This is March 2020. This is me. This is 40. This is it.

This is March 2020

I’ve been thinking about this post for quite a while now. I could’ve never imagined, however, the circumstances I would be writing it under.

This is Me.

I had a defining moment last year that made my age become an insecurity that literally overtook my mind over the last nine months. Prior to that, it wasn’t like I was jumping up and down to turn 40 by any means, but I wasn’t obsessed with it, either. I thought I looked ok for my age and the decade in my 30s as far as feeling good about myself from an outward perspective was probably the best in my life. To clarify – I’ve never been 100% comfortable in my own skin. I have tried. Goodness I have tried. I had an eating disorder dating back to my 10-year-old self – in only third grade. While I have had this under control for about 16 years (when I had my daughter, I drew a hard line in the sand so an eating disorder would never interfere with being a mom), the constant thoughts and obsessions about my outward appearance have never gone away. Not for a single day.

I was at Fareway, a local grocery store. I had some beer in my cart. I went to check out and did not get carded. Now, it’s not like I always get carded because I don’t. It is probably about 30-40% of the time. I never paid much attention or ever had anxiety when it came to purchasing alcohol. This time, however, I noticed a very prominent sign that said, “We card under 40.” Those words…U-N-D-E-R F-O-R-T-Y…are what changed my mindset. I could get on board with the fact that I didn’t look under 21, but suddenly, I put myself in a different bucket. Anxiety still creeps in when my husband asks me to buy beer. I avoid it so I can avoid the anxiety I now feel about not getting carded because I must look like I am 50. When I do have to buy it, I just tell myself not to think about it and to assume I won’t get carded. I still have a little pain when I don’t. When I do, I just tell myself they are trying to make me feel good. Or are just extremely cautious and even card a 70-year-old.

This moment caused a whole lot of spiraling and some extreme/obsessive thoughts – which isn’t uncommon for someone with a history of an eating disorder. I’ve been better at keeping these thoughts under control at certain times over others. Mainly it depends on how I am feeling about myself. If I’ve been active and making good diet choices and am a certain number on the scale, I tend to relax a bit. With my age has also come sllllooowwwwing of my metabolism. At times I feel like I don’t eat too much at all and still can’t get the number on the scale to move. Or I give myself too many cheat meals in between not eating, which defeats anything I am trying to do, and ultimately, and obviously, I feel absolutely horrible about myself. And even secretly ashamed.

Everyone that is really close to me knows that I started to dread March 17, 2020 at exactly 11:55 PM. Dooms day I called it. This wasn’t like me. I spent 39 years LOVING my birthday – I mean I was born on St. Patrick’s Day – who wouldn’t love their birthday? However, this year all I wanted was for it to come and go and I definitely didn’t want anyone to make a big deal of it. I wanted nothing to do with over the hill decorations, big 4-0 balloons, a black sash, a surprise party or any gathering outside of my immediate family. I wanted to pretend that I wasn’t leaving my 30s. I couldn’t believe I wasn’t more thankful to be 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38 or even 39 when I was…and just how in the hell did all of those years already go by in my life?!?!? It seemed like I blinked and it was all over.

Over the last nine months I focused solely on my physical appearance. Did my skin start to look old overnight? I picked apart everything about myself. I noticed every wrinkle that all of a sudden were just popping off my face. I had age spots that I think before I just considered freckles, because I’ve always had freckles. Now they are age spots – which some really are. I just didn’t notice. I started wearing different (the expense stuff) and definitely more make-up. My chin looked old. I could see my pores all across my face. My cheeks looked saggy. Underneath my eyes started to look puffy to me every day. Since turning 30 or so I started to take care of my skin because in my thirties I got teenage acne that I didn’t have in my teens. I had no choice. But I told myself that I hadn’t done enough pro-actively to help my skin. Obviously after noticing all of that! And then there was my neck. I’ve done double chin exercises since I can remember. I thought those were supposed to make your skin firm through the years. Yet my entire neck looks like it’s sagging and my side double chin is off the charts. A turkey neck before 40? How can this be? How did I not see it to do something about it before it got so bad?

