Assuming Judgment

Photo by Artem Kovalev on Unsplash

I will preface this with the fact that I do not have any tiny humans that I’m being charged to raise into fully functioning adults. I am only a 30 something single woman who has wanted to be a mom her whole life, but has instead been given the opportunity to read lots of self-help books & articles before spending a year in therapy. Also all of my friends have kids from pre-born to teenagers to young adults, so I’ve been doing a lot of observing and thinking as of late. So take this for what it’s worth with that in mind, but these are some things I’ve been wrestling with lately, so I’m going to share.

We create our own situations of ‘not being enough’ when we think we might actually be handling it.

We make things more complicated than they actually are, I think, subconsciously, to prove how many complicated things we can do (mostly to ourselves).

We even feel guilty for not feeling mom/wife/sister/friend/daughter guilt. We say, “I feel guilty that I don’t feel guilty right now.”

When we hear someone say they make bread from scratch or read a lot of books or works out each morning, we feel compelled to give all the reasons why we don’t do that. [I don’t do those things in order to make you feel inadequate, they fit into my lifestyle right now. There’s no judgement. Why do we presume judgement?]

I think that’s what it comes down to: We presume people are judging us. ALL OF THE TIME. We say “I don’t judge other people,” but in the same breath we act like the opinions of other people are all we care about for ourselves.

The fact of the matter is that anyone’s who opinion about your that matters is not sitting around judging you and what you’re doing with your spouse, kids, work, yard, car care, cooking, driving, tv watching, book reading, exercise doing, etc., etc., etc. Anyone who is judging you isn’t someone who’s opinion about your matters. Period.

We focus on other people’s opinions way too much. And I know, here’s a classic example of the pot calling the kettle black. I can dive into this as well … but the truth of the matter is that we are all just doing the best that we can with the tools that we have. That’s all that matters. You doing the best you can with the tools you have today. Could you get better tools? Maybe, but right now might not be the season for you to cook everything from scratch, read all the books, or wake up an hour earlier to work out.

I know it’s not as simple as me saying “stop feeling guilty” and then you’ll magically stop feeling guilty. However, we can work on this though, one step at a time.

We can stop worrying about what other people think of us.

We can stop comparing our lives to those depicted on Instagram.

We can stop asking what other people think if the only reason we’re doing that is to measure ourselves as less than them or show someone else how great we’re doing.

We can stop letting guilt take over our lives.

We need to figure out how to transform our inner critic into our inner champion. The truth is that we are doing the best we can right now and shaming ourselves doesn’t do anything useful.

How? Some of my favorite books about this are: Dare to Lead, Daring Greatly, I Thought It Was Just Me (but it isn’t), Unworried, Girl, Wash Your Face, It’s Okay To Start With You, Why Her?, Uninvited, The Biggest Lie in the History of Christianity, One Beautiful Dream, and The Catholic Table. Those are the best self-help, be a better Christian, silence the inner critic books I read in recent memory.

If this sounds crazy, too overwhelming, or impossible, carve out some time to talk to a counselor. You’re worth more than the judgments and opinions of other people. You’re worth more than your anxiety and just ‘deciding to do something different’ might not be the best way for you to work through this. Taking time to work on you is a very valuable way to spend time and money. If we aren’t our best, then we can’t give our best. We’ll spend our time making ourselves and others miserable, not on purpose, but because we can’t get out of the rock we’re under.

*p.s. I started typing this post with the title “the one where everyone gets mad at me” … because I really just want to yell from the mountaintop “stop making mom guilt a thing that we celebrate” but I decided this was a bigger issue than just one thing.

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Self-Care and FOMO

Everyone’s always talking about the benefits of self-care, and to learn more a friend and I are reading the book It’s Okay to Start with You together as our buddy-read this fall to dive a little deeper. So what is it? Well, it’s not “treat yo’self” all the time. Self-Care isn’t pedicures and spa days and shopping every weekend. It is making sure you take care of you so you can take care of other people.

