Being Brave

In the midst of two very special birthdays, coming off of Christmas and well into the New Year, I finally find a minute to breathe.

It’s within these stolen moments where I can reflect on, count, and re-count my blessings.  Sometimes life doesn’t go the way we intended it to; in fact, it doesn’t go the way we in which we planned at all.

I’m learning to lean deeper into surrendering and to focus on the now, the present, the little bit I can control and letting go of all the things I don’t.

This New Year has been nothing short of intense, painful and quite life-altering. It’s been hard, unfair and there have been more tears than smiles.

This too shall pass.

I believe there is a bigger picture, a plan in place and I have no choice but to let go and let God.

If you’re looking for comfort, then do what it is that gives you that feeling.  Life is short, and so uncertain.  If there is one thing I keep coming back to in these brief 16 days of 2019, it’s to embrace what we are given, with the people we have in our lives.

I’ve begun a small journey with a new devotional, 100 Days to Brave.  I’ll admit I was so angry at the words I was reading and literally said to myself, “You are far from brave.  You are so not brave it’s not even funny…” and then I cried.  After a few moments of stumbling through my own in-coherent thoughts I thought about what I needed most in my life.  And then I acted on that thought.

And you know what dear reader?  That made me brave.  Acting in the face of fear, no matter how small, makes you courageous.  You do not have to go fight an actual battle to be considered brave, but you do have to figure out your next right move, (thank you Oprah) and have the desire to change.  Put one foot in front of the other.  For me it was reaching out to a friend whom I hadn’t seen or really spoken to in quite some time.  It was asking for help.  It was stepping down from “trying to do all things alone because that is what bravery is.”

No.

Being brave is doing the thing you didn’t really want to do, but that still small voice inside of you won’t be quiet and so you must act.

Do the thing, and you will have the power.  — Emerson.

The universe has my back, and I am highly attune to all the small things.  Rachel Hollis said on her live video with her husband yesterday something that made me stop dead in my tracks.

She said that it’s not going to get easy.  If you think for a second if you just work really hard and then one day poof you’ll be flying high with no cares or worries, you’re sorely mistaken.  (I know I’m improvising her words, but still the same meaning is there…) essentially we are all going to have struggles and stumble.  Through sickness and in health marriage will be hard work, babies will be hard work and living a beautiful and meaningful life will be hard work.

Just don’t quit.  You can fail. You can rest. You can do whatever you need to do temporarily, but the moment you give up?  That’s where it ends.

So while I may have a few obstacles to overcome in life, no one and nothing will stop me from going on.  I know that there will be so much good after so much pain.  Without rain, we’d have no flowers.

What helps me be brave?

  • Reading inspirational books
  • Talking to people who understand me
  • Exercising
  • Acting even if I’m scared
  • Trusting God

Chaos Coordinator

There are so many times in life where it’s almost as if the devil himself is trying to stop me.  There are many times throughout the day where I feel like maybe I should just give up something.

Life is hard.

You just do it.

You don’t whine.

You don’t complain.

You focus on the little things.  Be grateful.  Stop trying to be perfect.  Smile. Surround yourself with people like you and people you want to be like.  Get a mentor.  Stop trying to please everyone.  Just live your own life!

There are moments when I tear up or flat out cry, but I always pick myself up and keep going.  I have so many goals, dreams and aspirations for myself and my beautiful family.

Letting go of expectations, judgements and ‘should be’ ideas, is the only way to live peacefully.  I could literally write an entire book on how I thought my life would be right now, but guess what? I was dealt a totally different hand of playing cards. I don’t know all of the reasonings why, maybe I will never know, but I do realize that this is what I have to work with and it’s my choice to be happy or not.

I jokingly had my friend Rachel make this shirt, but oh how true it is!!

Life with littles, dogs, businesses etc is nothing short of chaos!

The best advice for you, if you too are in the trenches, is to not put yourself last every day.  Maybe you can’t do you every day, but if you put yourself first a few times a week? I promise your mind will stop playing tricks on you and you’ll feel better, look better, and life won’t seem so hard.

This is my post Zumba glow—err sweat.

Stop and take the silly photos to remember your season; photos do NOT have to be perfect.  Life is not staged. There is no re-do.  There is no dress rehearsal.  You are given today, and hopefully tomorrow.

