Category: Family Life

The Thanksgiving Meal – Connecting Through Food

We know that Thanksgiving Day gives us an opportunity to connect with family and friends, and one of the biggest parts of the day is the food. Sharing food is another way that we connect with each other. It technically could fall under connecting through acts of service or connecting with family, but sharing a meal together is special in its own way. Food, and especially during the holidays, isn’t just about the taste and the presentation. It’s about so much more: memories, traditions, feelings, and ambience.

Thanksgiving meal

When you serve or are served a Thanksgiving meal, what kind of feelings and emotions do you have? What kind of memories do you experience during the meal? By serving certain types of foods at Thanksgiving, the feelings of warmth and tradition bring some level of comfort to us. Our world is ever-changing and feels a bit unstable, but the simple act of sitting down together for a Thanksgiving meal with our favorite dishes can help us to feel grounded again and experience a little of the stability that we crave. Because of this, we can connect more easily with our friends and family at our table and repair or strengthen neglected relationships. The foods we all enjoy can bring us together and begin a season of peace, charity, and grace.

What are your favorite foods to share and connect over during Thanksgiving? I’ll share my simple menu for this year’s Thanksgiving meal. I tried not to overdo it this time and am sticking mostly to tradition. Find my menu with links to recipes below.

Thanksgiving Meal Menu

Appetizers:
Pumpkin Bread
Sweet Spiced Nuts

Main Dish:
Brined, roasted turkey

Thanksgiving meal

Side Dishes:
Slow Cooker Stuffing
Mashed Potatoes & Gravy
Colorful Roasted Vegetables
Cranberry-Apple Sauce
Rolls

Dessert:
German Apple Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
Pumpkin Ice Cream Pie (new dessert I’m adapting & attempting)

Thanksgiving meal


I hope you all have a blessed and beautiful Thanksgiving meal, connecting over your very favorite foods. Tell me what one of your favorite Thanksgiving foods is – I’m all about mashed potatoes and gravy myself! By the way, there’s still time to sign up for my Thanksgiving PDF if you haven’t yet.

Thanksgiving

 

Thanksgiving Grace

Thanksgiving Day is almost here! We know that Thanksgiving is about gratitude, but maybe this year we can make it about grace as well. If I asked for a show of hands of all those who are overly stressed out right now or who have had a difficult year, I wouldn’t be able to count them all. Let’s make this Thanksgiving less about ourselves being grateful for all our blessings and little joys (for which we ARE grateful) and more about extending a gentle grace to those around us. That includes grace for ourselves and making an effort to relax, enjoy, and not let stress overwhelm us.

Thanksgiving Grace

When I think of grace, I like to roll several parts of the definition into one. Grace is given to you and then you can share with others. And in another sense, it’s about treating others the way that you would hope others would treat you. While I talk about grace here, I mean something like this all combined into one:

Thanksgiving grace

But I also like another meaning of grace, the idea of a Grace Period – a postponement, delay, or pause. We can make Thanksgiving our Grace Period, a time set apart from the daily stresses and our issues with family and friends, and focus on how we can extend grace to those around us if even for a day or two before jumping back into the rat race with both feet.

Let’s start with giving ourselves grace! Stop setting the bar ridiculously high for yourself to have the “perfect” Thanksgiving. It’s about family, friends, food, and fun, not about fancy tablescapes, picture-perfect recipes, serving dinner on time, or acceptable behavior of children (and adults!). Learn to simplify, go with the flow, and appreciate the smaller victories of the day (like, hey I didn’t light a pie on fire this year!).

Thanksgiving

Give grace to those around you during this holiday. When we are stressed out, we are more irritable and far less tolerant of others. By making sure that we are in the right frame of mind first, we can love those around us this Thanksgiving no matter if they didn’t bring the food we asked for, showed up unexpectedly, started a political argument at the table, broke a dish, or had a bad attitude. Remember that we are all imperfect sinners. Take a deep breath, smile, and show love to your friends and family. There is beauty in the gift of grace.


I created a simple (not too fancy so I wouldn’t be too stressed out!) PDF with thoughts and tips for having a Thanksgiving with more grace and less stress. It includes thoughts on how to de-stress during Thanksgiving, 3 of my favorite Thanksgiving recipes, and tips for hosting. I wish all of you a blessed, happy, peaceful, grace-filled Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving

My Infertility Story – Part 2

WarningI share my full infertility story here, including miscarriage details. This may be too emotional for some people and disturbing for others.


