On Courage – How St. Joan of Arc Helped Me to Stop People Pleasing

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Courage is one of those things that I’m always on a quest to find. As a child, I was often labeled as “timid” and “shy” and “that weird quiet girl” by my friends and their families.

Here is a perfect example of my nature from my childhood: After four years of being friends with a now close friend and going to her house for art lessons every week for two of those years, I finally had something to say to her dad when he arrived home. (By the way, he loves telling this story.)

It wasn’t much of a conversation. Merely small talk. But I was sitting outside his house on a bench and waiting for my mom to pick me up. He walked up, and as usual, said, “Hannah, how are you doing today?” His eyes always twinkled when he spoke, and that only ever added to my feeling of anxiety because I didn’t want to let anybody down (even in conversation). When he was driving up in his pickup truck, I was thinking really hard about what kind of small talk adults liked to have, and, using all of my nerve and brainpower I finally came up with something.

“I’m doing really good…” he only smiled as he was heading into the house. I felt the anxiety again to not be a disappointment, and I called after him in a hurry, “how are you doing?” It took all of my courage for those two phrases. I’m not even kidding. I’m not going to lie, my heart pounded as I saw him turn around slowly and walk over with his sparkling eyes. I had a strange cocktail of pride that I had managed to please him, and fear that I now had to think up more stuff to say!

(My friend’s father always likes to add what he was thinking at that moment. Let me repeat it in his honor. In a house full of girls where one of them is always talking, someone who doesn’t talk is very intriguing. If Hannah starts talking, everyone needs to be quiet and listen. I know I sure want to hear what she is saying, because it must be important!)

The conversation went on and we covered all the basics… Weather, family, and art class. I felt as though the conversation went on for hours, but in reality, we were only talking for a few minutes. It would have been an extremely pleasant conversation for me if I hadn’t been sweating out of nerves.

Anyway, that was me, growing up. I managed to grow up into a woman who has joined the pro-leagues of small talk, yet still has to force something that should be natural a lot of the time. No one would ever know it by the way I come off, especially at work. Nonetheless, that uncomfortable, quiet, anxious, shy, timid girl is still inside of me sometimes and she’s not very good at putting herself out there in terms of taste, opinions, etc… She likes to keep walls up and blow off questions of “where do you want to eat” and “what’s your favorite book” with a simple, “I don’t care, I’m up for anything,” or a “I don’t really know, I enjoy lots of different stuff.”

I’ve grown comfortable with my preferences, opinions, and tastes here in my home with my husband. It’s been nearly three years since I’ve had to worry about disappointing someone because my taste is different. I’m a natural people-pleaser and let me tell you, being such is no good thing no matter how you want to spin it. “I’m just really compassionate” doesn’t work and neither does, “I really don’t care!” Everybody has preferences. As for me, I’m just too cowardly to share mine most of the time. Some people call it being “spineless.” Some people call it, “enabling (others to be dictators).” I call it “fear.”

Fear of disappointing others. Fear of being shunned for my preferences. Fear of being called out for being wrong! Fear of being “naked in front of the crowd” so to speak.

All of that taken into account adds up to mean that the timidity, the shyness, the people-pleaser nature inside of me is really just fear of being rejected in some form or fashion. 

I’ve recently grown close to a friend who, how should I put this, is basically me. Not in all ways, but in a big way. She is the only person I’ve ever come across who understands and shares my extreme introversion. If I don’t want to see people, she knows it and doesn’t judge! She understands that I really need a day sometimes to just recharge from all of the activity, and she shares similar desires. Not only do we share our introversion, but we share many of the same tastes and enjoy a lot of the same hobbies. We have very similar worldviews, and desire the same things for our future. We really are kindred spirits. But one way in which we differ is a big one.

She is not afraid to speak her mind, nor is she a people-pleaser! For that, she is my hero. She just puts herself out there!

Putting myself out there… Now that’s the area where I really need and pray for courage.

Again, let me be brutally honest (look, I’m practicing the courage thing right now), I’ve prayed for the courage to face an hour long social engagement without Daniel as my barrier before…yes, an HOUR of alone conversation with a person made me scared.

