She seems pretty convinced. I look at my new friend as we sit together, sharing dinner, and talking about our lives. “So, my book is about how your annoying little quirks are really your greatest assests,” she says, confidently.
But, I’m not convinced. “Like how?” I ask, skeptically. She comes back with: “What’s one of your quirks?” We banter back and forth, and she readily turns my weirdness into a gift, a solid asset.
Next thing I know she’s showing me a photo of the cover proof, and it’s amazing — this cool vintage-y blue-green with a bunch of white eggs and then the funky little speckled egg. (Yep, it’s the same cover you see here.)
Laurie and I continue chatting over dinner, dishing on our dreams, our challenges, our families, and more at the Christian women’s conference we’re both attending. She has this 110-watt smile and just exudes positivity, even when talking about the tough stuff in her life, and how she fits writing into the margins of her somewhat complicated family life and her growing life-coaching practice.
It’s been over seven months since Laurie and I exchanged hugs, and now I’m holding her first book in my hands, and wondering how it’s going to change me — or perhaps, more importantly, how it’s going to change how I view me. Laurie agreed to give me a mini-coaching session and turn some more of my weird into wonderful. I really enjoyed seeing how she encouraged me to dig deeper into my quirks and find out how they could be positives, once I learned to reign in their “dark side.”
Elizabeth: One of my quirks is that I’m indecisive — I can see the merits in many different points of view/choices, but often can’t make and stick to a decision. It can be very frustrating.
I’m also a bit “ADD” — I have too many interests/hobbies/activities. For example, here are a few hobbies/activities of mine: writing, reading, running (I’m currently training for a half-marathon), cooking (I host a local foods delivery service on my front porch). I also love to do things like culture homemade buttermilk, make homemade pasta, or other such craziness. And, I scrapbook, sew, do photography, make jewelry, and make all my own homemade cleaners with essential oils. (Of course, not all at the same time!)
Laurie: When has that indecisiveness been a good trait? What benefits does it bring to being on a team, in ministry. . . or in family?
Elizabeth: When this quirk works best, it means I’m open-minded. I’m eager to try new things and love fresh perspectives. I’m not locked into one way of thinking or one way of doing things.
Laurie: That sounds like a pretty great trait! Steve Jobs did well with thinking outside-the-box like that.
What about the ADD — the dabbling in so many of your great ideas at once? What’s behind that? You like variety? You have a lot of energy? You like to make things from scratch (create/recreate things)? You need this to balance the tedium of mothering? (Not that it’s tedious to everyone, or even you, but I know I’ve felt that way at times).
Elizabeth: Yes, yes, yes, and yes! At its root, my urge to do a little bit of everything stems from the fact that I really do love so many things. (That probably goes back to my quirk of indecisiveness and the resulting open-mindedness.) I will see a recipe, craft, or project, and think—hey, I can do that! I also have a love of learning and a particular fondness for making things from scratch. The problem is I can be a little over-ambitious and expect too much of myself (by way of how many activities/hobbies I try to fit in) in this life stage with three young kids who all need lots of love, support, teaching, and attention.
Another quirk is the fact that I have boundary issues — as in, I often take on way too much, and can’t even seem to realize I’ve done it until it’s too late. Or, conversely, I don’t set boundaries in relationships because I’m so empathetic (I can always understand where they’re coming from) that I have a hard time standing up for myself and my needs.
Laurie: That sounds a lot like the Dark Side of your open-minded, creative, curious, variety-loving strengths! We all have Dark Sides to our weirdness. . . ways that our strengths and quirks come out backwards when we’re using them from anxiety, trying to escape pain, fear of failure, loneliness, sadness. What are some ways you’ve found to rein in this negative version of your strengths? Anything work? Or is it a constant struggle because part of you wants to be involved in all of it?
Elizabeth: It is a constant struggle, but I’m working on it. I started saying no quite a lot about a year and a half ago, when my daughter got sick, but now that she is doing better, I can see myself starting to overextend again. I think the problem is my habit of comparing myself to other people and how much they do. I end up making myself feel bad that I should be doing more. I need to own my choices and the way I chose to live and raise my family, even if it looks entirely different than someone else’s lifestyle (and even if they have kids at similar ages, etc.). As for boundaries, I’m praying that God helps me let go of guilt and accept grace more freely. I am trying to eliminate my “should’s” and extend some of my empathy to myself and calmly, but firmly, stand up for my needs.
Laurie: That sounds like a great start. I’m all for eliminating shoulds! God asks us to love Him and others as the Greatest Commandments. There’s no should’ve-would’ve-could’ve about it. It’s a simple (not easy, but simple!) choice — will we or won’t we? Maybe that helps with the comparisons in a way? To stay focused on what God’s uniquely asked YOU to do with those creative, open-minded, curious, variety-embracing strengths? I could see that being a really grace-filled place to live!
Laurie Wallin is a Christian speaker and certified Life Coach who loves helping people find joy and confidence by letting go of energy drainers and using their God-inspired strengths. Laurie, her husband and their four daughters make their home in San Diego. Connect with Laurie on Facebook, Twitter, and her blog. You can also order your own copy of Why Your Weirdness Is Wonderful here.