BUSINESS OWNER, ENCOURAGEMENT, ENTRE SUCCESS, MOTIVATIONAL, RECOVERY

6 USEFUL THINGS YOU CAN LEARN FROM ROAD CONSTRUCTION

Photo by Pop & Zebra on Unsplash
Photo by Pop & Zebra on Unsplash

Stress.

We’ve all been there. You think you’re getting somewhere in your life and you might even be early getting there for a change. You’re travelling along at the perfect speed, listening to your favorite song blast through the speakers, just starting to feel like things are going to finally go your way. Then BOOM! Road Construction.

How aggravating.

Aggravations like road construction can derail a perfectly good mood on a perfectly good day if you let them. Instead of turning 12 shades of red and feeling your blood pressure stand your hair on end, let’s try to find the positive in the situation.

Here are some useful things you can learn from being caught in road construction.

1. The road you are on could be better.

Sure, you’re not the one doing the repair. That’s not your job. But it’s someone’s job, and they’re doing it! It’s an awesome time to just be grateful that someone is tending to the dangers that are seen and unseen. Your way will often be less than perfect. This may be the time to slow down and be cautious while someone else sorts out the problems.

2. Speaking of slowing down, maybe you’re just in too big of a hurry!

Road construction forces us to come to a screeching halt and take stock of our surroundings, whether we want to or not. This is a good time to ask some very important questions. Are you prepared to go forward? Are you recognizing and heeding all the warning signs? It seems elementary, but the red flags are there for a reason—danger. Stop. Check yourself. Only move forward when it’s safe to do so!

Photo by Liam Macleod on Unsplash

3. You need a REALITY CHECK.

Distraction causes us to miss a lot of opportunities. If you aren’t paying attention to the flag man, you could miss your turn to move forward and inadvertently force everyone behind you to wait until the people moving past you in the opposite direction have all gone by. This could cause anger and negativity among the ones closest to you. Pay ATTENTION! Keep your eyes focused on moving forward when it is your turn to do so.

4. You may have forgotten to do the GROUNDWORK.

Have you ever noticed all the steps it takes to build a road? From just the part we can see, you have to level the ground, fill in the holes, put in drains and ditches, lay gravel and asphalt, spread it all out, get it smooth, test it, paint stripes, and I don’t even know what else! All of this hugely matters as you travel your road. What if you forget a step? You may have to tear the road up back to that point and try again. Whether you are laying the groundwork or someone else has done it for you, make sure that your foundation is SOLID! One pothole can take you out of the journey if you hit it wrong.

5. You may not have noticed the BEAUTY along the way!

Sometimes as we speed towards success, we forget to notice the lovely things—like the pretty yellow flowers that grow by the roadside, the bird that pecks the ground on the shoulder of the road, the tree limbs that are gently swaying with the breeze, or even a turtle as he laboriously makes his trek across the pavement. As we are forced to slow down or stop, it’s an opportune moment to take delight in the things that we didn’t even notice before.

Photo by Daniele Levis Pelusi on Unsplash

6. You may need to go a DIFFERENT DIRECTION.

We’ve all been in a long line of cars waiting for the flagman when there’s that ONE GUY (or gal) right in the middle who breaks out of line, turns around, and goes back the way he came! For those of us waiting, “Yay!” We are ecstatic because we can finally move forward a few feet, and hey, any progress is progress! But let’s talk about the guy who turned around.

*He may know an easier way to get where he’s going, without the hassle of the road construction. For him, that’s a lesson learned with a small bit of aggravation! Even if the other way is a little longer, he (or she) has counted the cost and decided that it’s worth it!

*She realized she didn’t need to go where she was going after all! She could probably do more with what she had if she headed in a completely different direction with it! That moment (or agonizing few minutes) waiting in the road construction afforded her an opportunity to look at where she was headed and make a decision. If you find yourself stuck somewhere, maybe you need to PIVOT!

Ask yourself: “Do I really want to go where I’m headed?” and if so, “Is there an easier way to get there?” There’s no shame in your game if you change your mind. Take the time you didn’t mean to have as an opportunity to think about your choices!

These are the 6 things that I learned while I was stuck in ROAD CONSTRUCTION. What have you learned from being stuck on the road you were travelling? Remember, no matter what you might have heard, finishing well is not the only important thing. The trip itself is what makes life worth living.

Don’t miss the beauty along the way.

KISSES Y’ALL

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ENCOURAGEMENT, MOTIVATIONAL, RECOVERY

Don’t Give Up On Yourself

Quitting On Monday

I think that the easiest day to lose hope is Monday. When the week starts, it should be full of great possibilities, but the reality is that Monday is the day the cold hard truth usually slaps us in the face. It’s the day we are forced to stop pretending that everything is great. We often need to go back to work and leave our dreams behind again. It gets hard.

It isn’t just work though. The whole world will come against you sooner or later. Maybe it will set up a pattern all your life. Things and people that you count on will be snatched away from you. Just when you feel the most secure, something will happen that will set your world on tilt.

