Settling down is not the same as settling.

I’ve noticed a trend among young women who think that “settling down” is the same as “settling.” I am here to set the record straight.

You are settling when you:

  • Marry someone who looks good on paper, but with whom you are not head over heels in love.
  • Marry someone because you’re afraid no one better will come along.
  • Marry someone because you don’t want to be the only one of your friends who is not married.

You are settling down when you:

  • Find the person of your dreams and want to build a life together.
  • Make a conscious decision to grow your family by having children.

“Settling” means to make a decision based on fear (i.e. fear of being alone, fear of missing out). “Settling down” means to make a decision based on love.

Make decisions based on love, not fear.

When I was in my mid-twenties, I was in a serious relationship with the man I thought I would marry. I asked my parents how would I know, and to my frustration, they answered, “You’ll know.”

Fast forward a few years, I was dating the man who would become my husband. And I knew. It wasn’t a question of whether or not I wanted to marry him. I just did. I liked my future with him in it, with us planning together.

From my tumultuous twenties, I have definitely settled down. But I didn’t settle.

You deserve an amazing life. You deserve to be happy whether or not that is with someone by your side. Don’t settle for someone who doesn’t treat you with respect. Don’t settle for someone who is “alright.” Marriage is hard (awesome, but hard) and you are worthy of the time it may take to find “the one.” You’re going to see this person day in and day out for decades to come, so don’t rush it.

But when you do find that person who is worthy of all of your love, put your heart and soul into the relationship. Work together to build a life full of love, laughter and passion.

What are your thoughts about settling vs. settling down? Have you settled down or plan to? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

How to dig yourself out of a great big hole

Last week, I talked about being overwhelmed after coming off a down period. I have been working fervently to get ahead and make progress, but I always feel like I’m behind. The harder I work, the more behind I feel.

Do you ever feel like that? Overwhelmed to the point where you just want to bury your head in the sand (or Netflix) and hope it’ll all be solved when you get back?

One thing I’ve been thinking about is how being overwhelmed can turn into a form of self-sabotage. Working my butt off but still coming out one step behind makes me less motivated to do the work. And the less motivated I am, the less work gets done, which in turn makes me less motivated. You see this terrible cycle that is forming?

So how do you dig yourself out of a great big hole? One shovel-full at a time.

  1. State your priorities. So what if thank you cards and birthday cards don’t get out today. (I’m talking to myself here.) Focus on the dishes, laundry and other items that will explode if you neglect them.
  2. Look for ways to be more efficient. Where are areas you can cut down on the time spent?
  3. Minimize the clutter. The more things you have, the more you have to keep track of.
  4. Delegate what you can. Enlist a family member or friend to help.
  5. Take the first step! This is important. It can be easy to avoid the issue but the longer you let it fester, the more it tends to grow. Sometimes, all it takes for me is to say “I’ll work on that for 15 minutes.” I can push through exhaustion, frustration, whatever if it’s only for 15 minutes. More often than not, I get motivated to keep going.

I have hope that in my case, if I keep putting in the time, I’ll start to see results. I definitely need to cut back on certain items (such as the aforementioned cards and taking my son to the park every day) until I get my basics covered (ahem, the clutter that dots every surface of the kitchen).

Keep on truckin!

I’m overwhelmed.

I’ve noticed that I have hills and valleys when it comes to my energy level.

Most days, I’m fairly even keel with a decent amount of energy and motivation. I follow my schedule, I make progress on both little and big projects, and I pretty good at maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Every month or so, I’ll have a few days with an incredible energy surge where I’m completely outgoing and super excited about everything, followed by a few days which I call my down period.

I used to be in this habit of signing up for everything outgoing and extroverted during my up periods, then bailing out of those things during my down periods. In my down periods, I find it hard to do anything, even simple tasks like dishes and laundry. Since becoming aware of this cycle a few years ago, I’ve tried to notice when I enter the cycle.  When I’m in an up period, I try to be guarded about what I sign up for and try to at least keep up with basic tasks when I’m in my down period.

Right now, I’m coming off of a down period, one in which I’ve actively worked to keep up with the basics. I went out to socialize in a women’s group even though I didn’t feel like it. My son and I have gone the playground every day even though it’s stinkin’ hot outside. When I’d rather be laying on the couch I’ve forced myself to get up and run around the house playing chase and hide and go seek. My motivation to cook has waned, but I’ve battled that by making easy dishes like salad and pasta.

