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Gotta Glow

While out enjoying a fantastic day shopping with my husband, we overheard a few young girls walking behind us. One told the other: “You just gotta glow. Just glow.” To which her friend frustratingly replied: “Girl, I just wanna cross the street.” So today, I just wanna glow. I want some positive vibes and happy thoughts and rainbows to head my way, so I decided to make it happen by creating a list of 25 Things I Really Enjoy:

Continue reading “Gotta Glow”

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Stepping Over Waffles

I noticed a two-day old, rock hard Eggo waffle on the floor of my kitchen. I didn’t bend over and pick it up. I didn’t grab a broom and sweep it. My first instinct was to kick it under the table, but I knew if I did that, it’d live on the floor even longer than if it stayed in its current spot. So I acknowledged it, took a picture of it, and stepped over it.
That’s what me embracing chaos looks like. Yes, it would’ve been easy to pick up, much like the other millions of little things scattered across the floors of my house. One can only bend over so many times before one simply cannot. 
That’s also what me actively practicing acceptance looks like. I’m accepting the mess that comes with managing a household with little kids. I’m going to bed at night being okay with a sink full of dishes, food left out on the table, mountains of laundry covering my couch, hand prints marking my mirrors and windows, and Barbies, baby dolls, and crayons covering every surface. Beds rarely get made, because they get a lot of use. My kids might be unbathed and reusing last night’s pajamas, but their bellies and hearts are full, because we’re too busy having fun.
I fought the chaos for too long. I thought that having a clean house meant that I was a kick ass woman who was doing her job and taking care of her family. At least my house being clean was something I could control when life felt chaotic (which, with little kids, is like 100% of the time). But trying to reach unachievable goals was not only affecting me, but my relationships. I found myself questioning if maintaining order was the best use of my time. It’s relentless, exhausting, unfulfilling, thankless, annoying, frustrating, awful, unending, and at times, ridiculous (why are the dirty clothes right in front of the hamper and not actually in the hamper?). And I realized, my job isn’t to be a housekeeper, maid, or to be perfect, it’s to be a woman who takes care of her family while maintaining her sanity and sense of self. And that in itself is gonna be messy.
Staring at the cemented waffle, I surrendered to orderliness (but not to the germs, those jerks still need to be wiped-out). I don’t want to be remembered as a woman who’s greatest success was keeping her house and family clean: I don’t want a trophy for that, I don’t want people in my life who expect it, and I most certainly don’t want it as my epitaph. 
Thanks to an article by Tim Challies, I’m doing a better job rationalizing the constant mess: 

“According to the wisest man who ever lived… messes are not proof of a wasted life, but of a productive one.
Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean, but abundant crops come by the strength of the ox” (Proverbs 14:4). According to this explanation, the proverb is about the messiness of a life well-lived. Tremper Longman says the moral is that “a productive life is a messy life.” Longman says, “One desires a neat and tidy life, just as the ideal stall would be clean. However, a clean stall by the nature of things would mean an empty stall since oxen do not have to be in a stall long before it is messy. However, without oxen there is no productivity.”
Derek Kidner says, that “Orderliness can reach the point of sterility. This proverb is [a plea for] the readiness to accept upheaval, and a mess to clear up, as the price of growth.” 

I figure for now, I’ll leggo my need for order, and enjoy the growth of what is becoming the most productive life ever. And if I am invited into your messy home (that I probably won’t even notice), I promise to congratulate or comment on your wonderfully productive life. 

Thanks for the perspective, little waffle. 
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9 Ways To Make It Happen

I’m on Day 11 of my writing challenge. Instead of writing 31 blog posts, I’ve spent the last few days adding 500 more words every night to the rough, messy first draft of my book. I’m working on getting over the idea that it needs to be perfect in order to be written, that I have to have the plot, structure, story arch, characters, geography, etc. all figured out before I start writing. According to great writers, I don’t. Which is strange. It’s like walking somewhere with out really knowing where you’re going or how to get there. A map would help. But either way, you definitely want to walk. It’s good for you. You have to just get started.
This 31 day challenge has been awesome. Here’s how I’m kicking ass and making it happen:
1. Writing. 

