Marriage Versus Motherhood

Marriage Versus Motherhood

With this week being the week after we love on all the mom’s and the mothering figures in our lives I felt it only appropriate to share some of my thoughts on the balancing act of the roles of motherhood and my romantic relationship.

The big point in this post is the honor we have as mothers. It is beautuful but it is also dangerous at times for our marriages. We can very quickly focus on our role as mother over the role that made us one. The danger of that is we can loose our romantic lives in the process.

Your kids more than likely came after your marriage and they must ALWAYS stay there.  I don’t care if you have a miracle baby who is only eight months old and your still nursing him.  Get a babysitter!  Break up with that child.  One day that kid will yell at you, will go off to college, marry another, and create a new family.  Where will you be with your marriage?  The best advice we ever got on this subject was from a couple who didn’t have children.  The reason we took the advice?  They were on the outside and could see stuff that all of us who had kids couldn’t see.  We were in it, we were blinded, we were tired, and we were busy.  It was the best advice. Make sure your marriage always stays in front of your kids.

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I am a mother to a miracle child and what we call our “bonus baby”.  I had high risk pregnancies with both of them and we are lucky we have them at all.  They are my pride and joy.  My special bonus.  My dream that I cried and deeply feared would never be a reality.  And I became a lioness when they were born.  No one could care for them the way I could.  If I had not taken this advice to heart I know for a fact Steve and I would be in a challenging spot.

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However, our marriage must come first. Your babies will be better off when you prioritize your husband.  Your marriage can be a thriving, dynamic and energizing machine, while raising children. When the kids head out on their own, you won’t be devastated and unaware of what to do with yourself.  Trust me, you both will be much better parents for putting each other above all other relationships, including your children. 

 

Proverbs 31:28 Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her.

Build Your Legacy

 

 

I was asked a few years ago by a dear friend to come along side her son while he came into the older elementary ages and into middle school. To just be another voice and another person he could talk to about anything and everything. Also just to have fun and be there for him. Doing life side by side with kids is one of the greatest privileges in this world. I was honored to take on the opportunity. What surprised me was how much I have learned from doing this!!

The next generation is truly amazing! They are doing more, juggling more, and being expected of more than any other generation behind them. They are incredible when you think about all that they are managing and fighting against. As an older sister to three brothers I was even more thrilled to get to do this. A few times a year I would get to be out of the pink tutu’s and ballet bars that my life revolved around. I didn’t have kids yet and having the opportunity to go to an arcade and to ride go carts was a no brainer! I was going to be there.

When I was young, I had three individuals in particular that came around me and encouraged me. They took me places, they showed up for me, and they took an interest in what was going on in my world. I knew first hand what that influence had in my life. It meant the world that I mattered to them and that they really wanted to see me succeed. They were “super cool”  and to know that they had my back really shaped me.

“Show me a successful individual and I’ll show you someone who had real positive influences in his or her life. I don’t care what you do for a living—if you do it well I’m sure there was someone cheering you on or showing the way. A mentor.” — Denzel Washington

Contribution has one of the largest upshot in all of life. It is when you are contributing to a greater cause or a greater idea that you are pouring out rather than taking. Consuming money, space, time, and negativity helps no one and lest of all you. When you are nervous to go for it, remember, contribute verses consume. Building your legacy is not about buildings, or money, or empires, or even influence. Its about people. So which one is it for you? Some of us think we are contributing but in actuality all we are doing is consuming.

Many of us can come up with incredible ideas but it takes a multitude of people to spread something exceptional. It takes a village to raise a child, it takes a mob to create a movement, and it takes a congregation to have a revival.

Look at the very gospel of Jesus as an example. Become part of something bigger than yourself. Go mentor, and go be mentored! Who do you need to come along side today?

Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness. Romans 12: 6-8

 

Productivity

Productivity

“Some days I feel like the internet is 100 versions of “strive for greatness!” and “how she’s killing the game and you can, too!” and “these are the 64863 things successful people do before dawn.”  But how about this: you don’t have to crush or kill or slay anything today. You don’t have to strive or wrangle or hustle or do anything violent today. You can just be a human, in a quiet and honest way and that is good.” – Shauna Neiquest

January is the month of goals. It is also the month of freezing rain, gloom, and darker nights. Very challenging for this florida girl to manage! What I have personally learned thismonyh is the opposite of what many of us are told to do for the first month in the year. I would love to share my insight with you.

Over the summer and the holiday’s this past year I read three books on personal development.  These books gave me incredible clarity when it comes to goal setting and more importantly,  productivity. I wanted to finish out strong for those goals that meant something to me but, somehow I was putting off. I wanted to complete things and to end the year well.

