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Tuesday, July 17, 2018

The Beginning of a New Prodigal Era

Big announcement time!

TLDR? I have a brand-new website. To keep up with more of my writing, you can find me here: ProdigalPress.co. I will no longer be updating this page and will be committing to my new platform as soon as I hit publish on this post.

It's been a great ride. Almost ten years of posting on this platform. And I'm so thankful for everyone who's supported me throughout the years.

For my long-form friends:

I began this blogging journey - at least the "putting thoughts to digital page" journey - back in 2008. Back then, it was just a place to update my family on my life. Nothing life-altering. Just a blog by any other name.

Then, in 2011, my writing journey took a turn when I came out of a particularly tumultuous relationship. I was a young college graduate, truly on my own for the first time in graduate school, frustrated by the fact that everyone seemed to be pairing off two-by-two. I felt behind, frustrated, self-conscious and unhappy.

I'd sit in my local coffee shop for hours writing about life, about relationships, and how the church mistreats single people. That's who I wrote for. The people who felt used for their open calendar and lack a marital commitments.

Then that changed.

I wrote a post that got some big attention about a guy I was dating who had physical boundaries in place that I wasn't accustomed to. That man became my husband a few years later; and what I gained, a marriage, a child, a little home for the three of us, I feel like my writing lost a little of its direction.

Even now, I feel loyal to that original audience. The ones who were just like me, waiting for their prince charmings to sweep them off their feet. I felt pressure to maintain a presence of blog posts and write only what was profound or spiritual.

And while that is healing on a lot of levels, when you're not feeling particularly spiritual or full of something remotely close to wisdom, it can leave your platform a little dry. It became clear to me a while ago that I needed a change.

A place where I could write about other things that interested me – motherhood, business, leadership, theater, music, healthy eating habits, marriage, relationships, and even create a space for some of my fiction pieces and even some of my freelance work to live.

What's more, I'm just so excited to have a less archaic platform and move into a space that doesn't lock me in to a specific kind of blog content.

To those of you who have followed me here from the beginning, thank you. I never dreamed that this would be something other than maybe a few friends would read. I hope you'll connect with me on my new site! Writing here has consistently helped me break past fear and the expectations of others and given me the gumption to pursue the career of my dreams.

I'll be working on cataloguing some of my favorite posts and releasing them into an ebook format later down the road. Until then, happiest of reading!
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Sunday, July 1, 2018

The Prodigal Sis Takes on Vacay


Whenever we have to say goodbye, I'm always reminded of that quote from A.A. Milne. The one that says, "How lucky am I to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard?"

I'm an extrovert. I love people–always have. My family is certainly no exception.

And while there are, I'm sure, a lot of people who would rather jet off to a remote villa or cruise for vacay, a week in North Carolina's Outer Banks with my very favorite and inspiring people is as close to paradise on this side of heaven we'll get as far as I'm concerned.

It's been a busy season. The good busy. Graduations, birthdays, freelance opportunities, new projects and a few other big changes in the works.

More on that later.

I told myself that all I had to do was hustle. To make it through the first two weeks of June and a big work presentation for a statewide conference, and then I could relax.


The Sunday we left, I found myself sitting in our church service with my one-year-old son in my lap gearing up for the week ahead. In prayer, of all things, for the week.

If I'm honest, I'm not much of a prayer. Not anymore. After all, when you've wrestled with doubt for so long, it's easier not to. But something called out to me. It caught in my throat and made me hold my baby boy extra close and wish–no, pray–for a good, slow week.

And we had one.

We've grown up on this beach, my cousins and I. The whole week spurs a feeling of complete belonging and understanding–what's more, it's a great place to make big life decisions.


So, not only did my husband and I spend all day under our red and white striped umbrella, letting our toes squirm together in the little blow up pool we brought for our son, we also talked about the upcoming year. What his graduating means for our family. How our little boy is growing up so fast. How the last year of our lives feels as surreal as a dream.

The memories are foggy, but somehow, through one of the most emotionally challenging seasons, we made it.

Now I'm finding myself in prayer before everything, begging God for slow. Begging for the miracle of feeling time, of living on purpose, of appreciating every hour of this summer. Because, it's my favorite season and I don't want to rush through it like I have the last year.

I want it savored. Like how I feel in a place where I truly belong. And for now, that place is here. In this season, in this home, in this role, in our little family of three.

And there's nothing like spending a week with your favorite people to help you realize that.



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Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Playful & Strong: A Tribute to My Style Hero


I don't remember my first Kate Spade bag. 

That is to say, it's hard to remember which one came first. There have been so many.

My watch and day planner keep me on track.

My small leather purse keeps everything I need close at hand – red lipstick, wallet, spare pair of shoes for when my heels can't foot the bill.

My diaper bag with little whale prints keeps the chaos of new motherhood at bay. For the most part.

My wedding china is a symbol of the traditions my growing family will begin: the holiday parties, the graduations, the birthdays. It's there for the Big Moments: the creme saucers and cups with silver polka-dots.

Kate Spade is a part of my life. From the full-time marketer, to the out-of-office poolside cocktail-sipper. She's for work and the on-the-town fancies. For nights with friends, and mornings with coffee.

She was there on my wedding day. She was there when I brought my first child home from the hospital. She was there when I failed, when I overstepped, when I got ignored, when I did the right thing, when I got the job, when I popped the champagne cork...

And I am so incredibly sad she's gone.

I was introduced to her, I'm sure, by way of my aunts. Both of whom are the pinnacle of style and class. After all, having a Kate Spade purse, watch, wallet, what have you, was the grown up equivalent of stepping into your grandmother's work pumps or wearing your mom's opal ring.

It made you feel like every day was a special occasion. There was a sophistication, a dazzle, an identify you could fizzle into.

Having a Kate Spade made me feel like my dream of being a New Yorker of being an author, and having all the right, charming things to say at the drop of a hat, was attainable.

And it still does.

For so long, what's attracted me to her brand was her boldness. There was a place for me – a grown woman who still, sometimes felt like she was playing dress up in her mother's closet – someone who was happy-go-lucky, cheerful, and bright.

