down in exhaustion.

I know social media, magazines, and others are telling us that we can be all, do all, and accomplish all, but we can’t. We are flesh and blood and have only so much energy. So much time. We can’t keep adding things to our life and not face overwhelm or fail in another area of our life.

Lesson your stress and give yourself permission to lower your expectations to reality. You will be happier. Those around you will be happier. And you will be one step closer to your mostly balanced life.

I want you to remember this.

You can’t have a perfectly balanced life, but you can have a life that is mostly balanced for you.    

Let’s move closer to real balance.

Real life.

A livable, real life that contains boundaries, looks like us and our needs, acknowledges our limits, and is achievable.

You can't have a perfectly balanced life, but you can have a life that is mostly balanced for you. Learn 5 tips to achieve your own mostly balanced life.

Thanks for stopping by. Keep remembering what’s important.

Theresa

 


If you need some weekly encouragement and hope, tied up with some humor? Subscribe and join the journey. Life is sweeter when we walk alongside one another.


Join the discussion: What helps you live a mostly balanced life?

You can't have a perfectly balanced life, but you can have a life that is mostly balanced for you. Learn 5 tips to achieve your own mostly balanced life.May link up at Holley Gerth (#coffeeforyourheart), Lori Schumaker (#Moments of Hope), Crystal Storms (#HeartEncouragement), Arabah Joy (#Grace & Truth).

You can't have a perfectly balanced life, but you can have a life that is mostly balanced for you. Learn 5 tips to achieve your own mostly balanced life.

Are You a Place Maker?

 

Encouragement for your journey. 9 ways we can become a place maker and welcome more people into our lives. Encouragement for your journey. 9 ways we can become a place maker and welcome more people into our lives. Encouragement for your journey. 9 ways we can become a place maker and welcome more people into our lives. Encouragement for your journey. 9 ways we can become a place maker and welcome more people into our lives. Encouragement for your journey. 9 ways we can become a place maker and welcome more people into our lives. We are attracted to certain people. And not because of their clothes or appearance, but because of their attitude, their manner, and the way they treat us.

Maybe they have a smile for us. Or a simple hello. Maybe they ask how we are doing and really mean it and take time to listen to our problems if we want to mention something besides what we think of our day or the weather.

Maybe they say hi to our children. Or comment on our pets. Maybe they remember our last conversation and then ask a follow-up question.

 

Meet Miss Mabel, a place maker. 

 

There is an old lady, Miss Mabel, who is about 94 and gets around with two walking sticks. She is hunched over and so petite she doesn’t even come up to my shoulder. You think she is carefully watching the ground, but then she looks up and sees you and she breaks into a smile that highlights all her wrinkles into beauty lines. She just radiates. And then she says hi. And good to see you, love.

You can’t leave her presence without smiling back and feeling like you are needed in this world. You leave feeling definitely more important than you first thought when you work up this morning, looked into the mirror, and wondered if you would ever look decent enough not to scare everyone you saw today.

Miss Mabel is a “place maker.” She makes you feel like you have a place in this world. Like you are necessary. Just by her smiling at you and gushing over you and telling you how pleased she is to see you.

 

Definition of a place maker. They value others.

 

Place makers are not only little old women. They come in all sizes and shapes. Personalities and attitudes. They can be old and young.

But the one think place makers have in common is that they welcome everyone into their circle. Their life. At their table. No matter their opinions, background, socioeconomic status, or the current mess they are struggling with.

Place makers value people. And treat all people as if they have value.

Jesus was a place maker. He made room at his table for all the sick, dejected, worried, un-popular people. No need to have it all together to get a little of his attention. Certain people were not preferred over other people.

We are called to be place makers. Treating others with dignity, honor, and love. Not considering our self-better than others. Or placing people on rungs of a ladder and then treating them accordingly.

We don’t need vibrant personalities, a ready wit, always know what to say or do, or be a people person to be a place maker. We can all be place makers in our own way. With the gifts and life and personality God has already blessed us with.

Encouragement for your journey. 9 ways we can become a place maker and welcome more people into our lives.

An example of a place maker. 

 

My dad was a quiet, humble, shy, and unassuming man. He had a ready smile when necessary, but he was also introspective. And yet he was a place maker and taught me about being a place maker.