Don't Quit Your DayDream painting

Quitting On Tuesday

Maybe it’s Tuesday that makes you want to quit on yourself the most. The struggle to get through Monday has taken its toll, and you just don’t have anything left. Hard things happen, and you don’t feel like you are equipped to deal with them anymore, if you ever were.

At first, when the hard things happen, you may want to give up on God. It’s easy to throw the blame on the Almighty. He is ultimately in charge. But, when you think about it, you realize that God hasn’t failed you in any way. You may begin to ask yourself if you have failed God.

Being Angry With God

It’s hard to always stay positive in a negative world.  I get that. I really do. I’ve had my share (and more) of tragic circumstances. I have not handled much of it very well. I did not turn to God in my pain and loss like I should have. I turned away and blamed Him instead. At least I did for a while.

It was when I was the angriest at Him that I realized that I still believed in Him. Of course, believing isn’t enough. I also had to get to a place where I remembered that He was good and that He loved me. I had to realize that He still had a plan for my life, even though my own plans had crashed and burned. Coming to that point was the hardest after I buried my 16-year-old son. This kind of loss makes you question all that you have ever believed.

Perfectly Imperfect

During my trek through the chaos and confusion of the worst of my grief, I learned to see the world in a different way. What was ordinary to me before became extreme. Casual beauty became exquisite when I realized how temporary it all is. I learned to focus on the smiles of my children and to take in every breath that they breathe. I learned that the imperfections that I once saw as flaws are what makes something beautiful and unique. The world irrevocably changed for me, but it wasn’t all good.

What Our Children Face

I looked at our world and what we have made of it. Sin and ugliness have run rampant through our societies. The children that we bring into the world are forced to grow up in fear of what tomorrow will bring. If they are living unaware of the potential danger of the future, then they are ill-equipped to face it. On the other hand, to tell them what it may be like is a betrayal of their innocence. How do we know what to do? How do we tell them that the walls protecting them are made of glass?

The problems we face seem to be insurmountable at times. Human trafficking, the threat of war, and the divisiveness of our country due to political affiliation, religion, race, and economics to name a few. We get mixed messages from the media and don’t fully understand what the truth is and how to teach it to our children. Like my Mama always said, “Babies don’t come with blueprints stamped on their butts.” Do we protect them with the truth, or protect them from the truth? I don’t know.

Who Failed Who?

All I know is that God didn’t fail us. That leaves the obvious answer. If He didn’t fail us…. We failed Him. With that realization, hopelessness can start to creep up on you.

Depression. Anxiety. Feelings of worthlessness and fear. The idea that you can never get it right because you never have before. The overwhelming sensation that you are about to drown in your sorrow, anger, and helplessness.

I’ve been there more than once. If you have ever felt like that, you aren’t alone. Don’t give up on yourself.

A Life of Abundance

Jesus said in John 10:10 that He came so that we would have abundant life. An abundant life is a life full of meaning and joy. That is the kind of life that God intends for you to have. He didn’t say that you can only have this kind of life if you deserve it and never do anything wrong. He didn’t say that you’ve got to operate in a realm above the human realm to create and achieve this life for yourself. He simply said that He came so that you could have it.  

Your abundance is found in God through Jesus Christ. No matter what the world throws at you. No matter what Monday brings. It doesn’t even matter if you need to leave your own dreams behind. Whatever heartbreak you have faced has not changed the truth. Grief and loss can’t take away what Jesus came to give you. Your abundant life is in Him. Not in yourself! Not in your circumstances. Not in your loved ones, your dreams, your hopes. Abundant life is also not lost in the outcome of a failed plan or dream. What an eye-opening thing to finally learn!

The Freedom to Keep Trying

This doesn’t mean that you should quit trying to achieve anything on your own. It means just the opposite! Now you are free to pursue your hopes and dreams without the fear of failure because your worthiness and your abundance was never meant to be found in any of your personal accomplishments anyway. You are free to love with all your heart because death can’t steal your hope! You can dance in the rain because no storm can wash away the sacrifice already made for you.

Your Focus

Take your focus off yourself. That’s not what your life is supposed to be about. All you could ever hope to be can be found in your relationship with God. Yes, I said it. It’s not about you. You may be dangerously close to quitting on yourself. Don’t do that. The problem is relational. Pursue a relationship with God if you want to add meaning to your life.

 Matthew 6:33 says to “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” If our focus is on Him, where it should be, and off ourselves, our lives will be full, and everything will fall into place just the way it’s supposed to. If our focus is on ourselves, we will always experience chaos and a feeling of off-centeredness because we were created for Him and by Him, and not to be self-serving.

The Truth

I believe that this is the truth that we should teach our children. If we want to equip them to be warriors in whatever battle comes their way, we must first introduce them to the source of their hope and life. We need to teach them as we learn ourselves that our identity should be first understood as a “child of God.” Whatever is next is not only secondary, but it’s also temporary.

