Stopping the Hate Talk: 5 ways to a Better You!

When you look in the mirror, what do you see?

“I hate my hair, my arms, my legs.” I look so fat in these pants.” Why can’t I look like that other girl? She always looks so perfect; she makes me sick. ” If I had all the money in the world and could afford a personal trainer, I could look like that too.”

How many times do we say these things to ourselves or about others? Why are we so degrading to ourselves and other women? It doesn’t matter your age: young girl, teenager, young adult, older adult, pre baby body., post baby body. When does it stop? When do you decide that you are enough and that God made you the way you are. As a teenager, I thought myself pretty; I thought myself confident. It wasn’t until middle adulthood that I started to doubt myself. There have been plenty of times that I have looked in the mirror and thought that I did not like the way I looked. Part of my problem is that I have not been treating my body right and I have had two babies and it really does change your body! What do you hate about yourself? What do you love about yourself? Which one do you think about the most?

Self-worth is defined as the sense of one’s own value or worth as a person; self esteem; self respect. Do you place value in yourself? Do you have respect for yourself? Do you think of yourself as worthy and beautiful?

All this self degrading hate talk stops here. IT STOPS HERE!I challenge you here-forth that when you look in the mirror you find one thing you like about yourself, just one. Daily. Yes, DAILY!

There is nothing that can separate us from the love of God (Romans 8: 31-39), but He still wants us to take care of ourselves and our bodies. The following things help me to take care of myself and help me feel good about my own self-esteem.

1.GET UP AND MOVE!  Whether it is taking a brisk walk around the neighborhood, an aerobics video in the comfort of your home, or training for a race, get up and move. Start TODAY! Even ten minutes a day can make a difference. Make it work. Maybe that means climbing stairs during a short break at work or parking in the furthest parking lot. Sometimes, for me that means having a dance party with my 3 year old. Or I have an aerobic app on my phone that lets me choose 5 to 10 minute increments. Sometimes my 3 year old and 5 month old join in the fun. One ting I’m going to try in the next few weeks is running before my husband leaves for work!

2. EAT HEALTHY! Of course there are lots of arguments about what is the best diet or supplement our there. Think before you eat! Is this particular food going to make me feel good or energized? I’m not saying to never have that piece of chocolate, I’m just suggesting you think twice about it. This is definitely one of my biggest challenges. I have a huge sweet tooth! It’s about lifestyle change. While I don’t follow it strictly and I am not an expert, my personal belief is that a plant based diet is best for health and energy. Commit to make a change. Just eating more veggies and fruit can make a difference! Progress not perfection!

3. CHALLENGE YOUR MIND! Take time to learn. Read, whether an actual book, a website, eBooks, newspaper, or a magazine. The world is full of great minds. You are one of them!

4. FEED YOUR SOUL! This is the most important point. Make time to pray or read your Bible and talk to God. I try to get up before my children in order for this to happen. Now lately, that has not gone like I planned. I have an almost 6 month old who wakes up in the middle of the night, and well, I am grumpy if I don’t get enough sleep. On those days, I try to read while I’m nursing him. Many times I’m praying in the car on my way to work. Those two things, especially the prayer, make a huge difference in how my the rest of my day goes, and how I feel about myself as a person. I am a much better mom, wife, and friend, when I make time to pray and read God’s word. End of story.

5. TAKE TIME FOR YOURSELF! I don’t care what that looks like or how much time you say you don’t have. For me it looks like time to write or time for a hike, a walk around the neighborhood, sipping on a hot cup of tea or coffee on my back deck. Coffee or lunch or breakfast with a friend, even if it has to be over the phone. Perhaps you can wake up 10 minutes before the rest of your house, just to sip and drink your coffee. Maybe once a month, you can find a babysitter or your significant other can watch the children, and you can go get coffee, by yourself or with a close friend. Find a  walking partner. Train for a race with your co-workers. Sometimes, I take an extra long shower because that may be the only time I have had to myself that day. I breathe in the steam and take pleasure in the solitude and not having to explain what I’m doing. Everybody leaves you alone when you are in the shower (most of the time).