Most every day he would leave his small apartment and walk a few miles around town. When he came upon another walker he would say hi. Someone working in their yard elicited a wave. No matter the part of town. Sometimes he would stop and shoot the breeze. Mostly he listened and asked questions. Usually he managed to encourage the person in some small way. And then when he was saying goodbye, he always worked in a thank you (which often surprised the person).

The thank you often had something to do with the conversation. Maybe the person said they were a teacher, then dad would thank them for teaching all the kids that passed through their room. Maybe they revealed how they used to be on drugs, then dad would thank them for getting off and straightening out their life. Or maybe the person said their neighbor was a bother and always waking them up at night. Then dad would thank them for being patient with their neighbor. Sometimes he just thanked them for talking with him.

“Everyone wants to be thanked and rarely are,” he told me one day when I asked him why he thanked everyone.

He rarely talked much about himself. Instead he would listen and ask the person questions. He told me once, “I can’t help others much, but everyone needs someone to listen to them, and that is something I can do. I listen, and people talk.”

All of us can be place makers. And we can improve our skills as a place maker.

Encouragement for your journey. 9 ways we can become a place maker and welcome more people into our lives. Next time you are nervous and don’t know what to say to the person beside you or how to break the awkward silence that is making your ears ring . . .

Here are a few suggestions on how to value someone:

 

1. Think about the other person, instead of yourself. When we focus on the other person, we begin to lose our shyness, quit worrying about the clothes we are wearing, and stop thinking about how the paint is peeling on the ceiling of our house. Focusing on them makes them feel welcome, accepted, and valuable.

2. Quit thinking you have nothing to offer. We don’t need to have the gift of entertaining or be a people person to make people feel like they have a place with us. Each of us in our own ways can listen to someone. Encourage someone. Compliment someone. Thank someone. Provide hope to someone. Your unique personality and traits can bless others in ways you can’t even imagine.

3. Find the similarities you share and connect over them. Maybe you grew up in the same town. Like baseball. Are both tired of winter. Raise lamas. Think green is the new neutral. Like Okra as your favorite vegetable. Find something to agree on. Connecting with someone else makes people feel good about themselves.

4. Try and learn something from them. Make it a game to learn something new from your interaction with them. Maybe they know the secret to plowing a straight row. How to harvest seeds from tomatoes. The secret to crispy fried chicken.

5. Be brave. Take a chance. Start the conversation. Don’t know what to say? Ask questions. Most everyone likes to talk about their interests and themselves.

6. Put yourself in their place. Would they like to sit? Have a drink of water? Some food. A hug.

7. It doesn’t take a lot of time. Little things can make someone’s day. A smile. A cheerful comment. Just recognizing someone can change their day.

8. Reserve judgement. Turn that little voice off. Quit sizing them up and trying to place them in a box. No comparing. Just enjoy the interaction.

9. Ask God to show you opportunities for being a place maker. Don’t know where to start? Ask for help. Learn from the best place maker who makes room for all of us no matter our mess or day.

We can all learn to be better place makers. Welcome more people into our lives. Seat more people at our table.

Try with one person. Then another.

Don’t let a little unfriendliness detour you.

Opposition and setbacks are part of life.

Give them grace (maybe they were having a bad day; a horrible year).

Give yourself grace and don’t take it personally.

Keep inviting and setting a place for others.

Then when your table is full. Pull out another table.

Encouragement for your journey. 9 ways we can become a place maker and welcome more people into our lives.  Thanks for stopping by. Keep remembering what’s important.

Theresa

 


If you need some weekly encouragement and hope, tied up with some humor? Subscribe and join the journey. Life is sweeter when we walk alongside one another.


Join the discussion: Do you know a place maker? What qualities do they have?

Encouragement for your journey. 9 ways we can become a place maker and welcome more people into our lives. May link up at Jennifer Dukes Lee (#tellhisstory);  Holley Gerth (#coffeeforyourheart), Lori Schumaker (#Moments of Hope), Crystal Storms (#HeartEncouragement), Arabah Joy (#Grace & Truth).

Encouragement for your journey. 9 ways we can become a place maker and welcome more people into our lives.