#SAYSWHO

There’s this awful trap that I keep getting caught in. A trap that sometimes locks me in this dark, lonely cave that is hard to navigate my way out of. It’s kind of like looking at Medusa – except you don’t die – but if you look at her deceitful eyes, and allow all of those “less than” stones to close in on you, it traps you…and, it’s horrible…and, NO ONE should ever have to experience this.

This trap I’m talking about is the “comparison trap”…You know, where you see everyone’s lives laid out in what appears to be this sweet, easy perfection and you wonder what you’re doing wrong. Or, you find yourself watching t.v. or maybe reading a magazine and actually believing that what you see is the standard for which you should be aspiring…but, it feels impossible….and, you feel like you’ll never be good enough. All of this means that you must be failing, right?!

WRONG!

 The practice of constantly comparing ourselves to others has to stop!  It is taking with it our joy and enthusiasm for life!

Whether you are short or tall, skinny or maybe have a little “more to love” on you; whatever color your skin may be, or where you are from; financially rich, poor or somewhere in between; whatever interests you, whatever you excel or do not excel at; married or not, kids or no kids, stay-at-home parent or full-time-outside-the-home working parent….the list goes on!  The question here is: What makes any of those things better than the other?

SAYS WHO?

We are allowing other people to set the standard for what life should look like and how we should look while living it.

Who says 5’0” isn’t perfect? Or, that 6’5” isn’t also perfect?  Who says that being able to DIY everything is a must to living a fulfilled life? Or, who says you can’t DIY everything and be good at it?

I found this great quote by Arianna Huffington that says, “The fastest way to break the cycle of perfectionism and become a fearless mother is to give up the idea of doing it perfectly – indeed to embrace the uncertainty and imperfection.”*

I love this quote. Life is so much better when we just allow it to be what it is instead of what others say it should be.

I have four amazing and very unique kids under the age of twelve.  Sometimes I just look at them and wish I could see myself the way they see themselves.  They come out of the womb and they just are who they are. They don’t come out comparing themselves to anyone else.  Who they are is perfect AS IS.  I don’t want this to change.  I hate knowing that it probably will.

So, I’m going to start with me!  I am going to love me in all of my imperfections.  I am going to stop comparing myself to others.  Whenever I start questioning myself, I’m going to ask, “Says Who?”  Let’s take this journey of self-empowerment together and start the #SAYSWHO campaign.

Have you ever noticed that by simply adding and apostrophe and a space to the word “imperfection” you spell “I’m perfection”?

That sounds good to me.

(And to this guy…)

 

*Arianna Huffington. (n.d.). BrainyQuote.com. Retrieved July 7, 2017, from BrainyQuote.com Web site: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/a/ariannahuf395723.html

Share this great message with everyone around you.  You can find yours in many different colors and styles in both adult and children’s sizes.  Check it out here:  https://teespring.com/stores/wear-your-bliss

 

Kindness is a Superpower

Super powers aren’t just a thing of fiction; something you see in movies and read in comic books. There is a very real super power that not only has the ability to change a person’s day, but can change a person’s life.  And, not just change a person’s life, but save it, too.

We live in a world where kindness does indeed exist, but is often overshadowed by the mean, the cruel and the hate that also exists.  We live in a world where depression, loneliness and bullying are causing the suicide rate to rise….rapidly.   This is not okay.

Every morning I tell my kids they have the power to save a life.  They can be a super hero by simply being nice to everyone.  Because, kindness is a super power.

Kindness matters. It matters a lot.  Look for the person who is sitting alone and be their friend.  Smile and say “hi” to everyone you see.  Bite your tongue and keep your fingers off the keyboard when you are frustrated  or irritated – you will never regret not saying or typing something unkind.  You don’t have to agree or like the same things, dress the same, look the same or believe the same as another person to be kind to them.

I can’t help but wonder how rapidly the suicide rate would drop if we allowed kindness to rule the world.  Or rather, we all ruled the world with kindness.

Another word for kindness is love.

