Choices

 

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Something that I have learned over the years of making goals and resolutions is that in order to say yes to some things, you have to be willing to say no to others.  Choices.  An intentional life doesn’t just happen, does it?  If that was the case, everyone would exercise, floss, eat healthily, read the Bible, and never lose their temper.  Choices.  Saying no to what comes naturally, to what we are used to, and what feels good.  And saying yes to what might be a little scary because it’s new, what might be a little uncomfortable because it’s change, and even though we know it is what is best for us.  Choices.  Because if we are honest, it is the million little choices you make every day that creates your life.

How we spend our days 

is, of course, 

how we spend our lives.

Annie Dillard

Have you ever done embroidery or needlepoint?  It doesn’t seem like each stitch is really making a difference.  All the threads seem independent of each other, don’t they?  But, in reality, each thread is just as important as it’s neighbor in creating the beautiful work of art that the creator of the pattern designed.  It is the same way with our daily decisions. They seem unrelated and independent of each other.  I mean, when we decide to hit that snooze instead of getting up a little before our family, that really doesn’t have anything to do with our bank account, right? Watching one more episode of that show on Netflix has no bearing on those 10 lbs that refuse to budge from the scale, does it?  I am here to tell you it absolutely does.  It is all about the choices.  So how does this look in real life; in every day, where the rubber meets the road kind of living?

Have a Plan- The saying goes if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.  And that is very true when you aim for nothing, you will hit it every time.  This doesn’t mean that you need to have a perfect 10-year plan in place and know beyond a shadow of a doubt every step you are going to take the next 3,650 days.  Thank goodness for that.  But you need to have some idea in mind of what you want to do, who you want to be, and how you are going to get there.

Create Small, Manageable Steps That Will Daily Bring You Closer To Your Goal- Many times, we make the mistake of making our goals too big or too vague.  The key to building a good habit is to break it down to small and measurable steps.  Want to exercise daily?  Start out with a goal to intentionally move 5 minutes every day.  Think that won’t make a difference?  Think again.  Small daily actions will work for us or against us, it’s up to us to choose which way it goes. We need to lose our all or nothing mentality.  Slow and steady wins the race. When you look back, you’ll see it was the small but consistent actions that made the most significant impact.

Celebrate Victories and Show Yourself Grace- Intentional living isn’t a magic formula.  It also isn’t an overnight quick fix.  It is a process.  In a society that is used to instant gratification, this is a difficult concept to embrace.  But once we understand that any movement forward is growth and be proud of the steps we have made instead of beating ourselves up for not being where we think we should be, we will begin to notice the progress we are making.  That step will lead to gratitude and gratitude will lead to the desire to continue to make better choices.

It is true, many times, we have no choice in our circumstances, but it is also true that we always have a choice in our response.  This includes how we respond to ourselves.  When you fall down(not if but when), get back up, dust yourself off, and forgive yourself.  Remember all the times you haven’t fallen down and be proud of the progress you have made.  And remind yourself that baby steps are still steps.

 

 

Movement

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Happy New Year!  2020…not just a brand new year, but also a brand new decade ahead of us.  It feels as if life is a brand new journal full of blank pages just waiting for our story to be written on them. I just love the feeling that comes with fresh starts.  I am the only person I know that loves Mondays because to me Monday signifies a chance to start over, to be a better version of yourself.  About 5 years ago, I began to pick a word of the year, a word that embodied the resolutions and aspirations I had for the upcoming 365 days.  This year holds so much promise that one word wasn’t enough, it needed two!  The first word is,

