How to Not Take Things Personally

Let’s talk about taking things personally.

Do you struggle with the sting of rejection or the pang of other people’s hurtful comments? Do you ever find yourself wondering if you should keep following the path because of something someone else said?

Allowing the opinions of other people to sidetrack, sideline or even derail us is the quickest way to ensure we won’t see our work (or our worth) through.

I’m not going to lie; this video isn’t polished. It’s not overly professional. It’s a bit emotional and slightly scattered.

You will see the uncensored (and unscripted) me but I speak from my heart. As a sensitive woman, I often find myself taking things personally. For me, living in a small town, the fear of what other people think can nearly strangle me at times but I know with intentional action and lots of reminders (along with the occasional tall beer), I can and have to work through it.

So, as you can see, a little rough, but sincere and actually practical, should you choose to use it.

Here’s the link to the book I mentioned in the video. It’s a good one. Also, if you want to read the post I mentioned about curiosity and why it matters, here you go.

I’d love to hear your ideas on how you keep yourself from taking things personally. Post your comment here on the blog or hop on over to Facebook and continue the discussion there. (Don’t forget, we need each other.)

Try the ideas I offer here. You and your creation (whatever that may be for you), demand it.

And seriously, as I said in the video, I’d be silly to stop wearing earth tones just because someone might not like it so I’ll be damned if I’ll let other people’s opinions affect my life choices either.

Can I get an “amen”?

Making Our Own Christmas Magic

I don’t know if it’s the Christmas season, the fact that I feel like I’ve spent a lot of time with my family lately or because I’ve been stuck in a constant state of nostalgia with the writing of my memoir. (Yes, I wrote a memoir. What the hell.)

Whatever the reason, I’ve felt a tad weepy lately. Wistfully weepy.

Ever since I became a mom, I have felt like something was missing from Christmas. It seemed like Christmas had somehow lost its sparkle. Like it had somehow lost its magic. (And yes, being a Type-A mom doesn’t help with the pressure to move the damn elf, create a fabulous Christmas card and bake Martha Stewart-like cookies. I’m seriously doomed.)

I find myself yearning for days of yore. When things were simple. When life seemed more fun. When I felt the magic of Christmas. (Although let’s be real; everything is more magical without responsibilities.)

Every year as a young girl, I’d spend Christmas Eve with my family in our small hometown in rural North Dakota. We’d get all fancied up in our Christmas finery and head into town to attend the 5:00 pm candlelight service at our church. We’d then head over to Grandpa and Grandma Seefeldt’s house (my mom’s parents) for dinner and gift opening with our cousins.

Grandma Seefeldt embodied everything about Christmas. She was Christmas to us.

She treasured having family over. I mean, really, she never expressed any intrusion or inconvenience at having a house full of people. She was happiest when we were together and her house was booming with noise.

No one did snacks like Grandma Seefeldt. Before eating our primary meal, we’d belly up to the kitchen counter and eat chips and dip out of this special sectioned bowl of ceramic painted avocado green and blue. This cheerful, yet functional chip bowl spun. As in, spun on the table so you didn’t even have to exert any effort to get another heaping blob of her infamous shrimp dip.

She’d always request that the grandchildren sing. I loved it. For sure, my cousin, Sara, hated it. We did it anyway. Grandma requested it.

As I got older, I appreciated her added touch of preparing specialty beverages. The last one I remember her making was a pink squirrel.

We all refer to one particular Christmas as the “Christmas With the Hats”. All year long, Grandma had been collecting various hats and kept them until we were together at Christmas. When we arrived, she said, “Go pick a hat from the box and put it on!”

The Hats

The whole family with our hats. Each one was different and each family member had one.

Me and Cousin with Hats

Sara and I at “The Christmas With the Hats”

Boys with Santa

The young Seefeldt cousins with Santa and their hats.

I don’t know why, but I love that she did that.

Grandma made Christmas special; magical, even.

After returning to my hometown to live, I only got to spend one Christmas Eve with Grandma before she died in 2010. (On her last Christmas, we left town early to be with my husband’s family because a storm was coming in and we didn’t want to miss our time with them. I mistakenly figured there would always be more Christmas Eves.)

Ever since losing her, we’ve been fighting to make Christmas feel like Christmas again.

That’s the hardest part about life changing, isn’t it? We try to hold on to what we remember, knowing things can never be what they once were, and yet, we still long and even hope, that they can.

But they can’t.

The Christmas joy we always experienced was nowhere to be found.

The harder we tried to create the same memories without her, the more we were reminded; we are without her.

My mom and I were discussing this on the phone and we decided it’s time.

We need to make our own magic. (And remember the true source of it.)

This year is a reset.

This year, we’re going to focus on what really matters to us; the reason we celebrate this holiday and the people we love who are with us.

One bright, snow-sparkled morning (Snow-sparkled is fair; fresh snow literally sparkles in the sunlight. It’s a gorgeous thing to catch.) I took Carter and Brynlee outside to make a snowman, which I’ll admit, I haven’t done for many years. The snow was as powdery as sand; it wouldn’t pack enough to build a snowman.

Carter was disappointed and so was I so I enthusiastically suggested, “Let’s make snow angels!”

He was not as enamored with this idea probably because I had been relentlessly singing “Do You Want to Build a Snowman?” all morning. I could think of no song to entice him to make angels.

I laid down in the snow and made my first snow angel in probably fifteen years. (She was glorious, too, by the way.)

He giggled as he watched me and of course, made his own handsome little angel. He discovered something new. (And I rediscovered something magical.)

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Brynlee was happy as a lark as she toddled around all puffed up in her outdoor gear. She couldn’t put her arms down all the way. (You know the movie…)

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In our little town, our local Chamber of Commerce offered a community Christmas tree lighting along with carols and horse drawn carriage rides.

That sounds magical, doesn’t it?

It was.

I love to sing Christmas carols and even though the wind made our evening a little brisk and I had to coerce the boys to wait our turn for the carriage ride, oh what fun did we have. (I let them drink as much hot chocolate as they wanted while we waited. I’m pretty sure that helped.)

Our horse drawn carriage ride around town.

“It’s lovely weather for a sleigh ride together with you!”

"The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear!" - Buddy the Elf

“The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear!” – Buddy the Elf

We’ve watched as many Christmas movies as we can squeeze in so far, we’ve sang countless Christmas songs at home and we still have to sing at our local nursing home this weekend, enjoy the kids’ programs at church and school and start wrapping gifts.

But, each and every day, as we enjoy all the excitement of Christmas, we talk about why we celebrate this season. We talk about the gift of Jesus coming into the world as a baby to eventually grow into a man who would die for our sins. We talk about how we’ll celebrate his birth this year. (We decided on a birthday cake. With candles and singing.)

