My Inner Voice

February, month 2 of our calendar year. The month that those New Year’s resolutions go to the forgotten graveyard. A study cited in People magazine shared that the average days that people stick to their New Year’s resolutions is a mere 36 days. Today is day 43 of the year 2021. According to that timeline the resolutions are gone and we are skipping happily forward as if they never happened. Or, perhaps, there is a feeling of guilt and shame that the resolution is too hard and, “I just can’t do it anymore. It’s not worth it”. Boy am I glad I didn’t make a resolution. This makes me neither worse or better than anyone else. We all make our own decisions and live with those consequences, good or bad. It is not for me judge anyone else. If you made a resolution and didn’t stick with it, don’t be too hard on yourself. It is ok to change your mind and just be the glorious loveable person you already are. But first, you have to be comfortable with who you are and what you want. I don’t have this all figured out for myself so I’m not going to say that the things I share in this post are guaranteed to work for everyone. I just hope that by sharing my story it will inspire others to take their own self-discovery journey and create their own story a life they deem to be well lived.

In my January blog post titled Goodbye & Thank you to 2020. Hello & Welcome to 2021 I declared that 2021 is my year of restoration. What I am learning is that rather than restoration being a destination, I am more interested in making this a self-discovery journey. There is no end goal in sight. This is perfectly fine. Oh sure, the “type A” perfectionist in me screams a little now and then that I’m not doing enough, there is no a step-by-step plan to follow, and there is no defined end point. I have to tell my inner voice, who I will refer to as “her” or “she” to “Shut the hell up” every once in awhile. I’ve learned that the key to silencing her is to simply tell her that this restoration journey doesn’t have an end point and if I truly want to heal emotionally, physically, and spiritually, I have to do the work. Here is a fairly typical conversation between the two of us.

Well then she scoffs, “What is the work?”

Me: “Beats me. I’m using the trial and error method this go around.”

Her: “You don’t have a plan. You’ll never feel whole or right.”

Me: “You’re right. I don’t have a plan. When was the last time one of your plans worked? Oh wait, that’s right. You had my life all planned out and how did that work out? I’ll consult you when I need you. Until then, leave me be.”

Silly to have a full on conversation in your own head, right? Wrong. This is just one of the conversations I have with myself. I learned from my counselor that sometimes we have to quiet our inner voice because it stems from our brain trying to protect us. You see, the amazing organ that our brain is will do many things to prevent us from being hurt. Most of the time this is helpful. However, when our brain goes in to overprotect mode it will sometimes be the cause of anxiety or fear. In order to maintain a healthy relationship with our own inner voice and brain we must sometimes set our own boundary by telling her, “Brain, thank you for working to protect me but I need to you stop. I get it. I realize there is a rough road ahead. We will be ok.” She is typically ok with this conversation but also has a boundary to declare, “Ok, I’ll let you have it your way but you don’t get to give up. You have to show me the work. We’ll talk again later.”

“Her” criticizing and questioning voice grows a bit dimmer every day. She’s learning that the space in my mind, heart, and soul for perfection with well-laid plans is slowly becoming overcrowded with grace, peace, and stillness moving in. I don’t want her voice to ever completely go away because when working in a normal mode she keeps me safe from harm and guides me with intuition. That’s perfectly normal. She’s just learning to cohabitate with her new roommates grace, peace, stillness. There’s one more roommate that has applied to live in this heart and soul. The new roommate’s name is “self-love” and I am happy to say that she has been approved to move in. There is light and love to be had for me, for you, for all of us. We just have to commit to doing the work and allowing that love to flow through our heart, mind, and soul.

Why am I sharing my personal story in a public space? Sharing my journey is a way of healing for me. I enjoy writing and hope that my story can be one of inspiration and hope. If you have had a tough year or are going through your own stormy season I want you to know that you are not alone.

Goodbye & Thank You to 2020. Hello & Welcome to 2021.

