12 Daily Reminders

I saw this today and loved it. It is so true.

1. The past cannot be changed
2. Opinions don’t define your reality
3. Everyone’s journey is different
4. Things always get better with time
5. Judgments are a confession of character
6. Overthinking will lead to sadness
7. Happiness is found within
8. Positive thoughts create positive things
9. Smiles are contagious
10. Kindness is free
11. You only fail if you quit
12. What goes around comes around

Here’s my take on the above:

Stop running back to what hurt you. Don’t look back, you are not going that way. Yesterday is over, tomorrow is not promised so live for today – moment by moment. Always remember that you have no idea what someone else is going through. Time IS the ultimate healer. I read recently that if you wait on God, he will act on your behalf. I will probably write that hundreds of times because it is so simple, yet so profound. Be patient. Give time its proper time. Overthinking is a tough one. But if you can get past it at least some of the time, you will not worry about 99% of the things you worry about that never actually happen. We can choose to be happy or not. But, I believe that it is ok to let yourself feel the full spectrum of emotions. Have a sad day. Just don’t stay there. If you think you can or cannot, you are right. You can never go wrong with being nice. Laughter is essential to living a well-balanced and fulfilling life. Surround yourself with those who can make you laugh. Don’t give up – slow and steady wins the race. The tide always turns.

Don’t Settle for Less Than This in a Relationship

I am a relationship type of person – through and through. Not just romantic relationships (although those are kinda my favorite) but family and friendships, co-workers and even strangers. How we interact with each other is so incredibly powerful and even more so in today’s digital world where face to face communication is becoming less and less. Nothing beats face to face communication, in my opinion. This is especially true in romantic relationships. I need to feel like I am a priority for quality time together and I also don’t want to be the one always making sure that everything works out that we can be together – since busy schedules do get in the way.
I want someone who is in it as much as I am. If I am making the relationship one of my very top priorities, I don’t want to be with someone who isn’t doing that on their end.  I am the type of person who could totally take control and make sure I get the quality time I need. What I have figured out, however, is that doesn’t feel good to me. And I want to feel good. What feels good to me more than anything is someone that is just as crazy about being together as I am. This doesn’t mean hanging out 24/7 – it means capitalizing when it is possible to be together and prioritizing this time above other things. I am searching for one life together with someone. This means there are kids/family obligations, work obligations, guys nights, girls nights and alone time – no doubt – I need those things, too. But it also means that you consider each other with those things and when there are events or free weekend nights or no plans at all – that you’re doing it all together, and it doesn’t even cross your mind not to do it all together.
I have realized in my many years of wisdom that THIS is what I want and need. And I’m not going to settle for less. I will verbalize it and make it clear (this can be difficult for me, but I know it is important because no one, especially no guy, is a mind reader – another thing I’ve learned) and if it still feels like I’m on the crazy island all alone, I’m going to leave. I am not afraid to leave. I am not afraid to be alone. So I really have nothing to lose on my non-settling quest.
I’ve come up with a few things that none of us should settle for less than in a relationship. This is based purely on what I need out of a relationship. But, it is a start. If you are wondering why you are always pulling the weight or if you need to speak up more about your needs/wants, or are simply wondering if you’re asking too much – the list below in my opinion is more than fair to ask out of a partner.
  • To be a priority – you should never feel like you or the relationship takes the back seat. You should have time together because you both make the relationship a priority. They should fill you in our their plans and what is going on and you should do the same.
  • To know how they feel about you – even if they don’t constantly tell you, you should know how they feel about you. Actions speak louder than words, although it is nice to hear and read, too. Open communication, asking a lot of questions and not being afraid to be vulnerable all contribute to this. If you are shut down, don’t expect them to open up. Tell them how you feel and what you want and don’t want often.
  • Touch – this speaks for itself, but affection should come naturally.
  • Grace – we aren’t always the best version of ourselves. We aren’t perfect and make mistakes. We hurt feelings and can be selfish, too. You should be with someone that loves all of you, even the not so pretty parts. They should be forgiving, understanding and give you grace in these moments. This does not mean you can be an asshole. But it does mean you should be comfortable being 100% YOU, say you’re sorry when you’re wrong and offer the same understanding and grace in return.
  • To be supported and taken care of – nothing should limit your dreams and your partner should support you. In fact, they should make you believe in yourself more. You should feel like someone has your back and no matter what, everything will be ok because you know you have someone to solve life’s challenges with.
  • To trust and be trusted – trust is the backbone of a relationship. Without it, there is no relationship. You should feel trusted because you are trustworthy – so BE trustworthy and honest so you never have to be questioned. If you are trustworthy and honest and still questioned, you are not trusted and this is NOT a fun place to be. So don’t allow that to happen. In reverse, you should trust your partner. If they give you reasons not to trust them, take a long, hard look at the relationship to see if it is really what you want.
  • Laughter – you should have a reason to smile everyday and laugh until your stomach hurts sometimes. Laughing together is an absolute non-negotiable for me. Someone needs to love my weirdness and dorkiness. It’s not an option not to. Always make sure you can laugh at yourself, too.
  • The little things – whether it’s your favorite food, little notes, help without being asked, random flowers delivered to work because they know you’re having a stressful week, a back rub or simply watching your favorite show – all of the little things are truly the biggest things. It can be easy to overlook them, so take time to write down things you notice because they add up and can show you someone is truly trying to take care of you, thinks about you and wants you to be happy. You should do all of this and more in return. Remember – everyone loves differently – so talking openly about how someone shows and receives love will really help out in this area. Speak your partner’s love language for them and allow them to speak yours to you.
  • One life – if you open your life to them, they should open their life to you in return. Even if you are just in a committed relationship and not married, it should not feel choppy. You should feel like one unit and equally involved in each other’s circles. You should talk about the future, what it looks like and how you’re going to get there together.
I know I will not settle for less than the above. I hope you don’t, either. Relationships are messy and complicated, yet also the most beautiful acts of love we will ever experience. However, they are a two-way street. Make sure you give the above and you can expect the above in return from your partner. It will never be perfect or always easy, but this crazy love will be worth it!

Daily Devotion: Sunday Night Anxiety

Scripture: Philippians 4:6-7

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Does anyone else have Sunday night anxiety? It’s something I’ve had off and on since I was in high school or college. I’ve had it a lot more lately – to the point of some physical anxiety symptoms that I simply cannot control. From feeling my heart beating outside of my chest to being light headed to shortness of breath, it can really be one of the worst feelings. Most of the time I have no idea where it is coming from and there isn’t even something specific on my mind that would cause anxiety. Other times, I might be dreading a certain meeting, project or unknown at work.

I’ve been digging into scripture to help me get through the worst of my Sunday night anxiety. Once Monday comes and goes, it seems it was never really as bad as my mind made it out to be. I worry about things and waste precious time and energy doing so, when most of the time what I worry about doesn’t even happen. This is where God looks down on me, shaking His head, telling me to trust Him, to wait on Him and to look only to Him for strength and guidance.

The scripture that spoke to me best about my Sunday nights is Philippians 4:6-7. It tells us to not be anxious about anything. And to present all of our requests to God through prayer and with thanksgiving. In return for our faith and obedience, God will guard our hearts and minds. THIS. This is what I strive for in my faith. If God’s hand isn’t in something, I don’t want it anyway, no matter what that means.

Another thing about Sunday night in particular is that it is the Sabbath Day – what God intends for us as our day of rest. In today’s world, do we really observe this day of rest? I do know with 100% certainty that anxiety about tomorrow is not what our Lord wants for us. When worry and anxiety, including physical symptoms, start to creep up on you on Sunday (or any day for that matter), open your Bible. Read what God wants to put on your heart. Then, sit in silence and simply listen. Let the voices calm your mind. Take deep breaths to calm your heart beat and mind. Envision the week to come and get excited about all of the surprises God has in store, if you let things simply be. This is my new Sunday night routine. I’ll continue to keep you posted on how it is going and what I’ve been surprised with along the way.

