Blooming Where I'm Planted?

Photo by Lee 琴 on Unsplash

Ew, I know...what a cliche title.

 But I think...maybe...that is what I am doing.

I've struggled a lot in my life with finding my purpose.

My life hasn't exactly gone the way I planned it in the past 8 years.

From grad school to family planning, I've had to give up some dreams...or at least shift directions. 

And it's been a big struggle. I have felt like this detour means I'm a failure.

But really, the problem is just that- I'm treating it like a detour. I've been determined to get back to my original destination.

Lately though...I've kind of just stopped on the road I'm currently on. Instead of constantly looking for a sign that I'm heading towards the life I thought I wanted or was supposed to have...I'm taking in the sights of were I am.

And guys...I kind of love it. It's a little alarming to realize that all those things I thought I had to do were really the things I wanted to do. And the things I thought I wanted...were really things I felt like I was supposed to be doing...for some reason...that I can't figure out once I step back and really look.

One thing that has helped me a lot once I started reevaluating my life and trying to figure out what to change/keep was imaging myself as an old lady, and what I would want people to say at my funeral. That's probably super weird, but it's true.  And I don't want people to say "She got a bunch of degrees, she went on mission trips, she worked at XYZ for so many years,  etc."

What I want is for people to tell intimate stories about our personal interactions. I want to be the person who always had an open home and open arms. I want to be up for adventures and consistent in my character.

The alarming part is that I haven't realized how good I have it. The happy part of it is...I am where I need to be. Call it God working despite my mistakes, call it my subconscious, but it's nice to realize that I don't have to do a lot to be happy. I just have to appreciate where I am and what I'm doing.

Literally everything, from what I count as my hobbies to the shows I like to what I tell other people is worthwhile has all been pointing to this viewpoint, and I just...was too busy looking at other things and refusing to give up previous goals to see what I, as a thirty year old woman right now, wants and needs and values.

The final piece of this puzzle clicked for me one Sunday at church. Hubs & I started volunteering in the kids ministry again.

I always tend to gravitate towards the kids that are crying, even before I was a mom. I tend to "pick" a kid and end up with them attached to me for the whole service. Usually I end up in a rocking chair, with a kid or two on my lap, reading book after book after book. I felt bad about this for a long time- other volunteers would be playing with multiple kids at a time and I sometimes felt like I wasn't contributing enough.

But it hit me this past Sunday- I would love for these kids to one day say at my funeral, "She was so sweet, always willing to give us a hug and read a book when we were crying."

I love books. My favorite time of the freakin' day is bed time when I read to Babycakes. If I can stretch that out, if I can comfort kids and let parents have a little break to worship and serve and spend time with the Lord...that's e-freakin'-nough. That is a contribution, both large and small.

That is more than enough. That is enough for God, for people, and for me.

It may be a quiet life, it may be small life...but rivers cut paths no one could see coming. 

Personalities & Acceptance

Since we are talking about getting older and acceptance, I wanted to talk about personality types.

There are so many personality type quizzes/theories out there that it can feel like old news. But today isn't about Myers-Briggs or anything specific. It's just pure anecdotal evidence from my life.

My husband and I are in a "small group" at church. Since our church is bigger, they encourage these smaller groups to ensure a sense of community and fellowship. We do Bible studies and faith-based discussion, but our group has become super tight and basically hang out all the time.

Over the years, it's become super clear that myself and one guy have almost the same personality. We will see a sign and make the exact same comment, we like the same styles, react the same ways, often even eat the same food.

That's not super weird, unless you count the fact that our spouses are also exactly the same. 

In a super freaky way. Listening to their conversations sounds so much like listening to me and my hubby. Same communication issues, all of it.

I take this as a good sign- hopefully it means our personalities are super compatible, since they match up over and over again right? 

Realizing that there are certain types of personalities is helping me let some things go.

Obviously, as a psych major, I've heard lots of these personality types. But these specific, documented, regimented types are not really the things I'm talking about.

One thing my husband and friend have in common? They complain. Just in general. It's natural to them. And this bugs the frick out of me.

I am a fixer. If something doesn't work, you change approaches. If you don't care enough to change approaches, you shut up about it. This has historically been a huge source of frustration and drama.

I don't think it really clicked for any of us until another friend casually stated it to her face. My female friend was complaining, and the other friend laughed and went "Oh man, you love to complain so much. You'll do lots of things, you just have to complain about it."

My friend was SHOCKED. She literally had no idea that she complained so much...until everyone in the room laughed, nodded, and agreed.