I started examining everything. Do my hands make me look old? Are my legs not as toned? My hair has always been very fine. It must be thinning now. I definitely need to stop tanning. I’ll wear sunscreen on my face. I’ll buy a monthly spray tan package. Good thing I have eyelash extensions. That’s all I have going for me! And I don’t have a gray hair, yet. The day that happens – watch out! Honestly, typing this all out I am aware of how ridiculous these thoughts and questions sound. That’s the thing, though. I KNOW they are. I know I am so much more than my outward appearance. I couldn’t consistently get past any thought that was rational. I am still struggling with that, if I am being most honest.

Probably the worst thing about the last nine months is my thinking that if my looks go, I am not loveable anymore. Who cares if I am kind or sometimes funny or insightful or a giver or a good listener or faithful. That stuff doesn’t matter if I am noticeably OLD. I wasn’t ready to not be young anymore. I didn’t know that going through this psychologically was actually a thing. I can usually take control and get through just about anything life throws at me. Not this. And then there’s God. I’m sure just shaking His head over and over at his child, me, trying to knock down the door to my heart and begging for my attention back. I had idols of this world I was trying to find joy in. I was trying to just take control and look better by spending money on all sorts of fake things to slow down looking old. God just wants me to know that I only have strength in Him and can ONLY find Joy in Him. But I wasn’t. At all. So ashamed.

It caused me to be more insecure than I have ever been before in my life – even when I was going through a severe eating disorder or weighed the most ever when I was pregnant. Why would my husband want to be with me, I asked myself. He should’ve chosen someone 5-10 years younger and many LBs skinnier than me, not someone two years older than him. I wondered if he was secretly thinking the same thing and if he looked at those young girls and wished he had them instead of me. I have said for years and years that insecurity is so unattractive. Confidence is sexy. Insecurity IS NOT. And here I was spiraling out of control with my own UGLY insecurity. It’s like I forgot all of the things I bring to the table as a person.

I also had stress in the midst of all of this. My teenage daughter going through really, really tough times. Really tough. Things I never thought I would have to get through or navigate. I question my abilities as a mother daily. I consistently feel guilty that I don’t do enough. Or not enough of the right things. Or I’m not consistent enough. I don’t do tough love well. At all. And I don’t give the other two enough of my attention because of all of this. Additionally, I was at a newish job (especially considering I had been at my last one for almost 11 years) and trying to find my way, make my mark, show my value. We were getting married. We were building a new house. We were blending two families into one. We started trying to conceive (don’t even get me started with my thoughts on being way too old for that, which is of course why it’s not working…) It was quite the year. For the most part I stayed silent about my struggle – at least all of the details I just shared.

This is 40.

And then, just like that, it was March 17, 2020. Last night at 11:55 PM I was officially 40. The secret is out, thanks to Facebook. On the way back from a work trip a few weeks ago, I finally watched the movie “This is 40” on the plane. I never watched it before because “I’m not 40 yet.” Since it was so close to dooms day, I gave in and watched it. It was funny and there were definitely a lot of things I can relate to. Of course, I was noticing everything about the actress. Surely, she aged so much better than I have.

I knew that I either wasn’t going to make it to my 40th birthday or that God was going to show me something so profound that I would be forced to have a paradigm shift. And wow. Did he do that. Starting a week ago, things with COVID-19 were changing daily and were getting very real. Fast forward to yesterday and our community was all but shutting down. We couldn’t go out to dinner. We couldn’t go to the bar for a green beer. We couldn’t hang out with more than 10 people. Even if someone was planning some huge over the hill surprise party that I would’ve hated before all of this, it wasn’t possible. We have family on spring break in different countries and we are worried about them getting home. We are worried about our parents getting sick. Our hearts go out to everyone that is impacted with this horrible, invisible virus. We are worried about our country and our economy and do not know what is to come. For any of us.

This is It.