That is the magic of Christmas.

That is the tradition I want for my kids.

That is worth fighting for.

We will still attend our Christmas Eve candlelight service at 5:00 pm, I’m definitely making a specialty drink of some sort and we’ll probably even have shrimp dip. (At least I certainly hope so.)

But, it’s time to find a new bowl, force our kiddos to sing us Christmas carols and start our own traditions never forgetting the beautiful memories that we love.

Most importantly, if I want my kids to remember their childhood Christmases as fondly as I do, I have to remember to enjoy it with them. (Getting stressed out is not enjoyable in the least.)

We’re making our own Christmas magic.

I like to think Grandma Seefeldt would be happy with our efforts so far.

Curiosity Killed the Cat; You are Not a Cat

This week, I got a voicemail from a good friend who is searching for a new career.

It actually made me LOL. I still struggle to write that acronym. I’m too old for it, but I actually did chuckle out loud reading it so I guess, if the hip, young acronym fits…

It was a mini-rant about how people are responding to her job search which has been taking a bit longer than she’d prefer.

She said the women in her life are telling her ‘how nice it must be for her to be able to stay home with her kids so much now’ and the men in her life are basically telling her it’s taking ‘too long’.

She was super frustrated because her intention was never to stay home with her kids (they go to school, so thanks, but no thanks) and she, too, wants to get the ball moving faster, but also refuses to settle. (So again, thanks for the concern and I’m working on it.)

She also hilariously said that the only people she wants to talk to right now are small children because they don’t care one way or another. That’s funny right there.

The people she’s been talking to are simply making statements. These statements reflect their own viewpoints on what is right and/or wrong with her situation.

This is called projection. It’s also a healthy dose of justification….because really, don’t we love it when other people’s situations make us feel ‘right’ about the decisions we make? You know, as if in our minds we can then say, “Oh see, that’s why I’m so glad that I choose to XYZ…”

None of these people are asking her what she thinks about her own situation.

The phrase “Curiosity killed the cat” is meant to imply that asking unwanted or superfluous questions will get a person into trouble.

But, curiosity killed the cat; you are a not a cat.

curiosity

As human beings, we need to embrace the art of asking questions if we want to be in relationship with other people. And the last time I checked, we kind of have to be. I don’t know anyone who actually exists without other people in some way, shape or form…as much as you might like to.

Curiosity is achieved by asking questions.

Curiosity is the opposite of projection and justification.

Curiosity is a skill to be fostered.

Here’s how curiosity can make us better:

Curiosity Builds Connection

By asking questions, we show a real interest in the other person. When we show a genuine concern for others, we create trust.

Also, asking good questions helps the other person to lower their guard and reveal their true values or concerns. They might be more willing to share some of their hardships with you if you ask questions about their point of view. This doesn’t mean you can’t ever reveal your thoughts or opinions. Just make sure you’re finding out their motivations, too. Oh, and, you still need to watch body language. Some people won’t want to reveal their feelings, so if you ask a question and they shut down, take that as a sign they don’t want to share.

Curiosity Creates Clarity and Builds Understanding

Often times, we project our thoughts onto others because we don’t understand where the person is coming from and we start to make assumptions. Any of the readers of this article married? Oy. In my marriage, I often times refer to my amazing intuitive knowings about what my husband is thinking or feeling. I might have good intuition, but I’m not a mind reader and I need to remember that.

We then start offering advice that might be way off base because we have no clarity around what the issue is.

Ask questions. The answers to those questions builds understanding and even if we still don’t agree, which we may not, at least we’ll understand.

Challenges Paradigms

This may be the most critical benefit of being a curious person. Especially when we find ourselves in conflict with another person, asking good questions can help us better see things from a different viewpoint. By becoming less focused on being right and more focused on listening and learning, we just might start to see things from a new perspective. Again, I urge you to consider not just professional relationships, but personal ones as well.

Curiosity helps us be in the best relationships with ourselves, too. It’s important to occasionally challenge ourselves to answer ‘why do I feel or think this way?’. When we do, we are bringing our thoughts into awareness. We can only address/change/develop something once we’re aware of it.

I am a naturally curious person and I still struggle with this at times. So besides marriage, if you have kids, you may see yourself in this. Especially with my children, I find myself wanting to ‘fix’ their situation or offer them my glorious advice rather than asking them questions about the situation they’re struggling with.

Assumptions are most likely to happen with those we know the best…because well? We know them. As if that somehow gives us permission to never ask how they’re feeling.

If we want to have genuine, meaningful and trusting relationships with others, we must become curious. Start today.

As always, I’d love to hear how this is working in your life. Who are you going to reach out to with your questions today?

Learning to Fail…

I write and speak a lot about perfectionism. I suffer from it. I’m super Type-A, with a dash of OCD and a splash of control-freak. I know: I sound like a frickin’ riot to hang out with.

Here’s where this trips me up: I’m afraid of failure. I HATE looking stupid and making mistakes.

As an adult, I realize the danger of living life this way and I’m consciously working on it, but as a kid, this was a huge struggle.

I had no idea how to laugh at myself.

I took myself WAY TOO SERIOUSLY.

Calm Down

My oldest son is just starting to play sports. This summer, Andrew’s t-ball team had practice at least 4 times a week and we traveled for games out of town. He’s 6.

Some of our other friends who have older kids are constantly shuttling kids to this camp or that game, or to this open gym or to that clinic. It’s like these young kids have summer jobs.

Maybe it’s just me, but at times I feel like it’s too much, too fast.

Sports can teach our kids so much about life. And really, isn’t that the point? We want our kids to take what they’ve learned on the field, court or mat and translate those skills to the big, wide world they’ll eventually be moving through.

Of all the skills kids can learn in sports, there is one that is the most critical in my mind.

It’s the skill of learning to fail. (Don’t get tripped on the word either. If you’re one that doesn’t believe in failure because it’s all an opportunity for growth, we’re on the same page. I’m just choosing to use that word as it is.)

Growing up in a different time and also living out of town in the country, I didn’t participate in sports at all until I got older. I didn’t even pick up a basketball until I was in the 6th grade.

By that time, my Type-A personality was winning and I already had a tremendous fear of what other people thought of me. I can remember feeling completely intimidated and practically wanting to throw up by the idea of playing sports in front of people.

You know, because they could SEE me. If I made a mistake, I had myself convinced that everyone would be mad and I’d be letting people down.

So when mistakes came, because naturally, they did, then came the tears, the frustration and anger.

My poor coaches.

My inability to laugh at myself and fail with grace made me a much less competitive athlete than I could have otherwise been.

