April was a great month, but in terms of what I learned it was . . . well, it was kind of weird. As you might have noticed from last Friday’s epic post, we were pretty busy (at least by my homebody-leaning standards). All the activity left me with lots to think about and learn from, but little time to pause and reflect.
Several seeds of ideas and lessons were planted over the last four weeks. I’m sure many will germinate in the coming months; you’ll likely be reading about a few of those things in future WIL posts! For now, here’s what I’ve got—from the mundane to the mind-boggling, and all that’s in between, this is my list of nine things I learned in April. (Bonus tenth thing: I learned that my son looks super adorable with the bunny Snapchat filter; check out those cute little ears!)
1. Never feel the need to answer more than you are asked.
I heard this advice in reference to parenting (Example: don’t launch into an entire birds-and-the-bees talk simply because your toddler points to a pregnant stranger and asks what is in her belly). But I think the concept can actually be applied to many areas in life. I tend to feel the need to over-explain myself; this is neither expected nor necessary, and can get me into trouble (or, at the very least, spark some awkward oversharing situations).
2. An ostrich egg weighs over three pounds, more than twenty times the weight of a chicken egg.
A couple in our community group mentioned that they’re considering buying an ostrich, which sparked a lively discussion of ostrich eggs and how many people a single egg could feed. Of course, I had to look them up and was shocked to read that a single ostrich egg is roughly the equivalent of 24 chicken eggs and contains approximately 2,000 calories.
3. I really like Easter!
I’ve always enjoyed this holiday and, of course, the spiritual significance of the day. But it’s never been a a favorite of mine like Thanksgiving, Christmas, or even Halloween. However, Easter with a toddler is a TON of fun and I loved every aspect of this year’s Easter celebrations, from a visit to the Easter Bunny to dying and searching for eggs, to talking about Jesus’ sacrifice. The fact that we had beautiful weather for Easter itself was another huge perk. I’ve said before that I never fully appreciated spring until experiencing the season in Texas, and I suspect the new setting has something to do with my newly discovered Easter love.
4. Stress is not my friend.
Many people thrive on a busy schedule; for me, it leads to stress which—if left unmanaged—is a recipe for disaster. Though I’m terrible at keeping stress at bay, I’m getting better at recognizing my triggers and anticipating the ramifications of a stress-inducing schedule. This month I had a huge aha moment when I realized that for me, stress sets off a predictable domino of emotions: I feel busy and therefore stressed ——> this leads to generalized anxiety ——> I cope with anxiety through OCD thoughts and behaviors ——> my OCD begins to settle down, and I settle into a depression. Eventually I come back around to my happier, calmer self, but it can take a while—sometimes months.
I haven’t yet determined a way to stop this pattern in its tracks, but I predict that this new awareness will be HUGE in helping me determine better coping mechanisms. One of which just might be the following concept . . .
5. “In the midst of outer busyness we can develop an inner quiet.”
This is a direct quote from a book I’m reading with a group of friends, and I think it might provide a key to helping me keep stress at bay. The author goes on to say that by cultivating a calm heart (through prayer), our insides become less hectic, which leads to a greater capacity for good activity in our outer lives. I’m the first to admit that my inner world is a happening place, which is likely why I tolerate external stress so poorly. I’m hoping that ramping up my prayer life and my meditation—and thereby calming my insides—will help to make stress less of a struggle for me.
6. Eastern Texas is BEAUTIFUL!
Though we have lived in Texas for over a year now, we haven’t ventured much outside of the Austin area. During my parents’ visit last month we took a day trip to Conroe, which is 40 miles North of Houston. I couldn’t believe how gorgeous it was. The foliage there is even denser than in Austin, and I was surprised by how woodsy it was; I felt like I was up in the mountains! I’d be tempted to relocate, but I’ve heard the bugs in the summer can be brutal. Not my cup of tea.
7. I have a ridiculously hard time asking for help.
As part of my volunteer role at our church, I am responsible for scheduling teachers for our preschool classrooms each Sunday. This involves confirming that our usual teachers will be there and, if not, finding replacements. I didn’t think I’d have trouble with this task but you guys, asking people for help is SO HARD for me! My heart races with each text message I send out to subs, and Heaven forbid I might actually have to make a phone call! Cognitively, I realize that these individuals have signed up to help and don’t mind my requests (anticipate them, even) but I would so much rather do the job myself than recruit help. I realize that this is neither possible nor healthy, and I’m viewing my job as an ongoing lesson in working with the body of Christ rather than alongside it.
8. Being a mom has increased my need for “alone time” . . . but also made me more social.
As a hardcore introvert, it doesn’t surprise me that long days with a chattering toddler leave me craving a few moments of solitude. What has surprised me is an intensified need/desire to spend time with other people—specifically, other moms. I’ve always heard how important it is for women to have mom friends, and now that I’m a mom myself I’m learning how true that is. Friendships don’t come easily to me but I am so thankful to have women in my life who have been great, supportive friends (and also recognize my occasional need to be antisocial, too).
9. I can—and should—buy myself flowers.
I’ve always loved having fresh flowers in our home, but in the past I relied on Luke to buy them for me (which usually only happens on special occasions, especially now that he works from home and rarely leaves the house). This spring I started noticing inexpensive bouquets on display at the grocery store and decided to treat myself to some pretty blooms. Over the last few weeks, I’ve made it a practice to grab a bouquet each time I’m at the store. It’s a cheap indulgence, and the flowers brighten up our home and my mood. I don’t know why I didn’t start doing this sooner.
And that’s a wrap! I’d love to hear what you have been learning this month!