Tell Your Time

{Our kitchen wall, quote by Annie Dillard}

Jared and I met as freshman in college. He was organized, structured his day in 15-minute increments, and was a strait ‘A’ student. I was messy artistic, undecided on what to do with my life  flexible, and pressed snooze on my alarm most mornings. But I was so cute, Jared couldn’t resist me. (hahaha)

We were two crazy lovebirds and got married 10 months after we met. And then the newlywed shock set in. My creative chaos started to drive him crazy and his anal structure was frustrating. In our 12 years together we’ve had a lot to work out. Marriage is like learning another culture.

{on the Great Wall of China on my 20th birthday}

Every night after we put the kids to bed Jared and I lie on our bed or cuddle on the couch and take 5-10 minutes each to recap our day, chat about the budget, vent a frustration, bring up an “issue,” etc. (Remember in high school you’d have those DTR talks? Yep, it’s kind of like that!)

Frequently “time management” comes up. It’s a bittersweet subject because I’m fascinated with the idea of “time management” yet it’s often difficult for me to stick to a schedule. Even when I have a good routine in place. Sometimes I even fight the routine because I’m afraid it will stifle my creativity.

When Amy Andrews first came out with the e-book on time management I bought it right away. I love her blog so I knew her e-book would be good. But get this. After I downloaded it, I just let it sit on my hard drive because I didn’t “have time” to read it. Yep.

Well, this weekend after a week of many late, late nights designing I had {another} I’m-too-overwhelmed-and-over-committed meltdown. And guess what came up in our nightly “five minute talk?” Grrrrrr.

And so I took a deep breath and scrapbooked a few pages (helps me clear my mind!), and read Amy’s book.

Wow.

Now I’m kicking myself for not reading it right after I bought it. It gave me the sense of direction I’ve been trying to find and {once again} reminded me I don’t need to be a superwoman.

CAN NOT green

And I’m really EXCITED about the simple, PRACTICAL, profound tips Amy shares in her e-book. As she explains, “This book will help you:

  1. Identify the most important things in your life.
  2. Set long-term goals for each.
  3. Determine how you can reach these goals in doable, bite-sized steps.
  4. Manage your time so you can accomplish your life goals and nothing important falls through the cracks.”

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, exhausted, over-committed, disorganized, stressed, etc. I really recommend you check out Tell Your Time.

Just “Write” for Me

Once a friend confided when she turned 30 she stopped caring about what everyone else thought. At that time I was in my mid-20′s and still very concerned about making impressions and viewing people’s perception of me.

But this year I turned 30 and it occurred to me that I’ve been moving in the direction my friend described. Part of it is that I’m gaining confidence and maturity, and part of it’s that my time has become limited so I’m treading more carefully with the other relationships I nurture.

When I do spend time with friends, I’m choosing to stick to the ones who get me and encourage me instead of telling me how stupid my {stupid} idea is. The ones with common interests and values that I can turn to for support and cheerleading. And even the ones I’m safe enough with that I can hear and accept honest feedback and criticism.

Hopefully I’m also offering the same kind of friendship–gifting value to their lives instead of merely being an attention taker, drama starter, goal downer, or Facebook ranter.

Finding that “tribe,” (community, network, group, alliance, ”family”, posse, crew) to support my personal, educational, spiritual, and business goals is one of my 2013 vision board dreams and this past week I took a step closer when we discovered a large established homeschool co-op just 45 minutes from our small town. A bit of a drive, yes, but an answer to my “educational goal” prayers as I’ve been trying to go at this homeschooling stuff too much on my own–and getting discouraged.

The group meets once a week and offers several classes for each age group in subjects like art, PE, and science. It feels like just enough that the kids can make friends, do fun activities, and learn to listen to a teacher other than mom and dad and my kids had so much fun during our “let’s-try-it-out day” they’ve been counting down to the next co-op session.

And while the kids were in their classes I got to spend time meeting other moms. The encouragement, friendship, and adult conversation I gained breathed refreshment to my soul and motivated me to push past these winter blahs.

Are you part of a “tribe?” Psychologist, Abraham Maslow, thought one of our basic needs is the need to “belong” and feel loved and accepted.

