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Personal, Truthfully & Thoughtfully

My Final Post

December 3, 2016
suzanne-hillegas-final-post

Spoiler Alert: This is my final post.

What a journey we have been on for the last two and a half years. I never saw myself as a blogger but it has been a wonderful journey. Several things have led to my decision to end my blogging career . . . hobby . . . or whatever this is.

In January of this year I read the book Essentialism by Greg Mckeown. The basic question is what is absolutely essential in this phase of life and what isn’t? I have a two almost three year old son. He will never be this age again. And I want to enjoy this season as much as possible.

Later in the year I was at a Writer’s Conference. I remember talking with other people who write on the side and they had such a passion for it. They couldn’t wait to get home from their 9-5 job and continue writing their novel or blog or whatever. At this conference I was again exposed to the importance of social media and being present on line. I am really terrible at having an on-line presence. It is not essential to me, thus the struggle began to write consistently.

In the summer I was talking with a friend and she was telling me the steps she was taking to becoming a serious writer. She said, “I want to become the best writer that I can. I want to be known as a writer.” As we were sitting there at lunch I remember so clearly thinking, “I don’t. I don’t want to be known as a writer, I want to be known as a truly good friend.” I sat on this thought for quite some time.

Also during the summer my husband and I began marriage mentoring. We took a 250 question assessment about ourselves and our marriage. Some very interesting things came up from this. The main one being I had a ridiculously high stress level. This surprised both of us. As we were trying to decipher which things in my life were causing the most stress, I was challenged to draw an energy circle.

An energy circle is where you draw a circle. Then you divide the circle into pie shapes. A pie shape represents how much energy you are putting into that particular activity. My husband suggested adding a second layer and coloring in the amount of stress that each activity caused or inflicted.

I did this. It was enlightening and life changing. One of the categories was blogging. And the stress was fairly high because it is just me. I don’t have a collaborator. I don’t have anyone to help me with the online presence stuff. I began to really evaluate why I started the blog and if those same reasons were motivating me.

Then two more books came along, the first book was Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist. This book has forever changed how I see my life and myself in my life. I have lived much of my life trying to prove that I am worthy or capable. The blog was a place that I was sorting this out. But I have sorted many things and have managed by God’s grace to not constantly live in a place of proving my worthiness. Or proving that I am capable. As I have strived to be an excellent friend I have found that I haven’t made time to write notes or emails to friends because all of my writing energy was going into the blog. As you may have noticed I have hardly posted in the last few months, and it is because I have been putting my writing energy other places.

The second book that came along was the Listening Life by Adam McHugh. As I finished this book I was so challenged by how a listening life is so much different than a telling life. By engaging the blog two times a week, I was spending much of my energy telling all of you about what I was learning or what was happening, but then not having the bandwidth and energy to truly listen to my people. Listening to my husband, listening to my son, listening to my extended family, listening to my friends. This is where I want to put my time and energy and where I have been putting my time and energy and thus the writing has been pushed to the side.

I started blogging because I had written a book. The book was amazing and fun to write. But then everyone told me I needed an on-line presence and I listened to them. I enjoyed the blogging experience and learned much about web design and widgets. But I don’t want to keep learning more and in an industry where the technology is changing ever so rapidly and what once was manageable and good has become cumbersome and stifling.

Also by blogging for two years I have finally accepted the fact that I am a writer. Apparently publishing a book was not enough to convince me, it took over a 100 posts to help me realize I am an author because I use words to communicate.

Thank you. Thank you for checking in every week to read about my small simple life. Thank you for leaving comments and being encouraging. Thank you for traveling on this journey with me. I found a website called Blog2Print and I am going to be working on getting all of my blogs printed into a book, not to publish but just for me to have. And who knows maybe another book will slip out of me again if I am not pushing myself to write twice a week here in this space.

I would love to hear from you. If you want to email me at SuzyHillegas@gmail.com I would love to spend some time writing a lengthy personal email back to you.

