Life has been a little hectic lately.

Life has been a little hectic lately. In the last 7 weeks or so, I have worked in inordinate amount of overtime. Do you still call it overtime when you’re a salaried employee? Not just a few late nights here and there or a few early meetings but multiple days’ worth of time. Leading up to our project launch, I was in the office for a 14 hour Saturday backed up to a 17 hour Sunday and back in by 7:30am on Monday (but only because I slept through the 6:00am scheduled start).

I have never before and hope to never again experience the kind of exhausted, not-enough-eye-drops-in-the-world, mental/physical/emotion strain of that kind of timeline for a project launch. Take it from me, you should never attempt to launch before you’ve completed your mock launch activities.

But my project team and I did it. We’d been preparing for an ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) software implementation. We were already using a previous version of the same software but instead of looking at this change as an upgrade, we pulled out all of the data that had been erroneously entered over the past several years and sifted it out. We remapped table keys. Restructured business processes. Rewrote code and reports and work instructions. And despite a few misses that we’ve worked to clean up over the last two weeks, this project has been considered an overall organizational success!

But can we zoom out a little?

I’m exhausted. Still, almost two weeks later. My husband, who pulled all of the weight of family life during this period, is now fighting off his first illness of Autumn. My house is full of tiny fruit flies from a misplaced can that wasn’t properly recycled during my usual cleaning routine because, well, there was no routine. I worked out this past Saturday (taking it slow) and it nearly killed me. Fast forward half a week and I pulled a muscle playing with my daughter; my body is wrecked. And my beautiful little girl wants “Momma, Mom, Mommy, Mom, Momma. Did you hear me calling you, Mom?”

We’re all a little drained from the chaos. And to be honest, there’s no way we all would’ve made it without these things right here:

  • My Tribe
    • Friends who continue to pour into me when I go dark. Friends who continue to text or Snap without a response. Friends who send flowers to work for encouragement.
  • My Husband
    • Who allowed our roles not just to flip flop, but to completely shift onto him. Who put his career behind mine for a period. Who bit his tongue – a lot. And who continued to encourage me even if he felt like I should be waving the white flag.
  • God
    • For putting those people in my life. For continually tapping me on the shoulder with scripture or songs about being a light or a door for others to experience his goodness. For keeping me from completely morphing into a troll at the workplace.
  • Whole30
    • For categorically denying my desire to stress eat. For minimizing the impact of skipped meals, small meals, or late meals on my system. For giving me the energy that I needed to make it through a 17 hour shift at all, let alone without getting sick immediately following. For giving me something else to commit to when the project felt all consuming. For teaching me ways to cope without food.

So really, this post is a gratitude post for those things that kept me going. At work, we passed the project launch, cleaned up the few misses, and we’ve already started sliding back to normal. But me? I’m changed. I’m exhausted and more experienced and more filled with gratitude. It took overtime and high stress and looming deadlines to remind me that my focus is really on people, and that includes me.

Thank you, tribe and Freddy, and God, and Whole30, for shaping me during this time. For showing me grace. And for teaching me about my priorities and the balance that leads me to my best me.

Without you, I am a lesser me.

Graduation Day at Our Alma Mater

Happy graduation day to the most recent graduates of our Alma Mater, Grand Valley State University!

I hope your experience at GVSU has prepped you well for the world you’re entering, as it did for Freddy and me.

You may not all leave with jobs and a spouse secured, but if you were open to it while you attended, you will be leaving with great experiences that will carry you into the working world with confidence. Use your professors and advisors as resources! You may have turned that tassel, but those mentors who have spent the last 4+ years investing in you will not pull that support from you just because you’ve walked across that stage.

My professor didn’t give up on me and I’m proud to be celebrating my 2nd year in my career job this coming July as a result of her guidance. Thank you, Professor Grant!

Oh, and GO GREEK!

Bean & Leaf Cafe: a rainy day, coffee shop Sunday afternoon

Today is a rainy day Sunday.

Despite my long laundry list of things to accomplish, I find myself at the Bean & Leaf Cafe in downtown Rochester, sitting at a window seat table, looking over the corner intersection. The leaf design artfully displayed in the foam of my dirty chai latte is expanding into an unrecognizable spattering of browns and creams and there’s a cool wave of air coming from the window that washes over my hands, reminding me to take hold of my drink from time to time for a warm up and a sip.

Days like these remind me to take deep breaths, to stop, to just be. There’s something about rainy days that inspire me, make me stretch out my fingers and attempt to come up with something new – be it blog, perspective, or adventure. Good thing too because I’m already one blog short of my weekend quota. I’m going to go ahead and make the executive call that one long, insightful entry is the equivalent of two quick commentary-styled entries. So buckle up; this might take a while.

