Six months in…

Six months in…

Six months in I’m often getting ask how I’m doing. The whole mom thing, is it good?

Fiona and me six months inThe short answer is, yes. I love being Fiona’s mother. The baby thing comes pretty naturally to me (and I’ve had a lot of practice with 10 nieces and nephews!).

The long answer is, it’s complicated. The mom thing I’m loving. The work thing is great. It’s the combination that’s hard. I’m still figuring out a rhythm to being a working mom. How do I give my all at work and still have enough of me left over for this precious babe and Husband? Left over? What an awful way to word that. My family should be my first priority, Husband and babe come first. But in real life, they come at the end of a long, arduous day.

I managed to get out of the house this morning on time (because I woke up at 5:00), without spit-up on my shirt (this is a miracle), with lunch (yesterday’s because I never had time to eat yesterday), and breakfast already eaten (yay!). I felt like I was on top of it. I dropped Fiona off at her nanny’s and headed into work, where I promptly noticed something white all over my black boots, dust? No, spit-up. Lovely. I’ll clean it off as soon as I get to my office, I thought. But I didn’t. That spit-up went right back home with me at the end of the day. Read more

What horses have taught me: Balance

What horses have taught me

People sometimes relegate horses to the status of an expensive hobby or indulgence,
but I want to show you through this series that the life lessons they teach are priceless.

I believe my horses have taught me about balance more than just about anything else in my life…balance both literally and figuratively.

I had to learn how to sit atop a horse and not fall off. How to keep my seat without stirrups, without reins, without…anything. Just my body in sync with my horse. I had to learn to move as she moves and bend as she bends to simultaneously flow with and counterbalance her motions with mine so neither would be thrown off course.

Example: Hippodrome

Hippodrome trick riding.

And then there is the figurative. I have learned to balance my love of horses with many other things in life: family, friends, work, hobbies. I have learned that balance is essential in training, growing, learning.

In an effort to help Chappy learn to be calm and responsive without allowing her to pull us around or run over us, we often backed her through the barn, out to the pasture, into the round pen. Wherever we went, she went backwards. It’s hard work for a horse, and better yet, it is mentally challenging. It requires trust and submission. But all that backing? She forgot how to move forward. Oops.

We had to reteach her how to lead moving forward, how to lunge moving forward.

Balance. It’s crucial.

The backing wasn’t bad, the groundwork wasn’t harmful, it just needed balance.

Lunging Chappy

In fact, it would be easy to go the other way. To hop right on her after pulling her from her stall. Or to give lip-service to lunging, but only make her do a round or two before jumping on.

But I believe in balance. So we do a good 15 minutes of groundwork before riding–lunging, leading, backing, turning, pivoting, desensitizing, really anything I can think of. Then I ride. And it’s beautiful.

Riding Chappy

The balance of ground work and riding enable Chappy to be in her prime, to not get bored, to listen, learn, grow.

Life is like that too. We need balance to be our best–to listen, learn, grow.

Balance between work and play, between awake and sleep, between business and relationships. It should all be balanced.

Horseback riding

Other What Horses Have Taught Me posts:
Delayed gratification
“I can do this”
Gentleness
God is in control

Frugal or Simple

Frugal or Simple

Frugal or simple? It’s a question I ask myself almost every day.

Much of the time, frugal and simple are not equivalent. I desire both, I need both. I am confined by the restrictions of a tight budget and am determined to live within my means, and yet I desperately need simplicity to maintain my sanity and keep my focus on what is truly important.

At times these needs are warring within me, each vying for top position until I nearly spin out of control. And so I find myself almost daily working to find the right balance. Because there is no one hard and fast rule that always works, few situations are ever the same, and honestly, what is “right” can change based on the day, time, circumstances and so much more.

It’s a balancing act.

Simplicity

My mother posed a question to me a few days ago, and I was glad it was a situation I had already addressed in my own life–a simple one, laughable really, but honest and practical. I always, ALWAYS use more conditioner than shampoo, especially because my hair is super long and curly. So when I get to then of my conditioner and there is still a little shampoo left in the bottle, what do I do with it? Or when a well meaning friend gifts me a toiletry set in a scent that I don’t prefer, or including products I simply don’t use, what do I do?