Photo by Tairon Fernandez on Pexels.com

Traditionally, it seems that now is the time of year that many people enter into a time of reflection and goal setting. My reflection time reminds me that I entered into 2020 jobless due to a mass layoff and dealing with a failing marriage. I saw neither of these events coming and found myself in a deep sense of sadness and grief trying to navigate everyday life. I started and ended most days with tear stains on my pillow. Add to this a world-wide pandemic that forced a stay-at-home order for several weeks, pushed my new employment 6 weeks, and created havoc on any semblance of a routine with my kids. Needless to say, I was ready to be done with 2020 almost as soon as it started. I know I am not alone in this thought. I am not looking for any pity party. I also know that viewing the past year as a singular negative experience is not purposefully serving me. I have to believe that the struggle, fear, and uncertainty I lived through will have prepared and shaped me in ways that will serve me well as I navigate this new chapter of life.

Thus, I am making a conscious choice is to take the negative experiences from last year and say “thank you.”. Thank you for making me stronger and for forcing me to reevaluate my priorities. I am still grieving the loss of what I thought my future held. I fear that I won’t measure up as a mom, a friend, an ex-wife, or even a maybe someday wife again. Today, I choose to believe that fear is a liar and will only serve to hold me back from the person I am meant to be.

January is the time of year where many people say, “This is my year. It’s time for a “new me”. Call me crazy, but I do not want a “new me”. I don’t think that healing and growth come from total reinvention. A reinvention would require me to completely forget how I have survived the most challenging year of my life. 

A very good friend labeled last year as a year of endurance. I agree with this. If 2020 was about endurance, then I am intentionally setting 2021 as RESTORATION. I don’t want a detailed plan with goals and a rigid schedule of activities. Instead, I have compiled a list of intentions to lean into and create the restoration that my body, mind, and emotional health are deeply craving.

My 2021 intentions for restoration: Healing. Comfort. Joy. Well being. Grace. Humility. Kindness. Self-care. Giving. Abundance. Rest. Growth. Bravery. Courage. Compassion. Patience. Random Acts of Kindness. Meaningful Connection. Confidence. Faith. Yoga. Meditation. Journaling. Reading. Bible study. Writing. Drawing. Creativity. Friendship. 

What are the intentions you are setting for 2021? How will you take the experiences of the past year and use them in it a positive way this year? Please comment below.

I Am The Storm

In January I wrote “Me vs. The Storm”. https://thankfulgratefulhumblekind.wordpress.com/2020/01/17/me-vs-the-storm/ It was a moment, a sliver of hope and unbeknownst to me at the time…the eye of the storm. 2020 will forever be a distinct year in my mind. If you are reading this and describe 2020 to a “dumpster fire”, I would wholeheartedly agree with you. But this isn’t a story of despair. This is my story of finding my inner strength.

Let me rewind for a little bit. For me, this year started out much the same as 2019 ended and the majority of my 2020 has been filled with heartache and deep emotional pain. I started this year still jobless after a mass lay-off in 2019, painful relationships, and most days were filled with doing just enough to get by. I didn’t know that one person could cry as much as I did during the first 3 months of the year. Yet, as I reflect back on the last 10 months, I don’t even recognize the woman that brought 2020 in but I sure as hell know the woman that will ride the rest of 2020 out. I no longer want to shrink away and live in a small way. I have found out exactly what I am made of and I am stronger than I ever thought I could be. I’m not done yet. I am the storm.

Fighting the storm versus becoming the storm hasn’t been an easy journey. I didn’t just wake up one morning to everything being back to “normal”. Quite frankly, I don’t want what normal had become. I had to learn how to say goodbye to what had become my normal and hello to the idea of new possibilities, even if I didn’t know what those were. Even today I don’t know what my new normal will shake out to be, but I do look forward to whatever it brings.

“One day you will tell your story of how you’ve overcome what you’re going through now, and it will become part of someone else’s survival guide.” (Author unknown) My oh my how these words ring true in my heart. I look back and I am so very thankful for all of the people that have shown up in my life this year to support and love me. Some were on a similar journey and others not so much. I anointed them into my personal support group with the tears that were streaming down my face. For months they called and texted me just to tell me they love me and remind me that I am not alone.

