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.

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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”.

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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.

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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?

Tis the Season

Tis the Season to be busy. . .  fa la la la la . . . Last year Luke and I had a very quiet holiday for two. We had barely any presents to buy, few holiday decorations to put out, no family visiting us, and we were still so new to the area we had only one holiday event to attend. It was peaceful, calm even if at times a little lonely. But this year that has all changed. To give you an idea of what I mean I thought I’d share a little about what this week looked like; packed full with Christmas activities:

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Monday: I was at home baking, baking, and yes more cookie baking and organizing to fit all the cookies in the freezer.

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Peppermint, chocolate, and original tart with chocolate dipped marshmallows

Peppermint, chocolate, and original tart with chocolate dipped marshmallows

Tuesday: During the day I went grocery shopping, picked up our ornaments from The Corning Glass Studio, did more baking, and addressed Christmas cards. Then that evening I picked Luke up from work and we drove to Sweet Frog; a local yogurt place. There we met up with our friends from our small group and bought yogurt as part of a fundraiser for a mission trip with our church. We then went out to dinner  and ran some errands getting home around 9:30-10ish.

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Wednesday/Thursday: I was busy cleaning, doing laundry, wrapping gifts, writing Christmas cards, chocolate dipping peppermint Jo Jo’s, making haystacks (Luke’s favorite), organizing the freezer (again) and filling baked goody tins for presents.

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Friday: Today I am cleaning up the baking mess and doing needed maintenance around the house. Tonight we will go to Luke’s work Christmas dinner at Sorges (see Sorge’s: local food and wine).

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Last year’s Christmas Tree

Saturday/Sunday: Luke works in the morning on Saturday and we currently plan on getting a Christmas tree and getting it all decorated. We also have the opportunity to go caroling with our Young Adult group at church on Saturday and I have been invited to a  girl’s only Christmas event Sunday afternoon.

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So  . .  ’tis a very busy season. In-spite of the business we are trying to keep perspective. This time of year is not about making everyone happy by being the perfect host, guest, or by bringing the best cookies or buying the best presents. It is about taking time to recognize what we value most and setting time aside to enjoy, rest, and be with those we love.

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For the first time, our second married Christmas, I am seeing how hard it is to keep that perspective, to create boundaries and balance priorities through the holiday season. But I feel like I am learning.

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Speaking of being with those we love, in T-minus 5 days my parents will our first house-guests enjoying a white Corning Christmas holiday with us!!

How about you: how do you handle the business of the season?

What are your priorities/What does this time of year mean to you?

Living without a dishwasher

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The sink and counter after a weekend of un-washed dishes

We had all of three days to find our new home this past November (no pressure). At the end of the weekend, sitting in Cracker Barrel we talked through our options and chose on our little 750 sq. ft. yellow rented home in Corning.

Jump forward to the week of Thanksgiving. As we started reacquainting ourselves with our new home, I asked Luke “um . . . where is the dishwasher?”. The answer: there is no dishwasher or garbage disposal! I guess it isn’t a huge surprise after seeing so many apartments and houses in a short weekend that we forgot that detail.

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So for the past five months I have learned to live without a dishwasher. At first Luke and I would wash the dishes together after a meal, giving us some time to talk. But then Luke’s work training ended and he wasn’t getting home at 4:30-5pm everynight. So both the cooking and dishwashing responsibilities were turned  over to me.

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Most days I am left in a cycle of : washing last night’s dishes, any dishes from Luke’s lunches or mine, any cutting boards etc. used to prep. dinner, and then I  decide whether to clean up the dinner dishes or leave them for the next day. This can equal to 3 loads of dishes! (Although Luke does notices (about once a week) when I need a break from the scrubbing and soapy hands.)

But I dread Mondays the most. Because often I  choose to take the weekend off and just rinse the dishes, leaving leaving them in the sink for the next week.

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Monday load

Because of this, I think differently about what defines a dirty dish: utensils, cups, or bowls may be used more than once  (if they are rinsed out) before being washed. And as much as I love making wonderful desserts and complicated sticky, saucy dishes, I do not like the mess that awaits afterward (neither are Luke or myself clean cooks/bakers).

One great help is my dish soap. I have already dry-skin and found that 2/3 loads of dishes a day was causing my skin to crack so I changed over to Palmolive soft touch and even then I need hand lotion.

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Even though I do not like doing so many dishes and digging out old food from the sink drain I realize this is merely an inconvenience. With some perspective I remember that many families of the world do not have dishwashers, garbage disposals, or even enough plates and utensils to let them pile up for a few days. I should be grateful I have a washing machine and dryer or clean water to drink, cook, and clean with.

So although we will probably double check for a dishwasher/garbage disposal for the next place we live, I will for now be grateful for clean water, hand lotion, my dish soap, and my dish rack.

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a rare picture of the dish rack “empty”

Do you have any complaints(tasks) that with some perspective could merely be inconveniences?