Rest

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When is the last time you truly rested like my Hannah Beth is in the above picture?  I mean truly deep down in your soul rested and relaxed.  I don’t think I am the only one who is having a hard time resting these days.  It feels like the world has gone a bit crazy.  I am not a medical professional, nor do I play one on TV.  I am simply a single mom trying to make sense of the chaos that is unfolding daily in the world around me and, if I am honest, I am confused and bewildered at what I am watching.  The no-nonsense, commonsense child of the ’70s in me say,s “Take some extra precautions, wash your hands more often.  If you are sick or your child is sic,k stay home.  Be cautious, but not fearful.  Keep a watchful eye on things, but carry on with life.”  But then I pick up a newspaper, see something in passing on TV, scroll through my social media feed, or try to buy toilet paper at Walmart, and that tight feeling starts in my chest, and uneasiness hits me in the pit of my stomach, and before I know it, I have spiraled straight into fear, uncertainty, zombie apocalypse end-time scenarios, and want nothing more than to have everybody I love at home with me, lock the doors, pull the shades down, and binge on Netflix and Disney+ after buying all the toilet paper, Diet Cokes, and Pancho’s Cheese Dip within a 25-mile radius.  And as much as I hate to admit it, the latter has described me more than the former lately.

Rest seems like a distant dream, something that just isn’t possible in today’s world—worrying about a sickness that we don’t understand attacking our children while we are helpless to do anything. Watching our retirement and savings disappear over the fear of something we can not comprehend. Trying to calm a child in the middle of the night after they have come into your room after having a nightmare about getting sick, or even worse, having their momma get sick with something they are watching all the adults in their life panic about.  And trying to console the older child as sport’s tournaments they have worked so hard to earn a place in are canceled, and graduations and even weddings hang in the balance.  And none of this is conducive to rest, is it?

All the while, watching my nation, the nation that I have pledged allegiance to,  cheered for, defended and been proud of for all of my 52 years become more and more politically divided in a time when we desperately need to come together, to work together, and to love and encourage each other more than ever.  It’s pretty easy to begin to feel hopeless, fearful, and maybe even angry and bitter.  Since long term hibernation is not feasible, we need a game plan to overcome all those negative emotions.  To find our balance once again in a very unbalanced time.  To take control of what we can change, to release what we can not, and to do these things moment by moment, hour by hour, day by day, giving ourselves and those around us the grace and compassion to regain our equilibrium and move forward in these very uncertain times.  And since you have read this far, can I offer a few suggestions (in list form of course!) to help in the process?

  • Unplug– I am not suggesting we completely turn a deaf ear to the situation, but the amount of media that we are consuming is just not healthy.  Find balance in this area, and remember the younger members of your family need to get their news from the adults in their lives that they trust, not the news media.
  • Get Outside-Take some walks with those you love, breathe in the fresh air and sunshine, it can’t hurt.  Maybe playgrounds aren’t the best idea right now, but climbing trees in your own backyard can provide a good diversion.
  • Enjoy Home-It may not be the beach or an amusement park, but you can find ways to make staycations fun as well.  Learn a new card game and have a tournament….winner gets to pick the next dinner and movie night!!  Or have a good old fashioned board game tournament for the same prize.  Maybe it’s time to do that home project while you have more hands-on-deck….or help your child re-arrange their room and let them pick the way they move the furniture around.
  • Have a Movie/TV Marathon-Find a TV show that you loved as a kid and introduce your kids to it.  Or have a movie marathon…back to back Toy Story or Back to the Future complete with popcorn and M&Ms.
  • Take Time To Teach a New Skill-Maybe you can do handi-work, play an instrument, make a new shelf or bookcase, cook a fancy meal, or, if they are old enough, teach them to drive!
  • Organize Your Photos-Take time to walk down memory lane with your child.  Tell them the stories from their childhood, stories about relatives they never got to meet.  Help them understand what an important place they have in that history.  They are probably feeling a little uncertain about things, and having concrete moments of certainty in their past will go a long way to help them navigate an uncertain future.