This group consists of people that I trust. These are my people. They have lent me their shoulder to cry on and tissues to dry my tears. A few have talked to me for hours on end on the phone. One video chatted with me for 2 hours until I was almost asleep. Another held me, cooked for me, and created the coziest most loving environment one could imagine. The collective wisdom of this group has guided me through the darkest days and loneliest nights. I couldn’t be more grateful and humbled that they chose to wrap their arms around me. It is now that I see that the best way to honor those who have shown me unconditional love and support is to share my own survival guide to help others.

For me there wasn’t some huge wake up call or event that magically made me spring out of bed and go full force at life. My story of strength and renewal is built on many small actions and moments that add up to who I am today. But know this reader, I am nowhere near my destination on my personal journey. Nor do I want to be. I am having fun getting to know me again. Maybe even for the first time. If just one person finds my story valuable or inspiring to begin embracing life again then I will have considered this blog post a success.

Here. We. Go.

As I reflect back to the beginning of this year I remember feeling lost and scared but I knew I needed to start somewhere. I started reading scripture. To this day I find Romans 5:3-5 as one of the most meaningful and comforting scriptures to be my light in those dark days.

“We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they are good for us – they help us learn and endure. And endurance develops strength of character in us, and character strengthens our confident expectation of salvation. And this expectation will not disappoint us. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love. “

Romans 5:3-5

For seven months I perfected the art of smiling wide while holding back tears. I could win an Academy Award for “fake it till you make it”. This strategy did not serve me well and I don’t recommend it for anyone else. I spent days feeling as if my entire body was clenched up and a good nights’ sleep was a whopping 3 hours. I was scared and lonely 100% of every day. I pinpoint the true beginning of my healing process back to when I found a gem of a counselor. Rather than continuing to push my feelings away, I started talking through my feelings and unpacking baggage I didn’t even know I had. I spent the first 3 sessions clenching a box of tissues, crying my eyes out, and piecing my feelings together. My counselor has helped me to unpack my baggage layer by layer, fold it neatly and send it away. For me, talking about my true feelings is a raw experience and it is scary. This was hard and emotionally draining work but it was the very beginning of my personal healing process.

When going through life’s perfect storm a good counselor or therapist is an absolute must have. They will listen, ask questions, be a truth teller and help you sort through the mess. What I didn’t know then that I 100% know now is that it takes an incredibly strong person to make the call to go to counseling. This is NOT weak, embarrassing or shameful. There is no greater gift you can give to yourself than positive emotional and mental health. Let me shout it out for those of you in the back rolling your beautiful eyes, “THERE IS NO GREATER GIFT YOU CAN GIVE YOURSELF THAN POSITIVE EMOTIONAL AND MENTAL HEALTH.”

What a counselor will not do is hug you, hold you as you ugly cry for 30 solid minutes, make you dinner, create a cozy space to hide in for 4 days, or call you randomly to meet for dinner or coffee. This is what you need a strong tribe of friends for. Readers, I deeply regret undervaluing the healing power of a strong friendship. I will forever be grateful for the women who chose to ride this storm out with me and love me hard.

The one piece of advice that I heard the most was “Focus on taking care of you.” This didn’t mean that I was to ignore my children, responsibilities of the home or neglect others. Rather, a gentle reminder to make space for taking care of me. This looks different for all of us. What worked for me may not work for anyone else. I had to use a test and learn strategy to figure this out so it wasn’t a quick process.

What Worked

  • Bible study
  • Counseling
  • Journaling
  • Reading or listening to inspirational books & podcasts
  • Creating an exercise routine strength training, treadmill, elliptical, yoga
  • Asking for help from friends and family & graciously accepting it
  • Accepting comforting gestures from others

What Did Not Work

  • Listening to any music
  • Binge watching tv
  • Yoga

Heed my advice, the test and learn experience during the healing process can be both frustrating and rewarding. It is an emotionally intense journey but I promise you that it is well worth the effort. I had to let go of being ashamed of my circumstances to ask for help from friends and family. Asking for help is hard because many of us are just not wired to do so. If this describes you then I urge you to let it go. I bet there is at least 1 person in your life willing to help you but you have to dig deep tell them what’s really going on. Showing vulnerability can be terrifying but people cannot help you if you aren’t honest with them about what is really going on.

