I’m NOT Ready!

Last night my husband and I took our oldest daughter to a required parent/teen driving meeting. At the meeting they stressed the importance of the parents’ role in teaching your child how to drive safely, as well as, some of the laws and dangers to be aware of.  First of all, the presentation was 90 minutes long. That was way too long, in my teacher opinion, for the kids to sit there listening to a driver’s ed. teacher reading from a script.  Even I was loosing attention after a while.  Second of all, they threw a lot of information and requirements at us so fast that neither my husband nor I are 100% sure of what they all are. It is so much different here than it was back in South Carolina where I grew up.  Back then, I could get my permit the day I turned 15 and then was able to get my regular license after 180 days. That means I had my license at the age of approximately 15 and 6 months of age and could drive without an adult.  There also were no restrictions on how many underage passengers I could have in the car with me. The only restriction we had was that we couldn’t drive without an adult from 7 PM to 7 AM until we turned 16. There was no driver’s education requirement. You only had to pass a written exam to get your permit and a road test to get your license.  I don’t know if the law is still the same down there now or not. Looking back, I am pretty sure that it SHOULDN’T still be the same law!  A 15 year old has no business driving a car without an adult, much less with multiple teens in the car.  I honestly don’t know how my parents were comfortable with that. Thankfully, where we live now, the requirements are much stricter, and I am very happy about that. You have to be 15 years and 6 months of age before you can even apply for a permit. Once you get your permit, a licensed driver, 21 years or older, must accompany you at all times when driving for the next 9 months.  You must complete a driver’s education course, have logged 45 hours of driving experience including nighttime driving experience with a parent or legal guardian, and have held a driving permit for 9 months before you can get your license. That means you have to be at least 16 and 3 months of age before you can even get your license and drive without an adult.  Then there are still restrictions once you get your license until you turn 18.  You may drive with only one non-family member passenger under the age of 21, and you may not drive between midnight and 4 AM without an adult.  Boy am I glad that the law now is so much stricter than it was when I learned to drive.  I already cannot imagine turning my kid loose with a car when she is 16, and I certainly can’t imagine it at 15 and a half like I was! 

As I was sitting there last night, not only was I thinking about how irresponsible the law was when I learned to drive, but I was also thinking about my daughter’s maturity.  She will be 15 and 6 months next month and can get her permit.  I am not sure she is ready for that, and I am 100% sure that I am NOT ready for it. You hear it all the time about how fast kids grow up, and it is so true.  Just this past Sunday night, we were at a restaurant for dinner and a family with an adorable little girl between one and two years old was sitting in the booth next to us.  She had her hair fixed the exact way I used to do my daughter’s hair when she was that age (we used to call it her water spout), and she reminded me so much of my daughter.  I think I was annoying my whole family as I couldn’t keep my eyes off the little girl and commenting how much she looked like my daughter.  It is so hard to believe that sweet little girl is now this young lady I see before me about to start driving.  It seems like yesterday.  I honestly don’t know that my daughter is mature enough to drive a car.  She has ADHD and is so easily distracted, and her maturity level has always been less than her age in my opinion.  I just don’t know if she is responsible enough.  I am sure most parents feel this way, though.  None of us are really ready for our kids to be behind the wheel, especially in this day and age of cell phones.  It’s scary to think about her driving.  I am not ready.  On the way home from the meeting last night, she asked, “What if I’m not ready?” Part of me is happy to hear that because it is her recognizing the seriousness of driving and maybe knowing that she isn’t mature enough yet.  The other part of me is sad that she isn’t as excited about this rite of passage as most kids her age are.  I don’t want her to be afraid every time she gets behind the wheel, but I do want her to take it seriously.   How do you know if your child is ready, mature, and responsible enough to drive a car? I honestly don’t know.  I do think that my husband will be a better judge at that than I am because he can separate his feelings and emotions from the situation much better than I can.  I also know that he will not let her drive alone if he doesn’t think she is ready, which does make me feel a little better.  

The other debate we had in the car on the way home was who was going to be the one to really teach her how to drive.  She says that she wants it to be me because she thinks I will be calmer than her dad. She said she wants “the actual teacher” to teach her how to drive. I honestly don’t want to be the one that does it, though.  I will be a nervous wreck and don’t think I would be calm at all. I already don’t like her driving her Pop Pop’s Gator utility vehicle thingy around in the fields when we go visit him. It makes me very nervous.  I really think her dad would do a much better job at teaching her than me. He has more patience with those types of things than I do.  I can see myself over-reacting and stressing her out by my stress.  Maybe a part of me also doesn’t want to do it because it makes this so much more real.  I don’t want to accept that we are at this point, and it is time for her to grow up. Regardless of whether or not SHE is ready, I’M not ready.  I don’t know that I ever will be ready, though.  I just wish she was still that sweet little girl with the water spout on top of her head like the little one at dinner the other night.  I wish I could stop time.  

