Thursday, March 17, 2016


My mind is a bit out of control today. It's been a weird few months, a weird school year. Random changes have tossed me into a stage of life I have long heard about, but never had to face.

It's time for me to say no.

It totally stinks, way more than I thought it would. My desire to be liked, my fulfillment in having others approve of my decisions, and my unreasonable drive to be as amazing as possible may have been digging me a grave. While I understand saying no is good for me, it has still been rough.

As some of you know, I started CrossFit summer of 2014 and really enjoyed it. I love lifting weights, and I especially loved being down two pant sizes after my third child. I dealt with the high level of intensity for a while, but it began to wear me down. I am ambitious and driven, but to give myself so wholeheartedly to CrossFit was more than I was comfortable with. I worked hard, and improved steadily, but was often treated like pushing myself just to my limit made me less awesome than if I pushed myself past my limit. I soon realized that being the best I could possibly be at CrossFit was more than I actually wanted, and more than I was able to commit to.

When I started tutoring CC in September I ended up leaving that gym. My schedule only allowed me to go two days a week, and I couldn't justify paying so much for going so little. I knew I'd gain some weight back, have to be more diligent with my eating, and need to kick my own butt every once in a while, but my decision to tutor with our Milwaukie CC has forced me into that choice. I'm not trying to make an excuse for why I don't workout as consistently anymore (that choice is still totally up to me), but it was the first time I realized how easy it is to overcommit.

Being an introvert, I hardly ever over-schedule. If I have three events on my calendar for the week, I have to tell myself to breathe, relax, and not to think about any of these events until I absolutely need to. Some of you might be laughing, but the stress is real! Around Christmas this year I was a full blown disaster. My jewelry business was crazy busy, we had gotten so far behind on homeschooling because of my craft fairs, and I had just started another new business I was totally in love with. Once Christmas was over and the dust settled, I faced the facts.  I had a lot of prioritizing to do.

Jewelry was out. Even though I still have my etsy shop, and still list items every few weeks, I had to really think through what my goals were. Did I want to make a real income with my jewelry? Sounds fun, but I didn't actually enjoy packaging up 20 or more items each week. Was the money nice? Yes, especially at Christmas, but I hated feeling so busy and was unable to relax whenever there was an order needing fulfilled. Did I want to be known for having an amazing line of products? Well, the fame sounds nice, but the reality of the effort this would take was way more than I could pursue with pure or selfless intentions. I saw clearly how my goals in my jewelry business were unrealistic for what I was willing and able to commit to.

My other side business also needed to be put on the back burner. Even though I am passionate about health and making smart choices, I realized I had no extra time to spend recruiting, leading, and so forth. Team calls, Facebook events, and following up with people was interrupting a lot of family time, and everyone was feeling the effects. So while I still use my amazing products, and willingly share with anyone, I don't carve out time to spend growing that business right now.

Tutoring CC had to be in, as I had committed for the year. It's probably good there is no one available to take my place, because one week I might have totally quit, on the spot. While I know I am gifted in teaching, I am not gifted in a small, structured, classroom setting - especially a setting with six and seven year olds. So I am gleaning what I can from it, trying to relax about how each week goes, and attempting to be patient until the end of the year, when my schedule will free up a bit again.

Working out became "as needed" or "as able." This was really hard for me to swallow. I actually kind of hate working out, but only because it's so hard to make the time when I have my kids with me all day, every day. I'm not sure if 24 Hour Fitness or someplace else offers childcare for kids over the age of six in the middle of the day (because I really have a lot of free time then, ha!), but I need to figure something out. I have a gym membership, and I can sometimes make a 6:30am workout happen, but it's nothing like going to CrossFit, where you have no choice about what you do. Once CC is over for the year, I will be committing to my 6:30am routine several days a week, and enjoying what those lovely endorphins do for my soul. Yes, I have heard all your recommendations about working out at home, with your kids, distracting them while you do whatever, or trying to get them to ride bikes alongside you as you push the screaming two-year-old in the stroller, but none of it works well enough for me (or said screaming two-year-old) to make it a regular part of our routine. My kettle bell is a dear friend, but I am also pretty lazy, and stay up late (more days than not) reading one of the ten books I am currently halfway through.

I haven't touched on how I prioritize my writing, time with my husband, homeschooling my children, reading books for Practicum this summer, reading books for fun, Church Nursery duty, Bible Study, or household chores. I'm sorry, but I don't have much fabulous advice on all that. All I really know is that I've come to a point where I absolutely have to say no sometimes, or "later", or offer a different suggestion. Not just because of time, but because of emotional availability. It's hard to tell a friend you cannot make a play-date happen, even if you have another offer that might seem less fun to them. You might be misunderstood, or unintentionally offensive, but our job is not to control our friends' responses, but to honor the Lord with the use of our time. This includes giving our full attention to the people we are with, and making effort to love well, as often as we can.

In order to love well, or engage others, we have to have some idea of why we are doing what we are doing. This is why I have titled this post "Priorities." Once we have our priorities straight, making the tough decisions about what we participate in, commit to, or schedule gets a bit easier. In my scenario, I did not really look at how tutoring would affect CrossFit, time with my husband, or my stress levels throughout the week. Would I have said no if I knew? It's hard to say at this point, but I'm thankful for the experience for many reasons, and it has been a good practice of sacrificing myself for the needs of others.  I'm also incredibly thankful to have learned this lesson about something as trivial as CrossFit, and not something where more people were relying on me.

Where are you overcommitted? Did you consider the cost before you jumped in? What can you pull yourself from without causing others harm? What can you change going forward, to give you freedom to enjoy the commitments you make?

I want to encourage you in God's ability to refresh you. There were so many times I went to evening nursery duty, feeling totally annoyed or frustrated about the preparations I had yet to finish for CC the next morning. Somehow, I always survived. Despite nursery being a great inconvenience in my mind, I still made it out alive, and not totally bonkers, still having enough energy and brain power to finish getting prepped for the next day. If you are overcommitted, take an honest look at how you got there. Decide if it is still worth it. Navigate each obligation to see if it lines up with your highest priorities. Do your best not to assume the response you might get from others, and seek to honor God in all you do.

My highest priorities right now mostly revolve around my children, my husband, and my church. In order to still go to CrossFit, I would have to alter my homeschooling schedule, go in the middle of the day, and rearrange lots of other little things like showering, meal-times, and sleep. Right now, with the needs of my little ones being so demanding, I decided my body, my ego, and my vanity could take a back seat for a while. Not completely, but just not give them priority over all those other things. It was more important for me to have my day structured in a way that keeps things simple and allows me to school the kids and cook meals at times that are convenient for all of us, not just for my CrossFit. Like I said, this was a difficult conclusion to come to, and it's still hard to live with sometimes, but I know it's not forever. I know making other parts of my life less complicated will be worth it.

With my CrossFit decision, and many other decisions, I am in the thick of it, right there with you. It can be wearisome to see the endless amount of decisions we will need to make about our lives (especially when many of those choices mean saying no to something you enjoy), but it's definitely not beyond God's ability to give us the wisdom and strength we need. Each season will bring new choices, and each experience will bring new wisdom, and perspective. Glean what you can, relax about results, and patiently wait to see what God does. Let each less-than-perfect decision guide you to making a better decision later, and be committed to being happy with it. After all, you can't change the past anyway. Better to be happy despite your decisions, than grouchy about your decisions.

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