Today’s Inspiration: The Importance of Being Nice

I think I have a problem. I am told often I am nice.

I know, most of you will tell me that’s not a problem. It’s a good issue to have. It’s good to be nice. But other people that can relate to being in this category might agree with me–being nice is just, well…nice. It’s rather boring-sounding…friendly, dependable, kind, helpful, easy-going. It sounds like I’m describing a dog.  Nice doesn’t sound very exciting at all.

I have friends who speak their mind all the time–no filter at all. Sometimes I wish I could be more outspoken like them. They say what they want when they want to. They don’t care about whose feelings get hurt (or they don’t seem to). They always speak out and do everything their way. If they are happy, it’s all good.  Some people I know won’t help others or rarely do. “I’m not helping/donating to school because I don’t like my child’s teacher,” is a response I’ve heard. When I’m asked to help out, I say yes more often than I want to, and sometimes I wish I could feel less guilty when I say no. I wonder how freeing that might feel to say and do whatever I choose to do.

But is that being free, or are they just mean and narcissistic? Is the person who doesn’t help, often aggressively speaks her mind, or speaks out about everything someone to be admired for who she is?

Of course I’ve had lots of moments where I could have spoken out in a situation, gotten defensive, said a hundred mean and hurtful things to others, but I bite my tongue. Sure, I will confront and be assertive when I really need to, but I’m not trying to do it defensively or aggressively. Sometimes, though, it’s easier to walk away rather than speak mean words back to an already mean person. And I will refuse to help out or I will vote down an idea when I have valid reasons to. Everyone has limits. But there’s no need to be mean about it.

There have been dozens of times I’ve been asked to help or I’ve been in a situation with a mean person that I’d love to throw angry words at (unfortunately “meanies” exist well after high school–I guess I was naive to think that people outgrew it). My husband, the voice of reason, will remind me, “Julie, do the right thing.” And I do–I always choose to do the right thing. I kill them with kindness. I choose nice words to use in response.  I say yes, and help out, hoping that one day the favor would be returned if I need help of my own.

Yes, I think it is important to be nice. Sure, it sounds rather boring. “Do you know Julie? Yes, she’s really nice.” Blah. Nice, nice, nice. But in the end, I’d much rather be known as a nice girl than hear these words said about me….”Do you know Julie? Did you hear what she said to so-and-so?  I can’t believe she was so mean!” Being known as nice means friends and family and the community can depend on you. Nice means you choose kindness over all else. Nice means you care enough to be concerned about other’s feelings. Nice means you think before you respond, and you try to choose to do what’s right for others (and for you).

You make choices every day, and you choose how you will respond to everything around you. Choose wisely.


Today’s Inspiration: My Kitchen

This is my kitchen. The most amazing things happen here. No, I’m not an incredible cook. My husband isn’t either. We spend more time in this room than any other. In this kitchen, Eric and I say goodbye and hello to each other when he’s in town and heads to/from work. My girls sit at this counter and they tell me how their day was, what made them laugh, and what they worry about. I give some of my best advice at this island. Dance parties happen here. This kitchen is a room where creativity happens, where decisions are made, where friends sit when they come to visit, where tears fall, and where hugs are given. It’s a room full of love and family. The most amazing things happen in this kitchen.

Today’s Inspiration: Meeting The One

When I was younger, people would constantly tell me, “When you meet the right one, you’ll know.” Did you? I sure didn’t. I met Eric when I was living in St. Louis and he was here in Charlotte. He was friendly and seemed nice, but that was it for awhile–just a friend that was fun to hang out with when I visited family in Charlotte, was easy to talk to, and someone who made me laugh a lot once I got to know him. I didn’t have an inkling that Eric was “the one”. Not one. I liked artsy guys or extreme sport ones, not banker dudes. That was not for me. Those guys sounded so boring.

While I was searching through the wrong ones, God was patient–two years patient–and one day it clicked for me when a friend of mine said, “All you talk about is this Eric friend of yours. Why aren’t you dating him? It sounds like you enjoy spending time with him.” Luckily, Eric was thinking the same thing; and we agreed that we’d be a great team together.

I’m so blessed that even though it took some time, what I needed and what was my “one” the entire time was right in front of me.

Today’s Inspiration: Mommy Mess-Up…I Forgot My Kids

Being a mom is tough—seriously. Most days, I really suck at it. Last week was one of those weeks. To be honest, this week is starting out that way too. Actually, most weeks are at least partly full of mom mess-ups.

