Tag Archives: love

Lesson #11:

It only takes 10 seconds to change your life

When I was pregnant, I probably watched every YouTube video related to women’s birth story. I talked to as many women that would share their story. I was anxious, having never given birth before and terrified of the pain. I knew it was going to hurt, I think I was just looking for something comparable to wrap your mind around. I went into labor on a Friday afternoon and the rest is history. At first I thought the pain was bearable. It felt like my body was completely tensing, from the tops of my thighs to my breastbone almost like a gigantic cramp. As the pain became more intense the only comfort I found was in the bathtub and I slept there Friday night. I focused on groaning through the pain, determined to give birth without any pain medicine. Like I mentioned before, I have some sort of thing about suffering for the things you want. I was in labor over 24 hours and finally told my husband it was time to take me to the hospital.

For as long as I was in labor, my body wasn’t relaxing enough to dilate so the hospital had me walk around the halls for a while. While I would stop and start to groan in the hallways my husband would remind me that each contraction was my body hugging our daughter. The imagine of my body welcoming my daughter by hugging her was extremely comforting to me. He may not even remember saying it, but with each strong contraction, that’s just what I kept telling myself. “You won’t be able to hug her this tight for a long time. Let your body welcome her with love.” When it was finally time to push I was now terrified. As your adrenaline starts pumping, your mind starts envisioning every possible outcome of this experience. At the end of one of my first pushes I told the midwife I was scared, and that I wanted her to be honest with me if my pushes were helpful or not.

She told me that the most amazing blessing lied on the other side of 10 seconds of bravery.

By God, was she right and 12 minutes later, my daughter entered the world. I remember when the dump of serotonin happened I started shaking and felt completely beautiful. I told my husband and my nurse that I felt so powerful, how I imagine someone who just ran a marathon to feel.

Fast forward to about a month later, my husband and I had to have one of the toughest decisions of our relationship. I wanted to go back offshore and finish my contract up until I was tenured with the company I worked for. Me going back offshore would be at 6 weeks post partum, and meant that I would be without my husband or daughter for 3 weeks. That also meant that my daughter would have to be at my mother’s house for 3 weeks so that we both could work and that my husband would be without us as well. I pumped and prepared for this, but the morning it came to leave, my husband and I cried and cried.

I can’t tell you how painful that morning was. I remember going to the heliport and getting out of the car and just thinking, “10 seconds. Just focus on the 10 seconds of bravery.” I had kept a brave face the entire day, until I heard the helicopter wheels come up and we were over water that I could not stop crying. I knew my life would be forever changed. I wanted to quit a million times over, but because I pushed through the blessings my family has been able to enjoy have been well worth it. My daughter will grow up and never remember me shipping out. I know that this experience speaks more to my character and a true test of my marriage.

My point being, since that moment in the hospital I remember what the midwife told me and apply it to my life every day. You can do anything for 10 seconds, even when completely terrified, exhausted and when everything in your body says you can’t. You are so much more powerful than you even know. When I was little and got upset, my mother used to have my count to 10. My daughter is not even 2 and she can count to 10. Those 10 seconds in your life will define who you are and what blessings come into your life. So chose bravery, chose for 10 seconds to believe within yourself.

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Lesson #10:

Absence makes the heart grow fonder

I mentioned previously all the terrible advice we were told as young newlyweds. I very much believe that when you get married, you become champions of other marriages. Pay attention to who you surround yourself with and what energy they are giving your marriage. Venting is necessary, but those friends who just say “you don’t deserve that” can get in your head. Those toxic friends are oftentimes why you don’t share the conflict with anyone, because you feel as if everyone tries to convince you to leave. If you ever need an ear to just vent, I am there – but just so if you’re looking for a friend to convince you to divorce him, I’m not the one.

