My grandma said one of my grandpa's favorite songs used to be "I'm in a Hurry (And Don't Know Why)" by Alabama. I know why. Because the lyrics matched his life. They spoke to him. I can relate.
Our lives since February of this year have been one big blur of tasks, faces, feelings, and places. So many highs, a few lows, firing one after another.
A side effect of the aforementioned blur is that my body and mind are set to "I'm in a Hurry (And Don't Know Why)" mode at all times. I often feel like I have a ticker tape "to do" list that is constantly unraveling itself inside my mind. Check this off, add that on, don't forget this, make sure to do that. And if the tape isn't actively unraveling with my lists, I feel like I'm forgetting, or slacking, or have lost all control of my life.
Yikes, huh? Yeah, that's what I thought, too. That's why I declared this coming weekend "MY WEEKEND." I need a breather from the blur. I need to recalibrate. No tasks (we'll see how long that lasts), no events, no people. Just me (and Joel of course - he is supportive of my declaration).
If this is what it feels like to maintain perfection, to feel in control, to keep up appearances - whatever I've been doing all of this for - I don't know if I want to (or can) keep doing it. We're moving forward, yes, but at full speed. That's not my natural speed at all...
That's why it's time to stop rushing. Time to start saying, "No, thank you." Time to get back to my yogic center and remind myself that to feel calm, I need to remain calm at my center and let the world whirl around me - not allow my center to be a whirlwind in order to create calm around me. I've flipped inside out it seems. Time to get back to myself. Constant recentering. Amen.
How are you feeling? Same? I encourage you to take a break with me. Kick back, do what you love, and make time for some life savoring. Don't let rushing around become your constant - remember to take time to slow down!
It always amazes me that no matter how many times we explore and re-explore areas of Northeast Iowa, it never gets old.
We recently joined Jerry and Nancy (my father and mother-in-law) on their annual trip to visit original Sires homestead properties along with graves of Sires family members that I only know by the stories Jerry tells us. Our trip took us through several small towns, the primary ones being Dorchester, New Albin, and Lansing. This was our second year going along and it was so much fun!
Jerry is passionate about history in general, but especially when it comes to his family. Although he's talked us through the family history before, it's extremely neat to have him tell us about it in the actual places his family was born, raised, and in some cases, still inhabit.
My favorite part of these trips is visiting the cemeteries. Many of them are small and tucked away in the woods. And a lot of the headstones are very old, so they are weathered and beautiful. Such a peaceful setting to reflect on life then and now.
The house pictured below is located on the homestead of all Sires homesteads, the cream of the crop. This is where it all started. It's the most beautiful home (to be clear, not the original house) in the most beautiful location. We also made a few new friends, see the pups off to the right.
Along the way, we made some pit stops at antique shops and pumpkin patches, ending the adventure at the Irish Shanty for a Gunder Burger...and a half n' half! All in all, a wonderful day with some people I love an awful lot. Can't wait to do it all again next year!
Let's talk about expectations. The ones we put on ourselves. The ones others put on us. And how they differ from one another.
I grew up in a very small community and went to the school there. Envision a high school movie that features a character who "has it all": Pretty, Student Senate President, Head Cheerleader, Community Volunteer, Homecoming Queen, Dates the Quarterback of the Football Team, Etc. That was me. Typical "popular" girl. So much a stereotype that I cringe thinking back, but I was simply along for the ride.
Because it was such a small school and because I was so involved, people knew who I was. They admired me. They looked up to me. A responsibility I took very seriously and was humbled by on so many different occasions.
They also had very high expectations for me. I was going to do "big things" in their eyes. I remember in one of my classes someone wrote, "If anyone from this school will be a success, it will be Augusta." That's a lot of weight to put on an 18-year-old's shoulders.
I had teachers trying to talk me into fancy colleges, my peers thought I'd be off to New York City the day after graduation, and my family thought I'd be some powerful so-and-so somewhere outside of Iowa. That was success in many of their eyes. Flying far away from where you came from and never looking back. Very poetic. Very stereotypical high school thinking. Very overwhelming for a person that didn't know how to, nor really wanted to, wander too far away from what she loved most - her "home" and everything that entailed.
I probably didn't do any of the things that people back then, or since then, thought I would do. And I don't really care anymore. At one time I did. And that was wasted time. The expectations that were and continue to be set for me don't always necessarily match what I expect from myself. And that's OK.