Last Friday, I forgot to get the twins at school—I’m not even kidding. I stood at the bus stop that afternoon and waited, and waited for the bus to arrive. The bus came, but Madison and Claire did not get off the bus. I couldn’t believe they would have gotten on the wrong bus. Then the light bulb flashed in my head through all my brain fog and through all the stuff piled up on my imaginary plate. I had written a note to the teachers that the girls would be walkers, and I would come get them up at the school. So, 30 minutes after school had let out, I rushed up to the elementary school, and I found my girls standing in the school office, waiting for me to come get them. Madison, my straightforward child, had her arms crossed in front of her and gave me her “you messed up” look and eye roll. She also reminded me that I forgot to give her a water bottle for the day, and I also forgot to fill in her reading log indicating how many minutes she read the night before. She got over it, and I felt bad for forgetting Madison’s things, but I had huge mommy guilt for forgetting to get the girls at school. What mom does that? What mom forgets her actual kids?

This mom does. I’m not making excuses for my absentmindedness or for my “I Forgot My Kids” episode on Friday. Like most moms, I’m one that has a ton on my plate (it is a turkey platter-sized plate by the way). I have a husband who travels and is away one or two weeks each month, which leaves me doing the single mom gig often. When he is in town, he works long hours, getting home well after the girls’ bedtime. That leaves me as the sole parent almost every night to help with homework, to drive all three girls to their after-school activities (thank gosh for carpools, which are a lifesaver on the nights we are double-booked with sports), and to cook and clean up dinner each night. I have to remind the girls to shower and get ready for bed, make sure they’ve picked out their clothes and have packed their backpacks for the next day, and after about thirty minutes of needing bedtime drinks and arguing about not being tired, I finally get everyone tucked away. Once everyone is settled in for the night, I work on my preschool lesson plans, make lunches for the next day, get laundry folded and put away, iron clothes, empty the dishwasher, and complete all the other home-based chores that need done daily. Don’t even get me started on all the other weekly errands on my list that are such a JOY to do with children in tow—grocery shopping, pick up dry cleaning, and trips to Target. Do I watch TV? Hardly—there’s not enough time in my day. Read a book? I try—but I usually fall asleep as soon as my head hits the bed pillow.  When I get a few free minutes, I write (like now) or I scroll through Facebook to try to keep up with what the people I know are up to.

When I look at the list of what I do as a mom each day (and what a lot of other moms I know complete daily), I know it’s OK to have a forgetful afternoon. Yes, with so much going on last Friday, I forgot my children of all things. You know what? They were safe at school, and it had never happened before (although it could happen again in the future). It taught my girls (and reminded me) that this mom is only human. This mom is not perfect and doesn’t try to be because no one can get everything right all the time. I make mistakes and screw up—a lot.  It’s OK. There will be more bad days—and I will let those days and challenges inspire me to take a deep breath and keep trucking on.  As parents, we are just doing the best we can.

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Today’s Inspiration: Singletons

Every day, I’m amazed by my sweet, oldest daughter, Avery. I’m sure she’s no different than most girls her age, but my mind only thinks in twin mode. How could I not? I’ve always been “one of the twins”. Then, of all miracles, I have my own set of twins. I watch Claire and Madison while at the playground, and I know exactly what my twin girls are thinking–we aren’t ever alone. If we get nervous or feel small, we have each other. I had that with my twin sister too. Instant friend, someone to giggle with, someone who understood all my feelings and fears, someone to share secrets with anytime I wanted to, someone to give me comfort anytime I needed it. How does Avery do it all alone, single-handedly, I wonder? Seriously…it must be so difficult to walk into a party alone as a kid, to start middle school in a new building on her own, to figure out her own homework without a homework buddy sitting next to her. This girl impresses me so much every day. I’m in awe of how she gracefully and easily manages being a non-twin. She is a rock star in my eyes!


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Today’s Inspiration: When the Beast Overshadows Beauty

A friend posted a picture on Facebook a couple months ago and tagged me. It was of me, her, and a friend of hers at a social event. I quickly untagged myself from the photo. Why? I wasn’t pretty enough in the picture. There was my friend, standing in a model pose, looking confident and cool. Her friend stood in a similar pose, tan and fit with a gorgeous smile. Where did they learn how to pose like that, I wondered? I looked like someone who tried to photo-bomb the picture. There I was, standing with my back and legs straight, my arms hanging at my sides, in a dress that might have been in style five years ago. Looking at the image, I felt like a middle-aged woman that was trying to fit in, wasn’t sure how to, and clearly wasn’t beautiful enough to be in the photo with the other two amazing women.