Make games out of simple mundane tasks, like homework.

And for goodness sakes, if you’re in a funk?  Lay off the Netflix and Chill and feed your mind, soul and heart with some inspiration. Maybe everyone out there won’t seem so awful, scary, money hungry, etc. if you worked harder on yourself rather than watching everyone live out her dreams.

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This could not be more true–

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And if you’re ready to quit, whether it’s the gym routine, the eating well, the hard work you’re putting into your marriage, the effort in raising your babies right, the side hustle, the career…just keep going.  Just when you’re ready to throw in the towel, you literally could be SO stinking close to striking gold!

 

Don’t lose sight of the big picture sweet sister; you may not be able to control anyone else, but you can always control your own mind.  Remember that what you think about, you bring about.  As soon as your head starts going down that negative path, tell yourself (aloud too!) “I won’t go there.”  It really is that simple.  You will need do it over and over again, but you too can be happy.

When all is crumbling or you feel like you’re failing?  Just laugh.  What is there, if you can’t laugh?

Getting Quiet

If you happen to follow me on Instagram you may (or may not) have noticed I haven’t posted in a week.  If you know me well, Insta is my favorite slice of social media.  I started blogging back in 2011 and I believe it was that year that Instagram made its debut.  I loved my little blogging/insta community. It was real, raw, and pure.  Friends from all over could share their photos instantly with adorable captions.  I had so many amazing connections with women over fashion, food, family, husbands, you name it!!

Fast forward to 2018 and my feed was filled with overly airbrushed images, ads to buy something and picture perfect squares of everyone’s perfect lives.  I knew that when I would scroll, put the phone down and then only to pick it right back up and scroll again, it wasn’t making me feel good.  I kept brushing it off because I still do have some amazing, inspiring and uplifting people that I follow—but that wasn’t how I was left feeling after looking at Instagram.

Instead of feeling empowered, I felt insecure, jealous, envy and literally joy was being sucked out of me.  I’d wish that my house was more perfect, that my kids could strike amazing poses for photos and that I must not really be inspiring anyone because, well? To be honest, I was hung up on the numbers.  I don’t have 21k followers.  Hell, I don’t have 1,000.  And I was beating myself up.  I must not be helping enough people.

Regardless, I was going through a low point, feeling sorry for myself, oh woe-is-me, playing the victim, and if I’m being brutally honest? I was ready to go to a Dr and ask for a little magical pill that would maybe make me feel happier.

All because of Instagram? No.  Absolutely not.

But I can say that taking a little fast from Instagram, helped me quiet my mind, soul and allowed me to truly listen.  I have never been addicted to anything, but I believe that I had a problem with incessantly checking this silly app! So once I removed it off my phone, a lot of things happened.

Instead of mindlessly scrolling, I picked up a book:

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This book seemed to speak to me and allow me to reflect on what the hell was going on inside my mind.  I didn’t read it cover to cover, but I don’t think that I needed to or was meant to.  I got what I needed out of it.  People need other people in order to not only survive but also thrive.  Staying home I clearly don’t get as much social interaction as I used to when I was a teacher, but somehow I stopped going out pretty much all together.  I’d get the groceries.  Visit my husband at his work.  Do the school drop off/pick up.  Take the kids to the occasional park or library.  Dance class.   But when was the last time I did a mommy meet up?  Play date?  Had fun with the kids some place other than home?

I immediately decided to take the kids to the Museum of Play that very next day since Brooke had a day off.  We had so much fun.  While they played in the “Vet clinic” for no joke, 45 minutes, I decided to look up the local gyms in my area.  Interestingly enough, the gym I was interested in was having a $1 sign up fee and $20 a month membership.  What?!  You know what I did? I took immediate action.  Why? Because that is how you conquer fear.  Anxiety.  Stress.  You do something. Anything!! After we left the museum I went straight to the gym and signed up. I knew that the classes would be excellent for me, I’d be more social and around happy, energetic and healthy people.

Know what? It’s working.

I’m not saying that medicine is a bad thing; if you honestly need anti-despressants or anti-anxiety meds then definitely take them!  I was at my OBGYN’s office Wednesday of last week telling him about how I had been feeling.  It seemed to coincide with my monthly cycle.  The sadness, crying, overwhelm.  He suggested I figure out the root of my problem, come to a solution and execute!  If that didn’t work then he obviously suggested that I go and talk to someone and maybe explore medicinal options if need be.