Luckily, writing or knowing what to write isn’t the challenging part for me. I could do this all day. I could write until my fingers were numb, and my husband would have to force me to stop and remind me to eat, and that I have kids. 
2. Space. 

I made a garret for myself (less of an attic and more like a small corner desk space in my husband’s studio in the basement of our house). I marked my territory. It garishly reeks of me. I tricked it out with rainbows and sparkles, polka dot pencils, pink flowers, vibrant sticky notes and notecards, gold and silver shiny things (lamps, push pins, candles), inspiring quotes, complete with a plethora of exotic hot teas at my disposal. This is where the magic is gonna happen, folks.
3. Sacrifice. 

I gave up wearing make up everyday. Well, sort of. The toughest part of this challenge so far has been finding time to write. Making it a priority is difficult, when there are so many other priorities scrambling and scratching at each other to be at the top of my list. Between my very extroverted 4 year old’s endless curious questions, and my wiggly 2 year old’s need for me to not sit down for more than 10 seconds at a time, it’s a bit of a struggle. But not impossible. Something has to be sacrificed. And for the record, I don’t spend hours putting on makeup.. it’s just one more thing that’s not making the cut on my priority list (Ask any mom with an infant about her non-existent makeup routine. Not. Even. Worth. It. It is more of a luxury at this point.) Along with going to bed early, and showering every day. You know, things I can do when I’m dead.  
4. Time. 

I write from 8-9pm. It’s my writing sweet spot, for now. Unfortunately, it’s not when I’m at my most creative; it’s more like when I’m just finished giving all I have for the day and need to zone out. So eventually, I’d like the time to change. However, I like having the time blocked out, so if I don’t get to it during the day, at least I can dedicate an hour to it later and not feel overburdened. 
5. Childcare. 

I added a fourth day of school for my lil ones. The oldest will be starting Kindergarten in the fall, and I figure now is as good a time as any to start adjusting to five days a week. I’m still struggling with this decision, but I am totally giving myself permission to revoke it if it doesn’t feel right. It gives me more consistent time to recover from the hectic weekends (where I try to take “off” as much as possible) and time to write! 
6. Reading. 

I’ve been researching the hell outta how to write a book. It could be as easy as just sitting down and writing everyday, and it could be as difficult as planning, outlining, researching, interviewing, learning, getting more education, etc. I’m reading Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird, and absorbing any knowledge from reputable authors and publishers that I can. I’ve developed new habits: scouring books at the bookstore, noticing author’s names and their publishers, and reading the synopsis on the back of the books, praying none of them will be similar to mine. I’m reading, and reading, and reading, hoping that new ideas will jump off the pages and that I can steal them and twist them till their unrecognizable. I’m noticing the way authors describe their location, or their main character, or battle scenes. I’m having a blast, and while I wish I had done it earlier in life, I realize that I’m at a better (different?) place now.
7. Talking. 

I started a book club… with strangers. And it’s a blast. I know, I’m one wild introvert. I’ll get to writing about my extroverted introvert-y-ness (‘cause who isn’t writing about that crap these days?) and my addiction to trying new things… but I digress. I’m gettin’ down with my sci-fi/fantasy nerd side and sharing it with others. And it’s so fun. And uncomfortable at times. But fun. I don’t think I could have such an in-depth conversation with an attorney about Frank Hubert’s classic science fiction book, Dune, in any other circumstance. Not at a play date, or ladies book club, or dinner out with friends. I’m loving that this is my thing right now and I’m letting my freak flag fly. 
8. Note-taking. 

I have a ba-freakin’-jillion blank notebooks that I’ve collected and continue to collect like a hoarder. As if they’re suddenly going to stop being made like cassette tapes. I carry one with me everywhere now in case A) I get a sudden idea for my book or something I want to pontificate on. Or,  B) I’m feeling strongly or emotional about something, so I’ll write. And it helps me get it out of my head (where I live like, 90% of the time ‘cause it’s fun there) and organize what I’m feeling or experiencing. Mostly I use the Notes app on my iPhone, because it’s quick, and I like how it’s right there on my laptop the next time I open it.
9. Smiling. 