Driving is a big deal and it is so dangerous these days, especially with phones and technology.  People drive distracted so much more than years ago.  I am guilty of it all the time. We all put our lives at risk every time we get behind the wheel.  A 16 year old doesn’t have the experience or knowledge to really know how to react in dangerous situations.  Let’s also not forget that teens do dumb things all the time.  It’s a fact. They are still learning and growing, and their brains are still developing.  They make mistakes. It is just a part of the growing process. There was actually a state trooper at the meeting last night that told us 85% of the kids in that room would have a wreck as a teen. That is a scary to think about.  I know I will be praying every time she gets behind the wheel in the future.  In the meantime, I will pray for my mama heart to accept that this is coming way too fast.  

I AM NOT READY!

Anchored,

Liar

Yesterday I heard one of the leaders of Trades of Hope talk about believing in yourself, and it stuck with me.  I think this is something that ALL women struggle with. At least it is with every single woman I know.  I know I struggle with it every day.  Would you ever tell your best friend or your daughter that she’s not good enough, pretty enough, or kind enough? Would you tell her that she’s terrible or that she sucks? Would you ever make her feel like she is worthless? I can almost bet that the answer is a resounding no! That’s my answer for sure.  I would NEVER do that to anyone…EXCEPT myself.  Those are things I find myself saying in my head about me all the time.  If you are constantly telling yourself those things, you will start to believe them.  You will doubt your abilities and second-guess yourself all the time.  If you continuously tell yourself that you aren’t good enough, you will begin to feel worthless.  Why do we do that to ourselves? If you wouldn’t say it to your own child, why do you say it to yourself?

I know that I am constantly telling myself that I am failing as a mom or a wife or a business woman. I tell myself that I can’t do something because I will screw it up.  I constantly doubt myself and my abilities. What does that negative talk do to me and my psyche? It makes me believe those horrible things are true. It makes me self-conscious.  It makes me useless.  It makes me a failure.  It prevents me from trying new things because I believe that I’m not good enough.  I always have the feeling of “I can’t” because I don’t believe in myself and my abilities. If those negative things are what you constantly tell yourself, they will become your truth.  It will become who you are.  Is that really who you want to be? Is that the example you want to set for your kids and others?

Well, I am here to tell you that all of those negative things you believe about yourself are LIES! Every time you tell yourself that you aren’t good enough, you are lying. Every time you feel worthless, it is a lie.  When you tell yourself you can’t, you are not speaking the truth.  You are lying to yourself every day.  You are a LIAR just like me.  As much as I try to fight them, those lies creep in all the time, but we have to work hard to stop the lies.  We have to break the cycle.  We have to speak truth to ourselves and ditch the lies.  Turn those negative lies into positive truths. Don’t let the lie become your truth. Instead of “I can’t” say “I can.” Instead of saying “I’m a failure,” say “Look what I can do.” Instead of saying, “I’m worthless,” say “I am valuable.”  Speak those truths aloud. Start believing the truth and not the lie.  Turn the lie upside down. As soon as you say it aloud, you will begin to feel weight lifted from your shoulders. You will begin to see yourself in a new light and new doors will open for you. I have talked so many times about speaking positivity to yourself and using positive mantras.  I really believe in that.  I believe it will allow you to retrain your brain to think in a more positive way. I also believe that it will help you see value in who you are and what you can give to the world. Do it every morning when you wake up, every night when you go to bed, and whenever those lies start to creep in.  Post it on the mirror or write it in your calendar each month. Stop lying and start telling the truth. By doing so, you will begin to believe in yourself. It will change your outlook on life. You are worthy of being loved by yourself. That is the simple TRUTH.

