Growth

Secluded Colin-47 / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

Growth always seems to find me when I’m sure I know how things will go. I get some idea in my head about how things will be or how they’ll turn out and then the growth comes. It sneaks up on me, shaping me and what I believe in or hope for.

The past two+ months have been anything but predictable for me, for our business, and for our family. My business goals changed dramatically, our marriage has shifted into a much more understanding state, and my ovaries have gone into overdrive. On top of all of that, I’ve watched things slip away without much thought while I started missing things that I had no concept of how much they meant to me. Life has shifted in ways I never even thought possible and I’m struggling to keep up.

I’d call it a quarter-life crisis, but it doesn’t feel crisis-like. It just feels like a new beginning. Like I’m stepping into a version of myself – like a new, improved shell of myself – and finding new things that I never knew existed. And realizing that some of the things I deemed to be really important about my core self aren’t really that important after all.

I wish I had the words as I processed all of it, but I don’t. I’m speechless and even a little lackluster in the creative department because of it. It’s frustrating because, well – who wouldn’t want to make such a massive development sound poetic and inspirational? I’m pretty sure the answer is no one because it would be awesome if it had some sort of meaningful message that said I was doing tons of amazing things (even if only in my mind) while this blog went somewhat silent and my life felt completely disjointed.

But it doesn’t have that meaningful message. And it’s really not all that poetic. It doesn’t really have any meaning other than it’s just a phase that I’m pushing really hard to get out of because I’m pretty sure the other side of this tunnel is going to be really legendary when I find it. And I’m totally ready for it.

5 Ways to Increase Productivity

Happy Monday everyone!

Hope you had a wonderful weekend. Today we have a guest post from the lovely Amy from The Charming blog on productivity. I’ve known Amy for a while now and she is absolutely an inspiration to me. She’s incredibly creative, designs beautiful blogs, and very down to Earth. If you aren’t reading her blog, you should be! You can also find her on Twitter and Facebook, too.

Hey friends! My name is Amy and I blog over at The Charming, where it’s very much general lifestyle from home, recipes, fashion, technology, and wellness. The blog is one of my many passions including traveling the world, photography, and cooking dinner for my husband. I’m relatively low key but have dreams of changing the world (nursing and public health is my other job). Perhaps I’m a little crazy then, but I’d still love to meet you!

1. Do your ABC’s

The ABC method is a popular method in the business world. There are so many different other ways to organize tasks – and I’m sure you can create your own spin! But the ABC method essentially tells you to write down all the tasks or goals you have to accomplish be it that day, the next day, that week, or whenever. Then prioritize by marking items “A” if they are urgent and need to be done first, “B” if they aren’t too important but do need to get done sometime, and “C” tasks as things that would be nice to get done. You can further prioritize by adding numbers, eg A1 and B3. According to BrianTracy.com, organize according to what tasks will have the greatest to least (or none) amount of consequences should you not complete them.

My husband says he does the ABC method before he leaves work, but he does it for the day ahead. That way he writes down everything he needs to do the next day so he’s not bringing it home worrying about what he maybe has to do the following day and also so that when he goes to work he’s better prepared for the day.

When we were moving this summer, I marked boxes and furniture using this method. A items needed to be the first loaded on the truck on day one to move in, B items on Saturday and Sunday (days 2 and 3), then C items sometime the following week. I even went further as there are some D items that still remain at my parents house (like seasonal things that we just didn’t consider a priority to bring over yet.)

If you like to do things electronically, I use to-do management apps on my phone. The one I have uses the typical exclamation mark system (!!! > !! > !) that email programs use and then it color codes and reminds me according to the task’s priority and scheduled reminder time. I like having a dedicated to do list on one of my phone’s pages (having an Android phone makes this wonderful because it’s a dedicated widget on a screen all by itself). My app will remind me, and then remind me again at a reasonable interim until I mark the task complete. The app also tracks missed calls and will remind me to return them if I want to.