I remind myself why I’m doing this. For me. Not for you, dear reader (though I think of you fondly), not for money or fame, but for little ol’ me. To find my voice, and to feel all the alive tingles doing something that brings me joy. 
Day 11: 1,065 words down. 8,772 words to go. (But really, 20 days to go.) 

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Mornings

I am incapable of sleeping in. On the rare occasions that I sleep later than 7am, it’s usually because I’m incredibly jet-lagged and forced my body to pick what time it is out of a hat. Despite it being my morning to sleep in, or that I stayed up till 6am, I wake up. I force a Dexilant and Claritin pill down my dry throat with stale water from two days ago, and snuggle back under the covers. I squeeze my eyes shut tight and hope that the elusive Sleep Fairy will return. But she doesn’t visit. She’s all, nah girl, you’re body is ready to go! It’s hungry. It’s gotta vacate unwanted waste. It needs some sun-freakin-light. So rise and shine, darling. Up and at ‘em! In her place, she hired my 4 year old to wake me up with, “Mom, I want waffles.” 
My ideal morning is one where I gently wake up to the silent sun slowly sliding and sneaking up to my face. It caresses my cheeks like an infatuated lover, as I take a few deep breaths and open my eyes to it’s brilliant blazing beams. I inhale the cup of fragrant green tea delicately steaming the air on my bedside table. I close my eyes again and choose some specific thoughts to help me focus on my day ahead as the sun kisses my eyelids. I am grateful for all the things I have and get to do today. I’m excited about my day ahead and look forward to spending the day taking care of myself and my family. 
I eat a breakfast of deliciously warm, nut grain waffles with almond butter and maple syrup, and finish my cup of tea in the quiet solitude. I savor every moment and every bite like it’s my last. As I sit, I read a book, and never have to get up from the table once, for anything or anyone. I watch the birds outside my window, excitedly twitter about the morning as they flit to and fro on the branches. I marvel at how awake and energetic they are, and wonder if maybe I should eat more seeds, too.  
Before the kids wake up: I have already emptied the dishwasher, and read a whole book. I have exercised, showered, made some phone calls, and taken a nap. I went grocery shopping and cooked them a breakfast feast: a smorgasbord of carb-filled items and fruits to keep their stomachs filled and all hunger-related tantrums at bay till lunchtime. I have had enough caffeine take over my body in order to be in charge of theirs. My house has been swept, mopped, dusted, and organized. Every puzzle piece has been zip locked together and every baby, Barbie, and Elmo doll are sitting perfectly on a shelf. The kids’ outfits for the day have been laid out, itinerary pre-planned, and snacks perfectly packed and ready to go. They run into the kitchen already dressed in beautifully coordinated, clean outfits. Their teeth have been brushed, hair combed, and matching socks and shoes are already on their feet. 
“Mom, can I have a waffle, please?”
Alas, I dream the impossible. But I bed you, dear Sleep Fairy,  please give me that dream again tomorrow night, thank you. 


(Day 4: 552 words down. 12, 837 to go)
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Permission Slips

I’ve forged quite a few permission slips in my time. For the record, it wasn’t that my parents wouldn’t have, it was mainly my procrastination or forgetfulness in getting them to sign it. Thus began my last-minute-we’re-about-to-get-on-the-bus forgery. It really bugs me that Harry Potter couldn’t magically forge a permission slip to go to Hogsmeade that one time. I mean, seriously? What is the point of magic then? I feel like he missed out on some adolescent rite of passage (and a trip to Hogsmeade, poor kid). I would’ve broken that wand across my knee and been like, I’m out.
As adults, we think we don’t need permission slips. 

Oh, but we do. 
I got my first adult permission slips* when I became a mom. I didn’t know what I was doing. I was home alone all day, far from my family in a tiny Brooklyn apartment with this tiny alien-to-me creature. I struggled with getting my infant to nap without being attached to me. It was severely stressful, heightened by the fact neither of us were sleeping well. My first adult permission came when a veteran mom said to me, “Let her cry for a few minutes. She is old enough to know you love her. You’re a good Mom. She is getting all her needs met. Give her a kiss, set a timer, and see how it goes.” 
Yes, it’s basically the controversial “cry it out” method. It was against everything I had read pre-baby. But this wasn’t me buying into a method, it was a simple solution to a simple problem that I allowed to get bigger than me. What would the neighbors think if I let my kid cry for 5 minutes? Will she have attachment or abandonment issues for the rest of her life, and send me her therapy bills in her 20s? Will she explode? Will I explode if something doesn’t change?
The exact moment change happens, is in the desperation, when the mere thought of your situation staying the same is supremely more horrendous than any alternative you can imagine. 
My second kid-related permission slip happened on my first visit to my Brooklyn pediatrician, where he told me to enjoy a glass of wine in the evenings once or twice a week. 

