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2016 Essentialism

2016 Essentialism, Learning, Quick and Quiet: come and click

Friendly or Writing

September 19, 2016
suzanne-hillegas-friend

So much to say with so few words to compose my wild thoughts. July 4th I began painting our living room. It took seven days to complete this project. For seven days I painted and prayed. I even wrote a post about how I was thankful I got my prayers in for whatever storm lay ahead.

Now it is the middle of September. This is my birthday month. Fall has come. September is always my favorite. As I look back over the rest of July, all of August and the first few weeks of September I am beginning to see what the prayers were for. They were for me. Not for any great storm or any huge trial. They were for the inner struggle of recognizing who I truly am, acknowledging who I really want to be and the dissonance between the two.

I have been reading Present over Perfect by Shauna Niequist. I am almost finished with it. I have every intention of returning to the first sentence the second the last sentence has been read. This woman is living my life. No actually Shauna’s heart peers at her life the same way that mine does. I have learned so much about myself, about my theology, about love.

Near the end of the book she talks about earning love. She doesn’t feel that others have to earn her love, but she does feel that she has to earn the love from others. Shut. The. Front. Door.

That is me.

I am an earner. My husband and I were having a conversation about this yesterday. He said, “That is a terrible way to think. You shouldn’t do that.” This caused tears to come. Through sniffs and rumpled tissue I said, “I know that is what I am trying to tell you. I am slowly discovering how to undo this, but at times it is a slow process, and that can be discouraging.”

Silence.

Long silence.

Finally I said, “I need you to say something.” He gently replied with, “That is a really good thing that you are beginning to recognize it and finding your way through it.”

Thus there have not been very many words on the blog because I have been finding my way through it. I have been making an effort to be present in the very moment I am in and I am still processing all that is around me and how it is changing.

One thing that has becoming shockingly clear in this season, is it is more important to be a really good friend, than to be a really good writer. Daily I have been making the choice to put my friends first over my writing. Friends are beautiful and messy. Truly time consuming in the best kind of way. As I weighed these two options of time with my friends or writing; I let friendship push over the writing.

Because I am an earner in love, it felt very bad letting Monday after Monday go by without a blog post. Then Thursday would roll around and I still hadn’t put any words on a page. But my friendships were thriving. I was connecting with friends far away. I was connecting with my husband as his friend and life companion. My son and I would race off to Chuck E. Cheese for an hour and play as many tokens as we could. I felt like a person again. I hadn’t even realized I wasn’t feeling like a person, but my soul was dry.

For the past few weeks I have had this question over my kitchen sink, “What is restorative to me?” I honestly didn’t know. But now I do. Being a true friend to the people in my everyday world is what is restorative to me.

What does this mean for the blog? I don’t know. Writing helps me be whole as well. So I will let you know when something is posted. But for now, my friends are going to get my regular Monday and Thursday times.

How are your friendships? Do your friends know they are important to you? Be sure and let them know how much they mean to you.

2016 Essentialism, Truthfully & Thoughtfully

Trimming Tomatoes

August 29, 2016
suzanne-hillegas-tomatoes

Early in June, at a garage sale, I bought two tomato plants for $1. One produces large tomatoes and the other produces small tomatoes. I planted them with my strawberries and then went on with life.

They grew like gang busters. Leaves and stalks everywhere. My husband had to help put in stakes and tie them to help hold them up. But there had yet to be a tomato from either one of them.

The other night, my husband was working late, and the son unit had been put to bed and I decided it was time to tackle the hugely overgrown tomato plants.

The thing was I didn’t know where to start. So I went to Youtube. I typed in: how to trim a tomato plant. This great gardener excellently explained and demonstrated how to do it.

The basic principle was if a branch has all leaves and no tomatoes it needs to be clipped. It’s taking energy from the tomatoes that are growing. Also the extra leaves are taking the sun and blocking the tomatoes from getting the sun which is keeping them from ripening and thriving.

So I began. I found a pair of scissors and I began digging through my hugely overgrown plants. On the first plant only one branch out of ten had tomatoes. And just like the video said they were being overshadowed by other leafy branches, and not growing. Clip. Clip. Snip. Step back, snip some more.

I stepped back to admire my work and was shocked at the difference. It was so clear. The plant looked happier. The green tomatoes were reflecting the light of the evening sun. I turned my attention to the second plant. As I began working on the second one I had a realization.

Tomato plants are like responsibilities in my life. If I have too many responsibilities or obligations my energy/time/attention is going in too many directions and nothing is growing or thriving.

Hmmm.

One of the tasks I had for myself was to draw a circle. Then I was to divide the circle into pieces (like a pie) to represent how much energy I was giving each thing. Some of my categories were my son, my husband, finances, household tasks, bible study, this blog, etc.

My husband had the idea of then adding in how much stress each thing takes or has. I have a ridiculous amount of internal stress and we have been on a journey of trying to understand it and lessen it.

In trying to sort through the stress I have realized I feel things very deeply. I always saw this as a flaw, as something I needed to curb. But I can’t. It’s who I am and I am trying to learn how to love this trait about myself instead of being overwhelmed by it or stressed out about it.

