Grateful, Struggle

When “Grateful” Feels Hard

Thanksgiving just happened. Turkeys were stuffed, mashed potatoes eaten, and pies were exchanged. It’s the time of year where we list off why we’re grateful. And our hearts are supposed to be full of gratitude. And they are… for the most part.

I think it’s safe to say that some of us are lying. While we are grateful, we have a part of us that is maybe a little upset. We’re upset that maybe there’s a part of life that’s tough for us or something our family has been going through for years. There’s an illness, a loss, or maybe even a financial setback.

I think while it’s important to focus on the blessings and all that is good, I think maybe 10% of our time can just be honest. We should share with family and friends our struggles and hardships. It’s okay to not like a part of life or to feel like you’re all alone. It’s okay to feel less than “Thanksgiving Happy” about something. I think that’s more honest.

I am grateful. And we should all live in a way where we see our blessings before our troubles. But it’s unfair to think that gratefulness cancels out our pain or our problems. I think being grateful is what helps us keep our troubles in perspective. It keeps us grounded and strong.

So this year, count your many blessings. But while doing so, don’t be afraid to be honest.

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Mom Life, Personal Development, Struggle

Permission to “Lose It”

This weekend was a cluster of my “finest” moments.

It included the following:

  • Getting into an argument with my husband
  • Yelling around the house
  • Complaining about what “hadn’t been done”
  • Feeling upset I didn’t get more done
  • Episodes of tears from stress
  • Forgot to pay a bill that was definitely due

Have you ever had those moments? You know, the moments where you just feel like a colossal failure? Moments where you feel like like is treating you like a clump of silly puddy? Me too.

I felt like such a screw-up this weekend. I wanted to be a better mom, a better wife, and I felt like I wasn’t accomplishing ANY of it. But that’s not true. We are all getting better day after day. And not every day or moment are we going to “get it all right.” But that’s perfectly okay.

Sometimes we all need to “lose it.” We need to come undone and have a good cry. Sometimes our steam needs to be let out and we need to recognize our own humanity. We aren’t superwoman, though we could fool many. We are mere mortals and we all have moments of arguments, tears, forgetfulness, and pain.

It’s okay to “lose it” mamas, you’re going to need to sometimes. It doesn’t make you a crappy mom or wife, it makes you so incredibly human.

Empowerment, Struggle, Work Freedom

There’s No “LinkedIn” For Moms

Moms have a super tough job. There’s no on-boarding process, there’s no manager to tell you if you’re doing it right, and everyone is a critic. It’s all volunteer, you won’t be paid. You don’t go to get a four year degree to help you understand your new job, and there’s no prior job-skill experience for motherhood. It is something that we choose and then the weight of it gets thrust upon us in our most vulnerable moments. It is a thankless job and one that never really gets the credit from society that it deserves. Why is that?

As a mom, I struggle with the fact that there is no concrete tangible reward for what I do. When I go to work, if I do a good job, perform well, and put in the effort, I will most likely move up and be promoted. I will maybe even get a raise. My superiors might even tell me that I handled a situation well — there would be appreciation and thanks. But when I’m at home and clean up a dirty diaper, there’s no fanfare. When I finish what seems like the 100th load of laundry, no one is doing “the wave”. It’s simply expected as, “this is what you do”, “this is motherhood”.

In the working and professional world, we have something called LinkedIn. It’s a great networking tool that helps other professionals to connect and observe others’ skills. They can list all the places they have worked, projects they have been involved in, and recommend others for certain positions. But there is NO LinkedIn for motherhood. In a world where accomplishment and professionalism is so celebrated, why is it that one of the most tough and necessary jobs gets little to no recognition?

I think sometimes this is why moms have a hard time. They have a hard time staying home or working because they never feel like they are truly enough. The world says you need an impressive LinkedIn profile, you need ten degrees and glowing recommendations. So we find ourselves tired, burnt out, and feeling inadequate.