Wait, what? 

Not only had my religious upbringing deemed alcohol taboo, but every paranoid thing I’ve read about a breastfeeding mom having a drink had my red flags up and flappin’. But, like he said, “New moms are anxious. A relaxed mom is a happy mom, and a happy and relaxed mom means a happy and relaxed baby.” Holla! Where do I sign? I’d frame that permission slip like a first paycheck if I could. 

I needed permission. I was too fearful of doing something wrong or messing something up. I needed someone to be willing to take the heat if something went wrong, like trusted friends and professionals. People willing to take the blame. Fearful thoughts get trapped in the spin cycle of: “I’m not supposed to do ____ . I can’t do ______. I don’t even think I’m allowed to ____.” “I couldn’t ___.” Or, “What will people think if I _____.” 
Sometimes to overcome your fears, you need a permission slip to try something different. 
I may not be a trusted friend or professional of yours, but as a fellow human being who genuinely wants you to have a great life, I give you permission to:
  • Fail
  • Fall in love
  • Question everything
  • Wear white in the winter
  • Try a new hobby
  • Say “no” to your kid even if he cries
  • Go back to school 
  • Cry
  • Be happy
  • Skip instead of walk 
  • Say how you actually feel
  • Wear the same thing everyday
  • Eat cake for breakfast
  • (See me after class if your desire didn’t make the list)
Go for it. Get your permission slip signed. (Or forge it.)


*You might be relieved to know, both authorized activities worked. I can confidently say that me and my kids are healthy, happy, and doing just fine. And we sleep like champs.

(Day 3: 671 words down. 13,389 to go.)

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I Am A Hero.

I’ve started reading Elizabeth Sims’ book, You’ve Got A Book In You. And like, three chapters in I have this revelation: I am a hero. Sims suggests that writing a book is heroic, and she says that heroes do 3 things:
1. Heroes take drastic risks. 
2. Heroes sacrifice themselves. 
3. Heroes push themselves. 

Let me break my heroism down so that you can write about it for the front page of a newspaper:

  1. I take drastic risks all the time. Like the other day, I ate some chicken from the fridge that was questionable. I licked a piece of brown something off the back of my hand. I went out shopping with the kids without a extra set of clothing and diapers. I didn’t shower. I didn’t shave my armpits. I popped a pimple. I slept in for a bit while the kids roamed the house without supervision and played with iPads. I mixed colors and whites in the washing machine. I wore capris in 12 degree weather. I paid my bills a day late. I didn’t put gas in the car until the light came on and said I had like, 5 miles left. Okay, so I didn’t do this all in the same day, but you get the idea. I’m as risky as Tom Cruise dancing in sunglasses and his underwear.                                                                                                                                                                                 
  2. I sacrifice my dinner pretty much every night. The kids would rather eat my boring chicken soup and toast over their Kraft Mac ’n Cheese and broccoli dinner. I sacrifice my sleep when they wake up in the middle of the night. I sacrifice my cleanliness on the days they are sick and need to be held all day. I sacrifice my privacy every time I use the bathroom. I not only sacrificed my body to have kids, but I sacrificed a clean house. I sacrifice my time. I sacrifice quiet.                                                                                                                                                 
  3. I push myself every morning that I wake up to go to the gym instead of sleeping. I push myself to write everyday, and post to my blog on Tuesdays. I push myself to clean the house every night its been ransacked, to cook, and to go grocery shopping instead of reading a book or watching movies all day. I push myself to stop eating the whole pizza/cake/bag of candy/*insert any sort of delicious food here*. I push myself to beat my husband at racquetball, even though a lot of the time that doesn’t happen. I push myself to be kind to others, when I really would rather yell or give them a lovely piece of my mind. I push myself to have positive thoughts, when being negative and miserable is SO MUCH EASIER. 
The definition of a hero says that it’s a distinguished man (seriously 2016? A MAN?) who possesses such attributes as: bravery, courage, noble qualities and deeds, or who is regarded as a model or ideal. 
Regardless of not being a man, I triumphantly tell the husband that I’m a hero. He squints his eyes skeptically at me, and turns back to his computer. I read him Sims’ prerequisites to being a hero, and he turns to me and says, “You’re missing a few. You don’t have cucumbers, or feta cheese, and you aren’t of mediterranean descent.” 