As I continue to read Present over Perfect I have been faced with so many things about myself that are true and twisted. I am so thankful for this book, because it is helping me to deeply feel and not be ashamed of it, not be embarrassed about it. Also it is gently offering me truth in the midst of the raw and real.

As I thought about the tomato plants and viewed my circle of energy and stress I began to have some clarity. I am very hard on myself. I get stuck in my head. If I have to step back from something or not get something done, I feel like I have failed. As I thought about the tomatoes I considered how they had not failed. They weren’t growing because the plant had to much going on. The tomato didn’t say to itself, “why can’t I do more? I’m frustrated I have physical limitations.” No it was doing it’s best to thrive and grow in the situation it was in.

A quote from Present over Perfect has helped me so much. “The darkness is the lie, not the light. The light is the truth.” This quote has become my mantra for the last week. Whenever I get overly stuck in my head or feel my overly judgmental self come into the conversation I quote these words. The darkness is the lie. I don’t want to believe a lie. I want to believe the truth. What is the truth in this situation?

If you ever think, “What is she talking about, I never think that or feel that way.” I would encourage you to look around you, because I guarantee there is a friend, co-worker, sister-in-law, or a woman in your world, who does feel this way and she needs your friendship. She needs your simple words and different perspective to help with hers. Maybe read Present over Perfect with her and talk about it together.

So what about you? How is your tomato plant/energy circle? Do you have too many things spinning around you? Is there something you can let go of or say no to or just stop doing? If you get stuck in your head like I do, find a friend. She doesn’t have to understand it, she just needs to be your friend. Listen to her words, listen to her suggestions, pour some extra water into your soul and see if you can help it to grow and thrive.

2016 Essentialism, Essentialism, Small and Sassy

Reflections into March

March 7, 2016
suzanne-hillegas-reflections

Three months into 2016, how are your goals going? You know all of those ideas you had for 2016 that were going to make this year different from any other?

I woke up on March 1 and realized that two months had gone by and very little movement had taken place on my goals. What had happened? Where had my planning and efforts taken me?

Isn’t life so this way? A difficult or busy season happens. We feel the craziness sweep us away, but then one morning we wake up and realize the difficult and the crazy has passed. This was March 1 for me. February had been a blur of huge home decisions that clouded out pretty much everything else.

But once those decisions had been made and finalized the fog had lifted. It always shocks me that my initial reaction to things is negative. I am so hard on myself and those closest to me. The morning of March 1 I immediately began to list all the things I had failed at instead of looking for all the things I had managed to establish in spite of the business and craziness.

As I was scrolling through my notes on my phone I came across this in Evernote date 2/5/2016 “CEO – Chief Energy Officer: I want to charge forward with trust and optimism; vision and purpose for 2016.” This quote came from me listening to a book in my car called The Energy Bus. Another quote from that book was about emotion. “Emotion is just energy in motion.” I think about this sentence all the time. So often I want to let my emotions run away with me, but then I think about the energy of those emotions.

Complaining or giving thanks? Hope or despair? There is always a choice. It doesn’t matter what my initial response is, what matters is that I CHOOSE to move forward instead of backwards.

As I re-surveyed my list for 2016 I realized that some good had been established in spite of my crazy mixed up self. I had wanted to establish specific activities on specific days. This has occurred. Tuesday is Bible Study and appointments. Thursday’s have consistently become play dates and writing. Is there room for improvement? Absolutely but I am only three months into the year with nine more months ahead to continue to effect change. That is moving forward with trust and optimism, and vision and purpose.

On March 2 I printed off my schedule again and picked three things that I wanted to be sure were happening in my life by the end of March. One was for Ben. He has a white board in his room that I wanted to use for verses, words of encouragement, thoughts of the day. I printed off the BSF Children’s Themes, I located this week’s main truth and verse and wrote them on the white board. Each morning and night Ben and I have been saying them together. “God is perfect. Psalm 18:30 As for God, His way is perfect.” Forward motion.

Next I added in one for me, stretching. I used to stretch every day and then life changed and it got lost along the way. Another helpful thing I had done in February was finished a book about habits. I thought of Michael Phelps who had the same habit on swim days from the moment he got out of bed until he dove into the water, he had the same habits. Ten minutes every morning could be used to stretch, especially if I wrote down the stretches and purposed to do them in the same order every day, then they would become a habit. What would be my cue to do this habit every day? Ben waking up at 7. He hates having his diaper changed as soon as he gets out of bed. He likes to go find the cat and say good morning and peek in our bedroom to see if Daddy is home. Thus the cue is letting Ben wander around the house while I do my stretching and then we both jump into our day.

The third thing has been about mercy and judgment in my head and in my heart which I will explain more on another day.

So what about you? Think back to those first few days of 2016, are you heading in the direction you want to be heading? Have you had some crazy days that have gotten you off track? Make something hot to drink and sit for a few minutes. Contemplate what you have managed to move forward and think about what could still use some nudging. We are only a fourth of the way in, begin today. Change one thing today that you wished you had changed yesterday. Be the CEO of your own life. Choose thankfulness and hope today, and then choose it again tomorrow, and then again the next day.

Until Thursday, be blessed.