Here’s what I believe to be the truth: the things you do for yourself on this earth are going to die with you anyway. The only things that you leave behind are what you do for other people.

The Prize

Knowing that my abundance is in Him is just the catalyst that I need to keep going, to keep plugging away and staying in the race even when it feels like I’m defeated. I can never be defeated if I’m running the right race—the one for His kingdom and in His design. It’s easy to fall back into the temptation of seeking to define my worth by earthly standards and how I feel, but the actual cold reality is none of that matters. The only thing that matters is that I keep my eyes on the prize.

ENCOURAGEMENT, MOTIVATIONAL, RECOVERY

I Want to Bury My Head In Cookie Dough

Not a Roll of Cookie Dough, but One of Those Tubs.

Ice Cream Neon Sign


Or Eat Five Gallons of Chocolate Ice Cream with a Package of Oreos–No, Girl Scout Cookies! I want Thin Mints, and I want them fresh out of the freezer!

Are you wondering why I want a tub of cookie dough, or something else sinfully sweet? In case you are, I will tell you. Because I’m stressed out. When I’m stressed out, all I can think about is taking something sweet and bad for me and shoveling it in my face.

Food is where I go for comfort.

It sure hasn’t failed me yet! Well, it hasn’t failed me in the moment, when the cookie dough is in my mouth and my endorphins are through the roof. I only reach failure status when I step on the scale a month later and I’ve gained 20 lbs. Or I would reach failure status then, if I ever really got on the scale. See, if you don’t acknowledge it’s happening, it’s not happening. Right?

I’ve lived most of my life in just that way. The struggle to maintain a weight that made me feel comfortable with my own body has been life-altering and mind-consuming. I’m a good weight now—just ask any specialist. My BMI is perfect I’m told. “You are a great weight right now. You can continue to lose if you want to tweak it, but that’s just for you.” I thought it was all just for me.

It’s not my body that’s the problem. I don’t know if you know this or not, but it rarely is. It’s the mind that has all the issues. Every single morsel I put in my mouth comes packed with a load of guilt. I’ve written about this before in another blog, https://moodyoops.com/how-you-see-yourself-determines-who-you-are/, and you may want to check that out! It’s a big deal to me.

Think about it like this. If you were an alcoholic, and you quit drinking, you would feel better. You would find other ways to gain comfort and peace—perhaps you would learn to pray more, read, fish, exercise, or do something creative. You would never have to pick up the bottle again if you chose not to, and that’s fantastic! Your addiction may be slightly easier to understand and control when you realize that you can actually live your entire life without one sip of alcohol.

But What If You Are a Food Addict?

You are addicted to food but you stop eating in unhealthy ways, you start exercising, and you start taking better care of your body. That’s a great victory! There’s only three problems that I can think of that might hang you up on a consistent basis: breakfast, dinner, and supper.

Yep, that’s right. You can’t go on for the rest of your life without eating! So even though you’ve beat the unhealthy patterns, it’s harder to let go of the guilt that you have always associated with eating. It comes unbidden the second you start chewing and increases with each bite. By the time you are finished with your meal, you are filled with remorse!

With guilt comes the desire to cover that guilt, and what’s the first reaction your mind has to that desire? It wants to go back to that old comfort that it’s so used to, and put it on again. Guilt is crying, “Cover me,” and food is answering, “I will!”

It Becomes a Pattern.

It happens over and over. Once or twice at the ice cream trough and you’re okay, a week’s worth and it starts to show. It’s a vicious cycle of doubt, guilt, and confusion that runs through your mind like a hamster on a wheel. The more you obsess over what you eat, the more you want to eat it. The more you try to avoid something, the more drawn you are to that very thing!

Are There Any Answers?

So what are some of the things you can do to break the unhealthy cycle of food guilt? Hmmm….I go through times off and on where I think I get this right. Of course, they don’t last as long as they should, but I am going to keep going back there until “off and on” becomes a tendency, and a tendency eventually becomes a habit, and a habit finally becomes a way of life that’s not even considered thought-worthy anymore.