So. I knew I was going to make myself write a blog post about turning 40. I had no idea how it was going to shape up and if I was ever going to be able to truly draw another line in the sand of my life and say “enough” to myself, to my mind. The insecurities that have developed in me over the last year have been too strong and too raging for me to really think I could beat them. It’s going to be a battle. I am going to have setbacks. I am going to need help. Let me write that again. I am going to need help. That’s not an easy thing for me to admit, say, or write. But, I owe it to so many people. I owe it to my husband. I owe it to myself. I owe it to God. I am more than a face. Or a body. I am a loving person with a soul that cares so much. I love to laugh until my stomach hurts. I love to be with my family and friends. I love to make a difference. I love to read and write. I love to listen and offer advice. How can I think all of that means nothing because I don’t like how I look? Because I am insecure of being old? I love God and trust in Him. He’s never let me down. He’s always picked me up when I’ve tried so hard for too long to be strong on my own. All of that is worthy of so much more love than if it didn’t look like I was 40. Or 50. Or 90. Because the reality is that none of us are immune to aging. Or to death. There’s so much more than earthly things. I got trapped. And I am ready, finally, to be un-trapped. To begin to love myself for so much more than my appearance. To show others my joy from the inside that just radiates externally no matter how old I am. Or how much I weigh. Here’s to 40. Here’s to teaching my kids this lesson with my own actions now before they live it for themselves. Here’s to making a difference for others over spending money on fake hair. This is it.

FYI I balled all over this last night. Still posting. I hope the raw, honest truth is inspiring and helps someone else’s heart.

 

 

December Eighteen – Eighteen Whys I Discovered in the Past Year

December Eighteen

12.18.18

It’s been waaaaaay too long since I’ve blogged. That is just the kind of year I’ve had. I wouldn’t take back this year for anything, however, as I am pretty sure I’ve grown as a person along the way.

One year ago today I started a new position at a new company. I knew I’d like the job and I also knew it would be an adjustment. Both of which ended up true. I also knew that I would find out some “whys” over time, which I most definitely did:

  1. Why I was supposed to leave my old company.

I knew this answer would come with time. I also knew the second I found out that my position was eliminated that it would be for the better. However, you have to wait these things out. I pretty much let myself cry about it two times. Once driving away and once the next day cleaning out my office. Then I was done. I have yet to go through the box from my office, even though I know there are things in there that I could put in my new office and that would be helpful for me to have. I drove back into the parking lot about three months later because I had to drop something off for some friends.  I didn’t know it would affect me at all since I pretty much didn’t let my mind think about it…but it did. When I pulled into the parking lot, it felt like I was being punched in the stomach and it was hard to catch my breath. I can say that I am in a way better position at a better company that is 100 times more stable with growth potential. I didn’t know how much I’d actually enjoy a position with no one reporting to me right off the bat. It was different but it allowed me time to truly learn first, which has been incredible. It also taught me that no one is immune to getting laid off if a company is in trouble. Every single person is out to save themselves, no matter what that means. Everyone becomes a number instead of a person and it humbled me a lot. I’ve always been good at what I do and have always cared a whole heck of a lot, so I just never ever thought I’d be in that situation. It made me a stronger person. I also found out later that I was a strong leader and there was a hole left when I was gone.

  1. Why I didn’t choose other job offers.

I would rather not have to make big life decisions. My entire life I’ve questioned myself because I never want to regret a decision or be disappointed. It is easy to think “what if” – what if I would’ve chosen the one that offered more money but was farther away, or the one that would’ve taken me out of my comfort zone but I could’ve proved to myself I that I could do it? It didn’t take too long for me to see why. My gut guided my decision and I knew I was in a good place, even if I never found out anything else. I did find out, however, that the leadership at both of the other companies I was considering turned over within six months, and not voluntarily. While I am sure it would’ve been fine, it certainly would’ve been more stress to deal with as someone new.

