I have always loved the word grace. There is something about it that is so simple and yet makes my mind ponder and soak up all that it really means. Grace is a word that can have so many words to describe it and in some ways that makes it a vast and complex word and in other ways it makes it so simple. I know a lot of individuals that feel that grace is something they have to constantly track down as it ebbs and flows in their life. I have felt that way too.
Often when I think of grace, I think of poise. I am not musically inclined (yes, do not ask me to sing for you), and I have two left feet, and I am incredibly uncoordinated. Thus, I have never felt very graceful. Over time when I went from keeping my voice inside to spewing my mind and thoughts, to being incredibly direct, at times means that I struggle with how graceful I am. It means that sometimes I am still learning how to stay direct, speak my mind, and share my voice while also trying to be gracious or graceful in my delivery. Not at all an easy task.
I was reminded of my continued interest in grace while recently reading a Daily Om newsletter on the topic of grace titled: “Living a Life of Grace.” This line specifically stood out to me:
“Grace is the state we are in when we are doing nothing but just being who we are.”
At its core grace means we are being true to ourselves, no filters. So maybe that means I should just be me and think less about my grace. What do you think?
This week, Chris and I were pondering the last 12+ years and how we know when we feel settled with decisions. Sometimes we know right away and other times it takes a bit longer for the decision to feel right. Sometimes he knows so clearly, and sometimes it is me. It really depends on what the decision is, how big it is, how costly and its impact on our lives.
A plane ticket: I will not purchase it until it feels right to me. I have had quite a few occasions when the trip changed drastically, and I saved a lot of change fees because I had waited to purchase the ticket.
Furniture or large house items: Usually I am not as picky as Chris is – I know when I like something and I know when I do not like it, but we have a rule that we both need to like, want, and appreciate it before we make a large purchase. Sometimes I can push the envelope a bit and continue to show him different options because I am not set on his choice. Other times all the other options still lead us back to our original choice.
Large financial decisions: These always get me to slow down to a snail’s pace. I hate spending money, and even though not all financial decisions are spending money — they could be about investing money. I still want to look at it front and back and all angles to make sure we are making the smartest choice. Nothing wrong with that.
Food: If I know I do not want something I voice it, but generally, I just want Chris to decide on food. If something sounds amazing, I will state that, and whatever sounds nasty I will state that too, but I have way to many other decisions to make in my day, the last one I care about is food!
What I find interesting — on most things at work I know fairly quickly what feels right to me, but at home I tend to hem and haw about decisions. Maybe because it might be a large purchase, or a decision that is extremely permanent. Maybe it is also because Chris and I always make our decisions together. Regardless of whether the decision is at home or work, it is always important to feel settled, happy, and content with your decision. You have to live with it and the consequences.
Recently I came across this ad, note, whatever you want to call it from Title Nine’s founder. (Title Nine clothing). I was sucked in by the beginning quote: “Never Apologize.” I for one do not have the easiest time apologizing. So, of course, I wanted to read further. I did and I was inspired. It made me want to go out and be active, yell at the top of my lungs, take a stand for others, the list goes on. Yet, this is more than that – this is more about living life to its fullest and never feeling bad, guilty, or sorry for your thoughts, actions, or feelings.
I am loud. I take up space. I hate remaining silent. I voice my opinions. I am not going to stop.
This post today is to encourage you to never apologize. As Missy says: Do, Lead, Assert. Bring it.
Where do we learn the behaviors that make up who we are? For some reason I was retrospective today. Thinking about my childhood, my teens, college, and my early professional career. At each stage I was a different person and I am still growing into who that is today.
As a kid I was definitely strategic (even if I did not know it at the time). I would find a way to con candy out of the old ladies at church (maybe I would not have resorted to it if it was given a little more freely at home). I learned early on that my sister would get sick on rides at the county fair, so if I asked to go on the spinning ones first I could potentially get the rest of her ride tickets. I was often quiet in the presence of my father when I knew he was in a bad mood, I did not dare piss him off. And I was fun and playful. I liked to be silly.
Somehow as I grew into being a teenager, I grew quieter and more introverted. I had seen too much in my life. Death, anger, poverty, sickness, desertion. As I look back at my senior year of high school, I feel a sadness. I barely made it through to graduation. I was lost and sad, but did not really know it at the time. On the outside I probably looked fairly normal. I was social, had friends, was a cheerleader, but my sadness came from not really having a home or parents to ground my day-to-day life. My last three years of high school were spent at a boarding school, so living away from home (that did not exist) sans parents was strange and so different from my classmates and friends. There was no one I could really relate to.
In college, I eventually found my way and I found my voice. That voice evolved into my professional life and experiences. I began to speak up for what I believed in without fear and decided that I had something to say and did not care what others thought of me.
Throughout it all I have been strategic, relentless, and thrifty. When I decide I want something I figure out how I am going to get it. I had to be that way. No one was taking care of me through high school or college so I learned early on to depend on no one but myself. While I now have people I depend on in my life, there is still always a thread that floats in the back of my mind. Will they drop the ball and I will have to pick it up? Will they follow through with what they said they will do? Each stage of my life has evolved into who I am today. Strategic, sometimes introverted, sometimes extroverted, intuitive, blunt, thrifty, and relentless. I have to trust you, and when I do the rest is history.
Little did I know as a kid that Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout was a hoarder, but somehow she scared me enough to take the garbage out. Even when taking the garbage out at our house meant opening up a peach colored wooden long trunk outside our maintenance shed that sometimes was home to raccoons. If you were not careful when you took the garbage out and you opened the lid you would see two eyes and grey, black, and white fur looking back at you. Who knew taking the garbage out was such a scary thing.
So when I was reminded the other day of the poem: “The Voice” by Shel Silverstein it brought back memories:
There is a voice inside of you
That whispers all day long,
“I feel this is right for me,
I know that this is wrong.”
No teacher, preacher, parent, friend
Or wise man can decide
What’s right for you–just listen to
The voice that speaks inside.
I only wish it was more popular to little children (girls especially). We all should teach kids early on how to listen to their own voice, so it does not take them so long to find it. It took me until I was in my early twenties in college. If I had parents, teachers, and family find unique ways to teach me that no one can decide what is right for me, I might have found that strong voice earlier.
Just as it might be hard for adults to continue to find their voice, it can be even harder for kids (but it does not have to be). We all need to listen more. We need to be quiet more. The voice inside you is there.