Complacency vs. Contentment Round 2: Change up the Routine

In the post-holiday blues it’s easy to get in a pattern, used to a norm. Luke and I have begun to settle into a routine of married life. We ask the same questions to catch up at the end of everyday, get similar answers eat dinner, or exercise then eat, then watch TV, prep for the next day and go to bed.

Unknown

On some of the harder days that is perfect, just to rest and relax with each other is enough. But there is a fine line between a sense of contentment and complacency in our everyday lives and sometimes a thankful perspective is not enough on its own. (see Contentment vs complacency: thankfulness)

Unknown

Sometimes changing up our quality time interactions helps break up monotony. It’s easy for us to  get stuck in a pattern of Netflix and online catch up on TV shows until bed.  Although there is nothing wrong with this, if we only ever stick to one means of quality time then we can get complacent. Luke and I recognize that we always want to give to each other in all areas including those often neglected such as: intellectually and spiritually. So what does that look like for us ? Options we like do to include:

img_0493

Play Video Games/ Board or Card Games: Video Games offer some intellectual competition, or collaboration, as we communicate to figure out how to solve a puzzle, use the Xbox Kinect to act like fools dancing in the living room, or play superheros fighting “the bad guys”. Board and card games lead us to some great interaction as well, especially when we share/learn a favorite game of the other persons. (see The Game Chest).

images

Read: It may seem like an individual activity but when I am reading, even if it is a fictional book, questions, thoughts, what if . ..  discussions come to mind and if I share them with Luke a great discussion can come up or vice versa.

Another option is to read the same book and share our thoughts. Or create a list of  books and/or movies that one of us has read and the other hasn’t. Books or movies have a large influence/impact on our lives. Creating then sharing a list of the favorites  is insightful into each other’s lives and place in life when the other person first read/was it and can bring up some good discussion.

Unknown

Listen to a lecture, talk, or sermon:  It doesn’t always have to be purely “academic” or “spiritual”.  Sometimes Luke and I will watch a short documentary on Netflix or watch a Tedtalk about a topic that interests us. Awhile back Luke and I watched a documentary on the history/art of Sushi and another one on Beer both were not only informative but led to some good laughs and discussion about ethics, values, and the big picture.

Pray/Meditate together: Luke and I will sometimes share our concerns/thoughts with each other before praying out loud. Or we will just sit in silence both praying and listening on our own; but together. No matter what you believe about ‘The Divine” we all have noises, thoughts, and voices to quiet in our minds let alone distractions we can see or hear. Getting quiet meditative time together can help lower stress and bring some peace to your mind and therefore your relationship.

578134_10152448081578868_1995229566_n

Girls/Guys Night, Small Group, or Couple Dating: Spending time apart or with other couples/ people at the same place in life as you can be just as helpful. Luke goes to a group often on Thursday nights to play a card came and relax. He needs this down time to have some friendly competition with “the guys”. We also will go on “double dates” with couple friends we have out to dinner or on a hike, or to each other’s houses where we drink coffee and play games. Getting time apart or with others make the time we do spend together better.

So there you have it-some great ideas to help change up your routine!!

What do you do to beat the winter blues?

Complacency vs. Contentment: Thankfulness

We have now been living in Corning for a little over a year.  The newness of the Finger Lakes region has started to ware off and to some degree the same could be said about our marriage.  The longer you stay in one place, in one pattern, the easier it is to not see the little things. The route to work with all turns becomes a blur, as do the days. Same can be said about life together in a marriage. Over time it is easy to forget or not even notice the little things as they days start to blur together. When this happens it is easy to become complacent.

images-2

Complacency is settling, possibly unhappily, with the way life is. When life begins to buzz by it’s easier to complain and become grumpy. But instead of doing anything about it, complacency leads us to feel comfortable with the unhappy grumpy us in our mundane routine because it can be controlled.

Contentment instead is a state of satisfaction even if life is not perfect. It focuses on what is going right or well with a sense of thankfulness in and/or during our regular routine. This helps us let go of the pieces we can make us grumpy or irritated but we have no control over and helps the days feel more important, significant, less “blurry”.

images-1

I am learning what it looks like to be content instead of complacent in our routine and current place in marriage. But what does that look like?

Saying thank you, a lot. I don’t have to think or worry about the bills being paid on time, the trash being emptied, the car having gas, or there being money in the checking account so I can buy groceries. Luke just takes care of those things for us. But because I don’t have to worry or think about them means I can forget they are getting done. They can become part of the routined haze unless I saying thank you; a lot: in a text, email, sticky note in a lunch pail or out-loud. If I say thank you it helps change my focus onto what is working well, what is going right.