If you have not yet read Let’s Talk About Infertility – please read that first as an introduction to the subject. And then read Part 1 of My Infertility Story. The story continues and finishes here. Why am I sharing it? By speaking up and sharing about my own struggles, I hope to show you that you are not alone in your struggles and to encourage you to step forward and share. Infertility shouldn’t be a secret subject and we should feel comfortable telling others that we are struggling and that we are not okay! My story is actually about secondary infertility but I hope that you find value in it if you are experiencing infertility of any kind. Here is Part 2 of my own infertility story.

infertility

From Part 1:

And then, out of the blue, we were surprised by a pregnancy. My cycle was late and I took a test which turned out positive, much to my great surprise! We thought we would finally have another baby, since the pregnancy happened without us stressing or any help from medication. The baby checked out okay at our appointment as well, so we were cautiously optimistic. Everything changed just a few weeks later…

My Infertility Story – Part 2

We had an appointment scheduled near 12 weeks into the pregnancy. If everything checked out, we planned to start telling people that I was pregnant. We did end up telling close family only at this point. Sadly, at the appointment, the doctor and nurse discovered that the baby had already passed away – probably around 10 weeks. It was harder to cope with than in the past because this particular pregnancy had seemed like it was progressing better than any in the past.

At that point, I had a difficult decision to make – either to have a procedure done to remove the baby and scrape the uterus or to let the body miscarry the baby when ready. With either choice, there was risk of hemorrhaging. I decided that letting it happen naturally when my body was ready sounded like the better option. I now wish I had decided differently.

Over 2 weeks went by and I did not have any miscarriage. We had a vacation already scheduled and hoped everything would be okay until we got back from our trip. We left on our already-planned vacation to Montana. While there, we took a side trip through Glacier National Park and enjoyed ourselves. On the drive back from Glacier Park to my parents’ house, I started feeling miserable and realized that the actual process of miscarriage was beginning.

When we got back to my parents’ house, I went immediately to bed, bleeding and in pain. Later, I had to stay in the bathroom for a couple of hours because of the almost non-stop bleeding. We were very concerned about hemorrhaging but I wanted to hold off for a while since the hospital was only a 2-minute drive from the house if we needed to go. Finally, the bleeding seemed to slow just the smallest bit so we decided that I didn’t need to go to the hospital.

The whole process was not only very painful, but very scary, especially the fact that we had to go through it while not being at home. It was emotionally exhausting for both my husband and me. It really was horrible and I wouldn’t want to repeat that experience. Thankfully, at some point I was able to rest and then stayed in bed the next day. I felt sorry for my father and stepmother, though they were very sweet. It’s awkward going through a personal and painful experience in someone else’s home, even if they are family.

That miscarriage affected us more than the others. We had our hopes up that this pregnancy was going to be a successful one. This miscarriage was far more traumatic than the others had been. One of the after-effects, and I’m guessing it’s the same for many women who go through this, is that I developed a fear of getting pregnant. Though on the one hand I wanted to get pregnant and have another child, I also secretly hoped that I would not get pregnant again so that I wouldn’t have a chance of experiencing another miscarriage.

There are definitely psychological issues that go along with infertility – don’t beat yourself up thinking that you should be handling everything well. Don’t feel guilty when experiencing feelings of resentment, anger, heartbreak, fear, failure, low self-worth, and more. Having these feelings while struggling with infertility does not make you a bad person. It’s important to be honest about your feelings (they are normal and you are not the only one experiencing them) so that you can deal with them and ask for help, if needed.

Infertility

One of the issues that comes up and catches you off guard when you are struggling is hearing a friend or family member announce their pregnancy. I still remember a couple of announcements happening while I was in the midst of infertility. Though my mind knew that I wanted to be happy for them, my heart could not catch up. I faked my smiles and hugs as my thoughts went to wondering why them and why not me and why would they be so bold as to announce a pregnancy so early, when a miscarriage could happen at any time. The things that helped me were prayer and time, but I think if I had opened up and discussed these feelings with somebody, that would have been very helpful as well.

After going through that hardest miscarriage, my medical provider had me listed for three “official” miscarriages (I know that I had more early ones but never officially documented them). This fact triggered genetic testing, which I went ahead and did. When the results were in, I got a phone call. The lab discovered that I had a Protein S deficiency. While not as serious as a protein C deficiency, this does mean that I have an increased risk of developing an abnormal blood clot.