Below is a Sunday night prayer to help with this. Say this every Sunday night – say it aloud – and if you need it again on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday, just keep praying.

Dear Lord, thank you for this day of rest. Please forgive me if I haven’t fully utilized this day as you intended for me – to rest and worship. My heart is thankful. Thankful for a new day, thankful for answered prayers and unanswered prayers that I might not understand until much later, but I know you have a plan and purpose for everything. I know that every good and perfect gift comes from you and I know I take so many for granted. I am sorry. I fail you with every breath I take, I fall short of your glory each and every day. Yet you love me and choose me every single second no matter how many times I turn my back on you or think I can do something on my own. Thank you for your love, mercy and grace. I am feeling anxious tonight for the week to come. Please take this anxiety from me, as I cannot carry it. Instead, I place my trust in you, even when I cannot see. I pray for your presence with me tomorrow morning as I start the week. I pray for wisdom and strength to open my eyes to what you are trying to show me. Show me opportunities to show others your love. Use me in your will for others. Be the thoughts in my head and words out of my mouth. Help me to only live in the moment. I can only do this with You. I will wait on you. Surprise me. In tough times, hold me up and wipe away my tears. Please be with all of those who are broken hearted and hurting. Thank you.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen.

10 Lessons from a 10-Year Old

This post is actually three years old. But, it still provides some valuable lessons from the happenings of a 10-year-old.

I got a call from my daughter’s school nurse last week. My mind went to sore throat, upset stomach – all the bugs that go around this time of the year. Instead, I heard that she fell off the high bar at recess. “And we think she broke her right arm.” Oh boy.

Here were the stats at the end of the day:

  • 4 hours waiting
  • 3 broken bones
  • 2 casts (one on each arm)
  • 1 scratched up face

And … 10 lessons learned from my 10-year-old over the last week. Even though each one is pretty simple, you might benefit from the refreshers both personally and professionally. I know I did.

  1. Smile.
    She was wearing a smile in every picture I took of her. The doctor said she was one tough cookie. Sometimes the ability to keep smiling is very difficult. But when we smile, we can make someone’s day without even knowing it and it makes staying positive much easier.
  2. Improvise.
    Her Halloween costume would no longer work with the casts. So, she decided to let her injury work in her favor and opted to be an “injured person” instead. When Plan A doesn’t work, move quickly to the next solution and you might find it better than your original plan.
  3. A lesson that doesn’t kill you is a lesson learned.
    When I pointed this out, I knew I had officially become my mother. But it’s so true. I was at a marketing conference a few years ago and one of the speakers said he would frequently tell his team that “no one is going to die” if they didn’t do something exactly right. As long as you are continually learning and then adjusting, you will get it right.
  4. Don’t be a show-off.
    Speaks for itself. Don’t do it. Ever.
  5. Let rumors roll off your back.
    Her biggest concern was rumors would spread about the accident. What if someone said she did it on purpose? What if someone said she got pushed off? As I listened to the simplicity of her concerns, I thought about how easy it is to get wrapped up in the worry of what others think, no matter how big/small/positive/negative/neutral it is.
  6. Allow others to help you.
    I have become very good at getting just about any shirt or coat over two arm casts. There are other things she can still do on her own. Recognize where you need help and ask for it. It is ok!
  7. Take a month off from busy-ness.
    You can’t really play sports or practice the clarinet with two arm casts. So, she gets a month off from the normal, busy weekly schedule. We are all enjoying this break! Sometimes taking time to slow down and smell the roses is absolutely necessary.
  8. Always sport your flair.
    The best part about two casts? Picking out two different colors! She opted for neon green and rainbow tie-dye. What color is your flair? Make sure you sport it as much as possible.
  9. Do not use casts – or any other item for that matter – to harm others.
    It has been very tempting for her to use her casts as weapons on her five-year-old brother. But we learned in kindergarten that it’s not nice to hit others. That’s still true.
  10. Being famous isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
    After her first day back at school, I asked her if she got a lot of attention and was tired of telling the same story over and over again. She rolled her eyes and said, “Yes. I definitely never want to be famous.” After hitting it big, you might long to be just an ordinary person after all. (Casts might come in handy for the paparazzi, though!) Just kidding.

Don’t forget to live

We get so busy in life that we sometimes forget to live. We spend time capturing or recording a memory instead of just living in it. I read this last week and it was too good not to share on this topic.

Here is Bob Moorehead about the importance of the little things:

“The paradox of our time in history is that we have taller buildings but shorter tempers, wider Freeways, but narrower viewpoints. We spend more, but have less, we buy more, but enjoy less. We have bigger houses and smaller families, more conveniences, but less time. We have more degrees but less sense, more knowledge, but less judgment, more experts, yet more problems, more medicine, but less wellness.

We drink too much, smoke too much, spend too recklessly, laugh too little, drive too fast, get too angry, stay up too late, get up too tired, read too little, watch TV too much, and pray too seldom. We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values. We talk too much, love too seldom, and hate too often.

We’ve learned how to make a living, but not a life. We’ve added years to life not life to years. We’ve been all the way to the moon and back, but have trouble crossing the street to meet a new neighbor. We conquered outer space but not inner space. We’ve done larger things, but not better things.

We’ve cleaned up the air, but polluted the soul. We’ve conquered the atom, but not our prejudice. We write more, but learn less. We plan more, but accomplish less. We’ve learned to rush, but not to wait. We build more computers to hold more information, to produce more copies than ever, but we communicate less and less.

These are the times of fast foods and slow digestion, big men and small character, steep profits and shallow relationships.

These are the days of two incomes but more divorce, fancier houses, but broken homes. These are days of quick trips, disposable diapers, throwaway morality, one night stands, overweight bodies, and pills that do everything from cheer, to quiet, to kill. It is a time when there is much in the showroom window and nothing in the stockroom. A time when technology can bring this letter to you, and a time when you can choose either to share this insight, or to just hit delete.

Remember, to spend some time with your loved ones, because they are not going to be around forever.

Remember, say a kind word to someone who looks up to you in awe, because that little person soon will grow up and leave your side.

Remember, to give a warm hug to the one next to you, because that is the only treasure you can give with your heart and it doesn’t cost a cent.

Remember, to say, “I love you” to your partner and your loved ones, but most of all mean it. A kiss and an embrace will mend hurt when it comes from deep inside of you.

Remember to hold hands and cherish the moment for someday that person might not be there again. Give time to love, give time to speak! And give time to share the precious thoughts in your mind.”

Let’s live this life. We only have one.

Discerning God’s Will

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I am always trying to discern God’s will. I have found that this is not an easy thing to do – at all – and as humans we tend to find what we’re looking for. We justify things, telling ourselves it must be God’s will. I cannot sit here and write this with a definitive answer. I don’t have one. If I did, I wouldn’t continue to take wrong turns in my life.

One thing I know is that God’s will is perfect, which is why it’s truly all I want. My problem is that I cannot get out of my own way. I know He must get so frustrated with me because I screw things up by trying to take over and control in an attempt to keep my expectations at bay and limit disappointments. Yet, I still worry. I still get scared. And I still feel disappointment. My very own subconscious strategy is working against me.

Something I read recently opened my eyes about this topic. It said that the mature Christian does not need to know what’s in it for him or herself. He or she asks for God’s will and says I am willing to do anything without even knowing what it means for me. This was really a different perspective for me to soak in. We are all inherently self-centered so of course when thinking of God’s will for MY life, I think about ME. Right? I mean, I also think about those that are most important to me, like my children and the rest of my family. What is really crazy are the stories in the Bible where parents left their children to follow God’s will. And God blessed them for it. We cannot even imagine that in the world we live in today. I can’t even come close to imagining that.