Life could be fun, captivating. Even for the unsure. Even for the nervous, the second-guessers, the naive and the ones who pretend to have it all together.

You don't have to put your sparkle on a shelf to do good work. There is a place for kindness, light and whimsy in the business world.

Today, I feel like I've lost a true friend.

Maybe even a little piece of myself. 

I didn't know this woman, but I've carried her with me – her frothiness, her color – in every season. And I'll keep her with me in the next and the next.



Because she is quick. 

And curious.

And playful. 

And strong. 

And I will always love every piece of her I'm honored to hold.



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Thursday, May 31, 2018

My Summer 2018 Goals

Do you ever have seasons of life in which you feel the most yourself?

For whatever reason – pool lounging, beach trips, running at night to the tempo of crickets and fireflies – that time for me is summer. Cue all the High School Musical songs. So, if it's a time to thrive, it's time to push the limits on my status quo!

Here is a peek into my goals for Summer 2018:

Lose 15 Pounds

I feel like this is a goal for every season.

I've been tracking my weight loss journey since I stopped nursing on a new Instagram channel - and it's been a lot of fun! As it turns out though, I'm not one of those magical women who got super skinny after breastfeeding for a year. Nope. I tell myself I'm good at other things. Like picking out lip color and making the perfect book recommendation.

The magically losing weight? Not so much.

I've been really gentle with myself returning back to normal after baby and have lost a grand total of 25 pounds of baby weight after three months of Weight Watchers. For me, I love the program and it's flexibility. I love having something to track. And I love how even after I fall off the wagon for a day or two, it's never too late to start over.

Goal difficulty rating: 8/10

Run a 5K Race

I was my most in shape right before my wedding, about three years ago. Not only was I healthy physically, I was mentally and spiritually healthy, too.

The difference between now and then? Then I was running nine miles in 90 minutes without giving it a second thought. Now, I can't make it a third of the way without needing a break.

Training for a 5k is not difficult. It just takes time, patience and a rockin' running app. If you trust your training, it practically runs for you.

Okay, that's so not true. But you get what I mean. If I, the non-athlete, orchestra nerd from high school can pound the pavement, so can you.

Goal difficulty: 3/10


Use My Evening Hours More Diligently 

Guys. I seriously have such a problem with letting my nights get away from me. Lately, I've really struggled with staying up past 9 p.m. Being social, writing for pleasure, reading for pleasure, exercising...it's a mess. 

I did a video blog on the phenomenon, too. I need a system in place to help me be more wise with my time. There's grace, I know. But these e-books aren't going to write themselves!

Goal difficulty: 8/10

Get to Work Early

I'm a better worker bee when I'm at the office at 8 a.m. Plain and simple. I have big career goals and getting in the door and already an hour of work behind me by the time the traditional business day begins will only make me a stronger employee.

Complete a Draft of My Young Adult Novel 

I don't talk about my fiction work very much. Maybe it's because fiction, for me, is so much more difficult to write and even talk about than non-fiction.

When you write a blog about your life, the plot's been handed to you by...well...life. When you're sitting at the computer as an author, the story can take you anywhere. 

I have a tendency to be a little bit (okay a lot of bit) more particular about my fiction work. If someone dings my blog or essays it's easy to say, "Eh, it wasn't for them." But if someone critiques my fiction, the balm for the sting is a little harder to find.

This summer, I'm revisiting an old friend named Evie Tucker in a working manuscript I'm calling "Evie Tucker Makes Life More Better." The story is about a sixth-grade girl who's great at math and bad at English. She's finding her new normal after losing her mother. Evie, with her hot pink lab coat and engineering mind, creates little inventions to help make life a little easier for her dad and older brother.

I started the piece when I was pregnant with my son in hopes to write something that my kids would like to read one day. All-in-all, I have about 14,000 words of my goal of 65,000 by the end of August. Which means I need to write on average 520 words x day to have a completed rough draft by the end of the summer.

Goal difficulty rating: 7/10


So. Early to work. Running. Losing weight. And writing a novel. All in one summer. Not too bad, right?

I'm curious! Do you have summer goals? How can we encourage each other? Post in the comments and keep me in the loop! I'll be tracking my progress right here!
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Tuesday, May 22, 2018

We Don't Have to Go at it Alone – Officially Introducing "Small Beginnings"

"So, what's your favorite thing about being a mom?"

I was asked this at a work event a few months after the birth of my baby boy; and for all of my extroverted nature I could not, for the life of me, think of anything to say.

Great work, Brett. Not only have you failed at showing the world how much you love your son, you are also now the sole individual responsible for destroying the institution of mothering.

Postpartum anxiety is a mother, y'all.

The fact of the matter is at the time, I didn't have a favorite part of motherhood. Because, what glamorous trait of motherhood could I cling to?

The leaking?

The catching-spit-up in the palm of my hand?

The cluster feeding?

The two-hour plotting just to walk out of the house for 15 minutes?

The fear that I'd start nursing and never end and that my child would just remain a permanent fixture to myself?

How about the fact that I hadn't had longer than a three-hour stretch of sleep in months? Or that I felt like my life was on pause while I was watching my friend's lives unfold before me on Instagram?

 "I think just the identity of being a mom," I stammered. Then quickly asked for the sour cream and onion chips. After all, these feelings weren't going to eat themselves.

Now that I've had a year and more blessed, blessed sleep, I have found my favorite part of being a mother is the community that surrounds it:

You don't have to do any of it alone.

None of it.

My first venture into the nursing mother's room (also known as the "cry room" – for the kids, I presume. Not the moms) at my church afforded me beautiful people with whom I could simply lock eyes and feel understood, seen, known, in a time when I felt none of those things.

It was around then that my writing took a turn. Did other people feel this way? Did other women find joy and utter satisfaction in having their lives turned completely topsy-turvy? Was I missing something? This didn't feel as awesome as other mothers made it out to be.

It felt like a lot. And for a while, I felt like the only one.

Because while I loved my little nugget with all of my heart I also loved functioning like a normal human being.

That's why I wrote and released my first e-book, Small Beginnings: Essays on Pregnancy and New Motherhood. It's for the women who feel alone. It's for the women who find humor in suddenly having to be okay with not fitting into their pants.

