One-Size-Fits-All Doesn’t Apply to Life

If I could set my own clock that the world had to go by instead of our current timeline, I would have work start at like 11 AM & everyone stay up late with me. Bedtime would be no earlier than 1 AM- can you tell I’m a total night owl?? 
But obviously, not everyone is like that! My husband, for example, has basically lived an entire day by the time I open one eye. He gets up before the sun every day, and when we first got married, that was difficult for me. Not because I have a problem with it, but because I compared myself to him. 
 
Let me elaborate. 
 
I felt like I wasn’t as capable, productive, or responsible as him, just because my body/mind doesn’t work the same way. I have tried waking up early many, many times, and no matter how I try I really can’t convert myself to an early bird at this point in my life. (maybe someday!) 
 
But what I lack in the morning, I make up for at night. I am REALLY creative at night. I’m like, on a mission to get stuff done, come up with new ideas, re-organize the entire house- literally do anything at night. It’s not that I’m less productive from someone who is an early bird, I’m just different. I need a different environment and schedule to thrive. I also need more sleep! And that is OKAY.
 
Moral of this whole story is that we ALL need different things to succeed. And when I say “succeed”, I don’t mean “get rich” or “finally get the job”.
When I talk about success, I’m talking about living life as the best possible versions of ourselves. This entails many things besides money or status, such as physical & mental health, solid relationships, smart usage of money, strong connection with God, etc. 
 
That said, in order to succeed- or live our best lives- we each require different things. 
 
We are motivated by different things, we function best in different environments, and we require different food, different routines, different pillow softness, different hype playlists- you get the point. 
 
My point in this is to say that we all need to freakin’ STOP always looking at each other and listening to each other for what to do and just get quiet for a sec.
No expert or friend can fully tell us what we need because we are all very different from them. While there is no shortage of amazing and useful advice out there (I’m currently giving advice, I know), it’s sometimes so overwhelming that we forget to actually assess our own needs and decide things for ourselves. 
This means we need to individually pay attention to the unique needs of our own body, spirit, and mind.
We can’t expect to find all the answers by looking to everyone else’s standard and expecting ourselves to fit perfectly in that mold. 
While Whole 30 might be great for Jess, Paleo might be great for Carly, and Keto might be great for Anna, (& potato chips are great for me) none of those might be right for you. It’s okay not to match the exact routines of people we look up to or even just people around us.
And yes, we can seek guidance and wisdom from one another, but when it comes to specific stuff? We have to figure that out for ourselves & discern what God is saying we specifically need. And, what’s sometimes even more difficult than figuring out what we need is actually sticking to it and not guilt-tripping ourselves for having unique and specific needs. 
 
So, here’s to doing my best work at midnight instead of 7AM with less guilt, and more acceptance of my own unique tendencies. Here’s to ordering gluten-free pancakes because I’m allergic to wheat without feeling like a diva. Here’s to spending extra money on a manicure every few weeks because it makes me feel more like my life is in order. 
^ Small things? Yes. Insignificant things? No. 
 
What is a perfectly normal trait you have that you’ve been feeling bad about? 
 
How can you give yourself acceptance to just be the way you naturally are without trying to conform to what you feel pressure to be instead? 

I Have a Bad Habit

I have a bad habit. I’ve had this habit for years now, and I can’t quite remember why or when it started. & I’m willing to bet you might have this bad habit too…
Every time I see myself in the mirror in the morning, without fault, I say something REALLY rude to myself in my head. It happens so fast I barely even notice it’s happening! It’s practically automatic at this point.
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^ big #mood.
I know how negative this all sounds, but let’s be real- we all have an inner critic that can lash out with some AWFUL words of hatred & discouragement. I don’t know why we do this (actually, yes I do, it has a lot to do with the beauty industry training us since we were young to hate our bodies so that we would continue to purchase product after product in order to quell the insecurities that those very products gave us in the first place thanks to their devious marketing schemes and manipulating advertisements, but ANYWAYSSSSS…), but we’ve gotta be more mindful of it.
I genuinely hope you don’t say mean stuff to yourself like I do. I hope your inner critic doesn’t whisper little lies in your ear like mine loves to. But if you’re in the same sad boat as me, listen up.
Perk those ears up and pay more attention to what you say in the privacy of your own head. Are you telling yourself you’re not good enough? Do cruel words come to mind so quickly that you didn’t even have time to decide if you wanted to think those things or not? If so, STOP it!
Stop stop stop stop it!!
You’re supposed to be your number 1 fan! You’re supposed to be your own hype man! You’re supposed to build yourself up with loving confidence so that you can offer your best self to this world, and that’s not gonna happen if every time you pass a mirror you insult yourself.
This is one of the hardest things to conquer. I have had to do some of the most challenging work of my life while standing in front of a mirror. And the work is never done, because we are always growing and changing over time. But if we don’t stop to think about how we’re talking to ourselves, society will train us to cut ourselves down without us even noticing. We’re learning to hate ourselves little by little, through commercials, IG posts, radio ads- literally everywhere. So it’s time for us to step up to the plate and go to bat with these lies.
I challenge you to filter your thoughts like your life depends on it (it kind of does, in a sense). No more self-deprecating comments. No more bullying yourself for being a normal human and existing imperfectly.
I know we’d all be so much better off if we could just get it through our heads that we’re enough just the way we are. So the next time you pass a mirror, say something POSITIVE to yourself. Give it a try! & I’ll be struggling right along with you.