I also learned that some things that had served me well for years did not serve me well during my darkest days. For example, yoga has made a tremendous, positive impact in my life and served me well for several years. Yoga is also a deeply emotional and very inward experience for me. When I go to a class it’s like a massage for my emotions and soul. Even though I understand the healing powers yoga holds, in the thick of my storm I could not go there emotionally so I left it on my mat and walked away for a little while. I’m back now and loving that I am relearning technique and have a newfound appreciation for the way my body is serving me and how I can serve her (my body) better. Be open to shelving a few things for a bit if they seem just too hard on your first try. You can always try again later. There is no one “right” way to heal.

Do not expect this to be a fast process. This has been a year long process for me. I still have so much to learn and try. I know that I love life most when I embrace it as a journey of self-discovery. As I begin a new chapter of life I am excited to see what this chapter will be, what I will learn and how I will evolve.

Parenting Is Tough…But The Hugs Are Worth It

Parenting is tough. Tougher than any corporate job I’ve ever had. The baby stage is hard. Until you don’t have it anymore. The toddler stage is hard.  Until you don’t have it anymore. The little kid and tween stages are hard.  Until you don’t have them anymore. The teen years are hard. Until you don’t have them anymore.  If we are lucky we get to raise our kids to be full grown adults and maybe, just maybe, we can be friends at that point.    Every stage of parenting is hard until you get through it. Then it becomes easier  to remember the good times more than the bad and it just doesn’t seem that hard anymore. 

Today my 13 year old son came over to me and hugged me.  He said, “Mom, thanks for taking care of me today.”  You see, he had minor oral surgery this morning. This teenager who is  now taller than me, who has his own opinions, who is trying to figure out who he is, and loves to test my sanity at times recognized that he needed and actively received help from his momma.

In that single moment of a hug his entire life flashed through my mind. It was like I was reliving his entire existence on fast forward and it was glorious. Then I thought, I would live at least one hundred more hard days just to get that hug that tells me that we must be doing something right as parents. I mess up a lot as a parent, but today I got it completely right and all I did was make a comfortable space for him to lie down on, ensure his pain was managed, and make soft comfort foods for him to eat. He was thankful and showed it the very best way he knew how; with a hug. That hug said it all and for that, this momma is grateful.

The moral of the story? Don’t underestimate the power of hugs. Especially hugging your children. Give hugs and take hugs through every stage of life with your kids. All stages are tough but hugs will help you make it through. I don’t promise you that it will be easy on the days where you are bone tired, but it will be worth it. I promise. As your kids grow they may not initiate hugs like when they were little. Warning: You may not be “allowed” to do this in public for a few years. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. I’m told public signs of affection become okay again somewhere around the 19th birthday. I’m a few years away from that so I can’t make any promises to you yet. Still, give them as many hugs as possible. With a hug you receive just as much as you give. How many hugs will you give today?

Proverbs 3:3 Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart.

Me vs. The Storm

Source: photo credit unknown

Tonight I’m breaking my own rules. For the past week or so I’ve deemed electronics off-limits after 9 pm. Right now I’m supposed to be in bed with the lights turned off but still wearing a sleep mask while listening to a sleep podcast. All in the name of a good night’s sleep to start each morning well-rested and ready to tackle the day. Yet, here I am breaking my own rules.

I have this surge of energy and empowerment that I can’t let go until I get it out in writing. Not even to rest my head. I had a tough end to 2019. I had to dig into a deep place inside my soul and go to depths I didn’t even know I had in my mind and then climb my way back out. The last quarter of 2019 was crappy and difficult. That’s the best way I can describe it. It was days and weeks of feeling unsettled and unsure of myself. I know this tough season isn’t over quite yet. What I do know is that it has made me stronger. This tough season that’s had me in tears and on my knees asking “Why?” has helped me grow in my faith. It has forced me to question who I am and who I want to be.

I didn’t come into 2020 with a plan. In fact, I came into 2020 kicking and screaming. Unsure of what the new year would look like, trying to be strong yet feeling like I was failing. Every. Single. Day.