Self-Care is about fitness, nutrition, leisure, prayer, mental health, emotional health, sleep, relationships, and boundaries. Many of the things people talk about with their therapist or counselor. 

Last year when I started seeing a counselor she would ask me about self-care, and I had a hard time articulating what I would do that week for self-care. I felt like I should always be busy, active, doing things, going places, etc. Since I’m single and wanting to meet someone, this is how I would do that. How could I be both wanting to get married and planning to sit at home all weekend reading a book? 

I learned that it’s okay to do that. It’s okay to start with me. My travel schedule this year has been pretty crazy and November was a lot crazy. I only had one trip but it was 10 days long, involved 5 cities and 7 different beds. It also included a lot of driving. I was beat afterward so I decided to throw a party at my house with almost 20 people (which is a lot of people for my small townhouse).

The only way I made it through was knowing that my Thanksgiving weekend involved Thanksgiving at a friends and then reading and movie watching the other three days. That’s what I’ve done the last three days. I read 4 books, watched some Christmas movies, drank some wine, talked to a few friends, and slept in. I also started a new fitness program which kicked my butt all week. I could hardly walk for two days after doing a fair amount of squats. 

This weekend I took care of me. From now until the end of the year I have just one week I’m not traveling, and something to do every weekend. I’m happy for all of those things, but I needed to take a break this weekend and take care of me. 

And that’s okay. We don’t have to be busy all of the time. We don’t have to have things going on all of the time. Last week I wrote a ‘dear friend‘ letter and a friend at work told me how lovely it was, but also how hard it was for her to read. She said the nearest single friend she has who could be there for her in this way lives over an hour away, and also that she doesn’t know anyone who isn’t crazy busy

I think we are all too crazy busy way too much. We value busyness like it’s a virtue, like if we aren’t going all of the places all of the time we will miss something important. As a society I think we have some serious FOMO (that’s Fear of Missing Out).

For a long time I did. But it was more like FOMH: Fear of Missing Him. Like if I didn’t do all of the things all of the time (YA ministries, Meet Ups, friend parties, events) I’d still be single and it’d be my own fault. I think parents have a Fear of Missing Out that they project onto their children. Fear of Missing Opportunities, Tree Lightings, Santa’s Laps, Disney Adventures, Summer Memories, Education, College, Extracurriculars, etc.

It’s all a little too much. We need a little more family game night, movie nights together, dinner at the table, laughing over a funny story, visiting with grandparents, adopting aunts and uncles, and family. It’s hard to pull out of what the culture says we need to be, to do, to have, to desire, to like, to want, to etc. We should be trying to say no because we have a Fear of Being Too Busy. Instead we appear to have a Fear of Not Being Busy Enough. 

So brew a cup of tea, find a book, choose a board game, cook a simple supper and enjoy self-care or family-care over busyness and the hustle and bustle of life. I’m making it one of my 2019 resolutions, and I’m starting now!

Promises I Make to Myself

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I ordered this book a while ago to read but it was sitting in one of 5 tbr piles I have in my living room. That’s right, I have FIVE to be read piles in just my living room … and that doesn’t count my bookshelf overfull of books! But, I digress.

I called a friend at work the other day to share something that I did that was probably the wrong thing. Someone asked for help with something foolish and I helped, but gave a snarky response back. It was the truth, but it probably wasn’t me being my best-self.

But back to the friend I called … she started the above book the night before and was sharing how life-altering it was for her. I’ve been meaning to read it sometime soon, but it was pretty low on my priority list since there’s also a stack of books on my nightstand and three more books from the library in my kitchen (is that 7 tbr piles now? I’ve got a problem). She said “Chapter 2, it wrecked me. You’ve got to start this book.”