As a 6 year old, kids have fewer inhibitions. They haven’t yet been told over and over that they need to be a certain way or that they can’t do something. They’re pliable and coachable.

What a perfect time for them to work on learning to fail. In sports and in life.

Earlier this summer, a local company in our community sponsored a youth track meet. All the kids could participate in a variety of track and field events.

My husband couldn’t be there so when I arrived, I saddled up next to a dear family friend who was there with her daughter, who is 11 years old.

This little girl already has this whole ‘laughing at yourself’ thing figured out. She participates in drama, dance and loves being involved in sports.

In her age bracket, there were only 3 total runners. While we were waiting for her group to be called, I felt nervous for her.

She knew with 100% certainty that she wouldn’t beat them and in my heart, I was worried she’d feel bad.

When they announced her group, she went to the starting line, the gun fired off and she ran. We cheered her on as she crossed the finish line for her first race.

As you can guess, she didn’t win. She came in last place of the girls in her group.

When she came over to us afterward, she was smiling and she said, “I got 3rd! Hey, no one needs to know there were only 3 of us! 3rd place would still get a medal!”

We all had a good chuckle. I wanted to squeeze the crap out of her. I simply LOVE this kid.

There are specific things we can learn from this young lady.

She chooses to have fun and she doesn’t take herself too seriously.

She didn’t get wrapped up in how to win, she focused on having a good time. Yes, I know that sports are competitive, but at such an early age, kids should be having a good time and learning that even when mistakes happen, we can still have fun.

She knows that the only way to get better is to keep trying. Mistakes are part of the learning process.

No one comes out of the gate knowing how to do anything perfectly. Anyone who ever became an expert started out as a novice. Learning to fail is part of becoming better.

She doesn’t opt out because she’s not perfect.

She easily could have said, “Why should I even bother? I’m not going to win so what’s the point?” That thought never occurred to her. She chose to play because she wanted to.

She is surrounded by cheerleaders.

Her parents have encouraged her, supported her and cheered her on in everything she’s been involved with. That gives a child the confidence to get out there and try things.

So today, if you find yourself struggling with the ability to laugh at yourself, start by reminding yourself that no one wants to hang out with someone who takes themselves too seriously.

When we act that like that, we’re a real buzz-killer.

CALM DOWN. Get out there. Try new things. (You might totally stink at it right away, but who cares?!?)

Surround yourself with people who love you enough to cheer you on.

Then, find the courage to laugh at yourself when things don’t go your way.

Life really is short. Let’s do our best to enjoy the ride.

 

Is Customer Service Dead?

Last week, I traveled alone for business. It was a quick trip from Fargo to Minneapolis.

I don’t know which part thrilled me more: the excitement of the quick trip or the fact that I was ALONE. I know that makes me sound like a terrible person, but hey, it’s true.

What I do know is that being in an airport gives a person many opportunities to watch people. I love watching people.

One thing that always interests me is watching people in customer service. It is a common complaint that we hear, “Customer service is going down the toilet! No one wants to work anymore! No one cares about the customer! It’s a disgrace!”

I have to admit that I’ve said those things. I’ve had some really terrible experiences as a customer.

As I sat at Gate 3 of Hector International Airport in Fargo, I decided right then that I was going to pay attention to the level of customer service I saw throughout my quick trip. From the gate agents, to the flight attendants, to the hotel staff, taxi cab drivers and baristas: I was going to really pay attention.

Is customer service dead?

While I waited at Gate 3, I watched an incredibly engaged young Delta agent named Sara work her podium. She greeted not just the customers, but also her co-workers, with a genuine smile and good-natured sense of humor.

She went far out of her way to assist a family that had a family member in a wheelchair. She was excellent at her job.

While I was observing Sara, I started to see that while Sara’s demeanor was pleasant and friendly, many of the people who approached her for her help were not.

Many people didn’t even bother to put down their phones when they walked up to her. One particularly irritable woman, put up her hand to Sara’s face as if to say, “Excuse me! I’m on my phone.” It was the rudest behavior imaginable.

Are we getting worse as customers? Don’t customer service people at least deserve our acknowledgement? A smile? A head nod?

Is customer service dead or are we just terribly rude customers?

Is it THEIR fault or are WE a part of the problem?

It was then that I also decided that I’d go out of my way to be kind to the people serving me. Since I wanted to be treated with respect, I decided I would go first.

Once I landed in Minneapolis, I went to find a quick place to eat in the airport as I had a conference call scheduled within the hour.

I was cruising along and I came upon a T.G.I.Friday’s. Standing outside was this guy who I assumed was a host. Even though it was clear that I wasn’t stopping there to eat (Friday’s has never been my favorite restaurant), he gave me a HUGE smile and sincerely wished me a fantastic day. It wasn’t just what he said but the way he said it really struck me. I kind of stopped and thanked him and wished him the same. You could tell he really meant it.

As my trip continued, I was served by additional airport staff, servers at a restaurant and hotel staff. While my service was generally pretty good (except for my retail experiences…I literally felt like I was interrupting their day), no one stood out to me like this guy at Friday’s.

When it came time to leave, I again had about an hour to burn at the airport and where do you suspect I went to eat? You guessed it: Friday’s. I intentionally went to a place that is admittedly not my favorite in hopes that I’d see him again and could chat with him.

meandgilmore

Gilmore and me outside of T.G.I.Friday’s at MSP Airport.

Well, as luck would have it, he was there again and I wanted to know more about him. He said, “My name is Gilmore. Like Happy Gilmore.” I smiled and said, “Well, of course it is.”

I told him about the work I do and asked if I could write an article about him. Turns out, this has happened to him before. Here is the original article a traveler wrote about him in 2012: Meet Gilmore at Friday’s in MSP.

Once I read the article, I knew instead of writing another just like it, because really, everything this guy said about Gilmore was exactly how I felt and why I wanted to draw more attention to him in the first place.

Instead, I decided I’d interview him. So, please, meet Gilmore.

Q: How do you describe your role?

Gilmore: While I was working today, I thought about my “role” in terms of being on stage (and to some — me included — the whole world is a stage).

And there are several stages to my role, whether it’s being a Sociologist in how I observe the daily behaviors of mankind and how I interact with the connecting traveling public through MSP Airport; Or, whether it’s being an avuncular figure to the kids that look up to me (it totally amazes me how many families with young kids, plan their vacation around how much time they get to be at MSP Airport to see me); Or, being a Psychologist to the folks that just wish someone would listen to them; Or being a spiritual figure to the many folks that are traveling through MSP Airport, on their way to see their loved ones in the hospital or are on their way to a funeral and need their SPIRITS to be UPLIFTED.

Q: You mentioned to me that you had left your position at Friday’s and then returned. Why?