2. Get Your Sleep

Go to bed and wake up at same time and only get your recommended hours — if you’re exhausted midday then power nap but don’t overdo it .

It’s important to do this not only because your body is on a routine so it eventually learns the rhythm and helps you not feel so tired all day long, but also because then you’re not wasting hours if you have a particularly hectic schedule. On the other hand, a healthy sleep routine is also vital to help you better achieve your schedule. Our bodies require sleep in order to do functions, like repairing itself, that it cannot do during the day because we’re too busy doing other things. This will help increase our immunity and our overall energy so that we can tackle our hectic schedules.

3. Drink Water and Replenish

Not only are you getting what your cells need to metabolize and hydrate your body and all the yummy health stuff, but you’re also filling your stomach as you drink. This has a twofold purpose: (1) this can offset hunger so you don’t eat more than you need to, which can slow you down both physically and mentally (and emotionally if you’re trying to lose weight); (2) hunger itself can slow you down because if you’re hungry you won’t work as quickly and mind fully. And if you’re waiting to eat until a dedicated break it can be a less productive time. In which case, drink water, have a healthy snack, or just go eat!

4. Set Goals and Start Early

I always would start an assignment/paper/project in school the day I got it because I knew life happens. If something happened and I couldn’t work on it for a while I’d feel okay because at least I started and I’d pick back up as soon as I could. Or maybe I just was really in the mood to procrastinate. Sometimes we need a mental health break and if you’ve already started and have set goals on how to finish, why not take a day off in the middle?

5. Being Productive is (kind of) a Sprint, Not a Marathon

What works really well for me is to be really dedicated and work hard for a set amount of time and then have “off” time (or a break from the those tasks.) I will work for an hour then maybe take five minutes to just do nothing productive. It helps me have the mental energy to go strong for another hour right after that. Sometimes, I’ll even be productive! I like to check emails and social media in my mini breaks. But it’s just nice to just focus on something else for 5, 10, or even 30 minutes sometimes.

And if that’s not enough to make you feel productive, maybe picking up a planner or new book from Barnes and Noble may help! Amy has been sweet enough to offer one lucky reader a gift card to do just that! Enter below :)

 

Win $30 to Barnes and Noble!

Speak Now Link-Up

Ellie Coburn // elliecoburn.com | Courtney Pruitt //  All Things Unpredictable and Chic | Ashley Griffith // After Nine to Five | Kayla Leppelman // Love Sparkle Pretty | Emma // Emma Deer | LaurenVaughan // One Sweet Fairytale | Nina // Nina’s Bargain Beauty | Kristine Foley // The Foley Fam | Shane Prather // Whispering Sweet Nothings | Keri-Anne Pink // gingerlilytea | Kara Kieran //  Kieran Honey Bee | Cassie Yielding // Live. Laugh. Love. | Kim Cee // 2justByou.com | Ann Michele // Ann Michele’s World | Ashlea Durrett // Ashlea with an A | Julie Grimmett // Julie is Coco and Cocoa | Laura Euler //  Storybook Reality | Christine Rosko // Life with a side of coffee

 
Special Thanks to Sarah Moog for her ongoing contributions and tireless efforts towards the Speak Now Movement. 

Speak Now is an empowerment program that exists to create community and inspiration for women globally.

Each month, Speak Now creates a NEW way to get bloggers, women, and community members involved with our movement to spread  the unique philosophy that we are all beautiful regardless of shape, size, or circumstance. We are so wonderfully excited to reveal,  the 2nd “You’re Beautiful” Link-Up. Wonderful bloggers from all over the web have teamed up once again to help spread the “You’re Beautiful” Link-Up and share with women everywhere just how beautiful they are.

Society today shares with us the ever-present challenge of feeling beautiful and worthy in all walks of life.

We’re here to tell you that despite trends in fashion, media, and communication -

you are perfectly perfect being you.

 

Why do you think women are beautiful inside and out?
Tweet us about it. Talk about us on Facebook. Or tag us in your instagram photos @womenspeaknow

Link-Up your blog below to support the Speak Now movement.

