I Am From…

I attended a training yesterday that wasn’t really a training, actually. It was a drama troupe that put on a great production surrounding many issues we all face – whether it be personally or professionally. It was a work event, so a lot of the content fit the workplace – such as diversity and inclusion, sexual harassment and communication.

I read once that most work challenges are because of people. People are messy. We all are. We all come from our own place and see the world and others from our own perspective. Because we don’t always know what’s someone has been through or where they are from, it is difficult to assume what their perspective is and even more difficult to understand it without the background information.

I am writing about this because the exercise we did at the end of the production really impacted me. They had us all write a short “I am From” poem. In highs school I remember writing a similar poem, which was called “This is me. I am.” I loved that poem, too. Why? Because they help me put into words my own story and realize where I am at in my journey. Do I still have guilt associated with some things? What has impacted me so profoundly that it makes the poem? If you dig deep, even your own eyes are opened by the content.

I dug deep, because that is usually what I do. I could’ve kept it very surface level but it wouldn’t have been authentic. I knew that if I had to share it, tears were going to flow, but I decided not to hold back, even though I am newer employee and not everyone knows me very well at all yet.

So, here is my current I am From:

  • I am from God, the mile wide city (Denver, Iowa), middle child, middle class, self-employed family, shamrock baby
  • I am from the end of the alphabet and being last in line
  • I am from an eating disorder starting in 3rd grade that never really goes away, even if outwardly I am controlling it
  • I am from family and authentic relationships that are trusting and close and make me laugh until my stomach hurts
  • I am from having my own baby way before I was ready in the mile high city
  • I am from a 10+ year roller coaster of pain that led to a divorce that my deep rooted faith and values never wanted to allow me to have
  • I am from guilt for my kids’ lives being a single mom, living in a run-down duplex
  • I am from a whole lot of faith, hope for the future and full of grace for others
  • I am from trying to please others too much sometimes
  • I am from fairy tale visions of romantic comedies and being swept off my feet
  • I am from Hawkeye Heaven and shop til you drop
  • I am from jumping to conclusions like a boss
  • I am from pizza and diet coke for every meal
  • I am from dreams, goals, determination and hard work to accomplish what I seek to achieve
  • I am from stubbornness and impatience of wanting to know everything…and taking control whenever I can
  • I am from not knowing the answer when it comes to parenting and just trying to do the best I can every day
  • I am from my imperfections, my experiences, my tendencies…and always always always my children’s hearts

What is your I am From? Understanding where others come from is such a big step in tackling the biggest distance that usually exists between two people: misunderstanding. The most effective communicators meet someone where they are and where they come from, not the other way around. Share your story with others. You never know who’s life you might touch.

I am from

No Shame November

Everyone has heard of No Shave November and while us girls would love to take part (and I am sure some even do), I know I couldn’t do it. My girlfriend and I were talking this weekend – not about No Shave November – but about us as women – loving ourselves, believing in ourselves and respecting ourselves. Married, single, divorced, young, old, in between – all females can relate to this topic. A lot is put on our shoulders. We have to be fit but not too skinny, pretty but not intimidating, successful, raise good kids, keep houses together while working, live in a constant guilt circle, come last and many times sacrifice our own needs…the list goes on. Not that there is not a lot expected out of men because there most definitely is. We tend to be harder on ourselves and maybe just a bit more emotional, however.

Our conversation led to both of us saying one word: enough. Enough of the worry, enough of the guilt, enough of the insecurity…enough of the shame. Since it is the beginning of November and forming habits and true life changes takes at least 30 days, we decided to have our own month of change called NO SHAME NOVEMBER. What does No Shame November look like?

• Consciously pick your thoughts like you pick your clothes (positive self-talk vs. negative self-talk)

• Let go of anything you know you truly need to stop hanging onto

• Stop accepting behavior/treatment from anyone that you should never accept

• Speak up for yourself

• Believe in yourself – and not just say you do – but really believe

• Put yourself first and do not feel guilty about it

• Get out of your own way – wait on God and he will act on your behalf

• See your true worth

• Give absolutely zero F’s

• Get rid of things you don’t need

• Give generously to others that are in need

• Fast/cleanse and exercise

• No more body shaming

• Treasure who you are right now

• Stop chasing anything or anyone – be done – what is for you will not pass you by

• Pamper and take care of yourself

• No more doubt, insecurity, guilt, comparison, worry, fear

• Do not hold back from being your true self and say what you think and feel without regret

• Write down everything you are thankful for

• Make time for your true priorities

• Learn something new

• Live in the moment

This list could go on and on. But it truly is whatever each one of us individually needs to not live in shame, guilt, regret or unhappiness. As women, it is so easy to go down the shame rabbit holes. This month, let’s all get together and say ENOUGH. Let’s start a movement. Who’s with us?!?!

Please share your No Shame November stories!

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!

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.

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!