My best friend’s mother, Julie, is one of my favorite people in the entire world. Julie is the closest I will ever be to meeting a real life Mary Poppins. She is someone who is so strong but full of such wisdom and poise, I could spend hours just listening to her. Julie married her high school sweetheart 30 years ago and they could not be any more opposite. Her husband, Mike, loves his tattoos and loud KISS music and motorcycle whereas Julie is so put together, loves her elephants and antiques. Of course I invited Julie to my bridal shower and I was dying to talk to her more one on one about marriage.

Towards the end of the bridal shower I was able to sneak off and talk to Julie and she imparted some of the most interesting wisdom that I needed to hear. I asked her, through 30 years of marriage what was something she would recommend I do to keep a happy marriage. Her answer? She explained to me that there are many different sides of people. Who I am around my family is not the same as who I am around my friends or my spouse. She said in the beginning of her marriage she wanted to be everything to Mike and it ended up causing an issue down the road. If you take on the burden of being the wife, caregiver and best friend, when there is a conflict in the marriage it leaves the other person feeling lost and alone. It also puts an extraordinary amount of pressure on me to be everything all at once. She told me to encourage my husband to spend guy time and for me to take time separately with girl friends as well. Absence truly makes the heart grow fonder and when you are happier, you are a better spouse. For someone who loved to spend every waking moment with my husband, I really thought about this piece of wisdom and wanted to share it with you!

If you ask my husband, he’ll tell you I am always pushing for a guy’s night and vice versa. A couple years ago, I told my husband I wanted to go to New Orleans with my best friend and he all but booked my ticket for me to go. We completely agree with Julie. If you haven’t had a girl’s night or a guy’s night out – call a friend and go enjoy! Trust me you’ll be a better spouse because of it. What do you think?

Lesson #9:

Grace is forgiveness that is not deserved

The ability to hold a grudge is not a characteristic I claim very proudly. It is without a doubt that it is an inherited trait, but one that I work diligently to be able to compensate for. My husband will tell you that my superpower is the ability to go “ice queen” on anyone in my life. What he means is that if I feel that someone has done me wrong or hurt my feelings, I have the ability to just shut down and shut off. I go completely numb and do not move forward until I am done processing and on my own time. That means no amount of apologies will make me change my mind – it has to be my own decision. While he lovingly jokes about my similarities to Queen Elsa, there is a lot of truth in it. In a fight or flight situation, I will chose flight every single time. I think my “ice queen” abilities is just a defense mechanism I had developed as a child that allowed me to turn off my emotions and become numb. 2015 was time for me to “Let it go” though. No pun intended.

I carried a lot of my hurt and anger for years towards people. People that I know were probably not missing my involvement in their life or giving me a second thought. The anger that comes with going numb can consume you to where it affects your every day life. In college I was a much different person than I am now and that is largely because I feel this overwhelming sense of numbness towards a lot of situations I had encountered. New Years Eve 2015 my husband and I sat around a fire in our backyard and talked about any resolutions we wanted to focus on and mine was that I just wanted to let go of all the “ice” I had been carrying around. I felt like I was carrying this heavy load.

Like I said, holding a grudge is a characteristic that I own about myself. So while this resolution sounded like something I could “poof” and make happen, it was very much a journey for me to overcome. At first I thought that in order to forgive, I had to confront the very people that I had suffered from. In the process of this journey I realized that to forgive someone, unlike what they taught you in grade school, wasn’t something that I needed to tell the person. I did not have to say “I forgive you” or wait for an apology. I needed to be able to release that anger within myself and come to peace with the hurt that I had experienced.

That meant I needed to extend a lot of grace. Grace meaning the forgiveness that people might not be deserving of and to extend grace released my ownership of the pain. There is comfort in knowing that you are forgiving someone who doesn’t deserve it. Oftentimes when we talk about forgiveness we think that relieves someone the responsibilities of their actions, but what grace does is acknowledge that they are at fault, and that it is no longer a burden for me to bear. Grace is marriage is something I am looking at talking about more, so hang on for a future post.