I did not come into this new decade with a plan. No resolutions or intentions or declaring my word. Those weren’t for me this year. Yet now, in the eye of this storm, I am calm. I will continue to be strong and grow stronger. I came into 2020 with just “being” and knowing that I had to be o.k. with that. I had to pray and rest. I had to create routines to feed my soul. I had to find space for gratitude. I had to be humbled and ask for help in numerous ways.

16 days into this new decade I have finally figured out how I want to embrace life. I’m creating space. I’m not referring to physical space. I’m referring to space for learning, creativity, comfort, joy, and acceptance. I’m stepping out of the “safe zone” and willing to take risks. 2020 get ready….here I come.

Stay tuned to read about my adventures and lessons learned. I’m sure there will be laughter and likely a few tears shed. I intend to be part of a world that shares life and builds communities near and far. My writing is my effort in doing this and if you’re reading this…thank you.

“We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they are good for us – they help us learn and endure. And endurance develops strength of character in us, and character strengthens our confident expectation of salvation. And this expectation will not disappoint us. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love. “

Romans 5:3-5

Making Lemonade…

Amidst the start of a busy holiday season with Thanksgiving in 2 weeks, Christmas catalogs popping into my mailbox, commercials for this season’s hottest toys and multiple social media posts touting how to make this year the “Best Christmas Ever” I am centering my time and attention on taking an opportunity to make lemonade out of lemons.

You read it, lemonade. It’s probably a good time for me to back up and provide a bit of the backstory of how I found myself in this state. Approximately 3 weeks ago I was one of many associates impacted by a workforce reduction. To put it plain and simple, my job was eliminated. To make a clear connection, this was the handful of lemons handed to me.

In a matter of about 2 hours I sped through the 5 stages of grief. First came the denial. “I can’t believe this is actually happening.” Then, shortly after I closed my work laptop for the last time came anger. “Really? I’ve always produced and been a team player. Why me?” Next up, bargaining. “Ok Lord, I know you’ve got this and you have a plan. If you’ll just give me the opportunity today…” Yeah, how can you bargain with God? I certainly can’t. Then, depression. “Why me? Why was I chosen? What if I can’t find anything? What if… ” Finally, acceptance. “When a door closes a window is opened. I’m talented, have loads of experience and I love to learn and tackle new challenges. I’m gonna rock this.” These are the waves of emotion and thoughts I muddled through.

If I said that this was the one and only time I experienced these emotions I would be lying. However, as each day passes the negative emotions lessen and the positive emotions strengthen. Buy why? How can I choose to stay positive while headed into the holiday season, a new year and quite frankly the uncertainty of stability? I can do this because I know this is a season within a long lifetime.

This is a short period of time that I must work through. How am I making lemonade? I keep myself busy leveraging the amazing career coach and resources I have access to. I network via social and professional connections. I’m reading, attending webinars and completing self-paced learning. I research open job positions and companies like it’s my job. Actually, it is my current job, so I treat it as such. I set daily goals and prioritize my task list of research, applications and connection follow up. I keep a daily Google calendar, complete with time-blocks by activity to stay focused and productive in this transition phase.

I don’t know where I will end up. What I do know is that the work I put in now will lead to a great opportunity where I will leverage my skills and abilities to contribute to a great place to work. After all, as Elbert Hubbard coined and Dale Carnegie quoted in his book How to Stop Worrying and Start Living, “If you have a lemon, make lemonade”. The choice is up to me and I choose to make lemonade. If you are in a similar situation, I encourage you to stay positive and make lemonade. After all, this is just a season.

The Week Between

This is one of my favorite weeks of the year. The week between Christmas and the new year. The merriment of the holidays is past and has provided us with another year of memories. For some of us these are the best memories of the year. Others may find the time sad and lonely. No matter the sentiment it’s time to wrap the ornaments, take the stockings down, finish the leftovers, and enjoy the final crumbs of cookies.