I spent several years lugging around boxes (and I do mean BOXES) of toiletries whenever I moved (which was pretty often). It got to be one of the most annoying parts of moving–packing up all those bottles of things again… So a few years ago, I vowed to use as many of them as possible before going out and purchasing anything new–a primarily frugal decision. Even if it wasn’t my favorite brand, if I could use it I would. And I did. It took nearly two years to pare down my collection, but I did it.

A few things were left over, things I just don’t use. So I donated them to a local thrift store that benefits a children’s hospital. Because I just don’t need the frustration of trying to force myself to use something I don’t like or the guilt of throwing it away. And guilt from donating it? Definitely false guilt. Someone else can enjoy it and the proceeds will help children in need.

Oh, and that pesky little bit of shampoo left in the bottom of the bottle? Simplicity wins out of frugality on that one. I just don’t need a zillion almost-empty bottles of shampoo hanging around. When I can, I send it over to Husband so he can use it up, and if he can’t use it, it goes in my travel bottles or straight into the trash. Because for my own sanity, I need to pick my battles, and a few ounces of shampoo is not a battle I need to fight right now.

Each day I am presented with another one of these decisions, frugal or simple, simple or frugal. Often times the frugal side wins out (eating in instead of eating out), but sometimes I find a solution that creates a good balance–simple enough to help me slow down yet also in keeping with our financial goals. It’s a bit of give and take.

Mary, Martha, Migraines and more

Mary, Martha, Migraines and more

Coffee Dates with God

I was recently having a gmail chat with a dear friend that I don’t see nearly often enough. I was horribly missing her companionship and perspective in my life and began completely unloading all the thoughts that have been rolling around in my head.

In the middle of the conversation, this came out:

I’m trying to find the balance between being uncomfortable where I am (stretching) and yet still having peace…working hard and adhering to all those proverbs about sowing/plowing/working/being like ants, and also adhering to Scripture that says “be still” and Jesus’ example of leaving the crowds to be in the garden or the boat to rest and pray…balance is hard

If I take the time to sit down, I feel lazy… if I exhaust myself running around, I feel like Martha…

This is the crux of my life right now. And its a tough one to figure out.

I know the story of Mary and Martha, and every so often it makes its way back to the forefront of my mind. I don’t want to be a Martha…but how do I become a Mary?

So much of Scripture also commands diligent, hard work: One who is slack in his work is brother to one who destroys. (Prov. 18:9) And perhaps most applicably this summer, the comparison to the ant: Ants are creatures of little strength, yet they store up their food in the summer (Proverbs 30:25).

And one of the most compelling to me–Proverbs 31. Most of this Scripture passage refers to business, work, and responsibilities. It says things such as “She gets up while it is still night; she provides food for her family” and “She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks” and “She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.” How does one live up to that example and yet still be a “Mary”?

How do I become this diligent, hard working, providing wife without losing the ability to sit at the feet of my Lord?

Scripture said that Martha was “distracted by all the preparations that had to be made.” Boy does that describe me sometimes (especially during the holiday season…which isn’t too far away).

Shortly after my conversation that sparked these thoughts, a migraine hit me from out of nowhere…I’m talking serious vision disturbance, distorted equilibrium, severe pain, nausea… Bad.

I left work early and went home to rest. The severe pain eventually subsided, but the residual pain and fogginess remained. It’s what I call “migraine hangover.” For two more days I was forced to slow down, take my time, not expend so much energy, not get distracted by my long to-do list.

Perhaps it was my body forcing me to give it what it needs…even to my own detriment and pain. I needed to slow down. To take things one little step at a time, approaching my responsibilities with care. To not get “distracted” by preparations and responsibilities.

It was a reminder that I need balance.

Perhaps the best answer to my quandary is simply to counsel myself with the words of my Lord: “You are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one.”