I suppose that’s why Saint Joan of Arc means so much me. She put herself out there, and she was different! (She was the leader of an army, for goodness sake!) She had to have such immense courage to even attempt the mission she was given. She had to speak out and many people thought she was crazy. Many people rejected her! Yet onward she pressed, and look what God was able to accomplish through her! I obviously wasn’t there during her time, and so I cannot say for certain, but after reading several accounts of her character, her mission, and some of the things that she’s said, I don’t think that she was without fear. I think she was plenty anxious! I’m sure she was scared time and time again during her experiences. She was known for encouraging her troops to confess their sins, and that showed some real foresight into the fate of the many men around her. Clearly she was thinking of their souls and of the possibility of each of their deaths. To me, that says that she must have had a proper fear of the Lord. Through all of that, she had courage and fortitude to keep going.

It seems silly that the Maid would be my role model and inspiration, because the fears that I face are so much less in comparison! It doesn’t matter though. I will continue to ask for the intercession of Saint Joan and I will continue to pray for courage in the little things that most people can face easily.

After purchasing some items from the bookstore today, I felt bad when some of my coworkers commented negatively on my merchandise. It bothered me all the way home on my thirty minute commute and I found myself thinking that I needed to change and mold myself into an “acceptable” person to their standards. Once I realized what I was thinking, I decided that I’m going to have to live every moment with intention to be who I am and nobody else.

It’s okay to have preferences! They help to make up the person that I am, and I am not anybody else’s definition of me. I am who I am, and I’m the best person for the job. With that, keeping my friend in mind, and Saint Joan at my back, I have some things to say…

Favorite Food
I like Mediterranean food, and I really dislike seafood. All I want right now is a Chicken shawarma sandwich from Fadi’s and if my husband calls me in on the way home to ask what I want for dinner, I will tell him so with reckless abandon.
Favorite Book
I think my favorite book would probably have to be Les Misérables…
Junk Food Indulgences
I sometimes eat an entire bag of cheese balls when it’s a special date night in with the husband as my choice junk food and even he can’t stand them.
I’m a Nerd
…however, I often look longingly at the fantasy books by Anne McCaffrey with dragons on the cover and one day soon, I will work up the audacity to buy and read one. I play video games sometimes and I can be a HUGE Skyrim nerd. I guess I’m a Halo nerd too, because I played all the games, bought the last one for mine and Daniel’s first anniversary, and read several of the books about the Spartans as they were released a few years ago. I love making costumes and dressing up for parties. When I was in my late teens, I dressed up like a pirate with an old friend and we went out into the woods and did a photo shoot just because. One of the best days of my life, let me tell you!

I’m an old soul
On one of the first occasions getting to know my fellow introverted friend, I attended her dinner and a movie night with crochet needle and ball of yarn in hand (because who can’t crochet when watching a movie?).

And there you go… That’s how one of the most underrated and well-known Saints helped me realize that it was time to stop people-pleasing. Do you struggle with fear or insecurity of this kind? Here’s a handy tip to think about…No one can be a better you than you. It’s impossible, because you are unique, special, and one of a kind. Courage doesn’t mean you aren’t scared. It means that you do whatever you need to do in spite of the fear. I pray that God gives me the courage to do whatever he asks, because, between you and me, I have more fears and anxieties than most. He’s got his work cut out for him. Thanks for reading!

Saint Joan of Arc, pray for us!

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A Chapter in a Life (Ch. 7)

Good Catholic Literature

Harry Potter, Dumbledore’s Mercy, and the Triumph of the Holy Cross – Carrots for Michaelmas 

But Have I Fasted Yet – Better Than Eden – This was a really good post by Mary at one of my favorite blogs and it really educated my baby Catholic mind about fasting and prayer! 

Woodsmoke, Beer, and Confession – Clan Donaldson 

Family News

Okay, I have some crazy news to share with you guys… I don’t know if you’re going to be able to take it.

I mean, it’s really incredible news. I was shocked when I found out!

Are you ready?

Okay, so—-I just don’t know if you’re ready.

Maybe you should sit down… after all, what kind of crazy person reads the internet whilst standing up?

Okay, so—-You know, maybe you should also put your seat belt on, because your world is about to be turned UPSIDE DOWN.

Okay, so—-FINE, STOP YELLING AT ME AND I’LL JUST SAY IT!

Or say it with a picture at least.