Gilmore: I left for the temptation of more money, and now I know, yes it’s a cliche, but I have found it to be true from my experience: “Money is not everything”. What good is more money if I can’t be “HAPPY” and be allowed to be myself?>I can be myself at T.G.I.Friday’s in the MSP Airport, more than any other job that I have had so far in my work history.

Q: Who influenced you the most in your personal life?

Gilmore: Norman Vincent Peale: “The Power of Positive Thinking”. I recommend listening to the audio book with the narration by Norman Vincent Peale. If you’re ever in a funk, listening to that old man, with his soothing eloquent voice, will relax and calm you, and give you motivation to carry on in a more OPTIMISTIC way (anyway, that’s at least from my own experience).

Q: What is your overall work philosophy? (What matters more than anything else in approaching your work everyday?)

Gilmore: Being in the NOW … And, yes I recommend “The Power Of Now” by Elkhart Tolled.

When I am working, more than anything else, I focus my awareness on just being fully focused in the now, in how I approach my work, whether it’s meeting and greeting, or answering a question, or finding a successful result towards a solution, or just simply just smiling and saying hello (that’s where being authentic comes into the mix); And I admit, I am not perfect, my work philosophy is still a work-in-progress, I still have to fine tune and reflect on what I can improve or how I could have handled a situation differently.

Q: I noticed you know many people by name. What’s the significance of that for you?

Gilmore: I love the fast paced environment of Airports (time FLIES when you’re having FUN) … I love the challenge of remembering faces and names in that kind of setting, and quite honestly, it’s almost impossible to remember all of the literally millions of people a year that I come across, while working in an Airport, but I love the adrenaline of interacting in real time with the traveling public in an Airport, while making a positive impact on so many lives.

Q: You go far out of your way to greet everyone that walks past you, not just the people interested in eating at Friday’s. Why do you care so much?

Gilmore: One word: KARMA.

If what goes around comes around, why not make it so your ITINERARY is a good ROUND TRIP TICKET towards going to good KARMA, and some good TRAVELING positive vibes?

I believe in emanating positive vibes from a higher PLANE of consciousness.

Q: What do you want to be known for?

Gilmore: A passenger at MSP Airport walked towards me today and said, ” You know, Gilmore — you’re a legend in your own time!” . I interpret that as a positive sign of my always ongoing work-in-progress, towards focusing on being in the now (in a positive, constructive way, of course).

And, it’s not easy to forgive easily, but if there’s one piece of wisdom that I’ve picked up in my life it’s this: When you forgive it’s more about the releasing of yourself.

And that is SO empowering when you think about it.

And that’s what I strive for, in terms of a legacy, to be known for, to be known to be an empowering legend in my own time, that contributes to having a lasting positive impact on many lives …

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Gilmore showing off one of his many costumes…always working to make work fun.

GilmoreinGold

Gilmore in Gold. There’s a reason his nickname is “Happy”.

 

Gilmore is bold. Gilmore is confident. Gilmore is enthusiastic.

Not everyone appreciates these qualities in another person. I do.

Everyday, Gilmore chooses to be kind. He chooses to be positive. And he doesn’t require other people to give that to him first. He is a class act. He makes work fun for himself, his co-workers and the people that come into contact with him.

He focuses on the present. He doesn’t take the people that in front of him for granted.

So, as you’re out and about today, I encourage you to do the same. Be kind. Be positive. Put your phone down. Smile at people. Be with people.

Whether we’re the customer or the person giving service, every person we meet provides an opportunity to positively influence a flie.

Is customer service dead?

As long as people like Gilmore and Sara exist, I have to answer with a resounding ‘no’.

The One You Need to Find Joy

I don’t know about you, but there are times I just completely suck at finding joy. I tend to focus on what isn’t going well, I spend ridiculous amounts of time and go to insane efforts to control everything and I allow little nuisances to become bigger than they really are.

I’m human. I know it’s OK and I know the reason I do this is because I’m a bit broken, like we all are.

What I recently discovered though, was how one specific activity can keep me from spiraling down like I just described.

The one thing: gratitude journaling.

Now, I know, I know. Oprah gave us this advice over a decade ago and the concept of “Count Your Blessings” is timeless. I’m really going to try and explain the life-changing effect this simple activity can have on you, should you choose to accept the challenge.

But first thing’s first: there’s a difference between happiness and joy. When you look up their definitions, they can be used synonymously, but in this context, I’d like to suggest that happiness is akin to cheerfulness, which is fleeting and a response to the moment. Joy, on the other hand, is a deep sense of contentment and pleasure and isn’t bound by circumstances.

I feel like we’re all running around chasing happiness. It’s the reason we overeat, abuse drugs, invite drama into our lives, etc., etc. We are chasing a thrill. A ‘good’ feeling. That can lead to a lack of contentment and satisfaction with what we have.

We look ‘over the fence’ and say, “Wow, it looks pretty nice over there. Maybe I should hop on over.” What we all know, of course, is that with every fence hop, you get not only the good stuff on that side of the fence, but the unseen and unexpected challenges that come along with it.

While feeling good and being cheerful is pretty awesome, joy doesn’t require it. Stick with me on this…

This past week, I was brutally reminded of how fleeting life can be. I was at a graduation party with my kids and I got a phone call from my dad. He asked if I could come out to the farm and pick them up. I asked why and he said they’d been in a car accident. Naturally, I was shocked and asked if they were OK. He, in his typical farmer-like, laid-back way, said, “Yeah, we’re OK. But our car sure isn’t.”

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My parents’ car right after the accident.

I made my way out to where they were and started crying the second I came upon their vehicle. My dad is a super cautious driver. When they first saw a truck coming down the dirty gravel road, he had pulled way over to avoid getting a rock chip in his windshield. In fact, his right tires were off the road completely. Little did they know, the truck was being followed by a small car. The car came out of nowhere and was headed right for them. He was driving fast for the gravel and was spinning out of control, giving my dad little time to react. Had my dad not pulled so far to the side to begin with, they would have been hit head on and they’d likely be dead.

I immediately hugged my mom and when my dad was done giving his statement to the police, I grabbed and him and told him that I don’t hug him enough.

In an instant, my parents could have been snatched away from us.

The thoughts were flying through my head…Did they know what they meant to me? Had I told them enough? Was I respectful enough of them? Had I spent enough time with them? Do my kids get how wonderful they are?

Earlier that week, I was at Bible study where we’re discussing the DVD series One Thousand Gifts. In the book and study, author Ann Voskamp urges us to start a list of 1,000 gifts. Just the daily, simple good things we see and experience. When we first started it, I was writing down at least 5 things every night before my head hit the pillow. I suddenly realized that it had been nearly a month since I’d written a single thing down.