Challenge yourself to love more. We don’t need all the hate talk. Life is hard enough without being so mean to ourselves

What are some tips you have on increasing self-worth?

Thanks for reading! Please share with those extraordinary women you think need a reminder of how awesome they are!

I have purchased my own website now, so I will be getting away from word press and starting my blog over there! It’s still a work in progress, so be sure to join me at ExtraOrdinary Living  to see what adventures lie ahead.

 

8 Life Lessons I Learned From My Toddler

DSC_0403 (2)I now have a three year old!  I can’t believe it!  Sometimes I feel like I am looking at someone else’s life. I honestly was never the girl that dreamed of the kind of kids she would have, and even if I would have kids. I never thought about what kind of mother I would be. I honestly really never liked kids, and if I’m being honest, I’m still not crazy about other people’s kids (I do like most of my friends’ children, most of the time). Sometimes I wonder if I am a good enough mother. Sometimes I’m lazy. Sometimes I get impatient or frustrated and yell or say things I shouldn’t say. In spite of all that, I believe I am the perfect parent for my children. And more and more, I understand a little of the unconditional love our heavenly Father has for us.

“‘For I know the plans I have for you’, says the Lord. ‘They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.'” Jeremiah 29:11

God has a plan for me and for my children, this I know. I have to remind myself almost every day. There are days when my beautiful Sophia is very tiring and challenging and exhausting. She is headstrong and fiercely independent. (I can’t imagine where she picked up that personality trait!.. Must be from her daddy. 🙂 )   She has taught me so much in her short 3 years of life!

Lesson 1: Sometimes you need to just be silly.

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Sophie is a jokester. We used to ask her, “What color is this?”  For awhile, the only thing she would respond with was “Orange!”  She knew the colors! That was her 2 year old self teasing us!  Another joke she says, “I’m BeBe”, or I’m “Uncle Matt”, and then now she follows it with “You’re Daddy”, or “You’re Max” (Max is our dog!)  She has a mischievous little glint in her eye while she’s saying these things too. Sophie loves to be tickled. She loves being thrown up in the air, loves hide and seek. If we can’t go outside, she will run in circles around our dining room table. She makes me laugh.

We need to let ourselves laugh. We need to remember what it was like to just be silly.

Lesson 2: Be Persistent!

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This past summer, we made the transition to a big girl  bed. Now that she can get out of bed freely, she will literally knock or bang stuff on the door. It’s really quite funny and difficult to not go back to her room. She is a world champion at bedtime stalling!  I have to give her props for creativity. “I need some water!” “Lie down with me!” (with big blue pleading eyes!), “I need to put my babies to sleep”. “I need to read” . She even uses prayer time as a means to stall her bedtime. If we have taken away story and song time because she is not listening, then she pulls the prayer card. She knows mommy wants her to pray!

The point is: While we don’t need to  give in to our children’s every demand, we can learn from their persistence.  If you want something, keep trying! Don’t let a few no’s (or a few hundred) stop you from pursuing your passions or dreams.

Lesson 3: Sometimes you just need to let it out!

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Oh, we have had our share of tantrums and fits!  Screaming in a restaurant, screaming in the store, you name it, we have had it.  How about the time she laid down at the train station, no wait, the cell phone store, no, the consignment store, and just had a textbook tantrum and sit down!  Oh, yes, my Sophie has a temper.

And talk about drama! Once, after a trip to the community pool, Sophie fell and scratched her knee while walking back to our car. Drama central!  After the drama settled, she wanted a Dora band aid, but when I tried to put it on her knee, she screamed. Then she just held it the whole ride home.

Okay, so maybe you and I are past the tantrum phase, but don’t you want to just let it all out and scream and stomp your feet and cry sometimes?!  Well, maybe we can’t scream and stomp our feet (unless you are completely by yourself, then I say, go for it!). However, it is  probably not the best example to teach our children in order to launch them into functional adults.  However, it is okay to accept a hug or want someone to kiss your hurt away. It’s okay to dry your tears on someone else’s shoulder. The point is: Stop being so independent! It is OKAY to ask for help. It’s okay to cry.