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*Gasp*

Two cups of coffee! I know, right?! It’s crazy!!! I told you it was going to be some jaw dropping news. You really should have heeded my warning, sat down, and strapped in.

And no, his is not the one that is “loaded down with cream and sugar” in the flowery latte mug. (*ahem* thanks for forcing me to be clear about that, brother!)

Okay, so after the news that Daniel now drinks coffee, I really feel like anything else I have to tell you won’t live up to the excitement of the first bomb I dropped on you guys. I mean, getting a job is nothing compared to Daniel expanding his taste and being able to ENJOY A CUP OF COFFEE WITH ME IN THE MORNING. Seriously, it’s better than winning the lottery. *contented sigh*

But yes, I got a job, and I love it! I work at a bookstore and it’s awesome! Who doesn’t like books?! I’m learning so much at this place and it brings me such great joy to be around beautifully covered books and being responsible for their care. Is it weird to love books? Or call a book beautiful? Sometimes they are so pretty I could cry.

DIY

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This is happening when I get home from work each night. I just love the blue! It’s a Jack Johnson song and I’m hoping to make a cute little throw pillow for my couch that I’m sure my cat will destroy at some point in my future.

Becoming a Better Reader

Daniel’s been helping me with “Mr. Norrell” at the end of the day. He is such a sweet husband and he’ll take fifteen minutes of his own individual time after homework at night to read to me when my eyes are tired. Granted, I think he has to read the same passage over and over because I end up falling asleep after about ten minutes, but I can’t help it! I’m so relaxed and comforted by the sound of his reading voice! I guess we’re making slow progress though.

I’m also reading The Story of a Soul based upon a recommendation from a kind family friend, and I’m only on chapter two, but it is so good! Wow, St. Thérèse of Lisieux is so profound and ordinary at the same time. Does that even make sense? I think I may have a new Saint to add to the list of inspirations for my life.

Not to mention, I’m still working on The Little Oratory. If only I could be the kind of person that starts only one book, finishes it, and then starts another one… #toomanybookstoolittletime

I have a moderately long commute to work now, so I think I might start investing in Books on CD. Is that cheating?

8 Lessons on Marriage for Newlyweds from a Slightly Earlier Newlywed

Marriage is hard. 

Being honest about that fact doesn’t make yours any less rewarding, enriching, or holy.

I’ve been married for almost three years now. As the time has passed, I’ve found myself writing down little lessons I’ve learned on marriage in my journal. I looked through it recently and realized I would have loved to know this stuff right after I got married. I always tell my husband that we should write this stuff on the little “advice” cards you find at weddings. You know, the “what’s your key to happiness” keys and there are little cards attached to them. Or sometimes it’ll be a canvas you sign with your little suggestion for a happy marriage… I don’t have a wedding to go to right now, but I do have a blog… I give you, the eight lessons we’ve learned that have enriched our marriage and helped us to grow closer to one another!

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1) Take as much time as you need to work out disagreements. If you go into the discussion with a time limit of when it should be over or how much time you can spend talking, it’s guaranteed that one or both of you will feel cheated and unsatisfied. In addition, it’s an absolute waste of time to talk within a time limit and then end the conversation without working anything out.

2) Be sensitive to your spouse’s feelings. If you sense your spouse is unhappy or annoyed with you (even just a little bit), don’t let it go by without saying anything. If you do, that sadness or irritation will grow into resentment that will be a surefire fight later. Instead, gently approach your spouse with a temperate attitude and ask if your concerns are valid. If they are confirmed, do your best to work it out while it’s a small misunderstanding or frustration.

3) Figure out each other’s Love Languages early on! For instance, I am an “Acts of Service” person and my husband is a “Words of Affirmation” person. For about a year, I tried loving him by little serving acts (i.e. breakfast in bed, washing the nasty pot on the stove, picking him up from the school, putting away his folded clothes) and would often be frustrated because he wouldn’t even seem to notice and I would sense that there was something I wasn’t doing right. I was trying to love him that way because that is the way I felt loved, but I totally missed the point! It was only after we took the little quiz that I realized his longing for “words” and I kid you not, as soon as I started practicing that, I could tell that he felt better and had more confidence in our relationship! (Fun Fact: Pinterest has lots of sweet ideas for loving someone with words (post-it notes on the mirror etc…) if you need a little help.