Intentionally

Deliberately, on Purpose, with an awareness of what one is doing

and the second word is,

Becoming

Any process of change

Those are two pretty powerful words.  Intentionally becoming, to me, denotes a process of purposeful change.  It requires planning the course you will take to embark on this change.  You will need to know your why.  Knowing your why is a catchphrase that I have resisted for a few years.  I thought that by making a goal or resolution I had done the work, the why was simple; doing this will make me a better person.  But I have come to realize that isn’t a strong enough reason to stick with the goals and resolutions I make. In knowing your why you have your own little cheering section in your brain to help you move forward towards your ultimate goal.  For example, one of my resolutions is to intentionally become a lifetime learner.  I could use the “because it will make me a better person philosophy,” but that isn’t going to be enough to make me click off Netflix and onto a class on Skillshare, or pick up a book and read up on a new skill I want to learn.   I need to know that learning a new skill will help me grow my photography or learn a new technique in editing.  And this could possibly lead to more job opportunities in the coming year, which will lead to more financial stability and security for my family.  See the difference?  Knowing your why is an integral part of true, authentic change.  And I love how the definition of becoming cast a wide net with the word any.  It doesn’t have to be a big process, as a matter of fact, smaller steps done with consistency will often lead to a more permanent change.  I have been so guilty of an all or nothing mentality so many times.  But not this year, this year, I am ready to celebrate the process because the process can be as beautiful as the result if we choose to view through the right lens.  Movement is a sign of life.  And I, for one, am thankful for the gift of life.  So I would love to have you join me going forward into the next 360 days, and celebrate the baby steps, show yourself grace when you forget your why, and in the process intentionally become the absolute best version of yourself for this brand new decade.  2020 we are ready for you!!

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Teaching My Kids To Love Their City

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I have lived in Memphis my entire life but never took the time to really see my city. Over the past few years, I have made it a point to change that.

My children and I have explored our city like travelers, mostly afternoons and weekends.

The National Civil Rights Museum ignited our desire to learn more about the pioneers in the movement. Stax and Sun studios made us want to know more about the rich Memphis music history.

We were captivated by the views from the Ornamental Metal Museum, Big River Crossing, the top of The Peabody and the top of Clark Tower.

We explored the trails of Lichterman Nature Center, the River Walk at Mud Island, and Shelby Farms. Woodland Discovery Playground is the kind of place I dreamed of when I was a kid.

We tailgated on Tiger Lane and cheered the Redbirds in beautiful AutoZone Park. We danced to free music as Levitt Shell and watched the free duck march at The Peabody.

My favorite part of our exploring has been learning the history of buildings that make up our downtown and sharing that history with my kids.

I shared my memories of shopping downtown at Goldsmith’s. I explained a bit about Memphis history as we explored the Cotton Exchange, Court Square, and Civic Center Plaza.

I knew I had instilled my love of the downtown buildings when were at AutoZone Park and my 11-year-old excitedly pointed to a building and said, “Look Mom, it’s the Sterick Building, The Queen of Memphis!”

Jerry’s SnowCones

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Foodie Friday Sno Cone style! Legend has it that back in the 1930s a Sinclair gas station was located somewhere around 1657 Wells Station Rd. These same legends state that the owner of this gas station would make snow cones for kids while their parents had their cars worked on. Like all good legends, the lines of truth and tale are blurred about these early years, however, the next part of the story we know to be true. After the Sinclair station closed in the late ’60s a wonderful couple names L.B and Cordia bought the building and turned it into a car wash and snow cone shack…and the rest is history! After a director who was in town filming ”Great Balls of Fire” ran across the unique building, he asked if a scene from the movie could be filmed there. That’s when the word really began to spread, and Jerry’s became a destination for both locals and out of towners alike. They like to say they didn’t invent the snow cone; just their ”World Famous Snow Cone Supreme”…think ice cream meets snow cone with a dash of pixie dust and unicorn tears…yes it is that good!! With flavors like Electric Slide, John Deere, Toxic Waste and my personal favorite, Wedding Cake, you can’t go wrong! They also serve great burgers! Jerry’s Sno Cone opened a second location in Cordova last year at 1601 Bonnie Lane. Summer hours are 11 am to 9 pm Monday-Saturday, and they are CASH ONLY. And don’t let the lines discourage you, I promise they are worth the wait!

Are You a Wildflower or a Weed?

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Do you think the weeds on the side of the road ever stop mid-bloom and think “Man I wish I was a rose…I could make such a difference in the world if I had just been born a rose.”  Personally, I just don’t think that happens.

A weed is just an unloved flower.

Ella Wheeler Wilcox

I think these misunderstood beauties believe in themselves…they know the Creator painted them with just as much artistic beauty and love as He did the most prized rose in a rosarian’s collection.

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Just watch the eyes of a child as he picks a bouquet of dandelions for his mother, all he sees is the beauty of the bloom.  These beautiful misunderstood flowers don’t compare themselves to the other “fancier” blooms.