What’s the solution? How do we get the recognition we crave while also not neglecting our roles as mom/wife/employee? I think we start by making ourselves happy first. I think we start by understanding we are enough as we are. I think we start by recognizing our own self worth and letting the world see how necessary we are. I think when we start believing we are impressive, society will join us. By filling our cup, we can then show others our dexterity.

Photo Credit

Personal Development, Struggle

Being Human & Less Than Perfect

I don’t know if it’s just me, but from time to time I feel as though everyone has this life figured out other than me. They seem to have their checkbook figured out, their children, their volunteer schedules, their marriage, everything. I sit there and think that I’m just the one person who just doesn’t seem to ‘have it together’ or the black sheep. I’m sure I’m not the only one who thinks that way.

Honestly, I think it’s such a lie that we tell ourselves. I don’t know why we think it’s only us. I had a conversation with a friend on the phone the other night discussing my feeling inadequate and she seemed to understand. But she also told me it’s not just me, and it’s not just you either. We all have moments where we have blinders on and assume we are the only one making mistakes, and we aren’t. No one has ‘life’ figured out. No one is exempt from being human. We are all learning, we are all growing. None of us have ‘arrived’ at perfection.

Keep stretching, keep pursuing your dreams and your goals. And don’t feel bad if you show your flaws a bit more. We’re all human and sometimes it’s so refreshing to know that someone else isn’t so perfect either. Maybe we can take more time to laugh at our humanness than judge ourselves or others.

No one is perfect, and none of us have this figured out. But that’s totally okay.

Struggle, Talents

Lessons From Megyn Kelly’s Career

I know, I know… but hear me out–there IS a lesson here. Whether you love her or absolutely abhor her, Megyn Kelly has certainly been in the public eye a lot lately for her new show on NBC Today. And to be honest, I did enjoy watching her from time to time on her show, The Kelly File. But lately, NBC seems to be pushing her show with fighting fury and the viewers know it. It feels forced, phony, and fake–much like an ex-boyfriend.

As I watched her on the couch with the other Today women and on the Hoda and Kathi Lee show, it was just so terribly awkward. You could tell she was completely out of her element. I’m not denying her talent, but you could tell where she’s been placed is not where she belongs. And the odd part is that she keeps saying on TV, “This is where I belong. What I was meant to do.” But all the while, we aren’t fooled. How do you take a bold, confident, attractive, lawyer/journalist and turn them into the next Oprah Winfrey or Diane Sayer? I’d argue that you simply can’t. And I truly believe that on live television, there simply is nowhere to hide your true feelings or self.

I say all that not to talk negative of Megyn Kelly. I wish her success as I would anyone trying something new. But how many of us have ever tried to be or do something that just wasn’t us? A relationship, a job, a career, a major in college, a friendship…? We tried something different because we thought it might make someone else happy, we were dishonest with our own thoughts and desires, or we thought we might get more approval from others? Just as I believe Megyn is being untrue to herself and “trying” to like daytime television, I think we all should too examine our own lives. We may not be on live television everyday where the world can point out our flaws and strengths. But when we take the time to be honest with ourselves, I think we can all admit that we try on hats not meant for us.

When Megyn was behind her desk on The Kelly File, questioning others and learning the facts, she lit up her stage. But with the Today crowd, trying to be “likeable”, it’s not true to her or her talents. And if we don’t own our own “Kelly Files” and instead try to be the new Today star, we too will feel disingenuous. It’s okay to be a square or a circle. We need all types, all talents. You waste your own talent and stardom when you neglect it and try on the hats that aren’t yours. Use your own artistry, bring your own flavor. Because the world needs your version, exactly the way YOU do it.

photo credit via aol.com.

overcoming, Struggle, Tragedy

Breaking Out Of Survival Mode

It doesn’t matter what way it presents itself. No money in the bank, medial bills that were unexpected, an unexpected loss, or any combination of them all. We all have those times in life where things seem more like uphill battles than smooth sailing. For me, that started ten years ago, when my mother was overtaken with mental illness and ditched our family. Though I wished I felt further ahead from that event, there’s been a feeling of being in a “survival mode”.

