365.

Calendar

365 days. 24 hours in a day with a minimum of 12 hours in which we are awake. 365 times 12 equals 4380. Roughly 4400 opportunities in which I can embrace the now.

4400 moments to share and love, showing myself and the ones who mean the most to me that I’m present and living mindfully.

In order to become more mindful of the present and to take advantage of these 4400 embracing opportunities I’ve devised a list of ways in which I can make the most of my 12 hours in each of my 365 days. My list is made up of actions or thoughts that I can practice in order to live presently rather than taking advantage of the present. I hope that my list will encourage you all to devise your own for these 365 days of 2016.

Each time we get into the car rather than becoming frustrated take the time to kiss each of my children.

Each time my child becomes frustrated with a puzzle or math assignment or opening a door, I will take the opportunity to let them know how proud I am of them for trying.

When I have nothing else to give or say, what I can give is a ten second hug to my little ones.

Each time I do something for someone else I will remember to do something for myself as well … even if that is sitting down to a hot lunch in the middle of a busy day.

Each time I have the extra time to give each child a separate bath I will, washing their hair slowly and rubbing their back gingerly rather than rushing a long to just get them clean.

Each time my children sing, I will comment on what beautiful voices they have rather than saying something like “Can you do that in the other room?”

Each time my husband asks for a kiss I’ll give him one.

Each time I leave the house I will tell my husband I love him.

Each time my husband enters the house I will give him a hug hello.

Each time I find myself getting angry I will ask first if it’s my perception and my doing or if it is the fault actual person or thing.

Each time I’m feeling blue I will remind myself that displacing the anger or hurt on someone I love isn’t going to solve anything.

Each time my children run through the house laughing and chasing one another out of fun and not anger, I will bite my tongue and enjoy their innocent laughter.

Each time my children ask to wear a favorite shirt for the fourth day in a row I will let them … as long as it is clean.

I will smile and say hello to at least one stranger a day.

I will be sure to always say thank you and ask how a person’s day is who is working to bring me customer service.

I will take more pictures and actually print them out of moments that I really don’t want to forget.

Each time my children ask to be carried to bed I will embrace them, hold them close and make the steps to their room.

Each time my children ask me to read a book or play a game I will let the dirty dishes and To – Do Lists go.

Each time I think of a friend or family member I will reach out to them.

Each time I think of calling my mom I will pick up the phone and dial … and not wait until nap time.

Each time I think of my husband I will take advantage of technology and send him a text.

If I am having a bad moment I won’t let it turn into a bad day. I always will take the opportunity to reroute where that moment is leading me.

Each time I think of taking a nap I will at least close my eyes and count to ten.

Each time I remember something from my childhood with my Dad I will call him to share the memory.

Each time one of my children sits next to me  I will scoot closer and hold their hand.

Each time they pull a stool up to investigate what I am doing I will share with them the steps rather then shooing them a way.

Each time my kids shed a tear I will do my best to make them smile.

Each time I find myself not mindfully in the present, I will take a moment to think of all the wonderful things, activities and people I cherish, I will reach out and touch that person or thing and dive deeper into my abilities.

 

 

 

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Throw a Hug Rather Than a Punch.

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Rather than fighting the forces of nature, why not embrace the season of life we are all in. Why not give a great big bear hug to the now we are in rather than throw a punch with what we think we should be doing . How about caressing the present instead of coming at it with blows.

I will admit my guilt when it comes to questioning the present rather than just accepting it with open arms. I’m guilty of wishing for 7 pm to come faster, for the weekend to arrive sooner, for quiet instead of loud, for sleep instead of chaos. Wishes that are only fighting the now.

I question if the way we spend our days is “enough” that if we are using our time wisely, that maybe I should have the kids in more activities or if I should be dedicating my time to even more causes and people.

I wonder if I let the kids sleep too much.

I wonder if I should have them in the “real world” more often.

I wonder if I am boring with a ten o’clock bedtime.

I wonder if I should dress sexier or drink more until I become sexier.

I wonder if my husband and I are spending too much time on the couch.

I wonder if I should be enrolling my kids in some sort of program to create geniuses rather than letting them run through the house like screaming maniacs as they pretend to be holding some sort of makeshift light saber?