 You don’t have to write a post about us or advertise us in anyway. We want to see you being your than you so link up your most recent post, link us to your small business, or link us to a past post that makes you feel truer than true about women empowerment.

So link-up and stay connected with us via Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Remember that you’re beautiful. & that being you is the best you can be.

When The Going Gets Tough

You know those days where even the smallest things seem like they’re pretty much the worst thing possible? And you try to write a blog post about a dozen times, only to get a few sentences in before you realize it’s just not working? And when it’s 1pm and you’ve only consumed coffee for the day but have no plans to make anything of substance to eat because you’re just that busy? And when everyone thinks unsolicited advice is a good thing? And for every one thing that you do on your to-do list, five more get added?

That sums up my Friday.

I’m well-aware that things could be worse and that for the most part, today is actually a pretty damn good day. Maybe I just woke up on the wrong side of the bed or maybe the rain put a damper on my mood – who knows. But I’m just not feeling it. And Fridays are not supposed to be like this. 

So if anyone is having a day like mine, here’s a gentle reminder for when you just want to give up on the day:

Do Not Stop

Happy Friday.

Here’s hoping both your weekend and my own are better than my day today!

 

The Letter I’d Write Myself If I Were Someone Else

[source]

Sometimes – nope, all the time – I’m a lot kinder to others than I am to myself. Identical mistakes, forgotten tasks, and missed deadlines all yield different results if it’s me doing them versus my husband or best friend. A sense of understanding and a need to comfort their sorrows washes over me when I watch someone berate themselves. Yet complete disappointment and unhappiness destroys my confidence in seconds when I do the same thing. So I thought, instead of writing a little letter to my future or past self, why not address my current self – but with the love and admiration I deserve?

I won’t lie – the thought of this is really intimidating, especially as it’s public and my natural instinct of emotion when praising myself is pretty cringeworthy. I feel about a thousand yards outside of my comfort zone, too. The fact that it’s so foreign and unnatural for me shows a weakness of mine that I desperately need to work on. So maybe this is step one of a way-more-than-twelve-step program? 

Dear you,

Have I told you lately that you’re one of the people I admire most? Probably not. And even if I have, it’s definitely not enough because you continue to amaze me every day.

Back in 2010 when you quit the corporate world, everyone thought you were crazy. And if they didn’t, they just assumed it was a phase. But not me. I had faith in you. I knew that if you looked long enough, and stopped trying to fit into everyone else’s mold – you’d find your place in this world. And then you’d shine brighter than a hundred stars on the clearest night. I may not have said that to you then, which I regret, but I am saying it now. Because you are such a perfect example of what I want to embrace one day.

I know you think that you took a roundabout way to figuring out what you really want in life, but I like to think of it as a necessary detour. The one that really makes you appreciate where you end up and reminds you of all the bumps that needed smoothed out, cracks that needed repair, and holes that needed to be filled. You grew from your choices and your business endeavors and eventually, they brought you here: a place where your business brings you joy and complete satisfaction. I know you can’t really figure out how you got here, but it was all you. Your skills, your strength, your beliefs, your drive, your motivation. It wasn’t luck or riding on someone else’s wave. Your brought yourself here. 

Be proud because you’re one of the strongest people I know . . . even when you think you’re at you’re weakest. There’s something in you that tells you to fight harder when the shit hits the fan and I can’t even fathom how difficult that must be. I’m convinced that “give up” isn’t even a phrase in your vocabulary and for that alone, I’m in awe. It’s so easy to just throw the towel in, but you never do. You find a way to make it work, a way around it, or a way to just make your way through it no matter how much it takes from you.