“Spread love every where you go.  Let no one come to you without leaving happier.” – Mother Teresa

“Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.” – Maya Angelou

“Pure Christ-like love flowing from righteousness can change the world.” – Elder Jeffery R. Holland

“Be Kind”. – Ellen DeGeneres

All of these people are superheros.  And, we can be too!  We can be the person that brings joy to everyone we come in contact with.  Our kindness can bring a seemingly hopeless person to a place of hope.  Our kindness can change the world.

 Save the day. Save a life.  Be a Super Hero.

And, all you have to do is be kind.

 

*I recognize that there are many reasons people take their own lives.  I am just highlighting one of them.  The one we might all be able to help prevent.  You can find current stats at www.cdc.gov

 

Share this great message with everyone around you.  You can find yours in many different colors and styles in both adult and children’s sizes.  Check it out here:  https://teespring.com/stores/wear-your-bliss

The freedom of Being Grateful

We’ve all heard it said in  many different ways.  I might just be another voice in all of the noise. It’s been called the key to happiness so it’s kind of a big deal. I’m talking about the power of gratitude.  Saying “Thank You”. Counting your blessings. It works. Knowing that doesn’t always make it easy.

Many years ago I was struggling to find my happy.  I didn’t have depression, but I was feeling down….almost all of the time. One day, I just kind of snapped out of it.  I started to realize that so much of what I had in my life would be a dream come true to so many.  I realized that I was missing out on so much memory making because I couldn’t stop focusing on the things that weren’t going my way in life…*ahem* my “first-world” problems.  I sound like a spoiled child, don’t I?

That day, I changed my focus.  I started to really focus on what I had…as constantly as I could.  The realization is the only thing that happened that fast.  Being grateful on a daily basis took time as any habit does. That is what we’re creating here. A good habit.  One of the best habits a person can have.

The reward? As soon as I started to turn gratitude into a habit, I felt free!

It sounds cliche, but it felt like a big weight had been lifted off of me! The world looked different in the best way possible.  Bonus: I felt more confident.

I didn’t think that I would ever go back to focusing on the negative parts of life.  But, I did. And, I do. However, having experienced the liberating power of gratitude, I’ve been able to fix my focus more easily and more quickly every time.

Sometimes it’s hard to be grateful. Let’s take the challenge to refocus on the good in our lives; to realize that sometimes the imperfections are the very things that make life perfect.

You can’t make it to the top of a mountain without getting dirt on you. After all, the dirt is part of what got you to the top.

#saysME

There are times when we ask “says who” and the wrong people not only answer, but shout it out as loud as they can. Sometimes they act. Sometimes they’re violent. These are the times when we can’t keep “says me” to ourselves. We have to come together to drown out those who look at our friends and neighbors as if they are “less than” because their skin is a different color.

*”Hatred is corrosive of a person’s wisdom and conscience; the mentality of enmity can poison a nation’s spirit, instigate brutal life and death struggles, destroy a society’s tolerance and humanity, and block a nation’s progress to freedom and democracy.”
( Liu Xiaobo)

I am not naive enough to have not known that there is still much prejudice in the world. I did believe, however, that we live in a country that would never allow these hate groups – the ones that posses such a dark place in our country’s history – to walk our streets, freely spouting their messages of hate. There is a fine line between freedom of speech and demonstrations that invoke violence…and, now terrorism. Our freedoms were given to us as a protection. When that freedom is used to take away another’s right to that protection, that line has been crossed.

When a person drives a car into a crowd of people, how does the leader of our nation attempt to justify rather than call it what it is? How does the leader of our country think for a second that both sides hold responsibility? This was terrorism on American Soil by an American Citizen who is part of radicalized hate group; not a group of citizens exercising their first amendment rights. 

**”We, the People, recognize that we have responsibilities as well as rights; that our destinies are bound together; that a freedom which only asks what’s in it for me, a freedom without a commitment to others, a freedom without love or charity or duty or patriotism, is unworthy of our founding ideals, and those who died in their defense.”
(Barack Obama)

You want to make our country great again, Mr. President? Take notes.

There can be no place for hate in this great country.  There can be no place for hate in our cities. There can be no place for hate in our homes and in our hearts. It starts here. With you and with me. We have to speak up and talk louder. We have to teach our children the value of being kind and open; to embracing each other’s differences because our differences really are what make this country great. They are what keep this country moving forward!