Less Watching, More Doing

We all spend a lot of time on our phones watching other people do stuff. That’s just kind of how social media works, right? Like, in one scroll, I can watch someone go surfing, another person decorate a cake, someone else go to Coachella, or exercise, or do their makeup- you get the point. 
Now I know that seeing other people do awesome stuff can have a discouraging effect on us because it makes us feel like our lives aren’t as cool or interesting.
But what if watching those things also kind of subconsciously tricks our brains into feeling like we’ve actually done those things ourselves? And what if we end up trying fewer things in life because we’ve seen other people try them, and in some sense, feel like we’ve already experienced them?
 
My point is, I think we all need to be better about actually doing stuff. We’re great at watching other people do stuff, because that’s really easy. But we need to be pushing ourselves to break our habits and find time to do a little more living- even in small ways.
What if instead of getting stuck on a coffee account on Instagram watching latte art for 30 minutes, I actually went out and bought an extra gallon of milk and practiced latte art myself?
What if instead of watching other people play pickup basketball on someone’s IG story, you actually went and joined a pickup game or at least just shot around?
What if instead of watching other people living their lives, we went out and did more living of our own?
As a generation that’s lost touch with in-person participation and settled for watching others participate in life through a screen, let’s push back on that.
Bake a cake this week instead of watching someone else do it.
Take a dance class instead of watching someone else do it.
Live your own life instead of watching someone else live theirs. 
We have to take responsibility for our lives and how we experience the world. We have to hold ourselves and each other accountable to actually feeling sand under our toes, hearing live music being performed, tasting food- not just watching those things being displayed on a six-inch glass rectangle.
Let’s just start small- put down whatever device you just read this on & enjoy the day YOU get to experience. Have fun!

This Popular Advice Is Actually Making You Unhappy

I’d love to share with you one very simple and practical tip to have a better day. You might not like this idea at first, so please stick around and read the whole thing! Ready? Here goes! 

Stop thinking about yourself so much! 
If you haven’t noticed, we’re a little obsessed with ourselves. 
We’re constantly taking and posting photos of ourselves, sharing about our lives, and encouraged to only think about what will make us the happiest. 
But it’s funny that we’re told, “just do what makes you happy!”, because this very way of thinking sets us up for unhappiness.
  Did you know that the more you focus on yourself, the unhappier you’re likely to become?
Why? Because the more you think of yourself, the easier it becomes to zero in on your flaws, your difficult circumstances, your pain and your problems. It’s incredibly easy to dig yourself in a hole of self-pity when you’re only thinking about your own life. It’s also very easy to spiral through negative thoughts and become anxious. 
Now hear me out. I’m NOT saying to neglect yourself. I’m all about self-care, taking time for personal growth, etc. I’m also willing to bet that someone reading this right now probably needs to take care of themselves a little more! But generally speaking, we all naturally think of ourselves enough, so this is just an exercise of shifting our attention elsewhere when we can. This idea is not only counterintuitive to human nature but also counter-cultural. It’s not popular to think of others. But it’s the only way to have a meaningful life. 
Many people think that the key to happiness involves acquiring all the things on our wish list. Like the perfect body, a loving spouse, all the cutest furniture we currently can’t afford, an amazing wardrobe, our dream job, dream car, or dream home.
But here is something we forget: we can accumulate all those things and still feel deeply unhappy. Why? Because what really makes us happy is a meaningful life. A life spent fulfilling a greater purpose beyond collecting shiny things for ourselves. That’s the bigger picture. 
So when you feel thoughts of inadequacy, hopelessness, anxiety, or anything similar start to creep in your mind, just try this simple exercise. 
Just think of other people. Let your mind wander to others. Think of your parents or your siblings, think of your friends and family, think of people you don’t even know who are living in third world countries or people living in slavery. Zoom out from the bubble of yourself.
 I bet you’ll realize that even though your own problems are real, you might not want to trade them for another person’s problems.
 The point of this is to distract yourself from only thinking of you, because our minds can sometimes be a dangerous place if we’re fixated on ourselves for too long. 
So take your imagination somewhere new, even just for a few minutes. Let this concept broaden your scope of thinking and expand your dreams into new territory- one that involves many more people. They say that the best dreams are the ones that require the biggest teams. Actually, I think I just made that up. Ha!
Try this out, and let me know how it works for you! 