The counselor went over behaviors I should change, medications I should avoid, and recommended that I take a baby aspirin every day as a preventative measure. She said that it may have been a contributing factor in the miscarriages though not the only explanation for not having another child as we also should have conceived more often. The protein deficiency is important to know about for any possible future surgeries I have. It actually was a blessing to have discovered this important health information.

I never had another miscarriage like that one. I had one or two very early miscarriages sometime after that, similar to my first ones and so early that I hadn’t tested for pregnancy yet. There have been no other pregnancies that I am aware of for the last few years. I assume that due to my age, there is not much chance of getting pregnant anymore, though technically it is still possible.

I can’t just say “The End” and leave the story there because you will think this is all so sad and feel sorry for me. You need to know that I’m not sad anymore. I did not pray for God to make me pregnant, but rather prayed for His will to be done – no matter what that was and to give me contentment either way.

I don’t know the reasons why we were only meant to have one child, but our son is certainly a fabulous child and would be hard to top! And we have been able to bless others in many ways over the years, with babysitting, giving rides, making meals, helping financially, etc. that we may not have been able to do as easily if we had a larger family. Over time, God did help me find contentment – it was gradual until I realized one day that I was perfectly happy with and thankful for my little family.

Infertility

If you are in the midst of struggling with infertility right now or are still dealing with the pain of it from the past, I pray for peace and contentment for you. And I offer you a giant virtual hug! It is not easy and it is painful and often feels lonely. Do reach out and talk about it with family and friends, even if you feel like you’ll make them uncomfortable and they don’t know the right things to say. Ask for prayer and ask friends to just be there for you to listen to you and support you. I’d love to hear from you – I welcome your comments right here on the post as well as on my Facebook page.

Thank you for being here to read my story. Click here to sign up and receive my blog posts by email so you’ll know when I post and we can stay connected.

My Infertility Story – Part 1

Warning – I share my full infertility story here, including miscarriage details. This may be too emotional for some people and disturbing for others.

If you have not yet read Let’s Talk About Infertility – I encourage you to read that first. I said in my previous infertility post that “Sometimes we don’t like to make others feel uncomfortable by discussing our own struggles.” But by sharing about our own struggles, we open the door for others to feel brave enough to speak up and share. We also help each other with the comforting fact that we are not alone. My story is actually about secondary infertility but I hope that it feels relevant to anybody experiencing infertility of any kind. Here is Part 1 of my own infertility story (I’m too wordy as usual and had to split into two parts – Part 2 has been published).

infertility

My Infertility Story

We didn’t have any fertility issues as far as we knew before having our son. We did wait a few years as we were busy finishing college and working full-time. When we were ready to try to have a child, I got pregnant without any issues and had no complications during the pregnancy. The only crazy thing that happened was that he arrived exactly four weeks early! (So the whole relaxing while taking four weeks off from work before giving birth was not to be. Thus I had a messy house, nothing prepared, and was completely exhausted!)

infertility

We didn’t give much thought to when we should try having our next baby. We figured it would happen when it happened. I was so busy taking care of my son that I didn’t think too much about it. When he was between one and two years old, I experienced some strange spotting, unrelated to my monthly cycle. I spoke with a friend who said she had experienced something similar and that it was the fertilized egg implanting. I took a pregnancy test and it was positive. I began the process with my medical provider – an official urine test, paperwork, a class I had to attend, etc. But sometime after that I had a menstrual cycle and wondered what was going on. A followup test revealed that I was not pregnant.

What had occurred is that I had conceived, then began the process of miscarriage early on (the spotting). I tested positive for pregnancy at that time because I still had high levels of the pregnancy hormones. What I thought was a menstrual cycle after that was actually the miscarriage finishing. It was very disappointing news, but we assumed it was a fluke thing and tried not to dwell on it.

I experienced more of these early miscarriages but did not go to the doctor each time because I was able to recognize the signs on my own. Eventually I went to a fertility specialist. We completed paperwork and they ran all sorts of tests on both of us. One of those tests was to check my uterus and was much more painful than I anticipated. But thankfully all tests came out perfectly fine/normal. We made the decision to move forward with taking the mildest fertility drug which would just increase my natural ovulation and allow us to have better timing.