  1. Why everyone says parenting a teenager is no picnic…and should most definitely come with a manual.

I really don’t have to say much more here. It is walking a fine line between being a parent your teenager enjoys being around and preparing them for life – sometimes with a little necessary tough love. They don’t understand how difficult executing on this tough love thing can be. It’d be way easier to just let them do whatever, but I won’t do that. I’ve had moments I’m not proud of when my patience got the best of me. I have a stronger backbone than I’ve ever had. There are also such amazing moments when she wants to hang out and do the same things I love to do and even some times when she wants to snuggle (!!!), which I soak in 1000%. This year we’ve handled anxiety, depression, self-harm, all-out screaming fits, punching, hitting, doubting God and faith, experimenting with vaping and even a little drinking. Just when I thought I couldn’t handle more, more came. I am the whipping boy and I just take it over and over again, knowing that one day she will realize that I did care and did love and did make decisions based on what I knew to be best for her life and future. I question myself daily and still want to get my hands on a parenting teens manual that works every time. I realized long ago that no matter how hard I try I cannot make someone else happy or make someone else do something for themselves or make someone else care. That holds true as a parent of a teenager.

  1. Why I shouldn’t worry about things I cannot control.

I know I learned this a long time ago, but man I still try to control every little thing in my life. God has to be shaking His head at me all the time because as much as I pray to let go, it is so natural for me to just take control. I think it is my safety net and go-to so I fool myself into thinking I can hold outcomes in my own hands. I will continue to work on this one in 2019, that’s for sure!

  1. Why travel for work is way more work than it appears.

I traveled with my old job, but nothing like I traveled this past year. Just leaving for one to two nights disrupts life and even more so when traveling to the west coast or gone for five nights. Being divorced with 50% custody of my children also makes this quite the balancing act. Every trip I had brought value to my role, so I knew it was important to my future. I got to see a lot of places and meet so many amazing people. However, I had a lot of 4 am and 1 am trips to and from the airport to avoid more nights in a hotel. Dealing with weather or other delays brings another element of crazy. So while it is valuable, I found it is like working quadruple time.

  1. Why giving time its proper time works.

This one speaks for itself based on the above. If I wait to respond to anything, it is almost always a better response. Time is a healer. Time is knowledge. Time is strength. Time shows us so many important things if we just let it.

  1. Why God has us live in limbo.

Have I mentioned before that I absolutely HATE living in limbo??!! I believe that is why God puts me in situations where I must live I limbo. He must have more work to do on me because I am still living in limbo as I type this. I am trying to be patient and allow time to first, get me out of limbo, and second, show me why. Still waiting!

  1. Why I love my family so freaking much.

I am so beyond blessed with my family. They are incredible – loving, understanding and patient. They are always there for me and my children and my heart could explode just thinking about each one of them. My parents are the most selfless people I’ve ever met. They’ve gotten screwed over a lot because they won’t speak up or be all in it for themselves, however it is character. It is true selflessness and taking the higher road. It is killing others with kindness and loving your neighbor as yourself. My sister has an unspeakable bond with my daughter. This bond has helped so much this past year with everything we’ve gone through. She can be there in ways I can’t be as the mom. And it taught me that when she has a teenage girl the aunt I will be for her daughter.

  1. Why everyone in our lives crosses our specific path for a reason.

My mix of people has completely changed over the last year. It is crazy how much time you spend with your close co-workers. You spend more time with them than your own family, actually. It is sad when the ones you used to talk to and see every day are gone, but to gain a whole new group of people with their own stories and need for a listening ear, is what I live for. I would’ve never met so many more amazing people this year had I not gone through everything I went through. I know each and every one is in my life (no matter how significant) for a reason. Sometimes we don’t ever find out that reason, but it is there.

  1. Why it’s ok to truly let someone you were once in love with completely exit your life.

I’ve stayed friends with exes before, including my ex-husband. In order to truly move on and let each person heal, it is ok to completely close a chapter of your life, though. I have always felt bad and haven’t wanted to be mean, but I learned that sometimes it is absolutely necessary. Not because you are being mean, but actually doing what is best. I believe certain people in our lives will always hold a certain spot in our hearts and that is ok. It doesn’t mean anything more or less than that.

