Allison Fallon

This One Thing Might be Keeping You from Enjoying Your Life

This blog post first appeared over at www.allisonvesterfelt.com - you can read more about Allison there! 

I’ve always felt like the “next” season of my life was going to be the best season of my life. When I was in elementary school, I couldn’t wait to get to middle school (because no one tells you about middle school before you get there). When I was in middle school, I was certain high school would be the jam.

When I got to high school, of course, I couldn’t wait for college; and yet I spent the entire four years I was in college bemoaning college and waiting for the moment I would graduate and move on.

Photo Credit: Nana B Agyei, Creative Commons

Then, when post-graduation wasn’t anything like I expected, I started waiting for the moment I would get married.

That would be the moment my life would begin (I’m a slow learner).

Recently a friend of mine came to Nashville to visit. She and I lived together in Portland for a few years before we were each married. We both went through boyfriends together and break-ups together and career successes and failures together, and I remember thinking that was such a hard season. We couldn’t wait to move on.

Now, I live in Nashville and she lives in Arkansas with her husband, and they’re expecting a baby pretty much any minute, and we talked about how much has changed since we lived together back then.

We reminisced about all the fun we had—the nights of eating popcorn and watching Gilmore Girls, the long runs on the miles and miles of forrest that stretched out our backdoor, the “accidental” shopping trips and walks downtown to get frozen yogurt or lattes.

There were hard things about that season, but for the most part it was really good.

We were blessed. Our cups were full. And, in a way, we missed it.

I guess, in some ways, there’s no way to get around this. It’s always easier to see the blessings of a season when we’ve moved beyond it than it is too see them while we’re in it (for me, at least). I think we have this funny way of remembering on the good parts about seasons of the pas and blocking out the bad. But at the same time, this conversation got me thinking.

What if I could look at the season I’m in with the same kind of perspective I have on that season of the past?

What if I could just decide to appreciate it?

If that was the case, maybe I wouldn’t have to wait until a season was over to really feel thankful for it. Maybe I could feel thankful while I’m in it. I wouldn’t have to resent my season or miss it. I could just enjoy it.

I think I’m getting better at this, honestly.

Maybe it just comes with age. It must. Because I really am getting better at this. I’m not perfect, but I’m getting better. I’ve been married for two and a half years now, which should be about the time we get the “baby” itch, but we’re waiting for awhile. I’m trying not to rush things, not to get ahead of myself.

I’m trying to remember there are not timelines for these things and to enjoy the time we have to ourselves.

Of course, there are things I hope to achieve in my career, but even with those things I’ve recently started thinking—maybe it’s better to have a long view. Maybe I don’t need to accomplish them now. Maybe the more I zoom in, the more I enjoy what I have, the less like I am to miss all the beautiful things about this season.

There are so many beautiful things about right now.

I look around me and can’t help but feel thankful. It’s not big things I feel thankful for, but little things. I just made myself some coffee at home, and I’m sitting in my favorite chair. I’m up early, and nobody else is awake. It’s quiet in the house. There’s clutter everywhere, but it’s my clutter, our clutter, the clutter of people I love.

Life is beautiful, even when it’s a little bit messy.

 

Don’t you think?


Need to Stop Procrastinating? Definitely Read this Blog Post

This blog post first appeared over at www.allisonvesterfelt.com - you can read more about Allison there! 

Well hello there fellow procrastinator. It’s nice to see you here. I’m not sure what it is your procrastinating from—dishes piling up in your sink, reports you were supposed to have filed by the end of the day, bills you’ve been putting off all week—but whatever it is, welcome.

As for me, I’m supposed to be editing, and instead I’m writing this blog post.

Photo Credit: Matryosha, Creative Commons

I’m so glad we could meet under these conditions. We understand each other, you and me.

Someone told me once: procrastination is about fear.

At first, that didn’t really ring true to me. In fact, I thought, “nah, for me, it’s really just about being lazy.” When I’m supposed to be doing something hard—like writing a book or cleaning my bathroom (okay, that’s not hard, just disgusting) or finishing an editing assignment—I want to do something easier.

Suddenly I realize I’m ravenously hungry, or I need some “inspiration” from Twitter, or shoot, my headphones are in the car and, oh yeah, I was going to order that one book…

But then, more recently, I started wondering:

What is it we don’t like about hard tasks?

We like the completion of them. We like the finishing point. We love the feeling of finishing a long run or losing 10 pounds or writing a book. We just don’t like the process, necessarily—the feeling of being hungry, or logging the miles, or getting the words down on paper.

Is it possible there’s a little fear of that process?

I was thinking about this the other day when I went for a jog for the first time in months. Well, actually, “went for a jog” is a tiny bit generous. What I basically mean is I put the stretchy clothes on, as if I was going to go for a jog, but then I piddled around my house for 30 minutes, finding a dozen other things to do.

I asked myself, on several occasions, “Why am I not walking out the door right now?” and I could think of a dozen perfectly logical excuses.

“Well, these dishes aren’t going to do themselves!” or “I’ll go after the laundry is done,” or “I really shouldn’t run on an empty stomach,” or “I’ll just wait until it warms up a little.” But the longer I procrastinated, the more I realized, I wasn’t avoiding the task itself so much as I was avoiding the pain or sacrifice it was going to take to complete it.

