Today’s Inspiration: I’m Good at Wasting My Time–It’s Time to Give Some Things Up

I complain a lot about how busy life is. I’m so overwhelmed, and I feel like I have little time for myself….there’s kids to take care of and get ready for school, drive to activities, feed, help with homework. I have errands and chores that constantly need attention–grocery shopping, dry cleaning, laundry, pet care and clean up, house cleaning. Then there’s work–going to work part-time and working on lesson plans and other items at home to be prepared each week at school. It’s exhausting to look at the list of all that needs accomplished during the day.

However, I have a confession…I know that there’s something I could give up and have more time in my day. This something takes up a good hour or more each day, takes up the time I could be using to read books, play more with my kids, work out longer and harder, and sit and relax. What is one of my biggest time wasters? Facebook. And Pinterest.

I am going to commit to something for the month of February. I don’t know if I can do it, but I’m going to try and see what happens (and report back to you). I’m only going to check Facebook once a week. And I’m only going to look at Pinterest if I am looking up something for work or for dinner. That’s it. I’m curious to know how much time this social media “addiction” wastes during each of my days. I’m curious to know how much more time I can have for other more important things if I stay off of these apps.

If you want to join me in my experiment, please do. See if you can limit or eliminate Facebook, Pinterest, Snapchat, etc. And let me know how you do and if you find you have more time in your day by letting go of Pinterest and/or Facebook. And  I’ll let you know what I learn by letting go of my time wasters.

Today’s Inspiration: Life of a Type-A Mom

I imagine there are a lot of moms that chill and refuse to make their mornings crazy. I am guessing they are good at not sweating the small stuff and just doing the basics each morning to get everyone up and off to school. Then there are the rest of us moms.  We are type-A, perfectionistic, organizational neat freaks who want everything done. This is the category I fall into. Here’s what I did today, all before 8am:

Woke up at 5:45 so I could shower before I got the kids up for school. Got the little ones up first, fed them breakfast and got a cup of coffee. While they ate breakfast, I cleaned cat litter and fed all the pets, emptied the dishwasher, folded a load of clothes, and made all the beds. Then I got the girls dressed, helped them with hair, got breakfast put away, loaded up backpacks and lunchboxes, took a  sip of my now-cold coffee, and got the girls in the car to drive them to school.  Back home fifteen minutes later, and ready for Round Two…

Got my middle schooler up for school, made her breakfast, reheated my cup of coffee, went up to make her bed, swept the hardwood floors and put the laundry away (that I folded earlier), ironed my middle schooler’s  uniform pants, and ate my breakfast and enjoyed my coffee (now needing reheated a second time this morning) while she went up to get dressed. Got online to order yearbooks for this year (wasted 15 minutes trying to order them—the site kept booting me off, so that was a waste of time). I managed to write this and get all my work things together so I could get out the door to head to my job by 8…

Am I the only mom who is swirling around like a tornado in the morning trying to get a million things accomplished before my work day starts? I cannot stand coming home to a messy, disorganized house after work. There are way too many activities after school that if something doesn’t get done in the early morning hours, the rest of my week falls behind quickly. What is your morning like?

Today’s Inspiration: Finding Purpose

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking since this summer about one certain thing….wondering what my purpose is. Do you think about this often too? What is my gift? What is my passion, and how do I share that with others to make a difference?

As i get older, I feel the need to do something worthwhile, helpful, and important. It doesn’t have to do with making money or getting awards. I just want to do things that are meaningful in some way. So I pray. I pray often to God and ask him what my purpose is in life.  How do I get there and where do I start? What in the world should I be doing and where can I find the answer to that?

So I keep on searching. I hope that God will answer my questions soon and guide me to what my gift or passions are so I can be led to what my purpose is and what I can do to make a difference in the world.

Have you figured out your purpose? How did you find it?

Today’s Inspiration: Breaking up (With Running) Is Hard to Do

Dear Running,

There is no easy way to tell you this, so I’m just going to say it. We need to break up.