These are just a few to get you started. Providing a place of calm in the middle of a stormy time is an invaluable gift you can give your family and loved ones.  Keeping a positive spirit is one of those things we can take control of and change. And taking time to check on family and friends is a way we can show grace and compassion during this time.  If each one of us does our part to help alleviate fear and bring a bit of sunshine on a cloudy day, maybe, just maybe we will find that rest our heart and soul so desperately crave.

Battling February Funk

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I don’t know about the weather where you live, but here in the mid-south,  we have had a lot of rainy gray days….like looking for Noah and the ark kind of rainy gray days.  And when you string a week of these rainy gray days together, it becomes hard to maintain a positive outlook on said rainy gray days.  Did I mention it had been really rainy?  And very gray???  Not the pretty soft dove gray.  No, this is that cold industrial steel kind of gray.  Do you get the picture???  I mean, if April showers bring May flowers, what do February deluges bring?  I will tell you what they bring, they bring depression and feelings of malaise.  They bring about February Funk.  Maybe these feelings are made worse with post-holiday letdown, I don’t really know.  All I know is the feelings are very real but very also very treatable.  You know my love of lists, so it should come as no surprise that my ideas of combatting February Funk will be presented in list form.  Here is my How to Beat the February Funk:

  • Stay Active-Pulling yourself out of bed on cold dark mornings is hard, but maintaining your momentum and focus will help to get you through the dark days.  You don’t have to go to a gym to stay active, however, even a 5-minute stretching routine will get your blood pumping.  Exercise releases endorphins, which trigger positive feelings in the body, so get moving!
  • Lighten Up-During the winter months, the hours of sunlight decrease, so we need to combat it with lighting up our surroundings.  Turn on cozy table lamps and bask in the light.  If you have a fireplace, use the winter months to hone your fire-making skills.  A bright fire will add both warmth and light to your home during cold and dreary nights, and many times will provide just the right atmosphere for a hearth-side gathering.
  • Start a New Hobby or Project-Winter is the perfect time for indoor projects and interests.  With no yard or garden work to do, turn your creative eye to the ongoing to-do list for your home.  Freshen up the walls with a coat of paint, maybe a brighter color.  Or maybe it is the right time to learn how to refinish that piece of furniture you picked up for next to nothing last summer at the thrift store.  Not only will you have the satisfaction of learning a new skill, but you will have the gratification that comes with checking something off your to-do list.
  • Treat Yourself-Now this isn’t a suggestion that you go on an expensive shopping trip to New York and buy all the latest designer clothing and handbags.  Or going on exotic trips to warmer climates.  Treating yourself can be something as simple as picking up a bouquet of flowers from the grocery store.  If you have a little extra in your budget, a manicure, pedicure, or perhaps a massage would be just the thing to add a little sunshine to your gray days.  Or maybe a trip to your favorite coffee shop or bookstore is in order.  Just a little something to remind you that spring will be here soon!
  • Try a Little Hygge-What is hygge you ask….it is the Danish word that means a mood of coziness and comfortable conviviality with feelings of wellness and contentment.  It’s all about making your home feel cozy and welcoming during the cold, grey days of winter.  Maybe that means adding a cozy throw on a couch to wrap up in while you binge NetFlix.  Maybe it means getting mocha scented candles to light or having comforting soups and stews simmering on the stove or cooking in your crockpot.  Or maybe you splurge on some new loungewear or fuzzy socks.  The point is that instead of thinking of being “stuck” at home as a winter punishment, begin to look at your home as your own warm and comfy place to retreat from the worries of the world.  It’s all a matter of perspective!
  • Make Time for Fun and Fellowship-I don’t know about you, but when it is cold and dreary and dark, the last thing I want to do is go back out once I get home.  But spending time with friends and family is a very important part of battling the winter blues.  Sharing laughter over a meal makes even the coldest night seem a bit warmer.  And if going out is not your thing, invite people to your home.  If you enjoy cooking, then whip up a fancy meal, or, if you are like me and don’t like cooking have everyone bring their favorite dish or the leftovers in their fridge(as long as they are still recognizable!).  Or get a pizza delivered, the point of the night isn’t the food, it’s taking time to connect and share with others.