Be blessed and purpose to encourage the everyday woman in her everyday life.

Listening, Personal, Quick and Quiet: come and click

What I Learned from Listening

June 30, 2016
suzanne-hillegas-listening-lessons

The theme for this month of June was Listening. Here is a brief synopsis of what I learned this month.

  1. If We’re Honest: I discovered a new song by Francesca Battisteli  that reached deep into my soul because I took the time to really listen.
  2. I learned (or was reminded) that doing a project with a friend is way more fun than doing a project by yourself. On our Truth Share Project Lydia and I discussed a quote from Adam McHugh’s book The Listening Life. The ever mindful reminder to listen to God. Take time to be quiet and just listen. So hard for me. So very hard.
  3. Small Moment Listening: I learned that enjoy listening to scripture first thing in the morning. While I do my morning stretches I listened to Emily P. Freeman read scripture to me. If you haven’t done this, do it!
  4. What I am willing to swipe my whole calendar for. I learned that I am willing to move anything and everything if  friend is in need especially if sick parents are in the mix of the need or crisis.
  5. How a simple phone call can redirect a dump day into a blessing day. My head was stuck in the wrong place and I knew it. I picked up the phone and called a dear friend in another state and we had the loveliest of chats.
  6. Listening to others and not finishing their sentences! A friend shared with me that she discovered she did this, and you know what? So. Do. I. So I have been working on it.
  7. My tongue can guide a conversation into blessing or despair.
  8. Listening to my one strength, which is encouragement. Encouraging myself but more importantly encouraging others.

I hope that you have become a better listener over the past month as well. In the month of July we will be discussing wisdom. Wisdom in relation to the book of Proverbs. There are 31 days in July and 31 chapters in Proverbs. Let’s look for the gem of wisdom that is penned in every chapter of this amazing book!

 

Personal, Raw and Real, Simply Tuesday

Connectedness

October 12, 2015
suzanne-hillegas-sunflowers

The Amazing Race is my favorite show, hands down. I love the travel, the thrill of the challenges, the crazy dynamic of each team, and the competition of winning each leg and then the grand prize of one million dollars.

My husband watches it with me and laughs at me because I root for my favorite teams out loud for the whole house to hear. I bite my nails near the end to see which team truly is the last team to step on the mat. Because not every round is an elimination round, sometimes other things happen. Oh the thrill of it all.

But in our relationships competition is a very mean thing. Competing for the next job promotion. Competing for the closest parking space. Competing for love. Competing for recognition. This quote from Emily in Simply Tuesday explains why competition does not help us build lasting relationships.

The thing about competing is there is no time to connect with competitors. p. 128

Think of a time you were competing in your heart for something. I was single for 20 years of my adult life. Often I felt like I was competing with other women to get the attention of men. This was a very defeating competition as I already felt like the underdog. I was tall, not very pretty, and quite selective in who I would or wouldn’t date. There were certain events I stopped going to because it felt like a competition the whole time. Healthy good things, like bible study, and church activities. Because it felt like a competition there was no time to connect with my “competitors”, other women.

This summer when I read Simply Tuesday I was preparing to go to a conference in South Carolina. The conference was for women. Even though I am now married those old tendencies were beginning to rear their ugly head. But Simply Tuesday suggested we replace competition with connectedness.

Replace competition with connectedness.

Connectedness is something I am really passionate about. I think God created us to be connected and through that connectedness encourage one another. As I was preparing for my trip there was a facebook group that was started specifically for this conference. Occasionally I would log in to see what was being said or shared. My initial reaction was to be defensive and self-protecting, but then I realized I was being competitive. These women and I were not in a competition. No one was going to be eliminated. When I caught myself thinking in a competitive mode I immediately stopped, prayed, and asked God how I could be more connected with these women.