I say this because everyone has pain and hurt they carry around with them every day. The release and freedom that comes when you extend grace is directly related to happiness. You know I want you to be happy. I want you to forgive whatever it is in your heart that is holding you back, whatever is causing you to feel like you are carrying a burden, let it go. You don’t need to call up your father and say “I forgive you for…” or call up your ex-boyfriend and tell him “I accept your apology” but what you DO need to is forgive them in your heart and release that energy back into the world.

I want you to write down names of people or situations you have yet to heal from. You don’t have to go in detail, and if the sight of their name makes you cringe then just do initials, but throw that in the fire. Maybe literally or figuratively but let the ice that is your burden thaw and extend grace to people who do not deserve it. We’ve done a fire in our backyard every single New Years Eve since then as a good reminder of how I want to start my year.

Lesson #8:

Happiness is not yellow, it’s blue

For more information: Reach out to Jackie Dawson at Totem Butterfly at http://www.totembutterfly.com

I feel that most people think about happiness as a feeling that is burst out of your chest, where your cheeks hurt from smiling so much and you feel so carefree. The feeling like you could walk on water and fly. It is effortless and easy. Even though the smiley faces we have become so familiar with are yellow, I have learned that happiness is actually blue. I want to challenge this way of thinking because I think it is creating an unrealistic expectation for happiness. I have been through a lot of pain in my life time, and I am sure I am not alone. Maybe you have gone through some pain yourself and feel like you are never going to get to that bright yellow smiley face again.

Last summer, I lied in the hammock as my husband, daughter and our dog played in the kiddie pool on a hot day. I looked at my family in front of me and felt so grateful. So grateful for the heat of the sun on my face, the laughter of my family in the background, the cool breeze rocking back and forth on the hammock brought and for the house that stood for all of the hours we sacrificed for this moment. I closed my eyes and just tried my best to take a mental picture and never wanting to forget this feeling. I was happy. Not in a burst out of my chest, felt like I could fly sort of way, but in an intense amount of peace that I felt in the moment. I realized that happiness is not yellow, it’s blue. It is the calming peace that consumes you. I think if we have a more realistic view of happiness, the pressure on chasing after the yellow smiley face is a lot more obtainable.

When we connect happiness with a feeling of gratitude it becomes a choice which can be scary for many people. Sometimes we associate happiness with something that happens TO us rather than something WE cultivate within ourselves. That means that if we are unhappy we have to confront an uncomfortable part of ourselves. If you turn on the television or listen to the radio, all too often we are consumed that happiness is a certain tax bracket or social status, when it is those people that are hurting the most. Last year I felt like I was on a bicycle headed down hill and I had lost control of the pedals. Do you remember the overwhelming panic that you feel and just have to hold on? It sounds cliché, but I really felt like I had no control on what was going on in my life and had a very “what else can happen” attitude.

In October I decided to participate in my friend Jackie Dawson’, Totem Butterfly 10 days of gratitude. In this, she had us fill out what would seem to be a daily journal of questions about ourselves, our fears, and finally listing things we were grateful for that day. I did a lot of self growth in that month. At first my gratitude’s would be very broad like “I’m grateful for my husband, my daughter, my dog, my job and my car.” Honestly, at first it felt forced to look around and find anything in my life I was grateful for. After doing this daily for a month, I found myself writing things like “I am grateful for my dining room table that has hosted many holidays, coloring projects, financial planning and arguments that lead to forgiveness.” The gratitude journals were not something we had to share with Jackie, if we didn’t want to but just getting in the habit of seeing the world through a different lens, lead to so much happiness.

When you think of your “happy place” where do you think of? Most people I have asked this say something to the effect of near the water or someplace outdoors. I think if you would have asked me 5 years ago I would have said the same thing. I love being on the water and always have. I have such an appreciation for the power of the waves, and the beauty of a calm day. Leave where your “happy place” is below! If you’re interested in transforming your soul and taking the first step to happiness through gratitude, check out Totem Butterfly. This isn’t a sponsorship, I just really loved how this transformed the way I saw my life.