Learning to be content in all seasons of life is a valuable life skill that, once mastered, will serve you well.  There is something beautiful and worth celebrating every day.  Sometimes you just have to look a little harder to find it.  And if all else fails,  remember, Spring is only 29 days away!

Intentionally Becoming a Reader

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The more that you read, the more things you will know.  

The more that you learn,

the more places you will go.

Dr. Seuss

One of my resolutions this year was to make more time for reading.  I knew if I didn’t intentionally decide to do this, I wouldn’t ever find the time.  And the funny thing is I used to love to read.  And the few times I did find the time to read, I always enjoyed it.  But I found myself picking up my phone more and more when I had free time.  Netflix before bedtime became my nighttime routine.  Before I knew it, an entire year had passed, and I could count the number of books I had read on one hand.  A few years earlier, when my youngest was learning to read, I had instilled a nighttime reading rule in our home; you could stay up to 9:00 pm if you read/looked at books from 8:00 till bedtime….and it could be in Mom’s bed as long as you were reading.  As you can see, it was a big success. I decided the time had come to implement a reading rule on Mom as well.

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One thing I have learned about me and habits is that I need to concentrate on the why of the habit and not the what of the habit.  I am a list-maker at heart, so my why was answered in the form of a list.

Why Reading is a good idea:

  • Mental Stimulation-Studies have shown that staying mentally stimulated can slow the progress of Alzheimer’s and Dementia, since keeping your brain active and engaged prevents it from losing power. You have heard the term “use it or lose it,” right?  Well, the brain is like any other muscle in the body and requires regular exercise to keep it healthy and in shape.  
  • Reading Is Contagious- Did you know that you can help others by reading? Many parents and adults wish that their families had read more. Exposing your children to your reading habits can be a great way to help encourage them to pick up a book.  In a world where everyone is constantly plugged in, your kids seeing you intentionally choosing to do something different makes a definite impact in their life, even if they don’t tell you! 
  • Improved Concentration- In today’s always moving world, our attention is often drawn in a million different directions.  When you are reading, you are training your mind to concentrate on one thing at a time.  The benefits gained from improved concentration carry into other areas and tasks in your life.

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  • Increased Vocabulary-It goes without saying that the more you read, the more words you are exposed to.  Being well-spoken and articulate can lead to greater self-confidence, which, in turn, can lead to increased job performance.
  • Becoming A Lifetime Learner- Education is not cheap!  Classes, seminars, and online courses cost money.  But you know what is free?  A trip to your local library!  Is there a subject you are interested in and would like to learn more about?  Or how about a skill you need to brush up on for work?  There is a high probability that there is a book available at your local library that can help.
  • Better Conversationalist– As you begin to explore different books, magazines, and newspapers, you will find that you have more to add to conversations with co-workers, friends, and family.  As you talk about what you have read with others, you strengthen your communication skills, your listening skills, and begin to develop opinions and ideas that are your own.
  • Reduces Stress-Losing yourself in a great story is a perfect remedy for the stress of day to day life.  The very act of slowing down and concentrating on what is in front of you can help you relax and unwind.

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So now that I had my why I needed to figure out my how.  One thing I have been practicing this year is breaking big goals down into small bites.  I admit that the Type A in me gets a little antsy and wants to make changes in one big step.  But I am proud to say that it is now towards the end of January and I have managed to keep all but 2 of my tiny steps toward big goals-goals…way to go me!!!!  And of course my how has to be in the form of a list…