God dwells in each of us – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. This is also such a big concept for me to grasp. There are voices in our head and if we listen, all three will talk to us. I’ve been working really hard at this. We don’t have to speak or think to pray. We can just listen. The toughest part is deciphering God’s three voices versus the other two voices in our head – our own and Satan’s. Satan isn’t always dressed up in a red suit and horns. He has a way of telling you what you want to hear and how to make all of your earthly dreams come true. It can be the voice of laziness, self despair or greed, telling you it is ok. And the downward spiral begins when your own voice begins to believe it and then begins to tell yourself that is must be God’s will. I have listened to these voices go back and forth and it is still hard for me to know which one to listen to. But, as I pray and allow this quiet time to stop and listen, there are things that have become a lot more clear to me.

Discerning God’s will also becomes easier when you think about life only in 24-hour chunks. He gave us 24 hours in a day for a reason. I tend to get way too far ahead of myself, which is when I totally get in the way. Yesterday is over. Tomorrow is not promised. So, all we have in this moment is right now, today. We can forgive in a day. We can forget in a day. We can love in a day. We can give in a day. We can be sad in a day. We can be hopeful in a day. There are good days, bad days and better days. But it is always a new day. We can’t dwell in the bad days for longer than 24 hours. God gives us hope for tomorrow and we only have enough in us to successfully get through one day.

Come what may. As I started focusing only on the next 24 hours, I also tried to stopped forcing or chasing anything. I will do my best and do my part if I feel I need to take action (again, sometimes I do this and I absolutely shouldn’t), but otherwise I know that God’s will will be done. Because I pray for it to be. That means that I get to take the back seat and let him drive. I pray a lot on my way to work in the morning for God to surprise me today. This is HUGE for me because I’ve never liked surprises in my life. It’s why I can’t watch Iowa football without covering my eyes for at least three quarters of the game and for sure during every 3rd down no matter what side the ball is on. It is why I don’t care if someone tells me what happens at the end of a movie, why I read a few of the last pages before I get to the end of a book and why I tend to sometimes make impulsive decisions so it is definitive and done and I no longer have to wonder. I’ve realized over the past few months, however, that this is no way to live. God certainly does not intend for me to live this way. He wants me to walk in His path and delight in His will. There will be horrible times and times full of pain, but He promises to give us strength to get through these times. So, embracing the day, being surprised with what God has in store because I am walking by faith and not by sight and sitting back to let life come to me is my ultimate focus. What I do not wait for, however, is God’s calling to help others. I pray for him to open my eyes and see where He needs my help and if there is a heart that He can touch through me. This has seriously been as small as a smile, giving grace to someone, listening with love, talking about my story, or paying for a soda in the break room for someone because the machine wasn’t taking cash.

I am certainly not perfect and I am a big, huge sinner like all of us who fall short of the Glory of God. However, I am trying to get better and meet the person God created me to be – 24 hours at a time.

Insomnia and Divorce

Before I had kids, I didn’t think about sleep really at all. I pretty much always got enough of it and if there were a few nights I stayed out too late, I could catch up. And being in my early twenties, I could still go out and then go to class or work the next day and somehow function.

Then I had my daughter. I knew people said that babies keep you awake at all hours, but as a young mom, I don’t think I fully comprehended what that meant. In those moments in the middle of the night when I could hardly keep my eyes open to save my life, I learned that sleep is one precious commodity. I vowed to myself to never, ever take sleep for granted again. And thirteen plus years later, I still do not take it for granted.

At the point of getting separated, both of my children were very much past the waking up in the middle of the night stage. So, I had a few years of some very good sleep – of which I soaked in every single moment.  I didn’t think I’d ever have to face a sleeping shortage again. Well, I was wrong. I don’t know if anyone else who has been through a divorce experienced insomnia, but I sure did – and still do – to this day.

As I sit here writing this post, I’ve probably yawned ten times. Like bringing out the big guns yawns. I’ve been awake since 2:30 this morning when I woke up and simply could not get back to sleep.  I’ve adjusted to this lifestyle of many sleepless nights at this point. When I do have a night where I wake up less than two times, or a morning where I am able to sleep in a bit, I take full advantage. I take Benedryl, Advil PM and melatonin on occasion to at least help me go back to sleep if I wake up in the night. I usually do this when I know I have flexibility to sleep in the next morning. However, this strategy also backfires on me. I’ve learned that I can take one and it might work, but two gives me worse insomnia. That really annoys me.

There are several reasons why I link my insomnia to divorce. The most obvious reason is because it started at the same time. Also, at the beginning stages of divorce, it is rather difficult to live in what I call the limbo or in-between period. This is where you have made the decision to move forward, but so many pieces have to fall into place before you can really feel like you have somewhat of a normal life again. If you have kids, add a multiplier of stress to this time period.

I was numb for a long time even before my divorce, as I had to be strong and cope with things that wouldn’t have been possible for me to get through had I not blocked out emotion. It must’ve been a flight or fight instinct in me that pushed me to that point, as I really don’t think I would’ve been strong enough to get there on my own based on how emotional and sensitive I am at my core. Because of this, the transition or limbo period wasn’t as difficult on me as I have heard it’s been on other people. I think my limbo period just started years before my divorce, so I lived in it for a long time without even knowing it. While this might’ve made it a bit easier from an emotional standpoint, it was still a change with many, many unknowns.

I slept better when my kids were with me (and still do) because that seemed more normal. It was when I was alone that I never slept. I would even turn into a bit of gypsy and stay at my sister’s house or my parent’s house just to get some sleep versus zero sleep. I would avoid staying alone overnight if I could. The odd thing is I wanted to be alone and I spent many days all by myself because I didn’t want to go anywhere or see anyone, but when it got closer to bed time I would go stay somewhere else.

I remember the first Christmas Eve following my divorce. I didn’t have my kids, so after church I went to my third story condo all by myself and that’s when I cried – ugly cried to be exact. I knew I needed to stay there because I had to be Santa Claus and be there in the morning when their dad dropped them off to see what Santa delivered. That was a moment in time I will never forget. Looking back, getting through the year of firsts – just like with the grieving process – is what helps you get closer to a feeling of normalcy.

Eventually I just made myself stay alone no matter what. Some nights are still better than others. I get scared easily, so if I wake up to noises, it’s over and I’m not going back to sleep. But for the most part I am doing much better than in the beginning. I know if I continue to give time it’s proper time that one day I’ll be sleeping like a baby again.

How to be Friends and Co-Parent with Your Ex-husband

A lot of people actually ask me these questions about my ex-husband. How do you guys get along so well? He still comes to some of your family functions? You give him dating advice? All of you can still go to dinner together?

I don't know how I got so lucky in my divorce situation, but I really did. No one envisions divorce, nor is it any sort of an ideal situation to be in at all. However, sometimes it just IS. And once it's over, all you can do is make the very best of your situation for everyone involved, especially if that includes kids.

There has never been a time in the 4.5 years since being separated that we did not respect each other and didn't work through everything in order to be the best co-parents we could be. Some people don't understand this set up. They think there needs to be clear separation in order to move on – and in some instances I am sure this is more than 100% true. In situations with no kids, I can definitely see that being the best situation for everyone. There is also the quote from When Harry Met Sally that a man and a woman cannot be just friends because someone always wants more. I tend to believe that quote, but if there are boundaries set up front, I know it can work.

So, how do we do it? I've come up with the critical elements below.