What is a weed?  A plant whose virtues 

have not yet been discovered.

Ralph Waldo Emmerson

They don’t let society put a label on them.  They see their true worth and beauty all on their own, they need no one else to validate them.  They are content in their place on the side of the road, or in a field where cattle graze, or in a vacant lot…their ability to bloom is not contingent on their circumstance.  They thrive right where they are with infectious joy and abandon.

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And in doing so, they bring so much beauty to places that generally don’t see a lot of beauty.  In sidewalk cracks and crevices, beside dumpsters, next to broken glass and down dark alleys.

One person’s weed is another person’s wildflower.

Susan Wittig Albert

I want to be more like that kind of flower.  I want to bloom with abandon wherever God plants me.  I don’t want to compare myself to the other flowers, the prettier fancier ones. I don’t want to wish my soil was smoother and that my surroundings were more beautiful.

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I want to wake up each morning the single-minded goal of bringing glory and honor to my Creator.  To bring beauty and joy to my surroundings.  To not spend my precious few days on this earth wishing I was something more, something more significant.

The difference between a flower and a weed 

is a judgment.

I don’t want to let my self-worth be dictated by others.  I don’t want to wear the labels that others put on me; divorced, broken, useless, unwanted, sinner, unloved.  I want to be like these amazingly resilient beauties that keep their eyes towards the heavens because that is where their self-worth originates.

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This is hard in a social media-saturated world.  I see the beautiful award-winning gardens that others call home.  The meticulously cultivated soil, the perfect climate controlled greenhouse, and I want that world. That world looks much more exciting, sometimes much easier than the place God has planted me.  But it’s not.  Because no matter what I think on the hardest of hard days, the soil I am planted in is absolutely hand-picked and cultivated by my Creator to bring out the best blooms that I am capable of.  I am my Father’s favorite wildflower!

In a world of roses, she chose to be a dandelion.

Sarah Beth McClure

 

Shelby Forest General Store

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 Opened in 1934 by Emmett and Dixie Jeter, Shelby Forest General began its long and storied history as a dry goods store. As the years passed, a grill was added and the store became a gathering place for area residents who came to hear the local gossip as well as partake in the delicious food. Owners Doug and Kristin Ammons began the legendary Friday Night Steak Night around 14 years ago with a single banjo picker providing music. These days it’s not unusual to have 8-10 musicians playing bluegrass on any given Friday night. The store is located at 7729 Benjestown Road in Millington(right across the street from Justin Timberlake’s elementary school😊)and opens at 6am 363 days a year. Click on the link below for a full menu and hours of operation…I hear the fried bologna sandwich is the best you’ll ever have!
http://shelbyforestgeneralstore.com/

 

Shelby Forest

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Meemen-Shelby Forest State Park began in the 1930s as part of the New Deal recreation areas of the National Park Service. Named after former Memphis newspaper editor Edward J. Meeman, the park contains 13,467 acres of hardwood bottomland that borders the Mississippi River. It is the most visited state park in Tennessee! And for good reason! The park has two lakes, perfect for fishing or boating. There are canoes, kayaks, tandem kayaks, and paddle boards. You can also bring your own boat. There is a free launch ramp on the Mississippi River. It is the home of one of the largest disc golf courses in the southeast…two 18-hole wooded courses. There are more than 20 miles of hiking trails that wind throughout the park. There is an eight and one half mile Horse Trail(bring your own horse though 😊) and a 5-mile mountain bike trail. There are 6 newly renovated cabins along the shore of Poplar Tree Lake. Each cabin can sleep up to 6 people and have a fully equipped kitchen…and firewood supplied in the winter! There are 49 campsites each equipped with table, grill, electric and water hookups. Now do you see why it is the most visited state park in Tenneasee?!
https://tnstateparks.com/parks/meeman-shelby

Self-Care Sunday…Victory Over Imposter Syndrome!