How to Develop a Reading Habit

  • Develop Small Goals-Instead of saying you want to read 40 books this year after not reading consistently for the last three years, say you will read 10 minutes every day.  After you have mastered that consistently, add ten more minutes.  I think it is a good idea to review your goals monthly and adjust them as needed. I also think it’s a good idea when first establishing a new habit, to try to do the activity at the same time every day.  Before you go to sleep, first thing in the morning, during your lunch break, while the kid’s nap, just go ahead and write it in your schedule.   Before you know it, you will be checking books off your reading list.  Speaking of which…
  • Start A List Of Books You Want To Read-Has this ever happened to you; you are listening to your favorite podcast or reading your favorite blog, and they are talking about a book they just finished that changed their life.  Or you are at work and hear some co-workers talking about a fantastic book they just completed.  You tell yourself you will remember the name and check the library or book store for it.  I can only speak for myself, but I rarely remember it and end up just getting frustrated when I try to find it.  Just keep a note on your phone or a page in your planner with the names of books people recommend. Next time you are at the library or a book store, you have your very own curated book list at your fingertips!
  • Choose The Right Medium For YouNowadays, there are multiple ways that you can experience books: read them either with a physical book or electronically on your favorite reader, or even listen to them via audiobooks.  The key is to find what works for you. I need to feel the book in my hand and read it with a pen and highlighter nearby.  I tried a Kindle, but it wasn’t the same feeling.  But I do know one of the benefits of audio and e-books is portability.  Which leads me to my next point…
  • Always Carry A Book With You-As we just mentioned, this is very easy with phones, tablets, and e-readers.  You can easily have thousands of books available at the touch of a button.  But even with physical books, it is possible to keep a book with you,  Granted, we aren’t talking huge, oversized coffee table-sized hardbacks, but a normal-sized book is very do-able.  Slip it in your backpack, purse, or briefcase.  I always keep a book in the car for when I am stuck in traffic or find myself with a bit of free time at a coffee shop.

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  • Surround Yourself With Books-Ok, maybe surround isn’t the right word, but have books located throughout your home.  We have bookshelves in every bedroom, the den and the living room.  Even though there are no bookcases in the kitchen or bathroom, there are still stacks of books placed in strategic, but out of the way places.   There are also lots of pillows and throws scattered about to make any chair into a cozy reading nook!
  • Read Aloud To Your Kids-Even if your kids are older and read on their own, they probably still love to be read to.  I know when I was reading aloud to my youngest, my older two would find their way into the room.  And as an added bonus, you can go back and re-read some of your childhood favorites or maybe discover new ones that you fall in love with.  Which leads me to the next point…
  • Make It Enjoyable-If you start reading a book, and it isn’t keeping your interest, stop reading it, and move on to the next one on your list.  Sometimes I feel like we take the same approach to books as we do our “clean your plate mentality,” we are somehow wasteful if we don’t finish every book we start.  That’s simply not true.  Life is too short to read boring books.  By giving yourself permission to quit, if you don’t like it, you will become more open to trying new genres and discovering new authors.  And on that note, make sure you read a mix of fiction and non-fiction.  They both play an essential part in a well-rounded book diet.
  • Discover, Or, Rediscover Your Local Library And Used Book Stores-Granted, Amazon has made it extremely easy to buy books online and have them, many times, the next day.  But there is something to be said about looking through rows and rows of books in person.  It is a lovely way to spend an afternoon.  Most libraries offer e-books as well as physical copies for absolutely free.  And a lot of libraries have used book stores with incredible prices, with all proceeds going to support the local libraries.  Everybody wins with that choice!

The most important thing is to just get out there and read.  Don’t wait for your schedule to clear, the kids to get older or any other excuse.  To quote the Nike slogan, JUST DO IT….you won’t regret it!

I do believe

something very

magical can happen

when you read a good book.

J.K. Rowling

 

 

 

Service as Self Care?

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Have you ever thought about serving others as being a form of self-care?  I hadn’t either until a few years ago when I started volunteering with my children at Memphis Union Mission.  This led us to other service opportunities to serve as a family throughout the community.  The more we served, the more I realized that instead of being another thing to check off my to-do list, it had become something that we looked forward to and something that brought great joy to our hearts.  And that got me thinking, maybe there is something to this service over self-concept.  In a previous blog post, Is Self Care Selfish? I talked about the main reasons for investing in ourselves is so we will have something left to give others.  I think serving and giving to others fills us up in the same way.  Every single person is born with a desire to have our needs met first.  It is innate, part of our very DNA, a form of self-preservation.  But as we grow up, we begin to see the benefits and blessings of doing for others; or we should.  Sometimes we need a little reality check, a nudge in the serving direction, to help us realize those benefits and blessings.  That is what serving at Union Mission did for me.  And that is what moved me from serving out of a sense of obligation into serving from a place of joy and gratitude.