That conference was one of the highlights of my summer. No of my year. Woman after woman kept saying, “There is such a spirit of connectedness this year.” There were things to be competitive over, but that wasn’t where anyone was choosing to focus. Each woman was choosing to be connected instead.

Choosing connectedness is choosing vulnerability. Choosing to see the good in others, believing their best intentions.

As I came home I made a real effort to notice if I had a competitive spirit in any of my relationships. Was I inadvertently sabotaging good relationships with a spirit of competition instead of a spirit of connectedness?

Two of my close friends were having babies in the fall. Tim and I have been hoping to have another baby, but it just hasn’t been happening. Instead of being sad or jealous, I made a real effort to invest in them and love on them.

Both babies have been born. They each gave us a bit of a scare but all is well now. The friendships are changing because we were friends with no kids, then we were friends with one kid, now we are friends with each a kid. Friendship plays out differently now. These new mothers are exhausted. They are grappling with who they are as a mother and how to not lose their mind with so little sleep.

In my desire for connectedness I have made a very conscious effort to love on them individually. They are very different women, with very different needs. Last Saturday I had the privilege of going over and spending a good hour with one of the moms. My crazy man was left at home with daddy and I got to sit and hold this precious one for a long time. She cried. She slept. She ate. And the mom and I talked.

We talked about diapers, husbands, sleep, and our attitudes. With each moment I just kept praying that I was an encouragement to her. I didn’t want to come across like I knew everything, because I don’t. But I did want to share things that were helpful to me, that might be helpful to her.

Our visit was cut a bit short as precious one needed some very specific mommy needs. So I gave everyone one last hug and headed home.

Yesterday, flowers arrived. There were from my friend. Big beautiful sunflowers. As I was taking them out of the box, my son kept saying, “Ohhhh, OOOOOh!” It was really fun. I texted her to let her know how lovely they were. She responded with, “Ooo…yes! They arrived early. Hope they brighten your week : ) Seemed like a perfect flower for the sunshine you being in to the lives or your friends and family. So thankful for you.”

Yes connectedness is way better than competition. What about you? Is there an area in your life that you immediately go to competition instead of connection? I want to encourage you to pay attention the next time it happens. As it is happening, stop and ask yourself, “How can I flip this around? How can I swap competition with connectedness?” and then see what happens.

Maybe some sunflowers will show up on your doorstep!

Personal, Truthfully & Thoughtfully

The Entaglement of Second Guessing

September 9, 2014
The Entanglement of Second Guessing

Decisions. They can be so daunting. Small ones, huge ones, significant ones, not as significant ones. How do you make them? How do you know what the right choice is?

A few weeks ago a friend and I were talking about her decision to go back to school. Was it wise? Did she really have time? Would she be able to get a job with the limited degree she was pursuing? Would she even want a job and leave her young son at home?

A conversations ebb and flow can be such an interesting thing. The conversation began with the questions listed above, but the conversation curved into how do we make decisions and why. My friend observed that I appeared so confident when I made a decision. This made me laugh right out loud. I feel so indecisive all the time.  But I have learned over time that you just have to make a decision.  Most times there isn’t a right or wrong, but there is a need for a decision.

I began explaining to her that when I was in my 20’s I labored over every decision. What should I major in? Where should I live? Was I ever going to get married? What if I didn’t get married what would I do then? What if I did get married, how would my life change? Should I live close to my family? Should I travel?

What jumped out to me as my friend and I were discussing was how we as women are our own worst enemy.

Let me try to explain: Let’s take the question of should I return to school or not. “What if I never get married?” This question does not affect if I should go to school or not. “Do I like my job?” This question has more of an impact of if I should go back to school or not. Let’s say I do decide to go back to school, I then think of all the reasons why that is a bad idea. It will cost too much. It will take up too much time. I’m too old.