I am definitely not a Gyro

(Day 2: 553 words down. 14,060 to go.)  
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31 days, 15,500 words: Day 1.

I came across Jeff Goins’s post “The Secret To Develop a Regular Writing Habit: 500 Words Per Day,” on Medium that changed my way of thinking about writing. I’ve always approached writing as a hobby, and Goins suggests that to be a good writer, writing must be a habit, not a hobby.

31 days is a pretty reasonable commitment. So… I’m in! I joined the Facebook group, I posted my blog, and I’m ready to get started with the writing prompts he shares on his site.

Here we go: Day 1.

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Bathtime

Dan is leaving on a business trip this week, and I’m anxious. It’s not that I can’t handle life without him for a few days, it’s just that it’s a lot of (overtime?) work. I marvel at how parents do it alone. Preemptively, Dan takes on a bit more parenting a few days leading up to his departure to give me a little calm before the storm. 
He takes on bath time before he heads out to band practice this evening. I try to relax on the couch, and end up listening to him give the girls a bath. 

“Char, look up. Look up!” he says as he washes her hair. Water splashes. I hear Sidda sing a made-up-on-the-spot song. “Look up, Sid,” he gently interrupts. “Thanks girls, very helpful.” 
  “Dad, pretend you were a mermaid, and you met this mermaid for the first time, and you said, ‘Hi mermaid!” Sidda asks. “Okay,” Dan says, and then after a brief pause, “Hi mermaid!””
A few minutes later, he walks out to the living room and huffs a deep, headachy breath, and grabs his iPad. He heads back to the bathroom while calling his mom. “Look! Look!” shouts Charlie from the tub. “I seeee,” he says to Charlie. Laughter and giggles follow. “You girls wanna go to Grandmas house tomorrow?” I don’t hear any direct answers, just shouts and loud noises of approval. 
Dan ends the call with his mom, and plays soft music. And the girls quiet. Then, I hear Charlie release a high pitched squeal of delight, while Sidda mischievously laughs, egging her on. “Girls!” He says sternly. “Dad, look. Do you like her having a ponytail like this?” asks Sidda. “Yeah,” he says, “Char, come here!”
Charlie escapes into the living room and climbs up on the couch next to me. She gives me a triumphant grin. Her hair is dripping and down her neck, and she’s got her “rough” (puppy dog) pajamas on. Dan peeks out into the living room, sees Charlie with me, and says “we’ve got a defector.” He runs back into the bathroom to Sidda. 
Charlie cheeses at him, and follows him back into the bathroom. Dan starts singing along with the praise music he needs to learn for band practice tonight. Charlie runs back out and straight into the kitchen. After a few minutes of chairs scrapping the floor, Charlie heads over to me and plops a clementine in my lap. “Peash?” she says with a pink pacifier lodged between her teeth. At 2 and some change, she’s still teething. 
As I peel the clementine, I can hear Sidda trying her best to sing along with the worship music. Her words are intelligible. “Don’t put that up there” Dan says to her. “I can’t do it!” she huffs. “Move it over a little bit,” he responds, then starts singing along with the music too, in a high falsetto harmony. “Can you start draining the water now, Sidda? One minute till we’re done. But if you stay in, you’ll be cold. Ready to get out?” 
Giggles. Splashes, bumps, thuds. They must be cleaning up the toys. Char has been hanging out with them, but returns yet again, with a “Moooomyyy!” and pantomimes how Sidda was coughing, but then started laughing. “More awwange,” she says as she runs to the kitchen to retrieve another clementine. I start to peel it, but she snatches it and disappears back to the bathroom. 
Sidda skips out of the bathroom. “Hi mom! Do you need company?” Dan comes out whistling, but it turns into another heavy sigh. Sidda jumps up and down on the couch, showing off her clean socks. Charlie follows closely behind them, sits on my dangling foot, and cries “Horsie! Horsie! Horsie!” while I finish peeling the clementine she handed me.
The girls gorge themselves on oranges and clementines before bed. Dan sighs again, and palms his forehead. “I might not be able to go tonight,” he says. “Hmm,” I respond.
He sits on the couch and eats his sushi that just arrived. The girls stop eating their oranges, and turn wide-eyed to his clear carton of steamed edamame. They can’t pop the beans out of the shell fast enough. “Are these pea pods, Dad?” Sidda asks. 
“They’re similar,” he tells her. 
“What does similar mean?”
“Similar means close to the same, but not exactly the same…” 
“Dad! Charlie beat boxed!” A beat box lesson ensues. 
“All right. Eating is helping a little bit,” he declares, as he heads into the kitchen and pops some Advil. He walks back into the room making a snapping sound with his hands, and jumps into the girls’ conversation about “furry” pea pods. He’s definitely going to band practice tonight. 