Anchored,

Defeat is NOT an Option

You may have noticed that I didn’t post my usual style/fashion post yesterday.  That was because I was at the hospital most of the day with my youngest daughter.  She was having an endoscopy to check the status of her disease.  She has a condition called Eosinophilic Esophagitis (EOE).  Basically, certain foods trigger an allergic response in her esophagus that causes a buildup of eosinophils (white blood cells). This build up can cause irreversible damage to her esophagus, which can lead to pain, choking, vomiting, and a number of other issues.  You can read more in depth about her journey here.  Anyway, she has had to have at least one endoscopy each year since she was 4 years old as it is the only way to know how her medicines are working and if she can tolerate certain foods.  Every time she has to get one of these done, it is hard but it is a normal part of her life. My husband was able to come with us yesterday for the first time ever. Seeing his reaction to the whole thing, made me realize that I have become desensitized to these procedures.  I thought that my daughter had too as she is typically calm, cool, and collected on these days telling the nurses what to do. Yesterday was different for her, though. I don’t know if it was because her dad was there for the first time or that she is older and more aware of what is happening or what.  She was more nervous yesterday than I have ever seen her. She wouldn’t talk to the nurses or doctors and she was very combative with me, which is a typical symptom of her anxiety.  I know that there are kids who suffer through way more than what we have to deal with. I know that we are lucky because it could be so much worse.  However, no child should ever have to suffer through this being their norm.  It’s not fair.

For the past several years, her EOE has been in what they call remission.  It has been controlled by her medications and diet.  We expected yesterday to be the same because she hasn’t experienced any symptoms.  However, that was not the case.  The doctor saw what she believed to be evidence of the disease in the lower part of my daughter’s esophagus.  We won’t know for sure until the biopsies come back, but I have a feeling I already know what it will say.  The doctor also found “white spots” in her small intestines, which could mean multiple things or nothing at all.  Of course my mind immediately went to all the what-ifs and worrying about what all of it could mean.  It’s scary. I thought that worrying about her growth and the eating disorder that came as a result of this disease was hard enough.  Those things could get even worse based on the results of the biopsies.  I immediately jumped to the worse case scenario. I am thankful that my husband is able to keep a level head about this and encourages me not to go there, but it is really hard not to.  It is like the hits just keep on coming with this kid.  She just can’t seem to catch a break, and it breaks my heart for her.   

Now that I have had a little time to reflect after the initial blow yesterday, I know that I just have to pray and give it all to God.  He created her this way and he has a plan for her.   We may not know what that plan is or even understand it, but I know that he is holding her in his arms.  While my brain still tries to go to all the bad, I have to keep reminding myself that God is in control.  She may be the smallest kid her age, but she is one of the strongest (and strong-willed) kids I know.  No matter what the future holds for her, she will overcome it because she is beautiful, brave, courageous, and so much more.  She is more than this disease. It doesn’t define her.  It just makes her story a little more interesting.  This may be another bump in the long road that we have been stuck on, but we will not let it defeat us.   One day there will be a fork in that road, and we will be able to move to a new path. It will be a good path, a path that is full of happiness and good health.   No matter what bumps lie ahead or how many mountains we have to climb, we will never give up.  We will keep climbing with grace.  We will NOT be defeated. 

Anchored,

Becoming the G.O.A.T.

Unless you have been living under a rock, you have probably seen post after post in your social media feed recently about the great Simone Biles.  I assume that it is probably more in my newsfeed than many of yours because we are a part of the gymnastics world, but I am pretty sure that there are few people in the US that don’t know who she is.  She is considered the greatest gymnast of all time (the G.O.A.T), and I would whole-heartedly agree.  She, in fact, has not lost an All-Around title since 2013! The things that she is able to do with her body are unheard of.  This past weekend she made history again as she was crowned with the gold at the US National Championships.  She landed two skills (one on floor and one beam dismount) that have never before been done in competition. I won’t get into the technicalities of what those skills are because most of you wouldn’t know what I was talking about.  Let’s just say that is was incredible to watch. It is like she is literally flying in the air.  

Simone Biles is one powerful female! I don’t just mean that in reference to strength, either. (Have you seen her muscles, though? Wow!) I mean that she is powerful also in who she is as a person and as a role model for young girls everywhere.  I would even go as far as saying that she is a role model for me, and we can all learn something from her.  She is the picture perfect example of what hard work and dedication looks like.  I know what it takes it be a gymnast of her caliber and it is not easy by any means. It takes time, skill, determination, courage, mental grit, and more work than you could ever imagine.  

Hard Work

I can promise you that she spends hours at the gym every day.  She will work a particular skill over and over again until her brain and muscle memory can take over and she can do it without effort.  She will spend nights awake running the skill through her brain thinking of how to make it better.  I can bet you that she is also a perfectionist.  She will continue to push through until she can’t even move to get a particular skill just right.  It could take years of working a skill before it is perfected to the level that she feels she can perform it. It takes more blood, sweat, and tears than you can imagine. Am I willing to put in that level of work to reach my dreams? Until about a year ago, my answer would have been no.   Now I am more aware of what it takes to get to where I want to be.  I know what I want and I am finally willing to put in the work it takes to get me there.  I am ready to give it all I’ve got.  

