4 Steps to being better Today


Usually I write about things that I think are more so geared toward moms, but this one applies to everyone across the board.

Lately I’ve been considering what makes people happy and successful- two really broad topics. I feel like I’m really happy in my life, but I have so many dreams inside me, things that I talk about and some that I don’t. I identified some “killers of happiness” and figured I would sort of start unraveling them. All of my ideas comes from how I would parent my kids, but somehow I have to also constantly remind myself.

First of all:

Other people can be happy or successful, and it has nothing to do with you.

One thing that I have noticed is how much people compare themselves to others or judge where they are based on the progress of other people.

My son is an incredible learner. Reading and math come easy to him. He often scores 100’s on everything he does. Last week he scored a 97% because he forgot to capitalize the first letter of the sentence. The first thing he said to me wasn’t that he was annoyed that he forgot the capital letter, it was that he was annoyed that his friend hadn’t.

Literally who cares what your friend did?!

See, I had to explain to him to focus on personal growth. That what mattered was how he did compared to last quiz and whether or not he includes the capital on next week’s quiz.

And then it hit me. WE ALL DO THIS. WHYYYY?

This is something that I have gotten way better with over time, but I have to tell my thoughts where to stick it. Other people can be happy or successful, and it has nothing to do with me.

I’m going to be a bit harsh here:

If you are not happy for other people’s happiness and success then you are the problem.

Social media allows us to see how everyone we have ever known is doing. It is so cool, but it has the tendency to document growth or lack there of.

I have a friend named Raya from elementary school who is living a dream life- traveling the world with her boyfriend, reading about goddesses and women’s empowerment, going to festivals and dancing the night away. That is not my life- but MY GOD, I am overrrrr the moon for her. Do I want to ditch my kids, move to southern California, and grow out my arm pit hair? No, not really. But, her happiness brings me joy from afar and I love seeing it.

ANDDD she empowers me! She writes to me about what a Queen I am for being such a great mommy to my babies. We chose two different paths and yet we still lift each other up when it would be so easy to be a naysayer.

There is another girl I know from high school! Her name’s Jordan! I remember seeing her working out at the YMCA next to me in like 2009. Now she makes a living on her social media empire, influencing others on work outs and living a healthy lifestyle. Do I work out? Nope. Do I do her challenges? Big nope. Do I follow her anyway? Yep. I love to see her growth and success, like, yesssssss, girl. Do big things! Who knows! Maybe one day I’ll start working out again! Guess who I’ll call!

Be happy for other people. Their success and happiness is their own, and it has nothing to do with you. Support people and lift them up. If it’s their budding photography business, their college class, or their 30 days anniversary being sober- whatever! Be supportive!

Stop being annoyed at someone else’s life or glory. It says something about you and your personal opinion of your own journey if you are unable to find joy in seeing other people live their dreams out. You get back what you give out in the world. Don’t be the person worried that someone else remembered their capital letter and you didn’t. Worry about yourself and be glad for others.

Know your strengths and play to them.

What a simple thought. I heard my husband tell this to our son the other day. He was all pissy that he didn’t score a goal on the soccer pitch. Guess what? He’s a center back. Scoring goals isn’t his job. Will he get a chance now and then? Sure. But, his talent is being a big, bad defender.

Not that he can’t decide he wants to be a striker and start working at it. But, every day for the last two years, he’s been practicing being a defender.

I’ll be the first to tell you, I am NOT a math person. I recently found loads of trig and precalc work I saved from high school, why? I was probably REALLY proud. HAHA. I have to work really hard at math to get it. But you know what comes naturally? This. I sit down with my coffee and start banging it out. Do I need practice? Yep. Am I still learning? You bet. But, I don’t have to pull my hair out to get an idea on the paper.

Tim Notke said, “hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.”

Figure out what you’re good at and work on it. If you don’t know, make a list and narrow it down- Runaway Bride style. Get to know yourself. You can’t be annoyed if you aren’t living out a dream that you haven’t put grind into.

God gave everyone talents, and if you find out what yours are and use them to your advantage, you’ll taste the fruits of your labor. But you can’t just sit there and wait for an opportunity to come find you.

And what if an opportunity DOES come, and you haven’t been cultivating your craft for your moment to prove yourself?

Share your ideas with people.