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(887 words down. 14, 613 to go.)

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Resolving 2015

My New Year’s Resolution of 2015 was to live life to the fullest. When I made that resolution, I wasn’t sure what that meant exactly. I figured I’d start with being intentional, and to try to create as many occasions to “experience” as I could. I talked to the husband, and together we agreed to say yes to any speaking or traveling opportunities that came our way. We figured at worst, if we hated it, we wouldn’t do it the next year in 2016. 
So here’s how that went:

January: I said goodbye to my Auntie Gabe as we ceremoniously spread her ashes over the turquoise waters of Coral Bay in St. John, USVI. We celebrated her life onboard the 110ft ship named Silver Cloud. Though the trip was peaceful and serene, there was a snow storm back home, and most flights to the East Coast got cancelled. The flight home was one of the bumpiest and sweatiest rides I’ve ever been on.   

February: I surprised the husband with a 30th birthday trip to New Orleans where we got our fortunes read, ate beignets while watching street performers, had a gospel brunch at the House of Blues, and walked the hauntingly beautiful city that is Downtown New Orleans. I already can’t wait to go back and spend more time there.  

March: We took the kids to see Dan speak at a conference in Atlanta, and met a Beluga whale, and watched my youngest, Charlotte learn to walk.  

April: The husband and I celebrated our 7th anniversary in Paris, France under the Eiffel Tower, as we watched its spectacular twinkling lights and devoured sweet pillows from heaven (aka Merveilleux). We loved our first time dining at a 3 Michelin-starred restaurant, explored the Louvre, waved to the Mona Lisa, and ate melt-in-your-mouth croissants from street-side cafes. We took the train to London, where the husband spoke at a conference, and then we explored the crazy fun Harry Potter movie studios.  

May: We were scheduled to hang in Montana and Seattle for a bit, but I became severely ill and we had to cancel our plans. Gotta say, not my favorite month, and I’m still recovering from it.  

June: All four of us spent a week in San Diego with family, and visited the San Diego Zoo that I’ve wanted to go to since I was a little girl. We watched the dolphins and whales do tricks at Sea World, we rode the Winnie the Pooh ride at Disneyland twice, and enjoyed the sunny California weather.  

July: We flew into San Fransisco for two days for a friend’s gorgeous backyard wedding. I never understood the powers of jet lag until this short trip.  

October: The husband and I learned to surf from professional surfers and took a no-doors helicopter ride on the North Shore in Hawaii. I even got my first tattoos in Hawaii! We spent our mornings and evenings attending an (anti)conference that Dan was a part of called Epicurrence. We hung out at the Billabong house nestled against the famous Banzai Pipeline beach waves. We listened to professional surfers talk about almost dying, and smart people in the web industry get vulnerable and talk about their concerns. We drank out of coconuts, checked out the Polynesian center, and got drunk on the sunsets of Hawaii.  

November: The husband and I went to Amsterdam. We took a semi-private canal tour of the city, and learned a ton about it’s history (and bicycles). We spent 5 hours eating at a 2 Michelin-starred restaurant, and also explored the city’s flower market and shopping district while eating sugared waffles.  