Commitment

Simone’s body is shredded day after day.  As a gymnast, something ALWAYS hurts.  The human body isn’t made to do the things she makes it do. She is forced to fight through the pain every time she steps into a gym, yet she gets up every day and does it again and again for hours on end.   That kind of dedication prevents you from leading a normal life.  It means missing out on big things, and it means that you spend a lot of time to yourself.  She knows what it takes and she goes for it. She is willing to give up everything else to reach it. She does it because she wants to.  It is her dream. No one is forcing her to do that to herself.  She wants it with every fiber of her being. What would it look like if we all got up each day with that level of commitment to go after our dreams?  I’m not sure I can imagine it.  I can tell you right now, that I don’t wake up that way every day. I would say that I don’t wake up that way most days.  It is hard to fight through sometimes, and it is easy to give up.  I do it time and time again. I am slowly learning what commitment really means and what it takes to really go for it. 

Mental Grit

Maybe I don’t want to reach my dreams as bad as she does. Maybe I’m lazy. Maybe I’m scared.  Maybe I don’t have what it takes. Maybe I’m not good enough.  That is where the mental grit comes in.  I don’t know Simone Biles personally, but I can assure you that her mental grit is strong. What do I mean by mental grit? It is perseverance, strength, passion, toughness, resiliency, and courage all rolled into one.  It is the ability to overcome obstacles and failures.  It is getting back up on the horse after it has thrown you off.  It is standing up for yourself against your own self-doubt.  It is facing your fears.  It is ignoring every single person who says you can’t. It is the ability to tune out all distractions.  It is pursuing your dreams all day, every day without ceasing.  It is never giving up.  Can you imagine it? Can you imagine being that strong mentally? My mental grit is weak, but I am working on it.  I am working to turn away from my own self-doubt. I am trying to make myself tougher. I am attempting to retrain my brain. I am worthy of reaching my dreams, and I have to keep telling myself over and over again.

Simone Biles is the G.O.A.T. and she deserves that title.  I am not saying that we all have to be like her.  I am saying that we are all capable of great things. We are capable of reaching our dreams however big or small they may be.  We can all follow her example and achieve success.  Just like she once said, “I’m not the next Usain Bolt or Michael Phelps. I’m the first Simone Biles.” Be your own first. Stand out for who you are.  I know I am not likely to reach the status of G.O.A.T like her, but I can be successful at reaching my dreams if I put in the work, if I am committed, and if I have mental grit.  I can be the first Allison Clark. You can be the first you. Are you ready, willing, and able? The answer has to be yes if you really want to go for it. Let’s do this!

Anchored,

I Will Rise

Do you ever have those days when you are feeling so overwhelmed that you could scream? That is me this week and it is totally my own fault. I have procrastinated on a few jobs that I knew I had to do but didn’t really want to do.  I know that you are thinking that I am the one who preaches organization and having my stuff together.  How could I be a procrastinator? Well, I tend to be a procrastinator when it comes to doing things that are out of my comfort zone. This is when my introverted self likes to sabotage me.  I am really good at hiding behind my computer or phone in my house and not talking to people, so when it comes time for me to have to actually step out of that comfort zone and interact with people I really don’t know well in a formal capacity, I freeze up.  I put it off until I can’t put it off any longer.  Thus resulting in the conundrum that I find myself in right now.  It is crunch time and I am forced to do it.  I have anxiety over having to do the tasks and am completely overwhelmed.  I am now at the mercy of the other person or group that I didn’t want to interact with in the first place because I have waited until the last minute.  Why do I do these things to myself? Why do I risk it all because of fear? These people aren’t going to do anything to me, and they could probably care less about their interaction with me.  I know this, so why am I afraid? What is it that I am really afraid of? What do I think will happen? I really can’t answer that.  I honestly don’t know what I am afraid of, but I am afraid just the same. Logically it makes no sense, and, clearly, fear is illogical.  Fear leads to anxiety and a loss of courage. Those are exactly the feelings I have all the time. 

There are only two ways that I know of to help overcome your fears. Now, I’m not talking about fears like a fear of spiders.  I’m talking about the fears that hold you back from doing what you need to do.  One way to overcome fears is to face them head on and the other is to pray.  Those are exactly what I have been doing.  I am forcing myself to step out of my comfort zone every single day in little ways.  It’s excruciating at times, but I do believe that it is helping. My hope is that the more times that I do it, the more comfortable it will be.  I want it to become second nature and something that I no longer think about.  I also pray daily for courage.  I pray for peace within my head. That’s where fears come from.  They come from this belief in your head that you can’t do it because it will cause you harm. Fear is closely connected to your insecurities. Those are the negative things that you tell yourself in your head. This is why I pray for peace in my head. I need God to wage the war against those insecurities that I replay in my head all the time. 

