Boundaries Book Study: Session One

boundaries_fron_prooftWelcome to our first week of Book Club, where we will discuss the first two chapters of Boundaries. I’ll share my thoughts, and then please add yours!

Chapter One is basically the in-action example of what it looks like to live without Boundaries. Poor Sherrie, I could feel her pain. While I didn’t necessarily identify with every aspect of her exhausting, over-taxed existence, there were certainly paragraphs that had me nodding in conviction. Yes, yes! I see those tendencies in myself!

My takeaway from the first chapter is: I can’t wait to see how Sherrie gets her life in order. And I found myself very excited and hopeful about what this book will offer. As chapter one says, “we need to set mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual boundaries for our lives to help us distinguish what is our responsibility and what isn’t.”

And I appreciate how well the author points out that part of the problem here is not when a person is trying to be rude or self-centered; it’s a false responsibility we as Christians put on ourselves to be kind or generous or flexible in a way that we really can’t afford to be. As fictional Sherrie shows us: “In her desire to do the right thing, or to avoid conflict, she ends up taking on problems that God never intended her to take on…”

Chapter Two examines what a boundary actually is, what a boundary looks like and what falls within those boundaries. At the heart of this chapter is the explanation that boundaries are not walls — they are designed to keep the good in and keep the bad out. I love this — having boundaries isn’t about closing yourself off from the rest of the world. This isn’t about being an island to protect yourself from being hurt or “used.” And in fact, as the chapter points out, we need others to help us as we navigate what our boundaries are. “Creating boundaries always involves a support network.”

There are good examples of what different kinds of boundaries look like, explaining that a boundary helps you differentiate you from someone else, where you begin and end.

One key part of this chapter for me (among the many phrases I underlined) was the idea that many people have been taught “by their church or family that boundaries are unbiblical, mean or selfish.” I was reflecting on this and couldn’t decide if it was anything I’ve ever been “taught” but certainly something I’m working to find balance in. I think it’s very easy to get caught up in a discernment process of saying yes or operating in a way that makes us uncomfortable because we want to be “loving.” But boundaries — understanding where we begin and end — is about being willing to act on the feelings/discernment of knowing our limits. I think another big challenge, area of misdirected kindness, is putting up with some relationships that are painful because of a “can do all things in Christ” attitude, as in Jesus will give me the grace to deal with difficult people. And of course we can to a degree, but thank you God for personal freedom and using the brain God has given us. Which can sometimes be hard to do. Part of having boundaries is being able to identify those situations that rob us of our peace, and finding how we can realistically relate to difficult people.

Now a word about feelings…I kind of think of feelings as a bad thing (at times). As in, I don’t want to make decisions based purely on feelings, and don’t want to allow my feelings to dictate my outlook on life. I appreciate what Chapter Two has to say about feelings — lots to think about there.

There are a lot of “things” going on within our boundaries and it’s our responsibility to learn to deal with the many facets of being “Me” — and let other people deal with theirs. What a relief! Just the knowledge that the only person I can control is myself, and while I can’t fix other people, I have the freedom to allow my boundaries to protect me and guide me along the way.

Personally, it’s all such a relief to realize I have the freedom and personal power to acknowledge the limits I feel — whether in my schedule or relationships or expectations from others — and to make decisions based on that.

What about you?

Boundaries Book Study

boundaries_fron_prooftAre you ready to start the study! Only a few more days…I’m excited!

Let’s go over a few logistics, how I’m planning to work this (with the understanding that everything is subject to change if we discover a better method once we get started).

My plan is to cover two chapters of our book every week, with the discussion beginning Monday morning. Which means this Monday, we should all be ready to discuss Chapters One and Two. Of course the wonderful thing about our book club is that if you show up late, no one will know! So I will post my thoughts early Monday and you feel free to join in/comment anytime during the week. At the end of the week, I’ll close those comments and we will begin a new discussion Monday morning.

I think everyone will be able to comment as well comment on other comments. If we get a limit to comments on comments we might have to start a new thread, but we can deal with that if it becomes a problem.

Also, one club member told me she is doing the audio version of the book, which she was able to download for free. Audible.com offers a free one month trial to new users, so the first book will be free! Thanks Carrie for the tip!

Please let me know if you have any questions, or anything to add. I’m so excited — many thanks to everyone who has agreed to read. Let’s do it!

Thankful

kicking catToday Isabel had her little preschool Thanksgiving luncheon complete with Indian headdress, face paint and the self-appointed Wampanoag name “Kicking Cat.” The gathering was in the church hall with the wee little preschoolers up on a stage while the parents and grandparents and smartphones watched in rapt delight.

I had so many thoughts swirling around as I sat there, taking it in from what seemed like a million miles away. My girl amongst her peers, belting out her performance and growing up before my misty eyes. Precious songs about gratitude and just like last year, when she sang the same songs as a turkey instead of an Indian, I blinked my way through. Tears of joy, tears of disbelief.

This is Isabel’s last year of preschool and I was reflecting, as I sat there pretending not to cry, the contrast between my experience today and way back when Ethan was at this stage. How funny, I realized, to be able to sit and think and just soak up this moment. To watch my child and be present.