Says Who?

Says Me.

Says We.

 

 

*https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/l/liuxiaobo510284.html?src=t_freedom

**https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/b/barackobam453815.html?src=t_freedom

The Green Monster

There’s this Monster. He’s green. You’ve met him. In fact, he’s made himself a little home inside of you and me. He’s harmless though.  Unless you feed him. Don’t feed him! He gets big and scary and will suck the happy right out of you! He might even turn you a really crappy shade of green. I’ve named him Mr. J.

What does Mr. J like to eat and then regurgitate all over our insides? Well, you know that feeling you get when you see someone doing something you wish you could do and you almost hate them for it?  Or, when someone has things you only dream of having? Or, when someone has the figure or beauty you see as perfection and believe you’ll never have? Mr. J feasts off of these thoughts. Then he fills you with these awful feelings inside that he tells you are the fault of Mr./Mrs. Perfect over there. Great. Now you hate them even more.

It doesn’t matter how much older I get, or even how much more confident I become. Mr. J seems to be here to stay. Over the years I’ve gotten better at keeping him out of the way, though. You could say that I’ve almost fully mastered the little monster.

How do we “master the monster”?

-First-

You’ve heard it before – we love the skin we’re in. It’s really hard to look at others kindly if we don’t look at ourselves the same way. Everywhere we look we are surrounded by photo shopped perfection and we’re confusing it for reality. This makes it hard to look at ourselves and see beauty.  We can’t let this artifice define what beauty really is. They don’t know. They don’t get to decide. WE get to decide. We get to be the true definition of beauty. Perfection lies within our imperfections and our differences.  Once we embrace this truth, we can look at each other and appreciate our differences rather than envy them.

-Second-

We need to want what we already have. When we are focusing on all of the things that we want, but can’t afford, it’s really hard to not hate those around us that can afford it. Sometimes money has nothing to do with it. Sometimes we just want to be “The Jones'”. This way of thinking will consume us and prevent us from ever knowing what it means to really live. Having things does not equal happiness and fulfillment. Not even close. When we recognize and are grateful for what we already have, we can see the cool “toys” our friends and neighbors have and truly be happy for them and not waste time feeling sorry for ourselves.

-Third-

 Recognize and appreciate the things we are good at. Then, recognize and appreciate the things others are good at. Life is so much more fun when we are no longer afraid to try new things and possibly fail right in front of someone who is succeeding. Or, to just be okay with the idea that not every “thing” is your “thing”.  When we make peace with this, it is so much easier to praise those around us when they succeed.

Jealousy bears its ugly face almost daily in my life. Putting those three things into action makes it easier to tell that monster to go away. It is only then that I can cheer myself and everyone around me on. Isn’t that what we should be doing? Cheering each other on?

Life is too short to let the green monster consume us. And, we all have too much to offer to let him use us to bear his ugly face.

Because I can

Self-doubt. I have experienced this on a pretty regular basis throughout my life. It has kept me from trying new things, helping those around me, and setting and reaching my goals.

This obstacle and mind-set changed one day with three simple words.

Because I Can.

Once upon a time, I decided to try a cycling class at the gym I had just joined.  Another word for self-doubt – fear.  Trying new things is scary.  Especially hard things. I lucked out, though.  This class was led by an amazing instructor (we’ll call her Miss M) who was ready to challenge me, but made me feel like I could go at my own pace, too. At the end of the class, I felt pain in places I didn’t know existed!  I was so beat, I didn’t think I’d ever want to do it again.  You know what happened the very next day?  I learned that surviving that feeling of complete and utter exhaustion is empowering.  It’s the very feeling that makes you want to do it again.

I became a regular in this cycling class and it changed my whole perspective. It gave me a reason to leave self-doubt by the wayside.  Miss M shared the story of her sister who had always loved to exercise, but had recently lost her battle with cancer.  She asked all of us to think of someone we know who is unable to exercise because of physical limitations or illness.  When we think we can’t do it, remember this person and do it for them; do it because we can.

Because I can.

Since then, I have tried to apply this mantra to every part of my life.