It's for the women who relinquish their pride, their vanity, their own sense of self to suddenly launch a tiny human into the world.

It's for the women who keep it real. And the women who, perhaps, are curious about the things that no one wants to tell you about.

I'm incredibly proud of this. That it's here. That it's real. And that in spite of all the changes that haven taken place over the last year of my son's life, I'm still a writer.

Check out the e-book here!

The thing about motherhood is that it's not a force you can take in all at once. It's first felt in those first few shocking and blissful, confusing moments after you get the positive pregnancy test.

Inch by inch, maternity blouse by maternity blouse, you seep into motherhood. The community, the sacrifice and eventually, the love of it all.

And though we may not always agree on how sleep schedules or discipline should lead, we're there for each other.

It's small, but it's s a truly beautiful thing.
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Sunday, May 20, 2018

You Don't Have to Break - Thoughts on One Year of Motherhood

Hi y'all! Did you hear? My brand-new e-book released on Amazon! Check it out and give it a read! I'm so jittered to share it with you all!

Exactly one year ago today I was losing my ever-loving mind.

I was a week overdue with my first pregnancy. Hooked up to a fetal monitor, strapped across my bulging belly with a stretchy Ace bandage and ready, just ready with all my heart to stop being pregnant and to be a mom.

I wanted to fight against an induction. I wanted it all to come on its own. To be one of those superwomen who labor and have the Powerful Moment of bringing life into the world.

But by the time my scheduled induction came up on the calendar, I didn't care how it happened. Just get this precious, tardy kid out of me. And maybe bring me a hamburger with extra french fries.

And so, my Powerful Moment came by way of a bright-white operating room. Loopy, suspicious,  confused, and frankly disengaged, as I heard my son's first cry:

"Is that my baby?"

They wheeled us back into the recovery room and that was it. I was no longer pregnant. I was a mom. And the adventure – this small adventure that grows and grows – was only beginning.

This whole year, I've lily-padded from one milestone to the next a bit like I was in that post c-section haze. The new parenthood stage was like a tsunami that I was trying to outrun with positivity and a can-do spirit:

If I can just get through this cluster feeding.

If I can just make it through this teething.

If I can just  make it through this developmental leap.

If I can just make it through this late-night feeding.


(And if we're being super honest...)

If I can just make it through this trip to the grocery store.




If I can just make it, keep my head down, push through the changes, the snowstorm of our "new normal" would melt away; and our old normal would remain.

I stood stubborn to that line of reasoning. Waiting, anticipating, expecting to level-up to the role set out before me; never quite accepting the fact that something's gotta give at some point. Whether it's sleep, a promotion, girls nights, Sunday afternoon naps or  maintaining a blog that you love.

Our little family of three is incredibly happy, yes. Incredibly. I will say back and forth, up and down, sideways and under how I'm so lucky I get to live with my favorite people.

And yet, I'd be remiss if I didn't stop to acknowledge what has taken a hit in the last year; what has shivered under the quake of the pressure to be the Perfect, Doting Mother, all-the-while wrestling with anxiety on a level I'd not yet experienced, and trying my best to be all systems go with work, friendships and showing up to the important stuff.

Here's what I've learned after a year of new motherhood: you will get it all back.

Your sleep. Your social life. Your peace of mind.

That's not to say that some things aren't changed forever. There is a new little human in your family tree. Life sprouts and with it comes worry, fear, and a new overarching theme in your life: after all, you're someone's mother.

It was like how Shauna Niequist in her book Bittersweet talks about learning how to be bendable against the waves that break like glass on the shore. The waves of changes may break, but you don't have to.

And I'm here to tell you as a woman who was tentative about surviving pregnancy and the intense changes motherhood brings – there will be throw up, and recovery, and a serious dip into your savings account, and cardboard books, nap times and meltdowns in public (from your kid, and maybe you, too).

But the changes happen swiftly, and the first year goes by as fast as the world will tell you.

You will make it. And you will make it without breaking.
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Sunday, May 6, 2018

Be the One Person

Let me be clear from the start: you matter, you matter, you matter.

We said goodbye to a beloved friend today at church. Goodbyes are hard for this ENFP. I feel all the things. The hardship of change, the ushering in the new and airing out the old. It hurts. It's painful.

But at the same time it makes you reflect on impact. On how one singer, one worship leader can have the influence to break down the walls of my heart. To capture true worship with the beauty and power of a voice. To inspire you to live your life better, with more honestly, grit and virtue.

This is the power of one person's influence on your life.

I've been a member of First Presbyterian Church of Norfolk for five years. I met my husband there. Started a small group for young women, which blossomed into four years of refining, beautiful friendships there. We baptized our son there.

We have community there. 

As we said goodbye to our friend this morning, I recalled another goodbye we said to a family at church a few years ago.

The mother of the family – ironically the pastor's daughter of the church I grew up in – invited me to come with her one Sunday during a particularly tumultuous season in my work, personal life and faith.

Her kindness and patience with me as I accepted her invitation to attend that first service with her was the first step in my life changing for the better.

I met the good man who became my husband a few weeks later. We got married. We started a family. I fell in love with my new job. I had community. People who noticed if I didn't show up.

And it was all because of that one person. I don't have the words to write to share how utterly thankful I am.

A few nights ago I sat across the table from a dear friend. 

We hadn't had good one-on-one time in ages. And I wanted to convey to her that I missed her. That her absence from my life didn't go unnoticed or that our friend group didn't care one way or the other.

We do.

That one person has such power to make a difference.

I suddenly wanted to share that with the world. Because I'd been feeling temptation to withdraw.

Sometimes, as a mom, it's just easier to.

Why go to church if I'm going to have to sit in the nursing room for half the service? Why go to small group if I'm going to be distracted by my kid the whole time?

Why go to the party that's hours away if there are going to be a bazillion people there and the host won't likely notice my absence?

To be present you have to pack. Plan. Strategize. Change diapers on the road. Let the baby stretch his little legs. Coordinate with your significant other. Texts back and forth with such romantic liturgy as: "need anything from the store?' And "coming home late, can we leave by 6?"