December: We took the girls to LA to be a part of a family member’s wedding. We had a blast just being present with our girls and enjoying what excellent little jetsetters they are. We ate at yummy diners and restaurants, and took in the the gorgeous mountain views of the West Coast. 

Overall, I’ve learned that for me, “experiencing life to the fullest” means being present during the good and bad parts. It means mourning the loss of a loved one. It means clapping and dancing with a toddler when she takes her first steps. It means experiencing physical pain, and choosing to rise above it when it gets overwhelming. It means attending eight weddings in one year, eating lots of cake, and celebrating with friends and family as they choose love and commitment. And having TONS of photo booth pictures to prove it. 
I can confidently say that I lived my life to the fullest in 2015. I laughed and cried with friends family. I faced fears. I had epic adventures; I explored the world with the love of my life. I read a TON of books, I gained and lost weight, I tried way more things than I’d normally be comfortable with, and I found some freedom and peace… and I loved it. 
I declare 2015 a success! Achievement unlocked! Resolution resolved! 

Can’t wait to see 2016 brings. 
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Who is Worthy?

I’ve been pondering “worthiness” lately, as I’ve been becoming more aware of it and making conscious decisions based on what is valuable and important to me. In our society, worth matters. We all perceive it somewhat differently, but I’ve noticed some obvious similarities; we default to monetary, social, appearance-based, merit-based, and skill-based measurements. Worthiness is defined as: “having adequate or great merit, character, or value… or of commendable excellence or merit; deserving.” But who gets to determine the exact measurement that equals worth? Is there one?
In working on and discovering my own worthiness, I’ve been wondering how to measure it in others, or really, if I even should be measuring (even my own) at all. It seems we all come up against this issue at some point. For instance, with any person-to-person interaction (i.e. a party, work, or family gathering) these quick, sometimes unconscious questions pop up and we answer them (perhaps intentionally or unintentionally) with our responses. Kind of like a social networking thing, but in all interactions: Who should I talk to? Is this person worth my time (will it be fun, or boring? Helpful to them or me, or make things worse)? How much should I tell this person? Why should I talk to this person? Why am I even here? What can I get out of this conversation? Or maybe you have a test. Can this person increase my worth? Will talking or associating with them increase my (job, education, social) status?  
I feel like those are all question of worth and value, and it’s all so very individualistic. Can you prove someone’s worthiness?  Do you have a criteria? Do you deem someone “worthy” based on your experiences with them, their relation to you, their accolades, their celebrity, or perhaps on gossip you’ve heard about them? Or do you just not think on it or acknowledge it at all? 

The question of worthiness has been an unresolved nuisance on my mind, so I googled “How to determine someone else’s worthiness,” and didn’t get much respite there. Most of the sites listed were for credit score worthiness. Fun. But what I did find in my quick, internet-y research, was that there were a ton of helpful resources for working on your own self-worth.
It made me wonder if the underlying issue when measuring others, is that in order to do just that, we have to use the same stick to measure ourselves. What is our own worthiness? How do I measure up next to this person? If I decide they measure greater, *cue feelings of insecurity* what will they think of me? What will they get out of talking to me? How can I get them to think highly of my worthiness, too? Do they even want to talk to me? Me, me, me. The question is then, not who is worthy, but am I worthy?
In my Googling, I came across an article about worthiness that I really enjoyed. It postulates that worthiness is learned early in our lives. Summarizing quite a bit, Nanice Ellis states in the article I found, Worthiness – A Key to Emotional Healing, that we learn right from wrong and what is deserving and underserving in elementary school. We then go on to use those metrics to determine worthiness and strive to prove it for the rest of our lives:

If we do what we are told and we fit in with the group dynamic, we receive rewards and our emotional needs are met. However, if we think for ourselves, and we do not fit in, no rewards come; leaving us feeling emotionally punished by disapproval, disappointment and the withholding of love by those in authority. In other words, we are deemed unworthy. 

Society teaches us that worthiness is directly connected to our future and ongoing success in the world. Therefore, we must possess worthiness in order to have purpose, make money, and attract a life partner; just as being poor, having no partner, or no direction in life directly relates to unworthiness. 