But, “The truth is? You don’t need EVERYONE to like you. Know you. Or be in your life. You need the RIGHT people. The ones that lift you up and let you be YOU. The ones that fuel you. Help you to laugh. Let you cry. Tell you the truth. Believe in your vision. If you’ve got to change for someone to accept you? They are probably not right for YOU. And you know what? YOU DESERVE to have the RIGHT people in your life. You ABSOLUTELY do!” (Connie Podesta)

I’m finding so much truth in the above quote. And it’s kind of freeing, ya know? Because it relieves the pressure of having to please everyone.

And so as our human needs drive us to belong, let’s belong to groups that inspire, lift, energize, recharge, and celebrate us! They’re the ones that will help us grow!

{The Valentines we gave to our new co-op friends.}

Let’s discuss.

  • Do you have a “tribe?”
  • Where have you gone to find your “tribe?”
  • What encouragement can you offer to someone still looking for a “tribe” to belong?

Making the Perfect Plan

When Jared and I planned to start our family we assumed it would just “happen” (after all, we’d spent a lot of time and energy “preventing” it), so imagine my surprise (and then frustration and eventual devastation) when month-after-month our plan was out of my control and the peed-on stick continued to read negative.

Although I’d been the first married, I soon began to watch my newlywed (and unwed) friends have one, two, even three children and (I’m sad to admit) it became a dark, jealous, angry time of longing. All I’d ever wanted when I “grew up” was to be a mother and I felt my righteous desires were going unheard.

There’s a lot more to this story–but the point I want to get to is that in order to numb my mind from the emotional scar–and perhaps even in rebellion–I changed “my plan” and began to consume myself with the goal to finish my education. Since we’d been married in college and Jared was a couple semesters ahead of me, I mapped out the remainder of my program and burned at both ends, taking 21-credit semesters so I could catch up and we could graduate together.

When graduation approached, I accepted a job teaching 1st grade which I absolutely loved. And then, as unexpected as the infertility, my plan changed again when we discovered I was pregnant–my due date just weeks after the school year would end.

It’s been eight years and four children later and my life is drastically different from that time I felt denied of my “perfect plan.” Now that I can look back with more wisdom and perspective, I can sincerely thank my Heavenly Father for that trial–which at the time was the worst I could have imagined–because it’s become a blessing.

I’m not sure I would have finished my formal education if I had gotten pregnant according to “plan.” And although there are times in my weakness that I grumble about my education going to waste on changing dirty diapers (it’s usually when that darn student loan bill is due), I know in my heart that the knowledge and growth I gained during my educational experience benefits me daily–particularly as I’m fulfilling my role as a mother, friend, and community leader.

And so my point is this. I believe we can–and should make plans for our lives. January’s definitely that traditional time for making resolutions, and those new “plans” for ourselves. But I also believe we should be open to challenges that may arise–the ones that aren’t in our perfect plan. Because truly, if we believe that our Master Planner has the perspective to see all, it will eventually work out, and we may be surprised to see how much better the plan is that He’s crafted.
What surprise “plans” have you experienced? Share in the comments.

How Did You KNOW?

I just got back from taking a week off from unpacking to fly back west to spend time with my younger sister and get ready for her wedding.

My parents raised my siblings and me with the expectation that we would get married and have a family, and as the oldest, I guess I’ve paved the way. Because of that, as we participated my sister’s wedding-related events, it was natural for my college-aged brothers and me to have a few “marriage” conversations. My adorable clean-cut, blond-hair, blue-eyed brothers are fresh in the dating scene, and while they’re not in a hurry to marry, it’s definitely in their minds as their ultimate goal of dating, which has guided them to keep their standards high.

One night at dinner we were sitting around the restaurant table, and someone teased that it would be a great place to bring a date. “Yeah, so I can spend money on someone else’s wife,” Sam bitterly grumbled. He’s fresh in the dating scene, but also fresh from being heartbreakingly dumped, hence the attitude.

“How did you KNOW, Pam?” he asked.

“Know what?”

“Know that you were ready to get married. Know that Jared was THE ONE?”