  • Put first things first – your kid(s) – you have to start there. This will help shape how you want things to look and what you need to get past in order to make the best out of divorce for them. They didn't ask for this and part of them will always be affected by it. So it is your job to be mature and figure out how you will put them first. This also includes never bad mouthing your ex to the kids.
  • Be transparent with your kid(s) – having a friendly relationship with my ex-husband has caused some strife with my kids wondering why the heck we just can't be married if we get along? Being transparent does not mean to tell them every detail as to why you got divorced or anything they are not emotionally equipped to handle. It does mean that you let them know that you will be friends and co-parents for them because it is what they need and deserve. Letting them know up front that it doesn't mean you're going to get back together is a good idea.
  • Let go of the past – obviously there is muck or you wouldn't have gotten divorced. It is time to let go of the past and move on. Give grace, forgive and see the best in your ex so you can be the best version of yourself in this situation for your kids.
  • Set clear boundaries with each other and your families – this is probably the biggest element. Someone probably might want more (or be misled to think there is a chance) if you don't set clear boundaries. This includes boundaries with your families, because there might be some instances where it is best to keep things separate and not always be together at family events, unless it's one of the kids' birthdays. My family tends to go overboard and wants to include all of the time when that is not necessarily the best set-up, either. There needs to be space and you need to determine what that space should look like, as well as let others in your close circle know.
  • Actually be friends – my ex-husband and I talk about things going on with the kids, but we also ask how work is going, how his favorite team did in the game, and he even asks me for dating advice. I give it to him because all I want is to see him move on and be happy. And I want to help pick out my kids' stepmom – I am kind of selfish with this one! Just the other day, I helped him decide to send flowers to the girl he has been dating and made sure to tell him at this early point in their relationship to make them fresh flowers with a fun and flirty message, not red roses with a creepster message. And it totally worked and scored him some big points. I live for that.
  • Be transparent about the set-up and expectations when you do enter a relationship with someone else – I saved this one for last because it can be tricky. Not everyone will be ok with me being friends with my ex-husband. And that's ok. I will make it clear up front what the situation is, though. I will be loyal to who I am in a relationship with, but he has to be open to this in some way or it will not work. In my last relationship, my ex-husband graciously bowed out of many things in order to give the guy I was dating the chance to be with my family alone.

So there's my advice on how to be friends with your ex-husband. It isn't always easy, and most people will look at you funny, but I have learned that there is no "right" way to do divorce. You need to do what works for your situation. I also understand that in a lot of cases there is one side that absolutely will not cooperate, even for the kids. That is unfortunate but I know it is reality. There is also abuse involved and other things that make it not possible. I understand that. In those situations, all you can do is be the best parent you can be on your own for your kids.

I'd love to hear how about other people's co-parenting solutions!

How to Think Like a Man

So. One thing I’ve learned in my old age is that women are different than men. I know, right. I’m sure I knew this back on the playground when we were chasing them and they were running away…or throwing things at us. It certainly didn’t stop us, though. I see this in my daughter today – I told her just last weekend that boys like it when girls are chill and don’t snap them…like 20 times in a row. She acknowledged that and then responded with, “But, mom, self-control is so hard.” I hear ya kid.

I can be thinking about everything that is going on in my life at practically the same time. Some things might get a little more focus than others, but the rest of it is never too far away. I can switch back and forth like a ninja – all while holding a conversation with someone, driving, or seeing something that makes me think about one of these things.  I can switch mid-conversation to another topic and then pick up right where the other topic left off like nothing happened (although my memory is starting to disappoint me a bit the older I get.) I am not unlike many women. We are experts at the above.

Where we go wrong is we try to do the above with men. Aaaannd…it doesn’t work. I do this with text messaging all the time. Instead of just letting the one thought float out there, if another one happens to pop into my mind before I get a response to the first one, I go ahead and add in the new thought, too. Because, well, that makes sense to me, and why wouldn’t someone want to weed through and respond to three completely different topics in one text string? This also makes complete sense to my daughter, mom, sisters and girlfriends. And, you can totally tell it in our text messages with random gifs that practically switch topics for us. How much fun is that?! Guys? Oh…not that much fun?

There is actually a marketing lesson here – know your audience.  I’ve done a little research (completely non-scientific) and discovered that most men don’t skip around from topic to topic like most women do – they don’t like it and it’s not easy for them to do so, either. This means that they are able to keep their feelings and emotions about one topic separate from other things. Oh my goodness. I wish I had this quality. For example, if he is at work, he is AT WORK. He is in his work compartment, worrying about work stuff, thinking about work stuff and talking about work stuff. Sure, he can talk about other things with his co-workers or even send some texts to his significant other, but unless there is something else that is totally taking over his mind at the moment – he is at work and only at work.

Now, if he’s with his buddies watching football and drinking beer, this is safe zone. No one is nagging, there is no one to impress…and he is truly only in this compartment, needs this compartment and does not want to feel like this compartment will ever be forced away from him. I once asked a guy who was about to propose to his girlfriend what percentage of his time he needed for this “bro” time. I thought his answer was more than fair. He said only counting his free time outside of work and other obligations, it would be 73/27 – that is 73% with his significant other and 27% with his bros. I then asked the guy next to him (who was married) and he said 40/60 – that is 40% with his significant other and 60% with his bros. Interesting, huh.

If women took a little step back and tried an ounce harder to understand the compartments enough to not make him jump from one to the other like a ping pong game and let him enjoy his favorite ones fully and enough (I do think the 27% is enough if they feel it is not restricted), there would be a lot less frustration in relationships. Just like if men tried an ounce harder with women and wrote them more notes out of the blue, sent flowers on a completely random day, gave them compliments other than being beautiful, came home with their favorite take-out, made them dress up for a surprise date they already had planned…you get the drift…

Women – try and see if you can tell what compartment he is in. Then, try to stay there with him and only move onto the next if he moves on. See what happens. Then comment and let me know.

Men – try to make more of an effort in showing her that you are thinking about her and that she is special to you. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been together. She still needs it. And the smallest actions will go a lot farther than you can imagine. Then comment and let me know how it goes.

Life really is as simple as this

I’m making a vow to myself right now. This is like a moment when there is a line drawn in the sand – a before this and an after this.  I’ve been living life too much on my thoughts, hopes and wishes. I have the greatest dreams and goals, but life keeps getting in the way of me truly pursuing them. Like for real pursuing them. I do little things here and there, however I do not do enough to ACT and have a relentlessness energy to run after what sets my soul on fire.

I was spending my 15 minutes loving myself today and this was my revelation.  It is time for me to just do – even if the road looks long – I’m going to chunk it down so each day is manageable and I truly do something that matters in the pursuit of the dreams and goals I have for myself and my children.

I need to figure out exactly what this looks like, but I am at a point where I know I am ready to take some crazy action. And possibly some risks, which is a little scary for this kind of, sort of risk-adverse person. God is putting things on my heart for a reason, so it’s time for me to take a step closer to the woman He wants me to be, with my eyes closed and standing firm in my faith. I want to allow myself to be surprised beyond belief at what faith can do if you not only fully surrender, but fully ACT.

SINGLEMARKETINGMOM.COM (1)

30 Ways to Love Yourself in 15 Minutes a Day

30 Ways to Love Yourself in 15 Minutes a Day

15 minutes a day. 105 minutes a week. 450 minutes a month. That’s only 90 hours in an entire year. Do you think you can carve that out of your life to focus solely on loving yourself? We should all take more time to love ourselves, but in the busy world of work, sports, side jobs, cleaning, shopping, running the kids’ taxi service, exercising, etc. it is not as easy as it should be to squeeze in this extra 15 minutes.

This is not something I’ve done as a set schedule, but as I write this post I am now committing to 15 minutes a day (I usually tend to save it all up and spend a couple of hours each week) to simply loving myself. There is nothing more important than loving yourself. If we don’t love ourselves, then no on else can, either. If we don’t see our own worth, then no one else can, either.  If we don’t enjoy our own company, then no one else can, either.