I wonder if my husband and I should be having more sex.

I wonder if my kids are getting enough exercise during the winter months.

I wonder if my kids brush their teeth efficiently or if they’ll become toothless at ten.

I literally lose hours of sleep each week with the number of different “wonderings” that fly through my mind as I lay in bed.

Living in a decade of long days but short years. When feet grow quickly and hearts grow strong. An era when innocence becomes something you want to hold onto. A time in which we should really be throwing a hug instead of a punch at the life we are dealt.

Throw a hug rather than a punch. After all, my days are made up of last times. I’m not saying that today will be the last time  for everything but eventually these times and daily happenings will be a thing of the past, things that I will crave as my babies grow taller and older, and as I grow, hopefully wiser and finer.

Throw a hug rather than a punch at the daily last times.

The last time my babies will be in cribs, I cringe at the idea of what my mornings will be like when all three have the run of the house.

Throw a hug rather than a punch.

The last time my kids will nap, I can only imagine what “adventures” will be had when there isn’t that short window of calm.

Throw a hug rather than a punch.

The last time when my little ones will have butts little enough to fit in my lap.

Throw a hug rather than a punch.

The last time when they let me choose the books to read while finding my narration fascinating.

Throw a hug rather than a punch.

The last time my husband and I will sit on the couch with all three little ones asleep, in 10 to 15 years we’ll either be sharing the television with teenagers or worried about where they are and what they are doing.

Throw a hug rather than a punch.

The last time my little girl won’t care if her hair is brushed or if her tights match her shirt.

Throw a hug rather than a punch.

The last time that hugging mom really tight and screaming her name when she picks you up from school is cool. (The day that my children no longer do this I may fall into a deep depression as I fall down the ladder of  cool people in their lives).

Throw a hug rather than a punch.

It’s okay to be who we are. It’s okay to do what we do. It’s okay to embrace our lives as they are, to love it and live it instead of planning it or molding it to what we think it should be like. It’s okay to be self-centered bitches thinking our lives and our time are important. It’s okay to make our own schedules, goals and memories. It’s okay to not follow the rules while making our own. It’s okay to throw a hug instead of a punch.

Throw a hug rather than a punch.

Every mundane, loud, quiet, scary, funny, sad and loving moment takes place as a piece of a divine puzzle planned for each of us. In the end, no matter how much we choose to fight it, no matter how many punches or blows we throw, it’s all going to have the same ending. The difference lies in the path to that destination, will we come out bloody, black and blue from all our resistance or will we come out wiser and finer from all that hugging and embracing.

Throw a hug rather than a punch.

Self Centered…

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With the new year ringing in I sat down with my better half to review the goals we had made just a year before.  We had separated the goals into categories of couple, family, Erik and Brooke. Reading over the words that streamed across the lined paper torn from a notebook, we began our year in review.

Tackling the goals under the family category we were able to place a nice and neat check mark next to each goal oriented task. Moving on to the “couple list” we were about 50% successful when it came to achieving the goals we had placed on our list. As we moved on to the objectives listed under each of our names it wasn’t even close to 50%. Though 2015 was incredibly successful to the outside world, what we had hoped for when it came to our individual achievements, it all had fallen sort of short. The first half of 2015 was full of a focus on our health and relationships, self and family. I could go on and on about the things we accomplished and experienced in the first half of 2015 that were more centered on self and family. However as the seasons changed so did our focus and responsibilities.  Looking at the lists and talking about the 365 days we had just lived out, 2015 had started exactly where and how we wanted. However, midway through the year the goals we had intended somehow had been forgotten as we became responsible for other things, other people and other responsibilities not to mention taking on bigger adventures and milestones.

Browsing homes turned into buying a home. Preparing for school turned into all three kids attending school.  A conversation grew into a new position at a new company. A vision of starting a MOPS ministry turned into building and coordinating the living breathing group. Jokes about a puppy gave birth to a new furry and energetic family member. Thoughts of volunteering turned into dedicated time to others. Lazy Saturday mornings turned into scheduled mornings of hockey, dance and karate. Savings went into new patios, house furnishings, paint and other fixer upper needs and wants.