When life gets hard and we are faced with a new challenge; when we get that inkling to try something different; when there is much to be done and neighbors who need a helping hand; on days when we simply don’t want to do anything, or someone says you can’t – repeat those three words:

Because I can.

Can you imagine how much greater life could be for all of us if we faced every part of life with those three powerful words taking the lead?

And, The Winner Is…

She started dancing when she was three. Now at twelve-years-old, she’s been practicing and training for this day!  Hours and hours of memorizing and pushing herself and doing it again and again.  Her goal is to win. She walks on the stage and all of the hours of hard work have paid off.  She’s more than ready. When she finishes she has a smile on her face so big she’s glowing. She knows she did her best and she’s proud.

Next up, the award’s ceremony.  Out of five soloists, she placed 4th. She’s devastated. That amazing feeling she walked off the stage with has been sucked away because of five judges.

*****

He’s been overweight for years and is ready to do something about it.  He starts exercising five days a week running and lifting weights. He’s cutting back on some of the less nutritious choices he’s been making.  One month later he’s feeling stronger and healthier and decides to step on the scale. He’s lost two pounds. How could he work so hard and only lose two pounds? He is so disappointed and discouraged.

*****

Two different people on two different journeys. Both gave everything they had and felt proud of all they had accomplished.  If we stopped right there, isn’t that winning?  How is it that we can feel like we’ve won, then let a judge or a scale take that feeling completely away; making us feel like we’ve lost.

Wanting to win and setting goals that can get us there is exactly what we should all be doing.  Perhaps too much of the winning is being placed on a result given by someone/something else. Why can’t we be the ones to say “And, the winner is….”  We can’t forget the winning that happens along the way.

 Winning is not just a destination, it’s a part of the journey.  Every time you push yourself, you’re winning.  Every time you feel like you’ve failed, but you try again, you’re winning. Every time you want to stay in bed, but you get up and decide to give it all you’ve got, you’re winning.  Every time a judge or a scale try to tell you you’ve lost, but you get up and push yourself even harder, you’re winning.

And, the winner is….Me!

 

Wear Your Bliss

Have you ever heard or said something and thought, “I wish I had a shirt that said that”?  I have always loved shirts that make a statement.  I remember even in high school wanting to create them.  Now I have!  I’ve joined up with teespring and put some of my favorite uplifting and motivational statements on different shirts.  I’m hoping that by wearing them, we can share something with the world and maybe start some conversations.  I plan to create more and more!  Please check it out at:  http://teespring.com/stores/wear-your-bliss

One of the things that I have really loved about teespring is they give you an option to have a portion of the profits donated to charity.  I have done this with most of the shirts I’ve created so far, and plan to do it with everything I create going forward.

 

 

When the Sun Doesn’t Come Out Tomorrow

She’s standing alone holding an umbrella over her head.  It isn’t raining.  Telling her that doesn’t make her see that the sun is out; she can’t see that the umbrella isn’t needed.

What do you do when the sun doesn’t come out tomorrow?  And, what do you do when you can’t make the sun shine for someone you care about?

I have a friend who experienced this.  She’s amazing!  (And, not just because she said I could share her story!)  Here it is:

“It is not a secret that I have anxiety. That’s been with me since forever. Depression was something I hadn’t dealt with until right around when we moved back.

The first year or so the depression felt kind of good in a way. It felt better than the constant anxiety that’s for sure. As it went on and continued getting worse and worse – it was terrible. I had people tell me to be optimistic about things and not dwell on the negative (oh my gosh!! Really?!?! What a fabulous idea!!! I wish I would’ve thought of that!), I had people tell me to exercise, pray and read scriptures more, and to focus on the positive. All of that helps-momentarily. When it was at its worst it didn’t help-even momentarily. Finally, one day I had someone tell me that they had tried depression medication and what a world of difference it made. That conversation was while I was on my way to a meeting at my church all about health. They focused a ton on mental health. It was then and there I knew I was being told something. I made an appointment that week to get to my Doctor. Let me tell you-my medication has changed my life!!! I laugh with my kids, I can actually feel the Spirit comforting me and guiding me again, and I realized last week that my daily evening anxiety attack I’ve had since I was 11 years old hadn’t visited me in awhile and it was an AWESOME feeling.