I don’t want fear to rule my life, and I surely don’t want it to prevent me from living my life to the fullest.  I don’t want fear to cause missed opportunities.  I want to find my voice.  I NEED to find my voice. I want to be able to speak up and speak out. I am getting there slowly but surely. Of course I have setbacks like this week, but I will not let it discourage me from facing my fears head on. I will continue to press on towards the prize. I will continue to fight for me. I will rise!

Anchored,

You Are Going to Miss This

I cannot believe that August has arrived.  This summer is totally flying by.  Some of you are starting school this week or next, and some of you still have a few weeks left like us.  Time really does fly by.  Sometimes I regret not savoring every day.  It is always that thought of hurry up and get through today or this thing or the next thing.  We often do not take the time to just be present in the moment.  We don’t take the time to enjoy every second.  I know that this is especially true for me.  My whole life has been a big rush. Every day is a rush to get to the next.

“I can’t wait until I grow up and am an adult so I can do whatever I want.”

Now I miss those carefree days with no responsibility.

“I can’t wait until I graduate from high school and get away from this place.”

Now my memories of that time are fading, and I can never get them back. 

“I can’t wait until my baby sleeps through the night.”

Now I miss all those sleepless nights when we just cuddled and she looked up into my eyes as I held her until she fell asleep.

“I can’t wait until the terrible twos and trying threes are over.”  

Now I miss those chunky little toddlers and their grubby little hands all over the place.  

“I can’t wait until summer vacation is here and school is out.”

Now I long for the structure of the school year.  

 “I can’t wait until my children are out of my hair and back at school.”  

Now I miss the days of binge watching shows together on the couch all day long. 

“I can’t wait until my kids are old enough to take care of themselves.”  

Now I miss them needing me and now I barely see them. 

“I can’t wait until I can quit this job or retire.”

Now I miss every single person I worked with who made my job bearable and worth the heartache. 

I can’t wait until (you fill in the blank). 

I am trying to make a change in my life.  I am trying to not rush things and long for them to be over.  I am trying to be present in the moment, to savor it.  Life is so short.  It can be gone in an instant.  Tomorrow is not promised, today could end abruptly, and yesterday is gone forever.   Memories fade, age takes over, and people grow and change and go away.  Life is so precious.  We are lucky to have it and are blessed to live it.  Don’t take it for granted. It is that old cliché of stop and smell the roses. It’s true. We should all live that way. Find joy in the mundane, peace in the trials, and love in those around you. Don’t wish it all away because it will be gone forever.  You will long to have it back.  Slow down.  Don’t rush through life.  Remind yourself every day when you wake to savor it all.  Take it all in, and don’t blink because you ARE going to miss this. You are going to miss this time in your life. You are going to wish it wasn’t over. You are going to want it back. Don’t let it go by fast.

Anchored,

Retrain Your Brain

You may not be able to tell that the person behind the computer writing this is an extremely shy introvert.  I have been all my life.  Now of course, I have learned to adapt and can put on a real good show of an extrovert when I need to, but inside I am screaming.  Big social situations make me very uncomfortable, especially if it is a situation with people I don’t know well.  I tend to be the person that stands back in the corner and is the quiet observer.  Some people may perceive it as being stuck up, but it honestly isn’t that.  I just cringe at the thought of talking to people I don’t know, so I try to avoid it if possible.  I am not just going to throw myself out there if I don’t have to. The teacher in me can stand up and talk to a bunch of kids any day of the week, but if you put me in a room full of adults, I freeze up.  It is so hard for me.  It is even hard for me to pick up the phone and call a new doctor to make an appointment. I would rather text you any day than talk to you on the phone (even if you are my best friend). I would rather write you a note to tell you how I feel than to speak it to you face to face. I hide behind writing. It’s crazy, I know! I think the biggest contributing factor to this is a lack of self-confidence.  I’ve never really had much confidence in myself.  That negative self-talk I always do comes in to play. What if I say the wrong thing? What if they think I am dumb? What if I don’t know the answer? What if I can’t hang with their conversation? What if they don’t like me? It’s all so ridiculous.  I have worked very hard in my life to overcome my shyness and I have come a long way.  I have been able to step out of my corner comfort zone and open myself up on occasion.  Some situations in my life have forced me to put myself out there in ways I never thought I ever could.  However, I still deal with negative thoughts and self-doubt.  I still don’t have any confidence in myself.  