It’s  not you, it’s me. I know you’ve been there for me a lot in the past. You’ve listened to me on our long weekends and mornings together. You taught me to be patient and you taught me to tough it out.  You used to make me very happy, but lately I’m just not feeling it. I need to move on.  Unfortunately, it’s time for me to look for a new love. I’m not sure what that will be….yoga, interval training, spinning…I’ve been with you for so long, I’m not sure what is next for me.

I’ve thought about this for a while now. Last winter, I knew things had changed. My heart didn’t feel the same when you and I would get together. I was sad and hurt after we’d meet up.  That’s when I knew this wasn’t going to work out, me and you.

I hope we can get together here and there, because I’d still like to see you. every now and then. I’ll miss you, but I think it’s time and it’s what is best for me (and what my body needs).

Love,
Julie

Today’s Inspiration: (Important) Lessons for My Girls

Raising girls is not always easy.  There is so much to learn about, and so many choices for them to make. Insecurities and emotions can start early, and middle school can be tough once those years arrive. Of course, I want all my daughters to do well at school and to be involved in sports and activities and do well in those too. But in our house, there are three rules (or lessons) that I believe are way more important to being successful.  Since the girls were small, Eric and I have always reminded the girls that it’s not just grades or certificates and awards that make us proud of them. There are other things that make us just as proud. Living these lessons are some of those things:

  1. Be helpful and kind to others. Always.
    Community service, volunteer work, help a friend or a neighbor when you can…this is a common discussion and practice at home. It’s never too young for a child to learn how to help. My first graders have volunteered at a food bank since they were three. They love it, and  we often discuss afterward who the food is for and  how volunteering and finding a way to help is important.  We often talk about asking a shy friend to play on the playground. We discuss inviting others that are lonely to join us at lunch.  It’s important to our family to be kind to others  and help or give to those in need.

    The other day, my middle-schooler told me a story about her physical education class. She said the teacher wanted the class to run a trail outdoors. He asked if any of the boys or girls in class were involved in cross country because he would need their help getting the class through the trail. My daughter and a boy in class raised their hands, and the teacher asked my daughter if she wanted to be the leader on the trail or wanted to be the “sweeper” and stay in the back. She chose the back. Why? She told me that there was a boy in her class who doesn’t like to work out at all, and she knew he might struggle on the trail. She wanted to make sure he had someone with him to encourage him and walk or run with him to complete the trail. I was so proud of her choice to be a helper rather than offer to be in the lead to prove how fast she could run.  It shows what kind of leader she chooses to be–one that encourages, supports and helps others.

  2. Stay away from gossip and drama. Always.
    How difficult it can be sometimes to stay out of gossip or drama! Unfortunately, with girls it starts early.  We discuss how harmful talking about others can be–once the words come out of your mouth about someone or something, you cannot put them back in.

    Quite often, my younger girls come home upset  to tell me about a child in their class who always puts others down. She makes fun of other girls in the classroom, and she discusses which girls are wearing the best clothes. This is in first grade! Many afternoons, I ask my daughters if that’s the way we should talk to or treat friends and other people. They agree it’s not.  I ask them how they would feel if she said those things about them (and she has before). We talk about responses to gossip and drama….”Well, I like what Jane is wearing, her skirt is so pretty” or “Joe is my friend, and it’s not very nice to say mean things about him” or asking a teacher for help when the drama and gossip become something they cannot successfully put a stop to on their own.

    Luckily, my oldest daughter has been good at making decisions when she hears gossip. She often chooses to remove herself from the conversation and not get involved in it at all.  She mostly surrounds herself with girls that prefer to hang out and talk to each other rather than about others. I have overheard a few conversations when friends are over, and I hear her change the conversation when one of the girls starts complaining about other girls or making fun of them (and I give her a high-five in my head). Hopefully, she will stay on the no-drama path through high school and remember all the discussions we have about the problems that can arise from getting involved in drama and gossip.