Clearly, it hadn’t been a month since something worthy of writing down had occurred, it had simply been that long since I chose to reflect on it.

Besides being a ridiculously full month, I had been feeling overwhelmed, stressed and a tad out of control. Jeremiah and my dad were struggling to get along in their business. I had acquired a bizarre sinus infection that really knocked me out. I wasn’t enjoying my kids as much. I was forgetting the simple. I was neglecting the plain. I was omitting the ordinary.

I was without gratitude.

After I dropped my parents back off at their house and got my kids back home and to bed, I took my journal out and wrote down 42 separate and distinct things as I reflected back on the month. Here’s a sampling of them (just to show you how ‘ordinary’ the things can be!):carterandbrynlee

  • cool water with lemon to drink
  • taking Carter and Brynlee to our local greenhouse to pick out flowers
  • Andrew helping me with planting all our new shrubs
  • Andrew having perfect attendance in kindergarten…not even ONE sick day!
  • That my dad is a cautious driver
  • The smell of freshly mowed grass grassmanor
  • The sound of cows mooing outside
  • The gift of singing so I could share it with the residents at the manor
  • Brynlee’s single little ponytail on the top of her head

Here’s the thing: even when you don’t ‘feel’ like it, write something down. Don’t allow yourself to go an entire month without acknowledging the simple blessings. There is always, always, always something to acknowledge.

My list currently has 268 things on it. Here’s what this list allows me to do:

  1. Reflect on all the good in my life
  2. Trust – I know that I’ve been cared for and loved along the way and each entry is proof of that
  3. Resist fear – fear is based on the idea that love is scarce – as I continue to number my blessings, it’s clear that love is anything but scarce. In fact, it’s everywhere should I choose to look for it.
  4. Stress less – going back to #2, I know I can lean. I don’t have to have all the answers. I can trust. This implies a letting go that alleviates my day-to-day stress.
  5. Find joy.

And so it will be with you. When you take the time to reflect on each day of your life and recount the blessings (even the tiny ones), you’ll start to see your own world through a different lens.

This is why joy is deeper than happiness. It’s not just about how you feel in the moment. We don’t have to love every moment. It’s OK to feel sad, mad or hurt.

It’s an understanding that even in those hard times, we can still find joy. Joy comes from a deep knowing. A resting. A leaning. Believing that no matter what I encounter, I am endlessly loved and forgiven.

Gratitude journaling is a way to enumerate that love. And what a joy it is to see.

How Direct Sales Made Me a Better Person

Direct sales. Social commerce. Network marketing. Multi-level marketing.

Call it what you want, all of these phrases can be used to define a method of product/service distribution. It allows a company to get their product/service directly into the hands of customers through individual people. These phrases also can carry quite the stigma and may induce involuntary shuddering…

There are countless articles/resources offering advice on what to look for prior to joining a direct selling company. This is NOT one of those articles. (But seriously, do your due diligence before jumping on board with any company. You should be able to obtain basic company financials and I feel strongly about membership in the Direct Selling Association (DSA). In this channel, they are the watchdog organization that holds its members to a specific standard of ethics.)

There are a lot of articles/resources touting the benefits of joining a direct selling company. This is NOT one of those articles, either. Since one of the biggest benefits is the flexibility of running a business like this your way, there truly is something for everyone. My benefits may not look like yours.

This article is about people. And what people tend to think about direct sales.

I’m writing this article because I’m a people developer by trade. My job involves training, coaching and facilitating dialogue about the most important asset to any organization: its people. Companies hire me to work with their leadership teams. We discuss strategy, culture and all things business.

I’m also an entrepreneur. I started How Mommy Got Her Groove Back in October of 2013 to use what I’d learned in the corporate world and help people apply it in their own businesses and their lives.

You’d think that through this work alone, I’m developing myself all the time. And it’s true. I am.

Above all else, I can say that being involved with direct sales (I am partnered with the doctors who created Proactiv® in their new venture Rodan + Fields, has impacted me more than I ever would have thought possible. Being in direct sales has made me a better person.

I’m not writing this to sell you on the concept of direct sales. I want to equip you with information and yes, while it’s biased because it’s from my perspective and I’m on the inside, if other companies hire me to work with their teams and improve overall culture and performance, it can’t be ALL bad, right?!

My hope is to shift perceptions about what it is we do. It might open your eyes to see things you didn’t before, and at the very least, I hope it helps make supporting direct salespeople easier for you.

Some of what I’ll share is specifically related to my personal experience and some is based on informal research I conducted by interviewing professionals (across roles and industries, both male and female) that aren’t involved in direct selling.

For those of you on the inside (the ones with the bright red mustaches, you know, from the Kool-Aid we’re all drinking), I hope this helps you, too. Simple shifts and subtle tweaks in your approach can create huge shifts in productivity.

For those of you who aren’t yet enjoying the refreshment of the Kool-Aid, maybe you’ll gain a new perspective.

What I’m finding is that there are several common perceptions about direct sales. Typically, perceptions are grounded in some truth so you won’t find me refuting them.

My response to these perceptions is based on what I know about people and what really drives and motivates people.

Common Perception #1: In order to be successful, I have to exploit my closest relationships. I will be encouraged and even coached to hound people until I alienate all of my family and friends.

Truth: You absolutely will share this business with people you know and love.

Because that’s the ENTIRE point. Direct sales businesses are meant to be relationship-based and you have the best and most obvious relationships with family and friends. What’s at the heart of this issue isn’t with WHOM you share the information, but HOW.

It is true that when starting a direct selling business, you’ll start thinking of everyone you ever met so you can share the information with them. There’s nothing wrong with that. If I opened any other type of business, I’d do the same thing.

The problem is in the approach.

One professional told me that her biggest beef with direct salespeople is that we ‘become the job’. So, in sharing a personal experience, she said every time she saw this particular direct salesperson, the only thing she EVER talked about was the business. This friend failed to take an interest in her and seemed fixated on getting her to join the company.

Yes. If you act like this, you’re going to alienate people because it’s annoying. While I believe it sometimes is harder to separate yourself from your business in direct sales, you have to still be a person with interests and family and a frickin’ LIFE.

Shortly after I had this discussion, my husband and I went to Minneapolis for the weekend with a couple friend of ours. They own a bar and a local furniture store in our small town. Had she tried to sell me carpet remnants all weekend, I would been super irritated. Oddly enough, the husband did successfully push booze on me all weekend…but, I digress.

The point is…when you love something, you share it. When you believe it will benefit other people, you share it.

If you don’t love or believe in your business, it doesn’t matter if you’re sharing it with your mom or a stranger, it’s just not right.

Common Perception #2: I’m too smart for network marketing. Only people who have no other options choose direct sales.