But then you show up. 

And to someone else you're that one person that day. That one person who's kindness and attentiveness puts you back on the right path. Puts you in the arms of friends – for the bad times and the good.

You matter. Your presence matters. It makes a difference, whether you like it or not.

If you're in a season where it's easier to be lonely, because lonely is easy, may I encourage you to push through it? May I encourage you to take the time, make the date, put it on your calendar and start showing up.

Because you matter.

You extraordinarily matter.

And you just have no idea how much you could do by simply being the One Person in someone's life.
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Friday, March 30, 2018

I'm Not That Kind of Girl (And Other Lies We All Believe)


I was never an athletic kid.

I took on the identity of clumsy and uncoordinated early on. Accident-prone, certainly. I thought athletes were naturally gifted at running. You were either fast or slow. If you were tall, you were good at basketball. If you were fast, you were a naturally good swimmer.

I was neither tall. Nor fast. Swimming scared me in a lot of different ways. So, I stuck with the stuff that I was naturally inclined to. Music, being on stage, dance. Fluid movements for fluid gifts.
There are some people who are just naturally good at all the things. But for the rest of us, for me, I stuck with what was safe. With what I knew was in my wheelhouse.

It wasn't until I graduated college that I began running. There, my competitive drive and inclination for distance grew. I ran my first 5K. A few 10Ks here and there. At 26 I ran my first half-marathon.

Twenty-six.


I love running. I love my breath feeling sharp in my chest. I love my feet hitting the pavement, listening to a podcast, and the feel of the heat of the sun touching my shoulders. It's a different world. It's a world where I get out of my head and only concentrate in the here and now.
I'm not the best at it. Not by a long stretch. But for so long I told myself I'm not the kind of girl who runs.

So I didn't.

Lately, I've come to realize that I wasn't an athlete because I wasn't athletic. I wasn't an athlete because I never tried. I never trained. Not because I'm afraid of hard work, but because I was afraid of trying something and not being good at it right away.
When I laced up my running shoes a few nights ago - the first good run of the season - I found myself wondering what my life would be like if I hadn't pushed through the fear of not being good at something right away.

What if I never became a runner?

And, in that same light, what other bits of my life have I shied away from for fear of failure - for fear of not doing it perfectly right away?

What if everyone thought that way? 

What if no one ever went on dates because they were afraid of break ups?

What if no one ever became parents because they were afraid of raising jerk-kids?

What if no one ever went back to school because they were afraid that even after a master's-level course they still wouldn't be employable?

What if no one ever blogged or wrote stories because they were afraid they'd never get published?

What if everyone spent their whole lives saying: I could never do that. I'm not that kind of girl.

I've spent my whole life thinking I wasn't the type of person who was fashionable, healthy, a leader, successful.

So, I have spent almost thirty years living as though I was not those things. And could never be. I'd tell myself over and over again:

I could never video blog.

I could never lead a team.

I could never breastfeed in public.

I could never move past hurt or failure.

I could never build a platform to get a book deal.

I could never be friends with people like them.

I could never have that type of haircut.

I could never rock that kind of job. 

I could never. I could never. I could never.

I'm not that kind of girl.


But, when I lace up my pink running shoes, and run laps around the sidewalks – still with red lipstick on, mind you – I realize I and everyone else can be whatever type of girl we want to be.
We just have to work for it.
There's nothing magical about the people who do the things you want to do. There's nothing sensational. There's no X-factor, there's no level of IQ (unless you want to be an astrophysicist...maybe?). 

The people we admire likely have off-days, too. They probably feel just as skittish in front of a crowd or sitting in a salon chair.

But they work. They're doing it. They're risking failure. They're risking looking dumb or not put together.

They're working toward being the type of person they want to become.

Be a runner. Be a photographer. Be a business owner. Be whatever. Be that kind of person.

Because the truth is, you'll never be that kind of girl. Not unless you make yourself one.

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Monday, March 19, 2018

When Your Pants Still Don't Fit

We had a coffee date scheduled for Saturday afternoon.

One of my best gal pals and I decided to walk to our favorite local coffee shop.  Baby and stroller in tow.

"It's one of those days," I said to her when she got to my house. I was clad in stretch active wear that, if I'm being completely honest, has spent more time on the couch than the track. "I'm going to put on a hat, a dab of mascara and pray we don't run into anyone we know."

Precisely 10 seconds later, we ran into someone we both knew. She was a high school student from our church out on a run. Her blonde hair and her beautiful, sunny face was impossible to miss. We stopped mid-stride to greet her. She pulled the ear buds out of her ears.

"Are you training for a race?" I asked. "Or just outside enjoying the beautiful day?"

She grabbed her thighs, pinched the excess skin and replied, "I'm running to get rid of this."

Bless her soul, her thigh were about as meaty as a PVC pipe. That is to say, there was hardly anything there. I stammered something about needing to get rid of mine, too. How I was almost 10 months postpartum, but still ate like a pregnant woman.

We exchanged words with her along the lines of, "it's as good as it's gonna get," and "I look at pictures of myself from high school and wish for the days that I thought I was so completely overweight."

I was a size six. Completely healthy, but completely self-conscious.

I won't get into the nitty gritty of those days. Not here, not now. But long story short, I thought I was a fat girl. In fact, I have a vivid memory of  a guy who I had known calling me "bloated" in front of our entire AP Physics class.

This was over a decade ago. But I remember where I was sitting. I remember where he was sitting. One-third of my life later.

Since then, I don't ever recall feeling comfortable in my own skin. I don't recall trusting people not to slam me behind my back, or not to think that I shouldn't wear clothes that weren't classically flattering, didn't cover up my arms, or exposed too much of my back, even if I really liked them.

That began in high school. I was the same age as that stunningly perfect, beautiful high school student who stood in front of me. Who I exchanged slapstick self-deprecation with (because it has no age gap) and strolled away from.

Failing to convey that she's beautiful. Strong. Smart. Capable.

Failing to convey that one day she might not fit into a pair of pants that she loves and that doesn't make her any less worthy. It doesn't make her any less likely to achieve any of her goals, or be who she wants to truly be.