So I did. And I almost stayed up until the week hours of the middle of the night finishing because it was that good. It was that real. Some of the things don’t apply to my life right now – like the lies surrounding motherhood or being a wife. I hope that someday (sooner rather than later, Lord!) they will, but today I breezed right around them, taking short mental notes for the future.

The one that’s been sticking with me is about the promises we make to ourselves. My love language is people being on time, showing up, and following through on the things they say they are going to do. But do I do that for myself? Do I show up for me? Do I honor the commitments I make for myself? Not always.

My counselor asked me what I was going to do for self-care this week and I said “I’m going to have a leisurely weekend because I’ve been traveling almost every weekend since Labor Day and will be almost every weekend until Thanksgiving.” The next day, the next day y’all, I agreed to go to Florida on Saturday for the day to give a talk about a subject I’ve never spoken on before. This Saturday. There goes my leisurely weekend. My flight takes off at 7:59am, I land at 9:58, drive 45 minutes to the event, speak at 2pm, drive 45 minutes back to the airport, take off for home at 5:20pm and arrive home by 6:50pm. This feels crazy!

But I am guarding my time. I made plans for Friday night that I don’t want to cancel. I have Confirmation on Sunday evening that I’d love to cancel on, but I made a commitment so I won’t. [I’m giving this Daily Faith talk again, so prayers that it goes well.] So that’s why I’m doing it all in one day. Although am I ‘guarding my time’ or ‘trying to do it all’?

So I’ve spent my week crafting a 45 minute talk on the theme of “Embracing Youth and Young Adults” to a group of people who signed up to hear a priest speak. Surprise, I’m not a priest! [Maybe that’s not that big of a surprise…] I’ve got some radical ideas to share too, which I’m hoping they jump on board with instead of thinking “oh millennials, she’s thinking way to fluffy, protestant, non-churchy, out of my comfort zone.” But I’m bringing it, y’all.

If we want to be something we’ve never been before, then we have to do things we’ve never done before. Most of the junk we’ve been doing for the last 15 years has reduced the number of millennials who attend church to 5%. Five Percent Y’all! If we want that number to be different in a decade, then we’ve got to do something different.

But anyway, I’m off the topic of this post, which was the promises I make myself. Some of my recent promises.

Two weeks ago I promised myself that the number on the scale doesn’t matter anymore. How have I showed up in that? I haven’t stepped on the scale, but I did do some hard core “my body shape is not the right shape and no one will ever love me in this shape” body shaming the other day. I can show up on this promise better this week.

Six weeks ago I promised myself I would do 10 workouts a week. A “workout” is defined by me as a 10-30ish minute yoga session or a walk. I want to keep active and be a healthy version of myself, so 10 a week works well. It’s either every day multiple workouts with a few days off or something small and manageable every day. I switch it up most weeks. I’ve been doing pretty good showing up for that – when I’m traveling it’s harder, but mostly doable. I can plan my upcoming travel and workouts better to assure I’m taking care of myself.

I promised myself I would read 175 books this year, I’m at 162 with less than 90 days to go. I had a rough start at the beginning of this month (3 books in 12 days), but I got out of my slump and am back to living my best reading life with 5 books in the last 5 days.

I promised myself I would give time to God in prayer and try to attend Daily Mass when I’m home (and if possible while traveling). This has become a little harder since we are down to one Mass a day during the week until at least after Christmas. But this week I made it happen. I went even when I didn’t want to go. I showered when I would have preferred to stay in my yoga pants and slippers. I’m a hero … but seriously to me, I showed up. I kept a promise I made to myself, showed up, and that matters.

So this week I’m going to promise to show up for the things I’ve committed for myself. I’m going to do the things I need to do for self-care (and fly to Florida) so I can show up for other people. I’m going to show up for my spiritual life so I can share it with our teens who are preparing for Confirmation. Maybe it’ll make a slight difference in that 5% number I wrote about earlier. I’m going to work on showing up for myself so I can honor the promises I make to others as well.