Many of us set goals, aspirations, and healthy ideals yet few of us reach our true potential. Why? I believe after reading these books I have uncovered one of the leading causes of this problem and have been ecstatic to see incredible things happen.

If you would love to read these books, I have placed pictures of each one for your benefit at the bottom of this blog but here are my personal cliff notes and insight. These practices have transformed my January blues and winter hibernation to something extraordinarily valuable.

Book 1 Notes:

I first learned that in order to truly achieve great things you need to rest. And just because you get your 7-9 hours of sleep a night does not mean you are rested. You may still be depleted in your emotional rest or spiritual rest or even relationship rest; which is then making you tired. Reading all of the different areas we need to have rest in was exhausting! To be honest I was less hopeful that I could ever achieve optimal recovery after reading this book but it did remind me that there is more to rest than just sleep. The American culture of hustle, making your dreams happen, and the “be more and do more”mentality is burning us all out. If we focused more on the areas of resting our very souls from striving we would all be in a better place.

Book 2 Notes:

I also learned that watching tv, playing video games, surfing the internet, and even social media scrolling is not considered restful. For our minds do not get a break. Even reading a magazine was more restful and star-gazing and even walking better options from there. Therefore, these activities should be considered non-restful things. They can be classified as fun, and even entertaining but not restful. This was big for me because the average american uses these activities to “rest”, check out, zone out, and decompress. I can’t use this as my downtime and expect my mind and body to be restored.

Book 3 Notes:

It might seem weird that I read books on rest and on high performance at the same time but they go hand in hand actually. Rest play’s a vital role on productity and motivation. If your not resed your not able to be diciplined enough in life to make it really count. What I know to be true, when it comes to productivity, is that the silent killer is focusing on what you don’t like. These are the complaining master minds of our world. You know what I’m talking about too. The silent complainers and the obnoxious Debbie downers that no matter how great things are they can find what went wrong. And we all have been both of these people at some point or another. Instead of that, instead of complaining, the experts were saying to focus on what you like. Then go and do more of that!

So instead of fighting the winter hibernation effect and the feelings of exhaustion that surround me in January and February, what if I embraced it? What if instead of pushing back against it I learned the rhythms God has placed on this world and I followed suit. How would it look if I learned to rest correctly and completely. To do this without guilt of falling behind or of being lazy.

This month I have not put a deadline on my “book reading” but instead pulled out a childhood set I loved.  No deadline in sight. I haven’t put a deadline on my health, but instead gone on longer walks. I have watched more tv but I have not called it “down time”. I have reminded myself of what I love and have chosen to do more of it. Bubble baths, hot tea, snuggling with my children, a new eye cream, an awesome music mix, and even staying up late just hanging with my husband.  The best part of this is learning to be grateful, and enjoy it fully. No more complaining, or guilt of what I haven’t done this month.

Releasing your role as CEO of doing it all, making it happen, and that it is “never enough” is freeing and a giant exhale that we should take in life. I am not saying go home, raise your hands and say, “God’s going to provide while I watch Netflix” but I am saying run your role and don’t over step it. Average people work too much, are depleted, depressed, and bone dry. Average people complain and never know peace. You and I are capable and even called to be at rest. To choose exceptional rest in Jesus. To see how precious it all is, and to enjoy life to the fullest, is our blessing. This can free you from guilt, from expectations, and from winter exhaustion. Take your vacations, take your snow days, say “no” to all the fluff, do more of what you love, and appreciate your now.

– What do you need to release today when it comes to your life?

– Are you striving to much? Why?

– Do you need to put boundaries in place for you to cultivate rest? What are they?

– Do you need to replace restorative rest over laziness in your life?

– Do you need to trust God more with your future?

– Do you need to change jobs? Change your circle? Change your mindset? Make something simpler?

– What is something you can do to clarify your vision for yourself?

– What is one thing you can do to cultivate rest in your life right now?

 

 

Improve Your Relationship Instantly

Improve Your Relationship Instantly

As I lifestyle coach and excellence motivator, I am often asked for the quick fix when it comes to a number of issues and situations. Often I don’t have it. Almost everything in life takes small steps and time to create waves and impact. Very few people can see instant results and massive accomplishment just by shifting one thing. In other words You have to work at it and do it often to see the benefits. Just like exercise, You won’t see muscle and a healthy heart just by doing one workout (although the benefits are there in one session, it is hard to see it until you have done the routine for a while).

