Monthly Archives: January 2013

The Comfort Zones – part 2

So I started a blog yesterday on comfort zones and realized how long it was getting – how many comfort zones I had. Granted in life, many focus on how we should be comfortable, and many believe that the opposite of comfort is misery. However, for me, it is more about stretching myself beyond what I know and have always done, or what I have settled for, and admitting that where “I am” is not good enough. Here are more comfort zones that just need stretched a little – more relationships.

Extended Family (family outside our four walls). If my family needs something they know my phone is on 24/7 and I will be there! I love my family, but it is definitely an area of comfort and growth. I am blessed to have three older brothers, who have married great women, and had families. For awhile, we gathered only in crisis, but thankfully we now get together in the summer for a picnic and a Thanksgiving/Christmas dinner. After mom and Grandma passed away our paths just seemed to choose different forks in the road. But, that is what happens when we get comfortable, time passes faster than we realize since we last talked or visited. Birthdays past and you try to figure out their age based on how old they were for our wedding. Family is different now, as I remember growing up and everyone went to cousins houses to play hide-n-seek, snowmobile rides, etc. and now cousins barely know cousins, especially my two because they are so much younger. It is definitely something to think about – how my kids miss out on knowing family. Comfortable can be sad in some ways. Mary and Samuel love family. They love to go visit, so I guess it is Jim and I that are the problem. After a week of work, it’s just easier and more comfortable to stay home. Samuel has offered Jim’s family (a total of 4 people) that I would work extra and pay for them to go on a family vacation. We see Jim’s family on holidays, talk on the phone, and some track me on Facebook (and will probably read this). We also see Jim’s parents when Sam wants to sleep with Poppa. However, I am beginning to realize that just may not be enough and have already posed the idea to do better with more family time. My Dad and Karen definitely do not get the visits they should. I try to check in by phone, and they know to call if they need something, but that isn’t enough. I have some intentional plans to work on that relationship too. All of this is not due to a lack of love for our family or a problem with distance for our family. It has just been NOT taking the time. As I said before one of my favorite quotes is “How you spend your time defines who you are.” Well, I want to be defined as a strong family tree.

Friendships. Life takes you through times and friendships change. I believe God places people in your life that you need to be there for that time. However, I also believe that I have not given attention to some friendships and as a result, they have shriveled. I miss those friends. This is one reason that I love about Facebook – to keep in touch with friends. But really, should they learn about my life or I learn about their life on Facebook (well, except for messaging – which I love the most). And do I read between the lines of their posts and see they are truly hurting? Do I pause often when I read a post and say a prayer? Sometimes I get too comfortable with friends and assume they will just always be there. I have one dear friend who was even with me (and just missed) Mary’s birth. She moved and we lost touch, I have tried numerous ways to contact her and have come up empty. Mary knew her as Aunt Tammy and I would love to share what an amazing young lady she is with my friend. I have friends who still live nearby that I have lost touch of their lives. Sure you could say it is a two-way street and they could call me, and well that is true, but they probably just have been comfortable too. And well, if neither of us reaches out, comfort can build a wall. I have some incredible newer friends, but I can’t say I am great a being a nurturer their either. New friendships sometimes take a little more care and attention to grow. However, it is a balance to honor both old and new friends. I know that I could call my friends and they would be there in a heart beat. I also hope they know if they needed me they could call and I would be there. But, whey do I wait for a crisis to stretch the comfort zone? I can drop a card, invite them to lunch, etc… Comfortable can cost me more than I wanted to pay.