  • I never tell myself that I can’t have something. Why? Because if I tell myself “no,” I think about that food all day long every day and eat everything in sight until I finally break down and just go get what I’m obsessing over! If I want it, I eat it. However, one thing that I will do is tell myself that I can have it “tomorrow.” Sometimes when tomorrow rolls around I don’t even want that whole roll of cookie dough (or tub). Sometimes I do. Either way, I give myself permission to have it. Maybe not the whole thing, but some of it for sure!
  • I try to take responsibility for my own diet. I don’t mean diet as in “I’m on a diet,” I mean diet as in “the food choices that I make for myself.” No matter what plan someone else is on and thinks is better, no matter what they have had success in, no matter what food they put before me, and no matter what anything else you can think of, since I am ultimately responsible I make it my ultimate responsibility to choose what goes into my mouth and what does not. Even when a health professional pushes an app at me and says, “You need to count calories if you are going to lose weight,” and I know that I lost 65 lbs and didn’t count the first calorie, I’m going to politely say, “That’s not how I do it,” and move on with life. It’s my life, my health, and my body. I’m responsible for its upkeep. I know what’s good for me and what isn’t. Counting calories will have me (a) starving, and (b) obsessing. I’m saying NO! to both of those ideas and I’m just going to keep on doing what I’m doing for the rest of my life. Thank you very much.
  • I try to notice how I feel after I eat something. If it makes me feel good physically, I’m good with it. If it makes me nauseated, headachy, sluggish, or any other negative physical outcome, I will probably not want to have that food again real soon. Since I deal with food guilt, I don’t let my emotions dictate to me what I will and won’t eat. At least, I don’t when I’m working on it.
  • I also try to notice the taste the food leaves in my mouth. I know that sounds crazy! But to tell you the truth, that chocolate frozen pie that was so dang good when I ate it left a really bad taste in my mouth! I really didn’t like it as much as I thought I did. I was just so used to liking it that I thought I still did. So the next time I want to take a bite of it, I will remember the taste it left in my mouth. Maybe I will still take a bite of it, and maybe I won’t. It has gone both ways.
  • I don’t always eat every meal, or I just eat during a certain number of hours in the day. They call this intermittent fasting. I probably don’t do this the textbook way or for the textbook reason. What it does for me though, is relieve some of the guilt of overeating because if I’m skipping a meal now and then, I’m not overeating! It’s a pretty simple way to trick your mind into believing the truth.

Now I’m not offering up any of my methods as advice, because I’m not an expert or a health professional of any kind. I’m just saying what works for me. There are studies that say that you can’t skip meals because it lowers your metabolism. What I have learned is that when you get over a certain age, the rules all change. If I hadn’t skipped some meals, I wouldn’t have lost a pound! You have to do what is right for you and your health though. It’s always good to check with a doctor or other health professional before starting any kind of health and wellness program!

I don’t know if anyone can relate to my food struggles, but this is what was on my mind tonight. We all have different areas that we battle every day—this just happens to be one of mine. Feel free to leave a comment if you have been there, and you can also share my blog to your choice of social media if you think it might resonate with others. You can follow the blog and sign up with your email so that you will get a notice every time I post something new!

ENCOURAGEMENT, MOTIVATIONAL

How Do You Show Up?

Who determines how you show up?

fragmented mannequin heads symbolic of identity confusion
How do you show up?

I’m talking about how you show up in life, in social media, and even how you see yourself in the mirror when you’re alone. Do you see yourself as a success, or do you show up as a failure? Are you living a big life or a small one? Do you see yourself living up to your potential, or are you buying into the lies you tell yourself?

We all believe the lies sometimes. We even repeat them when we are faced with a challenge, or asked to leave our comfort zone. Our own voice tells us that we aren’t good enough, strong enough, talented enough, or smart enough! Where do we get the information that we tell ourselves every day?

I heard from a troubled friend the other day. He struggles like we all do, but sometimes his struggles get the best of him. There are no easy answers for him and everyone else who suffers through the heartbreak of loneliness and depression. My friend (we’ll call him “Joe”) said that he often stays in his house with the curtains drawn. His solution was to avoid facing the world and dealing with possible rejection. I wasn’t sure what to say.

What I did say and what I wanted to say battled within me for a few minutes. My first reaction was to tell him, “Snap out of it!” That would have been the wrong response of course, but it makes me angry. Joe shouldn’t be trapped inside his house when there is a whole life out there waiting for him. The other reason that it makes me angry is because I can relate. Of course I can. Don’t I go through the same struggle every day?

I can’t count the times that I didn’t show up like I needed to because I was sad or afraid. The curtains may not have been drawn on my house, but they were drawn on my heart. Either way, it didn’t matter. The outcome was the same. I missed opportunities and chances that I will never have again. I gave up moments that could have been my time to shine, laugh, or even fall flat on my face. But they were MY moments, and I missed them because I didn’t show up. Have you always had the heart, or the guts, to show up?

This world is full of advice on who and how you should be. There’s always a scenario for how you should present yourself to be acceptable to society. Plenty of books have been written. Psychologists, preachers, politicians, and social media influencers are telling us every day who we should be. They are paid the big bucks to tell us how we should think and feel.

There are even countless opportunities to see perfect photos of these very people living “perfect” lives. Even their “real” and “no makeup” photos are carefully orchestrated to be presented in the best possible light. Sure, they will show you their flaws–but only after they put them through a few filters. They call this being “real,” and we buy into that lie and find ourselves still not good enough. We still can’t meet the standard.

How hard it is to be authentic in a world that pushes and pulls at you all the time! There are so many mixed messages on who you should be. The information that we are fed daily keeps us completely out of center. It shifts our focus from who God made us to be to an ideal of unattainable perfection.