And while I admire that in you SO much, I can’t help but ache for you a bit. You fail to see how hard you fight, how much you do, and how much respect you deserve. You always push harder, go longer, and dream bigger. But you never stop. You never celebrate your successes, appreciate your accomplishments, and note your achievements. It’s great that you keep going – but maybe a little break here and there wouldn’t hurt. One where you reflect on your journey so far and give yourself a small – no, a HUGE – pat on the back for what you do. One where you own up to being a rockstar with everything you do because you fix what went wrong and just keep doing your thing. I’m pretty sure it’d be good for you. And I’m also pretty sure that it’d make the days seem a little brighter when you’re tearing yourself a new one for the simplest mistake.

Since we’re on the topic of unsolicited advice, I’ll keep going and suggest you really own up to who you are. I know you’re one to avoid the drama (kudos!), but you can still avoid drama by really embracing YOU. Share your passions, dreams, worries, happiness, and everything else that combines to make someone so wonderful. You are a person of many emotions and SO many varied interests – isn’t that something to celebrate? Few people can find one thing that they love as much as you can love something, much less twenty or more. And there is not a single soul I know that could match your ability to understand emotions like you. Stop hiding behind the modest smile or a shrug and just OWN IT. OWN YOU. Embrace you. You were made this way for a reason and the longer you try to fight it, the harder it will be to find true happiness. And the last time I checked, that was what you were really chasing after.

And one last piece of advice that is really like twenty pieces of advice. Forget about work sometimes and ignore that never-ending to do list. Forgive yourself for your mistakes and try harder to give acceptance to yourself just like you do to others. Allow time for early bedtimes and lazy mornings spent doing nothing because it never really is wasted time if you’re enjoying the moment. Laugh louder than anyone else and smile more often than everyone you know. Chase your dreams, but don’t forget to live in the moment. Purposely forget your phone more often so you can spend an extra five minutes not thinking about work. Dig in deep like you always do, but feel free to jump out if you realize it’s just not for you anymore - perseverance is only great when you’re happy.

I know I said a lot and told you to change a lot, but you really are perfect the way you are. And if someone ever makes you feel otherwise, know that it is within your power to make yourself feel differently. You choose to let people influence your emotions so choose to let yourself do the same for you, too. Choose love for yourself over a need for acceptance every day because you deserve it. I promise.

Loving you always (but especially when I don’t show it),

Me

Why Everyone Should Go To Arlington Cemetery

Arlington House

Arlington Gravestones Arlington Funeral Audie L Murphy Grave Cross Memorial Kennedy Gravestone Eternal Flame at Arlington Roses in Arlington

Arlington Guards and Tomb

Arlington - Changing Of Guard
Arlington Guard with Gun Arlington Guards With Wreath Arlington Guards

When we went to Washington DC, Arlington National Cemetery was more of an after thought. It was one of those “if we have time, we’ll make it over there” type of things. I’m not sure what convinced us to actually make our way over there, but I am so grateful that we did.

When we arrived, and walked what felt like a few miles from the subway station, we had two options: walk the cemetery on our own or hop on a little trolley and get a guided tour for a relatively small fee (I think $7/8.) Being the cheapskates that we were, we decided to walk it on our own and headed out to the cemetery. A whopping two minutes later, we were back inside at the kiosk buying our tickets to hop on the trolley because it was hot, we were tired, and we didn’t realize how big this place was until we were literally a few feet away from it.

The trolley was by far our best decision we made in DC. It gave us a ton of history of the cemetery, dropped you off at the key locations, and let us know that if we stuck with that trolley for at least the first two stops – we’d get to see the changing of the guard. And before I get too far into why that was truly a life changing moment for me, I want to give you a little background on us. Nathan is the biggest history nerd I know. And I barely know my geography, much less my United States history. Art and creative thinking was much more of my focus in school so our East Coast Trip was pretty much split for the both of us – DC and the history for Nathan and NY and the architecture for me. We both were interested in everything we were doing, but had obvious parts of the trip that were more for one than the other.