  1. Why I just want to be home.

Between traveling and having a less than stellar place to call home, along with not being able to sleep very well alone, I felt rootless this year. It’s like living in limbo…I hate it. However, I do take a deep breath sometimes when I have a true stretch at home with my kids because as I put my stuff away and hang my clothes where they belong, I just soak in where my home actually is. Maybe this year helped me to see that even in a 1970s duplex it can somewhat start to feel like home if you are surrounded by your stuff and make it smell good. It also taught me that maybe home isn’t so much of a place, either. Maybe it is more of a feeling. And that feeling can be just as much someone’s arms as where you hang your clothes. J

  1. Why exercise is so important.

I’ve never gone very long in life without exercising. I did get really busy earlier this year, though, and it went to the wayside for a few months. I never felt more horrible. I never had a more difficult time dealing with stress as during those months. As much as I can hate running, running is my ultimate, #1 stress reliever. It works like a charm every single time, no matter how much I am cussing at it during the dreaded treadmill minute, which by the way is at least 10 times longer than a normal minute! No matter how busy I am, I cannot stop exercising because it is the only way I can handle stress.

  1. Why living my best life simply for me and making decisions accordingly is vital to my happiness.

Sometimes I live too much for other people. When I’ve allowed myself to make decisions for me and what I truly want and what is best for my kids, I’ve definitely felt good. I need to keep that up.

  1. Why it’s ok to still let your kids – no matter their age – sleep with you now and again.

Always. I learned that it will end. I learned that they grow up too quickly, especially in today’s world.

  1. Why I wasn’t meant to be a plumber.

My dad taught me that hot is on the left, but this girl is no handyman. I was meant to have a man in my life, living with me. I can be independent in so many other ways. This is not one of them. Especially at midnight when the toilet floods the upstairs bathroom and begins showering into the laundry room downstairs. I was not given the appropriate talents to handle these kind of situations with grace. This just happened to me last weekend and I am still salty about it…haha.

  1. Why hearing the words “I love you” mean so much more to me now.

They just do. Actions do speak louder than words, but sometimes you just need to hear the words. I learned that this year.

  1. Why trips to the ocean are good for the soul and why I must walk the beach if I am anywhere near the ocean.

Ahhhhhhhhh. The large, majestic ocean, no matter the coast, still amazes me every time I’m there. Maybe growing up in Iowa far away from the ocean gives me a different appreciation. I cannot travel near the coast and not walk on the beach. That is so wrong to me. I was lucky this year to see the ocean many times. I have no problem walking the beach alone. It is pretty special to have someone to take long walks on the beach with, too. He is even adding it to his resume.

  1. Why I need to stop holding everything in and trying to cope by internalizing.

This is my signature. I battle it constantly and it is like battling who I truly am at the core. I am a stubborn ass. I really am. How do I change that? I guess since I am at the end of my 18 things, I can just say that I am focusing on this one in 2019. Is that good enough?

So there was my year. I learned a lot. I stressed a lot. I got through a lot. And I still have a long way to go! Here’s to enjoying the next 365 with as much grace as this stubborn ass can exude.

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

Conquer your mind, control your thoughts and get the hell out of your own way

get out of your own way

Everything in this world is fleeting. Everything. Life is hard – it literally kills us all at some point. Knowing the first two statements are true, how do you begin to live differently today?

I have been asking myself this question for a long time now. Worrying is in my blood and so is this relentless need to want to know everything. Perhaps that is called impatience? Yep, that is what I’ve got deep within my bones. A whole lot of it.

I have noticed some of my closest friends in the same boat – rowing and rowing and seemingly getting nowhere. This could be with a relationship, a job, parenting – you name it. As I’ve listened to stories and lived my own, I continue to search for ways to master myself because my mind is the biggest part of the battle.

It sounds easy to change your mindset or conquer your thoughts. There are so many things in life that I can easily learn and apply whether it be a new skill, understanding a mathematical equation or a challenge at work. But, this is not the case when trying to conquer my own mind. Some times are easier than others, but to consistently have the frame of mind to take you to the next level in life is something I am sure very few people accomplish in a lifetime. I am bound and determined to be one of them, though!

