This is me thinking of running away. Just kidding.

I know. We're all still home. Nothing much has changed since we were here a few days ago. But I am glad you are back to visit. Popping in between homeschooling "classes" and your hide-in-the-laundry-room-time is perfectly ok. I feel you. We are all making it the best we can.

There will be moments of "I got this! This is amazing family time and we can't go back to our old ways at the end of this!" and "I am absolutely going to run away."

It's all about balance, right?

But can I recommend something? Don't waste your time.

I mean it.

And I am not trying you piss you off by telling you. Seriously.

To be fair, I am a person who is adaptable to situations. I recently took a the Gallup strengths test (using the Living Your Strengths book), and scored high on adaptability. Not bragging. Like, I normally don't freak out over things being disrupted in my life. That is not to say I don't have the hissy-fit-due-to-frustration/anger/hormones--I totally do. So if you are, say, my child who spills, I don't entire full bowl of cereal and milk all over the place mere minutes before we have to leave the house, or something along those lines, I freak out. I tend to wig out over little things, but big things like a GLOBAL PANDEMIC and the threat of all that goes with it, I can take in stride. I don't fully understand it either, but that is the reality.

That aside, hear me out.

Any major difficulty is an opportunity to reevaluate and chart a new course. Or take time off. Just make a decision.

There is a very real problem that we find our generation dealing with, and that is a dearth of choices. It is a good problem to have, for most of us, but it is still a problem.

You get to make so many choices in a lifetime. What do do with your free time? What or whether to do anything on a day, or a weekend, what to watch, what to spend, who to talk to, what to buy, what to eat for breakfast/second breakfast/lunch/snack/dinner, what to study, where to study, where to work, who to date, what career path, who to marry, who to procreate with (fingers crossed you pick the person you married), whether to do so.... It is not something we think about often, that we have that so many choices in our lives. Never in the history of mankind (and by that I mean men and women, and MANkind as the species, just to preempt any hate mail) have we had so many options. It was unbelievable to someone in the middle ages, for example, to have agency in life, in particular for females. It would have been near madness, and utterly unheard of to have had even a couple of these options.

If you think I am headed out into left-field on some ridiculous tangent, you are correct, but please stick with me. It all heads somewhere.

In the US in 2020, some people find getting dressed such a chore that they make a uniform so they can eliminate that decision from their daily list of decisions (I'm looking at you, Mark Zuckerberg). While I can appreciate the sincerity of the person with that problem, it isn't one with which I wrestle.

So let's say you are a typical, not wealthy, young pioneer woman. Your family is responsible to cut all of your own firewood to heat and cook on; produce all of your own food (farming, hunting, butchering, milking, bread making, butter churning, cheese making, egg gathering) every day, since there is no reliable food storage; manufacture all of your clothing, starting with shearing wool from your sheep, turning it into thread with a spinning wheel and then cloth with a loom, making a clothing pattern and then sewing all of the family's clothing; procuring water from a well (which you may have had to help dig); and caring for siblings and livestock. You probably do not have prospects for your own higher learning beyond reading, writing and arithmetic in one room schoolhouse, nor much hope of a career except for being a wife and mother, primarily because there is no time left after having to produce all of your own food and clothing and so on.

Just FYI--Reading Laura Ingalls Wilder's series as a mom is an entirely different perspective!! Try it, it is terrifying. And you will be full of awe-inspired respect for Ma. And you will feel tired on her behalf.

You only have one every day dress, and one church dress, and the style options were sorely limited. You only have one pair of shoes. You don't have shampoo and conditioner, or anti-frizz serum, or braces for your teeth or contact lenses (only me??? scary thoughts). I would have been pretty much unmarriage-able. Picture me knitting by my parent's fireplace--crazy crooked teeth, gigantic hair, and blind as a bat--as an old spinster without all of these wonderful personal care inventions.

Suffice it to say, choice is a more modern convention than we normally recognize. We forget that we have these decisions that we get to make about our time and our lives. Every. Single. Day. I reject the idea that modern women are penned in in any fashion. You get to choose most everything, and we live in a society that values that freedom. I don't mean that choosing is a selfish thing necessarily, but it can be. And I don't think every choice is equally "correct" because you get to make good choices that better your life, or choices that ultimately do NOT better your life. But you get to choose.

So here is where i am headed with all of this: Just decide.

Make a choice, and embrace it. Own it.

Whether you are choosing to spend the confinement time to relax and binge on Netflix, or you use this as a time to grow and learn, or some combination, you are making the choice.

You may normally live under insanely busy conditions, and this is a welcome break--choose to decompress and enjoy this time as much as you can.

Do not let the time pass without thinking how you want to use it.

Choose to take an online course. Whatever you want to know more about (business, marketing, investing, arts, photography, history, grad classes), you can find it on the internet. There are so many available right now! And at great prices! If this is your jam, I recommend checking out Skillshare, Domestika, The Great Courses, Banyan Hill.

Choose to learn to cook new food! I personally am tired of eating hot dogs, so this may help me.

Choose to read things you might not have read (ie., swap the beach reads for a classic you have been wanting to read, but haven't had the time).

Choose to nap as much as possible. (YAAAASSSSSS)

Choose to play games, do puzzles, learn dances for Tik-Tok, embarrass your kids and take over their social media for a day! Lot's of fun options out there.

