It’s 2020, Ya’ll!

Wow! December 1 hit, and it was like someone hit fast forward on my life.  Things started piling up and life has gotten completely crazy.  It is almost like 2020 wants to go out with a bang here in the last month. Just in case the other 11 months weren’t insane enough, it had to throw a few more punches at us.  COVID cases are on the rise and people are trying to figure out what to do for the holidays.  Should we travel or not? Should we gather with family in small groups? What is Christmas even going to look like this year? I have no answers to these questions as they are things we are trying to figure out ourselves.  Our cheer competitions are being canceled, rescheduled, or going virtual left and right.  Yesterday, they even tried to throw an unexpected competition at us for this coming Saturday, which just about sent me over the edge after the last few days I’ve had.  I already had a commitment and was scrambling to figure out how to get my kids to the venue 3 hours away and find someone to do their hair and makeup.  I had a mini freak-out only to find out that it was all for nothing and the gym had decided we weren’t going because the venue required our kids to have a negative COVID test since we were coming from another state.  I am grateful that they didn’t want to put the girls through that, but, needless to say, my nerves were shot yesterday.  My kids are supposed to return to school at the end of January for 2 days a week, and now that is up in the air as well due to the rise in cases.  It is almost like we are back in March all over again.  The uncertainty is so stressful and causes so much anxiety.  

I have never seen so many pictures on social media of Christmas trees that have fallen down as I have in the last few days.  Many of them have fallen for no apparent reason other than “It’s 2020!”  People keep posting about lost packages too.  A few of my own packages seem to have been lost by FedEx, and I don’t know if or when they will arrive. I spent a long time on the phone with FedEx this morning trying to figure out where they are, and no one seems to be able to help me.  I have also seen an unusually large number of posts from friends who have lost family members in the last few days.  They weren’t a result of COVID either.  It is sad, especially knowing that COVID had kept them apart for months.  People keep saying that the hits just keep on coming this year, and I am starting to believe they are right after the last few days I’ve had.   I have really tried to remain positive through all of this, but some days are hard. I’m human.  Yesterday was one of those days that got to me. I know that I just said last week all the things I was grateful for that this year has brought about, but sometimes I lose sight of those things when one thing after another keeps pounding me. It was like I had taken so many hits (1 literal hit but that is a story for another day) over that past few days that it just got to me yesterday.  When the whole thing happened with the cheer competition, a flood of emotions came out that I had been holding in and caused me to explode.  It was like the last straw.  I don’t like myself when I let things get to me.  I beat myself up for losing control and letting things affect me in that way.  I don’t like spouting negativity, but I sure did that yesterday! (Sorry to those of you that felt the brunt of my frustration!)  The only thing I can do when I reach my limit of frustration like that is to try to step back and breathe.  Then I usually say a long prayer to get myself back together and on track. That is what I did yesterday, and I am doing totally fine today. I just needed to let it all out and pray my way to a better mindset.

I have a feeling that there are going to be more days like that for all of us before this year comes to a close in a few short weeks.  It’s 2020, ya’ll! Buckle up and hang on because it’s not over yet! 

Anchored,

An Attitude of Gratitude

Top/Necklace (sold out)/Earrings

It is hard to believe that December has arrived.  With it comes so much joy and love, as well as, marking the end of a very trying year.  As November, the month of gratitude, came to a close yesterday, I sat and reflected on all the things that I was truly grateful for this year.  I know that was supposed to happen on Thanksgiving, but as 2020 has reminded us time and time again, not everything goes as planned.  I could sit here and tell you about everything that went wrong this year, but I am choosing to see the good that has come from it.  It forced me to slow down which is something that I needed more than anything else.  It allowed my body, mind, and spirit to heal and recharge after years of nonstop insanity.  I cannot even begin to explain how necessary that was for me.  I hate to imagine what would have happened if I had continued life down that crazy path.  I feel certain that my body or my brain would have eventually given out completely.  This year has also helped me realize that all that “extra” that was contributing to my stress isn’t really necessary.  We are doing just fine (and even better) without it all. I am so thankful for time to recharge. 

