If Only We Were Robots

Off in the Clouds by Steven Hrissis | Moving Peaces

Time would be measured by productivity if we were all robots. We could plow through all of the tasks and chores we have to do with no need to stop and eat or sleep. Distractions and hypothetical rabbit holes would have no place in the world. As robots, we could focus on whatever we were programmed to do.

Just think–if we were robots we could do all the things we now try and fail. There would be no such thing as a bad hair day or a bad boss. Nothing would stop us from achieving our goals, because we wouldn’t have the physical, mental, or emotional obstacles standing in our way. Doubt and fear couldn’t creep in and feelings of inadequacy wouldn’t win. There would be no putting your foot in your mouth or guilt from whatever mistake you made.

Some days, I just want to be a robot. To do everything just so and always know what to do. To work right on through my day, always checking off my to-do list. I want to never make mistakes and go after the things I was meant to do.

While this imaginary robot life might do everything right, it’s void of what makes life the wonderful thing that it is. Those moments where we struggle? That’s where the story comes in. The bad days, bad hair, and bad jobs give us something to relate about and support one another. The need to eat and sleep in turn give us reason to taste and an opportunity to dream. Distractions and thoughtful rabbit holes can lead to creativity, which brings beauty, art, and meaning into the world.

Lately I’ve poured myself into writing–writing for clients, writing for various publications, writing just for me. By the end of it, I’ve spent all of my energy writing down my thoughts and ideas with nothing left over. I look around and see a messy house, a list of to-dos long overdue, and every way that I have failed at something or with someone. I look back on my day and wonder where all the time went and why I can’t seem to get everything in order. So here I am, in the middle of the night, wishing I could be a robot. Thinking, if only I could press on through the night and skip sleep then maybe I could accomplish everything and stop disappointing people, myself included.

But we aren’t robots. 

And when it comes down to it, I don’t really want to be a robot. I want this life as a human…even with the pain and mistakes, because I know it also brings beauty and joy. We get to feel and experience life, hold each other’s hands, and find laughter and grace. That beats productivity any day. 

 

 

Living in the Little

Living in the Little

Years of Love | Moving Peaces

Every year I make a photo album to reflect what the year was about–what we did, who we spent time with, what our life looked like. Without fail, it never comes close to reflecting what the year actually looked like. Instead, it has the trip photos, rare gatherings with out-of-town guests and maybe a snapshot of an activity we did.

Right now I feel like I’m in a make or break moment. But am I really? Is this a big moment or is this just like all of the other little ones?

So much of life isn’t lived in the big moments. Those may be the times that you caught a photo or you are acknowledged for it, but it isn’t what got you to where you are today. It’s the little every day, seemingly no-big-deal decisions that propel you forward in the direction you’re going.

What I wore in my 5th grade class photo or what major I chose in college doesn’t define me now. Not even moving across the country or my wedding day, those monumental, meaningful days, truly define right now. They have an impact, absolutely. But it wasn’t my wedding day that made me a good wife. It’s not my location that makes me a part of a community. It’s not having a major in journalism that makes me a writer. (And thankfully my sense of style was not solidified in elementary school.)

It’s waking up every morning saying, I love you and making a daily commitment to my marriage. It’s being a friend and a presence with the people around me that makes me a part of this community. It’s sitting down and writing several times a week that makes me a writer.

It’s how you spend your days–those long days of effort and dedication in the little moments. The hourly, daily, weekly decisions may seem insignificant, but that’s what most shapes your life over time.

Thursday Three

Thursday Three

It’s time for me to make a mad dash (or sorts) and write the first three things that come to my head to sum up the week. I’m so glad you seem to like reading it…it makes me feel less crazy and justifies taking a few random pictures.

1. People will surprise you. I’ve experienced such kindness from strangers this past week. People I’ve never met before became fast friends and brought a certain sweetness to my day. Being willing and open to accept that generosity and hear life stories has brought so much joy and abundance to my life.

New Friend - Jamie Golden | Moving Peaces

2. Trust your instincts. Yes, be open. Yes, take chances. But also, use discernment. I’d love to say everyone is kind and considerate in this world, but I can’t. Hope for the best but keep an eye out and step away if needed. Know what your boundaries are, and when they’ve been crossed.

 

3. Appreciate the small things. Go to a local coffee shop and talk to the regulars. Count all the cars with stick figure families on the back window and think of all the kids that love having a sticker to represent them. Admire a skyline or enjoy a sunset. There’s beauty and delight to be found in the little moments.
Signs | Moving Peaces
Wondering about Wanderlust

Wondering about Wanderlust

My passport is still sitting on my bedside table.

You know, the table that holds a little lamp, the latest book I’m reading, my (cheap) jewelry, a few hair ties and whatever I may empty from my pockets at the end of the day. Oh, and on nights that I can’t sleep or have a little cough, there’s also a glass of water just waiting to be tipped over when I reach across to silence my alarm in the morning. This is not the proper place for a passport to rest.