Looking back, I should've stamped my foot. I should've taken her by the shoulders and shaken her. Told her that she should only run if she truly enjoys the journey, not if the destination is some impossible standard of thinness.

I had a similar failed interaction with a friend who exclaimed to our friend group that she fit back into her pre-pregnancy pants.

I cheered. The whole room erupted into happy claps and congratulations. 

But...why? Why did we feel compelled to celebrate this? Why was my first reaction elation on her behalf? Why is squeezing your body into anything other than those awful mesh undies and yoga pants after having a baby considered an accomplishment?

Why were we even having this discussion? Why was this even important?

Having an unhealthy or overindulgent lifestyle that puts your heart and health at risk is one thing - but why, in an era of tolerance and love conquering hate have we still not conquered this?

Why are we pressuring our high school girls and postpartum women, both in tender emotional states, to be anything less than their whole selves?

Whether they fit into their pants or not.

I would live those moments over again if I could.

I'd hug them, I'd bring them close and pray that they could remember a moment of acceptance and peace, as vivid as my bad memory from high school.

I'd say to them over and over:

It's okay to wear yoga pants. It's okay to have a doughnut. And it's okay to let go of your vision of perfection to seek after health.

It's okay not to fit into your pants for a spell.
 
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Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Honey, Don't Hold Back & Other Lessons Learned from
International Women's Day

Last Thursday, on International Women's Day, I graduated from therapy. 

My therapist and I met for about two months; and I was running out of things to talk about.

It was like a breakup of sorts; like breaking up with an aunt. Looking at a person who you've grown to trust and care for, and deciding to end your relationship with them. At least on that level.

She and I had gone deep really quickly. Because, well, when you're paying someone to talk about your fears, emotions and perfectionistic history, you don't want to waste anyone's time.

Or maybe it's more to do with the fact that you have a perfectionistic history and, well, if you're going to go to therapy you want to A. be the best at it and B. be your therapist's favorite client.

But the depression and anxiety I was facing had run its craggy course. It was like waking up in a different time zone, or the first evening after daylight saving: suddenly you wake up and it's still daylight at 7 p.m.

The world, it seems, is a little brighter. Anxieties are easier to manage. You look your beasts square in the eye. You march straight up to them. Because trying to ignore them only makes them more powerful.

You realize that if you've come this far with the beasts of self-doubt, anxiety, depression, negative self-talk and still managed to get out of bed, keep an infant alive, maintain an employed status at a full-time job and juggle with some freelance opportunities on the side, that you could do so, so much more.

If only you could work through what it is that holds you back.

It was a powerful, wise woman who helped me sort out my stuff. And we all have our stuff.

The same day, it was a group of powerful women who stood with me, arms linked as we prayed for a a friend who was deeply hurting. It was the same day that I got to brag about the female leadership in my workplace and how none of us have ever had to question if we were getting compensated fairly or if we were looked down upon because we were women.

We're respected. And if we're not, we're too busy to look over our shoulders, anyway.

This is what it's like to be a woman: to battle the anxiety, the depression, the fear, the loneliness, the doubts, the heartbreak and to have the strength to rise and do it all better the next day.

To nurse our children.

To chase after careers.

To be better wives.

To be better friends.

To battle noise that says we should be this not that. 

Thin, not fat. 

Vibrant, not grey.

Calm, not loud.

Republican, not anything else.

Sponges of miscalculated doctrine, not free-thinkers and meditators.

Stubborn, not graceful.

Thin, not fat. Thin, not fat. Thin, not fat.

But imagine with me, friend. Imagine as I did on my last day of therapy as I stood from that Kleenex-box green couch, empowered and emboldened.

Imagine your life – your very same life with all the same trimmings and trappings but with one life-altering difference:

To be unashamedly your very own self. 

And to not hold back for the rest of your ever-loving life.

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Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Attacking the Adult Witching Hour - One-Week #ProdigalSisChallenge!

My evening routine needs more than a facelift. 

It needs total reconstructive surgery.

So many articles on the interwebs *pushes up glasses on nose* talk about breaking through the morning routine. Articles like "the five best ways to make the most of your morning..." or

And maybe I'm alone in my struggle, but the morning is so not where I struggle. Mornings make us new. They're a fresh start. A chance to begin again.

Am I always high energy in the morning? Certainly not.

But I'm not just talking about being a "morning person" versus an "evening person."

What I mean is that after a long day, when all the spinning plates of the tyrant we named "urgent" have slowed, and my child is asleep, I lack the gumption I need to do what it is I truly love.

It's not just about goal setting. At nighttime I am more likely to: 

Scroll mindlessly through Instagram/Facebook.

Neglect exercise.

Binge eat stuff that's bad for me.

Zone out to Netflix.

Forego chores like dishes and laundry that I know I'll regret not doing the next morning.

Fall asleep on the couch at 9:30 p.m. with my contacts permanently fused to my eyeballs.

Oy.

I am more likely to not: 

Be creative.

Engage in meaningful conversations with people I love.

Leave the couch, or take any major steps to my goals outside of my day job and duties of motherhood.

It's about more than being tired after a long day, or adjusting to new motherhood.

It's about gearing up for the time of day, mentally, I know I'm more likely to fall off the beaten path.

It's about putting boundaries in place for myself so that when I'm faced with the temptation to flump on the couch (yes, that is the technical word for it..."flump") and neglect housework and preparations for the next day, I'll be more likely to power through.

So I put out an ask on Instagram and man alive, did my people come through with practical tips for overhauling my evenings. I'm going to do the following for one week straight and track my progress. If you'd like to do the same, comment below and post about it on Instagram or Facebook using #prodigalsischallenge!

Put Your Phone in Another Room

For many, the first step seemed to be the hardest: leaving your phone in another room.

Because someone might need me! I have no trouble putting my phone on "do not disturb" while I'm working or on a date night (checking in periodically on the sitter for my little one). Why don't I treat dinnertime or time for personal development with the same consideration?

Honestly, I think there's something there: committing to myself with the same level I'd commit to anything or anyone else.