Okay, so assuming we learned early in our lives that we are unworthy, how do we go about correcting that belief so we can enjoy our lives a bit more? I discovered a few helpful ideas:
1. Turn off the worthiness program. Eliis gives this advice:

In order to turn off the worthiness program, you must stop acting like your worth is conditional – and you must stop believing that you need to improve or change in any way, in order to gain worth. Looking to the outside world of people or things for your worth keeps you trapped in a vicious cycle with no way out… It takes courage to find yourself unconditionally worthy but you are the only one who can do it.

If you have difficulty claiming your worth, at the very least stop pursuing it. In fact, instead of spending the rest of your life trying to prove your worth, what if it was okay to be unworthy? What if you just gave in to unworthiness? This may sound like a silly thing to say but if you have the courage to give in to unworthiness by giving up the search for worth, the illusion of conditional worth will shatter, and you will likely discover that you are already worthy. 

2. Stop chasing (or clamoring or scratching for) what you think will make you worthy. Chela Davison says in her article How Do You Measure Your Worth:

…We have unique ways of trying to measure or reinforce our worth. But by the very nature of this being an immeasurable thing, our unique ways of measuring our worth actually become our own personal compass for reinforcing our experience of unworthiness.   

As we pay closer and closer attention to the moves we make in order to be worthy, we can begin to really feel that the very thing we chase that we believe will bolster our self-worth, is the very thing that reinforces our fears of worthlessness. If we can see it and stay with it and even share it with others in a trusted space, we can start to see this way of assessing how we’re doing or what we’re worth as not only inaccurate, but simply as a mechanism to our humanity that needn’t hold the hook it currently holds. From there, our behaviors can be an expression of joy, freedom, love or whatever actually fuels us and others, rather than a clamoring and scratching for our acceptable place in the world. 

3. Try accepting or acknowledging a belief that your worth is actually a gift, given to you by a higher power. The article What does the Bible Say About Self-Worth? says:

The Bible actually has many passages that tell us what God has to say about our worth and our value in His eyes. Genesis 1:26-27 says we are made in His image, the very image of God. Psalm 139:13-16 says we are fearfully and wonderfully made, and all the days of our lives were written in God’s book before we were ever born, confirming God’s prior knowledge and plan for our lives. Ephesians 1:4 says God chose His children before the foundations of the earth were ever formed, and in Ephesians 1:13-14 we’re told we are God’s own possession, chosen for the praise of His glory, and that we have an inheritance in heaven with Him as His children.But notice the wording in each of the above phrases: “are made,” “are fearfully and wonderfully made,” “were written,” “God chose His children,” “we are God’s own possession,” and “we have an inheritance.” 

These phrases all have one thing in common: they are things done to us or for us by God. These are not things we have done for ourselves, nor have we earned or deserved them. We are, in fact, merely the recipients of “all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3). Therefore, we can conclude that our worth is not really of the “self” at all; rather, it is worth given to us by God. We are of inestimable value to Him because of the price He paid to make us worthy—the death of His Son on the cross.

4. Recognize that “there are no prerequisites for worthiness”. This Huffington Post article shares Dr. Brené Brown’s thoughts on worthiness and where it comes from as she talks with Oprah:

If you’ve ever felt unworthy — because of your weight, your job, your relationship or any other fill-in-the-blank reason — shame and vulnerability researcher Dr. Brené Brown has a message she wants you to hear loud and clear: There are no prerequisites for worthiness.

“Most of us think, ‘I’m pretty worthy of love and belonging — but I’d be super worthy of love and belonging if I could lose 15 pounds,'” Brown says…”‘[Or] I made partner. Or my wife doesn’t leave. Or I stay sober’ –- or whatever our thing is.” 

In reality, none of that matters. “Worthiness is an as-is, here and now proposition,” she says. “And to me, that’s the definition of wholeheartedness. Wholeheartedness is about engaging with the world from a place of worthiness.” 

I’m at the early stage of figuring out what worthiness is, being aware of it, and figuring out what it means to me. I’m not sure where I stand with it yet, but I’m looking forward to doing some more exploring and experimenting.

“You are imperfect, you are wired for struggle, but you are worthy of love and belonging.” 

– Dr. Brene Brown.