I took a deep breath. Because while I don’t regret marrying Jared, I’ve said many, many times to my siblings that I think 18 was too young to get married and I wish I would have waited a bit longer. And so those “how did you know?” conversations are somewhat awkward for me since I’m not sure I’m a good role model for determining marriage readiness.

“Well, I’ll tell you, but I don’t think you’ll like my answer.”

He eagerly waited, almost on the edge of his seat and I guessed he was imagining some magical from-the-movies scene where fairies and gods sang our love story and declared Jared to be my soul mate. I looked down, fidgeting with my fingernails, before I finally answered.

“For me, I knew when I realized one day that I was completely comfortable with Jared. That I felt like I could be myself, that I could trust him, and that I was safe with him. When I was with him, I felt like I was home.”

Glancing over, his face was wrinkled in confusion. “What?”

“I know, it’s not like the movies. No twitterpated, heartpounding hallelujah. Just a feeling of peace. And that’s when I knew Jared was my one.”

A couple of days later I was sitting with my sister Chelsea, minutes before her wedding ceremony. I realized we’d never had the conversation before. She was 13 when I got married. And although she’d been dating Scott for two years, she’d never told me how she “knew” either.

So, I asked.

“Well,” she hesitated, almost like she was anticipating my disappointment. “There wasn’t really a shining moment when the heavens opened and I had a revelation. I just realized one day that when I was with him, I felt completely safe. Like I was. . . home.”

She looked up, and both of our eyes were filled with tears. I was shocked to hear her use the same words I had used just days before when describing my decision to my brother.

“Do you know what I mean?”

“Yeah,” I nodded, still in unbelief. But I knew.

{My cute sister and her new husband}

Are you married? What was it like for you? Did you have a visionary confirmation, or was it more subtle, like our experiences? I’d love to know :).

Interview with Jared

A few weeks ago one of the student editors from the college newspaper asked me to answer some questions to help with a profile piece she was writing  about Jared. The paper came out this week, and his article (the first half, anyway) was on the front page!
Many of my “quotes” didn’t make it to the article, but answering them–especially as we’re celebrating our 11th anniversary gave me a good chance to reflect on my husband and how far we’ve come together. Our marriage has definitely not been all sunshine and roses, but the challenges have helped make the good times that much sweeter.
Please describe Jared’s attitude toward his career.

Jared emulates the attitude of “you don’t have to be sick to get better” and is always re-evaluating and looking for ways to grow. He applies the attitude to his career by keeping up with trends in education, studying the evolution of writing centers, and looking for better ways to connect with his students. He’s also very witty and strives to create a positive, trusting work environment in the writing center and in his classroom.

How does Jared balance his career with being a husband and father?

With four kids, ages six to newborn, I’m sure you can imagine the daily circus-life we lead. But for us, the key to balance has been to remain active in our faith, keep a structured family routine, and have a great sense of humor.

 Are you content with where Jared is now with his career?

Jared’s current position fits the “perfect job” description we dreamed of, and since he’s happy, I’m happy. But we’re always leery of becoming complacent, and so we’re often evaluating our goals and looking forward to what’s best for our family. We often talk about further education and income-increasing opportunities.

 

In respect to his career, what do you think are Jared’s greatest accomplishments?

Up to this point, I’d say his biggest accomplishment was laying down the fear and instability of leaving a well-paying editing job to pursue something he loved. After prayerful evaluation, we recognized the benefit this would bring our family and although it required more education and it would be difficult to sell our house, leave our comfort, and go back to graduate school with two little kids, we made the sacrifice.

What have you done to help/support him along the way?

While Jared attended graduate school and worked part-time, I offered at-home childcare in our tiny campus apartment to help earn money. Graduation was that much sweeter for our family because we’d worked together to achieve the goal.

We continue to support each other. While he works at {name of college}, I work at home, and we’re involved in our children’s education, our church, and the community.

Challenges?

With the current state of the economy, you go where the jobs are, and so it’s been difficult living 2,000 miles away from our families. I get especially homesick on Sundays and holidays when I see our neighbors and new friends spending the day with extended family.

I think we’re all aware that you don’t go into education to get rich, and since we’ve chosen to be a one-income family, stretching a teacher’s salary has been a huge challenge.