Another thing this year has given me is so many opportunities to actually have real conversations with my kids.  Much of my youngest daughter’s life has been combative with me.  Her younger years were very trying, and she and I have been like oil and water.  Prior to the last year or so, all we did was yell at each other because she did everything she could to push all my buttons until I had no choice but to lose it. To say it was a rough few years with her is an understatement! Now we have real, intellectual conversations that amaze me at her intuitiveness and that have shown me how much she has grown and matured.  She really is a neat kid.  Don’t get me wrong, she still knows how to push my buttons, but I have learned to remain calm (most of the time) and give her space.  It has made such a huge difference.  I don’t think any of that would have occurred had I still been living the crazy, hectic, stress-filled life.  I am so thankful for time to bond in ways we never have before.

When it comes to my oldest daughter, I am really getting to know who she is as a person. Our mother/daughter bond that the two of us have always had has strengthened this year because we finally have the time to just talk. She was always at practice and very rarely home so there was only time for superficial or necessary conversations. Now we talk about anything and everything because she has all the time in the world.  This year brought about a LOT of change for her.  She made the decision to leave the sport that has consumed her life for 15 years. She started a whole new sport that she had no clue in the world about, and I have seen her blossom through it.  Her confidence has returned, and I see a light in her eyes that has been dim for the past few years.  She also got her driver’s license and gained some independence which has brought about a little maturity that I thought we may never see in her.  She still has a long way to go in the maturity department, but I am hopeful that she may actually be able to survive when she leaves home for college in another year.  I am thankful for time to connect and grow. 

Finally, this year has definitely strengthened my marriage.  I don’t think that my husband and I have spent as much time together in the entire 20 years that we have been married as we have this year.  He has always either been deployed or we have been running every which way with the kids and everything else life throws at us. I think we have both been on our own personal growth and discovery this year, which has allowed us to also rediscover what we love about each other.  We’ve come to appreciate each other more, and I think we have made it a point to really try to meet either other’s needs. I have never seen him more relaxed and chill than I have this year, and I think he would probably say the same about me.  Less stress and chaos lead to less arguments and more time spent just enjoying each other’s company.  We actually have had time to simply “hang out” with each other, and it has been great.   I am thankful for time to love and be loved. 

I am thankful for all that I have received from this strange, insane year, but I am thankful most of all for TIME. It is such a precious thing and something we often take for granted. If this year has taught me anything is is to take time for myself, time for the ones I love, and time to enjoy life. We have such little time on this earth and we shouldn’t waste it. I have seen so many say that they are glad that the end of 2020 is near or can’t wait for this year to be over, but I have to admit that I will be a little sad for it to end.  My prayer for all of you is that you choose to look at 2020 as the year that things slowed down and families came together. Make the choice to look for the good in it all and be thankful. Have an attitude of gratitude instead of one of negativity.  Yes, it was hard for all of us (some more than others), but don’t let the hard days be your focus. Choose to appreciate the little things and be thankful for all you have been given this year alone. I promise it will make this Christmas season so much brighter and will set you up for the start of 2021 with the right mindset.