Read This If You’re Overwhelmed

Here is your official reminder that today doesn’t have to be anything like yesterday.

 The world will try to pile shame, fear, pain, sadness, anxiety, onto your shoulders little by little so that you don’t even realize you’re carrying more every day. But now, as you’re reading this, is your chance to take a deep breath & physically drop your shoulders, relax your neck, and close your eyes. 

 Think of yourself physically dropping the burdens you’ve been carrying like taking bricks out of your backpack and dropping them to the floor. When you’ve dropped the heaviness of yesterday, you now have room to pick up joy and thankfulness for today! 

 

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In my own life, I’ve often beat myself up for not making good use of my time. For example, if I sleep in too late or spend too much time on my phone in the morning then I would usually feel discouraged for the rest of the day, as if I had wasted all of it.
But I recently read about the idea of breaking your day into quarters. If you mess up during one “quarter”, it limits your negative feelings to just that part of the day, and it helps you reframe your thinking so that you realize you can start over in the second half of the day! 
The truth is, we can “start over” or “drop” some of our baggage at any time. It’s just a matter of our mindset. I know it’s easier said than done, but I want to encourage us all to start our days out without the difficulties of yesterday by visualizing it in our minds. 
It’s a new day today, and I hope you enjoy it!! 

Time To Bloom

I don’t know about you, but I LOVE springtime!! The idea of flowers blooming, ice melting away, and more sunshine makes me feel like it’s time for a new beginning, not only in the weather but also in my personal life. 
 
I think all of us have little seeds planted in our hearts that have been iced over, and we need to work on defrosting those little seeds so that they can become beautiful flowers. Let me explain what I mean with a personal example. 
 
I tend to be critical. The word “critical” in itself just takes on a negative connotation. So I have, for the longest time, been kind of embarrassed of this trait.
I mostly focus on the bad side of this quality, and frequently say (out of obligation) that I should be more accepting and view things with a less analytical lens. 
However!! There’s also a huge benefit to the way my mind works. I’m able to notice small details, easily see where things aren’t working well, and come up with ideas for improvement. This set of skills is highly coveted in a variety of different important jobs. My negative view of the useful abilities I have does me no good.
 
In this example, my critical thinking is the seed.
The embarrassment, shame, and unwillingness to acknowledge it as a strength is the ice that keeps the seed from flourishing.
But I can melt that ice away by reframing my thinking. I can acknowledge the benefit of having an analytical brain, and come up with ways to harness that strength in a productive, constructive way.
I can also work to eliminate the unnecessary use of this skill in settings that aren’t so helpful- like when I go to the movies and pick apart all the bad things about it and annoy poor Devon to death, for example.
What little seeds are planted in your life that you’ve iced over? What have you buried down and stifled? Chances are, you’re really passionate about something that hasn’t even surfaced in your life yet because your fear or negative thinking has kept it frozen it underground.
You have the power to bring that little seed into the sunshine, & you should!! It’s time to bloom! 

God Never Gives Up

I don’t know about you, but there’ve been times that I’ve become frustrated to the point of wanting to give up on trying to understand God. Even though my faith is the most important thing in my life, sometimes I get upset by my lack of understanding.

Sometimes the Bible confuses me, scares me, or frustrates me. I read certain passages and end my quiet time even more confused than when I started it. It’s those times when I get upset. Other times, things happen in my life that don’t make ANY sense to me. Of course, being human means I don’t have the capability to always understand what God is doing, but when things feel really off, it’s difficult to trust in the big picture. Like when a Bible verse seems to be directly contradicted by the unexpected death of someone who was by all means “upright”, “following the Lord”, and all the other prerequisites of that verse.