  3. Be true to yourself. Always.
    This is a big lesson in our house. Always be true to who you are. The easiest way to talk about this with my younger daughters so they understand: we are all gifts from God. Each of us is just like a gift under the tree at Christmas, and we all have different wrapping paper. That doesn’t make any one present better or more special. It just means that each package is unique. We all are important, and we all have different interests, likes, dislikes, beliefs, and values. I hope my girls remember to stand up for what they believe in, to go after what they are passionate about, and to take care of themselves and their needs.

    One of my daughters refuses to wear a skirt or dress. She prefers to wear pants. Every day. She also wants the same hairdo–a ponytail–every day. This is who she is–I am not going to force her to wear dresses or bows in her hair because her twin sister does or because the other girls in school do.  She is being true to who she is and what she chooses, and I respect her choices. As long as the choices they are making are not ones that are hurting them or others and are not ones that are disrespectful or dangerous, I support them and what they find are important to their selves.

I am thankful for children that practice what we preach at home. I hope  my daughters continue to make good choices based on our family lessons, and that they grow up to be good, strong women who continue to serve, are kind, stay out of drama, and take pride in the paths they choose. What are some of your lessons that you live by at your house? What is important for you to teach your children?

Today’s Inspiration: On Those Rough Mommy Days

I love my girls. I am so blessed to raise them. But there are days when I am so tired and stressed by all that needs done, I am impatient, and the girls seem more demanding and grumpy than usual. These are the moments, I wish I could say, “I’m on strike,” and hide out in my room for a few days and binge on junk food and Netflix. Being a parent and an adult is rough, y’all. But there are so many great things that come along with mommyhood that keep me going each day–all the hugs, the giggles, the silly stories, watching how much these girls care about family and each other. These moments make the tough days all worth it.  Despite the rough mommy days, I wouldn’t change it for anything.

Today’s Inspiration: The Best Things in Life Are Free

I love our house. It’s spacious. The girls don’t have to share rooms. We have a big backyard, and a screen porch where I enjoy reading or drinking coffee during warmer months. But truthfully, I’d be fine and just as happy in a smaller house with not as many rooms. My girls would survive having to share a bedroom.  I know that we’d be just fine.

Want to know why? Because, to me, having a big house, a nice car, or fancy clothes are just things. Yes, my family can afford things, and it’s nice to be able to. But, to me, that’s not what’s most important in life–what I drive, where I live, how many computers my family owns, or what my title or my husband’s title is is not everything.

To me, the best things in life are free.

Sure, it’s nice to have stuff, to enjoy material things. But these aren’t the things that bring joy in life.  What brings me joy and happiness? The free stuff: hugs from my girls and taking time to cuddle with them on the couch to talk or read a book together; going for a walk with a good friend to catch up; looking out the back window to see a small rabbit hopping along; or a simple “I love you” from my husband. Those are some of the best things in life.

Of course it’s nice to be able to have stuff, but the joy of having all those material things can wear off, and it’s easy to think that more stuff, better stuff will keep the happiness going.  Stay grounded–don’t get caught up in trying to keep up with others.

The best, most important things that will bring you happiness cost nothing, and are right in front of you.

Today’s Inspiration: My Daughter’s Wisdom

My oldest daughter, Avery, is one smart cookie. I don’t just mean smart in school–yes, she is great at that. But she’s so wise in her thoughts, concern for others, and inspirational words she shares.

One day after school, we were sitting in our kitchen, and Avery told me about her day and I told her about mine. We discussed how difficult some days can be. She said to me, “Well, I have a quote to tell you that will help you. today” And she said this quote to me:

As soon as she said this to me, I knew she was right, and I needed to not focus on the negative things that happened that day. I needed to remind myself of all the positive and good things.

I’m so grateful, blessed and lucky to have such a wise young woman in our house! She helps keep our family focused on what is important.