The word “beautiful” stuck in my head that entire afternoon, along with a mental image of that photo. The more I thought about that photo, the more I was angry at myself. Why? I was letting my perception affect me of what friends and society would think when they saw that picture.  I was the one deciding I wasn’t pretty enough. I was worried about the superficial–the way I visually looked in one singular photo. I was comparing my looks to others (no one else was).  I was disappointed in myself for untagging myself from that photo….because what is the definition of beautiful after all? And who was ultimately turning me into a beast in the picture? ME–I was the one proclaiming I wasn’t pretty enough to be seen. Instead of celebrating a picture of me having fun with my friend and enjoying our time at the event, I was more concerned what people would think about how I looked in that photo.

Who decides what is beautiful, anyway? Here’s what I think is beautiful:  Beautiful is how my daughter gives me a butterfly kiss every night before bed, her little eyelashes rubbing against my cheek as she giggles and whispers goodnight. Beautiful is how my hand fits perfectly into my husband’s hand when we walk along together. Beautiful is when my oldest daughter slides into the back seat of the car after a cross country practice, sweaty and her ponytail a mess–but so excited to tell me how she rocked it on the trail. Beauty is in every thing, every person, every day, every minute, every failure, and every success. One picture or one event does not define beauty–it’s our life and how we choose to celebrate it and share it that defines what beauty is. We just have to look for the “pretty”–because it’s there even when we forget it is.


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Today’s Inspiration: Winning at Twinning (and sometimes losing)

Here’s something unique about me: I am a twin. My sister and I are eight minutes apart, fraternal (but many would believe we are identical because we look so much alike), and we live just down the road from each other.

Here’s something else unique: I have my own set of twin daughters.

So, I’m a twin…raising twins.

Growing up, there were some things I disliked about being a twin. I didn’t like that my sister and I had “twin names”–Jennifer and Julie. As I got older,  I also hated that we wore the same outfits when we were younger. Our clothing was always identical. If it wasn’t exactly the same, we had the same outfit but in different colors. Our hair was always done the same way. I know a lot of these actions were generational…other twin friends that grew up when I did had similar experiences, and we all have photos to prove it.

Seven years ago when I was pregnant with my girls, I had some rules about how I wanted me and Eric to raise our set of twins. My first rule: The girls would not be called “the twins”. They were two individuals and would be treated as such. My next rule: The girls would not have names that began with the same letter. That was too twin-like for me. A third rule: I would not dress the girls in the same outfits–only for pictures or special events. If they decided to dress alike as they got older, that was fine; but I would not make that decision for them. The result: I have two seven year-old girls who couldn’t be more different from each other. One is a girly-girl. She loves dresses, accessories, ballet, and make-up and is very particular. The other is Sporty Spice. She will only wear pants or leggings, she loves any outdoor sport or activity, and she stays calm no matter what the situation.

While I feel like I’m winning in the Raising Twins World, I sometimes wonder if I’m losing too…the dressy twin–she refuses, REFUSES, to wear anything but a dress. The other will not be caught dead in anything that resembles a skirt, has ruffles, or requires wearing tights underneath. They are so very different. Hair: if I try to give them the same hairdo, the dressy twin complains and asks me to change hers so she doesn’t look like her sibling. One loves school and enjoys coming home, completing homework right away, and talking about her day. The other twin…well, she has very little to tell me about how school was, she wants to go play as soon as she walks in the door, and getting her to sit and read to me is such a struggle. They don’t really play together. There are occasions where they will, but it’s not as often as I remember my me and my sister playing together. My girls are so different  that I am often asked if they are sisters and which is older.

At the end of the day, though, I love that each of my twin girls is an individual; that each one knows exactly who she is and what she loves; and that each girl is celebrated for her own interests, talents, and skills. They might be twins, but they are two different girls with two very different identities. I’m proud to be raising these twin girls.



Today’s Inspiration: Fear

Fear is inspiring me this afternoon. It’s a healthy fear–heart racing with excitement and amazement that I’m actually doing this. After encouragement from many friends, I’ve decided to start a blog. The thought of starting something new is scary, exciting, thrilling, and frightening for me all at once. What if no one reads what gets written here? What if no one understands or connects with what I write? The list of “what if” questions goes on and on. I’m afraid, but I’m doing it. Everyday challenges, activities, and interactions inspire me to write, and I’ve decided to jump in and give this blog idea a try. Shouldn’t we all do what we are inspired to do, even if we are afraid to do it? I love to write–I’ve always loved it, but once life took one path, I stopped writing and put it away. Today, I’ve decided I want to share what I write with others. Welcome to my blog. I hope what this inspired mom chooses to share here will inspire, connect with, or encourage you in some way.

I'm a mom who is always looking for ways to make my family's life less stressful, more meaningful, and full of love and life. Read on as I share thoughts and ideas that inspire me to try to provide that for myself and my family.