I tend to take bits and pieces of things I’ve read or seen and put together my own puzzle in terms of helping myself with anything. My mind challenge has been no different. So, here are the things I’ve learned so far to start to truly live above the daily grind and constant worry about tomorrow.

  1. Focus first on staying true to who you are and who you want to be

This includes doing all of the things you want to do while on this earth. Quit talking about everything you want to do and pick one thing and do it. Just one. Don’t sacrifice your personality for anyone. Don’t hold back for anyone. The right people will be in your life no matter what. I am guilty of this – over and over I am guilty of it. I hold back. So, I made a list for this one. My list includes every area of my life and every role that I play that is vital for keeping me true to myself. Tip: if you write it down it magically becomes easier to focus on. I am going to sign up for golf lessons next month. That is my action step. Keep me accountable!

  1. Take your time whenever you absolutely can – sit in the traffic jam instead of choosing the fast lane and see how your decisions change

I’ve read this before as practice the pause. My daughter recently wanted to get a pixie cut (and still does). When she makes up her mind to do something, she wants it right then and won’t even stop to think about it. It eerily reminds me of me at her age.  Now that I am older and wiser I try to teach her these lessons but they just don’t seem to sink in very well?! I settled to let her get her very long, beautiful and thick hair (that I wish I had!) cut to above her shoulders.

There are so many times in life that once I get through something or give it time, my thoughts and feelings about the situation completely change. Practice the pause. Let go and let God!

  1. Be ok with the spotlight not on you

Pride and ego. Both can be so ugly and can highlight insecurities that you never even knew you had. My top two strengths from the Strengthsfinder assessment are Achiever and Competition.  While these two strengths drive me to great things, they also get in my way. I always want the next title at work. I want to be the best at certain things. Those things drive me and that is ok. I don’t want to need recognition or attention, though.

I read once that “beautiful things ask for no attention.” Yet here I am continuing to want attention. All. The. Freaking. Time. I am working on this one. It has been an eye opener for me as I have tried to pinpoint the deep reasoning behind certain thoughts and behaviors. My goal is to serve others, recognize others and be content in the shadows, behind the scenes. There is this song I listen to and some of the lyrics are “I don’t need my name in lights. I’m famous in my Father’s eyes.” THIS. SO MUCH THIS.

  1. Respect yourself and demand the same of others

Make a list of your standards in life – for anything – your job, relationships, faith, etc. Respect yourself enough to stick to these standards. Speak up for what you believe in. Speak your truth even if your voice shakes. Don’t let yourself be disrespected first and foremost by yourself. And certainly not by anyone else. I am a people-pleaser and accommodating by nature, which makes this one especially challenging for me.

  1. Never put the key to your happiness in someone else’s pocket

No one is responsible for your happiness but you. Relying on someone else for it is the surest way to be disappointed.

  1. Smile

“Let your smile change the world but don’t let the world change your smile.” <— That is a sign I got from my parents once. I have a ginormous smile and an obnoxious giggle when you really get me going. At times I have been self-conscious of both. I was told recently that my son shares my exact laugh. I never noticed that before, but one thing I did notice many times was how much his laugh makes me smile.  So, I have decided to smile and laugh my own crazy laugh as much as I possibly can.

  1. 24 hours at a time – nothing more

God gave us life in 24 hour chunks for a reason. He said he would never give us more than we can handle or tempt us more than we can bear. We do this to ourselves by thinking beyond the present moment. We are not guaranteed tomorrow. We are all one phone call, text message or media blast away from tragedy that personally impacts us. This is why we have many “before this” and “after this” moments. These are the lines drawn in the sand when we experience something that changes things so profoundly, nothing is ever the same afterward. And, no one is immune to these things. Living for 24 hours also helps us know we can get through anything. You CAN get through the next 24 hours and then the next 24 hours and then the next. Time has a mysterious way of making things ok.

I have been working on the 24 hour rule for a good year – not that I haven’t always tried to live this way – but it has been one of my main focuses. I don’t do this perfectly every day. I do take a deep breath and remind myself of living for the day when my mind starts to get too far ahead of itself. Living for 24 hours at time allows us to enjoy surprises as they come. Living for the day helps with worry. Worrying only makes us suffer multiple times instead of just when it happens – if it even ever does.