I recently had the chance to hear one of the founders of Trades of Hope, Holly Wehde, speak on this topic.  She is now my new hero and someone I aspire to be like. Her speech hit me like a ton of bricks.  All this time I thought that I had made great strides in overcoming my shyness, when really I hadn’t. It made me realize that my lack of self-confidence was holding me back from reaching my goals and dreams.  It was preventing me from becoming the person God has called me to be. It was like God had placed her on that stage at that very moment to speak to just me.  She talked about upping your brain game.  She encouraged us to squash the negative self-talk. This is something I have said time and time again that I struggle with.  I’m always thinking and saying negative things to myself.  I am tearing myself down in my own head.  I have always known that this is a flaw of mine, but I couldn’t stop it.  I am the reason that I can’t move forward with my goals.  I am my own greatest obstacle.  I know my negative self-talk holds me back.  Holly mentioned that the most successful people choose to speak a self-language of love.  She says that you have to train your brain to believe in yourself.  This is something I so desperately need to do. One way to retrain your brain is to do just what she said. Speak love to yourself.  Have an “I can” mentality instead of “I can’t.” Give yourself positive affirmations. Positive thoughts will lead to positive actions. Positive actions will lead to positive results. Positive results will lead to positive beliefs. By telling myself that I can, I am going to change how I approach people and situations and, in turn, change the results I gain from those interactions.  That will lead me to actually believe the positive things I am telling myself.  It all starts will self-love.  It starts with the choice to assume the best of yourself.  I am enough if I choose to be, and I have to tell myself that every day. 

One thing that Holly said that really spoke to me was, “Don’t allow anyone but you to have power over your thoughts and your destiny.” Well, that is exactly what I am doing, but I am doing it in the wrong way.  My thoughts are controlling my destiny because they are keeping me from reaching it.  The problem is that my thoughts are always negative.  Those thoughts have a negative impact on my life. They are holding me back.  I realized in that moment that I had to rid my brain of the negativity.  I have to retrain it like she says to think positively.  I have to train it to speak love to me.  I have to love myself. I have a game plan now to help me do just that.  I have made a list of 5 truths that I plan to speak to myself every single morning when I wake up, every night before I go to bed, and whenever I feel the self-doubt coming.  The more you tell yourself positive things, the more likely you are to believe them. I plan to write them on Post-it notes and put them on my mirror and write them on my calendar each month. I am going to train my brain to have confidence.  Here are my 5 affirmations:

  1. I am ENOUGH!
  2. I am STRONG!
  3. I am WORTHY!
  4. I CAN do this!
  5. God LOVES me, MADE me, and BELIEVES in me!

Changing your thoughts WILL change your actions.  Changing your actions WILL change your results.  Changing your results WILL change your beliefs.  I encourage all of you to come up with 5 affirmations to repeat to yourself over and over again. Retrain your brain right along with me.  Even the most confident people in the world can use some self-love.  You have the choice to be whoever you want to be. You have the choice to be who God wants you to be. You just have to accept it, believe it, and affirm it to yourself. It’s your choice.  Choose to love yourself. Choose to be unstoppable.  

I am going to leave you with the words that Holly left us with that day… 

Anchored,

Inspired

Today I want to share with you my experience from this past weekend at our annual Trades of Hope Retreat. For those of you that are new to my blog, Trades of Hope (TOH) is an amazing company that empowers women out of poverty and human trafficking around the world by using fair trade to provide these women with a sustainable business. As a TOH Compassionate Entrepreneur, I get the privilege of telling the stories of our artisan partners while promoting and selling the handmade, artisanal goods they create. I was so lucky to learn about this company late last year when I was really beginning a new journey in my life. I had made the decision to step away from the classroom and was in the midst of rediscovering myself and what God’s new purpose for my life was. I had this vision of helping women to become better versions of themselves right along with me, which is why I began this blog. Shortly after that, I learned about TOH from the sweet parent of one of my former students who I had always admired. She has a great love for God and sharing his love with others and for fighting injustice. I knew if it was something she was passionate about, that it must be a good thing. When she asked me to consider becoming a partner with her on this mission, I began praying about it and asking God to make it clear to me that this is what he wanted for my life now. The more I prayed, the more I felt at peace and knew this is exactly where he wants me. Through TOH and my relationship with my sponsor, I have already made tons of growth in my personal walk with Christ and in discovering who I am now and what I want for my future. I know that God led me to TOH for a reason, and I know that he wants me fighting for the injustices in the world. All of those things were reconfirmed for me this past weekend at the retreat. To say that the experience was incredible is an understatement. It was like nothing I have ever experienced before.

