Joyful Simplicity

Growing up in the country as a child in the 70’s the electricity would go out frequently. Sometimes it took hours or even days to go back on. That meant no TV which forced our family to rely on simpler entertainment. Our home would be lit by candlelight. My scratchpad and pencils next to a nearby flame allowed enough light to trace images from my coloring book for hours. Oftentimes my family would agree to play board games and cards. Those family stories shared during those moments of darkness with just little flames of light are still cherished. 

While reflecting on those simpler days thinking of all the special moments where very little money was required to be happy, I remember:

  • Climbing our large apple trees and enjoying the fragrance filling the Spring air of the apple blossoms that were in full bloom.
  • Waking up to the birds’ singing in the morning with a slight breeze coming through the open farmhouse window making the sheer curtains dance peacefully in my room.
  • Being taught how to put a worm on a hook by my Dad and getting to cast my line all by myself. Even if no fish would bite during those fishing trips, I still have fond memories of getting to enjoy a picnic lunch in the peaceful silence of nature with maybe an occasional sound of cows mooing in the distance.
  • Picking wild strawberries on the side of a country road and running back home to share my exciting harvest of a handful. Or more accurately the remains of the leftovers after I ate the largest ones even before they could be washed.
  • Walking down to our nearby pond/mudhole and catching tadpoles with my sisters.
  • Going in the hay mile to play and finding a surprise litter of kittens.
  • Watching the amazing ability of an ant carry food more than twice his size for what could have been hours.
  • Getting to go along with my older brothers and sisters to pick up large rocks out of a field before my Dad and older brothers and sisters could plow the fields.
  • The satisfaction of touching a cute brown little piglet through the fence long enough to feel his coarse hair and admiring his pretty long-eyelashes.
  • Pushing the bubbles of pitch on the tar country road on a hot summer day.
  • Getting to grill out and eat with the family on a picnic table in the barnyard.
  • Watching Mom make apple pies and getting to play with the leftover dough

Making mud pies, finding toads, and embracing the feeling of grass on our bare feet while dancing around in the yard are some of the simple things of childhood that brought many of us joy. 

Now in adulthood with larger houses, entertainment at our fingertips, no time for hobbies or board games, many of us have begun taking the ordinary things for granted. Usually, when unfortunate circumstances occur, it can become a wake-up call to a larger life lesson that leads us to appreciate each other and the simplest of life’s pleasures once more.

Whatever obstacles that could be in front of us with economic uncertainty, one thing remains in our control, our attitude and outlook to overcome our struggles.  Remember tough moments too shall pass.  Meanwhile, whether it is memories of your youth or simple pleasures from today, share your favorite moments where it was the simple things that brought you joy.  Hope and optimism can conquer all fear.

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Givers, Don’t Forget Your Worth

If you are a giver or thrive on the sense of accomplishment, often you may find you have developed such a willingness to help that you begin to overextend yourself.   It can be difficult to know when you may be giving too much versus providing outstanding service to others based on how good it makes you feel. If you often find yourself burnt out and blame it on your job, ask “is it really the job? Or is it me trying to be a superhero?”

It can become detrimental to your own well being if you have trouble saying no even when you are already overwhelmed. If you have a hard time saying no for fear of letting others down, remember your worth! Practice using this phrase for the next time you have larger priorities and want to say no but feel obligated to say yes:

“I would love to be able to help you with …, however, given my current demands, I won’t be able to give your request the attention it deserves.”

If said sincerely the person making the request will understand. Know it is okay for you to not carry the world on your shoulders. You don’t have to be a martyr to be valued and loved!

Also, learn to delegate.  When you have a huge list of tasks, write them down. What can other people help you complete?  Then keep in mind they may have a different way of completing the job.  Ask yourself, does it really matter how it is done as long as it gets done?  For the things where quality work does matter, spend time teaching given you will thank yourself in the long run.

In my own experience, I used to get annoyed when I would rush around the house trying to complete everything.  Particularly when folding and putting laundry away.  I would belabor over hanging up my teenage daughters’ nice clothes and also nicely fold everything I thought should go into their drawers.  Then I would get annoyed when I saw how they would just dump all their folded laundry on their floor and shove it into their drawers or take off the clothes from their hangers and organize it a different way.   I kept doing their laundry because I felt needed and good about doing something for them and tried to push my system on them.

It wasn’t until I had shoulder surgery where I was forced to have them do their own laundry.  When I recovered, they both admitted that they would prefer to just fold their own anyway because they had their own organization system.  It made no sense to force my way of doing it on them.  All they needed was to be taught how to work the washer and dryer, learn to sort, add detergents, and now they are self-sufficient.  It does not make me a bad Mom.  I have taught them how to live when they are on their own.  They also have a less stressed Mom! While I still need to work at setting boundaries, I have become aware that I need to caution myself from basing my worth on how much I accomplish.

We will be no good to anyone if we become bitter extending ourselves too far.   Imagine how our worth multiplies when we teach others and don’t just do it ourselves.

“When we fail to set boundaries and hold people accountable, we feel used and mistreated.” -Brene Brown

Recommended Podcast for Working Mom’s: “Heather is in Control” by Heather Cauvin episode 448 “How to Implement a Boundary”

 She reviews:

Five part formula for saying “no thank you”:          

• Start with a compliment if one fits the situation

• Give the answer

• Say thank you

• Encourage the person

• Change the subject or excuse yourself

When to Make a Job Change

All of us have heard the phrase, the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. Many times people have made changes for the wrong reasons and it has not ended well. Therefore when you are at a crossroads in your career how do you choose what path to take?

If you are making a change because of money, or because of too much change within an organization, then that is NOT a good reason alone. Also if you are in the valley of hard times within your job, that is not the time to make a career decision.

I once heard it is when you are on the mountaintop. When things are going well for you in terms of your performance is when you will have the most clarity to make decisions for the right reasons and not just to escape.

Ask yourself are you running away from something or towards something? If it is running away, what is it you are wanting to leave? Have you gotten in a rut? What do you see is needed to get out of your rut? When you no longer have the passion for what you are doing is it because of burnout or is it time for a new growth opportunity?

If you have lost your energy and feel you are not on the path to your life goals, that is a telltale sign you need to examine the path you are taking. What is your life purpose? Are you able to bring your purpose to your work? Does your work allow you to have time for your passions?

How do you know when you need to stick it out or truly need to change but have gotten too comfortable?

Start writing. Jot down your thoughts and see what answers you give yourself. When you listen closely to signs of emotion that stir within you, what is your heart telling you?

If you start seeing a trend and it prolongs for a consistently long period of time you may be stuck. You may need to realize that your energy is gone because you need new challenges. Have you given up on your dreams and your most important goals? If so ask, “Why are you staying stagnant?”

Change is very scary. Our self-talk can scare us to death of failure and keep us paralyzed. Think back regarding your changes in the past. What were you feeling before the change and what was the core reason you decided to change? How did it end up? Why did it end that way?

You have a choice. Either start bringing your life purpose to your job or search for a new opportunity based on what your gut is telling you.

Only you can make the decision. It may take digging deep, lots of self-discovery and listen closely to your inner self.

Photograph taken at Virginia City, Nevada