Lessons from a 1 year old.

A couple weeks ago I got to spend a few days with my nephew in Seattle. He’s the best. I hate living so far away from him and not being able to see him grow every day, but I cherish the time I do get with him. He’s so fun and it is fun to see the world through his eyes and all of the ways he continues to grow. I was there the week or so after he really started walking, so that was a fun time too to see him learn this new skill and take the world by storm in a new way.

Today is his first birthday (!!) so I figured it was appropriate to dedicate this post to him and what he has taught me. When I was spending time with him, I realized there’s a lot we can learn from a 1 year old. Since I love to make lists, I decided to make a list of life lessons from a 1 year old.

  1. Sometimes we just need to fall and trying to help can hurt more. Since he was just learning to walk, he fell…a lot. As someone who loves him and never wants to see him hurt, of course my reaction was to reach out and catch him or try to soften his fall, but I realized after awhile that, often times, that made him fall harder. (Sorry Jake and Em). Usually when he lost his balance and caught himself he was fine…he popped right up, ready to keep on walking like it was no big thing. I realized how often we can try to help someone or try to break their fall or fix it when they really don’t need our help. Sometimes helping can hurt and sometimes people need to fall on their own.
  2. Joy can be found in the simple things. My nephew and sis-in-law were in Michigan recently at her grandparent’s house and he loved this spoon he found so he got to take it back to Seattle with him. He loves a spoon…he also spent a lot of time entertained by my little shampoo bottle. These are not big, flashy, or expensive things, but simple, every day items. I think too often we get sidetracked by thinking that life is meant to be big and flashy, when joy and beauty is often found in the simple and every day.
  3. When in doubt…turn to wonder. Babies have so much to learn. Have you ever thought about all the things that we learn throughout life? That at one point you had to learn how to walk, learn to talk, to eat by yourself and learn how the things around you work. Sometimes I would see him look at something or hear something that he wasn’t sure about and then he would toddle over to check it out. Babies don’t have all the answers because they don’t know much yet, so they’re constantly turning to wonder and to curiosity. At some point in life, we lose this, we think we have all the answers or shouldn’t have any doubts, but that’s not reality…what would it look like if we turned to wonder more often? If we let ourselves do the work to figure things out and if we can’t figure them out, just turn to wonder and rest in the fact that we don’t have to know it all.
  4. Sometimes all the people in your life want is for you to show them love. He is a very active 1 year old…he isn’t about the cuddling life. Em would sit him on the edge of the couch every morning to wake me up and I just wanted to cuddle him, but he pushed away and wanted to be off exploring. I mean…I get it, there’s a lot to see out there! He doesn’t know any better, but it made me think about how much we want the people in our life to show us love, so are we returning the favor? Go hug someone. Go tell someone you love and appreciate them. It matters.
  5. Trust in who you follow. My nephew adores his mom and dad. He doesn’t hesitate to take their hand and walk around with them. When we put him down the slide, whoever was at the bottom would catch him and he hasn’t learned yet that maybe that person down there won’t catch me. He trusts in his parents and the people who dearly love him. I follow Jesus, but I don’t think I always trust him…not like a child trusts his mom or his dad. It’s a lesson I have to continually be reminded of.

So Happy Birthday buddy…you’re only 1 and you’re already teaching the world so much! I think we all need to strive to be more like little children and the world may become a more beautiful place.

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     Seriously…is he not the cutest? Such a cool kid. 🙂

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Lessons from my Thesis

I submitted my thesis last night…all 100 pages! (I was excited that it ended up being such a great, round and even number). I can’t believe it’s done. I’m not sure if I’ve ever worked so hard on something in my life. I was trying to think of all the hours it took up and I really don’t think I can count them. Let’s just say, I’m not gonna know what it’s like to not have work to do before I go to work in the morning or as soon as I get off at night and I won’t be spending all weekend at my computer. I’m not going to miss scheduling interviews at lunchtime, dreaming about coding data or spending 12 hours a day looking at a screen. I feel like I’m about to re-enter society!

I’m currently laying in my bed as I type this on my phone because my body and mind vetoed my attempt to actually sleep in until 8 today. I let it sink in that I was done with my thesis and naturally, because I think too much, I started thinking about all I learned this semester through this process. So, naturally, I made a top ten list.

1. Things that are worth it are hard. I could have taken a lot of shortcuts through this process, but I didn’t. I actually really do care about what I researched and I wanted to produce a thesis done with excellence. Producing this was really hard, but worth it.

2. I have the best community ever. I wouldn’t have made it the last couple months if it wasn’t for my family and friends. When I think about how great everyone is I get emotional because I’m just so fortunate to know such awesome people and that I get to have them in my life (I’m allowed to be emotional aboht these things…I just completed a milestone). I actually could really feel the prayers of so many people and the texts, calls and gifts kept me going. The fact that I have friends and family who would transcribe interviews, edit chapter after chapter, let me cry and assure me it’ll be okay and make sure we celebrate even the little victories is amazing. My people y’all are the best kind of people.

3. It’s okay to say no. I became very familiar with the phrase, “I just don’t have the capacity for that.” I’ve learned that sometimes you just have to say no and everything will still be okay. Not gonna lie, still not great at this and am not always good at doing this without pounds of guilt accompanying it, but I’m working on it.