I've spent many, many, many hours of my life thinking about what "success" means to me, what I should be proud of, what I've learned from, who I am at my core. I've let the expectations that others laid on me throughout my life tumble around in the background. I still recognize them, but they don't drive me like perhaps they once did.
So what if people think you've "failed" because they don't think you've met the expectations they set for you without your consent? That's not fair to anyone.
I am no holy exception to the expectation rule, I confess that I set unrealistic expectations for others. I've played the same game I'm blaming others for. I've created goals for people in my head that I have no business even pondering about. I've been let down or felt sorry for others when their life took a direction I never imagined for them. But I'm trying to change that. I try to remember how having expectations rained down on you when you forgot your umbrella to protect yourself feels. Not good.
The expectations I hold myself to are simple. Far less grandiose and complex than the ones (set by others) I've let loom over me for far too long.
I strive to be a great wife; a good daughter, sister, family member and friend; a compassionate person who allows for grace, even when grace is hard to give; someone who is generous to those in need; a comforting presence in time of sorrow; a source of strength in difficult situations; and someone who appreciates where they came from and everything they have. My overarching expectation for myself is to be a good human being. And if I can accomplish that, then I consider myself to be truly successful.
Let's just all wish each other well. How does that sound? I'll live my life, you live yours, and I hope they're both happy ones. Let's leave our expectations for others at the door and watch what happens. I think we'll like what we see.
Joel and I had our first sleepover with our sweet, three-year-old nephew, Max, this past weekend. We were mostly excited and a little nervous. We've never babysat a child overnight before, so it was uncharted territory.
We anxiously awaited Saturday morning when we were set to pick him up. We discussed an itinerary full of the fun things we could do together. I bought everything we needed the night before - kid-friendly food and craft supplies.
His parents are great, Joel's brother Harper and his wife, Sara. They do a wonderful job of preparing Max for new adventures he goes on so he knows exactly what to expect. He's a really smart little guy, too, so he understands everything they're telling him.
When we arrived to get him, he had picked out two "Minion" buttons from the store - one for each of us. He had his bags packed and he was ready to go!
We started off the day at Bloomsbury Farm (highly recommended if you're looking for a day trip somewhere that is sure to keep little ones entertained). There were activities galore (some pictured at the end of this post), and Max loved it all. He took a little snooze on the way home and when we got back to our house he settled in with Joel to watch a movie before noticing that I was working outside (I needed to water my flowers). He wanted to "work hard" so he asked to help me, which of course I said "Yes" to! We did a little work and explored our property before coming in for supper.
Bath time and bed time were a breeze - and get this - he actually wanted to go to bed...How much more perfect can this kid get?! Joel read him stories until he fell asleep and he slept like a log all night long.
We enjoyed a pancake breakfast, pumpkin painting, and "band practice" before leaving for a family member's birthday party where we were set to drop Max off. We made a pit stop at the mall to walk around and ride the children's rides, including the cool train that drives around Crossroads Mall. It was the cherry on top of a great weekend with Max.
Throughout our adventures in babysitting, we both made some interesting observations that gave us some insight into what being a parent might be like. The primary observation being we now understand how some couples can become "disconnected" from each other when there are children involved. Obviously, the joyful experiences that children bring outweigh the bad and make everything worth it, but because your focus is so much on the happiness and well-being of the child, it's easy to lose sight of your partner, their happiness and well-being.
We noticed this in two days. In our minds, I know we both multiplied that disconnected feeling by 18 years. That was eye opening for us, who at this point in our lives, are so connected we literally can predict each other's thoughts and actions 99.9% of the time.
I'm happy that we both observed the same things, took time to reflect, and discussed how what we observed made us feel. We both agreed that although we had an absolute blast, returning to our "me and him" normalcy was welcomed.
We treated ourselves to some activities that he and I like to do together to top the weekend off. Library, movie, dinner, Hulu. I think we both had a renewed feeling about how much we mean to each other, how lucky we are to have each other as a best friend, and how happy we are doing our own thing as a two person family right now.
There's nothing wrong with being thirty-somethings with no kids. To each their own. Maybe tomorrow, next week, next month our tune will change - but in this present moment - we have each other and that is enough.