If there's one time of day I'm willing to let my day get interrupted with Instagram or Facebook notifications, it's at dinner time. Or the first real few moments I have with connecting with my husband. In those moments, I'm telling my family that Instagram is more important than they are.
Is Instagram more important than the man I stood up in front of 200 of my closest friends and committed my life to? I think not!

Making a List Before You Get Home

This is one of my favorite suggestions: make a list of three things you'd like to get done while you're home for the evening. Laundry? Dishes? Paying a bill? Calling a friend? Writing 1,000 words? Taking a bubble bath? Doing a workout?

Whatever it is, write it down. It's easier to commit to it if you can see it.

And even if you only get around to one thing on your list, that's OKAY! It's already more than you would've accomplished on a night spent flumping on the couch.

Turning Off the Television

This one is going to be the hardest for me. We always have the television on. Our two-bedroom condo has an open space and if the t.v. is on in the living room, it's basically on in the whole house. And now that the new season of Marvel's Jessica Jones is upon us it's going to get even more difficult.

But, I don't want to have spent my life watching television when I could've been building a business, making healthy choices or hanging out with my friends.

Setting a Deadline

This is my mom's trick. She never sits down.

Ever.

She's a one-woman hustle-beehive. I asked her about it once and she said that if she lets herself sit down even for a moment after a long day of work, the tired sets in.

You can set whatever deadline works best for you - but I will work on not getting snuggled up under a blanket on the couch until nine p.m.

In our house, I get home from work at six and my son  goes to bed roughly around 7:30. If I dedicate just an hour and a half of time to working toward any goal in that space and allow myself one episode of Jessica Jones (instead of three), that's a lifestyle change I can get behind.

Put a Timer on It

It's a tried and true trick I learned from The Lazy Genius: For cleanup when the house has gotten completely out of hand, I'll set a timer on our Alexa (you don't have to be that fancy - any timer will do) for fifteen minutes.

My husband and I will do a mad hustle to pick up, sweep, wash, vacuum anything in our path. You'd be surprised what a difference it makes - and how long 15 minutes really is when you're focused on one task.

Grace for Mondays

I've just learned, Mondays are hard for everyone in our house. I'm back to work after a weekend with my main men, my son is adjusting to not having his mom in arm's reach around the clock and my husband is readjusting to doing schoolwork, watching the baby all day and meal prepping for the week.

We need a night to rest and not put pressure on ourselves after a high-volume day. If you choose to do this, pick a day that works for your natural rhythm.

So, What do you say?

I'm committing to doing the following every night (with exception of Mondays) for one week. Follow along in my progress on Instagram. If you want to have your own weeknight hustle challenge, post it with #ProdigalSisChallenge! I'll be picking one lucky participant to win a copy of my new favorite book, Girl, Wash Your Face! By Rachel Hollis.

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Saturday, February 24, 2018

What Our Children Teach Us About Asking for Help

Nine months into his precious little life, Johnny discovered a new game.

It's called Cry For Toys. More accurately, Cry For Toys, Get Mom to Pick Them Up, Throw Them on the Ground and Cry Again.

We're both getting really good at it. Maybe they'll offer scholarships for it by the time he's ready for college.

We're not strangers to this game at all. Anyone who's ever watched a baby for more than 30 seconds knows the routine. They're discovering gravity, exploring their world, and learning that they can't do certain things without enlisting help from their Big People who love them dearly.

Johnny has this little orange ball that he loves. And last night, when we were sitting on the couch he dropped it onto the floor.

He made this adorable little helpless face (I know all Moms think their kids are adorable, but mine seriously takes the cake). He looked so distraught as he peered over the edge of the couch. That orange ball may as well have rolled halfway to China, because there was no way he was going to reach it.

Not on his own.

Without thinking, I plucked it from the carpet and handed it to him. He resumed inspecting it closely, as usual, not realizing he'd solidified a lesson I'm learning as I approach my 30s: accepting help when I need it most.

Because we all drop the ball in some way or another.

I don't know what it is about me - maybe it's because I'm the oldest of three, or maybe it's a defense mechanism of sorts, but somewhere along the way of three decades on this planet, I learned to go at it alone.

I hated group projects. I hated doing anything, really, in a team. I had to do it all, or I was a failure. Relinquishing tasks off of my to-do list - even today - is not as simple as a letting-go gesture that gets more stuff done in the grand scheme of things.

It's an admission of weakness. It's a submission to the fact that I'm a human, not a robot. And that someone...somewhere...may have a better idea or be more talented than me. 

Sisters, the struggle is so real.

I don't look down on my son for not being able to spring off our red, pseudo velvet couch and scramble for his toys. What kind of mother would I be if I did?

In the same sort of way, I'm learning that asking for help, for not depending on solely myself to do ALL THE THINGS is okay. Healthy, even. 

Somewhere along the way I learned that doing things like putting pans in the dishwasher, listening to audio books, or even scrubbing the shower while I was taking a shower was cheating somehow. That asking my mom to bring me wrapping paper for a bridal shower gift meant that I couldn't handle it all on my own.

Here's the rub, though: life is a whole lot more pleasant when you learn that you actually can't handle it all on your own. Admitting you're human and don't have time for it all isn't the same thing as admitting you're weak.

Some of the strongest women I know hire cleaners, babysitters, buy baked goods for the office birthday party from the local grocery store` and purchase gifts on Amazon Prime. God bless that two-day shipping.

Doing it all is great. But when you have moments where something flutters to the floor, like a busy house of cards, it's nice to know that there are people in my life I can count on.

Who I can look at square in the face. Distraught. Confused. Tired. Have my eyes ask for help all on their own.

And without thinking, they pick up the ball. Without judgment. Without even thinking twice.

Because, what kind of friend would they be if they did?




Is it hard for you to ask help? What would your life look like if you gave up trying to do it all on your own?


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Monday, February 19, 2018

5 Authentic Bloggers and Podcasters You Need in Your Life Right Now

Last week, I wrote a post dedicated to the women who seem to have it all together. It was a call to live more authentically. Lately, I've been craving true relationships, especially as a new mom. When you find those people, those who will be truly genuine around you for better or for worse, hang on to them.