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Imposter Syndrome
the persistent inability to believe that one’s success is deserved or has been legitimately achieved as a result of one’s own efforts or skills.
Maybe you have heard of this term Imposter Syndrome, or maybe this is your first time hearing anything about it.  It has been around since the beginning of time.  Do you remember Moses?  I mean for the first of his life he was actually living the life of an imposter.  He was adopted by the Pharaoh’s daughter as a baby and had to watch as his fellow Israelites were abused as slaves and act as if he was an Egyptian.  Fast forward a few years and enter God and a burning bush.  In Exodus 3:11
But Moses asked God, “Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?”
Who am I?  Oh my heavens, how many times I have said these very words time and time again.  God calls me to do something, and I know it is ordained by Him for me.  But God, who am I?  I love how God doesn’t sugar coat things in His Word.  Here are a few more references from Moses discussions with God on his lack of skills….
Exodus 4:1
Then Moses answered, “What if they refuse to believe me or listen to my voice? For they may say, ‘The LORD has not appeared to you.'”
Exodus 4:10
Moses said to the LORD, “Pardon your servant, Lord. I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.”
Exodus 6:12
But in the LORD’s presence, Moses replied, “If the Israelites will not listen to me, then how will Pharaoh listen to me, since I am unskilled in speech?”
Exodus 6:30
But in the LORD’s presence, Moses replied, “Since I am unskilled in speech, why would Pharaoh listen to me?”
So many times I have heard the same words ringing in my head…”I am unskilled, not eloquent, slow.  What if they refuse to believe me or listen to me?“.
I am going to let you in on a little secret, every single time I sit down to write or go out to take pictures I feel like a massive fraud.  I compare myself to others and always feel like I come up short.  It is a paralyzing fear, one that many times keeps me from writing or shooting at all.  “You sit down here to write like you actually are a writer.  You have nothing to say that anyone wants to read.  Your examples are silly, and your words are hollow.  You are a hypocrite, a fake, a liar, a fraud.” 
The more success I have, the louder the voice seems to speak.  And apparently, I am not alone in this phenomenon.
It’s almost like the better I do, the more my feeling of inadequacy actually increases, because I’m just going ‘Any moment someone is going to find out that I am a total fraud, and that I don’t deserve any of what I have achieved.’
Emma Watson 

Just reading and researching this very real problem has helped me come to terms with it in my own life.  It isn’t just me. It happens to people all the time.  Very talented people whose lives appear to be very together and whose skills would never be questioned.  These feelings are very real and very scary and need to be dealt with.  So I would like to share with you a few things that I am going to do moving forward to deal with these emotions and replace them with the truth.

  • Realize that it is not just me.  Everyone deals with this at one time or another, and that it doesn’t make us crazy, it makes us human.
  • Realize that it is a distraction from action.  Many times imposter syndrome is the reason we quit early so that we won’t disappoint anyone.  It is what keeps us from fully embracing what we have a passion for.
  • Once we realize it is just a distraction, remember you have been given this challenging work for a reason.  Whether it is a boss giving you a new responsibility, someone asking you to do something out of your comfort zone, or a brand new idea and passion coming alive inside you, this is your why.  When you doubt yourself, go back to your why and remember why you are doing what you are doing.  Remember in the dark what you knew in the light.  And those self-doubts and self-loathing conversations going on in your head can get pretty dark….remember what you knew in the light.
  • Avoid comparing yourself with others.  Comparison truly is the thief of joy, but it also is the thief of self-confidence as well.  You have been uniquely gifted by your Creator with your very own set of strengths and talents.  It is a good idea to learn from others.  The problem arises when we beat ourselves up for not being them.  Instead of the comparison game, strive to be the very best version of yourself.  You bring something to the table that no one else is capable of bringing, embrace that fully!
  • And finally, don’t be afraid to talk about these feelings with a trusted friend or mentor.  I can promise you, just saying to words out loud takes so much of their power away.  And you will more than likely realize that everyone deals with this at some point in your life.  Bring it out of the shadows of your and shed some light on it, don’t allow these feelings to rob you of your creative joy any longer!

So let’s go forward into this brand new month with a new resolve not to allow these feelings to shame us any longer.  To no longer give the power to these feeling that keeps us from fully stepping into our calling.  When we are honest with ourselves and with others regarding our struggles and insecurities, everyone wins.  And that is a beautiful thing!  Have a great week!!

Sunday Self-Care…Life is a Special Occasion…​So Celebrate it!