The other day a mom messaged me asking advice about breastfeeding. Here’s the thing- I’ve put in my time in this arena. I kind of know what I’m talking about. But to be honest, I only know what worked for me and MY kids. Do you know what that means? I’m not an expert on what’s going to work for you and your kid. The only thing I can do is share my trial and errors, what worked for me and what didn’t work for me. Like, I don’t KNOW everything- but here’s what I’ve gathered so far.

When I first started teaching, my department head, Bonnie Watkins, was the business. I had no idea what I was doing and I was SO SCARED I was going to be the reason students didn’t learn. Do you know what? She made me copies of everything she had, and she shared EVERYTHING with me. Why would she do that? I didn’t deserve all of this help. I hadn’t put the time in to be able to use all of these resources. I kind of felt guilty taking them from her. After all, they were hers. The resources were a result of her time and effort throughout many years of teaching.

I finally just asked her, “Why would you give me all of these resources?”

Her response is one that I replay often in my head.

“If I give you everything I know- it forces me to keep learning. The day I stop giving out my resources, I am saying I don’t want to grow anymore.”

Freaking WOW. What a poised response.

Do you get it? If you share everything you know, it requires that you learn more and grow more.

Not only that, but she wanted me to be successful. She didn’t want to see me fail.

What a blessing to be that person for someone.

And, by the way, this reinforces the idea that you are your own competition. What a way to live! Share your ideas so you can make other people better and force growth upon yourself so you can be better, too.

Mind your words.

It’s self fulfilling prophecy, people! Self fulfilling prophecy is by definition a prediction that causes itself to be true. The mind is a powerful vessel. If you are constantly telling yourself that you aren’t good enough, then your mind actually believes it.

In the book Start, by Jon Acuff, he talks about the negative voices that everyone has, the parts of our brain that list all the reasons that we can’t accomplish something. It encourages writing them down and proving them wrong. THEN, telling people you love about them. He states, “…never waste time trying to battle a voice alone. In some cases that voice or fear and doubt will have had a ten year start on you.” GEEZE, that’s powerful.

You mean to tell me, I have to battle a negative thought that I’ve had for years?

This morning I scribbled down on a paper, “Your blog sucks.”

Then I wrote- LOL, “Well, it doesn’t, does it? I’m not even done yet.”

It actually really helped me to poke fun at my negative ideas before they could snow ball into something significant in my mind.

You see, the other day my first grade son said, “I don’t have weaknesses.” (Boy is he in for a shock! HAHA) But, at the minute, he really believes it. What an incredible thought that at one point, we all believed there was nothing that we couldn’t do. And then what’s so sad, is one day we were “intelligent” enough to know better.

I really would love to be an author one day. My husband and I joke that it could happen! Am I an author right now? Nope. But, why not? Why is that somehow not in the cards for me? 7 year old me would really have words for 27 year old me. “What do you mean? You don’t have weaknesses! Go for it!.”

Your words matter- but so do the words and actions of the people you love.

One day my husband shared one of my blogs and no one liked it… except me (AWKWARDDD.) BUT, I shared with him that my blog had 107 more views because he shared it AND someone private messaged me saying it helped them. When I told him that, he was stunned! How come no one liked it?! I don’t have that answer. BUT, now he shares every single one of my mushy-gushy-pro-mom-agenda blogs on his manly facebook page where the literal only other thing he posts is facts about Lebron James. My blogs don’t really mesh with the theme. BUT, He believes in my dream. God love him, he’s the best there is. He knows that what he says and does matters- if only to me- and it becomes a part of my reality.

Words are so important. What if we told our kids, “No, Jaxon. Sorry- you’re flawed and not good enough. You DO have weaknesses. That dream is going to be really impossible for you.” What would that do to his spirit? You would never say something like that to your children. I’d like to think no one would.

Why do you allow your thoughts to speak to you that way?

It just isn’t true. Not for Jaxon and not for me and not for you.

Words are critical- choose them wisely.

Today I could have said to myself, “No, my friend. You write mom blogs- stay in your lane.”

I didn’t! I wrote what I wanted. I feel so much better for it.

-SL

Why YOU shouldn’t Settle

WOWZERS. So, I was writing this morning and perusing through some of my old work! Remember how I mentioned why writing things down is SO important?! I freaked out when I read one of my old posts.

I feel like it is SO important to share because this is a true testimony of never selling your dreams short, no matter how small you think they are. What you want for your life is a BIG DEAL.

The post I am about to share is from my old platform written May 2014! Hint: I didn’t meet my husband until 10 months after it was written. THIS IS SHOCKING.