I feel that way about the following authors. I've somehow stumbled into a goldmine of inspirational authors and podcasters who I love with my whole heart. If you don't have these women's voices in your earbuds or have any iteration of their books (I'm a big fan of audio books lately), you are seriously missing out.

And what kind of friend would I be to you all if I kept them close to my heart?

So, here you have it. Authentic authors and podcasters who you need in your life pronto:

Rachel Hollis

I adore content making machines. I was introduced to Rachel's podcast a few days ago and - what luck! - she had a brand-new book release just last week. She's hysterical, and Girl, Wash Your Face: Stop Believing the Lies About Who You Are so You Can Become Who You Were Meant to Be has been a complete delight so far.

Granted, I'm a newbie to her podcast. But if it's anything like her book, I know you'll be in for a treat!

Knox and Jamie

It doesn't get any more real than these two. Their podcast, the Popcast, is a show "dedicated to delightful idiocy." Their Bachelor recaps are pull-the-car-because-you're-laughing-so-hard-worthy.

They're also releasing a new show called the Bible Binge. And let me just say: this sassy duo is going to take the...shall we say..."less interesting" bits of the Old Testament and turn them into comedic (albeit, slightly blasphemous???) gold.

Emily P. Freeman

This woman has my whole heart. Not only is her voice - like her actual speaking voice - calm and reassuring, her message is the same.

Her podcast, the Next Right Thing, is for those of us who carry a little extra anxiety in our pockets through our day-to-day. Her words of encouragement give her listeners room for grace and intentional living. I look forward to Tuesday mornings to glean from this woman's genuine wisdom.

The Lazy Genius

This woman helps you be a "genius about the things that matter and lazy about the things that don't." If you're anyone who's felt caught in the race of needing to measure up. For so long I thought "working smarter not harder" was the credo of the lazy, or that it was cheating somehow. 

But through her dazzling insight on the Lazy Genius Podcast, I've learned to accept help when it's offered, that letting my husband fold the towels (even if he doesn't do it the way that I would do it) and put them away, makes time for what's actually important to me.

And being a good, well-rounded person is so much more important to me than having an organized linen closet.

Lara Casey

Why this woman doesn't have a podcast yet, I'll never know. (Lara, if you're reading, we want moooooore!).

This woman is a vibrant creator and is the brain behind Powersheets (a goal-setting agenda you likely saw lots of people Instagram toward the beginning of the year.) Her latest book, Cultivate: A Grace-Filled Guide to Growing an Intentional Life, is an absolute delight and a perfect book for a new mama's small group.
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Monday, February 12, 2018

An Open Letter to the Woman Who Has it All Together

I'm currently competing in the Winter Olympics:

I'm measuring my day-to-day with the polished version of another woman's life. And I'm losing. Terribly. Bronze medal at best.

How do I know?

It's pretty easy to tell these days. Her Instagram feed is filled with pictures of her beautiful home. It's rare to find her without a smile on her face. I'm almost certain she's never once had a last-minute panic to find the match to a sock as she stumbles out the door each morning.

I've never seen her mad. Never heard a word of gossip escape from her lips. And has a distinct stiff-upper-lipness about her – like she doesn't wrestle with the jungle drums of panic and anxiety. All of her outfits certainly were not cobbled together by disjointed trips to Ross outlets. She volunteers in her free time, despite her rather large family, and daunting business responsibilities.

Her fun personality and talents leave me in a wake of self-conciousness I haven't felt since middle school. Back when I had wide, green-rimmed glasses and wore the same pair of overalls before capsule wardrobes were cool.

We all have that one person in our lives, don't we?

That person who's 30 pounds thinner than us, has hair that a Pantene model would die for, and in any other world where competition and distrust doesn't exist: you and she would probably be best friends.

She's the 2.0 version of us – the celebrity who would play you in the movie version of your life. Except she's the one living out the movie you wish your life could be to begin with.

Oy!


The thing is, I know this woman isn't real.

We all do.

Because for all of the perfection she portrays, I know it's a mirage. A mixture of what I believe is true and what she knows is reality.

I know that somewhere down the line she probably spats with her husband or loses her temper with her kids. spats with her husband, or has a bad relationship with her family.

But on days when the dry shampoo flows like a river and the laundry stacks high...I just want her to show me how to be a better woman.

We've all heard about the power of vulnerability and how important it is.

We very rarely talk about what it means for others.

Last week, I wrote down some thoughts about success and failure. How successes only help ourselves, but our failures have a way of being tools we can all learn from.

I admire with my full heart women who are open about their shortcomings, women who admit to not having it all together, women who lead the charge and are honest about how hard it was to get to the top. How much of a struggle it is to put on the having-it-all-together mask.

So, to the woman who has it all together, I'd ask that you let the rest of us in.


Yes, you. With the six-pack abs and the thriving freelance business. Yes you, with the smile and pep during seasons that were such a struggle for the rest of us.

This is in no way a shaming of those who are more organized, physically fit or a decree for those around us to live less fabulously. We should all live fabulously, no?

This is simply a petition for us as women, as wives, as mothers, as singles, as business owners, to be open with one another. To let our mistakes be a front-and-center part of our stories.

After all, strong women lift other women up. Our stories make us strong. And they help others along the way.




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Thursday, February 1, 2018

4 Permission Slips for Your Every Day Adulting



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Last week I turned down a really good opportunity.

I won't get into the specifics, but I will say there were a million little good reasons to take this leap. It was consistent, and it just sort of fell into my lap.

What a blessing. What an honor...

Taking it would've meant setting aside a little extra income for my family. It would've meant taking a smaller step toward a larger goal, and I felt this external buzzing in my head: the "should beehive."

You might not ever get this opportunity again...

It will be good for you...

If you don't do this, you're lazy and not willing to hustle for what you really want...

But there was another thing: I just felt spent.

I talked over taking the opportunity with my husband. We were pushing our son in our stroller around the crooked sidewalks of Norfolk. I rattled off the pros and cons out loud as we scooted along.

"I know it would be a good idea, but I just really don't want to do it," I said.

After listening to me go back and forth Gordon said, "It sounds like you're asking permission to not do this." 

And I really was.