  1. EVERYTHING in moderation

80/20 rule. Not just with food and exercise, but with everything. You can literally over-indulge on anything other than seeking God. Give yourself a break and then get right back on track.

  1. Everyone you meet knows something you don’t

You will benefit from having a conversation you didn’t want to have or shy away from having. A quote that sticks out to me is “don’t be afraid of the conversations you are having. Be afraid of the conversations you are not having.” How true is this? It applies to all areas from the stranger sitting next to you on the airplane to your kids to your significant other to your co-workers. Put yourself out there, smile and ask someone a simple question in order to learn a whole lot. You never know who you will meet or what it will lead to.

  1. Have a forgiving heart

Holding grudges literally kills our soul. Try really hard to put yourself in someone else’s shoes when you find it is difficult to give grace and forgive. Not a single one of us is perfect. We are human and we sometimes unintentionally hurt others (sometimes intentional too, I know) and unfortunately, often times hurt the ones we love the most. Give the benefit of the doubt first. Most of the time it is a lack of communication or simply coming from different perspectives. We assume that others think the exact same way we do. It is human nature. However, that is not true. The biggest distance between two people is misunderstanding. Love unconditionally. Be the nicest to those who aren’t the nicest to you. This will set you free.

  1. If you see something in someone or feel something for someone, SAY IT

There is nothing worse than suppressed thoughts and feelings. You also just might make someone’s day when you express yourself. This is something I read every single day to remind myself:

Missing someone? CALL

Want to see someone? INVITE

Want to be understood? EXPLAIN

Have a question? ASK

Don’t like something? SAY IT

Like something? STATE IT

Want something? ASK FOR IT

Love someone? TELL THEM

I will give fair warning right now that the list I made above is not an easy list to follow. I do better at some of them over others depending on the day, but I am constantly trying to live my life this way. I figure if I have one small win everyday, it will add up to a big difference. A difference where my mind is clear and I actually notice and enjoy all of the little things or surprises throughout the day.  A difference where I worry less and tackle the hard stuff as it comes to me, instead of trying to tackle things in my mind, of which 90% + won’t even actually happen.  A difference where I dismiss the vision in my head of how I want things to be and LET THEM BE AS THEY ARE. A difference where I give up control and just be me, loving the hell out of the people in my life, telling them daily and respecting myself enough to take care of every morsel of my being – mind, body and spirit.

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!

What to do When Your World Comes Crashing Down on You

World crashing down – Day 3.

Well. I didn’t think I would be writing this post but here I am. On Monday morning I found out that I was being laid off from where I had been for over a decade.

I am actually thankful to be unemployed right now. I need situations that I’ve never been in before to make me stronger and better. I know that when I get to the end, I most definitely will be both. It doesn’t make it any easier or less scary, but it does give me motivation and hope for the future. I looked for other opportunities a few times over my tenure, but never did anything that took much effort because I never knew if I could actually pull the trigger and leave or not. I also wanted to stay. I loved what I did. I loved my team.

I do not have a choice now. It is like God was trying to get me to open my eyes for a long time and I wasn’t budging. So, he had to force me down a different path. I am trying to figure out what that path looks like, but I do have faith even though I cannot see. I started reaching out to my network and sending resumes on Monday at probably 10:00 am because I couldn’t sit around and do nothing, even if for a day or a week. Not when I have my kids’ wellbeing on the line and too much to figure out for our future. Being divorced, I do not have anyone to come home to that I can lean on in terms of a spouse, so it’s all on me. I already had a phone screen on Monday, I have coffee with a recruiter tomorrow morning and another phone interview tomorrow, as well. I will do my part. And, it could still take 90 days or more to land a new position, I know. I am fully preparing myself for that possibility. It scares me, but I do know it will all be ok. I have actually been through worse and it was all ok then. That’s how I know it will all be ok this time.