Lesson 4:  Sometimes a girl just needs to look good.

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Sophie  loves trying on shoes. I can’t tell you how many times I would walk in her room after nap time to find shoes and clothes, and toys EVERYWHERE!  She would take hair bands and use them as necklaces or for awhile she was attached to hats. She would wear them constantly, even sleeping with them.

Sometimes you just need to dress up a little. We should dress up, not to impress others, but just to remember how beautiful we are.

Lesson 5:  Life is about what happens everyday in the little moments!

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For all of Sophie’s challenges and tantrums, there are more than enough sweet moments. Like the time when she handed me my tucks during my pregnancy with our son (both embarrassing and sweet), or how she is with her baby brother, constantly loving on him, kissing him, and helping me mother him. Or when she spontaneously gives me a kiss or “helps” with chores (she can help unload the dishwasher and put clothes in the dryer! Sometimes she even sweeps! She loves to hold the dustpan for me!). Or how she “cooks” with her pretend food. How she loves to make baby brother laugh and share stories and tummy time with him. Or how she tugs at our heart strings every time she asks us to lie down with her. Or the times when she asks for a “big hug”.  Once, after I gave William his  bath, I turned my back for one second, and next thing I knew Sophie was bathing her baby dolls. All Ican do sometimes is laugh.

For all the bad moments there are 10,000 more good ones. We  can learn from the bad moments, but we need to cherish the good moments. After all, people don’t usually take pictures of the bad moments (although I think that is warranted sometimes!). Our pictures are of the happy moments. You don’t usually remember the tantrums and attitude between the pictures.

Lesson 6:  Life is Messy!

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Life is Messy.  From throwing up in the doctor’s office and in the car and all over me. (all three of these happened last year!), life is messy. From snotty noses and ear infections, life is messy. From spilled drinks and dumped over cheerios, life is messy. (thank goodness for dogs!). From tear stained faces to skinned knees and new scars, life is messy. From emptying out all the drawers to emptying the toy boxes, life is messy.  Life is Messy! Let it go and keep making messes!

Lesson 7:  Celebrate the little successes!

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My Sophie finally went poo in the potty! It has been a long time coming! I dare say, we may be done buying pull-ups! (at least day time ones) If you are a mom, you know how exciting this is! It was all I could do to restrain myself from posting it all over social media! I did text almost all my close friends and family! We celebrated this feat with ice cream and a toy.

That’s how toddlers are, they celebrate little things, like putting their shoes or pants on all by themselves. Or finally figuring out how to open the doors! Or putting that last puzzle piece together. Let’s take a lesson from our toddlers and celebrate the little successes. Like doing prayer/bible time even once or twice a week. Or maybe it is making it somewhere on time! How about getting noticed for a job well done. Picking up a few pieces of trash (that’s one less piece of trash!) Or finally learning to parallel park. Perhaps, it is making one person smile. Or making it to bed on time. Or making it through the day without killing your children.

Little successes add up to make a big difference!

Lesson 8: You are capable of so much more than you realize!

Do you know how many times Sophie has done things  I didn’t think she knew how to do?  Like the time she opened our screen door and walked outside, BY HERSELF with the dog! (we have no fence and we live on a steep hill!) Or the time she started drinking out of a regular cup.  Or  the time when I walked into her room and she had figured out a way to pull off items from the top of the dresser!  They are capable of so much more than we give them credit for!

And so are you!  Don’t sell yourself shot. Believe in yourself!

 

Yes, this year has taught me so much. It’s taught me that this parenting stuff is hard, that life is hard, and marriage is hard As the cliché goes, anything hard is worth doing!  I said at the beginning that I didn’t really like kids, but I LOVE my children. I love my Sophie and everything she is and everything she stands for. I love her just because. She is a gift. One that I do not deserve.

To my Sophia: rbp-42

I love you and everything you are and everything you have taught me, and everything you stand for. You have taught me so much more about love and life than I ever imagined.  You are uniquely wonderful and beautiful. God has a plan for you! I don’t know what it is yet, but it will big! Bigger and more wonderful than I or you daddy can imagine!