As an avid member of People Pleasers Not-So-Anonymous, sometimes I fall off the wagon. I'm tempted to think that I'm The Only One who can fulfill a role. That someone else's problem is automatically mine to take ownership of and fix.

But it's really just an opportunity for someone else.se.

I forget that I don't need permission to say no to something. Even if it's a good fit. Even if it's "on brand" with my goals for the future.

If you're like me, maybe you need the back-and-forth. Maybe you need compassion for yourself. And to give yourself a reminder that you have the following permission slips for your every day adulting:

Permission to Say No (or Yes!)

Good opportunities have a way of guilt tripping us if we're not careful. If something doesn't quite feel right and your hesitation isn't born out of a lack of a healthy self-confidence or lame excuses (you know what they are), maybe this is something to consider.

But if a good opportunity is causing stress, anxiety, or you just can't stand the idea of adding another thing to your schedule...

If you find yourself saying, "I can do it...I just need to try harder, I need to do better, then I can make it work..."

Permission granted to say no to something good.

Permission to Fail

Repeat after me: it is okay to fail, it is okay to fail, it is okay to fail.

So many of our stories are stacked with successes. We build them up like sand castles. We lay them at the top of our baskets – con-artists that we are – hoping no one will notice what's underneath.

But failure is a commodity: we can learn from our own mistakes and the mistakes of others. If we're not forthright about our own shortcomings, we lose the chance to teach, mentor and thereby protect.

So fail with dignity.

Permission to Unfollow

With this lack of being up front with our failures, we're also lacking a clear picture of other people's deep realities.
Some of us paint a prettier picture than others. On social media, some of us are better liars than others. 

And some people really do just get pedicures, jet off to Tahiti, have a farmhouse sink installed by BFF Joanna Gaines herself (with the accompanying shiplap) and are sponsored by Target, Starbucks and Lululemon.

The truth is, we don't have to follow these people if they pluck our harp strings of jealousy. We have control of our feeds. We don't have to engage with these folks via Istagram stories before we've even had our first sip of coffee in the mornings.

Unfollow. Unsubscribe.

They'll likely never notice. (They're too busy curating their perfect lives).

Permission to Be Okay

Finally, it's okay to be okay. It's okay to be confident in who you are, even if you're self-aware of your shortcomings.

You can enjoy the goodness in yoHur life without guilt. You can be thankful. You can be honest. You can be okay.
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Saturday, January 20, 2018

4 Ways to Be Sure You're Not Wasting Your Life

"How's your stall?"

I looked up from the floor, away from the dustpan I was sweeping crumb carnage from the lunch shift into and laughed. Travis always asked me this at the end of one of our busy shifts at the restaurant where we worked.

It was a reference to a Proverb. One that that talked about how you need an ox for a harvest. You don't want an empty stall. Otherwise, you can't do the work ahead of you. No work. No harvest.

The only problem? The manure.

Because you can imagine what happens to the stall of an ox, or any large animal for that matter, after a time. It's sort of like what happens to my son's diapers after a road trip.

Stuff builds up.

Questions would run through my head. Second-guesses, discontent. Often times I'd look at the work before me and wonder if I was on the complete

But this was a long time ago. Long before my son was born. Long before I even knew my husband. It was a very different season. A particularly lonely, doubtful one.

"Lot of manure today," I told Travis that day. "Lots of shoveling."

Travis and I would toss the phrase back and forth to each other. Both of us were waiting tables to pay our way through graduate school. Lots of 16-hour work days. Lots of closing at 2 a.m. and being back for the opening breakfast shift at 6 a.m.

Lots of swallowing pride. Bringing hot sandwiches and tea refills to women my age with slick hair and pressed suits at their important lunch meetings.

On my bad days, I'd hang my head and feel like a complete loser. Like everyone who ever warned me that pursuing an English degree would one day equate to me flipping burgers was right. And there were a lot of warnings.

But on my good days, I knew that I was gaining some grit. That if I had the tenacity to find passion in the small of my job, if I could learn to find something to be passionate about through the 16-hour work days and the all too-real crying in the walk-in cooler moments, someone would notice.

Eventually, I'd wind up serving dinner to a woman who one day became my boss. The stuff I did on a minor scale then (talking to strangers, giving bad news to tables, relaying messages to the kitchen, anticipating the needs of others) was all prep-work for a job I now love.

I don't know where you are today.

Maybe you're an assistant in a marketing firm waiting for an opportunity to show your creative ideas. Maybe you're a teacher frustrated with the administration, waiting for someone to listen to how you could improve your school district.

Maybe you're a new mom like me, and your dreams, friendships, travels, and social life have been put on a brief hiatus in place of building a new dream in the form of a wriggling, squirmy little one.

But these seasons – whether earning your way up in a company or feeling a little like life is whizzing by in the swell of plans, errands and keeping your laundry folded – all have deep meaning. Here's how to know you're not wasting your life:

You're in the thick of it.

Ah, yes. Stall-shoveling. Hard work. There may be qualities of your day-to-day that don't quite make sense, or seem beneath you.

Embrace that feeling and learn some humility from it.

It's true what they say: what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. You have to start somewhere, and it may as well be at the beginning.

It's hard, and it's hard for a reason. You're laying the foundational work for the rest of your life.

You're practicing important habits and on a smaller scale.

I love the saying, "If you're not happy here and now, you'll never be."

Meaning, if you're not happy with what you have now, why do you think that gnawing feeling solve itself when you moved to the next level? And the next?

I'm totally guilty of this. First it was a boyfriend. Then an engagement. Then a marriage. Then a baby...now I have my eye on a home with a backyard for my son. But, I'm trying to learn contentedness where I am in this moment right now.

If I can't find peace and freedom in this season, I'll always be haunted by it.

And who wants to live haunted?

You're learning what not to do.

If you feel like you're in the background, ready for the dream job, ready for the right relationship, or the pregnancy test to show two lines – by all means, learn from the failures of others.

Let those ahead of you make the big mistakes and then learn from their guidance. It will save you a lot of future heartache.

You're ready to get back up and try again.

It's hard being in a season of waiting. But as long as you find purpose in the waiting, you'll be a stronger, more resilient you.


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