Passport Ready | Moving Peaces

Upon returning from a recent trip to Argentina, I immediately threw all of my clothes in the wash, but the rest of my bag and all of its contents lingered. I removed my passport out of my purse and probably just placed it on the table in passing before returning it back to its rightful place in the safe. But now I just can’t bring myself to do it.

It feels like putting it away is acknowledging that a chapter of my life has closed. The chapter where I travel to different parts of the world and experience all sorts of new things. Whether that’s true or not, I do not know. Without a firm answer to that question, I cannot bring myself to tuck it away. Every morning, there’s my passport…simultaneously inspiring me and taunting me, suggesting there’s more to explore and another adventure yet in store.

I’m not sure what I’m more afraid of: the end of an era or what it would take to call myself a world-traveler.

I love to travel. I love learning about another culture and talking with people who live in an area so different than my own. This isn’t a quest for a nonstop vacation or spending time in countless resorts. To me, travel is about exploration…in hopes of bettering myself and the world. Hearing the stories of others, challenging myself to go outside my comfort zone and helping those I encounter along the way.

But when do we know it’s time to stop? When is it time to focus on what’s in front of us instead of constantly searching for more? When is it pursuing dreams and when is it discontentment or worse, disillusion? What if a pursuit of travel is far from meaningful–barely even personal development and merely selfishness in disguise?

What is it that I am trying to accomplish? Is it worthwhile? Is it necessary? Is it beneficial? At what cost?

I’ve wrestled with these questions constantly, leaving me unsettled and almost frantic for some sort of resolve or conclusion, to no avail. Hence, my passport and I maintain our standstill, unable to move forward and unwilling to turn back.

Why? Why is this my response? Normal people can take a trip for two weeks, show off the photos and talk about how they had great a time before returning to regular daily life. Either I’m not normal, or I don’t want to be.

Call me naive, but I so desperately want to be intentional with my life–to do something, to make it count. At home it seems that I can’t help but fall into a routine between work, friends, a few hobbies and some TV. Maybe that’s why travel is so appealing to me–it forces me out of that routine. It asks so much more from me, and I eagerly comply.

I see travel as my opportunity, my challenge to do something more than live a predictable and average American life. What if I set foot on every continent, learned another language and propelled my life towards a bigger story full of excitement and uncertainty? A few weeks of travel here and there over the course of a lifetime hardly feels like enough time to embrace and understand another culture. What if I challenged myself to leave everything I’ve ever known for some sort of unknown across the world? What a life to live, what a story to tell…isn’t that worth pursuing?

Conversely, what would I be leaving? Career aspirations, friendships, community, roots. Would the pursuit of international exploration risk or overlook my commitments, lasting relationships or long-term investments? Could that leave me feeling empty and shallow, despite the collection of incredible photos?

I was given this life, my life, and I can’t stand the idea of just letting it slide on by. I don’t want to “play it safe” and gradually surround myself with comfort and routine, yet I don’t want to chase a life of adventures merely for the sake of a bucket list or another story to tell while potentially undervaluing commitment, consistency and responsibility.

Maybe it’s not one or the other. Maybe there’s a balance to be found in it all without compromising one or the other. For some, perhaps the answer is more clear, but for me it continues to be a struggle. So, my passport, a simple booklet with a few stamps, sits by my bed and waits while begging the question: what’s next?

 

News on the Job Front

News on the Job Front

New Job | Moving Peaces

Back in February, I had a few choices to make and offers to consider. It came through around the same time that I was realizing my strengths and possibilities and feel more at peace with where I was in life. I didn’t love being without a job for so long, but I finally found the flexibility it afforded me and uncovered some of the dreams that had long been ignored. Last June, I had so desperately wanted to hurry up the process and shake out the remedies, but that just wasn’t the way it went.

Instead, I got to pour into my blog, plan an awesome event, invest in relationships around me, submit my writing to a major publication, play my first gig, start doing voice overs and freelance work, ask what if and go on a big trip.

Do you know how full those nine months in between jobs were? Full of questions, doubt, tears, struggle and uncertainty, sure. But also full of time, opportunity, challenge and joy.

It was far from easy, and I will continue to be a voice and sounding board for those in the midst of a job search. It is some sort of terrible to face rejection after rejection and doubt everything you’ve ever known career-wise. But I also want to share the other side, the side where I found a job.

I wish I could explain all the ways I’ve seen good come out of all of this mess this past year. It was never a guarantee that things would end up the way they did, and I will surely face trials in the days and years to come. Life brings pain and hardship, because that’s how it goes sometimes. It’s what reminds us we aren’t invincible–that we need friends, family and God in it all.

There’s a lot to learn still about my new position and what all it will entail. Right now I know that I’ll get to write, communicate and think creatively. As far as logistics go, I have the option to work from home or in the office just 20 minutes away. I get to work with a team and help a company continue to grow. And on top of that, they want me to keep going after my hopes and goals in my spare time: to keep blogging, dreaming and being me.

So thanks for listening to me and offering encouragement. Thanks for putting up with the rants and enduring the in-between. I’m glad to be where I am now but also grateful for the journey, as tough as it was.