Even though I’d accomplished a lot after she left, a degree, a marriage, and a child, life still got much harder after that. It was harder for my dad financially, my sister emotionally, and me in both ways. That event made it harder for us all to recover from and “bounce back”. It was defining. I do know a little something about what it feels like to have the wind knocked out of you and trying to constantly catch your breath.

But I don’t think we take the time to think about all that we go through in life. I took an inventory of what occurred in the last year and it was a little horrifying… a miscarriage, a job change, a spouse who was in ICU with a heart that stopped, and a complicated delivery. When I took the time to think about what we’d gone through in just a short time I realized just how hard life really can be. And yet–it felt like it was still survival mode. Don’t take time to think and grieve your losses, but just keep moving, keep trudging through the mud.

So what do we do when we feel this internal pressure? When we feel like the noodles in the middle of a pressure cooker that’s been cooking just a little too long? Honestly, I don’t entirely know. But here are some things that I do know that have helped along the way.

  1. First, make a list. I don’t know why but somehow listing things out on paper just makes me feel better and makes life feel more manageable. You can’t possibly conquer everything at once, whether it’s debt, bills, or just a huge to-do list.
  2. Take an inventory of what is going right. So many times when life gets challenging, we take the simple graces of every day for granted, the warm coffee, the sun shining, the helpful friends. Thank them and thank God for those simple pleasures.
  3. Take five… whether it’s a short walk, a moment to read a book, play with your kids… it doesn’t matter what. But it’s hard to keep enduring difficulties if you’re burnt out. You’re your best advocate and asset, so handle with care. YOU matter.
  4. Know it shall pass. When you’re in a hard situation it can give you tunnel vision, like it will NEVER get better, but it will. It might still be challenging for a while, but little by little you’ll dig yourself out and be proud you did.

I can honestly say that over time, I have gained a lot of internal strength from the hardships. It hasn’t always been easy. I used to resent those that I thought I figured didn’t really have a lot of struggles, like they had a simpler ride and I felt that wasn’t fair. But the truth is, no one has it easy, we just all handle it differently.

And there really is no use in getting bitter about what you cannot control. So choose to be happy anyway, make a decision to be grateful for what is going right. You’ll be glad you did.

 

Change, Empowerment, Self Help, Struggle, Uncategorized

WHEN THEY GET WHAT YOU WANTED

It’s been a personal struggle of mine for a while, albeit, one that seems to improve over time. But isn’t it challenging, when you see a friend get the job you wanted, you felt YOU deserved, or when someone got a promotion at work that YOU felt you worked so hard for? The list goes on… their car, their kids, their spouse, just seems BETTER?

I think with social media, the problem of “coveting” or wishing we had what we don’t have, has only gotten worse. We see pictures on Facebook and Instagram and somehow think that’s a glimpse of reality; sometimes it is, mostly it’s not.

In my own life, I remember being really envious of someone I had worked with in the past who seemed to be so financially well off. No student loans, no obligations, just doing (according to my mind) really well. And I had such a hard time NOT resenting this person. I thought about how many menial jobs I’d worked in high school and even in college, and thought, how dare you be doing better than me when you didn’t work as hard? But see, all those statements I made up in my head (because they aren’t the truth) were all just inferences I had made. I don’t know his struggles, I don’t know how hard he worked or his story. I’m just making snap judgments to make myself feel self-righteous. But I’ve been there, and I know that it can be so challenging to truly say, “I’m happy for you.”

Over the years, I’ve learned to say that phrase–even when I didn’t mean it yet. Because I realized, we aren’t all competing with each other, we are empowering one another to bigger and better things. When I stopped viewing others as a “competitor” in a race to “greatness” or “success”, I started helping them, seeing them as humans with flaws. We all have struggles, even if they are silent ones. I also realized how grateful I was to have them in my life, and for all the blessings I have every day, that my envious spirit was blinding me to. When I focused on what I had an my own abilities, I became more self-aware than outward focused. By doing so, I become more friendly, joyful, a better peer and friend.