 

What are some lessons you have learned from your life experiences? I would love for you to share your stories!

Thanks for reading! If you liked this article, don’t forget to share!

 

 

 

 

WHY I HAVE TO PRAY TO SURVIVE PARENTING

Here my toddler lies on the floor right before the classic tantrum position. (I didn't get a picture of that)

Here my toddler lies on the floor right before the classic tantrum position. (I didn’t get a picture of that)

I honestly do not know how people parent without having a nervous breakdown if they don’t pray. For me, the task of parenting is so daunting and overwhelming, I have to pray, for fear of completely messing up my child. I’m not saying I pray everyday ( I am a work in progress), But sometimes, make that all the time, I feel like I have to pray to make it through my day, even if it is a simple ” Please God help me not kill my child today”. When I really start to think about what it means to be a parent, it truly does overwhelm me. I am completely responsible for this little being that God allowed me to bring into this world. If she becomes a burden on society or a blessing to society, it all comes back to the parents. I worry I don’t play with her enough, that I don’t let her play by herself enough. I don’t read enough, too many toys, not enough. The list goes on and on as I am sure many of you can relate. Then there is this task of  teaching her about God!  I don’t know anything about God, how on earth am I supposed to teach someone about God?! And you love these little beings so much, that it literally hurts.

I  start thinking about God and Jesus, father and son, and how Jesus was sacrificed for me and thus completely separated from his father. I don’t know if I could ever do that. I could sacrifice myself for my child, but to have my child die for others is unspeakable,. It is unfathomable. I guess that is where the necessity of the cross comes in to play, for my sinful heart. I have to pray, for fear that I will be swallowed up by my anxiety and panic. It calms me, and reminds me that I cannot control everything, that I have to trust God.  For however much you love your child, God loves them more. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)  John 10:10 states, “That they (we) may have life and have it abundantly.”

Isn’t’ that just it?, That we may have life and live it to the fullest? We don’t have to worry! God is enough!. There are so many different schools of thoughts on every topic, from breastfeeding to free range parents, to helicopter parents. You name it, you can find a book on it. (trust me, I have looked. ) Those things are of course important and I definitely have opinions on all the above.  But the thing I feel is most important is that we teach our children what it means to be loved and what it means to love. To love without condition. That in and of itself would be an anxiety producing task, if it wasn’t for our heavenly father being the perfect example.  “So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three, but the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13

One of my favorite stories to read to my child is “God Gave Us You”, by Lisa Tawn Bergren. It is a beautiful story about how this bear cub was a gift from God. It reads:

” Every night, I prayed for you, my special child, I prayed that your bones would be straight and your heart would be strong. But most of all, I prayed that someday you would love God.” “I love God,” Little cub said proudly. “I know,” said Mama. “I do too.”. Mama lowered her voice. “And then we took you home. And it was just us. Our family. We just stared and stared, wondering at the miracle of incredible you.” “Because why?” “Because God had given us you. Then little Cub asks “Did you ever want a different baby?… “Never,” Mama said. “Never, ever, ever. Your papa and I wouldn’t trade you for the world….Because God gave us you. Because God gave us you”

The first time I ever read that story I had to hold back my tears to finish the story. Even now. two years later, I still have to hold my tears back. Perhaps that is how God feels; he has to hold his tears in check, because he chose us. Chose us to love , so much so that he was willing to give his only son to be sin for us. “…even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:28) Imagine if your child was taken to prison and given the death penalty, for a crime he or she did not commit. I would be in anguish, infuriated!! Perhaps that is a  sliver of what God went through, except Jesus received the death penalty for thousands and thousands of crimes he did not commit.

I am no expert on parenting or things of God, but my prayer for you is the same as my prayer for my family:

Dear Father,

Please help us show your love to our children, in all our words and actions. When we make mistakes, turn our mourning into gladness, for you are merciful and good.