When Ethan had his final preschool performance, I had three other little boys there with me. Three boys younger than my five-year-old and while I tried to listen, I was also chasing a toddler and holding a baby (three-year-old Elliott, as I recall, was always really good about staying close). It was hard for me. I learned my limits early on and public gatherings without a fence (or a taser) were not my favorite.

Those were my early experiences of motherhood, just a wall of energy and motion always barreling toward me. It was constant, intense and things like a preschool sing-a-along weren’t about introspection and delight; they were about survival. Life was hard. It just…was.

It was sweet too and everything that goes along with babies and small children. So much wonder and innocence and just trying to make it through the day.

Today, I could sit. And listen. And cry, just a little. And feel a depth of gratitude that I won’t lie is hard to feel when life is all about keeping your nostrils a millimeter above water. One. Millimeter. That’s where I lived. Maybe not, maybe it wasn’t that hard, but some days, oh yes, yes it was.

Christmas Balducci

I remember this season clearly because it’s when life started feeling a tad easier. Also, this is the greatest Christmas card photo I’ve ever sent.

I love to use the word Seasons and my friend Danielle, who is on The Gist with me, her husband thinks we should start some kind of drinking game because we use the word Seasons a lot. But isn’t that just what motherhood is? So many seasons, all of them wonderful in their own unique way and we just need to appreciate them for what they are, acknowledge the challenges and find the goodness in them.

Tiny babies, so sweet. Growing toddlers, clever and precious. Lumbering teenage sons, I am in awe that these boys are mine. So many beautiful moments. God is so kind.

Today, for me, as I sat and soaked up this moment, I recognized that I’m on the brink of a new season. My baby is getting bigger, there are no small children to chase. And I’m not saying that with sadness, but with a nod, I’m acknowledging this moment. This is where I am and you know what? I’m called to rejoice! Just like I rejoiced (with some white knuckles) in the season of lots of babies, I rejoice now. What a beautiful, different time I’m in. And there is plenty to love about it.

I had something strange happen today. I’ve been so very excited about Thanksgiving and Christmas and I could stand in the candle section of TJ Maxx all day long inhaling the different pumpkin spice varieties. The sounds and smells of this season are incredible. And tonight, I was sitting in a chair watching a movie (never happens, a crazy rare treat) and out of the blue I had this insane overwhelming urge to smell…basil. And suddenly I wanted a caprese salad and for about ten seconds I was just overwrought with the distance of summer, how very far away it felt in that brief moment. I was focused on the scents of summertime and a desire for hot weather and unrelenting sunlight and felt an immediate dissatisfaction with everything that had, until that very moment, been making me so happy and content. Christmastime suddenly felt cold and barren instead of cheery and bright.

And I had to say to myself, “SELF! Get a grip! It’s November, Advent is around the corner! Summer will be here again, but let’s not focus on that.” And then, I was back to being happy. There I was again, with the Christmas movie playing on the Hallmark channel and the smells of my Yankee candle in the kitchen.

This moment. The present. This is where I’m at. It’s where we have to be. And when you move out of one season into the next, you thank God for it all.

In the struggles (we all have them) and the glory (we have that too).

Thank You. Merci. Gratzie. As Isabel sang today, giving thanks Oh Lord, for it all.

You’re Invited to a Book Club!

cat lady

Never ever dreamed I’d be sitting here petting a cat. Super weird, but this picture seems to go along with me starting a book club, right?

I’ve been in some weird non-writing parallel universe for a while. Not a long time and not totally non-writing but due to a combination of issues (my lack of organization in this space, for starters) I haven’t really had the time or interest in writing here. I’ve been at this blogging gig a LOOOOONGGGG time and I had to really step away from it to decide where I was going from here.

Long story short: I’m still here, and I’ve got a plan! Hip hip, hooray!

I’ll spare everyone my naval-gazing introspection on why blogging gets harder as your kids get bigger (you can imagine though…) and also why, as your kids get bigger, all those empty spaces in your day when you stayed home with a bunch of babies? They are GONE. Like, no more do I make blogging a priority because right now sitting isn’t exactly a priority. I mean, on the one hand I have more time to myself. But on the other hand my day is super compartmentalized into two and three hour segments which leaves me just enough time to grocery shop or clean or run back to the grocery store one more time. Life with big kids is just, well, bigger.

So I’ve been mulling my plans for this space and I’ve made them and here they are:

Still here. Still blogging. Doing more non-bloggy professional things but don’t want to not be here too!

I’m excited about some projects I’ve got coming up, and I’ll share about them soon. In fact, on December 1 I’ll be here with a new approach and some new voices (not my voices, other people, don’t get nervous) and I think it’s going to be wonderful.

BUT FIRST: I want to personally invite each one of you to my very first New Endeavor on the blog, which is a virtual book study. Wanna join? You’re in!

We will be reading Boundaries and the book study will begin one week from today. Go check out the book and if it sounds like it’s for you (it is, it’s awesome) go write this on your calendar:

Boundaries Book Study, Monday, November 24, Testosterhome.net 

Leave a comment and let me know you’re in, or if you have questions ask away! I think it will be fun and the book is amazing. Already I’ve had several profound changes in my ability to deal with others and I think reading this book during the holiday season will be worth your time!

Can’t wait to hang with you!