Back to the trolley. We stopped at various gravestones, viewed the eternal flame, learned about who was buried there (unknown and known) and so much through this trolley ride. Then we headed over to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and I was pretty much done at this point. It was hot, I was tired of walking, and we got put on the far right end of the guard/tomb area which I presumed was the worst view possible. My feet ached from the long journeys to the other monuments we had visited earlier in the day and as far as I was concerned, the changing of the guard had little significance to anything. (Remember – not a history buff here!)

We watched the guard walk back and forth on the platform, shifting his gun and moving in a way that seemed so elegant and effortless for close to fifteen minutes. Only whispers could be heard throughout the crowd and suddenly, the ache of my feet began to feel more and more dull as I realized his dedication to his job. His perfectly timed movements, the relaxed and determined look that never left his face, and the ability – no, the drive – to do this for a half hour time span.

Not long after I realized that I actually had a front row spot to the guards entering the roped off section as we were being asked to step aside for them to come through. The same look, the same movements, and the same sense of dedication surrounded each and every guard that passed by us. Everyone (other than a little old lady that apparently thought she had the right to be in the path of the guards because she had a walker) was so quiet. So respectful.

We learned that during the 9/11 attacks, there were in fact guards up there doing the very thing we were watching. Guards with a perfect view of the Pentagon from where they stood. Guards that watched the plane hit the Pentagon and didn’t leave their station, much less their position, and kept doing what they were there to do without missing a beat. I remember that day like it was yesterday and how hard the news hit me, even as a teenager. And I thought back to that day, not being able to figure out how I could have possibly done what they did.

And I realized that that moment – and this ritual – was much bigger than I was. The ache in my feet retreated completely and goosebumps replaced my perspiration. The troubles of the trip, the stress of the day, and the worries the followed me from Wisconsin ceased to exist. Gratitude and a humble sense of happiness overcame me, reminding me just how great my life was. And how much freedom I have thanks to people like the ones I was photographing and their sacrifices. And how much I have to be thankful for, each and every single second.

I can’t tell you what the rest of the tour was like (although it wasn’t much) because I was still lost in thought from what we had witnessed, but for that alone – I would recommend it. I would HIGHLY recommend it. As much as I’d like to say I carried those sentiments with me for the rest of the trip and beyond, but I didn’t. But I can say that as I write this out again, remembering just how special that moment was, I feel thankful. Grateful. At peace. And a little disappointed that not more than a few minutes before I started writing this post, I was acting as if I had nothing to appreciate.

Maybe it was the fact that I didn’t fully understand their purpose there or what exactly they were guarding, but I walked away from the cemetery with a renewed sense of purpose. A purpose filled with gratitude, happiness, and the ability to realize that life usually isn’t that bad if you look at it in the right light. So if you visit DC and need a little reminder that the crowds really aren’t that bad, and the heat really isn’t that terrible, and that the walk to get around the National Mall area and beyond isn’t that long – go here. Go here and forget about whatever was troubling you minutes, hours, or days ago – even if it’s just for the moment.

My Own Wonderland

Brandon Christopher Warren / Foter.com / CC BY-NC

How is your week so far?

I’ve got vacation brain to the max. Every thing I do somehow feels like it relates to our trip, even if there’s nothing that easily links the two. Cleaning the cat litter box? Hooray – I won’t have to do it next week! Answering emails? I’ll be emailing photos of NYC and DC next week! Driving in the car? I’ll be taking the subway next week!

Endless.

And ridiculous.

But it just reminds me of why this trip is the perfect thing for me.

Maybe it’s just me – it sure as hell feels like it’s just me – but I have the urge to do something new all the time. And by all the time, I literally mean all the time. Every week, every day, every waking hour. New book, new song, new movie, new food, new place, new experience?

Can’t get there fast enough.

When I say it out-loud or even type it out, guilt creeps in. Fast and ongoing. I start to question my motives, my hopes, and my dreams. Is anything ever good enough for me? Does anything last long enough to keep my interest for more than a few hours? Am I just not appreciating what I have in life?

Deep down, I know none of this is true. I know that things are good enough for me, and that things can last long enough to keep my interest for more than a few hours, and I truly do appreciate the things in my life. But I still want more.