Truth: Everyone has more options than they realize and now more than ever, direct sales are attracting highly successful and formally educated people.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I really struggled with this perception myself. I honestly deep down felt that people wouldn’t take me as seriously because I live in a small town and obviously, you only move back to small towns when your dreams have died. You pick up direct sales because cost of entry is low and it’s something to do while your husband is in the field. (Full, full disclosure: those were my exact fears…)

Industry statistics and probably, the demographic of your company’s representatives, are reflective of a huge range of successful and educated people. Even though, yes, cost of entry is low, therefore you have a lot of people seeking these opportunities, it still requires work. It’s called net’work’ marketing. This isn’t a get-rick-quick scheme and there’s no magic bullet. You’ll have to follow your company’s training program (yes, they should have a training program) and learn their system. But you’ll have to put forth effort.

That’s why when you research whether you can actually make money at direct sales, the results are kind of depressing. Those results take into account every single person who joined and didn’t commit. They didn’t show up. They quit because they didn’t see the flashy rewards they were told about and then, they blamed the model.

For those people, direct sales didn’t fail them. They failed themselves.

After spending the money and time to earn a specific degree, it makes perfect sense that you’d want pursue a career in line with that education, especially if you’re passionate about it.

The simple truth is that a direct selling opportunity can (and maybe should) still be a part of your life. These businesses are in no way “all or nothing” opportunities. You could work a business like this alongside a full-time job.

If you’re questioning why on earth a person would do that, let me just say this: direct selling businesses provide continual personal development. These businesses allow you to hone skills that will benefit you in all other areas of your life, including your full-time job, if you have one.

Given what I do for a living, I’m telling you that in typical businesses, people struggle with confidence, conflict management, overall people skills, mental toughness, and leadership, just to name a few.

Your direct sales business allows you to work on yourself on the DAILY. Your very business is a combination of all those things and if you’re working with a good coach and mentor, they will help you identify which of those things specifically is holding you back from success and provide you with ideas and strategies to improve. It’s personal and professional development all rolled into one.

The best part? You’ll have access to phenomenal trainers and business leaders that other people pay big bucks to see. It’s a perk of the business…(And hello!?! It’s tax deductible, too!)

Try something new. Take a chance. Put yourself in a position to be uncomfortable so you can grow and develop a whole new set of skills.

You may discover, just as I did, that I wasn’t too smart for network marketing. I was actually being outsmarted by it.

Common Perception #3: I can’t be successful if I’m not a salesperson…and come to think of it, I think salespeople are kind of sleazy, so I have no desire to do sales.

Truth: We are all in sales, all the time. And as Forrest Gump’s mother would say, “Sleazy is, as sleazy does.”

I have spent most of my career in what you’d consider traditional sales roles. I started out in retail sales and moved to financial services. I now sell employee/personal development opportunities in addition to my network marketing gig.

So people naturally think this is easy for me because I’ve always been in sales.

No matter if we work from home, stay at home, or work in a traditional work environment that seems to have little to do with selling, we employ selling skills every time we try to move people to take action.

When we invite people to parties, try to get our kids to eat broccoli or even make a suggestion about a movie to go see, we are using the basic fundamentals required to be a successful direct sales business owner.

There are two things that make a salesperson sleazy: 1) you know that what you’re offering won’t deliver on what it promises or 2) you think only of how you’ll benefit from the sale, not how the customer’s life will improve.

As long as you’re not a sleazy person, network marketing won’t make you sleazy.

I wish I could say that there are no sleazy individuals in network marketing. That’s just not true. Just as there are sleazy bankers, gas station attendants and attorneys, you’ll find them here as well.

Fortunately, those people are the exception and not the rule.AndrewHighDive

Common Perception #4: “People will think I’m ­­­­­­________.” (Fill in the blank with the negative adjective that you’re most afraid of appearing to be, i.e. crazy, desperate, or pathetic.)

Truth: People will think you’re ________. (Fill in the blank with the negative adjective that you’re most afraid of appearing to be, i.e. crazy, desperate, or pathetic.) And…so what??

Let’s forget for a moment that this has anything to do with MLM companies, and think about day-to-day life.

How many times have you changed outfits before going to an event because of the fear of what someone might think of your choice?

When was the last time you chose not to say something on your mind in a meeting for fear of what others might think?

As a mom, have you ever received unsolicited advice regarding how you parent your children? Did it make you feel bad…like you’d done something wrong?

Here’s the point: while I’ve certainly seen this particular limiting belief hold people back from pursuing network marketing opportunities, I’ve also seen it have a negative effect on nearly every other area of a person’s life.

Chew on this idea: What other people think of you is none of your business.

Whether it’s about parenting, your position at work, your clothing or your decision to join a business, other people are not going to be there day in and day out, looking at you in the mirror. It’s just you. Your choices. Your desires. Your life.

There will certainly be people who try to pull you down, make you doubt your decision and even potentially, belittle the choice.

If you have a passion to do something, whatever it is, you have to protect that passion and realize that some people just won’t get it.

All advice, opinions and input, whether solicited or not, are a reflection of that person’s situation, beliefs and experience; they typically have little to do with you or what you’re doing.

If you were able to pay your bills, plan for your future, grow as a person or expand your network of amazing connections with their opinions, then those opinions would matter.

One of the greatest aspects of direct sales is the teamwork you’ll discover.

You’ll have support all over the country/world out there doing the same kind of work and encountering the same kinds of obstacles and you’ll learn techniques/strategies to overcome them.

That kind of support system is hard to find elsewhere. Here’s where my specific background is relevant. Companies spend loads of money trying to create a culture where people want to work. If you’re with the right direct sales company, you will WANT to be there.

When I started my Rodan + Fields business, I was working full-time for a regional organization. I had started to feel like my ‘brand of leadership’ wasn’t what the company really wanted. (It was a simple case of misalignment.) Here’s what research will prove people look for in a ‘work’ culture: transparency, vulnerability, belief that I matter, collaboration, the freedom to do things my way (empowerment), a sense of ownership and high levels of trust.

When I joined R + F, I found this specific culture. And that’s what led me to launch How Mommy Got Her Groove Back. I felt like I’d found ‘my people’.

The biggest impact this business has had on me as a person is that I’ve been totally forced me to put my money where my mouth is. I’ve gained improved people skills, stronger resilience, deeper levels of empathy, the ability to dream bigger, and the courage to live my life regardless of what other people might think of my choices.

All of these things are critical to the success of How Mommy Got Her Groove Back and to my personally success, as a wife, mother, friend and inhabitant of the planet.

Now, really, I get it. Not everyone WANTS to run their own business and that’s totally OK.

