Shal the Scientist

You may have already figured this out, but I’m not one to get too excited about science.  I vaguely remember learning about the wavelengths of light and different colors either in middle or high school, and for a small time I couldn’t see a color without thinking about the size of its wavelength and why I was seeing that color.  And don’t get me started on atoms!  When I was first taught that everything was made up of these teensy-tiny building blocks, my mind was blown and the way I saw everything changed…at least until I saw my crush in the hallway and forgot all about science class, lol.

            I guess what I’m getting at is that when it comes to the natural world, I typically prefer to live in the magic of wonder instead of the light of understanding.  So imagine my surprise when I found myself thinking about inertia the other day.  It’s Newton’s ‘First Law of Motion’ (and, yes, I had to look this up to refresh my science knowledge) which states, basically, that an object in motion will stay in motion and an object at rest will stay at rest unless an outside force gets involved (I remembered that!).  It’s all about energy amounts and movement and…well, boring science jargon.  Sorry to all you science-lovers out there!

            As I continue this journey of actively seeking a healthier and happier lifestyle, I am realizing more and more that inertia is a powerful reality in our lives.  If I get home from work, change into comfy clothes, and we decide to eat dinner on the couch while watching a show, the likelihood of doing anything productive for the remainder of the evening is greatly decreased; I’m an object at rest that wants to stay that way.  If I’m trying a new, healthier product or doing a DIY project and something goes wrong or I’m not pleased with the results, it’s natural for my movement towards healthier decisions to be slowed; the disappointing outcome is like that outside force that changes my speed and/or direction.

            But here’s the upside: once you propel yourself (or are moved by other forces) to be actively moving towards health and happiness, inertia will help you keep moving in that direction.  That makes me think of how I did some research almost 2 years ago on how to clean my oven without using harsh chemicals, and soon was using baking soda, vinegar, and lemons for other cleaning, which led to reading the labels on my cleaning products, which coincided with my reading food labels for ‘high-fructose corn syrup,’ and then was making sure our bread was whole wheat…I think you get the idea : )

I believe this knowledge is empowering in two important ways:

  1. Awareness – Once you know that there are pesky forces that may slow you down or bring your progress to a grinding halt, it is easier to see them coming and prepare…or even try to avoid them.  Whenever I am frustrated with this journey, it is easy for me to think negatively and become discouraged.  But if I remain aware, I can remind myself to stay positive and not allow one event to derail my forward movement.
  2. Encouragement – According to this law of motion, it is natural to keep going once we have started.  So, even if you’ve taken only one step toward a happier and healthier life, the difficult part of beginning is already behind you.  I find that very uplifting!  Use this scientific fact to help you keep rolling in the right direction.

How has inertia helped or hurt your journey to better health and happiness?       

The Toughest Choice

I’m starting to feel like I want to begin almost every post I write with some sort of apology about the hard work aspect of what I’m going to share.  In fact, today’s topic was going to be ‘difficult conversations’, but as I was brainstorming about that, it dawned on me just how much work it takes most of the time to be healthy and happy.  Sure, I have those moments and even days – I hope you do, too! – when everything seems to be ‘flowing’ and ‘just going right’ and I just feel happy, you know?  But maybe that’s the exception and not the rule.  Perhaps, most of the time, my happiness is a direct result of tough choices I have made and difficult work in which I have endeavored.

               Recently, my mom sent me a text with the following quote from the Dalai Lama: “Happiness is not something ready-made. It comes from your own actions.”  This really struck a chord with me.  I am sure part of the reason was that my mom happened to send it to me when I had just finished a difficult task that I was hoping would bring some more fulfillment and provision into my life [Thanks, Mom! (she’s probably going to print this post out now and put in on her fridge…she’s that kind of mom, lol)].  But I think the other, more important reason is that it is such an important truth, and I believe truth we need to hear has a way of sticking to us until we get it.

            And I don’t think we get this.  I think we want to swing by the drive-through and grab a bag of happiness with a large side of peace and contentment.  I think we want happiness specially delivered and expressed shipped to our door.  I think we want that one book we read or movie we watch or place we visit or person we love to give us that happiness we’re so longing for.  But I’ve got news for us, all of us – that is simply not the way it works.

            Happiness is a choice.  Sometimes our circumstances make this choice more difficult or even nearly impossible, and I in no way wish to belittle nor discredit this.  But nearly impossible is not the same as impossible.  We can choose actions that lead to our own happiness.  We cannot control everything (which I personally thank God for), but we can control how we respond and react to the things we have no power over.