That was a rough few months. Taking the drug for infertility was similar to having pregnancy hormones all the time, so I was stressed and emotional. I had to go in regularly to see if I was going to ovulate. If I got my menstrual cycle after that, it was assumed that I had not conceived and the cycle started all over again. We had a couple of disappointing months with nothing happening or eggs ready but then not conceiving. Then we were informed that there were four eggs ready to drop at once.

infertility

This completely stressed us out, because it meant a possibility, no matter how slight, that all four eggs could be fertilized at once. That would mean quadruplets! I did not feel ready for quadruplets. The doctors told us not to worry about it as we could simply choose not to carry all four if that happened. Our personal beliefs were against that, so we knew if we had four fertilized eggs, then we would carry all four babies!

We started to wonder if we were doing the best thing by taking this medication. We were stressing out about possibly having multiple babies but the multiples were only occurring because of the drug I was taking. We thought maybe it would be better for me not to take the drug. After all the stressing out, I had what seemed like a normal menstrual cycle, which meant I was supposed to start the next round of medication. I started the medication again, as usual.

About a week or more later, I had more bleeding. When I went in to get checked, it turned out that I was pregnant after all (and the medication should never be taken if pregnant). What had most likely happened was that I had three fertilized eggs and miscarried one baby, then lost another shortly after. I had one baby left, but we were excited about that!

I started going through the required pregnancy appointments and classes. Unfortunately at my next checkup, the doctor determined that the baby was too small for its age and that it was not thriving. I was told that I would miscarry. It was my choice whether to end it then with a procedure and lower the risk of hemorrhaging or let the miscarriage happen naturally at some point. I chose to let it happen naturally.

As difficult as it is to have an unexpected miscarriage, it is almost worse walking around knowing that at any moment you will miscarry. I miscarried a few days later. This had been the longest of my pregnancies since our son was born, but had ended at about eight weeks. At that point, we felt that taking the fertility medication while pregnant may have led to the miscarriage. So I decided to stop taking any medication.

It was at this time that we decided to look into adoption – mainly adoption through foster care. We did thoroughly look into it, but I’ll leave that part of the story for another time. We made the decision not to adopt at that time. That decision caused me to experience guilt, which added to the level of stress. It was also stressful listening to my son praying for a brother or a sister and explaining to him that not every family has siblings.

For a year or two, I counted days of cycles and tried ovulation prediction tools. Every time my monthly cycle was a day or two late, I started wondering if I was actually pregnant. If it went longer than three days or so, I took a pregnancy test. The tests were always negative. I had one to two more very early miscarriages, but didn’t go to the doctor for those. I didn’t hold out much hope that I would ever have another successful pregnancy.

infertility

I finally made the decision to stop worrying about it and stop counting days, etc. I focused on the blessing we already had – our amazing son, and the many ways our little family was blessed. And then, out of the blue, we were surprised by a pregnancy. My cycle was late and I took a test which turned out positive, much to my great surprise! We thought we would finally have another baby, since the pregnancy happened without us stressing or any help from medication. The baby checked out okay at our appointment as well, so we were cautiously optimistic. Everything changed just a few weeks later…


I’ll publish Part 2 of my infertility story as soon as I finish it. Since I don’t know exactly when I will publish it, I recommend that you click here to sign up and receive my blog posts by email. Then you don’t have to wonder if I have finished the story – you’ll be in the know!

Thank you for stopping by to read my story. If you are experiencing or have experienced infertility, I would love for you to share in the comments. It helps us all to know we’re not alone in our struggles as well as to share encouragement.

Let’s Talk About Infertility

Sometimes I don’t write what I have planned but rather what I feel led to write, but that’s what keeps life interesting, right? I didn’t realize in time that it was recently National Infertility Awareness Week. And even though that’s over doesn’t mean we can’t talk about it anyway.

Why would I bother writing about infertility? I have a son after all. I want to write about this subject because I experienced what is referred to as secondary infertility and because infertility is a subject that is kept far too quiet which makes women (and men) feel alone in their struggles when actually, there are far more people going through this than you realize. I did share a brief post on my old blog on the subject, but that’s all I’ve ever really said about it.

infertility

Join me today as I talk about my thoughts on infertility and then in my next post of this series, I’ll share my infertility story. There may even be a third post – you just never quite know with me, which is why you should go ahead and subscribe to receive my posts automatically by email.

