Being Quiet

Photo by James Garcia on Unsplash

You may have noticed that it has been kind of quiet around here. And I don't have a super good reason why.

I've written before that it's harder for me when things are going good. For some reason, I can spill out negative emotions without any problem. But it's the calm and/or good times that I apparently want to keep to myself.  

Actually, that's not true. It's not that I want to keep it to's that I want to be sure I enjoy it. I want to soak it up. I don't want it to pass me by.

 There is nothing major going on in my life...for once. Finally. I've slowed it down. I'm putting a graduate degree on hold, possibly forever. I'm volunteering, but not everywhere all the time. I'm working out, but accepting when life happens and it's not the priority.

There are some things on the horizon, but I have mapped out when I am allowed to worry...and it's not this very moment.  

The world feels very loud. And...some of that noise is good. But I need quiet. And so I'm giving myself that quiet. 

I'm cutting back on what I look at online, and I'm cutting back on what I put online.

I'm living what the world would call a little life, and it is restful and wonderful and magical. 

How are you?

Show Us Your Books Link-Up: August 2019

I've had a pretty great reading month! Hope you have also. Here is what I've gotten through. 

Whiskey in a Teacup by Reese Witherspoon
I'm giving this book 3 got a bit repetitive. We get it, it's a book about the don't have to say it every paragraph. Also, it's very clear that Reese is from a upper middle class background- her South is not the only South. However, it's a 5 star coffee table book- if that makes sense.  Beautiful pictures and some yummy sounding recipes.

Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen M. McManus
This was fun, kinda spooky who-dun-it type book. I liked the characters and the plot, and didn't guess who it was until fairly close to the end. Although the one secret, the one Ellery kept, was a bit of a gut-punch.

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
I was a huge fan of Circe, so I had high hopes for this one...maybe too high. The first half of the book dragged for me- I get it, Achilles was super hot and there's some boy-on-boy torment. This may have been exacerbated because I knew the battle of Troy would come up at some point, so it felt like a lot of waiting around until that. This was a complaint a lot of people had for Circe, but I didn't feel it then- thinking maybe it's because I didn't have any preconceptions of that story. But later on I began connecting with Patroclus (the main character) a lot more. The idea of gods and fate and heroes and all that is always appealing so I appreciated that we got more into that as the book went on.

Lawn Boy by Jonathan Evison
I enjoyed this story a lot. The "revelation" was pretty obvious to everyone but the main character, but it was fine. I really enjoyed the point of view from someone on the bottom of the financial food chain. It showed the realities of poverty without removing dignity from the characters, which felt unique.

I'm Fine and Neither Are You by Camille Pagan
This was a Kindle recommendation. It wasn't the most gripping book I've ever read, but I appreciate that it examined the idea of perfection and what we present to the world via the internet and how healthy that is. Also it dealt with the fact that we never really know people...while this isn't a novel idea, it's one most of us avoid acknowledging in the real world.

For the first few chapters, I couldn't decide if Eleanor Oliphant was just quirky and socially unaware or a psychopath. And the answer was...a little of both. I am a little over the "recluse/mentally ill person meets a single shining individual and this sparks a turn that ends up with them getting help they've needed for years." But Eleanor did still have some rough turns and there is something nice about the idea that one little thing can spark a change.

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
This book was totally worth the hype for me. It was difficult to read at first, because it's a terribly sad situation and just...heavy. I couldn't handle a lot of it at once. And while the characters were all kind of unlikable...they also felt very real and I felt for them, even when I disagreed with their actions. I also like how it showed situations from various perspectives- it showed a lot of depth and how different people can view and feel the same events.

A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer
This a YA retelling of The Beauty and The Beast...nothing mind-blowing but I did appreciate having a disabled heroine. I don't know anyone with CP myself so I hope it was an accurate portrayal.

Life According to Steph

Marriage- Why Don't We Talk About It?

 Photo by Thomas William on Unsplash

I've been thinking about weddings and marriage lately. It's a pretty common topic- whether you personally are married or not, whether you personally had a big wedding or not, you almost definitely know someone who is/did.

I got married at 18, and have been married for over a decade. I get that this is kind of unusual. But I love being married, and I wouldn't change anything. I like that my husband and I are solid, I like that I don't have to date and go through any drama meeting new people and figuring things out...and  I genuinely like and love my husband- which might be the most unusual part of it all.

For as much as our culture talks about marriage...we don't really say anything. 

We fight about who should be able to get married, and where, and how easy or hard it should be to end it. But we don't really talk about how to get through it.