I know that you are thinking that this is just another direct sales company or a huge multilevel marketing thing.  While it is a direct sales company, it is so much more than that.  It is about changing lives.  It’s about sisterhood. It’s about building each other up. It’s about strangers who feel compelled to pray over you after hearing your story. It’s about families.  It’s about fighting for injustice. It’s about confidence, positivity, and empowerment.   It’s about God.  What other direct sales company puts God front and center? There aren’t many. As I listened to leader after leader talk and insert scripture and prayer, it was like God was speaking directly to me.  It was like he knew what my heart needed to hear, and he spoke it through these women. As each artisan leader or artisan spoke, I could deeply feel their pain and desire for a better future.  I was heartbroken by some of the stories they shared, and it compelled me to fight even harder for these women and to share their stories with as many people as I can.  God was present for me in that ballroom each day.  He was present for all of us.  I could feel him and see him in the eyes and heart of every person I met.  It was so powerful.  

Artisan leader and 2 beautiful Haitian artisans

I will tell you that this past weekend was not about the glitz and the glam.  It was about the people and the sisterhood. It was about all of us as compassionate entrepreneurs and the artisans, the women whose lives we are helping to change and the ones that are yet to be transformed. It was about celebrating our victories and pushing us to step out of our comfort zones to do more.  It wasn’t about seeing big A-List celebrities.  The artisans and artisan leaders were the celebrities.  They were the stars of the show.  They are the ones that matter the most. They are the reason for this mission. Money isn’t the bottom line.  It is not why I am a part of this. Instead the bottom line is fighting injustice.  It’s about mamas being able to keep and feed their babies. It’s about ending human trafficking.  It’s about providing education and breaking the cycle of poverty.  That is what matters most. That is what makes this world better.

I am Wonder Woman!

I certainly walked away from this weekend INSPIRED and longing to INSPIRE others.  My heart was touched in so many ways by complete strangers who are now my friends.  I know what God has called me to do and what plan he has for me in this new phase of my life.  I have been called to serve, and I accept that mission with my whole heart.  I found confidence to step out of my comfort zone. I found my people.  Together we are Wonder Women fighting for HER, and together we can change the world.  

Anchored and Inspired,

Kindness Matters

All of us go through hard things.  We all have trials and tribulations.  We all weather storms.  Sometimes those storms are colossal hurricanes or a powerful earthquake that shatters your world, and sometime they are just small rain showers.  No matter the severity, we all face them at different times in our lives. That cashier at the grocery store may have just found out her mom has cancer.  The boy crossing the street alone may have recently lost his dog. The mom with the crying baby in the restaurant may have a deployed husband who she hasn’t spoken to in months.  The man sitting alone in the park may have lost his job.  The teen in line in front of you may have failed an important test.  The woman in the car next to you at the light with tears slowly rolling down her face may have just gotten terrible news.  The girl who seems to have it all together all the time could be crumbling inside.  The point is that you may never know what someone is going through. Every single person you encounter in a day has his or her own baggage just like you have your own. 

Many people are good at hiding what is going on inside.  They put on a brave face and carry on with life while their heart is being ripped open from the inside out. I know women who suffer in silence because they can’t get pregnant or sustain a pregnancy and no one else knows what they have gone through.  I’ve heard stories of so many young children who commit suicide and no one, including their parents, knew they were struggling.  I know of men who have served our country that are struggling to figure out who they are now that they have seen such horrible things.  We come across these people all the time without knowing.  They could even smile at us, and we don’t see the pain in their eyes. Some could be our own friends or family. Some are strangers. Of course we don’t go looking for these people, and they don’t seek us out.  Maybe we should.

I urge you to choose kindness.  Choose to smile at strangers you pass. Say a kind word to someone you encounter.  A simple please and thank you goes a long way. Give a compliment to someone new.  Do small acts of kindness. Lend your shoulder to someone to cry on. Ask how someone is doing and really mean it.   Let that person know that you want an answer other than “fine” because you truly care about their wellbeing. Take the high road.  Your kindness could be the thing that puts a real smile on someone’s face or fills a void in his or her heart.  Your kind words could mean the difference in someone choosing to take their own life.  Your smile could turn someone else’s day around completely. Your shoulder could bring healing.

What do you have to loose by being kind? Yes, it may take time away from your day, but there is so much you could get from it. Maybe it saves someone’s life. Maybe it will save your own.  Maybe it is the one thing that will heal your own broken heart.   Maybe it is what you were called to do.  Maybe it is God’s purpose for your life.  You have nothing to loose and everything to gain just by choosing kindness.  Choosing to live a life of joy by spreading kindness IS what we are called to do.    It IS the right choice. Kindness matters.  