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Today, January 20th, 2020, marks the 25th anniversary of The Day of Service. MLK Day is the only federal holiday designated as a national day of service to encourage all Americans to volunteer to improve their communities. Their motto is”Make it a day on not a day off” and explains the heart of the mission.  It was begun as an opportunity to commemorate Dr. King’s legacy through volunteerism, something that Dr. King believed strongly in.  All across the nation, people volunteer their time and talents to honor the memory of a man who gave so freely of himself.

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While it may be too late for you to get involved in one of the many service projects going on around your community today, It is never too late to commit to serving.  No matter your age, physical condition, or amount of time you have to give, there is somewhere for you to give back to your city.  Do you have a heart for children?  Volunteer to read in a local school.  Or if you want to go a little deeper, with just an hour a week, you can help children all around the community strengthen and expand their reading skills with the Arise2Read program.  How about our senior citizens around town?  They are often an overlooked area of need.  Volunteering your time in an adult daycare facility for Alzheimer’s patients such as Page Robbins Adult Daycare Center.  Or MIFA’s amazing program Meals on Wheels delivering meals to those most vulnerable.  If physical activity is more your style, Clean Memphis has many ongoing projects around town.  Are you an animal lover?  Local shelters are always looking for people to love the animals in their care. There are even opportunities for shy introverts. Little Free Library is an amazing program that shares books throughout our community via small boxes that are made to look like storefronts.    Merge Memphis operates Little Free Pantries all around town modeled after the same concept as the Little Free Library.   For a more comprehensive list of opportunities, go to Volunteer Odyssey

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The most important thing is to just do something,  No matter how much time you have to give, you can be of use to someone.  If you have children, get them involved.  Make it a family activity.  We really were made to help our fellow man, to foster feelings of community and camaraderie by stepping in and lending a hand to those who have stumbled or fallen. I think you will find it is one of the best forms of self-care there is.

A Schwab’s…A Memphis Landmark

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A. Schwab’s located on historic Beale Street in Memphis, Tennessee,  has seen a lot of changes out its front window, a whole lot of changes.  Opened in 1876 by Abraham Schwab, it has the distinction of being the only original business still in operation on Beale Street, and, possibly, the oldest family-owned general store in the mid-south.  The family business was originally located right up the street and moved to its current location in 1912.  In 1924, it expanded into the building to the left of the main doorway, which had been occupied by I. Goldsmith’s and Brothers (the predecessor of Goldsmith’s Department Store).  The beautiful brick buildings were built in 1865.

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When you step inside its doors, you are immediately transported to a different time, a simpler time.  The creaky wooden floors, glass display cases, and tin roof are reminiscent of the original Beale Street of years gone by.  But the going hasn’t been easy for the iconic store.  In the mid-seventies, with traffic on Beale at an all-time low, the family began a museum within the store to pay homage to the rich history of the street and area they called home.  0C3680A0-CE1E-4A90-97C4-D1B589FE6D24_1_201_a.jpeg

The museum includes many relics of Memphis history.  From farming tools to washboards and household items, original blues records, and even a carriage warmer, the museum is a visual history of Memphis and the Delta region through the years.  But it isn’t just about the past at Schwab’s.  The store has adapted and changed with the times. In the 1980s, the store played an essential role in the revitalization of the community and the street.  Once again, visitors young and old begin to stream through the doors and discover the wonders inside.  Wonders like a fully stocked old fashioned candy counter with all your favorites from your childhood represented.

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Are you looking for a pair of Elvis Pajamas?  They have you covered, complete with an Elvis pillow.  How about suspenders?  Schwab’s carries over 100 different kinds. A galvanized Maid-Rite washboard and bar of homemade lye soap are located just across the aisle from an extensive collection of kazoos and harmonicas.  Books about Memphis history line a table that is right beside the largest collections of hats I have ever seen in one place.