I’ve spent years apologizing for this trait of mine. One that is most likely one of the key traits that define me. I’ve apologized for wanting more, dreaming more, and needing more to feel at peace. I’ve apologize for my actions, ideas, and thoughts. Not because I truly felt as if I were doing something wrong, but because I felt like I was breaking the rules by being this way.

Our society has made it seem as if what I’m doing, wanting, and needing is unacceptable. It’s greedy, selfish, and impolite. Yet none of those feelings resonate with me when I’m awaiting my next big adventure. These actions aren’t fueled by the need for more from anyone or anything – they’re fueled by a want to immerse myself in life.

I have a thirst for living. How is that negative? How is a want to experience everything that life has to offer reflected in such poor lighting? And why is being willing to die trying such a

I aim to live with no regrets. Not because I never dig deep enough in life to regret something, but because I want to make mistakes that allow me to grow. I want to take risks because I want to reap the rewards. I want to try something new just because I want to say I did it – even if I end up hating it.

Because at the end of the day, I’m terrified of dying.

Not because of what happens next or even being gone. But because the idea of taking my last breath and thinking about the things I missed out on weighs heavy on me. Really heavy. Heavy enough that it’s always there, every single day, reminding me to dream just a bit bigger and go just a bit farther because there may be something truly amazing that’s currently just out of my reach.

And I think it’s my turn to experience those things that are just out of my reach instead of saying “maybe some day, when someone else isn’t around to judge my actions.” I think it’s my turn to say I’m done with the apologies. I’m done with the guilt for wanting to experience things and the frustration that stems from not fulfilling a core need of my own. I’m done with the emptiness that sits in my soul while I wait to find the perfect timing for someone to approve of my life’s choices. I’m done with waiting for my own version of Wonderland when it’s truly just waiting outside of my doors.

I’m using this trip to embrace myself, my life, and everything is has to offer. And I know I’m going to come back a better version of myself because there’s no better way to boost your inner self’s confidence than to surround yourself in things you thrive on with the person you love more than anything in the world for ten days.

Happy Tuesday, friends. :)

Overstimulated

Yesterday I went shopping.

I’m sure 99% of you are probably thinking “so what?” But 1% of you gets it. You get that it’s a big freakin’ deal for me to get outside of our house. And an even bigger deal to go into a store with someone other than my husband.

It’s the little things.

Back to the point.

Do you know what I did when I went shopping with my Mom? I shopped. I talked. I browsed. I did everything you’d normally do when you shop. But all that doesn’t matter. What does matter is what I didn’t do while I shopped.

I didn’t tweet. I didn’t take photos. I didn’t text. I didn’t (okay, I did a little) check my emails.

I wasn’t feeling mopey about my last two days that have royally sucked. I wasn’t wondering why my house wasn’t as pretty or as clean as someone else’s. I wasn’t comparing my clothes to those that are showcased by fashion bloggers. I wasn’t trying to find photographic moments of my life to post on my blog. I wasn’t trying to find some deeper meaning or connection with what I was doing to share here (although I am anyway so how’s that for being a rebel?)

Essentially I was there. In the moment. Enjoying it. Living it. Breathing it in.
Not wishing I was in someone else’s shoes, clothes, house, city, or career.

Do you ever think about life before you blogged?

I do. A lot.

And I think about the fact that I wasn’t nearly as hard to please back then because it wasn’t so damn easy to transport my mind into someone else’s life just long enough to resent bits and pieces of my own life. I didn’t know what hundreds of other people wore on a daily basis, or how they wanted their house to appear, or how beautiful some cities across this country are, or how successful so many people were, or how delicious their food can look, or how gorgeous their photography was.

Maybe I was sheltered, but what I didn’t know truly couldn’t hurt me.