While moving on with my life post-divorce and truly living on my own, I have had to come to terms with these truths. Facing my deepest insecurities head-on has not been easy or pretty, and I’m still very much working on loving myself without limits or conditions. That’s why the following 30 ways to love yourself in 15 minutes a day is just as helpful to me as it is to anyone reading this. Self control, self talk, saying no, boundary setting and enforcement all take practice, like anything else in life. Are you ready to practice? Are you ready to let yourself be truly seen so you can be truly loved? If so, here are 30 ways to practice loving yourself everyday:

  1. Pray
  2. Pray in reverse – don’t be the one doing the talking with God – be silent and see what the Holy Spirit speaks to you in your mind
  3. Call someone important to you that you haven’t talked to in a long time – don’t text, CALL!
  4. Make a list of all of the qualities you like about yourself and all of the qualities you don’t like about yourself – re-visit this list every few weeks and see what progress you’ve made toward the qualities you don’t like
  5. Volunteer
  6. Journal or blog – this can be about anything, about your day, a relationship, something you’re trying to work through, your raw thoughts, literally ANYTHING, just let your mind flow onto the paper and see what happens
  7. Learn something new – a hobby, language, sport, anything
  8. Make a list of your life goals and set reasonable time frames in which to accomplish them – pick one to focus on during your 15 minutes until it is accomplished
  9. Find a good yoga app
  10. Sit outside and simply observe everything around you
  11. Make a list of all of the things you are thankful for
  12. Draw or paint a picture
  13. Write yourself a letter and forgive yourself for something you need to forgive yourself for
  14. Take a bath, light a candle and relax in silence or to your favorite music
  15. Drive around and sing at the top of your lungs
  16. Go to Target – YES this is a way to love yourself, I promise! I also get a large fountain Diet Coke and a bag of popcorn from the snack bar to shop with me – WARNING – this may exceed 15 minutes but doesn’t have to 🙂
  17. Lay in the sun and let your face truly feel it soaking in
  18. Go for a walk or bike ride
  19. Figure out the rules and boundaries you want for yourself – what do you need to be saying no to?
  20. Make a list of your favorite things
  21. Write a card to someone and send it in the mail
  22. Write a card to yourself and send it in the mail
  23. Dance to loud music and watch yourself in the mirror, too! Smile and HAVE FUN doing this one
  24. Bake cookies
  25. Read a few chapters of a book
  26. Get a coffee and people watch in your favorite coffee shop
  27. Buy yourself fresh flowers and put them in your kitchen
  28. Ask someone for feedback
  29. Do some sort of puzzle – jigsaw, crossword, word search, etc.
  30. Record yourself saying something you want yourself to hear in the future – play back these recordings often

I could probably keep going, but here are the 30 ways to love yourself in just 15 minutes a day. What do you think? What would you add?

Divorce journey takes friends

I’ve realized something lately. It’s not earth shattering or something I didn’t know before. But, does something ever hit you, like really hit you, and even though you knew it before – all of a sudden you just see things a little differently? This is what happened to me. ***I’m placing a long post warning right here – if you want to just get to what I’ve realized, skip down to the last two paragraphs. If you want to follow how my crazy mind works, well then read on from here. 🙂

I’ve always had the best friends. I have been so blessed in this department my whole life. I was single for a very long time, so maybe that is part of the reason why. I was always ALL about my friends throughout high school and college and could pour a lot of me into them. In fact, I was just telling my teenage daughter last year that if you aren’t making an effort in friendships/relationships, you aren’t going to get anything out of them. My lesson to her was simple – as a girl, you NEED girl friends. It is essential to every part of your being. She wanted to be instantly liked and included – and not have to step out of her comfort zone in order to develop deep friendships. This is when I told her that you have to put your real, authentic self out there. (Which I realize can be really scary in 7th grade at a new school.) She had a Christmas movie marathon at our house in December and invited old friends, as well as people she was just getting to know. And the rest is history, really. My number one thanks to God in my prayers over the last several months is seeing her with what is now down to a group of four of them that have become so close. I can tell she is 100% herself around them and vice versa. It literally brings tears to my eyes as I type this because it makes me so happy. Maybe this is where this revelation started even, I don’t know.

Moving on…I never wanted to be a divorced person. I didn’t want that label and honestly, I was ashamed of it. I felt that all of a sudden I got looked at differently and stopped getting invited to couple or family parties…because I was going to start hitting on all of the husbands?! However, I’ve tried my best to not let those thoughts and insecurities control me. At first, I hid out. A lot. I moved away in my own little place and only let in those closest to me. But, little by little I started to let my guard down. I gave time its proper time (and still am) and have been able to accept the situation and forgive myself for the most part.

Then I did something really brave. I got out of the almost four-year relationship I was in immediately after my divorce. This was probably one of the most courageous things I’ve ever done. I know that sounds pathetic, but it was a moment when I broke my own cycle. I took what I learned from my past and decided it wasn’t going to affect my future. I wasn’t going to get to one or five years down the road just to receive validation that my gut was right. It was scary to leave what was comfortable and who I knew loved me…no matter what. I could have stayed forever just for that alone, because then I never would have had to face the risk of not being loved ever again. However, I knew God was with me and would get me through – and in the end I would look back and know that the beauty waiting for me on the other side was because of the risk I took to let go and break the cycle. This is truly when I chose myself and risked living this life alone in order to choose her. What I’ve learned in this time, however, is that even if I’m not in a relationship or married, I’m not living this life alone. And that, my friends, opened my eyes and provided me more strength than I’ve ever had. Do I still have insecurities? Of course. Do I still get lonely and long for one complete family and to build a home with someone? Yes! And I know all of that is ok because it is just who I am. (This is girl is one HOPELESS ROMANTIC…I just know I have to embrace her and simmer her down a little when needed.) I also know that I need to be patient and LIVE moment by moment for once in my life.

I pray a lot for God to SHOW me how I can help – to make it abundantly clear what I am called to do. This is because I am so blind and there are so many times I miss something obvious or don’t act on a thought that crossed my mind. I forget that the Holy Spirit lives within me and gives me these nudges, but so many times I disregard them as my own thoughts. Acting on the things in which we know are good and we know must be heaven-sent is where we start to become closer to the person God created us to be. I read this question somewhere recently: what if at the end of your life you were able to meet the you that you could have been? That is a powerful thought. The gap could be so incredibly large or we could work now everyday to make sure the gap is as small as possible. And this isn’t about money or success – it is about a heart that takes action. I digress because that is not what this post is about, it is just how my thought process works. However, part of my realization stemmed from this notion of tuning in and acting on those nudges, no matter how small or insignificant they may seem.

Living moment by moment has helped me realize what I tried to get to in the first paragraph. And that is that sometimes the call to action is literally right in front of our eyes. It can be our closest friends, family members, or someone you just pass by and say hi to everyday at work and have no idea what he or she is really going through. It is about not being scared to tell your story because you never know who needs to hear it. We all go through muck in life and every single one of us has our own unique muck. God knows this because he knows everything. He knows who He can use to help his children through whatever muck they happen to be in. After encountering new friends and old friends that have been or are going through a divorce right now, it clicked for me that this is my call to action. I haven’t thought a lot about friendships being a call to action from God because like I said, I just always had good ones. However, I didn’t have a girl friend with kids that knew what I was going through when I got divorced. I had great girl friends that were there for me, don’t get me wrong, but no one that I could really connect with. It was kind of like when I had my daughter because I had kids many years before my friends did. I had to go through it first. Was I perfect? Not in the slightest. I was forced to figure things out, though.