My church is kind of big, so we have "small groups." This is kind of like a Bible Study group...but ours has pretty much morphed into a framily. We hang out and talk all throughout the week. There are different groups, some based on age or gender or life status and some open to anyone. Ours started as a group for married couples, and now many of us have kids. We have been talking about the Five Love Languages- an old topic, but one that can really help. We were all talking about how we deal with things in our marriage and talk it through, and it came up that one couple used a saying or strategy that another couple had mentioned previously. I can't remember the details, but it was a short little phrase that easily conveyed how the person was feeling. One of the other women laughed and said "I'm sure anyone who is not in this group and heard that would be very confused."

So it made me think...why don't we talk about marriage more? 

Like really, really talk about the common issues that come up and ways to talk it through. It's no big deal if someone complains about a nagging wife or a lazy husband...but if we say we are having trouble communicating then it's "Oh my gosh how is your marriage in trouble I guess you just don't love each other enough."

I remember hearing when I was younger that "If you need counseling then it's already too late." And while therapy is slowly becoming more normal, apparently that is kind of true. Erin hiley is a therapist and podcaster and she ranted a while back that most people who come into therapy for their marriages are about 7 years too late. She says she would never tell anyone they are really too late for therapy, but on average people have been having problems for 7 years and by the time they finally decide to use therapy as a literal last-ditch effort, the work to undo all those years of bitterness is overwhelming to many.

Why? Why is talking about marriage and discussing ways to make it work so shameful?

What would American marriage look like if we had the message boards and support groups and we talked about marriage as much as we talked about weddings?

What if instead of china patterns and new houses and flower arrangements we talked about communication styles?

What if instead of everyone expecting an invitation to a ceremony, they expected a call about how to hold back your anger when your spouse is pushing all of your buttons as once?

I don't think our culture actually values marriage- I think we value weddings and pretending everything is fine. And that's really, really crappy.

What's New: August 2019

So, I've been really iffy about my future education. Because I like the idea of a grad degree, but kind of hate the process of getting least during the summer classes. Anyway, I dropped my summer class and tried to get a refund for my McGraw Hill Connect access- because apparently physical books are dumb and that's all that matters now (mainly bitter because I get a stipend from work that covers physical books but not e-tools, which is what 90% of my professors use). The initial refund request was denied, but I took a survey and stated why I thought that was a BS decision. Then I got an email stating that my refund would be approved if I provided proof my withdraw- which I did, and then got radio silence for OVER A MONTH, despite emails and opening a brand new ticket. Finally called, was put on hold for 12 minutes, but got my refund.

I am both happy and annoyed- at them and at myself. Annoyed that they took so long, and happy to finally have it taken care of. Happy with myself for calling and not backing down, but frustrated that calling feels like such a big deal. I know it's an anxiety thing and lots of people have it- especially my generation because ew, talking on the phone is so 1995. But it's still frustrating, although that also means it's even more of a reason to be proud...but it's a weird circle of feelings.

We are done with swim lessons, praise! She cried like I was abandoning her to the wolves the first day. Then she liked it for a few days, then she didn't...then the teacher that she loved hurt her leg and couldn't come back and it was a total reset. BUT- she "passed" and it's done and...yep. Happy to be back to schedule. I was considering signing her up for some kind of fall activity but nope. I just want to be home, and I think she does too.

We got a Roomba on Prime Day and oh my gosh, I AM IN LOVE. Apparently Hubs didn't think it would keep up with our dog hair problem, and that it would break it immediately...he only agreed because I kept talking about it (which is way too much money to spend to prove someone wrong, but in marriage you pick your battles and I get that). But he agreed that it was a great idea! It's amazing, our dogs don't chase it, and Babycakes loves it ("That's a good robot, I like that robot, I want the robot to clean my room")- although she does run to the couch or ask us to pick her up so it doesn't run her over. It also makes us keep things more tidy overall because it will get stuck on clothes/etc. if they are left out.

There's been this image floating around Facebook and Pinterest that talks about the different types of hobbies you should have, and how one of them should be your "side hustle" that makes money. I have issues with dependency on this hustle mentality, but for some reason I haven't been able to get this out of my head. Not exactly a hobby, but I'm considering a side hustle. Dunno how profitable it will be yet, but I'm thinking of offering a meal planning service. I do it for myself and my friends have expressed interest. So...I'm trying it with one friend, and then maybe offering it to others. My goal is that it will be cheap enough that if you eat out 2+ times a month due to lack of planning, it will be a cheaper option.

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