In a world that we call the “microwave generation” it is a hard reality to hear. Who doesn’t want instant and easy results? Often times it can be daunting for us to wait it out and to see the fruit of our labors.

When it comes to certain things, I do have to have a short list for my clients on making your life better – instantly. These are things that are tried and true.

For example: You want more energy?

  1. Drink more water
  2. Get to bed earlier
  3. Hire a babysitter
  4. Schedule a massage

Most of the time people know what they should be doing. However, hearing someone speak it, motivates us to continue to jump all in. So today, I am giving you my list. The top things that will transform your relationship to a better place.  The very things that we do that creates instant energy, joy, and connection in our marriage.

Date – Go on a date. Not just any date. You must go and do something you’ve never done before. So often as time goes on date night becomes either none existent or it becomes the same old, same old. Spice it up. Cooking class, mountain biking, drive in movie theater, painting class. You can’t just go to dinner or the regular dive bar you always go to. You must be creative. This has everything to do with your romance. Let the sparks fly!

  • Place – Pick your next vacation. The destination that you want to go on together. Dream it up and talk about it. What do you want to see, experience and accomplish. This as everything to do with being in and on an adventure together.

 

  • Position – Well this is pretty self-explanatory but once again try to get out of the rut and have fun. People in general don’t dream enough as a team, when it comes to their sex lives. So often these things are kept quiet and then the frustrations come out on the golf course with buddies, or at the nail salon with the girls. I am shocked at how many times I ask a person who is venting about their desires in this area and often they haven’t talked about it to their significant other at all! This is not a bashing time about what is not being met in this area but a brainstorming time as a unit of what you want. It is super fun!! Don’t forget to then implement what you’ve talked about and agreed on. This focus point has everything to do with your intimacy.

 

  • Goal – Don’t pick 37 goals and don’t pick a personal goal. Pick one goal as a team that you are going to work on as a team.
    • You want to pay the house off earlier?
    • Do you want to start a company together?
    • Do you want to run a marathon as a team?

Pick one thing that you can do together. This has everything to do with your purpose as a team and reminding yourself that two really are better than one. (Ecclesiastes 2)

You can accomplish so much more as a team. Steve and I have said it for years and years and it is not a new phrase but, it bears repeating.

“We make each other the best versions of ourselves.”

 

 

Southern Roots

Southern Roots

“To be born a Southern woman is to be made aware of your distinctiveness. And with it, the rules. The expectations. These vary some, but all follow the same basic template, which is, fundamentally, no matter what the circumstance, Southern women make the effort. Which is why even the girls in the trailer parks paint their nails. And why overstressed working moms still bake three dozen homemade cookies for the school fund-raiser. And why you will never see Reese Witherspoon wearing sweatpants. Or Oprah take a nap.” – Allison Glock

I grew up raised by true southern women. They all can make a great stitch and create clothes from patterns. As a little girl, they let me drink coffee in tea cups and my mother knows how to do big hair like nobody’s business. Most of them can drive tractors and ride horses. Others can make a mean Mac and Cheese recipe. Lace and Monogramming is a thing and they take it very seriously. There is tons of stuff about being raised in the south that I loved and there are things I didn’t.

Living in a southern small town I also got the flip side of the “southern living” style. Not the glamorous magazine one but the one that involved lots of hard work. I received training on the grueling details that “poor farm life” is real, and that everybody knows everybody’s stuff isn’t always a great thing. I saw cow tipping at its finest, and every boy alive drove massive trucks with ball bags hanging off the back. Let’s not even go there when it comes to the closed-minded mindsets toward any kind of change. Enough said, period the end.

It took me years to appreciate country music and I think it was due to some of these not so cute things about the south. Here is the thing. Everyone can tell you the negative’s or the positive’s of where they grew up. Whether you grew up in the city, the suburbs, the country, or even “Jersey” itself. In this season I am learning to appreciate so much. What builds you as a person is the good and the ugly. The harder topics are sometimes even more important because they seem to explain more by what you are not saying.

As soon as I could, I traveled the world and I moved to bigger cities. The thing I have stuck with? I am still in the south. I really love it.

We all have the good, bad, and ugly when it comes to our memories of where we grew up. I am learning to encompass all of it as it has shaped who I am today. As I sit with my daughter having a tea party I am able to see and be very grateful for where and how I was raised. There are so many wonderful things about it, and certain strengths I pray I can teach her.

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Here are all the beautiful things about growing up southern. These are the things I believe every person should emulate.  Southern or not, they are great ways to live life and to respect others.