Once I began to think with a thankful perspective and communicate appreciation for the little things, I began to see Luke’s actions differently. I began to recognize the “why” behind what he did big or little. For instance, my husband’s willingness to go to the store at 12am in the morning to pick up nyquil. That action showed me that he cares about not only my well being but that I get decent rest. Although I already knew these things to be true,I need constant vocal or physical reminders because let’s face it life gets to us and we forget just how much our spouse or loved on really does care about us.

images

It may sound strange to, say: thank my husband for going to work everyday. But I see the deeper value or purpose behind his behavior. By always going to work, dressed professionally, on time, I see he has a strong work ethic, sense of responsibility to his co-workers and patients, and he cares about our financial security.  So when I thank him for a small everyday action, what I am really saying is I see and appreciate who he is: the roles he has taken on, and his values and ethics.

It takes discipline to remember to communicate my gratitude but overtime it helps develop perspective. I am able to see more clearly the emotions and values behind what Luke is communicating to me. In turn I am more aware of how I communicate and thank him through my behaviors back. It makes the little things Luke does for me or I do for him seem not so little anymore. Because when I get a small text in the middle of my day that simply says: “hey love u babe” it makes a big impact in how I handle the rest of my daily routine leading me more towards contentment and away from complacency

How about you?

What little things do you take for granted?

What little things are you grateful for/impact you the most?

Summer projects, the waiting game, and being content

images

Well summer has officially started as of today. This calls to my mind what this season might bring for me.

Since vacation in May (see Vacation Highlights part 1 and Vacation Highlights part 2) I have felt pressure to work hard at my job: the job of finding a job. It is hard living in a place where you know no one because with jobs these days it really is all about who you know. And who do I know here? A handful of people by name and even then not well at all.

a card my brother game me after graduating from college
a card my brother game me after graduating from college

So then what do I do?  Gather all the needed materials, send it to any job in my field of experience then hope, pray, and wait. Last week I sent off a job application for several positions teaching at the local community college.  Every time I think about that application  many “what ifs” come to mind. You know the game: what if . . . they didn’t get it, it’s buried in paperwork, they are already done interviewing for the positions I was looking at etc. Then I remember the “what if” game gets me absolutely nowhere but very stressed and frustrated. It is out of my hands, in theirs and I need to choose to hope for the best instead of wondering.

images-1

What do I do while I wait? Good question. This has been the longest I have been without a job, school, or some combination of both ever. My life and calendar=very open. So again-what do I do with my time? Well you are reading part of it. (Just in case you wondered why I post so often). Other than blogging I do some editing work for my mother-in-law’s who is an author , weekly catch up with family and friends from out West. Past that? My life consists of a  pretty mundane routine of  dishes, getting groceries, laundry, cleaning the house, prepping dinner, exercise, reading, and watching netflix shows. For some people this limited level of responsibilities would be bliss. For those busy women out there with several jobs and/or possibly several children I know you must envy my spare time. But for me it is torture.

images-2

I am a very active person who enjoys deeply, fully investing in a cause I know I can make a difference in. I am ambitious, hard working, diligent, detail oriented. (I know I sound like I’m rehearsing for an interview or rattling off one of my more recent intent letters for job applications). But I promise this is just me being transparent with my readers about my personality. I told Luke the other night “How do you think you would do with having 8 months of no work, no school, and not having your own car?” He thought about it and realized “not too well”. I’ve been trying, really, to not be “not doing too well” with what I’ve been given.

images-3

I  try a lot of new recipes, and gratefully appreciate time with Luke.  But mostly I do a lot of thinking about what my purpose is here in NY? What am I supposed to be doing while I am here?

Unknown

So now I come to the topic of summer projects. I don’t currently have any. I am a creative person and could apply myself to several new tasks or old hobbies and enjoy them. But I am also very purpose driven, so if I don’t have a practical reason to do these projects then I have a hard time starting them. Luke has mentioned trying to find me an electric piano because I haven’t played since we moved. I could finish a painting I’ve left undone for almost a year, start making or learning to make more jewelry (or sign up for a crafting class) but none of these would be investing in others or serving for a deep or greater purpose then taking up my time.

images-4

I promise this post is not a  group invite to a personal pity party or written to pull your heart strings to elicit sympathetic replies. It is instead a realistic view of where I am at. I am trying to be grateful for the many details I can take for granted and continue to exercise the disciples of being patient and content. Two very difficult and necessary virtues.

Unknown-1

As for what I am enjoying about the summer season? The weather of course for one. This past winter left a pretty deep imprint on my mind. Secondly there is a new activity almost every weekend in the area. It is as if each little town, village, or city has it’s own weekend (or several) for summer festivals. And that is not including the county fairs, state fair, and farmers markets. Of course  there are also so many outdoor activities and places to explore : kayaking, hiking, camping, swimming at the many lakes, waterfalls, and wooded hills and mountains surrounding us. And last of all of course I’m looking forward to my brother’s wedding in August!!

Invite came in the mail this week!!
Invite came in the mail this week!!

I know I will enjoy this summer and that I should be  content with the limited responsibilities and activities I have. But I also know I would embrace the time even more if I knew that it was limited and had an idea of when it will end, knowing I am progressing towards some purposeful activities here in New York.

So answering my earlier question I believe this Summer season will bring me: sunshine, a great time celebrating with family at my brother’s wedding, and hopefully a job come fall.

How about you? What are your summer plans?