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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.


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.


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.

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.


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.


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.


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.


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?


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.

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.


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.


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.

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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