In the past six months we have had two teens right from our neighborhood commit suicide. It has been devastating. Watching their parents, friends, and our community deal with it has been heart wrenching. I’ve decided we all need to be more open!!! At least as an adult I kind of knew what was happening, but these poor kids probably thought they were losing their minds!!!! Reach out to those around you if you are suffering. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE if someone is brave enough to open up to you and tell you they’re sad or hurting or lonely (because it is scary to say you are feeling this way-especially when you are fully aware of how your life is actually pretty good and you SHOULDN’T be sad.) PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE don’t roll your eyes, tell them to focus on the positive, count their blessings, or make them feel stupid about their feelings. It is how they are feeling and I almost guarantee they don’t like it and wish they could change it!! So how about a hug and an “I love you” instead??? How about sharing your own mental health story? How about referring them to a counselor? How about an offer to watch kids so they can go for a walk? It made a WORLD of difference to me. In fact, I have one friend that probably-literally saved my life. EVERY TIME I was at my lowest – laying in my closet, sobbing (or worse-too sad to even cry) she would text me, bring me a treat, stop by with produce from her garden, etc. EVERY time. Be that person for someone. Please.”

I am so grateful for this great friend sharing her story.  I’ve had a few friends open up about their experience with depression.  In our community we are really trying to open up about it to not only take away the stigma, but to help each other understand it better.  Whether we are experiencing it ourselves or know someone who is, it is so important to know what to look for and how to help.

There is still so much we need to learn….BUT, you don’t have to fully understand to ask for help.  And, you don’t have to fully understand to offer to hold the umbrella.

 

 

*If you have experienced depression or anxiety, whether it’s you or someone dear to you that experienced it, please share your story.  We have so much to learn and can only do that by talking about it.

 

**If you or someone you know has thought about suicide and don’t know where to turn, please know that you are needed and loved!!!  Here is the suicide prevention number: 1-800-273-8255  https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org

Tears of Joy – With a Hint of Sad

We’re half-way through August and I can already smell it, taste it, hear it, and – if I close my eyes – see it. It’s pumpkin and apples and cinnamon. The feel of cool air and crunching leaves.

Oh, and do you know what I hear? It’s not fighting children. And, it’s not “I’m hungry” every five seconds. It’s actually really quiet. Want to know why? The kids are going back to school!

One day. Six days. Twelve days. This is how many days I have left until three out of four kids are back in school. (The fourth one is extra cute and takes three hour naps, so I’m good with him staying home all day.)

I love, love, love my kids more than anything in this world. That’s why there will be a hint of sad when they officially start school. I’m going to sound corny here, but it does feel like a little piece of me is gone when they aren’t with me.

I’m not one of those super, creative moms with a plan to fill summer with all sorts of amazing adventures, though. I’d like to be. If you are one of those moms, I love you. Please blog about it so I can get some new ideas! For us, much of summer is left up to the kids own devices (by “devices” I’m not actually talking about the hand-held kind…although they do tend to take over…I’m talking about their own imaginations and plans). This can be a good thing.  It can also result in a lot of fighting and constant messes all over the house. Oh, and a lot of cups. Everywhere!

This is where the tears of joy come in.  I look forward to sending the kids into full-structure mode, having some peace and quiet, and having a house that stays clean for a few hours after I clean it. I look forward to the fact that I will miss my kids and they might actually miss me. This means that they will be excited to see me at the end of the day!  I look forward to hearing about what they’re learning and the new friends they are making.

You want to know what else I look forward to? Football games and soccer games. This means family time spent enjoying and cheering each other on.

Some of us will be shedding those tears of joy. And, some of us will be shedding tears of sadness saying goodbye to long summer days spent with our kids. Whichever category you fall into, let’s get together over lunch and have an uninterrupted conversation about it all.

 

 

*side note – School lunch prices are nuts, but I like the idea of my kids having warm food at lunch time.  I’ve heard great things about these thermos’ so I’m going to give them a try.  Here’s the link if you want to try it too.

 

 

*(“I am a member of the Amazon Services LLC Affiliate Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by linking to amazon.com and affiliated sites.”)