A few years ago I heard the phrase, "don't slide, decide." My ears perked up, and I had a rush of thoughts. Not making a decision is in itself a decision. How many times I have slid, meaning that by not making a definite choice, I fell into what someone else wanted me to do? Or just wasted my time because I didn't really decide how to spend it. Honestly friend, more times than I would like to tell you today.

So my encouragement to you it to not waste your time. We are blessed (and often obsessed) with the opportunity to choose for ourselves, we just need to decide to do so. If you want to spend time doing nothing but scrolling Instagram, just make sure you choose it, pursue it with purpose, and enjoy it.

Stay healthy, friends.

xo, Ann Marie

PS: This is not an affiliate post. I am only making recommendations based on my experiences.

Hello again! I have been meaning to do this Word Wednesday as a regular thing, but well, you And confinement. And wallpaper removal in the powder room (serenity now!). And if I am to be totally honest, a little bit of intimidation. Maybe a little bit of hiding some of my fear behind a facade of "trying to decide" what to do next with the blog. It is scary to expose this thought to paper (or, rather, keyboard).

The comparison trap is REAL. And it isn't good.

Even though I have recently encouraged you to NOT fall into this death-spiral of comparison, I have been doing it myself. Shame on me. And probably like you, it starts as just wanting to see what someone else (for me--another blogger or whatever) is doing, and how they are doing something. But it can descend into a dark place--more along the lines of looking at their blog and saying...Mine doesn't look that way, hers is better, Maybe I should try that, Maybe I should be doing ________, whatever it is that I am NOT doing, that they ARE doing. You can substitute any other thing for my _________. Like I should be on x-y-z schedule, or doing x-z-y sort of homeschooling, or virtual field trips or.... The list can go on and on.

It gives me such an icky feeling, but y'all, I have to admit that I compare sometimes. It is so hard not to compare ourselves. And we all know that usually we compare "up," not "down." Don't misunderstand, up and down is not a value judgement. It's just that we will typically compare ourselves to someone who has more than we do, or has more going on, or more success or more whatever it is that we think we want.

It happens, even though we all hate that feeling.

But it sucks.

It can be hard to pull out of that comparison death-spiral.

So in that moment when I feel so "less than," I needed to be reminded that my worth and value come from God. My worth does NOT come from my health, my abilities (or my lack), my talent (or lack of it), my faults, my mistakes, my problems, my blessings, my family, my work, my possessions, my profession, my children, my relationships, my level of education, my success, or my failures.

To break it down, your worth doesn't come from you. Or the people who surround you.

Your worth comes from God.

I hope this comes as a relief to you. It definitely does to me.

If our value depends on our own self-esteem, we are in trouble. Humans wildly fickle. We can be too proud of our accomplishments, or too quick to put ourselves down. Too quick to accept someone else's opinion of us, whether it is accurate--positive or negative--or not. Too quick to want to punish someone else for their momentary failure, and too easily forgive ourselves for our own. Or never want to forgive ourselves. Maybe all in the same day.

We almost never have the right-size view of our selves, or of the people around us. We look at ourselves as either too big our too small. Both of these are wrong headed. So what's a girl to do?

The best idea it to look to the unchanging, true standard. Culture will tell you have varied options that you can explore to come to your conclusion. I am going to boldly tell you that culture is wrong. You have to look to God to find out who you really are, because his view is not swayed by your day to day successes and failures.

It runs contrary to our natural inclinations.

He doesn't love you more when you behave in the most "perfectly religious" way you know how. Seriously, he doesn't. He doesn't love you less when you get angry and rant and rave at him and tell him you hate him, or question his existence. Really. He loves you most, even when we are most unloveable. He wants to give you his presence, so that you can build a relationship with him.

God is personal. He wants you to get to know Him, not just what you heard secondhand from from someone else.

Read this:

Yes, you are allowed to write notes in your Bible.

"Fear not, for I have redeemed you;

I have called you by name, you are mine.

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;

and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;

When you walk through fire you shall not be burned,

and the flame shall not consume you.

For I am the Lord your God,

The Holy One of Israel, your Savior.

I give Egypt as your ransom,

Cush and Seba in Exchange for you.

Because you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you...." Isaiah 43:1b-4a

You are precious in his eyes. You are honored and deeply loved. You are redeemed. You are His.

When we believe what God tells us about ourselves, everything else changes. You can have security in your identity. You don't need to compare yourself to others to see where (or if) you rank.

What other people say about you becomes less important. You can hear the criticism but not be undone by it. You can accept the compliment but not be puffed up by it. It is enormously freeing to know for sure who you are, and how much you are valued. And it cannot rest on your own (or another human's) shifting opinion of you.

You are loved and honored and precious, and yet you will swim through deep waters, and walk through fires in life. That does not mean that you are not blessed by God. You will go through hard times, but if God is with you, those hard times will not consume or overwhelm you. Be reassured, and hold tight to this promise. He will go with you through the dark places.

When the comparison-bug starts to nip at you, or you are unsure where you stand, find comfort in knowing what the God of the Universe thinks of you. He knows you better than you know yourself. And he loves you immeasurably much. And he does not change his mind.

Find security in this truth. Take refuge in God's promise that you are more valuable to him than you can fully comprehend, take a breath and keep on going. And memorize this verse so you have it handy whenever you need the reminder.

xo, Ann Marie

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