Well those are all very valid reasons (she sarcastically wrote.) So the decision is made: I’m going back to school! Immediately I think it is a bad idea. But then I consider these questions: But what about the job I hate and want to change? Or the fact that I like learning? Or that now is an excellent time to return to school? (Do you see where I am going with this?) You can’t win with this kind of thinking. A pro and con list would be more productive than this type of thinking. Yet we all do it.

Returning to our current conversation  with my friend, I explained how I over thought everything almost to a paralyzing level. By the time a decision was made I didn’t enjoy it because I was sure I had made the wrong decision. I also cared way too much what other people thought or at least what I thought they thought. Over the years it has become apparent that people have way too much going on in their OWN life to worry about what I am doing in mine.

As I tried to explain all of this to my friend, I expressed to her that making the decision is Part A and then resting in the decision is Part B. If you are meant to go to school it will work out for you to go to school. If you are meant to work in a specific occupation you will figure out how to accomplish what you need when it is time. Some decisions have to be made today. Other decisions are so far off in the future that worrying about them now, won’t help you then.

How can you change the way you make a decision? Do you over think it or do you second guess yourself after you have made it? I would like to encourage you to be confident. Make decisions. Learn from them. Enjoy the good and the bad of the decision. Wake up the next day and start making more decisions. As you free up your heart and mind from the entanglement of second guessing yourself there will be more room for peace and calm and rest. Trust yourself. Trust your decisions.

 

Personal, Quick and Quiet: come and click

Waiting for the new season

March 20, 2014
California Sunset

So much can change in a day, in an hour.  I spend so much time walking through my mundane life, making plans for the days to come, cooking dinner, and trying to remember to keep the laundry going.  But then something happens and I stop and realize that I don’t have a mundane life, I don’t know what will come tomorrow, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches will totally work for dinner and eventually I will remember the laundry because I won’t have any clean clothes.

I had one of those “your life is not mundane” moments this week.  I am in my last month of pregnancy with my first child.  My husband and I went to the Doctor on Monday.  We drove separately because he had a class for work in the evening and I was just going to head back home.  I wasn’t feeling great but thought well this is part of being pregnant.

Our appointment began as normal with me hooked up to two monitors.  One monitor tracks the baby’s heart rate and the second monitor tracks my contractions.  The week before had been a mundane test.  This week not so much.  After about 10 minutes the nurse said, “You are having contractions about every 2-3 minutes.” Wait, what? She handed us off to the doctor.  The doctor said, “Let’s check to see if the baby is facing in the right direction.”  Yeah let’s do that.  Sure enough baby Hillegas has his or her head down like every good baby that is about to be born.

The doctor sends us up to labor and delivery.  Wait, what? You are sending us where?  As Tim and I get into the elevator.  He says, “I am not ready for this baby to come.  I thought the baby was going to come in April not in March.” I shrugged my shoulders at him and waited for the elevator doors to open.

We spent the next five hours trying to wrap our heads around that fact that our baby might be coming sooner than we had thought.  But as the post is entitled “Waiting for the new season” that is exactly where we have been placed.  Yes I am having contractions but there were not enough other factors to keep us at the hospital.  Tim headed off to his class, and I headed home with strict instructions to not drive myself to the hospital again!

That was on Monday and today is Wednesday.  I am still waiting.  I am still having contractions, but I am still waiting for those “other” factors to come into play.  My calendar has become useless as Tim and I wait for our baby to decide it is time to arrive.  Waiting always seems longer than it actually is.  I am trying to wait well.  I am trying to wait in a way that invites peace, joy, and a sense of calm.

What is your thing that you are having to wait for?  Has it been a few days of waiting or has it been a few years of waiting?  Ask yourself this question: what is something I can do in the waiting that I wouldn’t be able to do if the waiting was over?  Waiting makes us stronger. Waiting makes us vulnerable. Whatever it is you are waiting for I want to encourage you.  It is worth the wait.

This new season of my life is about to begin and I am doing what I can to relish in the wait.  I hope that you can do the same.