This particular week provides us with the ability to reflect on the previous year yet it still provides us with the hope for the year to come. I love to learn and, for me, reflection is a time for learning. I don’t think there is a “right” way to spend time reflecting, although there are probably thousands of self-help books and internet sites to provide direction. Personally, I choose to close my eyes and think of all of the happy moments and what I might have done differently in those not so favorable moments. Sometimes I will play songs that remind me of a special moment or person. It’s not the method of reflection that is important. What is important is that we dig down to the deepest depths of our soul and remember the moments of the year past that shaped our life and personality.

Reflection, however, is only useful if you take what you have learned and use it to shape your future. This is not always an easy task. Reflection can produce many emotions. Happiness, thankfulness, sadness, guilt and shame are just to name a few. Though some of these emotions are admittedly difficult to deal with this is the perfect time to consider taking the leap forward toward closure. This might mean forgiving oneself and letting past behavior and attitudes stay in the past. This could mean forgiving others and deciding to end relationships that no longer create happiness. Maybe it’s even mending a relationship that seemed to be long gone. For when you make it through the emotional maze of the year past you can see a light at the end of the tunnel.

This light is like a beacon of hope. A quick Google search of the “definition of hope” tells us that hope is “a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen”. It is knowing that a new year is beginning and provides you the opportunity to start fresh. This hope does not promise only happy moments and it certainly doesn’t promise that life will be any easier in the coming year. What it does promise is to give you the opportunity to choose your expectations and desires for the coming year.

I think this is exactly the reason so many of us choose to make a New Year’s resolution list. Somewhere, deep down inside, we relish in the fact that we have the opportunity to embrace the hope and light of the new year and reinvent even a tiniest portion of our own self based on the findings from our personal reflection. What comes out of this will be different for each individual but one thing will remain the same. Reflection and learning of the past combined with the light and hope of the future offer the gift of peace in the present. Take the time now to treasure the reflection, slow down to enjoy the peace and embrace the hope.

Want to share your thoughts on reflection, enjoying the peace and embracing the hope? Please take a moment to leave your comments.

To “My People, My Tribe, My Whatever You Want to Call It”

It’s been 4 months since I wrote my first blog post. It’s not that I haven’t thought about logging in. It’s more that I just didn’t think I had much to say. Today is different. My heart and mind are so full that I’m almost overwhelmed. I am inspired by a podcast titled “For the Love With Jen Hatmaker”, specifically episode 1 “Savoring Your Friendships”.

In this first episode the host and her dear friend reminisce of how they became friends and how they have learned to nurture their friendship. They also discuss the importance of making time to connect with other people. This has inspired me because for so long I have told my husband, “It’s easier for guys to hang out with friends and find things to do.”. For example, golf league and basketball. It isn’t easier for guys, that’s just been my excuse. I’ve had this picture in my mind of how I’m supposed to be or the things that need to be in order to invite a friend over for coffee or dinner. Let’s not forget the “mom guilt”. You know what I mean. That little voice inside your head that tell you that you can’t do something because you should be doing something or making something 24-7 with your kids. Yeah…I hear that voice too. What I learned from this podcast is that it’s ok to let it go and just be present. I learned that friendships, like marriages, take work.

Now you might be thinking that I’m a little all over the place in this post. You’re right but that’s how my brain navigates life. This is where my full to overflowing heart of happiness and joy comes.

Yesterday I had the opportunity to spend the day with a very dear friend of mine. I have known this friend since elementary school and we officially have been friends for 24 years (since the age of 13). We navigated side-by-side through jr. high and high school together. We went to different colleges but still remained intact as “best friends”. As we entered into adulthood we did it together but we ever so slowly began to drift apart little by little.

One day a few years ago I looked back and became saddened by the realization that I didn’t know my best friend anymore. I carry the blame for this as I realize I became lazy in our friendship. I became so consumed with myself that I didn’t make time to reach out and connect. We were in different stages of life and instead of cherishing this about our friendship, I unintentionally let it push us apart.