Why We Don’t Talk About Infertility

We don’t talk about this subject because first of all it’s painful. And sometimes we don’t like to make others feel uncomfortable by discussing our own struggles. I never knew how to bring up the subject. Was I supposed to wait for somebody to say, “How are you doing?” and then say, “Well, we’ve been trying to have another child but just had another miscarriage – how are YOU?” And after going through the awkwardness of telling people that I had a miscarriage after I just told them all I was pregnant and the awkwardness of telling people that I had been pregnant but miscarried but I never told them in the first place that I was pregnant, I decided to just skip the whole telling anybody anything anymore. I didn’t want to deal with how uncomfortable it made others, especially couples announcing pregnancy who shouldn’t have to feel guilty about their blessing.

Infertility

But was that the right approach? I don’t think so. When we don’t share our struggles with others, not only do we deprive others of blessing us with prayers, wisdom, hugs, and comfort, but we also miss the opportunity to open the door for another woman or couple to discuss their own infertility struggles and to realize that they are not alone after all. If you are currently struggling with infertility, please don’t be afraid to share about it with your friends and family and let them be concerned for you. You might be surprised to find out how many of them have previously struggled or are in the same boat you are.

What Is Secondary Infertility?

Secondary infertility is defined as the inability to become pregnant, or to carry a pregnancy to term, following the birth of one or more biological children (who were conceived/born without reproductive technologies assistance or fertility meds). It’s probably a struggle you know less about because the couples who are dealing with it already have a child or children. And while those of us who deal with secondary infertility all have the blessing of having a child, it makes the inability to have more even more perplexing.

Sometimes secondary infertility is caused by medical reasons and sometimes there is no known cause. Age plays into it as well since many women are having children later. By the time they realize they have secondary infertility and try to use treatments to have a child, they are already past the point of peak egg production. A woman is born with all of the eggs she will ever have and both quantity and quality decrease significantly after mid-30’s. If you have had a child already, you are likely to keep trying to get pregnant longer before seeking help, since you assume that you have no issues because you’ve already had success. That means a woman that doesn’t realize she is suffering from secondary infertility until she is in her mid-30’s will have a much more difficult time having another child, even with fertility medications or treatments.

Encouragement For Those Struggling With Infertility

There is nothing I can say to make light of this struggle or to get you to shrug it off, smile, and get over it today. I get that. It’s a painful journey, and different for each person or couple going through it. But I can share encouragement and hope. My journey was difficult but certainly not as difficult as it is or has been for many. But I am on the other side and can look back without fear. I got through my journey by leaning on God and with much prayer. Maybe I could have got through it easier if I had talked about it with more women, but I’ve always kept my struggles fairly private.

Seek comfort from the Lord, but also from other women and couples going through the same journey. That means that you have to be brave enough to open up about the subject in order to find others who are struggling like you. I promise you – you are not alone. Not at all. When you look at families around you, with their beautiful children, you may not realize that some of those families have suffered infertility. Some waited for years to have children. Some only have children through fertility treatments, or adoptions, including embryo adoptions. Some have never been able to have more children than the one or two that they have. Some have suffered miscarriages, even though they have several children. Some have had infants die at birth or while very young. Some have had to suffer through their non-infant child dying from an illness or an accident. You are not the only one suffering and while it doesn’t necessarily make everything better for you, it helps to remember that.

infertility

Whether or not you have a child, or children, or more children – it is possible to find contentment. It may not come quickly. It can show up very gradually until you finally realize that you are indeed okay. Remember that even if you don’t have the family that you imagined or initially desired, you are truly blessed in many ways. Not only that, you are a blessing to others and don’t forget that while you are on your journey. Maybe by reaching out to help others, you can step out of your struggle for a bit.

If you are struggling now or have struggled and haven’t healed from the pain, my prayers are with you, friends. Please speak up and ask for help, prayers, comfort, and love from your friends and family. And you’ve got virtual hugs from me right now. If you have not experienced infertility, please remember to offer a listening ear to your struggling friends, but try not to say things like – oh, it will happen soon enough – or – just stop worrying about it. Don’t feel pressured to give advice. Just be there to listen and comfort the best way that you can.

Sometime soon, I’ll share my own infertility story with you, so come on back for that. The details have all gotten a bit fuzzy (many years have gone by), so it’s good that I’m finally writing it out. Thank you for joining me!