I have so many questions that I’m still searching for answers to, but I have ALWAYS come back to this idea: God is never going to give up on me. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

I don’t know if you need to hear this too, but God is never giving up on you, either. He’s the kind of God who will follow you around to worst places in your mind just to be there in case you decide you want to talk to Him. He waits on you when you’re ignoring Him. He’s patient when you try to disprove every concept in the Bible & find flaw in His word.  He’s listening when you yell & curse at Him, and He’s forgiving when you come back after it all.

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I understand that God will never give up on me, and I’m learning more and more that He can handle all the bad stuff we bring Him. Right now, I’m in a season of asking lots of questions. I can’t seem to ever get enough answers these days. And in the midst of my questioning today, God is writing answers into the pages of the story of my life- I just need to wait for the next chapters.

Remember This When You Hear “No”

 

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Last week, I experienced disappointment. I heard “no” when I really wanted to hear “yes”, and it really threw me for a loop.
 
 I got my hopes up and ran with my imagination, dreaming about how life would be better if this thing I’d been anticipating went through. And in dealing with my disappointment, I learned a really valuable lesson. I’ve been thinking about this a lot, so I wanted to share it with you, too. 
 
Friend, don’t get ahead of God. He’s got this whole thing covered, so stop planning things out & acting like the world’s gonna end if it doesn’t go your way.  When God says NO to something you want NOW, He’s really saying YES to something He wants for you LATER. And guess what?? He’s a lot better at planning than you are. Just let Him handle your schedule, & you can worry about each day as it comes. 
 
Sometimes our greatest blessings come disguised as disappointments. Sometimes, God is protecting us from something that we would never be able to predict on our own. So if you’ve heard “no” when you desperately wanted to hear “yes”, if you’re disappointed and devastated- take heart. You’re not alone, and most importantly- you’re in good hands.

What’s Your Speed Limit?

Imagine you’re driving a normal speed on the freeway, like 70 or 75 miles per hour. Now imagine your exit comes up & you don’t touch the brakes. Now you’re on the off-ramp, still going 75, flying through neighborhoods & traffic lights & stop signs.

I’m sure you’d never do that.

But are you speeding through life?

There are no speed limits in life, so sometimes we abuse our own limits. We push way past the appropriate speed, ignore the warning signs in our life and blaze through red lights without even realizing the consequences until we get that speeding ticket in the mail. For some of us, that ticket comes in the form of a doctor’s bill after our health deteriorates. Maybe you start forgetting important appointments, lose some of your hair, or you make a huge mistake at work.  

Everybody’s different, but nobody escapes the kickback of unmanaged stress from flying through life without taking care of themselves.

Let me start by saying that some situations require us to operate at lightning speed. We have to learn to adapt to that in order to cope with life’s challenges! But it’s all too easy to forget how to slow back down. I know I find myself rushing everywhere- choosing the shortest line at the store, weaving through traffic, and sometimes even cutting conversations short- but for what? And more importantly, at what expense?

The value of time is underrated.

Our society glorifies money and status, but what are either of those without the time to use them?

The thing is, many of us are operating out of a mindset of scarcity. We perceive that we don’t have enough of anything- enough time, enough energy, enough money, etc. So we move at full speed to make up for it. But I believe the problem isn’t really a lack of time, it’s a lack of priorities.

Even if there were 30 hours in a day, I still believe we “wouldn’t have enough time”. Why? Because we are encouraged to over-commit, and we often fail to set boundaries! (Speaking from experience.) 

I am NO expert in this. In fact, I am one of the worst people at time-management that I know- and that’s one of the main reasons why I’m writing this!

So here is my reminder to us all- stop sprinting through life. You weren’t made to go that fast!! Whether you are a bored college student with no homework or an overworked mom with 4 kids- you can slow down. You can do it. I don’t care if you have to lock yourself in your room & put on a movie for your kids instead of playing with them like you normally do (call me & I’ll come babysit, my treat!), or if you have to skip class and take a nap, or if you have to spend extra money on a massage (self-care, am I right??). You are still a good mom, you are still a good student, you are still a capable person. Prioritize your time and cut something out in order to spend it more wisely. Take care of yourself by slowing down in the moments between it all.

Your time = your health & well-being.

Help, I’m Stuck In My Head

 

Let me invite you into my brain for a minute. I know my struggles aren’t totally unique, but I am also keenly aware that there are many people who excel at the things I am terrible at. Hopefully, someone reading this can give me some advice!!