Before we knew it the holidays came and went, with 2015 coming to a close. The birth of 2016 rushed in, right in our faces screaming like a newborn infant.  Just like giving birth to a new baby, I was literally exhausted in the first weeks of the new year. Rather than crawl into bed to hide from the cold and the planning of a new year, I rummaged through notes, calendars, old blog posts and old goals. I came up with a top-secret plan for 2016 that my family, my husband and myself could all benefit from and all enjoy in the process. Last year was the year of simplicity while this year would be “Self Centered Bitch Year”.

My hope for 2016 is to end it with check marks next to every single individual and couple goal. I want us to focus on ourselves this year. I want us to be self-centered bitches, demanding that we need time to grow and rest, doing what we want to because our hearts tell us so. I don’t want to worry if we are doing enough for others or if we are making everyone else happy or living up to the standards that Facebook subconsciously nails into our heads each day.

Being with my family makes me so incredibly happy.  Spending alone time, whether at a fancy restaurant or on the couch watching “Making a Murder,” with my husband makes my soul feel complete. Writing, reading and wandering though my mind in solitude without another soul in the vicinity puts me in balance providing enough motivation to rule the world. Why deny myself and my family of these precious moments, this happiness and passion? I cannot think of a single reason why, but I can think of five reasons why I shouldn’t … Brooke, Erik, Braxton, Travis, Hailey.

 

 

 

 

Women: Frantic Hamsters

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Frantic hamsters.

As I talk to more women it seems that we all begin to follow this path of check marks and lists. A list for yourself, a list for your marriage, a list for your children, a list for your life. It doesn’t matter if a woman is a mother, married, employed, young or old even our hobbies have rules and expectations set by not only our culture but ourselves. Consistently striving to reach a level of perfection that once achieved will only morph into another level to reach. A snowball effect that ultimately means perfection will never be achieved, leaving us women to run like frantic caffeinated hamsters on hot pink wheels in a plastic cage of life that we’ll never escape.

Frantic hamsters.

To further push this idea of perfection into the spotlight, like a carrot held out of reach of a ravenous rabbit, is the guilt that forces it’s self onto women day and night. A crazed little monkey holding tightly to your neck riding your back until you feel as if you can no longer breathe.

Frantic hamsters.

When I was in college I never worried, I let everything just happen.  I never worried about money or clothing or my weight. I never worried about what my house looked like when we had a party or meal planned for a week in advance. I didn’t think about failing and only thought about succeeding. I never lost sleep over things that were out of my control, I just let life happen. I wore what I wanted to and said what came to my mind. I made friendships that meant something and made no effort to small talk with people I didn’t care for. I let life happen. Now all I do is plan. Filling days with check marks and lists. I don’t let anything just happen.

Frantic hamsters.

Never saying “self-look what you HAVE done today!” rather than “what more COULD have you done?” Then the creation of the To-Do List for the following day begins. Knowing but not embracing that there is only REAL time in this moment now, the past is no more and the future isn’t even here.  Instead of flourishing in  It doesn’t matter if a woman is a mother, married, this exact moment we start preparing for what is to come and step over what is exactly here now. Failing to let it all just happen now.

Frantic hamsters.

What if women (and men) were to just let life happen? Would it be so bad? Reflecting on those days of no worry with life just happening, I recall only happiness and a sense of comfortable content. I think that’s why I love having infants because during that first year of baby everything is so unpredictable that there isn’t a need for check marks and lists, there’s only living (or if you have twins,surviving). All you worry about is holding this little amazing bundle of love that you created and life just happens. That frantic hamster doesn’t exist, that pink wheel is donated to Goodwill and life is good.

Frantic hamsters.

I don’t want to be a frantic hamster anymore, but I also don’t want to have another baby in order to donate my hot pink wheel of anxiety. I do want to start letting life just happen. I want to embrace the only REAL time we have. I want  to flourish in this exact moment because we aren’t guaranteed the next. I’m challenging my control freak self to let life just happen. In turn I challenge all of you to do the same.

Frantic hamsters unite.