I can’t explain why I was feeling the way I was.  I have a beautiful life and everything I have ever dreamed of.  I listen to positive podcasts.  I read leadership books. I was grateful, writing gratitude lists, trying to cling to anything that seemed to try and help pull me from that funk.  The guilt I felt about just not feeling happy or well, was becoming overwhelming and only when I took the bull by the horns and acted upon something did it all change.

While I have only been going to the gym for a week, my body, mind and spirit are in so much better of a place.  I feel as though I’ve cleared some cobwebs, decluttered the social media accounts I choose to follow and have really begun to listen to what matters most.

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I’ve also started to listen to a little meditation on you tube each morning. Maybe about 10 minutes or so, and I just allow myself some time to wake up and listen to good things.  I feel like it helps our crazy morning routines go by with more ease, less stress and certainly more smiles.

As women, we can sometimes take other people’s problems on as our own.  It’s our job as a mom to fix boo boos, wipe tears and lend an ear.  I tend to be overly empathetic and while I know watching the news isn’t great for me, I didn’t realize how much toxic energy I was absorbing through social media apps.

I’m a little apprehensive in sharing all of this publicly, but as Brené Brown keeps speaking into my ear, the power lies in vulnerability. (I’m currently listening to her newest book, Dare to Lead.)  So I suppose I am sharing all of this on my blog so that if you’re feeling stressed, sad, overwhelmed or just not happy, I am suggesting that you get quiet.  I went and got a pedicure and put my phone down.  I read some of a book.  I listened to that still small voice that I don’t make enough time for.  It’s never too late to start something different.  To make one small change.  One step leads to so many more. After you get quiet, I also highly suggest you force yourself to work up a sweat.  10, 20 or 30 minutes whatever–get your body moving! Just as we were intended to be social creatures, our bodies crave movement.

I think I’ll be taking more “social media cleanses” and I know that checking myself has done more wonders than I could have imagined. Once I realized that time is our biggest gift and the one thing we can never ever get back, I knew I had to be more strict with my time.  Where my time goes, my energy flows.

 

And of course, in Jenn fashion, there are a few quotes that really resonated with me…

 

 

 

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You matter. You are beautiful.  You are strong.  You are brave.  You are real.  You are living this one life that is truly a gift.  When you fall down, brush yourself off and get back up.  You are not a victim; you and you alone are responsible for your happiness.  Happiness is your birthright.

All my love,
Jenn

WILW: Quotes Edition

English has always been my favorite subject.  There is just something so powerful about words; the way we can craft sentences together, phrases that have huge meaning and different ways to express how we feel inside.  The mind is a tricky place; it can be a happy and positive space to be or it can quickly send us down a negative spiral.

If it’s one thing I have truly learned, reflected upon and leaned in towards in this last year, it is our thoughts. They really do make all the difference in our world.  Think about it: you are alone with yourself 24 hours a day, 7 days a week 365 days a year.  No one else in our minds, just us.  Kind of trippy, am I right?

I know all too well how quickly we can go down the rabbit hole of self-doubt, comparison, feeling less than, and most often making up stories that we tell ourselves on a daily basis.

So what do I personally do to combat that? You know, when suddenly you feel the ‘shift’ inside you, or rather I refer to it as “out of alignment,” thanks to Gabby Bernstein. I surround myself with positivity. I love love love quotes; I would hang them all over my house if they were more aesthetically pleasing.  So more often than not, I screen shot, save them on my camera roll and whenever I scroll through my photos, I’ll see some of my favorites staring back at me.

I figured I would share some of them here, so I have them tucked away in a safe spot, so if per chance I need a pick-me-up, I’ll know where to look.

I’ve collected them from random instagram accounts, google, my Stella & Dot team, some of our Stella & Dot Merchandise and people whom I admire, and some are real life photos I have taken that stopped me in my tracks.

I believe the Universe does have our back and that signs and inspiration are all around us.  Maybe somehow you’ve landed here today and this may just be what you need.

Do you have a favorite quote or place you go to when you’re feeling out of alignment or down? I’d love to hear from you!

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