This ideal is impossible to meet in business as well. There are voices from every direction, all with the only pathway to the top. One says “Niche down,” and another, “It’s death to the creative to go small with a niche.”

Confusing messages permeate social media for $47 a month if you’re lucky and catch it before it goes up! “Focus on your story, that’s what people want to hear.” As soon as you do that, the narrative changes. Then it’s, “Take the spotlight off yourself and put it on others!” One foot forward, two steps back, and it’s easy to retreat to a dark room with the curtains drawn!

However, at the end of the day, your life, your relationships, and your business all belong to YOU! I don’t know how you can possibly fail if you show up as yourself in any situation. That’s who God made you to be. So be that! Be you and be good at it.

You are uniquely gifted and talented to stand out from the crowd or to blend into it as you. No one else can ever be you. God chose you for the part for a particular reason. What you have to give to the world is YOURSELF! Show up as you and be proud of who YOU are! Open the curtains and be amazed to be you and happy to be alive!

I know a little three year old girl who dresses herself. Cori rarely matches her clothes, and if she does, it’s an accident, but she doesn’t care! Sometimes she wears a princess dress that’s two sizes too big with furry boots of a completely different color. It never bothers her if her hair isn’t combed. She doesn’t mind if there’s chocolate on her face. It’s okay if she wears combat boots with a dress. Whether her attitude or her outfit is acceptable to society makes no difference to her! She’s happy just the way she is and happy to be herself. Cori isn’t old enough for the world to have taken that away from her. I pray that it never does.

Little girl in a princess dress, furry boots, and a burger king bag.
She almost matched this day!

To recognize that you have value simply because you are “you” is a wonderful gift from God. To have the childlike simplicity to understand that it doesn’t matter what the rest of the world thinks is priceless! What really matters when you show up is that you show up. When you do, make sure the curtains are not drawn on your heart.

photo of computer screen
BUSINESS OWNER, ENCOURAGEMENT

FRUSTRATION

When every move you make seems to lead to complete and utter aggravating frustration…and you quit drinking two years ago.

I could pull my hair out in–you guessed it–frustration! I’m not a high-tech person. I’m also not a low-tech person, which makes me fall somewhere between decent and horrible with building a web-site. Well, maybe slightly better than that.

Anyway, I have been working on one page of this website for what seems like a hundred years. I’m about to lose my mind (up in here). I mean, it’s beautiful. The front page, although not quite finished, is just lovely. It has most of the information that I want on there and only a little that I don’t want. When I’m on the admin side of things, I feel really close to success!

I’ve even learned about SEO and what it takes to get your pages on Google for the most attention-getting. This includes downloading plug-ins and affiliate programs (by the way, there will be an affiliate link or two in this post that I could possibly make money from). Oh, and I’ve got a Facebook Messenger pop-up that actually annoys the devil out of me and needs to be moved to a different page and linked to MoodyOops.

photo of computer screen
Photo of failed webpage

Clearly , at least in my own mind, I’m doing pretty good with this website building. Of course, I don’t have any of my gazillion products uploaded yet, but no one completely has their crap together. AND, if you need further proof that I’m one of the many who does not, let me get back to the front page of this thing and start the hair-pulling. After I got all that wonderful work done, checked and double checked it a hundred times, was completely satisfied with how the text and the photo worked together, and got my message across, I click on “view page,” and…there are literally zero images. Not even one. Where did they go?

The answer to that is I don’t know the answer to that. I look back at the admin side of things. The photo is there. View the page. No photo. Admin side, photo. View page, no photo. FRUSTRATION!

I’m sure that there is a perfectly reasonable solution and equally sure that I’m not going to find it tonight. I did look on Amazon and found some incredible resources, for myself, and in case anybody runs into this same problem! It’s super rewarding to have a website that will pay you with passive income, which is the goal I’m aiming for. If you’re like me, circumstances are going to cause you to have to do a great deal of the work yourself, at least right at first.

This is what I found on Amazon:

You can click right on that link and go straight to the book. It’s eligible for Prime, which is cool. I hate paying shipping on anything.

I found another book too. You know all of these are good! I bought a Social Media Marketing for Dummies book a couple of months ago that I’m finding a lot of valuable information in. It’s true that some people think that reading is obsolete and would rather just use the web for everything, but the reason that I like to buy books is because you always have a reference to go back to. If you forget, there’s no question of where you got your information! Anyway, here’s that link:

I know that I should have done more reading and research before I jumped into the deep water. It’s not enough to be able to write, paint, and do creative things. Well, it would be enough if I had someone else to create this webpage for me. Sadly, I do not. The cool thing is, all of this frustration is a great learning experience! As soon as I get this one done, the BossNonny website is waiting for me to get started on it. With my books and my experience, I ought to be able to knock it out of the park.

Then maybe I can teach y’all all the tricks I learned along the way.

April 16 (one minute to April 17)edit:

I located the problem with the photos. The Pinterest hover button will not work with one of my plugins. Since it’s my most important plugin, I can’t remove it. So I had to change the image settings in the plugin.