Put away the hot pink wheels in the form of To-Do Lists, Pinterest boards, recipes and pedometers. Stop planning the next moment and live in the present. It’s amazing the amount of stress and anxiety that melts away and doesn’t actually exist when the layers are peeled away. Take inspiration from the leaves of autumn. Let the expectations and rules go, turning from vibrant colors in our lives to dark brittle dust that’s whisked away by the brisk winds of a new season of life, a season of happening, not planning.

Daddy’s Girl, what does that even mean?

Daddy’s girl, what does that even mean?

According to Urban Dictionary the top definition is as follows: Any female (teen or grown up woman) who’s close to her father. She’s typically spoiled and bratty. Usually marries a push-over kinda guy that will treat her like her dad does. Any female who relies solely on daddy to pay for anything. Including rent, bills, ect. Where do you think the term “sugar daddy” comes from.

According to this definition I am so not a daddy’s girl.

What’s your definition of a daddy’s girl? Daddy’s girl, what does that even mean?

Prior to writing this, I thought a daddy’s girl was a girl who always got along with her father, her daddy was her BFF. Like BFFs, they have more in common with one another than others in their lives. For me, thinking over the course of my life, at times I was a daddy’s girl and at times I wasn’t. We have a lot in common like cooking, artistic passions, a knack for fitness and a sarcastic sense of humor, but there are so many ways in which I am not anything like my dad. There were times when we were the best of friends and there were times when we were the farthest thing from friends, like when I had boys over the house and got caught or when I got my belly button pierced or when I couldn’t wrap my head around the divorce of my parents. But I am thankful for those times. Those were the times when I needed a father and not a friend. Those were the times I needed to learn to stand on my own two feet. Those were the times when I needed words with some reasoning. But there were also the times when we were the best of friends, like when he picked me up from jail on my 19th birthday (literally a get out jail free card) or when he walked me down the aisle to marry my future best friend or when he saved me at the grocery store by pushing a stroller with screaming infant twins while I shopped. Those were the times when he was my supporter, when he was my daddy. Those were the times when I needed to be rescued before my two feet gave out.

Daddy’s girl, what does that even mean?

Now I understand that every girl that has had a great father figure, has and always will be a daddy’s girl.

So, It turns out that I was my daddy’s girl no matter the circumstance. I was his girl when he was my best friend. I was his girl when he was my protector. I was his girl when he was my bondsman. I was his girl when he was my gatekeeper. I was his girl when he was my watcher of curfews and rules. I was his girl when he ushered me down the aisle. I was his girl when he was the grandfather of my children.

I will always be my daddy’s girl.

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Finding Friends in Taco Dip

I hear, read and even say a lot of excuses when it comes to making friends as a mom. But what if the excuses weren’t even needed? What if we were just blind to the friends that are right in front of us maybe even found in a bowl of taco dip?

This article is written in the hopes of shaking some friend sense into some other ladies reading this. That friends, really good friends like the ones you feel comfortable in all your mess, saggy after birth skin and bad days as a terrible wife and mother who will still cheer you on  can actually be found right in front of you. I’m also hoping to strengthen the friendships in my life that are “standing” right in front of me. Friendships that are old and new, friendships near and far, friendships that need some nurturing in order to really grow. Like marriage friendship takes work and effort, so I’m pushing up my sleeves and diving in. Texting, calling and making plans for friendship dates throughout the year. I was lucky enough to have one of those dates this past weekend during the Enjoy Friendship Challenge of the #ETHANproject. I hope in sharing the background of this unexpected friendship and the nature of the date, it will inspire other ladies to take the blinders off that the busy of life can put on us and start planning their own friendship dates.

(Read on about the friendship I discovered in the cheese and beans of a taco dip.)

I met my husband in college.

He had two roommates that I met too. One roommate had a girlfriend. This girlfriend made a taco dip that my then boyfriend lost his mind over. I met the girlfriend once or twice as they were a long distance couple. The girlfriend was kind enough to share her secret taco dip recipe with me. I made secret taco dip for years and pot lucks to come.

Fast forward a couple of years after the college years and we find ourselves at the wedding of the roommate and taco dip girlfriend.