Truth be told, I miss those days. I miss the little things. How Sunday mornings were meant for sleeping in, not catching up on blog reading. How life wasn’t lived like everything had to be documented, or inspirational, or over the top. How moments were enjoyed without a camera or the blinking cursor on how to write about it. How food didn’t have to look presentable – it just needed to taste good.

The list is endless.

And it’s no one’s fault but my own for getting caught up in a game I was destined to lose.

I want this blog to be about the life I live, the moments I get lost in, and the simple pleasures that make my life mine. What I don’t want is for this blog to be made up of moments only half enjoyed because I wasn’t fully there and was instead processing how it could be shared.

Here’s to more nights in the backyard during the warm nights doing nothing of importance. Here’s to trips to the mall with my Mom where we just catch up on life. Here’s to weekend days being spent in bed or watching movies. Here’s to food that is made to be eaten – not to be photographed. Here’s to saying yes to life and getting caught up in the moment with no regrets.

And here’s to my challenge to myself, and to you should you choose to take it. Take time out today, tomorrow, and every day after that and just do something you did before you began blogging. Don’t do it to blog about it – do it just because you want to. And if you do blog about it, great. If you don’t, that’s great too. But do it. Take five, ten, twenty, or thirty minutes – maybe even an hour or more if you can! – to just go back to the way things were for a bit. And appreciate the life you have, the person you are, and the wonderful things you do without having to document it, without having to justify it, and without having to compare it to someone else’s story.

My Reality as An Entrepreneur


Source: pikaland.com via Ashley on Pinterest

When I started this blog, I had one goal. It was simple, and rather vague, and seemed incredibly easy because I had no idea so much time and effort went into creating a sustainable and worthwhile blog. I intended to use this space to document my journey through self-employment from the very beginning. I wanted to be able to use these pages to find like-minded people, and to share my struggles (and my successes) with the world, and to show people that it’s not that hard if you set your mind to it. And while all of these sounded like noble, lofty goals of mine – I also had hope for this space to help me find my way to the title of an entrepreneur.

And I think back, looking at the lessons I’ve learned and the struggles I’ve faced, wondering where I took a wrong turn. I got shy, and maybe a bit reserved, and let pride consume me when understanding should have been in it’s place. I should have been sharing the times when we couldn’t pay our credit card in full, and when big opportunities truly were too good to be true, and times when self-employment seemed worse than a corporate job. Not because I needed pity, and not because I needed to let anyone know that I am indeed human and don’t have a perfect life. But because those were the times that made me feel like I was doing the work. Like I was making my dreams come true. Like I was deserving of the title  entrepreneur.


Source: facebook.com via Ashley on Pinterest

These past few years have been such a wild ride for me.

I have cried more than I ever have before. I have felt life closing in around me, leaving me with no where to go but up because I’d found my way down to the very bottom. I’ve been angry with myself, and my business, and my husband for no good reason more often than I would like to count. I’ve wasted far too much time drowning out sorrows from being the bearer and receiver of bad news on a regular basis. I’ve lost friends by choice and some by chance on a rather regular basis and found isolation more satisfactory at times. I’ve mourned the loss of pieces of me that I will never see return.

But the tears I shed helped me grow. And the times I had to claw my way out of the deepest hole I’d ever been in were the best lessons I have ever learned. And the anger has turned to forgiveness and gratitude. While I may be the bearer and receiver of bad news on a regular basis, I’m also the bearer and receiver of good news. The past relationships are part of my past for a reason – whatever that may be. And the layers I’ve lost have just cleared space for a better, brighter me.

I’ve broken rules and took risks that everyone told me not to. I landed on my feet over and over again, even after failing. Miserably. Multiple times. I’ve traded in my old dreams because I’ve repeatedly done things I thought to be impossible. These feats aren’t magic or chance – they’re a direct result from hard work that stems from a determined soul. I’ve stopped sitting still to ensure that nothing ever becomes dull, or boring, or even just stays the same. I’ve taken every fear I’ve had, faced it head on, and never stopped until it was no longer something that held a vice-like grip on my heart.