If you deal with WordPress, you probably already know all about this known issue. If you don’t, you probably don’t know what I’m talking about. But, if you hover in the middle, and need to know more, feel free to ask me questions! I will identify the plugin and the steps I took to correct the problem.

Whew! Frustration over for a while.

ENCOURAGEMENT, RECOVERY

The Coat I Used To Wear

My Experience With Social Anxiety Disorder

Person wearing a coat holding a leaf in front of his or her face.
Social Anxiety Disorder is bigger than the accusations people throw at you.

I forgot about the coat I used to wear. I was brushing my teeth this morning when I remembered it. I was in eighth grade, and it was too hot for a coat, but I wore it anyway because I needed protection.

I felt awkward inside. I felt embarrassed, like at any minute people (specifically, my friends) would find out something about me and start laughing at me. Like the fact that my breasts were under-developed, or maybe my clothes weren’t keeping up with the latest trends. That awkwardness I felt is the same reason that I took my hair down out of the beautiful bun that my Mama had spent time creating for me one morning, and why I didn’t give out the class presents that she and I both stayed up late at night to work on. I always felt like my contributions were somehow not “enough,” and I would be laughed at. I thought my hair made me look different–too different to be accepted. I didn’t want to be noticed–to be set apart for any reason. So I wore the coat.

I also knew that I was getting “that age.” I was actually late getting to it. Other girls would ask me all the time, “Did you start yet?” and I hadn’t, but knew I would soon, and what if there was blood on me and someone saw it?

Protection. But I forgot.

So when Mikey wore that leather jacket in the summer, it never crossed my mind. I didn’t remember that girl who was so awkward–so socially impaired and afraid that I needed something to cover me so I would feel better. I was the one person who should have understood, and I didn’t. He wore it everywhere, and it was hot, and it made me angry.

He wore a knit cap too. He needed protection even more than I did.

It was right there for me to see, and I missed it. Now that leather jacket hangs in the closet as a reminder of the protection that I did not give my son.

Social Anxiety is a very real thing. It can cause you to make choices that you ordinarily wouldn’t. The toughest person in the world might be too afraid to go into a grocery store and talk to a cashier for fear of embarrassing himself. That is a classic, identifiable symptom of the disorder. I didn’t know. I looked it up when I started to notice patterns in my own life and in my family of things that we were failing to do that most people took for granted. Some of us have pretty much beat it. Many others cannot.

I forgot about the coat, but I never forgot the fact that I didn’t take my ACT test for college (like my Mama thought I did) because I was afraid that I wouldn’t know where to sharpen my pencils. There’s a lot of shame that goes along with the crippling fear. People who don’t understand (which is most of the general population including people who are inflicted with the social anxiety themselves) hurl judgment at you, like, “Why doesn’t the boy get a job like everybody else?” and other perfectly reasonable questions that don’t have reasonable answers from someone who didn’t ask where to sharpen her pencils because of extreme anxiety.

I don’t have the answers but I know that this is a real thing, and I have watched many members of my family struggle with it through the years. The turning point for me was knowing I didn’t take that test, and I had to lie to my Mama for the first time in my life. I looked at what my future would be like if I kept on denying myself opportunities because I was afraid. I decided way back then that I was more afraid to get to the end of my life having not done all the things than to go ahead and try. I can’t say that the anxiety doesn’t still win a battle or two, but I know it will never win the war. I don’t consider this courage–just the other side of fear. They call it “doing it scared.” To me it’s like closing your eyes and backing up. Whatever happens, happens.

I can’t go back and change anything–not my past as a child nor my past with my child. I can only go forward and try to do better. I know that I will be watching more closely to see if someone is needing protection. Hopefully I will be able to share my story with them and maybe give them some hope that it doesn’t always have to be that way.

ENCOURAGEMENT

How You See Yourself Determines Who You Are

So one night I was lying in bed and I realized something–that when I woke up the next day, I didn’t have to do things the same way I had always done them. It sounds crazy to say that I actually had to have the realization, but I did. You can go through your whole life and just keep doing things the same old way, or you can wake up one day and start doing things differently. It really is a choice.

But here’s the deal. In order for your world to change, you have to change something in your world–and that starts inside you. You have to first change your mind. You have to understand that you have the power to make the change, and then you have to do it.

It all seems very elementary, doesn’t it? But it isn’t. I have learned that sometimes changing your mind once isn’t enough. It isn’t enough to think something one time and have that thought carry enough weight to last for the rest of your life. You have work to maintain the mindset you have adopted so that you can continue to live the life that you are beginning to live.

Here’s an example, and don’t get offended. I’m okay with all body shapes and sizes. For me though, I need to be under a certain weight to be comfortable and healthy. I lost about 65 lbs in about a year and a half. I did it by making different choices with food. My dilemma is this: my mind has not accepted the new version of me. When I look in the mirror, I don’t see my new body size. I see the same person that I have always seen looking back at me. I don’t have a super negative body image–I never realized that I was as heavy as I was. The only way for me to see how big or small I actually am is to look at a photograph of myself. It’s ridiculous to me that my mind can fool me the way it does when a photo tells the cold hard truth every time!