            Time for a difficult confession – I don’t always want to choose happiness.  Sometimes, I’d rather feel angry, sad, or bitter.  Sometimes, I want to wallow in emotional yuck just like I sometimes prefer greasy, fried food from Chicken Shack as opposed to a healthier option.  I think the fact that we have this choice is a testament to our humanity.  I think it is a part of the weird and beautiful mess of creation that we are.

            So, I will give myself grace in those ‘down’ moments to feel whatever I choose to.  However, I will try to remember the power of choice I have been given and use it to choose happiness for myself and, whenever possible, to help others choose happiness, as well.     

Boundaries

This may seem like a strange post on a blog about loving life (Boundaries? Ick!  No fun!), but I’m realizing more and more just how essential boundaries are for experiencing peace and joy in our lives.

 In fact, we had an unpleasant lesson on this topic in our home just recently. An impoverished and ‘somewhat  homeless’ neighbor we have had a relationship with for years was in our kitchen alone while my husband went to check for empty cans & bottles we could give him.  Later that evening, we realized some money was missing from an envelope that we had forgotten was laying on a nearby counter.  We did some legwork in hopes that our initial conclusion was wrong, but unfortunately, all the evidence (including a peanut butter smear on the envelope) pointed to this man that we had called friend.

 Our boundaries with him are now going to change. That doesn’t mean we no longer care for him or that we hate him or that we want to completely cut him from our lives.  It means we are making adjustments in our relationship with him in response to this saddening occurrence.

 Boundaries are important in multiple areas of our lives, but I want to focus on what I consider three of the most obvious:

  1.  Relationships – As my mom always said, ‘You teach people how to treat you.’  I’m pretty sure this concept shows up in many psychological-based books on relationships.  As much as we want to, we can’t ever change other people; we can encourage and help growth, surely, but we can’t make the actual growth happen.  What we can control is ourselves and what we allow in our relationships.  This often involves some uncomfortable conversations (like the one we now have to have with our neighbor), but being honest about what you expect from others is a great way to grow those relationships and – hopefully – weed out negative behaviors.
  2.  Work – This one can be tricky.  As an employee, you are paid to do certain tasks and, as such, have entered into an agreement of work with your employer.  Obviously, none of us want to piss off the person signing our checks. All communication regarding boundaries requires tact, and perhaps this is most evident in our work lives.  But if your work load has continuously increased with no compensation, perhaps there is a manager or someone you can go to about such concerns.  Or maybe you’ve been picking up more and more slack for a co-worker and you feel they’ve begun to take advantage of that.  There’s nothing wrong with finding a good moment to tell them how you feel and explain the limits to how much you are able to help them from now on.
  3.  Time – As you may have already realized, good boundaries are set in place as a form of protection.  They are not walls; they are not created to keep people out, but rather to ensure the enclosed space is both defined and respected.  I find that time is one of the areas my husband and I have to be most on guard to protect.  It’s like we could blink and – poof – four days in a row are filled with plans with little time for rest or each other.  So we carefully consider when we make social plans, how much we can volunteer, and how many different activities we can commit to.  This takes honesty about our wants and needs, as well as some hard-core prioritizing.  But I think protecting our time is well worth it.

 What areas of your life might need some better boundary building?

Welcome!

Hi! Thanks for stopping in. I’m a first-time blogger (though life-long writer) who is looking for a way to use up some extra creative energy I have jostling about within me. After daydreaming more times than I can count of quitting my office job and pursuing my dream of (depending on the day and my mood, insert yoga instructor, holistic healer, home elder companion, non-profit position, Etsy creator, or author here), I decided I really need more creative expression in my life. And I don’t think quitting my job is the solution – though a girl can certainly dream.

I have a lot of interests, so while this blog may seem to be a bit all over the place, I hope everything I share can be applied to better living – and loving – life . I predict topics spanning from going green & eating healthy to racial reconciliation & various social justice issues to relationships & organization to travelling and…well, you get the picture. I don’t see a reason to limit this space to one topic when that is not really how most people work. I’m a messy collaboration of passions, sure, but I’d rather be that than have no passions at all!

So, here’s a little about me: I’m in my twenties and am very happy with my life. I am married to my best friend (yeah, yeah – corny, I know) who is the most delightful combination of loving, smart, & goofy. We have many wonderful relationships with family members and friends, live in Detroit, and love to volunteer both at church and in our community. I’ve been known to over-organize and make massive lists and also to blow off my to-do’s to venture into Netflix land (except for Wednesdays, which is currently ‘no TV day’).

Life is a crazy journey, and I feel so grateful for where I’m at on this winding path – where are you?