Even if you feel like you don’t, I encourage you to think differently.

I’ll leave you with this: think about what you really want out of life. (This isn’t just about the ‘stuff’. It’s also about what kind of person you want to be remembered as and if you’re raising kids, what type of model you want to be.) Then ask yourself if what you’re doing today can get you there. If not, you have a gap, my friend. Perhaps, just maybe, a direct selling business is exactly the opportunity you need to bridge it.

It might time to take the leap.

As always, leave your thoughts and comments here or on the Facebook page. Even if you have no desire to join me in business, I advocate for this model because I LOVE supporting women (and men!) to make the changes they need to live the lives they want. Let’s chat. I’d love to hear your story!

Beware the Busy

I’m throwing down a challenge. Right here. Right now.

Let’s stop talking about how “busy” we all are.

It’s almost become a badge of honor to claim that we’re oh so busy.

Seriously. Try it out. When you’re out and about today, ask people how they are and pay attention to what percentage of them respond with “I’m good! Yeah. Really good. You know, just so busy, but good.”

We might as well wear a physical badge that says ‘Martyr’ on it. It’s time to own this one.

Important

Just yesterday, I was facilitating a program and we opened with a discussion about how the participants feel ‘too busy’ to do the assigned homework. Naturally, I’ve heard this before and while I certainly empathize, I don’t cut people slack on this topic.

Busy is a choice. What I think we are suffering from is an over-commitment problem. We say yes when we want to say no. We need to learn that one simple word, all by itself, is a complete sentence.

Naturally, there are times when we all feel overwhelmed by the sheer volume of stuff we have to do. When you’re feeling this, here are some ideas/tips to take your life back. Because that’s what we’re talking about here. Your life. Your contentment. The full use of your gifts for your highest good. I doubt any of us hope this will be our epitaph:

Here lies Rebecca. She couldn’t say no. She lived her life so busy, running to and fro. Now, she’s gone and having breathed her last breath, poor Rebecca yes-ed herself to death.

How to Break Yourself of Busy

Analyze How You Currently Spend Your Time

I know it’s hard, but the truth hurts. If you feel you don’t have time, you might not be acting as a good steward of your time. Keep a time log. Physically write it down.

Don’t like what you see? Well then, change it! Take out a new log, and viewing a week at a time, first fill in your non-negotiables: you know, like eating, work, being with your family, working out, etc. These are things that you absolutely HAVE to do.

From there, start thinking about how to use the margin to best serve your goals.

Be Selective

We all have the same amount of time to use however we wish. The most successful people don’t complain about how busy they are. They have learned to say no. They are selective about what deserves their time and attention.

Review your log and do the following:

  1. If you can cut it immediately, do it. (An example would be the gross amount of time spent on Facebook, Pinterest or virtually playing your mom on Trivia Crack.)
  2. If you get asked to ‘help’ with something else, first, answer the following questions:
    • Does it align with my gifts?
    • Will it bring me joy?
    • Will I do the work out of love?
    • Can I add it without sacrificing something of greater importance in my life?
      • If you answer yes to all of the following, then make room for it.
      • If not, you have to question whether the opportunity is right for you. Just say ‘no’. No need to make excuses, either. Just politely and tactfully say “Thank you for thinking of me, but I really need to say no this time.”
  • Failure to apply this test will inevitably cause you to say yes when you don’t really want to. You know what happens then? You rob someone else of their chance to do it. You read that right. You ROB them. If you’re just doing it begrudgingly out of guilt or obligation, you may not be the best suited person for the job. Give someone their chance to shine. Just say NO.

 

Delegate

What tasks/actions could be done by someone else? Afraid of this because it won’t be done as well as you do it? Welcome to my world. I mean, really.

The bottom line is: sometimes it really does pay to pay someone else to do it. The best thing I’ve ever done for our household was to hire someone to come in twice a month and deep clean. My sanity is worth the investment.

Let’s be honest. Asking for help is hard. It’s not admitting you suck. It’s acknowledging that, without help, you can’t be a good steward of your time. Really get creative with this one. Who can help you or take stuff off your plate?

Evaluate, evaluate, evaluate

As time goes on, your position as the President of the PTA will run its course and you’ll have to turn the snack list and class party agenda over to a new queen. If you don’t recognize this, you’ll eternally be their leader.

Only you can evaluate your schedule on an ongoing basis to determine if where you’re spending your time still makes sense. This will change over time and to effectively determine what to say yes to, you absolutely need to check in. I recommend doing this every 6 months.

Failure to consider any of these options makes your life a hamster wheel. I don’t know about you, but I find the idea of running nonstop in a circle simply exhausting. And come to think of it, pretty damn meaningless.

In order to thrive and make the most of this one life we’ve been given, we have to stretch, grow and learn. The awesome part is that you get to decide what areas you want to stretch. What you want to learn. How you want to grow. Make sure that the things you say ‘yes’ to support that vision.

Beware the busy. (Oh and a quick side note, if you’re reading this thinking, “But I LOVE to be busy!”, I’m not talking to you. I’m talking to those (myself included) that have at one point or another used ‘busy’ as an excuse.)

Beware the busy. Aim for engaged. Involved. Committed.

Your time is your most precious resource. Use it wisely.

As always, I love to hear from the people I am supporting. Add a comment here or hop on over the Facebook page and comment there!

Self-care Is Not Selfish

Hey moms: let’s chat a bit about taking care of ourselves.

Yes, you heard me. Taking care of OURSELVES.

Not our kids, the laundry, the hubby, the soccer practice schedule, school holiday party planning, our kid’s piano lessons or anything else on your never-ending frickin’ to-do list.

Why? Because you are already taking care of all of those things. And you know what? You are doing a bang-up job. Even if you don’t feel like it. Even if reading that list literally made you cringe. You have a ton on your plate and you’re managing it like a boss.

Here’s what I’m willing to bet you’re not that great at: putting yourself first. Like, ever.

Now, I’m talking about more than a ladies night out or date night with the hubs. Those are great, but I’m also talking about the things that feel indulgent, self-focused and dare I say it, downright selfish.

Investing time and God forbid, even a little money, on nothing more than making you, the epicenter of your crazy, chaotic life, feel more like the woman you really are.

Chasing a dream that you buried along with the memory of your hot, pre-baby body.

That’s what I want to see more women doing.

Yep, now it’s starting to get a little uncomfortable. Since we know that we can’t focus on the needs of two people at the same time, it feels completely wrong to say, “Well, sorry kids, today, I’m going to think about me.”

selfish cup

I’m here to tell you that you should. (And c’mon, as a mom, you can’t do this all day, every day, because motherhood requires compromise and sacrifice. But, I bet day to day, your needs/wants/desires/hopes are nowhere to be found.)