And I wonder if this is really what we’re doing when we’re procrastinating

Perhaps, for example, there is a task you’re supposed to be doing right now (no pressure).

Maybe it’s going on a run, or making a phone call, or writing a college paper. Chances are, the task feels difficult for you. My guess is you’re putting it off not because you’re lazy, but because you’re a little afraid of the pain associated with it.

But it wasn’t until I avoided my run all day the other day that I realized: You can’t avoid the pain by putting it off.

In fact, we actually prolong the pain when we procrastinate. We take a task that should have taken 30 minutes (like a quick run), and spread it out over the course of an entire day. A task that should have taken 10 minutes (having a hard conversation with a friend) suddenly takes weeks to address, and meanwhile, bitterness grows.

Procrastinating a task doesn’t protect us from any pain. It doesn’t save us at all. It’s completely illogical and nonsensical.

Maybe—just maybe—if we think of it this way, we can stop doing it.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go order something on Amazon I’ll never use, pin some recipes on Pinterest I’ll never make, spend 10 minutes considering a Tweet I’ll never send, and then get back to my editing project.

 

I’m pretty sure you have some procrastinating to do as well.


This is Where Your Fear Comes From (and How to Get Rid of It)

This blog post first appeared over at www.allisonvesterfelt.com - you can read more about Allison there! 

Have you ever noticed how fear seems to creep up on you when you least expect it? Maybe you’re afraid of things you realize you shouldn’t be afraid of, things you should be able to reason your way around, and yet, every time you turn around, there’s the fear again, rearing its ugly head.

Photo Credit: Elliot Brown, Creative Commons

Recently I was on an airplane, a few rows behind a mom and her young son, and watching the two of them interact helped me understand why this might happen.

The flight was rough from beginning to end.

Before we even left the ground, the pilot informed us of an electrical problem that would need to be dealt with before we could take off. The ground crew was working on it, he explained, and we waited for 45 minutes.

By the time we did take off, you could tell the everyone on board was a little tense. Probably most of it was just that we had been waiting, but I’m sure part of it was that we were wondering to ourselves: if there was an electrical problem with the plane, are you sure it’s safe to fly this thing…?

To add to all of this, the flight itself was turbulent. The pilot came over the intercom and told everyone to expect rough air the entire way, that he would leave the fasten seat belt sign on until we reached our destination.

Meanwhile, I watched the mom and young son in front of me.

She talked him through the entire process. When the pilot informed us of the electrical problem with the plane, she told her son, “don’t worry sweetie. There’s a problem with the plane, but the pilot is going to fix it.” When it was time to take off, she said, “here we go, sweetie. Don’t be scared, everything is going to be okay.”

She looked all darty-eyed and stressed. He looked out the window, wide-eyed and curious.

When the turbulence started to get bad after take-off, you could hear the tone of the mom’s voice change. Every word that came out of her mouth sounded squeaky. At one point, the plane sunk and we all felt our stomachs drop. The young boy yelled, “wheee!”

The mom replied, loudly (and still squeaky): “Oh no! Sweetie! Don’t be scared!!! We’re going to be okay!”

Suddenly the young boy’s face went from curious to concerned.

He nuzzled up into his mom’s armpit and furrowed his brow, clearly worried. The two of them cuddled together, and yet I couldn’t help but wonder who was comforting who, now.

I noticed something fascinating in that moment:

Fear is learned.

As I watched the young boy’s demeanor turn, I realized the fear he felt in that moment wasn’t really his own response to the circumstances. Sure, the flight we were experiencing was  a little bit rough, but the roughness didn’t bother him. In fact, his natural response had been: “wheee!”

Right?

And yet as soon as he realized his mom was panicking, he panicked too. She did her best to hide it, always using her words to focus on the positive, and yet he picked it up.

It was almost like fear was contagious. Isn’t that weird?

It made me think about how fear works in our lives.

I started thinking about the things I’m afraid of—running out of money, making a fool of myself, being a bad friend—and I realized that I’ve never actually had a situation that would warrant me being afraid of these things. I mean, sure, I’ve had a little bump in the road here and there, but nothing life-threatening. Nothing beyond fixing.

And yet, often fear dictates my reality. It makes me move prematurely fromcuriosity to concern (like the little boy on the plane). It causes me to blow things out of proportion (like the mom).

It takes an experience I would describe as “whee!” and changes it to one I would resist experiencing again.

But it helps me to know this is where fear comes from—

It helps me head fear off at the pass, before I take on fear that isn’t my own. It helps me see how I was born with an internal longing for risk (“whee!”) and keep myself from turning too quickly to concern.

I wonder if it might help you, too—to see where you’ve been convinced to be afraid, without really getting a decision.

I wonder if it might help you take that choice back.

I hope it will keep us from being the kind of people who feel fear unnecessarily, who spread fear to others, who miss what life has to offer because we’ve “caught” fear like one might catch the flu while flying on a plane…

{Note: I don’t want this to read like a parenting critique. I’m not a parent, and although I could be an excellent parent of purely hypothetical children, I have no place to critique this mom, or any mom for that matter. What I noticed here was more about the transfer of fear than anything else.}