Amen

Matthew 5:16 (ESV): In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

The Gift of Purple Flowers

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Our yard is a mess. We are not home project people. I kill pretty much every plant that I breathe on or look at, but I love flowers and beautiful landscaping. I hope to one day find the time to focus on gardening and landscaping. Right now, between a toddler, a dog, and a baby to be, working 20 to 30 hours a week, and just everyday life; it is not a priority. In addition to my thumb being black, our yard is basically rocks, leaves, and trees. Fortunately, for us, we live on a steep hill, so unless you are stalking us, you really don’t notice our disastrous landscaping.

On the opposite spectrum is our neighbor’s yard. It is pristine. They have a vegetable garden, beautiful flowers and hedges, and  a perfectly manicured lawn. (I might be a little jealous as they may be a little embarrassed to live next to us.)

Last summer, my mother-in-law lost the fight to pancreatic cancer. Needless to say, it has been a hard year for our family: a year filled with grief and sadness, and bittersweet memories. We are trying to pick up the pieces of this puzzle called Life.

Now, you are probably wondering, what in the world does the above have to do with landscaping and flowers? Well, you see, our yard is normally crab grass and rocks. This year it is filled with beautiful purple flowers. Purple flowers may not mean that much to you, but for our family, it is a gift, a relief from the sadness and broken heartedness. You see, purple was my mother-in-law’s favorite color. And to top it off, purple is the color which symbolizes pancreatic cancer.  Every time I see those flowers, every time my daughter plays in the “field” of flowers, I see love, joy and peace. I see my daughter playing with her lost “Mimi”. I see a hole mended in my husband’s broken heart. I don’t just see flowers, I see love, I feel an angel’s presence sent there just for us. I hear God whispering to us that we will be okay, that He is with us. He is waiting with arms wide open to envelop us with his goodness and unconditional love.

Purple flowers are a gift.

If you are grieving, in whatever form that may be, I pray that you will open your eyes and  your heart to receive a gift from our heavenly father. He longs to comfort us.

Matthew 5:4
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

Psalm 34:18
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

Extraordinary Moments of the Week: December 21st, 2014

This segment marks the first of a brief summary of  the extraordinary moments in my week. The moments in which I have witnessed acts of beauty, service or kindness; moments where there is a light in the darkness. I hope you will follow along with me, and share your own moments.

One of the strongest passions in my life is learning to show my daughter God’s love. My greatest hope for her (and any future children) is not that she will be happy or successful (although of course I want those things as well!), but for her to know God’s love and for her to love God. I do not profess to understand this myself. My daughter is currently teaching me more about God’s love than I could ever attempt to show her. A child’s innocence and pure honesty has a way of keeping one accountable of every word and action they profess to say or do.

I believe one way in which we can experience God’s unconditional love is just by living; Living in the beauty of this world and looking for the light in darkness.

1. Monday, a friend of mine needed to buy one more gift that her daughter wanted for Christmas. The store was on the clear opposite side of town for her, so I was able to go for her.  I am glad (though I admit begrudgingly at first) that I was able to hopefully alleviate some of her stress level at this busy time of year.

2. Monday morning, we also received an unexpected gift from our daycare provider. Gifts are always nice, but it seems even nicer when it is unexpected. Thank you! It made our day!

3. Tuesday, I’m at work, and I just have to brag on our cleaning attendant. Not only this day, but everyday, she keeps everything remarkably clean, considering I work with about 100 other people on any given day. And to top it off, she does it with remarkable grace and cheer.

4. This is my daughter’s 2nd Christmas, so of course last year she really was not all that interested. This year. however, the joy in her little expression from opening gifts and realizing they were for her, is enough to melt this mama’s heart.

5. Another note on Christmas: The ability to be able to face time with my family, who lives hundreds of miles away. That is something we can only fully appreciate in this day and time.

6. Friday, I had the blessing of going to lunch with my husband’s aunt. Female camaraderie is hard to beat.

7. Finally, but certainly not least:  Watching the excitement on my daughter’s face as she jammed to her uncle playing the drums.  And I do mean jammed!  IMG_1647

Matthew 5:16 (ESV): In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

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