So appreciate all you have, don’t worry about the competition. You aren’t in a race against others, only for your personal goals.

Persevere, Struggle

The Struggle

Struggle. It’s a word that I feel I’ve become very familiar with, as has my family. The word isn’t exclusive to us, I think many are, or have been, in the same boat. But for the past ten years, on and off, it’s been incredibly challenging and, if I can “let loose” I’d say that this word is pretty accurate. Sometimes I think we like to pretend that we don’t struggle, that life comes effortlessly, and we are perfect; we have perfect families, perfect homes, perfect financial situations and perfect health. And there are moments when our peers fool us, and we believe that, somehow, we are the only imperfect ones, the only ones going through hard times. But that would be a lie. The Jones’ aren’t real, and they struggle too.

When my mother left, I was about sixteen and my sister was eleven. Not only did she abandon the family, but, with that, she abandoned all her obligations, including financially. Although my dad was a professional engineer with a great job, she had left him with a mountain of debt that she never told anyone about. So we went from being somewhat upper middle class Americans to, being house poor and faking it. We started shopping at discount stores, we didn’t buy as many groceries as we once did. It wasn’t to say we were destitute, but life had definitely changed. I remember feeling like I needed to contribute so I picked up a job as a hostess at the local Italian restaurant where I worked for about three years. We all started hustling and grinding, just trying to make it through and not knowing what other disaster might arise. I didn’t go hang out with friends much, we worked nonstop. When I wasn’t working, I was at school. There weren’t all the little “extras”, like shopping with mom for school clothes or getting your hair cut every two months. It was just survival. Can you relate?

Now I’m not complaining at all. The experience that I had, that was born out of a horrible situation taught me mental toughness, coping abilities, and work ethic. It was what molded my personality and shaped me. However, I understand that a lot of people feel this struggle. With our economy trying to recover, with baby boombers not retiring and a flood of college studuents entering to the job market, it’s changed the financial landscape for many.  Our nation is trying to get back to its roots and  health, I think it’s indicative of what many of us feel. The car breaks down, the vet bills pile up, we have an argument with our spouse, we lose or change jobs…all these things are part of that life season of “struggle”.

I know I have moments where I ask God when that time will be up? When it’ll feel normal again. Because just starting out as a newly married couple, as cool as it sounds, it’s a huge adjustment. I see the posts on Facebook where everyone smiles and they go on a romantic Jamaican cruise, but that is not us. And logic tells me that someone else probably paid for that cruise, or it’s paid for on “plastic”; that the facades we see on social media, many times, just aren’t real. But do you feel that way? When you’re going through the grind, work piles up, and the dishwasher breaks, you feel like it’s just you going through it?

I can assure you, it isn’t just you. We all undergo tough situations where we question ourselves, question our decisions. Did we make the right move? Did we pray enough? Did we think through the decision the right way? It’s like we think that the struggle is somehow always our fault, and sometimes, it’s simply life taking it’s course.

The struggle, it’s not always a bad thing. Webster’s dictionary defines struggle as: “to make forceful or violent efforts to get free of restraint or constriction”. It is synonymous with to “fight, grapple, or wrestle”. These aren’t always bad words. Sometimes a fight is worth it, sometimes breaking free and loosing yourself, is a good thing. So when you feel like it’s just you today struggling, trying to break free, know that it’s not; we all struggle and grapple with things in our lives. And don’t stop trying to break free, to keep fighting, keep wrestling, and striving forward. Because you don’t know what’s on the other side if you give up. You don’t see the progress you’re making in the wrestling match; but you’re doing it, and little by little, you’re gaining ground. Keep taking one step at a time; your struggle is worth the fight.