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When my grandmother passed away, and we were going through her things we found box upon box of brand new nightgowns, housecoats, and houseshoes. They were still wrapped in tissue paper, and many of them still had gift tags on them.  As we moved through the house we found this situation repeated over and over;  napkins and table clothes still in their packages, bath towels and fancy hand towels still with tags on them.  And don’t even get me started on the fine china, silver, and crystal that only saw the light of day at Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Easter.  Perfume, powder and bath crystals that were never opened.  Purses that were never used.  Many still in the gift bags.

Start living now.  Stop saving the good china for that special occasion.  Stop withholding your love until that special person materializes.  Every day you are alive is a special occasion.  Every minute, every breath is a gift from God.  

Mary Morrissey

All of these beautiful things, things that were hand-picked for her by family and friends, things that she saved up to buy, and then only saw a few times a year, she never got to truly enjoy them.  To savor them.  To celebrate life in or with them.  Because she was saving them for a special occasion, for someday, for one day.  And then life happened.  The everyday, ordinary, run of the mill day to day life.  And because she didn’t see those days as worth celebrating the bags never got opened, and the tags never got removed.  And that made me really sad.  Many of those gifts were from me, or I was with my mom when she purchased them.  I remember how excited she was when she opened them, and how excited I was to give them to her.  But she never got to truly enjoy them.  And that got me started thinking, what things do I have in my life that I am not enjoying to the fullest?  Do I have items that I am saving for a special occasion?

Don’t save something for a special occasion.  Every day of your life is a special occasion.  

Thomas S. Monson

I quickly realized the answer to this question was yes.  I had perfume I only wore on special occasions.  I had dresses that were too fancy for my ordinary everyday life.  Journals that were too pretty to write ordinary thoughts and feelings into.  Meals that I only cooked when company was coming.  Placemats and napkins that I just used when there were more than 3 people at my table.  And on and on it goes.  And that made me sad.  Life is such a beautiful and precious gift.  And the little family that God had given me to do life with is also a beautiful and precious gift.  What a gift it is to just be alive today.   I need to remember this is not a dress rehearsal, this life I have been blessed with deserves to be lived to its fullest.  And the people in it need to be celebrated every single day.  And you know what else?  I deserve to be celebrated every single day.  I am worth the pretty dresses and the sweet smelling perfume.  My everyday words and thoughts are worth all the pretty journals.  My life is worth living to the fullest every single day.  Because life is indeed a celebration.  How many times have I waited for the perfect moment, for everything to fall into place?  Ultimately life is made up of moments.  We can sit back and wait for them to happen or we can choose to create them.

The secret to being happy is accepting where you are in life and making the most out of every day.

It’s time to start using the good stuff.  Instead of storing family heirlooms I will use these treasures to create new memories around them with my own family.  I will burn the candles, I will use the good sheets, and I will wear the pretty dresses.  Would you like to join me in this pledge?

Always keep a bottle of champagne in the fridge for a special occasion.  Sometimes the special occasion is that you have a bottle of champagne in the fridge!.

Hester Browne

Self-Care Sunday…Different and Blessed

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If you are like most people, myself included different scares you.  Different job, different route to work, different topping on your pizza, it doesn’t matter how big or how small the difference is, there is some degree of comfort in sameness. But I can tell you beyond a shadow of a doubt that some of my biggest blessings have come from the times when I have taken the different path, made a decision that was out of my comfort zone and embraced the chance to be, well, to be different.  That is the time when different moves out of the uncomfortable and scary and into the exciting and blessed.  If I were to ask you for a picture of your friend group, your tribe, the ones that you get into the trenches with and do life alongside, what would that picture look like?  For a big part of my life, my picture looked a whole lot like me, very little difference at all.  But my life took a big turn about 7 years ago, a completely different way than I ever expected.  And with that new way came the chance to see situations, circumstances and people with fresh eyes.  God pushed me out of my comfort zone and taught me so much during this time.  And my life has been enriched in ways I could never have imagined in the process.  When we intentionally seek out people who are different than we are, who have different points of view, different life experiences and challenges, whose family structure may look different from our own, our lives become more colorful and vibrant.  And we often learn that people who seem so different than us on the outside are actually kindred spirits on the inside…and that is when the blessing occurs.  So look for ways this week to embrace different and watch your life explode with color, just like the flowers of spring!  Happy Sunday!

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