4) Encourage time alone. I am a clingy person and I guarantee if you ask any of my friends, they rarely see me without my husband by my side. I just love to be around him, even if we aren’t interacting. That is a good and sweet thing, but giving your spouse time to be an individual is a must. While you have become One, you don’t cease to have your own ideas, hobbies, likes, and dislikes. Example one: Just because we got married and became One, it doesn’t mean that my husband magically likes mushrooms even though I love them. That seems very silly, but it’s true and it works for other things too. Example Two: Just because I married an extrovert doesn’t mean I am no longer an Introvert or that I don’t need quiet time to recuperate after a party. Respecting each other’s individuality (and really thinking about the things that helped you to love that person during the dating) will help you to grow closer together.

5) Cut each other some slack on the little things. Ladies, he isn’t going to put the toilet seat down every time.  Gentlemen, she isn’t going to remember to hang up the towel from her hair every time. I actually smile when I see the lid up now, because I know that my husband tries so hard to remember to put it down. He gets it right ninety percent of the time! In turn, I try to hang my towel up for my husband because I know it bothers him when it’s left out somewhere and he understands that if I don’t, it’s not for lack of trying.

6) Whatever you do, do not yell. I learned that one from my Dad, who, in all my years of living under his roof, never yelled during an argument. I struggle with this one and I’ve made it my mission to abide by this rule at all times. I fail. A lot.

7) Spontaneity can go a long way sometimes. It is easy to fall into a rhythm in your marriage and let me just say, THAT’S GREAT! If you guys have a good routine going, way to go! But remember that it is so easy to lose track of each other in the habitual practices of your days and before you know it, a week has passed and “daily life” has gotten in the way of you guys spending some quality time together. One time, I got home from work and after seeing how “blue” my husband looked, I decided to give us a much needed rest from life and book a hotel a few hours away! I also decided to keep it a surprise and so I packed all of his stuff for him. At 8:05 p.m., I stocked the car with our favorite CD’s and drove us out of town. It was only when we were about half an hour from our destination that I told my husband where we were going and all the exciting things we could do for the weekend (we had an awesome guessing game going before that though!). He was awestruck (I’m not a very bold person so it was way out of character for me to do something like that) and we had an amazing getaway weekend that lives on in our memories. We have only done something like that once because it’s not exactly something that is inexpensive. But we’ve been spontaneous in many other economical, effortless ways (i.e. picnics at the park instead of dinner at home, midnight walk looking at the stars, a drive to the lake).

8) Do stuff together on occasion to encourage your spouse’s interests. What I mean is, in addition to giving your spouse their individual time, also offer to do some of their favorite things with them! My husband loves Batman (comics, movies, everything about it). I knew this when we got married just as he knew I hated Batman. It’s almost three years later and he has never ceased asking me to watch it with him (“give Batman a chance,” he says). I finally decided to give it a go and was actually surprised that I enjoyed the movies. I still wouldn’t have picked them out to watch by myself, but that’s the great thing about marriage! You’re exposed to new things and you become a much broader person. Alternatively, I love Jane Austen. Ladies, my spouse took the time to watch Pride and Prejudice (not the 2005 version, the 1995 SIX HOUR version) with me when I was home sick one day. I felt more loved than ever by his interest in my interests, and he even had a kind word or two to say at the end!

I hope something from our list will benefit you in your quest to love your spouse more and more each day. 

What are some of the lessons you’ve learned in loving your spouse? I’d love to hear in the comments below!

 

A Chapter in a Life (Ch. 6)

It’s been a long month. I’m sad there have been no Chapter in a Life posts for a while but I do hope you enjoyed my reflections on life, the definition of my blog title, or my trousers to skinnies post (tutorial included)! Let’s jump in, shall we?

Good Catholic Literature

27 Books for Your Mass Bag (And Tips for Dealing with Your Little Ones in Mass)Carrots for MichaelmasHaley gave some good advice for juggling kids in Mass and suggested some great kid reads! I am not yet a parent, but I just couldn’t help loving this post. It’s also part of a series and she lists links at the end of the post to the other educational posts.

8 Tips for Taming the Laundry Beast (or I don’t hate laundry and maybe you don’t have to either) – Better Than Eden – Mary wrote an inspirational post about… laundry! I love posts like this, which take your mundane everyday tasks and help you to have a better perspective on them. 