  • Slower pace. – people say “Hi” and are taught to look at you. They wait for your answer to “how ya doin?”
  • Making people a casserole is always a good idea – babies, showers, sick days, tea parties, sunday potlucks, and funerals. Food can sooth. Learn a go to dish and stick to it
  • Country music should be respected for the art that it is

“A lot of people don’t realise I came out of the Smoky Mountains with a load of songs.” -Dolly Parton

  • Horse racing should be a sport that everyone watches – like soccer or football
  • Manners – “yes sir” and “thank you” go a really long way
  • Dress for success – No sweat pants were allowed at church, There is a time and place for everything. Overalls were for the farm, not a church wedding and not on a plane!

“My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style. “—Maya Angelou

  • Children are considered part of the adult conversations and should conduct themselves accordingly. Or go outside and play. No tantrums were permitted at the table.
  • A party is always a good idea – to celebrate everything and anything! the south throw parties for absolutely everything.

“Barbecue may not be the road to world peace, but it’s a start.”— Anthony Bourdain

  • A strong work ethic – is knowing when to start but also when to stop. When it was dark it was time to come in and be done.

“Real courage is when you know you’re licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what.”—Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

  • Growing your own garden and knowing how to make a stitch is becoming a vital and artsy skill again. It is looked at as rare and important. I’m grateful I have those skills, If you want to learn them – I’d be happy to help!
  • Respecting others was never an option to opt out of. Everyone is a child of God and should be treated as such – bully’s were called bully’s and not tolerated. A foot note on this topic: My husband came home the other day saying someone at the office told him that “nice guys, never win.” I was furious! Are we telling grown men now that bullying is not only acceptable but required for making good business? This is unacceptable in my book. Kindness is magic.

Living gracious, bold, stylish, and thankful is what true southern women do at all times. I am proud to follow in suite.

 

“Southern girls are God’s gift to the entire male population. There is absolutely no woman finer than one raised below the Mason-Dixon line and once you go southern may the good Lord help you never go back.” – Kenny Chesney

Findind Rest

Findind Rest

Rest is something I am not good at. Truth be told I don’t think anyone is great at it. Lots of people may argue that point with me. Saying they are great at throwing on the PJ’s and binge watching tv for days on in while eating Doritos. Some will tell me that they can sleep till 11 am on weekends to “catch up” on rest. Neither one of those is rest. It’s a bad self-induced rehab. It is trying to recover from a life wrecked by not resting well, tying to implement these tactics doesn’t work. I can say I have done both. I know what bad rest plans do and what a great one can accomplish. You can design your life in a way that makes it great. Fantastic rest is possible.

Ever wonder why Jesus said He came to give us rest? He knew the value of it and the toil of this world. He is the ultimate answer for all the pining we do. There was nothing new about this struggle.

“Come to Me, all those toiling and being burdened, and I will give you rest.” Mathew 11:28

Those of us who are about personal growth and living our best lives tend to underestimate the value rest has. We were raised to know the value of hard work but, were never taught about resting properly. In fact our society sends the message that in order to be great you must be accessible and on all the time. People wear the badge of over work like it is a medal. We associate busy work with growth. But we can be busy and doing nothing of importance. In fact many of us are doing this. When did skipping vacations become something to honor?! When did reaching for our phone’s (by our bed) become the norm for the first thing to do?

Resting well requires more than sleep patterns. Dozens of people sleep a lot and they are still walking around exhausted and bone dry. Void of any excitement and joy.  Why?

You know what I am talking about. It’s when you rely on caffeine and routine to survive. When you’re not living your potential and you know it. It is when you just can’t get it together no matter how many vacations you look forward to. It’s when you drive from point A to point B and then don’t remember how you got there.

So many people don’t understand the definition of really great rest. Proper rest is unique to all of us. It’s restorative, and what restores you is different from what restores me.

Here is a list of things that I do to find restoration. I encourage you to carve out space to find out what restores you to a healthy pace of being great!

Playlists – music can restore in a way nothing else can. Find what types evoke different emotions and encouragement. Make up different lists for different seasons or activities. I have a personal worship playlist, a motivation track, a writing playlist, an oldies list, a spa focus, and a gym lineup.

Books – It is something so wonderful! I have to keep it fresh with a selection of fun versus personal growth books. Don’t just pick one genre. Get creative and find what gives you rest and momentum all in one.

Bubble bath with epsom salts – This is my personal spot and everyone know it. Find a space/a spot where you can go. Just for you to be.

Pedicure –  Take care of your feet, they are what carry you in life.

Exercise – Lots of people say this is not restful. I disagree. Exercise makes you healthier, it clears your head. It is proven that people sleep better, and that it has been used to cure certain kinds of depression.