4. Even when you don’t think you have time to take care of yourself, you have time to take care of yourself. I’m not just mentioning this because my whole thesis is about self-care, but because it’s actually true. Through this whole process (full disclosure: at least up until the last two weeks or so) I have tried to make a conscious effort to still love and take care of myself through the crazy. Not only was I working on my thesis and had another class, but this is one of the busiest times for work too and there was always something that needed to be done. But sometimes, I just took a nap or watched an episode of Parks and Rec (I mean they’re only 20 minutes and it’s the best show ever…) I also tried to get 8 hours of sleep most nights, I truly think being proactive in caring for ourselves results in more productivity and helps you keep your sanity. I wasn’t always great at this in all aspects (don’t even ask me the last time I worked out) but I could tell a notable difference from when I felt like I was consciously choosing to care for myself and my soul.

5. Good music matters. Pandora was my BFF for this process, also my “Grad School motivation playlist.” The Explosions in the Sky, John Legend and Ingrid Michaelson stations were in heavy rotation. I love music and listening to it while I work makes me feel like I’m not alone in it…(as I typed that I realized that may be weird but it’s true)

6. I am highly motivated by rewards and incentives. Yes, call me a child or a puppy, but the range of incentives I made for myself during this process were sometimes ridiculous and comical but effective.

7. The mountains help me think and give me life. I was fortunate enough to get away for a weekend to Gatlinburg to work on the bulk of my research and it was awesome. I had a clear mind, got to be creative and was surrounded by mountains. Even though I barely left the hotel room and I worked 15 hour days, it was life-giving.

8. Sometimes knowing you’re not alone is all it takes to give you the extra push to get it done. I loved the group messages between me and my classmates and knowing we were all working on this together.

9. It’s okay to borrow belief from others sometimes. There were times I wasn’t sure I could finish this or felt like what I was doing wasn’t good enough or really valuable, but there was always someone around me reminding me those were lies and who believed I could do it. Sometimes when we don’t believe a truth, we have to momentarily borrow the belief from someone we love until we believe it ourselves.

10. Every season ends. This was a season. A long, hard, emotional, rewarding, but intense season. Amidst all the work, it’s also been a difficult personal time for different reasons, but knowing this was just a season kept me sane at times.

I actually cannot believe my thesis is submitted and I graduate next week! The last two and a half years have been a crazy time. I’ve learned more than I thought, been continuously blessed by the people I’ve met through this program and I’ve grown a lot. I am so thankful for this season, but I’m ready to move into this next season carrying all that I learned through this one with me.

(For real…a HUGE thank you to all of my family and friends and all of your love and support through this grad school season. If I could take out a billboard to brag about how awesome and wonderful you all are, I would…not to be too dramatic or anything) 😉

A significant other.

I heard author, Shauna Niequist, speak at Lipscomb University recently. She is one of my favorite authors and I was excited for the chance to hear her in person. You can follow Shauna’s blog here and you should check out her books! Cold Tangerines is one of my favorite books ever. She has a way of writing about life, friendships, faith and hospitality that just makes sense and she’s great at sharing stories. Anyway…this isn’t about how much I love her, but seriously, check her out.

One thing she shared while she was speaking was this, “I want you to know and remember that just because you don’t have a significant other does not mean you are not significant.” It was refreshing to hear her say this and to know that her main audience of college students were hearing someone speak this truth over them.

I think this happens too much in the life of a young person. I know I have been made to feel like I’m not enough because I don’t have a significant other or I don’t have some “plan in place” for when I’ll have a significant other. It’s like my life hasn’t quite made it because I’m single, like my life isn’t quite as significant, like I’m in the waiting room for my life to finally be where it should be. I have been made to feel not enough or lacking.

Another wise woman in my life, my cousin Kendi, and she may not even remember saying this when we were together over Christmas, but we were talking about relationships and she said something like, “I don’t know why people act like having a “significant other” is the only significant relationship in someone else’s life.” My soul breathed a sigh of relief and shouted Amen!

Because that’s the other side of the coin, why do we treat other relationships as not quite as significant as a boyfriend/girlfriend, husband/wife? Now, I know I’m speaking from someone who is lacking in both of those departments and I am in no way minimizing the importance of those relationships, but I think we need to get out of our box and realize we have a lot of significant relationships. In some ways, if someone were to ask me if I had a significant other I would say, yes, lots! (and then have a lot of explaining to do probably) 🙂 But there are so many people in my life that I consider significant and who bring significance to my life. Beautiful friends who pour into my life and meet me where I am and show me that it doesn’t just take blood to be considered family, a beautiful community who shows me what it’s like to be there for each other, to enter into each other’s happy and not so happy places and a beautiful blood-related family who from my earliest of days have shown me acceptance, love and joy. These people are my significant others.

So friends, please know that you are significant, with or without that “significant other”, know that you are enough just because you are you, know that just because you don’t have a boyfriend/girlfriend or husband/wife you are not lacking as a person or lacking of significant relationships. Pour into the people around you, love the people around you, make room for the people around you and you will find there are lots of people with significance in your life.