I wrote about him before I even met him.

Here goes nothing!

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Why I don’t Settle

A few months ago, if you asked me what I wanted in a husband, I would have said, “I don’t know what I do want, but I know what I don’t want.”

I thought that I was giving an honest answer,but the more I think about it, the more I know that I was selling myself short. I was subconsciously pushing away my true desires for a man because of my disbelief that this person actually existed. When I said I know what I don’t want, but not what I do want, that was a bunch of garbage. Every woman knows what she wants. Deep down inside, even if it is in the places that only she knows about, or even if it has been so covered up by the wrong thing that she doesn’t even remember it’s there.

Relationships have been tossed around in the wind throughout the years and some things that made dating and falling in love special are so seldom experienced anymore. This blog isn’t intended on being a comparison between love before and now, but a definitive statement that I refuse to accept anything less than exactly who God hand picked for me.

My favorite Sonnet regarding the way I see love is written by Pablo Neruda:

I love you without knowing
how, or when, or from where.
I love you straightforwardly,
without complexities or pride;
so I love you because I know
no other way than this:
where I does not exist, nor you,
so close that your hand
on my chest is my hand,
so close that your eyes close
as I fall asleep.

I don’t know about you, but if that kind of love exists, I don’t want love if it isn’t that.

So, if I have a say, I pray for the following-

The man for me:

Him. First of all, he’ll know. It won’t be confusing for him. I won’t be part of a line up. Dating is a really rare thing in the culture we live in right now. I’m not saying that the moment he sees me he will know that I am going to be “it” for the rest of his life, but I am saying that it won’t be a game. He will say what he means with confidence and his interest in me with be unfaltering.

He will be a Godly man. No one is perfect, but I want him to be perfect for me in the eyes of God. I want him to consider God’s plan in his decisions and choices, and I want him to consult me and value my opinion. I want others to look at our relationship and see the kind of love that could only be made with a blessing from God.

He’ll love his family. How can a man ever love me if he doesn’t love the people who are literally a PART of him? He will speak well of them and value the relationship he has with them. He will have an unwavering adoration for the people closest to him because assuming that he might one day be the leader in our very own family, his heart has to be in the right spot. That being said, I see myself with an all around family man. I see him holding my hand with a toddler in his arm an an infant in a carrier around my body. I see family vacations and beach days and pumpkin patches and picnics, but I also see date nights, lots of them.

He will be athletic and take care of his body. In my opinion, God gave us our body as a chamber that we are supposed to take care of. I don’t want a guy that would rather go to the gym than be with his family for dinner, and I certainly don’t want a guy who values my physical fitness over all of the things I have to offer from the heart, but I will not settle for someone who does not appreciate their body and work toward self improvement. In Ephesians 5:28 God tells us that a man should love his wife the way he loves his own body. I really hope the man I choose loves me like that.

He will be heroic in the eyes of little hearts. Kids will love him. I have a child, so nothing is more important to me than knowing that my child is adored by whoever enters my life. A lot can be said about the way that a man interacts with little children. I once read a quote that said, “No matter how big and bad you are, when a toddler hands you a play phone, you answer it.” I believe this 100%. Not only will the guy for me answer the phone, but he will call the kid back and he will be the dragon or Santa or the kisser for a boo boo because that is in his nature.

He will have a deep understanding of the world around him and compassion for people. The man for me will pull over to pick up a turtle and help it cross the road. The man for me will help someone off the ground. The man for me will not scowl at the homeless person on the corner. I have a giving heart and I believe it is way more special to give than to receive. I pray that the man for me can complement that and encourage that quality in me. If I want to give my umbrella to a homeless woman downtown, then please, hold my hand and run with me in the pouring rain to dinner.

He will value the little things. He will appreciate his coffee sitting on the counter just the way he likes it, he will value the fact that I did something that makes me uncomfortable just because I love him, he will see the small joys in moments that are fleeting and the most important of all.

He will think I’m pretty. He will like the way my freckles splash my face and he will know me by heart. He will know my looks and my laughs and my smiles and he’ll know my heart even better than that and likewise.

He will be a naturally happy person who is friendly. I’m not saying he can’t have a bad day, that’s what I’m here for, to lift him up, but it would kind of be nice to have someone who is a positive role model and someone who is looking forward to great things while still taking time to enjoy the present.