Christian Walk. I have said this before, and you may tire of reading it. I was raised in a wonderful Christian home with church and Sunday School every Sunday without excuse. Our only vacations were to a Church Camping Weekend at Camp Harmony in Somerset PA. Oh the memories. I sang in the children’s choir, did the youth groups, and eventually taught Sunday School. Jim and I went to church together from about the third date. However, somewhere along the line I got comfortable. Sure I had a great prayer life during infertility (and a lot of anger too), then high risk pregnancy with Mary and Sam. I knew where God was when I needed Him, because He never moves, but was comfortable only going to Him on my terms. The scary/sad part is that there is still that tendency. Sure I listened to Christian music in the car and learned the words. Last year I resumed really reading and jumped into my stack by Christian Authors. They talked about stories from my childhood and applied them to life now. They challenged me to stop going through the motion of saying I was a Christian, but to put up or shut up. We became more involved in our church and the closer I moved to God the louder was His voice, which of note can be dangerous and/or comforting. (Dangerous because He asked me to move out of my comfort zone). I read more and learned to love my Kindle that read to me when I drove. I heard him, and started the Ladie’s Bible Study and it was the best decision I have made in a long time. I recently purchased several of my favorite chick flick movies and would play them over and over for noise in the background- some scripts I probably even have memorized (interesting how I could memorize movie scripts, but was lacking in scripture memorization). But then I signed up for an online Bible Study to stretch me a little more. I told a friend who introduced me to the author’s webcasts full of Bible teachings. Long story shortened. my ipod is filled with the podcasts, and now the noise I fill my head with is Bible teachings. The other night, I honestly was listening to a podcast and I got goose bumps and sobbed. I am realizing that my Sunday only approach was just too comfortable for far too long.

Being comfortable is not a bad thing when I am talking about shoes, but it definitely does not need to be a descriptive word in my relationships with myself, my husband, my children, my family, my friends, and definitely not Christ. Life is SHORT, and in a moment everything can change. If I am not comfortable with the intensity and time I put into my relationships… the moment is now. In this year of being intentional, I know that relationships need to be moved to the top of the list!

Be willing to be uncomfortable. Be comfortable being uncomfortable. It may get tough, but it’s a small price to pay for living a dream.” – Peter McWilliams

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Challenging the Comfort Zones (Part 1)

Blog – Take 2… I started another blog, but it wasn’t going where I wanted to headed. I am learning in life that I need to be more intentional about my journeys. I need to stop beng a “wanderer” and have a destination in mind. The interesting thing with me is that I am not really a traveler by nature. I am very happy with just staying home. When we do go on vacations or trips as a family, we generally choose the same destination and eat at our favorite places – almost like a second home. For instance, when we go to Gettysburg we eat Vinny’s Pizza and Eddy’s. When we go to VA Beach, we eat at Planet Pizza, Calypso, and Mai Mai. When I use to travel for work, I was fine with getting to the hotel and just staying there, and if I do venture for sight seeing I generally find a city tour to point out the highlights. I have many friends who love to travel and have an itinerary of everything they want to see. If I went with them, I would likely just say I’ll stay here and let them go. It really isn’t about liking change, because I often do, but about being comfortable. Also, it is about the quietness and being unhurried in life. If I get a moment from reality, I will like choose a quiet activity (book) versus sight seeing. Do I miss out at times? Probably. But, then again, that is a matter of perspective. I may truly get more from the quiet time then seeing a monument or a landmark. But I am realizing that I am getting a little too comfortable in many areas of my life – and well, that isn’t always good. I may just get something more from change.

Just a few areas… my health. Well, those who know me (or have seen my picture) realize I have some curves. Every year I say I will change them, and well, every year I get comfortable right where I am. I do know my body pretty well and do follow my labs and Blood Pressure, etc. As a nurse, I know the consequences of my curves and have had 2 cancer scares, both listing obesity as a risk factor. A risk factor that I can change, but never do. I could give you all the excuses – time to exercise, food choices, working night shift, etc.. But I know it comes down to being too comfortable – being a procrastinator that I will start tomorrow – and not being intentional in taking care of me!!! My family will even tell you, there is little “ME” time, not because they won’t give it, but because I don’t take it! My labs are great and so is my BP, so always rationalize that I am healthy. I claim I love my family more than life itself, but do nothing to change one factor I can. I can’t remove my genes, but I could definitely loose some weight and wear a smaller pair of jeans. I am a diabetic and have been since having children. Until this year, I have been able to “control” it with my diet. On December 24th, I went to the doctor because I knew my fasting glucose was climbing and he prescribed medications (of which I was waiting to start). We do believe part of it is from my crazy ongoing rash and then again my diabetes may be adding to the rash. Either way… if I don’t do something, I just may find myself getting comfortable with a prosthetic leg or even worse in a coffin – now that is a scary reality!

