My Weird, Wonderful Makeover

My Weird, Wonderful Makeover

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 head shotLaurie 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

 

 

 

{Guest Post: Eva Piper} A Walk In The Dark

{Guest Post: Eva Piper} A Walk In The Dark

Today I’m honored to host guest Eva Piper, wife of ordained minister and bestelling author Don Piper (of 90 Minutes in Heaven fame). She’s recently released A Walk Through the Dark: How My Husband’s 90 Minutes in Heaven Deepened My Faith for a Lifetime.

When my husband Don was in the hospital after being hit head-on by an 18-wheeler, I found myself trying to do it all. Many of our church friends and family would offer their help, but I steadfastly declined. I was one of those people who felt I had to be strong enough and independent enough to take care of everything.

One day a dear friend came to me. After a bit of conversation, she asked if I needed anything. I pulled out my standard reply: “No, I’m fine, just keep praying.” She took a moment, and then she grasped my hand: “You know, when you don’t let people help you, you’re robbing them of the chance to minister to you.”

That took me off guard, but her next statement was even more powerful. “You can’t take care of Don if you don’t take care of yourself.”

Both of her statements proved to be two of the most valuable lessons I learned during Don’s long hospital stay and recovery.

When you’re in the midst of caregiving, you have so many things coming at you —  medical, legal, financial, and relationship issues. It’s stressful and exhausting. And, as I learned, when you’re tired, you’re not at your best to think. I had to let others help me, so that I could take time to refresh and recharge.

That may mean just a brief walk down the hall or the street while someone else sits with your loved one. For me I found great release when I was driving home. When visiting hours were over,  I’d get in my car, drive out of the parking garage, and head onto the highway. Then I’d turn on the radio full blast, roll the windows down, and sing at the top of my lungs. When I was singing, I didn’t have to think.

Other times, I’d find a quiet place to read my Bible, or just sit, soaking up the quiet. As time went by, friends would come to stay with Don, so I could do simple errands, like go grocery shopping or visit the post office. While those may seem like mundane things to many people, for those who are walking a dark path, the escape to the dry cleaners can feel like a trip to Hawaii.

“No man is an island,” wrote John Donne. Yet, for so many who find themselves in the caregiver role, we insist on walking that road alone. 

I think we do this for two reasons:

  • First, when someone says, “Just let me know if you need anything,” we simply have no idea what we need. Our focus is on the needs of our loved one, not ourselves.
  • Second, most of us don’t want to impose on anyone. We realize life is busy, so instead of asking for help, we try to go it alone.

One of the greatest blessings to come out of Don’s accident was the help we received from family and friends. And, I’m so grateful my friend stepped in to urge me to accept those blessings openly.

You see, that’s the way the Bible wants us to behave. Paul referred to the church as a human body on several occasions. He said that each member is important, and if one part hurts, the whole body suffers. For more than a year, I saw the constant flow of the spiritual body of Jesus Christ trying to take away our pain.

Our friends provided a much needed respite from the rigors of hospital life, allowing me the opportunity to rest and relax, so I was in a better position to care for Don. They provided large doses of light during that dark time.

Now I try to provide breaks for those I know who are walking their own dark path. God blessed my life with our dear friends — now it’s my turn to shine a light for someone else.

Eva-Piper

Eva Piper is a speaker and author with a unique insight into the trials of heartache and the triumph of overcoming. The wife of best-selling author Don Piper, Eva was the glue that held her broken husband and her family together. Don’s story, recounted in the New York Times bestseller, 90 Minutes in Heaven: A True Story of Life and Death, is Eva’s story too. A teacher of 34 years, she and Don now live in Pasadena, Texas. You can find Eva online at evapiper.com and also on Twitter and Facebook.

Eva has been kind enough to offer a copy of her new book for a giveaway! Leave a comment about how Don and Eva’s story has touched you, or about how you’ve found solace during trials. The giveaway will close by end of day Thursday, August 8.

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