Lesson #7:

Cinderella was right

I am shamelessly addicted to watching criminal suspense documentaries/series on streaming services. In one of our recent conversations, my best friend and I were talking about why we love it so much and I came to the realization that I am always actively searching for what predators know about me, that I don’t even know. In a strange way, I think if I learn something then I will be less likely to become prey. Let me explain, if you’ve ever seen “Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” there is a line in the movie that has stuck with me for years. Martin says to Mikael, “it’s hard to believe that the fear of offending can be stronger than the fear of pain. You know what? It is. And they always come willingly.” I have only seen the movie once (it was hard for me to watch – beware!), but I remember those words because I started to frantically search through painful memories for all the times that my fear of pain had been overridden and came to the harsh realization that this was true. How could predators know more about me, than I noticed about myself?

Women were gifted with intuition and it is something that I very strictly try to follow in my life. When I say intuition, I am referring to my ability as a woman, to be able to assess a situation without knowing all of the answers and details. Before logic is ever entered into my brain, I already have an unexplainable reasoning for why I feel a certain way. I try to foster that within my daughter in the small ways that I can. Oftentimes our fear of pain stems from not trusting the person we are around. Last year she did not feel comfortable sitting on Santa’s lap and I did not force her to take the traditional crying baby photo. We walked up as close as she felt comfortable to Santa and she watching him as he spoke with other children. She was doing her own assessment of the situation; I never want her to override her fear of pain for fear of offending someone. You will never find me forcing her to hug or touch a family member (I always offer a high five alternative) because I want her to be able to trust her gut of who she can feel comfortable around.

Then there are other people who are just simply amazing like my sister, Samantha. Samantha has this amazing gift where she can feel people’s energy (stay with me, I promise it’s not all hippy dippy). You could have a beaming smile, come skipping into the house and she is able to pick up on your energy and will know if you’re scared, overwhelmed, frustrated all without saying a word. I hope it’s a trait she trusts as she grows older.

I bring this up, because I have found that time sin my life that I have gotten into the most trouble is because I went against my fear of pain. I didn’t want to offend the guy at the club that was getting overly touchy with me even though I was afraid he was going to hurt me if I asked him to stop. When the stranger came up at the gas station to talk to me and ask for money, I gave them money so they wouldn’t be offended if I just walked away. Because of this, I have a very strict 2:00am rule. If you know me in real life you know how strict I am with this rule. My close friends will joke that I turn into a pumpkin, like Cinderella, at 2:00am and vanish.

A couple years ago I went to Nashville to work on a certification for a week. That Friday night, everyone decided they would go out to Broadway Street to celebrate. Drinks were flowing, great country music was playing and like Cinderella, I looked down at my watch and saw it was 1:50am. I just left the bar, and did not tell any of the strangers in my class where I was going and then I was leaving. I know how irresponsible that sounds, I just felt safer leaving then going back into the bar and potentially stalling my steadfast “nothing good happens after 2:00am” rule.

I say this because I care about you, and through personal experience I can tell you that setting boundaries for yourself is healthy. Especially for my women reading this, think about the times in your life where you have put yourself in a compromising situation – do you find any truth in our human reaction not wanting to offend someone overrides our animal instinct fear of pain?

Lesson #5:

“I am God’s favorite”

Lesson #2 I spoke briefly about my “intentional parenting” that my husband and I actively practice with our daughter. I am in no way a professional, nor do I have 100 children to test these theories out on, but I can just tell you what we have learned (through trial and error) with our daughter. All of this stems really from my desire to create a positive inner voice and rock solid self-esteem. Recently, my brother decided that he would quit his job and move to Hawaii on nothing but a dream. When I asked him if he was scared, he simply replied, “Why should I be? I am God’s favorite.” I laughed at his response and then later on in the car it bugged me how I could not get this amazing sense of arrogance and self-love out of my head. My brother has a big personality and his filter is seldom engaged to his mouth, so I know what he said, hereally meant. Religion aside, I started thinking about how I want my daughter to adapt this sort of mentality. If someone says something nasty to her, I hope she is able to look at that situation with the same arrogance and self-love that my brother has. 