So what does my example really mean? It means that I am constantly obsessing about eating too much. I’m not worried about getting enough to eat–I don’t obsess over meals. I just always feel guilty when I put a morsel of anything in my mouth! Even though the way that I eat now is healthy and is good for maintaining a healthy weight, I am still in the mindset that I have always been in. That’s very dangerous for someone who is trying to keep excess weight from returning. Any time you throw guilt into the equation, you have problems. One of the first things an old comfort food eater wants to do when she feels guilty is run to food to numb the guilt. Constantly fighting that battle keeps it on the forefront of my mind, but not in a place where I can deal with it.

I know I have to change my mindset to get a victory in this area. I have to throw away everything I have ever been taught about eating, and form new opinions. I don’t think that people understand the damage that they can do to children when they constantly tell them, “If you keep eating that way, you are going to get fat,” or when they tease like “You are going to have to start wearing a wide load sign around your neck.” The damage from words like that can carry over to adulthood. So can “grabbing the rolls of fat” and “pinching an inch” and making fat jokes, or doing anything that changes a kid’s perception of what “normal” is in regard to body size. The worst part about it is getting to be my age and realizing that I let the world bully me into being overweight when I never would have been if I would have known how to stand up to it.

How do you see yourself when you look in the mirror? Do you see the old you or the one who realized that you have the power to make changes for the good in your own life? Taking personal responsibility is a huge step but it’s also a huge privilege! God has entrusted us with the free will to be who He designed us to be–we don’t have to accept less than what He meant for us to have! I’m not trying to throw any prosperity gospel at you–becoming what He intended you to be takes hard work and sacrifice and humility. Nothing that is worth having ever comes too easily!

I need to change my mind in the body image mentality department. What is it for you? I know that of course it isn’t always as easy as going to bed at night knowing that tomorrow you can wake up with a different outlook and mindset, but on the other hand–it has definitely worked before! Anyway, it’s a place to start.

ENCOURAGEMENT

A Thousand Things

That’s what I keep trying to do. A thousand and one, maybe. I’ve been doing it all my life and if I know me, I’m not gonna stop any time soon.

I’m gifted, and I know it. I’ve always known it. God has given me a little bit of a whole lot of different talents. Not so much that I excel at very many of them, but just enough to be pretty good at a bunch of stuff. So…I keep on going in this direction or that direction, trying to figure out where I’m supposed to end up. I wonder if I’m the only person who does this? I just imagine that there are a lot of creative people who are just like me, and can’t quite wrap their heads around just what it is that they are supposed to be doing!

REVELATION STRIKES

And so tonight, I’m wearing Minnie Mouse pajama bottoms and a semi-colon tank top (if you don’t know what that means, look it up) along with my poop boots (these are the ones that I wade through the dog pen in) with no socks and a black jacket that I threw on just to go outside to get Jaxson (my sweet Great Pyrenees) to bring him in for the night–when it hits me like a bolt of lightning, but not really because I already know it, and I always have. So I rush over to my computer and turn it on to see some new pink flamingos on my cover screen (it changes every day) and type in my pass code just to find out that the internet is iffy (as usual)! Anyway, I did all that because for some reason I feel compelled to pass my revelation on to you, so I wait it out. And here we are.

I am a writer. That’s my big news. It’s what I am, what I have always been, and what I always will be. It is my most treasured God-given talent. I started writing about as soon as I started talking. I can remember making up poems in the bathtub (I can’t help it if the bathroom is where I do my best work) when I was as young as five years old, and I started writing them down at around seven or so. I have spent a lifetime writing different things like stories and plays and songs and poetry. I was hired to work for a newspaper fresh out of high school, but I let someone who didn’t even matter tell me that I would never amount to anything, and I believed her, so I didn’t show up for my first day of work or any other day after. That’s a confession that I am embarrassed to make, but I’m glad that I finally had the courage to tell. I don’t know where I would be today if I had swallowed my fear and done it anyway. It’s not the only time that I have let fear beat me out of something I really wanted.

So if you know me at all, you know that I can draw, paint, and create some pretty cool stuff. I’m pretty good at building and coming up with awesome solutions for my house. I’m a merchandiser and an idea person. I can DIY with the best of them, and I’m very handy with power tools. I can speak in public and teach and do workshops and lead and sing karaoke (I don’t do that one too well, but it’s still fun). God has gifted me in wonderful ways, but when it comes down to it, those are things that I do.

What I AM is a writer. All that other stuff is just extra.

It's Your Turn to Shine
ENCOURAGEMENT

When You Can’t Find Your Motivation (and How I Don’t Have the Answers)

It's Your Turn to Shine
Get Your Shine On

I absolutely get discouraged. Looking back over this journey we’ve taken over the last year, it would be easy to overlook all of our accomplishments and just focus on the failures. Today has been one of those days when it has been hard to stay on the positive side of things.