If you have resources for women struggling with infertility such as books or websites that have helped you or online groups to join, feel free to share those in the comments. If you’re looking for Christian support from someone who has experienced the heartbreak of infertility, I do recommend Jennifer Saake’s resources.

Do You Struggle With Self-Doubt?

Do you struggle with self-doubt? Newsflash: Everybody does. In fact, that’s really more of a rhetorical question, isn’t it? I’d like to share my thoughts about self-doubt and find out how some of you have overcome this issue.

Do You Struggle WithSelf-Doubt- (2)

Honestly, now that my age is in the middle of a certain decade beyond the thirties, I find that I struggle less with self-doubt than I did years ago. It’s not really that I think I’m more awesome as I get older. It’s more that I know that most of us struggle with something, and perfection simply cannot be achieved (though we should still strive to improve). But even with that knowledge and a strong sense of confidence in one area or another, wow – does that self-doubt show up SO quickly and almost take over!

Experiencing Self-Doubt

We experience self-doubt in just about everything: our spiritual walk, marriages, parenting abilities, job knowledge, hobbies, service, writing, blogging, Facebook Live video (had to mention it because I tried it for the first time yesterday and felt like nobody was going to watch or care!). I’m not saying that it would be good that we forge ahead in everything that we do, never wondering if we’re doing the right thing or could do something better. I think there is a healthy amount of doubt that can be helpful and point you in a new direction.

When I’m talking about struggling with self-doubt, I mean that sudden feeling that you are not worthy or good enough to do what you are trying to do or that you are making a very bad decision and why in the world did you ever think you could do this and you wonder if everybody is shaking their head, thinking “What is she doing?” It can be overwhelming and make you suddenly quit the very thing you are doing. That is not healthy doubt. Fight through it, friends. It’s okay to take a step back and look at everything objectively, but don’t let it scare you away from doing something awesome or even doing the regular daily things that we all need to push through and move forward.

I’ve experienced that feeling many times in the past in motherhood and jobs and marriage and on and on. I experience it less now, but it still pops up unexpectedly. I started a new job and of course had to learn all new things which always makes me question myself about 3 days in wondering if I can really do the job (yes, I can and already learned a bunch and am improving). And then restarting this blog was another experience. I have been working really hard on planning and writing posts. All it took was one day of almost no views of a post that I had worked so hard on for me to suddenly feel like maybe I shouldn’t be trying to blog again and what was I thinking – why would anybody want to hear what I have to say? Happy to say that I conquered those feelings and am forging ahead anyway, but I was really caught off guard at how overwhelming that feeling was and how quickly it came on. It helps to be on the lookout for it and realize that it may be a fleeting feeling and 24 hours later you’ll be fine. So never make any rash decisions when you feel that self-doubt – wait a bit!

overcoming self-doubt

Overcoming Self-Doubt

Try to remember that NOBODY is perfect and EVERYBODY experiences self-doubt about something! We’re all here trying to do the best that we can. And don’t worry too much about what others think – keeping on with what you’re doing isn’t always about others. Sometimes it’s just about you. Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for help, advice, and encouragement when needed. People can’t always read your mind and know to give you the blessing of that extra boost that you need. If you’re experiencing some self-doubt right now, take a deep breath, take a mental step back and think about whether your self-doubt is reasonable. Consider me your encouragement today that you should keep moving forward! You are more amazing than you know – don’t wait for others to tell you that in order to believe it. You are worthy and what you do does make a difference even when you don’t think it does. Have confidence, hold your head up high, and power on!

This post didn’t quite go where I originally meant it to, but I’m not going to have any self-doubt about it. Obviously somebody needs some encouraging words today and I hope that you find them here and are blessed by them!

What things are causing you to experience self-doubt? Have you felt overwhelmed by it? What helps you to overcome it? Share in the comments and help the rest of us! Thanks for joining in, friends!

[Conversation]: Does Work-Life Balance Exist?

I decided to make this type of post a  “Conversation” because I really want to hear from YOU! I’m not the expert of everything and expert level in very few things if I’m being real, so it doesn’t make sense for me to tell you the right way to think about this subject. In fact, this is one of those topics that it really helps to hear lots of great thoughts, input, and feedback, then digest it all and come up with what makes sense for you. When I look things up online, I don’t just go to one source, I find several and take all the ideas into consideration before coming to my own conclusion.