Our children. Too comfortable. I step it up when I see there is an issue. This year I have probably become a little less comfortable (actually a lot less comfortable) by cyber schooling. It was easy to take them to school everyday and go on with all my things to do and just help with homework. Now, I have stepped out of my comfort zone as I am responsible. That is definitely always easy. With Sam, I have become so comfortable with his uniqueness that it becomes daily life. But, should I press more issues. I have done this more with insurance battles, having weekly meetings with his online teacher, etc… But, often I know there are more things to be done, but I have to step out of the comfortable/easy. With Mary, she has always been the easy child – does her homework without asking, works ahead, etc.. However, because I got comfortable and tried to talk her through things, I believe I missed out on some “signs” of impending issues. Last year, we also talked about her vision for our family. She challenged many of our comfort zones, and that was not easy. She is an affectionate person, and hugging and touching are not so much in my comfort vocabulary, I am afraid. It isn’t always easy to step out of what I know into the unknown, and rarely is it comfortable to do that! But, all the steps taken out of the comfort zone is one more block in their foundation… so time to get to building!

My marriage. 25 years together and 20 years of marriage. Pretty impressive record in this society. I have learned from society and dear friends… that this can also be a bad area to get comfortable. You know… you shave your legs less, wear ponytails more, PJs or comfy clothes all day. Last month Jim had his annual Christmas party and Open House for work. I got semi-dressed up and wore makeup, paid a little more attention to my hair, etc.. Mary’s response was I didn’t look natural. Jim’s response was that I looked beautiful. I have gotten comfortable in my marriage and automatically think, he won’t care what I am wearing when he comes home, whether the bed is made, if he has to eat cereal for supper, etc… We went away for a weekend this past fall and it was the first full weekend we had gone anywhere without children. Some will argue and say that is fine, but I can tell you, it was nice to just be with each other as grown ups. Do we love our children – absolutely! But I know all too often our discussions become all about the children and we loose who we are as a couple and individuals in a marriage. I think we were starting to become that couple. The ongoing joke for our family for YEARS, and I do mean YEARS is that we traveled everywhere is separate vehicles. One reason is that he is a firefighter and has left me to go to a fire. We would work in Morgantown together, but also drove separately. We stopped going to church together for several years and that became comfortable for us, but that should not have been. I worked weekends and he worked weekdays so our paths crossed seldom. I realized things were slowly slipping – our marriage and our family. I wanted us to be together as a family in a church, so I changed my shift, I told him to find a church and we would follow – we followed as a family and it was the best thing we could have ever done. We started always traveling to church together. Then, we bought our car – in 20 years our first truly mutual decision on a vehicle – and now I even get taken to work and dropped off at the door. I think some of the biggest wake-up call was the two big fires in a row last year – Nemacolin and the Mill Run church. Then there was the flood rescue he had gone on for Hazmat. As I heard him talk and know that he doesn’t sit on the sidelines – as I watched the one video as he counted the firefighters coming out of the burning church and one was him. I am married to an amazing man… and comfortable just isn’t okay. I think in the last year we have done better, but I have a lot more work to do to get out of the comfort zone, but know that every step is worth it.

So many more comfort zones… so little time…. I think this will be continued tomorrow…

Don’t get too comfortable with who you are at any given time – you may miss the opportunity to become who you want to be.” – Jon Bon Jovi

It’s all about the LITTLE THINGS

I wasn’t sure what to write about, but a comment from my husband was all it took. Samuel was discussing our trip to Gettysburg that we always take, at least once or twice a year. He was talking about the toys he would take (unlike his mom he is not a procrastinator in that way). Which hotel with the best pool we should stay at, etc… Jim said you know “It’s the little things in life” and that is so true! It is the little things. So many times, I focus on the big picture and not the little things. When I started my blessing lists in November, it did help me shift that focus to the little things, the little daily blessings. Some other things last year that helped me focus on little things included the following – and they also made me realize my word intentional. Life sometimes doesn’t just happen – sometimes you have to be intentional in making things happen.