(There are a lot of links in there…mostly to other parts of the story. This wasn’t a short story, and I have a feeling the story isn’t over yet.)

UPDATE: Sadly, this job did not work out. Major bummer. I’ve edited out some of the specifics about the job and company but decided to keep the post. It was triumphant, not only about the new job but also a celebration of everything I had learned and how far I had come. I stand by that celebration of growth today, despite the disappointment of how things happened in this particular job.

 

 

 

Money Talk: Saving for Travel

Money Talk: Saving for Travel

Oh, two very different seeming things: money and travel. One is really fun to talk about and the other is quickly avoided. I shared a glimpse about our approach regarding money awhile ago and hope to continue to write more about money in the future as a way to encourage and inspire.

Money Talk | Moving Peaces

Can I start by saying that I love traveling? I really do. So much so, that it is definitely given more weight in my budget than the average person might. There are days I just want to say, “let’s go!” and completely ignore all financial repercussions. I see travel as important. But I also believe we should be good stewards of our money (aka take care of what you’ve been given).

So what’s a girl to do when she loves to travel but it’s crazy expensive? Be realistic about it. I can’t pretend it doesn’t cost money to travel, just like I can’t pretend that I’m done traveling. By being honest about both of those things I can better move forward and budget accordingly (so if you have a love for travel…or shopping or sports or music, I’d recommend taking the same approach). In the past I’ve found that if I pretend that something isn’t important to me and leave it out of the budget that doesn’t actually end up saving me money. Instead, it ruins my budget because that love inevitably gets my money but I never accounted for it. See what I’m saying? Start by being honest.

Now, just because I love traveling (or shopping, sports, music, etc.)  does NOT mean that all self-control goes out the window. I don’t get a free pass just because it’s a passion of mine. There was a plan and a budget to take our trip to Argentina, as boring as that might sound. Oh and trust me, there were days that it seemed like that plan was going to take forever.

A few years ago, we said this trip was important to us. Before we even knew where we wanted to go, we started saving. Our plan was to put aside all “extra” money. All Christmas money, birthday money, tax refunds and freelance money went into a separate account set aside for this big trip. Once we had saved up a 3-6 month emergency fund with our income (that’s 3-6 months living expenses in case who-knows-what happens) we said we could start allotting some of our income towards the trip fund as well. There were times that it was really annoying that all of our extra fun money was already marked for the trip when we wanted to use it for something else, something that brought a little more instant gratification.

If you want to spend money on a passion/hobby/interest/goal, instant gratification has got to go. Drop the impulse buys, start saying no to good things–things you like but aren’t as important as your financial goal. Things that don’t go and you do keep spending money on: groceries, rent/mortgage, utility bills, medical expenses, paying off debt and saving for a rainy day.

Because guess what? I was without a full-time job for the better part of last year. That did not fit in the plan. It was SO frustrating to feel like my goals were on hold, not only professionally and personally, but financially, too. The good news? We had a few months of an emergency fund saved, and we had already rearranged our spending habits to live on much less than our income. We tightened up our budget a bit more and had to make some tough decisions, but we were also able to keep the trip savings mostly intact during the time it took to find other employment.

Saving for your goals, for the fun stuff, is important. But making sure you also save for the unknowns is vital. Just like you can’t ignore your passions and dreams, you can’t ignore your responsibilities either when it comes to finances. So, that meant we saved for years and that might not sound very inspiring. But what is inspiring is that we don’t have any debt from that trip so when we took it, we got to completely enjoy it.

There are things in life that come up and I don’t want to pretend that everyone is able to just save and go in a few years. There are big financial commitments, health emergencies and limitations out there that are real. Sometimes I hesitate to even tell these stories because I don’t want it to sound like I take these opportunities lightly. Instead, I hope to encourage and inspire you that with patience and planning, more is achievable than you think.

Travel | Moving Peaces

Money isn’t an easy topic and frankly, writing a series on it is super strange for me. But I know it matters and has an impact, which has compelled me to be open and available for the conversation with anyone who wants to have it.

 

Do More

Do More

Do More | Moving Peaces | Photo by Israel Sundseth

Have you ever felt like your day was completely crammed? And at the end of the day you were totally exhausted? What if someone asked you right then to do more?

Do more with your life. Make it matter. Make an impact.

There are days when that request sounds near impossible. I feel maxed out and unsure of what more I have to offer. I feel so useless and defeated in that moment. It seems futile, so I resort to just doing what I know.

Doing what I know feels so safe. Sometimes even meaningless. I know how to write. I know how to connect people. I know how to organize details. Those are things I do, and do regularly.

Here’s what I’ve found: doing what you know CAN allow you to do more. I do those things anyway, right? So why not do them for the benefit of someone else? Why not take those strengths and skills and make them mean something? I can take my natural tendencies and channel them in a way that helps someone, encourages, supports, loves.

Suddenly, I am doing more with my life, making it matter and making an impact.

It’s not always about the time or the length of the to-do list. Doing more does not necessarily mean adding more stress or checkmarks. Doing more can simply mean doing what you do in a more meaningful way.