SO…what I have realized is that I am BLESSED with those around me…with my girl friends…old and new. I have also realized that I have friends right now who truly need me. That is weird to write out loud. And I am truly willing to lose sleep for these friends and give up other things so I can spend time with them to listen or to just validate what they are going through. I want to be there to watch romcoms, laugh, snort and give hope in the fact that everything WILL be ok…with their hearts, with their kids, and with their lives. And I know because I’ve been there. And in many ways I am still there…I’m just at a different point in the journey. We are walking this journey arm in arm because we’ve been connected with our stories and our muck. Our muck happens to be similar so it bonds us together. I know there are many other stories like this – wives that have had to see their husbands on multiple deployments, those battling cancer, those coping with sick kids or loss. This is what we are called to do in this world. This is God at work. This is God being omnipresent. I know it with all of my being. If I’ve had to go through all of my own unique muck (and I know there’s more to come) just to get to this point of realization, I can honestly say it’s all made me a better person and certainly closer to the woman God created me to be. I am working to be more like her every single day. I am looking right under my nose for ways to help others in my life here, right where I am.

Thank you to all of my friends – every single one of you holds a special place in my heart and helps me in SO many ways. And then there is FAMILY. That is like multiple posts, so I’ll just end with a huge thank you. There is nothing like the feeling of a grateful heart. And mine certainly runneths over.

Girl friends

Quotes to read over and over…and over

Beautiful things ask for no attention

I still believe in 398.2

Never apologize for saying what you feel. That’s like being sorry for being real.

Waiting for someone to make you happy is the surest way to be sad

One day can change everything

Don’t be afraid to lose what wasn’t meant to be

Actions always prove why words mean nothing

Blessed are those who give without remembering and receive without forgetting

However good or bad your situation is – it will change

Your children only get one childhood

Don’t forget to fall in love with yourself first

What’s for you won’t pass you by

See the light in others and treat them as if that’s all you see

Embrace the current season of your life

The less I needed, the better I felt

As much as you want to plan your life, it has a way of surprising you with unexpected things that will make you happier then you originally planned – that’s what you call God’s Will.

Trust dreams. Trust you heart and trust your story.

The woman who does not require validation is unstoppable!

 

Moving on After Divorce: Stay True to Yourself

I actually found the journal entry below from the year I got divorced, which was five years ago. So, I thought I’d share it. This where I was then in the divorce journey. It’s definitely been a road, but I can say that I have tried really hard to always stay true to myself. And, since then I have seen that girl again. She smiles and laughs and even cries – if you are numb and go without crying for years – it is actually a blessing to finally let yourself cry again.


I’ve learned to stay true to yourself.

There are so many things, beliefs, thoughts, memories, experiences and education that together make us who we are. Coupled with the core of our personality, or how we’re wired, we can take ourselves in many different directions based on current and past circumstances in life, age and simply frame of mind. I’ve spent so much time the last several years just going through the motions, running on empty and trying to do it all that I lost part of me along the way. I think I even got to a point where I thought this is it, just survive.

In the last couple of months, I’ve had the people that are closest to me open my eyes. It also took a therapist telling me I’m broken. Yeah, kind of hurty. But true. I had stopped feeling much of anything because that seemed easiest. I knew I’d let pieces of me go along the way and I didn’t think I could ever get them back. But I’m questioning that now. I know I’ll never be the person I was before 2005. There was a line drawn in the sand – one of those life moments where you know nothing will ever be the same from that point forward. But…

I’ve been thinking a lot about who I really am, what makes me tick, what you can get me talking about for hours and what I feel kind of ‘meh’ about. I’m working on staying true to her and fighting for her. Every day. For me, this means that I’m not going to accept less than extraordinary – a quote I had hanging on my wall in college. For the dreamer that I am, I’m done with not letting myself dream and plan and have goals to meet and celebrations to be had when complete. I’m going to question more and allow myself to feel again. I’m going to write and write. I’m going to sing at the top of my lungs and dance to really bad cover bands. I’m going to speak up, debate and lead. I’m going to joke around, be sarcastic and laugh until my stomach hurts. I’m going to stay positive and count every blessing. I’m not going to stop learning. I’m going to believe. Again.

I’m not finished with me yet. I’m trying to stay true to this girl that needs to let the sun hit her face and show me things I haven’t seen in a while.

Texting and dating…10 tips to make it through

If I had to give any advice on this topic, it would simply be: don’t text and date. Kind of like don’t text and drive. Unfortunately, however, that is easier said than done. In today’s world of dating I don’t know how it can be avoided. But, you can control your mind and actions to make it much easier.

Being divorced in my 30s, I was pushed into a dating culture that is much different than the one I was used to in high school and college. Thank God there wasn’t texting or social media at that time. Dating was much more of an effort – like a good old fashioned phone call or – gasp – stopping by. Did you read that – guys had to actually call you or stop by! And you could hear his tone of voice and know if he was joking around or not – and you didn’t have to be an emoji dictionary and probably misinterpret or read too much into what he meant anyway.

Now – don’t get me wrong – waiting for that phone call or stop by wasn’t a picnic and what I would’ve done for additional stalking tools. We had to basically be certified FBI agents.  I do think, however, that less is more, especially in the beginning stages of a relationship. And that becomes much more difficult in today’s dating scene.

I have found that I really dislike texting. Like a lot. It does have its moments because it is convenient and quick, but it can drive a completely normal person to think he or she is just a little bit crazy. Especially if you are female. And even more especially if you are an over-thinker or over-analyzer to begin with. Insert grimace face emoji here.

The plain and simple truth is that texting and dating is bad news. Yet if you are dating today, you don’t really have much of a choice. Be prepared for the roller coaster of ups and downs…like all of those memes I see that say “He didn’t text back for six hours…we are so over. Never mind, I just got a kissy face emoji. We are back on.”

Since texting and dating can’t really be avoided, I have come up with ten tips to help you make it through, especially in the beginning:

  1. Don’t be glued to your phone. Like ever.  Wherever you are, be there 100%. You will forget about your phone after awhile. Be fully present in each moment.
  2. Be busy creating your own life. Discover your likes and dislikes, take up a new hobby, spend time with friends and family, help someone, meet someone new, do something that scares you, write, sing, read…whatever sets your soul on fire.
  3. Don’t allow texting to change who you are or your behavior. Don’t let what seems like a change in tone, emoji use, etc. change your tone or alter what you would say. Stay true to you. Don’t be insecure. Know how much you are worth, because it is a lot.
  4. Don’t read into anything. Let me say that again. DON’T READ INTO ANYTHING. Just don’t let yourself do it in any circumstance. If everything has been positive or there is no reason to suspect anything is wrong or has changed, just take a deep breath and let it go.
  5. Don’t check Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, etc. to see his or her activities. Just stop. They will probably be on there liking stuff, viewing other people’s stories…and not texting you. But it doesn’t mean anything more than the fact that it will happen. I promise.
  6. Don’t assume to know what they are thinking or how they meant something. You simply cannot read tone or body language in text. You can’t. So stop trying.
  7. Don’t over text, especially in the beginning. Keep it simple and intriguing.
  8. Just be funny and lighthearted – you can’t go wrong there.
  9. Every once in a while, call instead. It will be a surprise.
  10. If you’ve been drinking…play at your own risk. This is like a drunk dial in my day. You’ll probably regret it if you aren’t sure where you stand. So save it for when you do. Then it’ll be fun.

So, that’s it. That is how I’ve tried to survive texting and dating, even though I am still not a fan of it. At the end of the day, just keep it real. If you wonder something, ask, but ask in person. Nothing will ever replace communicating in person, so do that as much as possible.

Soul searching journey without leaving home

Even though I’ve been divorced for years now, I have found that I still have my own soul searching to do. It is easy to move on if you silently bury everything and fool yourself into thinking that you’ve done the work to find happiness with yourself again. However, that is only on the surface, and I have found that on the surface simply doesn’t last.

You can jump into the arms of someone else so quickly that you forget about yourself and what you really need in order to truly move forward. This is actually the best distraction, seems like the most logical solution and definitely makes everything easier, at least for a while.