My husband knew that I complained about his complaining...but until he realized that it was the same as her, he thought I was exaggerating. It took seeing it IN someone else to really get it.

As a fixer, I always want to offer suggestions- partly to shut them up, true, but mainly because I want to help them and take away the upsetting issue.

This doesn't help them just bugs me when they don't listen. Because they were always going to deal with the thing...or more accurately, forget that they complained in the first place (seriously, as a chronic over thinker I cannot truly grasp it, but they also both have bad memories...or willfully forget stuff, I haven't decided).

Recognizing this, and learning to stop judging it, has helped me so much. I have started automatically rephrasing their complaints...sometimes in my head, sometimes out loud.

For instance, the other day I told my husband I was almost at my reading goal for the year since I just finished my 50th book. His response was "That is ridiculous" with a grimace. My response: "Why thank you love, it is impressive and I'm happy for me too." To which he replied, with sincerity, "Thank you for knowing what I actually think even though I did not express it."

It was only slightly ruined when I told him I didn't know what he meant, I was just trying a new anxiety management technique I saw on Pinterest.*

*It's driving me crazy that I can't find it anymore, but basically it said that when you make a mistake or something goes wrong, to over-exaggerate your thoughts in a positive direction instead of a negative one; for example, if you trip you should come up and say "I am the epitome of grace" instead of "Ugh I'm such a clumsy loser."

Loving My Body

Not too long ago, I turned thirty.

This is one of those "big deal" birthdays for a lot of people. Mainly you get older, birthdays in general get less important. At 16 you can drive; at 18 you can buy tobacco/get married/serve in the military; at 21 you can buy alcohol; at can rent a car, but really who cares?

So the ones that end in zeros become the only benchmark of your aging, in a lot of ways.

Personally...I'm so glad to be thirty. I feel like my age finally matches my personality. I have noticed that I am feeling very differently about a lot of things since turning thirty though.

Realistically, this is probably due to a happy convergence of several factors.

But, today I want to talk about how...I now really love my body.

That sounds weird, right? Probably either a) egotistical, or b) trite.

But guys...I really do.

And it's not because I lost a ton of weight or learned how to do makeup properly or bought a bunch of new clothes or even dyed my hair. Like, my physical body is such a treasure to me.

For what is really the first time every, I can get out of the shower and see myself in the mirror and smile.

My body is, well, mine.

It's got stretch marks and cellulite and a little tummy pouch. It has thick legs from a million squats with FiA. It has arms that my baby girl wants wrapped around her all the time.

My body is the outside representation of my life, and it finally feels like it belongs to me.

If pushed, I would credit this to two factors (besides just age).

The first is having a baby. I know this is a privilege that not everyone gets, so I don't mean it in a braggy way. And I know not everyone wants to physically carry and birth a biological child, so I also don't mean this in a it's every womans purpose kind of way. I mean, it is an experience that I was able to have and it taught me a lot about my body.

It's by far the most physically demanding thing I've ever done, and it has a massive effect on so many aspects of my life, even a few years later. I used to hear women who gave birth decades ago talk about it like it was yesterday and think they should have gotten over it by now. But here's the thing- when you can pinpoint exactly when and why and how your body changed, it sticks.

After giving birth, I felt disconnected from my body. My body hadn't been solely mine for a while...and for the first year or so there is the ridiculous debate about breastfeeding so your body still isn't yours. This lead to reason number two- I started working out.

I used to hate when people talked about working out...yuck. WHO CARES?!

But, after having pregnancy do stuff to my body, and dealing with near-crippling anxiety...I needed to move my body. I needed to be in charge of something, and that something needed to be myself.

Now after nearly two years of working out semi-consistently, my body has been sculpted by me. Things don't just happen to me, my body is the result of my actions. 

And that feels very cool.

What's New: September 2019

Whoops. Since I was out of work due to Hurricane Dorian on the first Thursday of the month, I forgot to link up with the What's New link-up...but here's my post anyway.

We tried the grocery pickup, and it was kind of cool! It feels a little weird to have other people pick things out for us, but it's also nice to not have to dig through the store and probably helps with last minute purchases.

Babycakes is officially in full-blow drama queen mode. She's still a fun little kid...but the the other morning on the way to daycare, she started crying real tears because the truck we were behind turned on to another road. "But Mommy I miiiiiiiisss the truck."

I'm ready for fall. As I told Teh Megan, I basically feel like a bear ready for hibernation. Bring on cold, rainy weather so I can wear my plaid and cuddle under a blanket and read books while drinking hot toddies.