I wish I could emphasize how badly we wanted a daughter; we prayed for her and spoke about her like I was already pregnant. What would she look like? What kind of personality would she have? Maybe it was my hormones, but my joy quickly became fear. Instead of questioning what she would be like, I quickly began to think of all of the terrible things myself or female friends of mine had experienced and I started thinking “how can I protect her from…” If you think like that, you are bound to go crazy which I found out the hard way. I focused on what I wanted her to know about herself, how we would create the little voice inside of her head that would guide her through her life.The interesting parallel is that once you know who you are, no bully or difficult situation can defeat you. Meaning that many times in our life we get to the point of defeat and second guess who we are. Maybe we didn’t get that promotion or job offer and we start second guessing if we’re really qualified. Maybe we get called fat and we start to think that every time someone looks at us that’s all they see. Maybe our boyfriend just broke up with us and we’re not sure if we’re valued or capable of being loved. Whatever it may be, I want my daughter to be able to look in the mirror and seeexactlywhat I see: a big, smart, strong, silly little girl who is independent and brave.  So, below are the things my husband and I talked about when we started our “intentional parenting” journey with our daughter.

“You are big, smart, strong and silly.”

In my life, I have seen little girls called beautiful, cute, pretty a dozen times over and the effect that it had on them. Now, I think my daughter is one of the most adorable little ladies I have ever seen, but if you find affirmations in things that change then your self-esteem is based on something unstable. You will go through puberty and have acne, you will gain weight, you will lose weight, you will get wrinkles and stretchmarks and go through awkward periods of your life. What does not change and what I want my daughter to build her stability on is that she is big, smart, strong and silly. We do hand motions when we tell her each of these things just so she hears it and sees it and can be remembered easier. And my love, if someday you read these blog posts just know that you will be a grown woman and I will do those motions of big, smart, strong and silly to embarrass and remind me until you remember. Don’t tell me to stop, because I am not going to.

When she puts together a Lego set or helps me with dinner and is covered in flour, as much as I want to tell her how beautiful she is and how much I love the dimples in her cheeks – we tell her how smart she is and how she learned how to (fill in the blank!).  This is not to say that we don’t tell our daughter she is beautiful, because I can already hear the army of angry people in my head, but we never let the “cute” or “adorable” outweigh the big, smart, strong and silly comments.In Lesson #1 we talked about the five love languages and to an extent this applies to those affirmations. When you tell your spouse how smart they are for doing the family’s taxes or how considerate they are for fixing something around the house all of a sudden those affirmations become their own positive inner voice. I have spent years telling my husband how amazing his hugs are (seriously – you’re missing out) and now he will arrogantly tell me, to come get one of his hugs. I don’t say arrogance in a bad way, just that he has so much self-love that he knows.
If you have a child, what sorts of inner voice affirmations do you hope to instill in your child? If you do not, what inner voice affirmations do you wish you were told as a child?

Lesson #4:

Healthy boundaries

Ah, one of the parts of any relationship that I do not think we talk about nearly enough – conflict resolution. In a world of social media, we seldom post the bad times in our lives or even share with friends. Coincidently it is something that all of us can relate to. At my bridal shower all of the attendants were asked to put their best marriage advice down on a piece of paper and the night before we got married I would read them. In my opinion, they were full of terrible advice and advice that I had never thought of before (someone remind me to talk more about this!). One piece of advice was to never share conflicts between you and your husband with anyone other than each other. This felt very 1950’s back when couples argued in their room, after the children had gone to sleep and only quietly. In my opinion this has lead to a generation that has a false sense of what a relationship is. Coupled with movies, when we do not share how we resolve conflict or respectfully communicate in the heat of a disagreement we teach our children that it is abnormal to argue and that it isn’t love. I want my daughter to know that even when her father and I argue, or when her and I argue there is never a doubt in her mind that I love her. The act of loving someone is not easy and arguments are common, but it’s how we handle these arguments that set healthy boundaries and reinforce respect.