Fast forward another couple of years and roommate with taco dip girlfriend are smiling from the pews at our own wedding, later blessing us with their genuine hugs that are as comforting and fulfilling as her taco dip.

Fast forward another couple of years and our first-born meets roommate and taco dip girlfriend on a trip to Chicago to see old college friends.

Fast forward another couple of years and a move to and back from Texas; now our one has turned to three and now a taco dip baby named Sophie has joined the world. All four kiddos hung out as if they knew one another forever.

As a year comes and goes so does life and it’s busyness. Each time our two families tried to make plans something would come up or someone was getting sick. FINALLY, the stars aligned and we met up to wreak havoc on our local zoo. As luck would have it, our twice rescheduled zoo date landed right during the ENJOY Friendship Challenge of the #ETHANproject (proving all reschedulings happen for a reason). The challenge offered the perfect opportunity to bring this genuine and awesome friend and friendship into the bright light it needs to be placed. We spent the morning roaming the zoo and making plans to get together not only this summer but also this fall. So long story short, I found an unexpected friend in an unexpected way. That friend really gets me and makes me feel human again with her acceptance of who I am and my inner thoughts. Who would have thought?!? Taco Dip! I’m excited to see how our friendship will grow and thankful for the ENJOY friendship challenge that gave me a booty bump in the right direction of realizing what friendships are “standing” right in front of me!

Now, it’s your turn to take a look around. Look at the women and friendships in your life that need tending to. push up your sleeves and dive right in. I dare you.

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(Also, please note that this amazing friend also knows the way to my heart! I’m not afraid to say out loud that my love language is GIFTS! So I must share with you my own personal tiara and trendy hair-ties that my taco dip friend be-gifted me. Now I can do my yoga in style among the other way cooler twentysomes in hot yoga.)

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P.S. Don’t forget to chime in on the #ETHANproject too! Please feel free to share your own stories and posts with the bloggers and readers of the project, the more the merrier 🙂

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Comparison is the killer of joy, taking a cue from Bruce Jenner.

It’s so hard to not compare.

Looks, weight, parenting, clothing, salaries, cars, intimate relationships, engagement rings, after school activities, winning goals. A society all striving to be better than one another, all comparing ourselves to one another, all thinking the grass is greener. (I mean I even went as far as comparing my cheek bones to Bruce Jenner’s when his new self popped up on my Tuesday morning news feed. What I should have been doing instead is taking a cue from his freedom to declare who he/she is!)

When does it stop?

I’m the worst when it comes to falling into this trap. As a woman I fall into it when it comes to my looks and my aspirations, a little voice chanting are you pretty enough? are you ambitious enough? is what you do enough? As a mother I get wrapped up in a web of comparison when it comes to my parenting and my involvement with my kids, another voice whispering that mom is doing more than you, look at that mom with her kids every second, there’s that mom winning the gold with leading the girl scout pack and vomiting out Pinterest worthy crafts and lesson plans with each breath. Comparison even ropes me in as a wifeare you having as much sex? are you everything he wants? wives written for television are the standard, you have your work cut out if you’ll ever be that good. 

Comparison is actually killing our joy. But when I think about stopping the madness it would basically mean cutting all links to the outside world. Unfortunately this isn’t possible. So what if we tried changing the way we interpreted all these comparisons.

Where to start is easy: don’t compare yourself to the other person beside you. But easier said than done, so let’s add a dimension: Turn that comparison you are so tempted to make into inspiration. Be inspired by that person and their abilities, be inspired to take your own steps into coming into your own person. Highlighting your talents and your unique qualities out loud.  However, take care to not confuse inspiration with aspiration. Don’t fall into an even tricky trap than that of comparing, don’t aspire to be another. Always be yourself with your own aspirations.

Next, why not put the light we find so easy to cast on others on ourselves. Treating ourselves as our own best friend, celebrating who we are and even what we are lacking.Rather than focusing and envying the seemingly great qualities or belongings of another, why not focus on the qualities that shine in ourselves and what we have in our lives that we call our own. Declaring the person we are is just amazing as the next.