Journaling – It a beautiful place to write out what your grateful for. Try it!!! For one month, write out five things your grateful for every single day.

Art – Some people like model cars, others like charcoal drawings. I enjoy coloring with my kids. I enjoy a beautiful art exhibition. I love old homes and castle tours. Look for beauty.

Vacation – Need I say anything else?! Go. Take every single day. Ask for more and don’t ever stop making this a big deal.

Gardening – It’s one step closer to the longing I hold for Eden. You could try hiking, mountain biking, or rowing on a lake. I have a friend that loves to rock climb. It’s restorative for her and she is super great at it. Just get outside.

Dance classes –  Some say this should go under art and some say this should be under the exercise category but for me personally it gets its own subtitle. It is what speaks to my heart. Dance became the undertone to my life at a young age, and was a place I could express myself and feel complete.  I am no longer dancing professionally or even teaching but the studio is still one of my favorite spots. God’s unique thumb print is on us all from the beginning. Each of us has something that speaks restoratively to us more than others. Cultivating that will bring out zeal, passion, and drive. For my husband, it’s playing a drum set. For my sister, it’s the art of cooking. These activities give them so much restorative energy. What is something that you love?

Commit to developing a pattern of rest. Slow down and ease up from the hustle. Learn to say “Enough”. It will help you in mastering the art of living exceptionally.

Rest when you’re weary. Refresh and renew yourself, your body, your mind, your spirit. Then get back to work. – Ralph Marston

rest1
verb
To cease in order to relax, refresh oneself, or recover strength.
synonyms: relax, take a rest, ease up/off, let up, slow down, have/take a break, unbend, unwind,

Detox

Detox

This topic is something that many people have become very opinionated and strong on. I want to be clear. These are my thoughts and what has worked for me. For me the detoxifying life has become a term that is part of my lifestyle. Not a diet. For me I detox regularly from many things and not just food. I eliminate days off social media in my life. I detox from chores when I go on vacation. I detox from shopping besides the grocery store.

Food is such a powerful regulator of our biology and detox is huge. It literally makes a world of difference. But when I detox I make sure I put in the good. It’s not just about limiting and taking the toxic things out. It’s about choosing the good and the healthier to replace the bad.

When I do a detox I do it to feel good, to get from feeling decent to feeling GREAT. I have been an athlete my entire life. I love dancing, yoga, am a mild runner, and am passionate about growing my own garden. When I decide to go all out and clear out, I am aware of the tweaks that I need to do because I have slide just a bit. This is not a massive diet strategy because I need to lose 70 lbs or want to go from couch to tri-athlete in six weeks. So remember, if this looks super over the top and strict for you, it might be. If you are going from eating fast food and milkshakes everyday I don’t assume that you are going to be doing this detox program. However, I am an average american that enjoys her wine and cake too. I am not gluten-free or vegan 24/7 so this plan does work a ton for my clients that want a little boost.

What I eliminate: processed carbs, sugar, dairy, meat and sometimes even fruit for a few days.

What I don’t give up: coffee.

I have done this before but I am in a place with my health now that I don’t put sugar or cream in my coffee. I drink it black and I buy organic and this is pure enjoyment for me. The effects of taking this out for me are usually far worse than what eliminating does for me. BUT….If you are dumping a pound of sugar and cream in to a cup and calling it coffee do not fool yourself. Eliminate it!!!

What I ADD: 

Vegan protein mixes, tons of fresh veggies, and a detox soup I make for dinners. I add tons of water!! Tons. I drink coconut water and green smoothies and salad every day.

I do try to do this every season change. And it makes me feel amazing!!

My struggle: Cheese and Alcohol elimination. Now this is going to come out and I know I’m going to get judged on this. Here me out. When I do this I do it for 10-14 days and its over two weekends. The weekends are just harder for me. My husband and I enjoy a good grill-out and a glass of wine on our deck and we host big dinner nights regularly. For whatever reason the minute I decide to do this it always seems to fall on a celebration weekend and its so hard for me! I hate missing out on the festivities.

My Recipes:

Detox water

(make up and seep in fridge over night)

2 liters water,

1 whole cucumber

1 lemon

mint leaves

Leek Soup

2 leeks – white and green parts washed

10 cauliflower heads sliced up

1 carrot diced

3/4 cup greens (this is an estimate It might be more) cut into slices

4 cups of organic vegetable stock

1 Tbs olive oil or coconut oil

pepper to taste

herbs to your taste

Simmer the leeks in a pan with the oil. Add the other veggies to stir fry. Add in the vegetable stock and some water if needed. Season to taste.