He will be versatile. The man for me can sit with me in a cafe and drink coffee without feeling out of place, he can bust out laughing while I make a fool out of myself dancing, he can go to a nice restaurant and dress fancy and later that night he can sit beside me on the couch when I sport my XXL tee shirt and plaid boxers, he can enjoy standing next to me in church while I sing, he can chaperone a field trip, he can watch sports with my Dad on Sunday afternoon, he can sky dive out of a plane with me, and listen to my latest blog. He can see the good in me on the worst day of my life, support me, love me, put me in my place, tell me when I’m wrong and apologize when I’m right and if ever there is something he can’t do, he will tell me and I will forgive him.

He will claim me. I will be his person. He will yell for my attention from 30 feet away in the grocery store produce section, he will look over at me when the DJ announces a slow dance, he will introduce me to people I don’t know. He will support me and be proud of me and when I fail, he will still be there. He will be goofy and intense about his love and his friends and family will know, he found “her.”

He will lead me. I am a confident woman. Sometimes I dance to the beat of my own drum and I get so far into my idea of what life should be like. I am a strong personality and I want so bad to “meet my match.” I want a man that my laugh complements but doesn’t drown out. I want a man with a strong hand shake who people notice when he walks in the room. I want to be a sort of dream team. People gravitate toward  fun and energetic people and sometimes I feel like I overstep the men I’m with. I want a man who will be my rock. I want someone who I don’t over power but someone who empowers me. Someone who leads me in my faith, who protects me, supports me, lifts me up. I want a man who makes a strong personality like me want to be submissive because there is a level of such respect involved between us.

He will be devoted. Being devoted means to have an impeccable loyalty and enthusiasm for something. I hope to have a man that doesn’t even let a crack get in the foundation of our relationship. A man that can have a guys night and be so focused on the blessings in his life that it radiates around him. Someone that knows what they have and isn’t willing to compromise it. Someone who can walk in the house when I’m asleep, pull my covers up higher and whisper, “I’m home,” to which I can respond, “I’m glad” and turn back into my slumber. On top of that, he will be trustworthy beyond all measure. He will have no question about my character and will know without a shadow of a doubt that there is no place that I would rather be than wherever we are together.

He will be accepting. He will not see life as a one way road. He will know my flaws and understand them. He will not try to change me, but will see my flaws as things that are somehow manageable. We will have an understanding. We will have the type of exchange that is so powerful and full of meaning. He will not look down on me and he will expect me to lift him up and make him show him the good in him, even when he can’t see it in himself. In Romans 5:8 God says, “I loved you at your darkest.” What is better than that? What is better than a love like that?

Now, I am of the very strong belief that I do not want anything in this life if it is not in God’s will. I don’t want my idea of a perfect person, only to discover that the way God envisioned my life was different. However, in Matthew 7:7 God says, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” My dreams about “my person” might be so intricate that sometimes I wonder if he exists, but anything is possible through God and there is no chance that I am about to not ask for everything that I want from the person who will one day lead my family and if it’s in God’s will, I will get everything I ask for, and more!


My favorite bible verse in relation to love is found in Ruth in the Bible:

“Entreat me not to leave you,
Or to turn back from following after you;
For wherever you go, I will go;
and wherever you lodge, I will lodge;
Your people shall be my people,
and your God shall be my God.
Where you die, I will die,
and there will I be buried.
The Lord do so to me, and more also,
If anything but death departs you and me”

This is what God intended for a relationship, for two people to have such a devotion to each other that they feel that the Lord DID that to them and therefore they can never forsake each other.

I guess what I want in a man is something that I have never seen, I want to feel a way that I have never felt before. I want someone who I can’t imagine my life without. I want to make someone feel like they are the most special person in the entire world to the person that they value the most.

I have never completely given myself to a person, but there is nothing that a lot of prayer can’t change.

_________________________________________________________________________

OH MY GOSH! Fast forward into my current reality, and it’s like God provided every single detail, down to the very last word. Jack is everything I could have ever imagined and EVEN MORE. 8 countries, two births, four Christmas mornings, 1,392 sleeps, thousands of coffees and diaper runs, millions of memories, and 4 arguments over our obnoxious bull dog later. We are living the dream- and I knew it before he ever even asked me to dance.

For Christmas this year, we even had the bible verse I quoted (in 2014) made on a canvas above our bed!

Moral of the story, when you remember how far you have come- it’s impossible to NOT feel SO thankful for your journey. Never stop writing down your dreams and the things that are important to you- the universe will make it happen and TEN FOLD.