Let’s do that! The only way this works is if you’re not afraid to speak up and share your thoughts on the subject. If they’re the same as everybody else’s thoughts, that’s valuable because it shows someone else that many people feel the same way. If your thoughts are completely different, that’s valuable because we need all the angles to think through and you might show us another way of thinking about the whole thing. How to speak up? Comment directly on the post, leave comments on the shared post in Facebook or Twitter, and if I can manage to get the conversation going on Facebook Live, you can comment there too.

work-life balance

Work-Life Balance

It’s a term that’s e.v.e.r.y.w.h.e.r.e. these days. What does it mean? Supposedly there is some sort of perfect balance between devotion to your work life and devotion to your family life that means you will achieve ultimate success in all aspects of life. I’m not saying that some of you might not have achieved something close to it, but I do know that nobody’s perfect so maybe we should stop trying to chase an unrealistic goal for ourselves.

I’ve noticed that the term Work-Life Balance seems to be directed mainly at women. Not that men don’t have balancing to do, but it does seem harder for women who are working and also trying to raise a family.

The definition of Work-Life Balance mentions proper prioritizing between career/ambition and lifestyle. I have a few issues that come to mind when I read that definition.

  • Issue #1: “Proper prioritizing” implies that there is a perfect ratio of “work” to “life.” I’ve already said that perfection can’t be achieved, but I also think it’s incorrect to think of this as one simple ratio. Don’t these things blend together? Isn’t working part of living? And vice versa? Maybe this is like thinking of how much oil with how much vinegar to make salad dressing – sure, there’s a recommended ratio but even if you don’t get it perfect it all mixes together and you’re really just concerned with the flavor.
  • Issue #2: Work-Life Balance only applies to people (I’m talking about women here) with careers/ambition. This makes it seem like only women with a career are the ones who “work.” Are you a woman, especially a mother? Then you work, my friend. And work hard! Whether you’re at home, at an office, working online, working in the home, home-schooling, cooking, cleaning, taking care of family, driving kids around, you are working and you also have a need for balancing all those responsibilities with putting the focus on loved ones (and yourself) and truly experiencing and enjoying life! And those things don’t have to be mutually exclusive.
  • Issue #3: The definition suggests that achieving balance may look similar for each person. I don’t live your life. You do. What defines balance and proper prioritizing to you will not be the same as what defines balance to me. It’s about finding what works for you and your family in the life that you are living right now. Should you make an effort to find some balance? Yes, it’s worth looking into and making some shifts when necessary, but what you need to do right now is not the same as what your neighbor needs to do and that’s okay. And how you find balance in your life right now will not be the same as how you need to find it 5 years from now. It’s a constant shifting around depending on the circumstances of your life.

But those are just my initial thoughts. I wonder if we really even need this term at all. We always want to find a balance between all of our responsibilities in life, whether it’s work, play, or rest, but maybe finding balance is illusive. Is the term work-life balance just causing stress where it isn’t even needed? Is it truly a term meant only for those working in jobs outside the home and figuring out how to devote proper amounts of time to each priority in life? If we focus on family first, will all the rest of it fall into place?

convowithlisa

What do YOU Think?

I don’t have the answer ready for you. I want to hear your thoughts and I think a lot of women are wondering about this, too. And hey, if you’re a guy, we need your feedback, too, and whether you think this term is meant for all or targeted to women. Chime on in with your feedback! Here are some questions to get the conversation started:

  • Do you agree with the basic definition of work-life balance or do you feel it should be expanded to include all types of work, not just careers and ambition?
  • Do you think the term is a good one to help us think about how we prioritize our time or do you think it’s causing us to stress out unnecessarily?
  • As far as balance in life, do you have some thoughts about how everything in our lives should be prioritized?
  • Have you found balance in your life and family and if so, how did you find it? Is it always shifting?
  • If you work outside the home, do you find that it is more difficult to make time for other priorities than it would be if you were at home?
  • Do you think people are working too hard/too many hours in general and that lifestyles and families are suffering because of it?
  • Should there be a different term for the overall balance in life that includes more than work? What would you call it?

Please do share your thoughts and feedback! I really want to hear it all and I know that others will be interested in what you have to say. Thanks for joining in the conversation, friends!

work-life balance