The Happiness Project book. I have re-read this book a couple times (the first time was actually 2010 while at Gettysburg – I told you we love it there). In the book, the author talks about it being the little things in life that can bring happiness. She took a year and INTENTIONALLY focused on things that bring happiness for her. Every month, she chose a few resolutions, while keeping all the ones from the previous month. She even made a chart and marked her progress daily. It was the little things she talked about… marriage, money, friendship, books, etc… She talked about how she would use free cheap pens, even though she didn’t like them because she didn’t want to spend the money on a better pen that she loved. One day, she changed her thinking and bought the pens and everytime she wrote with them, it was a little burst of happiness. She focused on how she changed her morning routine, her relationship with her children and her husband, etc.. Some of the habits she kept and others, she let go because they didn’t necessarily add happiness. It wasn’t a self-help book really, but it was for me. I started looking a life differently. http://www.happiness-project.com/

She released a second book called Happier at Home and I enjoyed reading it when I went away with Jim for the weekend. He sat in state firefighter meetings/classes and I enjoyed a great book. It was a further extension of her book, but truly a focus on her home and family. It was another book full of wonderful ideas and thoughts. Again, she was intentional in changing her atmosphere and her relationships with friends and family.  http://www.amazon.com/Happier-Home-Experiments-Practice-Everyday/dp/0307886786

The Five Love Languages – life changing for me for my family. After 20 years of marriage with my wonderful husband, I asked him questions on the quiz in the book to help me learn about him more. I also have the Five Love Languages for Teenagers and asked Mary the quiz questions in the book. I did an entire blog on the five love languages (read it here: https://sherisoulsearch.wordpress.com/2012/03/27/prepare-to-speak-new-languages/ Now when I think about them, I know how I can best show love to them in the language they understand and means the most to them. I was truly surprised at the findings for each of them, and it makes a true difference knowing.

The other author that made me stop and think was Donald Miller. I read his book A Million Miles in a Thousand Years. His book was about living a life that made me stop and think about “Does this make a good story”. Do I sell my life short by not absorbing every opportunity. He now has a book called Storyline that will be on top of my list to read to challenge me, in fact, I have it as an audio download so when I can’t read, I can listen. (http://storylineblog.com/

The other site that made me stop in think was introduced to me by my friend Carletta just before summer. The Hands Free Mama (http://www.handsfreemama.com/Topics/the-hands-free-revolution/ ). It is a site of a mom, just like me, who was struck with realizing, before it was too late, the impact of distractions on her life. She took the intentional step and started making a difference in her family’s life.

I also discovered this author, Katthi Lipp, when I was reading a blog. She has several little books that are projects that can be completed in a month. Many of which I will implement this year as I become more Intentional. The ME Project, the Marriage Project, the What’s for Supper Project, etc… (http://www.kathilipp.com/ )

Thanks to the internet, I have discovered some incredible blogs to read when I don’t have time for a book. I have discovered some awesome podcasts to listen to when I can’t read. I have not always filled my time so wisely and praying that my word helps me in that direction!

This past year was so much about the little things in life. Many things I even wrote about – my favorite mug, books I read, songs I heard, time spent with family. I seemed to learn from the little and big things that impacted my life. I took the time to pause and reflect on things that once would have passed me by. I stopped and savored a little more. One of the things in My One Word book they encouraged is to journal about your word and to watch as it unfolded before your eyes in unexpected ways. I know this year I truly discovered that with my word. Did I change everything I wanted to change? Absolutely not! But, did I not get things done because I chose better options – like time with family and friends. Absolutely! I am so looking forward to 2013 and the endless possibilities. My heart is so ready for all the “little things” (the laughter or our children, the acts of service from my husband, the time spent with friends, etc)… and I can’t wait to share them with you.

My 2013 verse: Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. (I Timothy 4;15)

“The happiness of life is made up of minute fractions — the little soon forgotten charities of a kiss or smile, a kind look, a heartfelt compliment, and the countless infinitesimal of pleasurable and genial feeling.” – Samuel Coleridge