Today’s Inspiration: We Are Always Being Judged

I am not a very outspoken person. I don’t talk much about what I do each evening, if I went out or who I hung out with, if I argued with my husband last night, , etc. I love Facebook, but I’m selective about what I write and share. Usually my blog posts are about my family and my kids. I write things (like this post) sharing ideas versus specific or personal stories. I share quotes I find inspiring. Once I am comfortable and I trust someone, I’ll share more detailed information about my life. But I try to think hard about what I say or what I share with  most people before I do. Why? Because I know that people will judge me based on what I say and do.

My first (mature/adult) understanding of this was during college. I decided I wanted to join a sorority, and I went through the sorority recruitment process. As a young woman, I went from sorority recruitment party to recruitment party, talking to current sorority members, telling them about myself. We talked about classes I was taking, my friends, family, and things I liked to do for fun. Of course, while they were making judgments about me and determining if I would make a good sister, I was judging them. Did I fit in with these girls. How were they perceived? What were they known as on campus? I was a “good girl” who always followed rules and worked hard on getting good grades. I had always held leadership positions in high school, and I planned to continue this trend in college. I wanted to be a part of a sorority chapter that was not known for getting into trouble with the campus, and one that was full of women that held important positions on campus.

In the corporate world, I knew I was being watched by both customers, co-workers, and regional supervisors. If I would’ve come to work unprepared, or if I arrived complaining about my personal life all day, I’m sure that they would have instantly formed an image of me. I might have been considered unorganized and not reliable. Or they might have thought I was not mature enough to handle more responsibility. Luckily, I was a hard worker, I was secure enough in myself and my life, and I had strong enough work values that it was important to me to stay organized at work and also keep my personal life at home. At work, I was there to take care of job duties, supervise my staff, and meet work goals. Of course I had work friends that I could share personal stories with, but I knew that how I lived my life at work and also outside of work would reflect on how others viewed me. Even running into business partners and customers during non-work hours, I always reminded myself that I was on display and being watched, judged and perceived by these partners.

I know that how I parent my children, how I respond to others at work, and what I share about myself with others gets observed by folks around me.  Some might call me nice, so helpful, or a good mom; others might call me rude, a perfectionist, or that I think I’m better than others.  Hopefully, they have a positive view of me, and hopefully I’m making good choices in life that are seen as such.

Here’s the truth: People will judge you by your actions, not your intentions.

And fortunately (or unfortunately), how others view us can be both the easiest and the hardest thing to change.

Today’s Inspiration: Yes, These Leggings ARE My Pants

Are leggings pants? Are they a look? I think they are. Call me a trendy mom or a frumpy mom with my leggings look–call it what you want–but I call it OK.

Along with losing myself, some people probably look at me and think I have lost any sense of style.  When the girls were smaller and I stayed home with them, the “frumpy mom” look was my staple. I’d throw on some yoga pants or leggings,  and an old t-shirt. No make-up, no hairstyle, no need for jewelry. I was with kids all day at home, getting spit-up on or cleaning up after everyone, so why would I need to wear something nice? By nice, I mean blue jeans and a pretty shirt that didn’t say “Nike” on it. Seriously, I never thought once about my style and it was all good.

Then, I went to work. and I knew I needed to ramp things up a bit. I began wearing necklaces and scarves, nice jeans or dress pants, sweaters and dress shoes or boots. No sweats or sneakers anymore. I wore some makeup, and I felt good. I started ordering clothes from Stitch Fix to get some of the latest styles. It was so helpful because with little girls at home, I didn’t have to drag everyone to the store to try on clothes.

But this year….I’ve fallen back into my old look again. I love leggings and long sweaters and shirts. It’s comfortable and cozy. I don’t have to tug on the zipper on my size four jeans. I can dress them up (throw some cool boots on with them) or dress them down (sneakers). I”m OK with my yoga pants too, and I’ve found a new love for them.  I know there are non-believers out there that think leggings are not pants. Leggings (and yoga pants) have no place in the dress-up world. But I’m sticking with my leggings when I choose to wear them.  I’m just going to go with my frumpy mom style (or trendy mom if you are a leggings lover) on those days I can’t do the pants thing–and it’s all good.