Anchored in Gratitude,

Relentless

Can you believe that we are already a week into a new year and a new decade?  As I am sure most of us do at the start of a new year, I have been doing a lot of thinking about the past year and what I want out of my life for this new year.  I shared with you last year that I am not really one to make new year resolutions.  I just don’t think that they are ever very effective for me. I tend to have all of these grand ideas and plans of things I want to accomplish and am so gung hoe for them.  Then by February or March, it has all fizzled out because life just took over.  Resolutions just aren’t meaningful enough for me.  I decided last year to try something new.  I decided to choose a word that I wanted to be a representation for my year.  It was to be something that I focused on all year and it was something that I wanted to improve about my life. Just thinking about that word and reminding myself of it on a daily basis was supposed to have an impact on every decision I made throughout the year and really impact how I lived my life.  I wasn’t sure how it was really going to play out throughout the year or if it would fizzle out within a month or two like past resolutions had, but I was determined to give it a solid go.  As I have shared many times since starting this blog, I have been on the road of self-discovery over the past 2 years and have really been putting in a lot of work into what I want out of life and the kind of person I want to be and the example I want to be for my kids.  All of that went into my choice of word for 2019.  I thought long and hard about it and one word kept coming up over and over.  That word was JOY, and an idea began to take shape.  I realized that joy was something that had been sorely lacking in my life for a long time.  I didn’t feel joy.  I think I had really forgotten what real joy actually felt like.   I decided that choosing joy in every circumstance in my life was something that I desperately needed. I had gotten to the point where everything in my life was a chore.  I was always negative and didn’t do anything with any sense of joy.  It was time for a change.  I began to believe that if I chose joy in all circumstances, my life would begin to make sense and I would begin to experience true happiness again. I set out for 2019 to be the year that I chose joy above all else. Now, I will tell you that I didn’t always choose joy 100% of the time.  There were times that I got knocked down and needed to remind myself of my goal.  However, I truly believe that my life is better and much more joyful than it has been in a very long time. Having that reminder to choose joy staring me in the face every day, really did have a positive impact on my life.  There were some really hard things that happened in 2019 that could have could have turned my life upside down and really broken me had I not chosen to rise above them and chose joy.  I chose joy in the difficult times and in the sad times, and that alone made the biggest impact.  Did I shout joy from the rooftops? No, I did not.  This was something internal for me.  It was a mindset that I had to work on.  People weren’t aware of the battle going on inside of me to fight the negative and put joy at the forefront of my mind, but it wasn’t about anyone else but me.  It wasn’t easy and sometimes I failed, but choosing joy in all circumstances is something that I will continue to do for the rest of my life. 

Now 2020 is here and it is time for me to choose a new word to focus on this year.  I have really put a lot of thought into this year’s word.  It actually came to me on the 10-hour drive from South Carolina back home after Christmas.  I do a lot of thinking and praying when I am on long drives.  It was just my oldest and me in the car, and she pretty much puts in ear buds and doesn’t speak the whole time. Needless to say, it gave me a lot of quiet time.  I had put on the music that I have downloaded on my phone partly because I was tired of changing stations every hour or so when we lost the one we were listening too and partly because I think better with music for some reason.  I have a lot of contemporary Christian music on my phone that I like to listen to when I want to get the in the right frame of mind.  Anyway, I was throwing a lot of words around in my head, but nothing was really sticking.  I was trying to find something to represent what I wanted this year to look like for me.  Then this song came on that I have heard a million times.  It is by a guy that used to be the worship leader at one of our old churches.  The song is entitled, “Relentless.” It talks about how God’s love for us is relentless, endless, never changing, and unstoppable.  It got me doing a lot of thinking about that.

It was like a brick hit me upside the head, and I instantly knew that my word for 2020 was going to be RELENTLESS.  It was like God placed the word right there at my feet.  That word truly encompasses what I want for my life this year.  I want to be relentless just like God is in his love for us. I want to be relentless in all I do.  I want to be so focused that nothing can stop me.    I want to be RELENTLESS IN LOVE—love for my family, my friends, and every person I come across. I want to be RELENTLESS IN FAITH—ever growing in my relationship with Christ.  I want to be RELENTLESS IN WORK—fighting for injustice and making a global impact with the work I do with Trades of Hope. I want to be RELENTLESS IN DREAMS—doing everything in my power to make all of my dreams come true. I want to be RELENTLESS IN GROWTH—continuing to work on growing and becoming the best version of myself.  I want to be RELENTLESS IN JOY—seeking joy and choosing joy in everything I do.

The Oxford dictionary says that relentless means “oppressively constant; incessant; harsh; inflexible.”  While some may think that relentless can be a negative word, I do not see it that way in this instance.  For me being relentless means that I am not going to give up, and I am not going to stop. Failure is only a bump in the road and not the end.  It means not letting anything stand in the way of achieving my goals and dreams.  It means continuing to push forward until I am victorious. It is an endless pursuit of what I want for my life and the person I want to become. It means putting God first before all other things and letting him guide me through this journey of life in the way he has set it out for me. It is getting up every day with a purpose and doing whatever it takes to fulfill that purpose.  Just like waves crashing on the shore, I am plan to be relentless in my life this year. 

Anchored and Relentless,