So how did we go from the occasional letter or text to spending the day together? We did it slowly and with humility. My friend showed me the grace that I had yet to show her many years ago. I will forever be thankful that we have reconnected and have begun to share our lives together again. The best is yet to come. How do I know this? I know this because at the age of 37 years old, driving down I-71 on our way to a day spa I found myself crying with tears of laughter as we discussed everything from work to kids to husbands. It’s like there hadn’t been a day gone by since we were 17 and getting ready for dance team together.

I share my story of reconnection because as human beings we need other people. Whether we realize it or not we need to surround ourselves with people that not only care about and love us but that we care about and love as well. Although I embrace being on the “hot mess express” I still feel the need to want to hide this from others. As in “my house is too messy to invite the neighbor over for coffee” or “I want to get these non-critical errands done so I can finish off my task list”. Guess where these perfection striving thoughts get me? If you guessed “nowhere” then you would be correct. (Thank you Jen Hatmaker and Shauna Niequist for reminding me of this.) I’m a list maker and get sheer joy from crossing things off of my “to-do” list so I’ll always have a list laying around. What I won’t always have are the left behind moments that I didn’t choose to share with other people.

Our world is so full of negativity that it is up to us to bring positivity into our own lives and share it with others. We aren’t meant to be alone but we do have to put the effort in. Who cares if you have 19 baskets of laundry? Call your friend and invite her over for coffee. Dollars to donuts (donuts go good with coffee) her house has laundry to be folded too. What really matters is the connection we make and share together. This connection is what makes the happy times happier and gets us through the tough times. When it’s really bad our people help pull us through, even if we are kicking and screaming.

My people, my tribe, my “whatever you want to call it” range in age and life stages but they are so very precious to me. I love them all and will protect these relationships over my “to do” list. Take the time to show your people that you are thankful and grateful for having them in your life. Reach out to your people near or far and spend time with time or at least let them know how much they mean to you. Whether you choose phone, video chat, text, email or invite them over to dinner do it today because tomorrow is never promised. And to “my people”…thank you for the joy and kindness you bring into my life. You are cherished.

The Beautiful Mess

Life is one big beautiful mess.  We are all a mess in one way or another.  Admit it, you know it well.  It’s letting your kids walk out the door with mismatched socks because you can’t find one matching pair in the nineteen laundry baskets of clean clothes.  Which, by the way, have been waiting to be put away for over a week.  (Never mind the fact that as I write this I ignored the dog and he ended up eating the last 2 remaining slices of apple pie.  Not great for his diet but I’m on day 2 of Whole 30.  Thanks for the assist Wegman!)

Back to the mess.  How about a morning that you forget to put the coffee in the coffee maker before hitting brew?  I did that today.  Even the best Ninja coffee maker won’t make coffee grounds magically appear.  How about putting yourself in “time-out” because your husband has been away for 2 days and you can no longer stand to hear the YouTube videos your kids are watching of other kids playing video games?  Did I mention that “time-out” is locking yourself in the bathroom with a couple of mini Snickers bars and Pinterest on your phone?  Yeah…that happened….before the whole Whole 30 lifestyle change.

If you can relate to any of these, then you my friend might just be a “hot mess”.  You might consider joining my unofficial club lovingly dubbed by some awesome co-workers as “The Hot Mess Express”. It’s a judgement free zone because at the end of the day we’ve all got “stuff” to deal with.  It’s can be fun, hard, sad and messy but when the sun has set and the chaos turns to quiet a beautiful mess can be found in this crazy thing we call life.

Life isn’t always perfect and it isn’t always fair,  but it’s something to embrace.  To me embracing life is being thankful for what you have and sometimes for what you don’t have.  To be grateful for the goodness life can bring.  To be humble when life is good…and to be humble when life is maybe not so good.  To be kind to yourself, your friends, your neighbors, your community and to the world.

If you’ve made it this far and feel like you can relate, then I invite you to stick with me and embrace the mess.  I won’t promise this to be the most awesome blog you’ll ever read but you might get a few laughs from time to time.    You’ll share in my walk through life in my faith, as a wife, as a parent, and as a friend.  Most of all you’ll share in my life as a person living in this world, just like you, and trying to bring a glimmer of hope and happiness into the everyday and ordinary of life.

“Seek peace and pursue it.” Psalm 34:14