What I have needed is to forgive myself. I have asked God for forgiveness, I have asked my ex-husband for forgiveness – and I know they both forgive me. I know God will never remember what has already been forgiven and forgotten. The real problem I have faced, however, is that I haven’t forgiven myself. I haven’t forgotten. I wasn’t going to be someone that was a divorce statistic. I was going to say vows ONE time. I wasn’t going to give up. And I have been so ashamed with myself that it has gotten in the way of truly being able to move on and allow myself happiness.

I am reminded by my teenage daughter all the time that I ruined her life because she was moved out of the home and neighborhood that she now fantasizes about, as well as when we have to run all over hell going from one house to another because she doesn’t have the right shoes, charger or outfit. This is getting less and less, but still the supreme reason for most outbursts in our house. I absolutely hate this. And I pray everyday that we really didn’t totally ruin our kids’ lives and that they really will be ok in life.

I won’t share what happened in my marriage or why we ended up where we did because it is a very complicated story and it’s not all mine to tell. But, I would’ve never ended up in this spot if after ten years it wasn’t the best solution for everyone involved. I stayed for so long thinking there was no other solution until I was confronted by those I love and trust most in my life. That doesn’t mean I still don’t feel guilty and wish things could’ve been different. Could’ve I been stronger? Could’ve I done more? Could’ve I overlooked more? Could’ve I sacrificed more? Those questions don’t haunt me everyday, but still creep up from time to time.

I am not in a relationship at the moment. It has really given me the time to start the healing process that I should’ve started years ago. I know that I need to do this soul searching so I can stop punishing myself. All the while I thought the fairy tale was the happy ending. And it still might be, but my first happy ending will be me, moving on, picking up the pieces and actually allowing myself to TRULY break down the walls around my heart and be happy with ME first. I need to feel God’s love and strength and know that He is all I need.

When I can forgive myself and heal my heart with God at every last turn, then it doesn’t matter what the ending is because I will have fulfilled my journey and my heart will finally be open to so many different possibilities that I can’t even imagine as I sit here and write this. I smile to myself because it makes me a little giddy. It’s not even about an intimate love – it’s about all the relationships I will be able to build because my insecurity, shame and pride will no longer be in the way.

My favorite movie over the last four years has been Eat, Pray, Love. I can watch it over and over and learn something new each and every time. While I would love to go on a soul searching journey around the world like Liz did, I simply cannot at this point in my life as I run my kids around and want to soak in every moment of their school, activities and just spending time with them. Instead, I am embarking on a soul searching journey right from my own home.

There are a few other movies that I’ve watched that have inspired me besides Eat, Pray, Love – Runaway Bride, Hope Floats, Sliding Doors, to name a few – all very romcom and not Oscar contenders by any means, but honestly each has given me a lesson about soul searching, not just love, that I’ve needed. Yes, I AM a hopeless romantic. I know myself well enough to know that there will never be a point in my life when I am not. That is just how I am wired and is something I have come to terms with. However, these movies have helped me see beyond the fairy tale. Here are a few things I’ve learned on my journey so far:

  • Yet what keeps me from dissolving right now into a complete fairy tale shimmer is the solid truth, a truth which has veritably built my bones over the last few years – I was not rescued by a prince; I was the administrator of my own rescue. – Eat, Pray, Love
  • Happiness is the consequence of personal effort. – Eat, Pray, Love
  • You need to learn how to control your thoughts just the same way you select your clothes every day. – Eat, Pray, Love
  • Beginnings are scary and endings are usually sad, but it’s the middle that counts the most. Try to remember that when you find yourself at a new beginning. Just give hope a chance to float up. And it will, too. – Hope Floats
  • In desperate love, we always invent the characters of our partners, demanding they be what we need of them, and then feeling devastated when they refuse to perform the role we created in the first place. – Eat, Pray, Love
  • There’s a crack (or cracks) in everyone…that’s how the light of God gets in. – Eat, Pray, Love
  • I need to know how I like my own eggs first. – Runaway Bride
  • And maybe the happy ending doesn’t include a guy, maybe it’s you, on your own, picking up the pieces and starting over, freeing yourself up for something better in the future, maybe the happy ending is just moving on. – Hope Floats
  • First, get your ducks in a row – V. Then you can fly in a W – Runaway Bride
  • No matter what decisions we make, we will end up where we are meant to be. – Sliding Doors
  • If you are brave enough to leave behind everything familiar and comforting (which can be anything from your house to your bitter old resentments – for me this needs to be Diet Coke!!) and set out on a truth-seeking journey (either externally or internally), and if you are truly willing to regard everything that happens to you on that journey as a clue, and if you accept everyone you meet along the way as a teacher, and if you are prepared – most of all – to face (and forgive) some very difficult realities about yourself…then truth will not be withheld from you. – Eat, Pray, Love
  • Ruin is a gift. Ruin is the road that leads to transformation. – Eat, Pray, Love

I am not just watching movies on this journey, although that would be more fun. The principles from the movies have helped me with the other parts of my journey, however. I am also writing in my journal again, praying, meditating, reading devotionals (Joyce Meyer is my favorite), reading the Bible and fasting. I’ve also been trying to do things that push me out of my comfort zone.

I have a long way to go. I still haven’t fully forgiven myself or let go of the shame. But I’m working on it every single day. I’m going to do this even if it hurts and even if it is difficult because I know that it is worth it. It it worth it for my two wonderful children, the rest of my family and myself. It is a path to happiness and joy that I can only get through my relationship with God. And that I can share endlessly with others in every role that I play in life – mother, daughter, sister, aunt, cousin, friend, co-worker, stranger, etc. And that one day, when I’m not looking or chasing or trying to figure it all out and control every last detail, I can share with someone – and to quote my favorite movie – that isn’t a man – but is my champion.

Teenage parenting advice

A Letter to My Daughter on Her 13th Birthday

IMG_2434Dear Kaylee,

I am writing you this letter to give you on your thirteenth birthday, which is tomorrow. I still sit here in awe knowing that tomorrow you are going to be a teenager. I don’t know how the time went by so quickly and how my little baby, toddler, preschooler, elementary student…became this beautiful, smart, funny, caring and feisty, almost lady. You have blossomed right in front of my eyes over the last year and will only continue to do so as you grow into yourself over the next several years.

Whether it seems relevant to you or not, I know what you are going through. As you’ve reminded me, I do know times were different back in 1993. In fact, I came up with thirteen differences from my life at thirteen:

  1. We still had land lines and long distance bills (that I frequently got in trouble over for calling boys from out of town)…oh and no caller ID or call waiting (do you know what a busy signal is?) but you could look up someone’s phone number in the phone book (do you know what that is?) and you had the last four digits of every single one of your friend’s phone number memorized
  2. Cell phones were called “car phones” and only parents could use them because we were charged by the minute…and there were no games, videos or apps on them
  3. The Internet was just making its way to Iowa and if your family had AOL, you were the bomb, but only one person could be on it at a time
  4. We watched movies on a VCR and we had to wait like six months for a movie to come out on tape
  5. Instead of play lists, we made mixed tapes that you had to manually rewind or fast forward to find your favorite song
  6. We had to actually watch the commercials during our favorite shows
  7. The selfie hadn’t been invented yet and we couldn’t see ourselves in photos until the film was developed
  8. We couldn’t document our every move on snap chat or even text our friends…we actually had to call them…or knock on their door!
  9. We could still walk around town at night on our own
  10. We had to read Teen Bop or Teen Beat to keep up on our favorite celebrities
  11. We had to buy the latest fashions AT THE STORE, and beauty stores like Ulta and Sephora didn’t exist so we had to fill our caboodles with Wet n’ Wild make-up and lip smackers
  12. We had to stalk our crush with random walk-bys past his actual house or calling and hanging up, and we had no idea if he was home or what his family ate for dinner
  13. We had to pass notes in school to find out if someone liked us. Note folding was a talent