Yep, it’s more than discouraging sometimes. Looking back can be downright debilitating. If you focus on your missteps, or what you perceive them to be, you may find yourself motionless–staring at the wall in kind of a blurred-out unresponsive daze. Letting go of where you thought you were going to end up is so hard! Giving over to what is real rather than what you were expecting can break your heart if you let it. I can’t fix any of that.

What I can do, is look at the big picture. I know that each attempt to do something new comes with mistakes, if that’s what you want to call them. What I have learned is that a lot can be gained in finding out what not to do! Somewhere along the way, if you are paying attention, you can get some doses of clarity and start to put together a plan that is different than the original, but not lesser than. You may find that it was the plan you should have had all along!

A lot of the ideas that we had in the beginning were great, and we will save them to use them again later. Some of them will go in the trash can. I am glad to be done with them. Here are some bits and pieces that I have gathered along the way:

I’ve learned that I love taking broken things and showing other people how they are actually beautiful. I realize that I really want to spend time writing my book, designing and promoting my encouragement cards, making random things, painting lighthouses, and helping other people like me figure out exactly what they are meant to do so they can do it too! God gave each one of us a certain set of gifts and talents, and I believe that He gave us a love to do whatever it is we are called to do…..You can tell what your calling is by the way time passes for you. If you are working on something without noticing that 8 hours have gone by, that’s a good indicator that you are on the right track! Constantly watching the clock means that you probably need to find something new to do with your time.

I know that I have a lot to give and teach other people. I’m excited about getting the chance to do that. I’m eager to finish my book, if only for the ones who know about it now and are waiting to see how it all turns out! Oh and the cards are such an amazing blessing! I am so super-excited about having the time to develop and market these! They are turning out so wonderfully and they say things that people so badly need to hear. Things like, “Man, today sucked but we got through it,” and stuff like that. I don’t know about you, but I need to know that other people feel that same way sometimes. Like maybe today.

ENCOURAGEMENT

Go Buy Yourself a Shovel

shovel
It may be time to start digging up the real you!

Y’all, I am literally testing something new tonight, so bear with me as we learn together! It may or may not work, but here is my intention by way of a disclaimer: there will hopefully be an affiliate link in this blog post to some really cool lounge/pajama pants! Now I don’t expect that I will normally dump my business on you like that, but since I have no clue what I am doing, I figured an announcement would be in order this time in case I mess it up pretty bad. Technology sometimes mystifies me. I think sometimes that my three year old grandbaby can do more with it than I can.

Okay, also, I’m not sure that a blog post is the best place to put one of these, but like I said, I’m just learning, and Amazon gives you a limited time to do that before they jerk the rug out from under you. So I’m trying to hurry and get some of my education in pretty fast! By the way, I checked out the lounge pants, and if you’d like to pop over to buy me some, they really are a great price and I want some! I will take medium…They look super comfy! But let’s get back to the age thing.

Save 20.0% on select products from CYZ Collection with promo code 20LOUNGEPANT, through 2/20 while supplies last.

It does not matter how old you are. If God has given you a vision for your life and the gifts and talents to pursue that vision then you don’t really have the right to throw that in His face and say, “I’m afraid, so I’m just going to bury this over here until You come back.” We aren’t “fine” accepting a mediocre life just because it’s easier than stepping out of our comfort zone to do more. We aren’t “okay” if we are making excuses or creating chaos to avoid taking charge of our own lives and doing something about the situations we find ourselves miserable in. We surely aren’t living our best life if we are living one that someone else has created for us!

I am not too old to live out my dreams!

I’m at the age where it would be easy and also expected to look back at my life and say, “Oh well, I could’ve been more,” or “I could have done this or that but that ship has sailed now.” Well, it HASN’T sailed for me! I still have dreams, and I still have the belief that I can make those dreams come true. I don’t have to be stuck in someone else’s definition of what my life should be. I know what God has put on MY heart, and that is to pursue a ME that is better than the ME I used to be, so that’s what I am going to do.

My dream doesn’t diminish anyone else. In fact, the Bible says that no one lights a lamp to place it under a basket, but puts it on a stand so that it lights up the whole house (Matthew 5:15). The thing that light diminishes is darkness.

If you are doing what God has called you to do, it may scare some people. They may think that you don’t need them anymore, the closer you get to your goals, or they may realize that in order to remain a part of your life they will have to step up their own game! Maybe that person who is discouraging you has been accepting the lies that society and culture has been throwing at them since they were old enough to catch.

It isn’t your job to try to convince anybody to get on board with your dreams and plans. They don’t have to be. Your job is to use what God has gifted you with, to do what He wants you to do and to live the life that He intended you to live. If you have forgotten your vision or if you have buried your dreams, go buy yourself a shovel and start digging. It’s not too late.