Anchored,

Finding Motivation

Motivation is the reason behind our actions and behaviors.  We do certain things because we are motivated to do them.  Motivation comes from the reward we get out of it. That reward can be tangible or internal. Let’s use a job as an example. Some people may be motivated to get up and go to work every day because at the end of the day, they receive payment for their work.  People are motivated by money either out of necessity or want.  It is about what that money can do for them whether it is to pay bills, to live an extravagant lifestyle, or to give back to others.  The tangible money in your pocket is what motivates you to keep going. Someone else may get up and go to work each day because of the intrinsic way it makes them feel.  Their motivation is based on a feeling.  It could be that their work makes them feel good about themselves, it makes them feel like they are making a difference, or it is just something they are passionate about.  The reason behind your motivation doesn’t necessarily matter as much as the fact that there is motivation there at all.  It is really hard to accomplish a task without some form of motivation, big or small. 

What happens when there is no motivation? Sometimes we get in a funk and there just isn’t any motivation. A lack of motivation can be caused by a number of things.  Some people will loose motivation really quickly if the task at hand is something that they are being told to do.  When someone else dictates your actions, it is often hard to find the motivation needed.  No one likes being told what to do.  Sometimes people have a lack of motivation because they are overwhelmed. The task is too daunting and they are unable to see how to break it down into manageable parts or where to even start. Sometimes a lack of motivation is due to depression.  A serious lack of motivation is one of the indicators that you might be suffering from depression and is something that we should all look out for.  Other people loose motivation because they don’t believe in themselves.  They don’t believe that they are capable, and they lack confidence.  Pure exhaustion is even another reason that people loose motivation.  There is so much going on in your life that you are both mentally and physically exhausted.  You just can’t gather the energy to keep moving forward with whatever the task is.  The list of reasons could go on and on.  The point is that whatever the reason is behind your lack of motivation matters. Knowing why you are unmotivated is important because it is the key to regaining your motivation.  Without motivation, things will be difficult.  Tasks won’t get completed. Life will become miserable, and you can begin to feel useless.  

A lack of motivation is something I am struggling with right now.  I suddenly have no motivation to do anything at all.  I think most of my lack of motivation is due to pure exhaustion. When you are utterly exhausted, it is hard to find the motivation to keep pushing.  I just don’t have the energy.  The last few months have been completely draining on me.  I have been drained emotionally, physically, and mentally for various reasons lately.  Physical exhaustion is one thing.  You can easily get over that by taking the time to rest and get good sleep. It is the emotional and mental exhaustion that is harder to overcome.  How do you rest your heart and mind?  I wish there was some magical potion. It takes a conscious effort and hard work.  It takes motivation to overcome emotional and mental exhaustion.  I know you are asking how you can have motivation to overcome exhaustion when you already have no motivation at all. The motivation to overcome has to come from within.  You have to want it, and you have to work for it.  I am pretty sure that my heart will heal over time, but I am not sure my brain will ever get the rest it needs.  There is always something else to add, more things to do, more worries that will take up space in there, and more stress that will take over.  I don’t know how to stop it.  I do know that feeding my heart and mind with positivity will help.  I know that I need to take time to myself to work on fueling my body, heart, and mind. It is so hard to do that, though.  It is hard to take time for yourself when so many others are relying on you.  It has to be something that you focus on daily.  You have to build it into your daily routine.   It could be as simple as reading a good book for 20 minutes a day that you can loose yourself in, or sitting on the porch in the early morning hours before the rest of your house wakes with a cup of coffee, or spending time in a daily devotional and praying.  Whatever it is that gives your whole body a break and allows you to clear your mind, is what you need to do.  The key is doing it every single day, though.  Every now and then isn’t enough to recharge you to 100%.  Doing it sporadically is enough to give you a short burst of energy like eating a piece of chocolate, but it won’t sustain you. You will crash.  You have to build it into your daily routine.  This is what has gotten away from me.  I let other things get in the way of the “me time” that I had built into my routine.  I let other things push it to the side and take priority.  I was not practicing what I preach.  I admit it. It took me writing this post to figure it out.  I need to fuel myself with good, positive things and take the time to refuel daily.  That will give me the energy to increase my motivation.  I have to commit.  I will commit. 

I encourage all of you that are feeling a lack of motivation to figure out the reason behind it.  That is the only way that you are going to fix it. Ask yourself the tough questions. Once you have figured out why you are feeling this way, actively work to fix it.  Make it part of your daily routine.  Whether it is because you are depressed, overwhelmed, too stressed, exhausted, bored, or whatever other reason, you can fix it.  You have to believe in yourself and figure out a strategy.  I have faith in you! 

Anchored,