Self-care Is Not Selfish.

In early February, I was privileged to emcee the On the Minds of Moms LIVE live event in Fargo, ND. It was an 8 hour event, complete with workshops, keynote speakers, a fantastic meal and straight up one of the funniest women comedians I’ve seen in some time. It was indulgent. It was remarkable. It was glorious. It was a day filled with tears, laughter and connection.

Here were the themes of the day:

  • Don’t be afraid to chase your dreams; Even one small step can move you to achieve things you never thought possible

  • We all have a reel of information that replays in our minds telling us who we are, what we deserve, whether we’re worthy, what we ought to be doing, etc. Don’t like what you hear? Change the narrative.

  • Be. All. In. In every way. Not just as a mother, but as a woman on this planet. God doesn’t screw up and He made you the way you are. Use those gifts to benefit the world.

  • Surround yourself with great people because you become the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.

  • Celebrate the simple things. There really are countless little blessings to acknowledge.

What powerful words for women like me. We left this event feeling inspired, recharged and refreshed.

So, what about you? When was the last time you did something 100% for yourself? Not only is it not selfish, it makes you better at all your other roles.

And so I challenge you, my beautiful friends: get out there and experience all this life has to offer. Take a new dance class. Read a book for fun. Get your nails done. Attend a seminar on something you find interesting. Do something just for you.

Don’t know where to start? I saw them firsthand at the event in February, they are my friends and they would LOVE to help you!

Another good place to start is to simply answer the question: What do I want? It’s alarming to think about how many weeks, months and years can go by without ever thinking about this question. Get out a journal and start to honor those dreams.

You are worthy of your own love and compassion.

As always, I’d love to hear your stories! What are you doing to take care of you?

Labels Are For Jars: You Are Not A Jar

This video should be seen by every mother on the planet. Because it’s brilliant. Watch it here and then keep on reading…

When I first started this business, I had this post in my head. I tend to not share something until it’s also on my heart.

Lucky you. Today, it’s on my heart.

Labels are for Jars: You are not a jar.

Labels are on jars for a reason. They tell us what to expect when we look on the inside.

The contents are ALWAYS the same. The contents are ALWAYS predictable.

So, here’s the problem with attaching labels to motherhood. No two mothers are ever exactly the same. There’s not a woman on the planet who’s likely to ever be that predictable.

Labels are for Jars: You are not a jar.

I think deep down, we all want the kind of judgement free world for parents this video suggests we create. But, honestly, I think it’s a long shot. And it’s not because we’re not kind enough. Or tolerant enough. It’s because most of us aren’t living in the truth of our gifts.

Let me tell you a little story…

Earlier this week, I had planned an overnight away from my kids for work. As I was backing out of the driveway of my daycare provider’s home the morning I was leaving, I may or may not have been dancing in my car. The song “Freedom” by George Michael may or may not have been playing in my head.

I felt like the day was chock full of possibility. I was going to eat at a restaurant where no kids would be. I would sleep in a bed without a monitor next to it. I would wake up and not have to rush to make breakfasts, pack a backpack or put a pacifier back in any mouths.

I was excited. Almost giddy, even.

Then, it hit me. What kind of mother gets excited about leaving her kids? Enter my old friends: guilt, shame, feelings of inadequacy, slight self-loathing, self-doubts and the like.

I spent the next day and a half reconnecting with women I love and meeting new ones who had me at hello. I was surrounded by women who challenge me and want to help me reach my dreams. They want to support me. Me. Not the mother in me. Not the wife in me. Not the business professional in me. Just me.

My heart and cup were full. And my kids were nowhere in sight.

Then, it hit me. I haven’t thought about my kids for the past several hours and I feel so alive. What kind of mother feels more like herself when she’s working than when she’s home? Damn it. Here they come again: guilt, shame, feelings of inadequacy, slight self-loathing, self-doubts and the like.

What I just described? That’s motherhood. It’s one big ball of conflicting, ever-changing emotions. I can love and loathe motherhood almost simultaneously. I can laugh with my kids in one minute and have the urge to run away from them in the next.

I didn’t take drugs to deliver my children, but I didn’t breastfeed.

My kids go to daycare 4 days a week, and I work from home. (Oh, and I don’t feel they’re being raised by someone else either.)

I vaccinate my children, but I use essential oils to try and keep them out of the doctor’s office.

I want to instill good eating habits in them, but I still feed them chicken nuggets.

I don’t want to stay home with my kids, but I don’t want to work full-time for someone else either.

There. Label that.

This post and this video are about honoring the women inside the role of mom.

Being a mom doesn’t change that I have goals I want to achieve and dreams I want to pursue. I have gifts that I want to use. God-given gifts that were bestowed upon me. Gifts that only I possess.

All of my choices as a mom are just that. Choices. I’ve chosen these things for my life and my family so I can feel the most ‘me’.

For you, the choices will look different. If your gifts are fully utilized by being home with your kiddos or climbing the corporate ladder while your kids are in full-time childcare, that is OK.

But for the love of Pete, make sure you choose it. Design it. OWN IT.

Quit making excuses for yourself or justifying your choices. And worst of all, quit judging others for not being like you.

There is no ingredient list for motherhood.

Labels are for jars: You are not a jar.

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Imagine the world if we just owned our choices. Our feelings. Our gifts. If we were to consciously allow ourselves to be OK being who we are instead of pretending to be what we think we’re supposed to be.

If we were to stop wearing masks.

If were to stop comparing our gifts to others.

If we learned to love ourselves and all our contradictions.

I have a little homework for you. Take out a journal, think about your life and answer the following questions:

  1. In what area of your life are you being less than authentic? Less than the full you?

  2. Why?

  3. How would you feel if you gave yourself permission to show up?

  4. What’s holding you back from doing it?

  5. Who can help you overcome that obstacle?

  6. What’s 1 simple thing you can do, right now, to move you in that direction?

Your gifts deserve to be used. Brought to light and shared with the world.

When you honor yourself, you are showing your kids to do the same.

As it turns out, if we are to create this world of less judgment for moms, we do need one ingredient.

Is it patience? That might help. Is it compassion? Certainly doesn’t hurt. Is it kindness, a calm demeanor, empathy, a sense of humor? Sure, all those things could round out the list.

But, I maintain it’s only one.

That ingredient is LOVE.

Love for you leads to love for others. Don’t rob yourself of what you so freely give to others.

PS -Share your struggles here or on the Facebook page. There are tons of other women who need to hear what you have to say. Let’s support one another.

PPS – Or, send your homework my way if you want me to take a peek at it. I’d be honored to be one of the people listed in #5.

PPPS – Hey moms…I LOVE YOU.