To start, I’ll give you some context. I am introverted (the technical definition of an introvert is someone who “recharges” by being alone, and loses energy by being around others) but I love people. This provides an interesting but frustrating paradox in my life- I want to be around people, but I’m always scared of losing all my energy in order to socialize. I’m not exaggerating when I say I am  e x h a u s t e d  after social interactions. I hate typing this out because it makes me sound like an old scrooge who hates people. Which isn’t true!! But something has helped me come to terms with this a bit more. I’ve recently learned a lot about myself through a personality test called The Enneagram (take the test here). If you didn’t know, I’m obsessed with personality tests, and this one is my latest obsession. Through this test, I am identified as a Type Five- “The Investigator”. That means I’m the “Intense, Cerebral Type: Perceptive, Innovative, Secretive, and Isolated”.

…..sounds like the life of the party, right? Ha! Getting the test results made me feel like an evil nerd with some secretive plan who locks themselves in their basement all day. For a while, I was like “…… why am I not more fun??” But in actuality, this test made me feel very, very understood. It pointed out certain truths for me that helped me understand why I am the way I am. For one, it made me feel less guilty for having such a hard time being around others. Type Fives have limited energy, and once we run out, it’s not good. When I hit my max capacity for social interaction I find myself fleeing the scene with an urgency similar to when you’re looking for the bathroom after a strong coffee. (Sorry, too much?) It helped me identify that spending time with people is a big sacrifice for me because of how much it takes out of me. Part of why it’s so draining is because I live most of my life in my head. I have crazy stuff going on in there all the time! And when I’m with others, I am required to not only figure out which thoughts to share, but also to actually share them- which is difficult. Isolation is a key quality of my “type”.  I can spend an entire day by myself and never get bored!! I can sit alone for hours and be perfectly entertained by my thoughts. It makes the internet even more dangerous too, because I research endless topics and give myself even more to think about (Another characteristic of a Type Five is our obsession with collecting facts and information). When I have to get out of my head, it’s a challenge. Which brings me to my main point.

I am stuck in my head! I have an incredibly difficult time putting ideas into action, and part of this is because of my crippling perfectionism. I’m the person who will write something out on a post-it note and re-write the exact same thing on several more post-it notes until I like my handwriting enough. I literally have multiple drafts of POST-IT NOTES. Hopefully that gives you a good idea of the severity of my situation. On a few of occasions, I’ve succeeded with getting an idea into motion and actually carrying it out. But man, I am slow. For the most part, things take me a long time. I procrastinate because I’m afraid of doing things poorly. And when I do take a crack at something, I often nix it before it even has a chance. Like the video I recorded the other day and then deleted instead of posting. Or the countless blog posts sitting in my documents that I just won’t publish. I have ideas for songs, museums, tv shows, stores, apps, art, books, and LOTS more. I have SO many ideas, but they all feel stuck in my head.

I know this is a mental obstacle for me to overcome, and I recognize that there are ways for me to get out of my comfort zone and accomplish more. I’m not making excuses for myself. I’m just sharing something that I have a feeling more people relate to than I realize. And I have a sneaking suspicion that some of the happiest, most successful people are the ones who got over whatever hurdle that kept them from making their ideas into a reality. I’m still on my way, but I’ll get there! I’m 22 and I don’t pretend to have it all figured out. Most days, I’m hard on myself for all these shortcomings. I’m really good at picking them out! But I also have to say, I’m thankful for the gifts and abilities I’ve been given. I am more than my procrastination, perfectionism, and anxiety. I’m more than my limited amount of energy and tendency to hide out. According to my “type”, I am also insightful and curious. I am “able to concentrate and focus on developing complex ideas and skills.” I am “independent, innovative, and inventive.” At my best, I am a “visionary pioneer, ahead of my time, and able to see the world in an entirely new way.”

I am all these things, and more! Today I am celebrating the small victory it was for me to write this in one sitting and actually publish it the same day. Thanks for reading along!

(All information about The Enneagram and Type Five is cited from www.enneagraminstitute.com/type-5 )

(If you’ve never heard of The Enneagram, I AM URGING YOU to take this test!! It’s been one of the most helpful and insightful tools in learning more about myself as a person. You will not regret looking into it! There’s a whole world of information about it, too- books, podcasts, Instagram accounts, and tons more.)

 

 (Photo courtesy of www.letterfolk.com)