My husband and I started dating in high school and although there were many downsides (like getting off the phone at 10!) one of the greatest things that came out of this foundation with my husband was communication. We do what we call “temperature checks” within our marriage every few months to see where we can support each other better and where we want to focus our priority as an individual and a family. It’s really beneficial for us and I’d highly recommend it if you have never done it before. In any relationship, conflict is going to come up but I think it’s healthy for us to talk about how we manage it and move past it. It’s interesting to note that people always compare a marriage to a team but all teams have a common goal – can you clearly define what your goal is as a couple? Your short term/long term goal? If not, try doing a temperature check!

I vividly remember in the start of our relationship talking about certain “rules” we would have when we argued. The 5 that we agreed upon were:

  • Course of Action
  • No Name Calling
  • Sleep, Food and Air Conditioning to Reset
  • 3 Reasons Why
  • Unconditional is not just a word, it’s a verb

Just to jump right in, the very basis of all five rules is that in the event of conflict that we still respect each other. Sometimes arguments get so nasty that we stray away from rules (like wanting to call him a butt head) but these help keep the conflicts productive and respectful. All of these rules sound so simple, but in the event of passion and anger they keep us focused.

The first rule is that we try to never argue just for the sake of an argument. When we approach a topic that we know will get heated, we always have an end goal. If I am mad because his laundry has piled up in the bathroom for the last week, my course of action is that he needs to either put a hamper in the bathroom for him to use or that he needs to take off his clothes in our bedroom before he gets into the shower. This is just a very small example, but you see my point. We address each other’s issues and what we are going to do about them.

The second rule is that we do not name call. You wouldn’t call your boss at work all the names you want to, why would you feel it’s okay to call your spouse and partner names. It deflects from the issue on hand and any time names are being called people’s natural defenses build and the conversation is no longer productive. When you say something, you can’t take it back.

The third rule goes back to the marriage advice that we got at our bridal shower. I cannot tell you how many “never go to bed angry” messages I received from my attendants. We tried the “never go to bed angry” after our honeymoon and all we found it do was put this argument in a gigantic loop. Everyone has different triggers which cause them to be impatient and easily aggravated. For my husband, I know that it is him being hungry. If the man has not ate or his mind is on food – forget about anything that is said to him or what is said by him. Now that he and I both know that, he will tell me when he starts to get hungry and I am able to extend grace. Conversely, I am impatient and easily aggravated when I am tired. For other people, like my brother, I know that when he is hot all bets are off. If we are going through any of these triggers, the best thing we can do is sleep on it and if we wake up and it still bothers us (which 97% of the time it doesn’t) we address it. Basic human needs need to be handled first.

The next rule is what I affectionately call the “three reasons why.” As I mentioned previously, my Type A personality is a planner and when I make a decision I am often hardheaded to change my mind. During one of our temperature checks, my husband told me that he needed my support in attending different career training. My first reaction was anger and flashing before me of days spent away from home where I would be responsible for our family and household – alone. Sudden feelings of having to compete with a career suddenly turn off what he is saying and the conflict is no longer productive. So what we learned works for us, is to do our “three reasons why” we want to make a decision and as a wife I have had to learn that my way is not always the best way. It shows each other that this has been clearly thought out and allows each of you to address concerns appropriately. He told me he wanted to pursue this training because he felt like he was not confident with this part of his job, that this training would allow him the first step in pursuing a different department if he so chose (which would give him a more consistent schedule) and that by signing up rather than waiting for his boss to volun-told him would allow him the flexibility to pick which dates he would be gone. While it is never ideal for me to handle our responsibilities, alone I knew that he had given this thought and agreed.

The final rule is more of a reminder. When you say to each other you love each other unconditionally it is not just lovely language and I have found that being reminded of unconditional love at its purest is when it is most difficult to love. It is not an excuse to take advantage of a person, but rather a reminder that despite our disagreements and differences of opinion that we are a team. A team with a common goal. We may disagree and raise our voice or leave the room, but I never have to question if he will leave me because our love is unconditional.