So, what do you do when your world comes crashing down on you, like mine did this week? Below is my advice and what I am trying to do with every passing hour:

  • Pray and give thanks – for me this is so number one. God does not put us through anything he will not give us the strength to get through. I am strong enough with God to get through this and any other tragedy that will most definitely strike my life. I thanked him right away. I still have so much to be thankful for. And I am constantly praying because I can’t get through this without constantly praying.
  • Only focus on getting through the next 24 hours – this is big for me because I like to get way too far down the road in my thinking and planning. However, I simply cannot do that right now. I can only focus on today. I am not worrying about tomorrow. Today has enough worries of its own.
  • Do not make any rash decisions – my dad told me this right away. Hmmmm do you think that maybe I’ve made some of these in the past? For sure. I was already talking to him about moving on Monday. He was just shaking his head and said verbatim: “Lindy, do not make any rash decisions.” Got it.
  • Spend time with your parents, if you can. I know I am blessed to have my parents so close to me. I went to their house the very next morning because I needed to be “home.”
  • If you don’t want to talk to or see anyone at any point, don’t. I tend to go inward when I am trying to get myself through something. I’ve had a lot of phone calls I haven’t answered because I am just not ready. I am telling myself that is ok because I know that at some point I will be ready.
  • Use your network – I haven’t went into full blown networking mode, but I have reached out to the vital people in my network that can start to move mountains for me in terms of getting my name and resume in front of the right people. When I am ready, I will do this more and with people I don’t even know.
  • Soak in the love – while I haven’t let everyone in quite yet, I do have a close circle of family and friends that have been here for me. It can be difficult to accept help but sometimes you are the one that needs the love and support. This is the time to soak it in and allow it to happen.
  • Don’t lose your sense of humor – I drove to my sister’s house right away after leaving the company. I have a garage door opener to her house and it wasn’t working. I found out it was because the power was temporarily out. I laughed to myself at the time, though, because I was like “I have literally lost access EVERYWHERE!!!” Haha.
  • Allow yourself to be sad, but don’t stay there. I am a person that needs a mental health day every quarter or so. I need to get the tears out and just be depressed. I need to lie around and do nothing and throw myself just a little pity party. I’m sure this will happen a few times during the next few weeks and months. I will just not let myself stay there or pity party too long.
  • Don’t eat too much…or too little. I can go either way. This week it has been more of not having an appetite and who knows next week. I am trying to make myself eat the right amount and healthy foods.
  • Day drink – I haven’t done this yet but I fully plan on it. 🙂
  • Believe in yourself – I talked to my old boss on Monday morning. He was one of the first people I called. I will never forget what he told me. And that was that this is NOT the time to not believe in myself.
  • Go on a long drive and sing at the top of your lungs or cry your eyes out…or both. My dad actually drove to Minnesota with me yesterday because I felt like going on a drive. Not many dads will do that with their 37-year-old daughter, but mine will. And, he will even listen to my Christmas playlist with me on Halloween (and sing along). My mom would, too, she just couldn’t get out of work yesterday. 🙂 I’ve also cried alone in the car a few times this week. One of these times was after I had to clean my office out on Tuesday morning. That was a difficult moment.
  • Give grace and don’t hold grudges – but it is ok to not want to see or talk to some people ever again in your life. Don’t feel bad about that.
  • Clean house – sell all the stuff you haven’t used, touched or worn for a long time. I am kind of digging eBay. Why not make a little extra cash to stash when I need it most?
  • Embrace being an at-home mom (or dad) while you can. My kids and I slept in this morning because I didn’t have to rush to be at work early. I am leaving to pick my daughter up from school in five minutes. I am scheduling my son’s conference for during the day. Because I can!
  • Give back. The best thing I could do right now is help someone else or give money to someone who needs it more than I do. This is what God has called us to do.

Sometimes you have to get through your fear to see the beauty on the other side. That is how I am living today and for the near term anyway. I am facing my fear head-on. I know my kids will be ok and I will be ok. I know we will be taken care of. And, that’s all I need to know in the next 24 hours.

I’ll keep you all posted on my journey. Thank you for all of your support.

Lindy

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.