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I am always amazed at how many locals have never walked through the doors of this treasured landmark.  Children love the selection of retro-inspired wind-up tin toys, yo-yos, and slingshots.  A very nice change of pace from the ever-growing diet of video games most of them are used to. There are plenty of Memphis, souvenirs too.  From T-shirts to post-cards, key-chains, and bumper stickers, Schwab’s is one of the city’s biggest fans.

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In 2013, Schwab’s made another addition to the store, a retro soda fountain.  With its 50-foot white marble counter and vintage stools, it is the perfect place to sit and watch the people walking up and down the historic street.  Want a simple ice-cream cone?  They have you covered.  But the soda fountain also creates and mixes their own syrups for delish and unique sodas and shakes.

 

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After being in the Schwab family for 136 years, the torch was passed to new owners in 2011.  But do not fear, the new owners are dedicated to preserving the rich history found within the walls of the store.  So next time your kids have a day out of school, or you have an unexpected free Saturday, head downtown, and be a tourist in your hometown, I have a feeling you will be pleasantly surprised.

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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Fear…and Letting Go

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Autumn shows us 

how beautiful it is to

let things go.

 

I thought I was done with it. The knots in your stomach. Shortness of breath. Heart palpitations. Fear. Anxiety, Fight, or flight. I lived with it for a long time. Then I got divorced and realized I was giving my power away. I was not a victim and needed to stop living like one. Ever so slowly, I began to gain self-confidence, to believe in myself and believe that I did matter and that my photographs and my words mattered. It was a slow process, but it was a process, and I was proud of myself for the first time in a very long time. And I began to breathe deeper, and relax and enjoy this life that I was creating. And I was able to compartmentalize the bad stuff from the past, and push it way far back in my mind, and concentrate on the present and even begin to look forward to the future. Something I hadn’t done in a very long time. Sure there were bumps, and times I felt overwhelmed, but all in all, I felt strong. And then suddenly, with the push of a button on a computer, all of that positive self-talk, all the confidence, all the strength, it was gone.

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All because of an anonymous comment left on this blog. Well, actually several comments, but that first one, it did the trick. And just like that, I tucked my tail between my legs and ran. I gave them my power, something I never thought I would find myself doing again. All the hard work, all the therapy, all the journaling exercises, all of it….gone. And because this is where the comments came from, I logged out of this site and told myself I would never put my self out there again. It just wasn’t worth it. I would just stay in my little corner and not venture out anywhere ever again. And that would stop all those horrible feelings from taking over my life again. The end.

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The problem is it didn’t work that way. I still felt those feelings, and now, as an added bonus, I had guilt and shame thrown in for good measure. Because I had preached the message of strength and power, and self-care and independence. And I was a fraud and a failure. An imposter acting like I was something that I wasn’t. All the old voices started whispering in my ear once more….no one wants to read what you write, you have no talent, you are divorced, a single mom, you are ruining your kids because broken homes produce broken children, YOU ARE A FAILURE.

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So I let that tape play in my head over and over. For 3 months. No matter what I did, I couldn’t turn the tape off. And it took my sparkle, my joy. I gave my power away and let myself become a victim once again. I did this, not the person who left the comments, I allowed it to happen. Because I chose to believe the lies. Old habits die hard, don’t they? It’s kinda like that old pair of shoes in your closet, you know they look bad, and they are worn out, but they are COMFORTABLE. You are used to them. So you default back to them, even though you have other shoes, new shoes that look so much better, you continue to choose them because they are what you have chosen for years. And you shuffle through life in your broken down shoes resenting the people who “did this to you.” But the trouble with that is that no one “did it to you.” No one did it to me. I allowed someone to take my joy. And I allowed fear to rule once more. But today, I am choosing to take that power back, to change shoes even if the new ones feel strange and shaky. And instead of guilt and shame, I am choosing to give myself grace and understanding. Because old habits do die hard, and it’s in the everyday choices that the victory is finally won. And you will fall down, sometimes it’s just a stubbed toe, other times it is a full-fledged splat on the pavement kind of fall. But each and every time you have a choice, a choice to either pick yourself up, dust yourself off and put one foot in front of the other, or the choice to lay there and blame everyone for the hand you have been dealt. Baby steps…and for today, that’s enough.

 

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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!”