According to yogic philosophy, we cause ourselves pain by desiring things or personality attributes we don’t have, but think that we need. In other words, we harm ourselves by longing after what belongs to someone else. Whether that be a bigger or cleaner home, a smaller waist or bigger boobs, a mommy that doesn’t yell or one that is a cruise director for her kids on a daily basis, the wife who fulfills all fantasies or wears a nightie every night,  or whatever that comparison may be that is killing our joys. Let’s encourage happiness. Striving to be grateful for what we have rather than yearning for new and different things. By finding happiness with who we are and what we have, we also find joy, relaxation, and peace.

I’m finally learning to accept and to cater to what makes me happy and what makes me, physically, mentally and emotionally at rest. Though it may not be what everyone else deems appropriate or trendy, though it may not make the top pins of Pinterest, setting up the right environment for me to succeed in and to feel as myself, I am able to conquer this whole woman, mommy, wife thing I got going on.

Are you accepting??? Or are you just comparing yourself and losing sight of what you should be declaring out loud about who you are, what you have and what makes you happy? As a reminder to myself to let the person I am flourish in the environment I prefer, I’ll end this post with a “Declaration of Joy for Me”. I hope you all follow suit and write-up your own as we go into the busy summer season.

“Declaration of Joy for Me” ~ A declaration of who I am and the environment in which I flourish in with NO apologies:

I need to exercise every day or I turn into a mean bitch.

Most days I choose to wear makeup because it makes me more productive. However, I wear a baseball hat 50% of the time.

I can’t stand going to Costco, it drives me to the brink of madness. Too many aisles, too much stuff, too many samples.

I love yoga not running, I’ll do yoga until the day I die but probably will never run a marathon.

I don’t drink. I was basically a drunk for all four years of college and the three years following graduation. Once I got pregnant I just never had the desire to indulge again, when I do I instantly regret it as my children wake up between 6 am and 7 am. So I just don’t get all the “mommy wine” shit out there.

I am more at peace in grown-up places like bars, libraries, coffee shops, book stores, salons, gyms even wildlife preserves. I seem to lose a little bit of my soul and sanity when I enter something completely devoted to children. It’s a huge possibility that if we ever make it to Disney that I will completely wither up and turn to dust upon setting foot past the entrance.

I’d rather be stuck in a padded room with my three children than take them to the mall. I hate the mall and mall play areas. I’ve been to the mall a total of 3 times in the last 3 years.

We co-slept with all three kids, including the twins in boppees. That’s right … two adults, twins and two boppees in a king for 3.5 months. Maybe that’s why I refuse to let them climb in bed with us now, but will have a sleepover on the living room floor with them.

My kids follow a strict nap and sleep schedule, and have since the day they were born. Doing so just makes our household run so much smoother.

Buying a piece of clothing that costs more than $10 makes my heart seize up. I am obsessed with online shopping.

I feed my kids McDonald’s meats and drink McCafe ice coffees, the words “Medium ice coffee, sugar-free vanilla, light on the cream” just rolls off my tongue as if second nature. I also eat DQ ice cream.

My way of parenting is old school and not modern at all. I am okay with this. I tend to label it as free-spirit parenting 🙂

I hate Disney Junior and it gets under my skin when moms sing the songs from those shows.  I would be happy if the only channels available were Food Network and Crime TV.

I didn’t like Frozen and my son only saw it once, my other two have never seen it. That’s right, I said NEVER.

My living room constantly looks as if a bomb went off and a small tribe of children have taken over my home, but my kitchen is spotless and I make my bed every morning.

I read an average of 5 books to my kids every day but I find pushing them on a swing one of the most annoying things in life.

I am happy spending the entire day inside with crafts, my laptop, coffee, homemade snacks and my kids in their pajamas. Leaving the house is overrated for me.

I am a believer in gluten-free, paleo, essential oils, coconut oil, organics and making most of our meals and snacks from scratch. I visit our local health food store at least twice a week.

And this folks is the environment that I flourish in with the light on the amazing woman, mom and wife that I am.

(*This post was inspired by the MOPS theme “A Fierce Flourishing” for 2015-2016.)

P.S. My selfie stick came in #mommyselfie

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