Love Story, Part 1The Fike LifeBlythe split up her own personal love story between herself and her husband into four posts. If you like that sort of thing, you will love these posts! I adore personal journal style posts from my favorite bloggers, and so this was an easy favorite in the link lineup! The Fike Life is a relatively new blog to me and I’m really loving Blythe’s tone of blogging! I’m a little fangirl (also, how adorable is her new header on her blog). 

Family News

On one fine, breezy afternoon, Daniel and I found ourselves on a romantic picnic date at the Nasher Sculptural Garden. Apparently, the Nasher provides one free event a month where families can bring their crew and picnic on the lawn in their quaint little garden. It’s free to get in, and they hire a local band to play for a couple of hours, and then once the sun goes down, they play a family friendly movie on a projector! Daniel and I went for the first time a couple of weeks ago, and although we did not stay for the movie, we had a blast!

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The lights were just so pretty! Also, who is a fan of my new camel shirt? I think I’ll wear it on Wednesdays…

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Daniel had his first week of Grad school and I think it went very well! I really can’t believe how I managed to marry such a smart guy! He impresses and inspires me all the time with his academic achievements. I’ve been sitting in the lobby many days while he practices, attends class, and does homework. It’s not as cute as you think. I’m actually going with him for selfish reasons. I don’t like to stay home all day alone and I don’t know anyone here yet, so I practically begged Daniel to let me come sit in the lobby to work on Job Applications. It’s quite a change to actually desire the ability to be around people! My natural introversion usually works the opposite way and I can’t wait to get home.

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If you follow me on Instagram, you have probably seen the above picture. I made delicious Mediterranean Chicken the other night and was actually quite proud of the presentation. Generally, my dishes look a little less “restaurant” and a little more “crock-pot.” (Nothing against crock-pots here, though. Mine is definitely a life saver on occasion!) This dish did taste delicious though and between the husband and a close friend, it’s been nominated to stay on the repeat dinner list.

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Lastly, Daniel and I got to attend Phantom of the Opera at the Opera House in Dallas and it was just phenomenal! I’ve been to see phantom twice before and this time it was special for two reasons. One: This was Daniel’s first time seeing Phantom and any kind of Musical Theatre since he was a child. Two: They changed a bunch of sets (new sets are fantastic, by the way), introduced new costumes, and even some of the lines were different. I found myself pleasantly surprised and amused by the new stuff! I impatiently flounced out the door with a beautiful dress that was given to me and a head full of curls (not to mention some dramatic red lipstick) and enjoyed being a diva for the night. Bonus points — Daniel loved it!

DIY

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I enjoyed turning another pair of thrifted pants into classy skinnies and I’m pleased to say that I’ll be able to dress these ones up even more than my green ones. They look great with heels, if I do say so myself. I’ve worn them everywhere already! Unlike store bought skinnies, they aren’t cutting off circulation or making me look gross, and the pockets can actually hold stuff (am I the only one who gets angry at the tiny pockets that are almost always found in women’s jeans?).

I just love how a couple of simple seams can turn a “blah” pair of pants into something you would find in New York and Company. *Psssttt* These were only $1.50 and they are from The Loft!

Becoming a Better Reader

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A couple weeks ago, I started “Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell” and I have to say, I’m really enjoying it! It reads like an Austen novel, but the content is much different. The two men in question are magicians. That’s all I will say about it as I am only a hundred pages into it. (#800pagenovel)

Faith and Spiritual Reflections

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I couldn’t decide if I should put this in the reading section or the faith section, because it is both. Just recently, this book arrived in the mail and I couldn’t wait to open it! It is such a great read that my bath water got cold due to time passing rapidly without my notice! As a convert, this book is especially wonderful. It explains a lot of history and culture behind how we are to pray as Catholics, and has a lot of practical advice about how to make your own Little Oratory (and the reason we should have one!). My tiny little review is nothing to this awesomeness that is the book, so if you really want to find out about it, I suggest picking up your own copy and just reading it! Seriously, it’s amazing!

That’s it for this post. Thanks for reading my Chapter in a Life posts. Remember, you can find me on Pinterest to see my latest interests!

– Hannah