A book is a friend for life. The words stay with you, even when you put the book down.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Way Beyond Me

"I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength" ...
(but that doesn't mean I've been called to do EVERYTHING!)

One of the most difficult lessons I've been learning this year is about disentangling myself from the burdens that drag me down.

This process is intentionally my New Year's Resolutions. I've got to drop some baggage from this load that keeps me from moving!

I have a really bad habit of saying "yes" when asked to do things. Maybe it doesn't sound like that big of a deal. Trust me; it is.

If there is a function coming up for youth group, or if hubby comes up with another "great idea" for the youth group, or if someone in the church is thinking of an idea for the church family, I VOLUNTEER!

If there is an event going on at school, whether my kids are involved or not, or if someone happens to be absent or called away or otherwise "in need", I VOLUNTEER!

If a friend (or even slight acquaintance) calls needing something, I VOLUNTEER!

It's true. And the weight of all these promises drags me down! So I am learning to say no.

It's a slow process. Right now, I'm working my way through all the previous obligations that I've said "yes" to. The next month or so is full of these types of burdens. And it really is my own fault. These things would get done if I didn't do them. (And if they didn't get done, the world really would not come to an end.)

During this time of stress from over-volunteering, and learning to say no, I repeat Philippians 4:13. And I hum a little of TobyMac's "Way Beyond Me"...

Anything that I got the strength to do
In over my head keeps me countin' on You
I'm leaving the sweet spot, sure shot
Tradin' it all for the plans You got
Is it so crazy to believe

That You gave me the stars, put them out of my reach
Called me to waters a little too deep
Oh, I've never been so aware of my need
Yeah, you keep on making me see
It's way beyond me

Monday, March 30, 2015

4 Lessons from One Week of Fashion Effort

I made it through a whole week of "fashionable" outfits! I even wore makeup every day! (And I said "no" to one invitation, thus continuing to rid myself of burdensome obligations.)

What did I learn this week? Plenty!

1. Choosing outfits for the whole week ahead of time is NOT just for kids! One of the saving graces this week was having every outfit planned for the whole week. On Sunday evening, I hung up each outfit in the order I'd wear it during the week. This meant that even when I didn't feel like getting "dressed up", it was easy to do because it was right there in front of me! I highly recommend this for any adult professional! So what if you only did this when you were like 5?! It works!

2. Put on the matching outfit, even if you don't think you're going anywhere. This was Saturday's big lesson. I hadn't planned to go anywhere. Normally, I'd just lounge around all day (in lounge pants and oversize tee, of course). But there was the outfit, waiting for me. So I wore it anyway. And put on makeup. ("Why not?" right?) And it turned out I needed to run errands, so I looked great while out and about. Especially great since I ended up taking my pic for my driver's license!

3. Dressing professionally really does make your day better. Have you ever noticed that other people's attitudes rub off on you? Well, the same is true of your attitude about yourself. I noticed that I really did feel better about myself when I looked nicer in my own opinion. And similarly, other people started to take notice as well. I wish I'd kept track of how many people commented, "You look nice today." That just made my day! And I just felt better about myself knowing that I'd tried.

4. Fashion has its own language. Learn it. Two of the fashion-specific phrases I learned during my Pinterest research (and Facebook stalking of fashionable people) were: "#ootd" and "capsule wardrobe". These two phrases have figured significantly into my lexicon this week. Hopefully I'll be able to blog a bit more about how those two phrases have made such a difference to me.

Have I learned everything there is to know? NO WAY! I know there is so much I still need to figure out. But I'm getting there. Slowly but surely. Will I make some missteps? Probably! But I'll post them here and share what I learn from them.

As a professional librarian, I recommend using Pinterest for research! I now have a whole board dedicated to "fashion advice", which are great little posts that I can refer back to and reread as needed. Sometimes I need the reassurance!

As your friendly neighborhood librarian, I recommend reading Outside Beauty by Cynthia Kadohata. A great book about where beauty truly can be found, and what beautiful truly means.

And as your local church song leader, I recommend you repeat Philippians 4:13 whenever needed!

(And please enjoy these #ootd photos from my week!)

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

#ootd Day 1

In my research (on Pinterest, Stitch Fix, and other fun internet places), I learned this fabulous hashtag: #ootd. "Outfit of the Day".

So, to show my progress in my Be a Professional journey, I thought I'd post my very first #ootd. This is Spring Day 1, from Sunday, March 23. I chose to wear my Little Black Dress (lbd in fashion lingo). Then I put the aqua shrug and coordinating earrings with it. I also wore my fabulous black heels.