Hubs has started a lifestyle change/workout+food regimen to achieve some goals...and I'm so proud of him and it's great. But, I am almost to the point where I would kill for some spaghetti #missingmycarbabundance

Listening to videos like this one from The Sensible Mama make me 100% confident in my decision to scale back on blogging (read more) and also makes me feel like my decision to kind of settle at work is the correct one. I don't think I ever want to be a business owner...I really, really dislike owing people things. I have no problem sharing or helping people or meeting clear goals, but I have a huge problem with expectations (especially from strangers) and guilt which seems to be a lot of a business owner's life. Brittany ain't got time for that.

Apparently being off for Labor Day and lounging around in yoga pants (because hot as hades+mom life= yoga pants) means that I dressed extra preppy for work. Cue pearls+dark lipstick.

Babycakes apaprently can't say comfy, or has it confused with another word, because she will tell me how "company" her blanket and stuffed animals are. LOVE IT.

I did my first mud+obstacle run! And I'm super proud of myself. I have a gigantic bruise on my shin, that I swear is pulsating pain all the way up the bone. It sucks. Shockingly, it took 3 days to show up (even though I could feel it) but now it's a lovely shade of yellow and green.

Show Us Your Books: September 2019

Hello, book lovers! Hope you are having a great month. Mine has been pretty good, and all my reads this month have been solid. Well, mostly.

Calypso by David Sedaris

Basics: Short Stories about Sedaris, his family, and/or middle age, all with his classic dry wit and unusual thoughts
Thoughts: If you like Sedaris, read it. Never fails to make me laugh and appreciate his viewpoint.
Rating: A

The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls by Anissa Gray

Basics: Family saga told from multiple points of view (aka exactly what I love reading). A couple is jailed and awaiting sentencing, and the entire family (children, siblings, etc) feel the repercussions.
Thoughts: Highly enjoyed it, no surprise. I especially appreciated that we got to see the correspondence from both incarcerated individuals and how that relationship was adapting. My only complaint is I wish the crime was sort of get the general gist but I'd like to know the details. There was also discussion of bulimia, which was interesting to read. Never seen it portrayed in the first person so clearly. Also it touches on found/pieced together and imperfect families, which I always like.
Rating: A

Blood, Bones and Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef by Gabrielle Hamilton

Basics: Copied from Goodreads- "Blood, Bones & Butter follows an unconventional journey through the many kitchens Hamilton has inhabited through the years."
Thoughts: Um. This feels like the kind of book where someone had some cool stories so people kept telling them to write a book, so they wrote one even though they're not a writer. Part of it was easy to identify with, part of it was super gross (I never want to eat catered food again), and the part about her marriage was super fucking annoying because...why?! It made literally no sense.
Rating: B-...or C+, I kind of dislike it more as time passes and I think about it

The Book of Essie by Meghan MacLean Weir

Basics: from Goodreads- "A debut novel of family, fame, & religion that tells the emotionally stirring, wildly captivating story of the seventeen-year-old daughter of an evangelical preacher, star of the family's hit reality show, & the secret pregnancy that threatens to blow their entire world apart."
Thoughts: I was really pulled into this book and felt for the characters. I appreciated the way it showed how what we see on TV is rarely the truth, or even part of it...I gave up watching "reality" shows years ago for this reason. And as a Christian, the growing megachurch/televised aspect of Christian culture is something I think of and worry about a lot. My one gripe...I wish there had been literally one good Christian character. Not all, but at least one; it was disappointing to see everyone portrayed as a hypocrite or trapped faker. For a book that was so multifaceted otherwise, it felt intentional.
Rating: A-

What have you been reading lately?
Link up & let us know!
Life According to Steph

Three Things: August

Songs that make me think of high school
The Best of Me by The Foo Fighters
Hey Ya by Outkast
What's Left of a Small Town by Brantley Gilbert

Things I like to give
Possible solutions to problems
Personalized book recommendations
 The price of anything I buy on sale

Things I like to receive
Coffee Mugs

Things I hate that many people like
Pumpkin flavored coffee (love them individually, but not together)
Being the center of attention

Clothes I find uncomfortable 
Turtle necks- dear God, why?
Heavy, dangle-y earrings
 (are my ears just weaker than everyone else's?!)

Things I love seeing other people post
Sunset Pictures
Random nice things that happened that day
I Voted Stickers

per usual, thanks to Stephanie for sharing on her blog and prompting me out of my blogging slump!