So, maybe things have changed just a little bit now that you are a teenager. However, I am now older and wiser and  there are many things that have not changed…so here are thirteen facts that are still true today that I want you to know:

  1. What seems like the biggest deal right now won’t matter in six months or a year, and definitely not later in life
  2. You have no idea what people are actually going through – no one’s life is perfect and no single person is perfect, even if it seems like it
  3. You don’t want to peak now…or anytime soon
  4. You can never go wrong by being nice. A simple smile, hi, or asking how someone is could change their day, week, year or life
  5. People that are mean or put other people down, are actually the most insecure and need the most love. Forgive and give grace always
  6. It’s not all about you…ever. Open your eyes to what actually matters and how you can make a difference. The world does not owe you ANYTHING
  7. Be comfortable in your own skin – you are unique, you are beautiful and you have so much to offer the world – so just be YOU! If others don’t like it, that’s their problem, not yours
  8. You would stop worrying so much about what other people think of you if you realized how seldom they actually do – everyone is inherently self-centered so they are thinking of themselves too, not you
  9. Everything is ok in moderation – learn healthy habits now or it will catch up to you when your metabolism slows down – move your  body in ways that are fun to you, control yourself and don’t overindulge in anything in life, except your faith and service to others
  10. If you have a dream or want something to happen, do your part. Hard work ALWAYS pays off and most of the time in ways we can’t even imagine up front
  11. Solve your own problems now, while the stakes are low, and when the real problems of the world come your way, you’ll be ready. It is ok to make mistakes, but learn from each and every one so you don’t make the same mistake twice
  12. Whatever situation you are in – good or bad – it will change. Time is the ultimate healer. Be patient and give time its proper time. Even change you know is good change will be a transition, so those changes also need time
  13. You have the strength to get through anything, as long as you lean on God and not yourself

I probably needed to write this list as much as I want you to read it. Enjoy. Smile. Be happy. No one can make you happy but YOU. Enjoy these years. Enjoy getting your summers off, hanging out with your friends, spending your parents’ money and sleeping in. Enjoy being you. Enjoy the sunshine and the swimming pool and soak in the smells of every season. You will miss it. You will regret taking it all for granted because you didn’t know there was anything else beyond it. You will miss sleep when you have babies, but they will change your life in so many more wonderful ways…like you changed mine…thirteen years ago. THANK YOU.

I love you and couldn’t be prouder of you. I will never miraculously accept bad behavior, attitude or disrespect, however, I will always be here to guide you, push you and challenge you. You definitely won’t always like me, but one day you will thank me. One day you will understand. And it is ok if you don’t understand today – you’re not supposed to.

Happy birthday sweet girl, YOU ARE LOVED. God is smiling down on you today and always – don’t you ever, ever forget that.

Love,

Your MOM

10 Movies from the 80s You Might’ve Forgotten About

Do you remember THESE AMAZING 80s movies? My sister and I were reminiscing the other day about movies from our childhood – yes – we are children of the 80s baby! The movies on this list might’ve not been the most popular, but they are the ones we remember with a smile.

  1. White Water Summer (1987)
  2. The Legend of Billie Jean (1985)
  3. American Anthem (1986)
  4. Moving Violations (1985)
  5. The Pirate Movie (1982)
  6. Babes in Toyland…the one with Drew Barrymore (1986)
  7. Oh God! Book II (1980)
  8. Lucas (1986)
  9. Heathers (1988)
  10. Shag The Movie (1989)

What would you add to this list? I’d love to hear!

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Why The Happily Ever After Illusion Will Disappoint You. Every. Time.

I was recently introduced to the TV series, Once Upon A Time. I am still on season 1, which first aired in 2011. After watching only 7 or 8 episodes, I am already disappointed it is multiple seasons because I want to see what happens at the END – when they are all happily ever after again.  Some people don’t like to know what happens, but for some reason I have always been one to:

  1. Read the last few pages of a book after only a chapter or two into it
  2. Check up on Reality Steve’s blog before a Bachelor/Bachelorette season even airs to see who is picked
  3. Want someone to tell me what happens during a suspenseful movie scene
  4. Cover my eyes during 3rd downs while watching Iowa Hawkeye football
  5. Live for count downs
  6. Desperately want the fairy tale to be true

How did I allow myself to be programmed this way?  Why can’t I just live in the moment – enjoying the journey and unknowns along the way?

This world will get you every time. The fairy tale and happily ever after do not exist, nor should we want them to. We are continually disappointed believing in these empty promises and living in romcom movie scenes.  Here’s the thing. You can choose happily ever after. As long as you know that the ups and downs of life come with it. We are all a phone call away from tragedy.  From injustice. From all of the ‘not fairs’ in life. Recognizing and appreciating ordinary days is the key to true happily ever after.  But chasing the fake kind is a sure way to never get there.

My favorite Bible verse has always been Jeremiah 29:11 – for I know the plans I have for You…I hang onto that verse and know God’s will is so much better than my own. When you are able to let go, even if it is uncomfortable because you don’t know the outcome, you always come out stronger. You realize that you don’t know better and if you are just patient the story starts to come together – and you begin to see why all the pieces were needed.

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25 Little Things

Don’t forget to stop and love the little things…because one day you will look back and realize they were actually the big things. I don’t know what’s coming for me in the weeks, months and years ahead – but I’m going to be thankful for all the little things that I might not have otherwise noticed along the way.

Here are my 25 little things right now, in no particular order:

  1. When I see myself in my daughter
  2. Days when my entire family gets together
  3. Friends that transcend time – no matter how long it’s been we pick up right where we left off
  4. When my 6-year-old crawls into bed with me at 4 a.m. and grabs my hand in order to fall back to sleep
  5. Answered prayers
  6. Unanswered prayers
  7. Moments when you realize the bigger “why”
  8. Weekend road trips
  9. Family traditions
  10. A clean house (and the 5 seconds when every last piece of clothing in the house is washed and put away)
  11. Getting lost in my work
  12. 70 degrees and 0 humidity
  13. The end of missing someone
  14. Target
  15. Butterflies
  16. Thunderstorms and snowstorms when I don’t have anywhere to be
  17. Witty people
  18. McDonald’s fountain diet coke in a Styrofoam cup
  19. The smell of rain
  20. Authenticity
  21. Roller coasters
  22. Stories that inspire me to be and do more
  23. Rom-coms
  24. 80’s movies
  25. Traveling – anywhere

#dontmissoutonlife

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The Way Life Should Be

My kids and I went on vacation to Maine last month. We were able to stay with family friends so it was affordable, but also a really cool experience to live like locals while on vacation as tourists.

It was a trip of firsts for us – first plane ride for my 6-year-old son, first time at the ocean for both of my kids, and the first real vacation with just the three of us. While there were a couple of moments I felt like a single mom, (like when we flew into Boston late and I had to drive through construction, successfully get out of the city and navigate us to our friends’ house in Cape Neddick, Maine while being the only one awake in the car) the most overwhelming feeling I had was thankfulness. Thankfulness that we were able to make those memories together. And that somehow I was able to pull it off for them.

Maine’s motto is “The Way Life Should Be.” And if you look at this picture of my children running to the ocean, it couldn’t be more true. We don’t always have these moments, but when we do, we all need to take a deep breath and smell the sweet air so those moments stay with us forever.

Looking back on everything that has happened in my life, I cannot say everything is how I imagined it would be. Not even close. But, all I can do is do my best and keep moving forward.  Faith and time are the ultimate healers.

SO – while my life up to this point might not be how I thought it would be, I do know it is how it should be. And when you trust in that, everything changes.