To make this outfit possible, I obviously learned about needing a lbd. I also learned about this season's colors (aqua and coral, which I hope to share with you later). I also learned that I have a favorite neutral -- and that EVERYONE has a favorite neutral. Who knew?! My personal favorite neutral is grey, so I plan to add more to my wardrobe as time and money allows. It was hard finding the perfect lbd, and I don't think this one is quite "it", since it's a little shorter than I'd like. The work continues!

I did have so much fun shopping! My daughter's bff, sometimes called my "other daughter", went shopping with us, and she took some hilarious pics of me while I was "modeling" some of the outfits. If I get brave, I'll share those too.

When I was working on this post, a great song kept running through my head. It's called "Day 1" by Matthew West. So inspirational, and fitting for my new adventure:

"Day one of the rest of my life,
Day one of the best of my life,
I'm marching to the beat of a brand new drum,
Here I come,
The future has begun,
Day one."

Beginning something new? Need inspiration? I recommend listening to Matthew West's "Day 1" and reading "Ordinary: How to Turn the World Upside Down" by Tony Merida. Make a new beginning!

Friday, March 20, 2015

2 Lessons from Philippians 4:13

"I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength." Philippians 4:13

In this busy school year, I've had to rely on this verse. A LOT. At the start of this new year, a thought struck me. I have learned two important lessons from this verse this year! One lesson I even made my "New Year's Resolution". Sometimes it just takes me awhile to hear God's voice (must be what Lent is for).

So... two lessons from Phil. 4:13.

Lesson One: Just because I can do all things doesn't mean I'm being told to do ALL things!

One of my biggest weaknesses is becoming overwhelmed and over-committed. I volunteer for projects, even though I'm really busy, just because I think I must. I tell myself, "This won't get done unless I do it!" Which of course is just silly, because if it needs getting done, someone will indeed take care of it! Case in point: I volunteered to direct Junior MidWinter Camp. Direct!! Now, my thought process on this should have told me that A) camp would happen with or without me and B) directing was too big a project for me and would stress me out. But I didn't listen. Yes, camp went well. But I was a basket case until it was over!

Lesson learned: don't volunteer for anything unless you REALLY want to. Now, I've still got too much on my plate, but I'm slowly learning that listening to God's voice is different than hearing that whiny self-talk in my head. So I'm tuning out the irritating over-volunteering voice, and tuning in to the Voice of Truth.

Lesson Two: Just because I haven't done something before doesn't mean God doesn't want me to try!

I am an adult, with an adult job as a library media specialist in a small school PreK-12 and an adult position in my church as song leader. Both of these roles call for a professional, adult appearance. But seriously, I just realized it over the past two weeks. Maybe it has to do with being an "adult age" finally (you'd think by 41 I'd have this figured out). Maybe it has to do with opening my eyes to the full impact of Philippians 4:13. I can do ALL things. I can, indeed, figure out how to dress like a professional -- including wearing makeup and matching my clothes and shopping for myself.

Yipe. I had to reread that just now.

What am I getting myself into? I've never worn much makeup. For awhile, when I was helping sell Avon with my mom-in-law, I bought makeup and wore it (though not every day). But I don't think I was very good at it. At the beginning of this school year, I bought makeup and wore it until about October. My reasoning: no one even noticed when I wore it or not, so why bother. My new realization: people do notice, they're just too polite to say anything. And it shouldn't be about that, anyway; it's about a professional image.

The same is certainly true, if not more so, for my wardrobe. I have never ever been good at shopping. I have never been good at putting clothes together. However, I didn't really think anyone noticed. Until a Sunday morning about two weeks ago. One of the older ladies of the congregation pulled me aside before worship started to ask me if I knew I didn't match. Yikes! I guess I didn't really pay attention, but my daughter just shook her head. She knew. And it's not my daughter's job to make sure I match every day or to take me shopping. (I miss my mom-in-law so much -- she was so GOOD at fashion and makeup!)

But I am an adult. I am a professional. I should be able to research and make notes to figure out this makeup and fashion thing. So that's what I've been doing. Pinterest has been especially helpful. As well as Stitch Fix! And so: Tomorrow, I'm going on my first fashion shopping trip, using my research guidelines and prayerful resolve.

"I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength."

(proof I can dress nicely and put on makeup!)

How about a book recommendation: read the Seraphina duo (Seraphina and Shadow Scale). Great for learning about your personal strengths and stepping out to be the person you were meant to be!