I had the privilege of going out for a chat over some drinks with a friend this weekend. It was one of those good chats that come around only every so often but leaves you feeling like you know a little more about yourself as well as the other person. I got the opportunity to delve into what I’m doing in the moment – just opening up to possibilities and listening for direction – with him. I think him agreeing to meet up with me last minute and asking innocent questions which led into the conversation fulfilled a purpose unplanned by me. It was a talk that lasted a few hours but managed to reconvict me; that’s powerful.

I’m looking forward to moving to Grand Rapids. People ask me why and I don’t have a definite reason. I love the city and I feel like there is much more to discover there. I left prematurely for this internship and although I don’t have a purpose in returning – job/relationship/home – my decision to return is purposeful. It’s a  sensation; I feel pulled to Grand Rapids. I decided today that my first step will be hooking into Mars Hill. I think the closer you work with God, the closer you come to living the life you are called to live. So there you have it: Step 1. Why am I moving back to Grand Rapids? To get involved.

The conversation also gave me some insight into career decisions. I wish that I could sit here and proclaim my career calling definitively, but I can’t. I still don’t know where I’m headed, but I do know that I cannot allow myself to take the easy road. And I have renewed conviction. Some people can follow the path of least resistance but that’s not me. Struggle defines all of us – and how great to struggle for what I want or the chance to discover what I want? I know that life is a series of decisions and that happiness isn’t some end result but rather the journey through those decisions – so I know that I could be happy taking the path that’s stretching out ahead of me, but it will take me in a direction that I’m not willing to go. I might fall into my career, but not this way. Not yet.

Side note: Chai lattes are perhaps the best drinks; even when you let them sit and they become cold, they’re delicious.

I just discovered that I can throw my camera memory card right into my computer. In celebration of that, let me share the latest image from the card:

Although it was probably inappropriate to get my camera out mid church service to take this picture, I had to. This couple stands in each other’s arms every service. They sway in perfect rhythm with one another as they sing and every so often, one of them pats their hand on the other’s side – as if to say, “I’m here for you.” I think this is what love looks like.

At this point, my thoughts are apt to wander. My long laundry list of things has begun to creep back into my mind. The cool breeze washing over my hands can no longer be warmed by the cup beside me. And I’m faced with a decision: Do I cut this short (short because it needs to be the equivalent of two) or do I order a hot tea and travel in a new direction with my thoughts? Or I could order a hot tea and open up the book beside me which I have not had the time to open in a while. Hmm…decisions.

I think spending time with myself is delightfully addicting. Not in an anti-social way; it recharges me for the social atmospheres that I love (and those I don’t). I told my aunt as I was leaving that it feels a little ridiculous to set aside everything I need to do in order to sit in a coffee shop with a book, computer, set of headphones, journal, and my thoughts – but she assures me that it’s necessary to take some time off. I think she’s right. I have a smart aunt.

I think it’s also part of accepting who I am and what I enjoy. Silly that you have to learn to accept those things about yourself. I don’t know what else I could be doing on a rainy Sunday, but I’m sure many people would scoff at my ideal. So be it. To steal a page from Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project (the book beside me), I’m just being Meg.

Being Meg. What does that entail? Well, coffee shops and blogging on rainy days, obviously. It’s interesting to get other’s perspectives when asking that question. At work, it seems to be popular consensus that I’m happy-go-lucky. Always in a good mood. While that might be far from the truth on a lot of days, it’s nice to hear. I never thought of myself that way – but perhaps that’s my new approach being exhibited in my life. That, or I’m a great pretender 😉 haha. I’ve heard that I’m difficult to read – not like “most girls.” I don’t really know what that means. Whenever I hear that, I want to argue on behalf of those women. They can’t really all be so similar. We’ve all got things that make us unique. I’d also like to believe that everyone gets the opportunity to hear that at some point in his/her life. It’s important to feel like you have something that sets you apart – and you do!

I like seeing those things in other people and letting them know. I sat through a presentation the other day that was well delivered. I sent the speaker an e-mail thanking him for his time and sincerity (I hope it’s true sincerity – but even if not – kudos for delivering in such a way that I’m led to believe that it is!). I didn’t get any response and I suppose I thought I would, so this isn’t a very good story or illustration of the point I’m trying to prove… but I think it’s important. And I think a lot of times those kind words are lost on people but sometimes they’re conveyed at just the right time and that makes up for those previous pearls cast among the swine. Haha, I couldn’t help throwing that in. I by no means mean to say that this man is a swine for not recognizing my kind words. Ha. No, I’m not saying that.

Alright, I’ve gotta stop putting off responsibility. I’ve crossed over the necessary “recharge” time and am now just avoiding the inevitable. Shameful. I gotta bust my own butt sometimes so I can get my act right. Back to the grind…after just a few more songs from the James Morrison channel on first…Haha.