Source: via Ashley on Pinterest

I write these things not to brag, but instead to serve as a reminder for myself. As a reminder that I’ve come so far even when I’ve wanted to give up and trade in this life for one less satisfying, but much less stressful. And as a nudge to share my mistakes and flaws with the world – they’re a sign of strength, not weakness. Growth, not regression.

I write these things to mark a place in my timeline where I found solace in my struggles.

I write these things to show myself that even when I wanted to wave my white flag, I didn’t. And I’m grateful for that.

I write these things to show those that dream of doing what I do some day that it’s not always easy. That there are days where it feels like it’s the worst decision you have ever made. That there are times where financial troubles can cause problems you never thought existed and that you aren’t always going to put on your best face when you wear that many hats and have that many responsibilities. But it’s worth it. Because in the end, you push boundaries and break the rules. You lose sight of the “can’ts” and ignore your fears because you know you can rise above.

Pity


Source: facebook.com via Ashley on Pinterest

Years ago, I blamed everyone for my misfortunes. My parents were at fault when I was younger. My boyfriends were at fault when I grew older. I always had someone to point the finger at to ensure that it was never me to blame.

By doing this, I always found a way to throw myself the most lavish pity parties. They lasted for days, if not weeks. I felt sorry for myself and the life I was thrown into. I wallowed. And anger followed any attempt to point out that my life wasn’t that bad.

I’d like to say I just got smarter, grew up and realized I was being my own worst enemy, but that’s not the full truth. I did get smarter. And I did grow up. And I did realize I was being my own worst enemy. But it took being cheated on for any of that to happen.

Days after the realization of what occurred hit me, I wallowed more than ever. It was the most extravagant, and the most depressing, pity party I had to date. And maybe some of it was acceptable. Maybe some of the tears shed were worth it and maybe some of the agonizing anxiety-filled nights were my own way of grieving.

But most of it was just me, looking to play the victim.

And while this post isn’t about what happened years ago, that moment defined who I am today. Because after a few weeks of spending far too much time at my parents house and closing myself off to the world that surrounded me, I broke.

A million little pieces type of break. I saw myself, the miserable shadow of a scorned woman who felt betrayed and alone, for what I was. I saw who I had become and the pieces of me that were every which way but right. And instead of wallowing more, shaming myself for what I was and who I had become, I held my head high.

I accepted my mistakes. My downfalls. My tormented patterns. I accepted my flaws and misfortunes. I accepted those around me for what they were and moved on from what I felt they should be. I accepted my sadness, my anger, and my uncertainty. I accepted the fate that had fallen on me through the actions of my ex as a blessing, no longer a curse.

And in those moments, I lost my need to pity myself. And with it, my want to pity anyone else. While my intention isn’t to brag, this has been one of the most rewarding and most challenging experiences I have ever gone through. It allowed me to respect myself for who I was – hell, who I am today – with no strings attached.

And while I feel so successful, and so proud from that moment, it’s left a constant struggle in my life. An inability to open up. An inability to share. Especially here. Not because I worry about what you may think or the nasty things people may say. Not because I need acceptance from my peers or because I want to be liked by everyone.

Merely because the idea of someone feeling sorry for me in any form is a battle that leaves me conflicted every time I write, or even speak. Every word I speak that isn’t positive and encouraging leaves me with a lingering idea that someone may pity me, or my life, or the situation I’m in – and I want nothing to do with it. I cringe at people seeing what I have to say or how I feel and feeling a twinge of sympathy for me. Perhaps apathy suits me better – I don’t know.

But I struggle with being real here sometimes because I want you to know that I like when life gets hard because it helps me appreciate the good/easy times. I’m okay that life isn’t always sunshine and rainbows. And that I wasn’t dealt a perfect hand when I was born. I know in my heart that I’m going to be alright in the end and that’s enough to remind me each and every day that any second spent pitying myself is one second wasted. And for me, that’s not okay.

Have you crashed your pity parties? How do you keep pity from affecting how you live every day?