So, that brings us to this morning, when I started to realize how much of a mess the house is. The counter and kitchen table are full of clutter and the dishwasher is waiting for me to put away the clean dishes. There’s laundry to fold and carpets to be vacuumed. I did pretty dang well keeping up with what I could during my down period, but now I wished I would’ve spent more energy on washing dishes than on going to the playground every day.

So, now it is naptime and I’m faced with a choice. Do I spend the next hour or so whipping the house back into shape or do I go take a break and watch YouTube? I know what I want to do, but I also know what I have to do. I also know that cleaning never seems to take as long as I think it will.

Do you have periods of down days? What do you do to overcome them?

Three types of people

“There are two types of people in the world: those who say ‘there are two types of people in the world’ and those who don’t.” – Gloria Steinem

There are three types of people in the world:

  • The Fakers: those who plaster a sticker and a smile over any pile of disaster in their lives and tell you everything’s “Fine. Great! Thanks for asking!”
  • The Downers: those who are “real” when it involves complaining about their lives and how there’s nothing they can do about it.
  • The Awesomes: those who are real and accurately portray that life is full of ups and downs.

The last few days I’ve been talking about sharing our imperfections, but I’ve been fuddled by one question: “What is the difference between being real and being real depressing?”

I’ve come across a few Downers in my life and immediately turn into a Faker. I smile and nod or lament and nod or agree and nod. Downers make me uncomfortable because there is nothing you can do to make them feel better.

Life is full of ups and downs. Anyone’s life. Everyone’s life. Even people faced with genocide or extreme poverty can find love and compassion at times. And yet, some people will find something to complain about even in the most ideal conditions. This isn’t being real. Just like you can slap stickers on a steaming pile of disaster, you can also slap a steaming pile of disaster over any idyllic life.

This isn’t being real. Just like you can slap stickers on a steaming pile of disaster, you can also slap a steaming pile of disaster over any idyllic life.

Show your imperfections…then move on and make progress. Being real is about being happy in jubilant times and sad or angry or frustrated in horrific times. Showing your imperfections is about having confidence that your feelings are valid and worth sharing.

Because guess what? Your feelings are valid and worth sharing.

(I just realized that I’m writing a blog post complaining about people who complain. #Inception #InceptionIsFrom2010 #HOLYCOWItsBeenSevenYears?!?! #TimeFlies)

My imperfections

Yesterday, I wrote about how we should show our imperfections and show others how you can be content AND imperfect. As part of my process of growth, I’d like to share some of my imperfections.

My imperfections

  • I once spent 40 minutes trying to decide on which brand of toothpaste to buy. I was with a friend, and she won’t let me live it down. I’ve always struggled with indecision. Doors of opportunity have opened and closed while I am still trying to figure things out.
  • I’m a stay at home mom, and I still don’t have time for Pinterest-worthy crafts and activities.
  • I am afraid of a lot of things. I’m afraid of spiders, success, life passing me by, networking, and unexpected death, among other things.
  • I think I’m not good enough. When meeting a group of women who are already friends, I often think I’d be a burden to them. They already have friends; why do they need me? I’ve missed out on a lot of great friendships because of this mentality.
  • I’ve been decluttering for two long years…and I’m still not done. I’m undoing years of messy habits, I’m indecisive and I lose interest when I’m nearing the finish line of a big project.
  • I say I want to lose weight, but I really enjoy my naptime ritual of eating ice cream and watching Netflix.

Those are some of my imperfections. What are yours?

Let imperfection ring!

In the book “Make it Happen,” author Lara Casey talks about how showing your imperfections can cause a domino effect, helping others feel more comfortable and content in their own imperfections. “‘She is imperfect and content, so maybe I could be too.'”

The juxtaposition of the words “imperfect” and “content” caught me off guard, meaning that subconsciously, I thought the two couldn’t exist. All this time, I’ve been working hard on getting my life together, feeling like I had to do that before I could help others. I felt that it would be a crime to give advice to others unless my life was perfectly in order.

Reading this quote made me realize the exact opposite. You must start speaking your truth and sharing your advice NOW. The fact that you are not perfect is an asset, not a detriment. It shows that you can lead an awesome life in spite of challenges that are thrown your way.

Who wants to take advice from the lady who’s got it all together? She has perfect teeth, her hair’s always in place, her children are polite and her house is always clean. Contrast that to the woman who enjoys life and laughs even when the baby spits up on her work clothes (right before she walks out the door). She lets the kids make a mess while baking cookies, and she laughs when the dog jumps in the mud puddle.

I’d take advice from the second lady. That lady knows how to have a good time. In spite of all the mess, she’s truly got it all. She enjoys life to the fullest, isn’t so hard on herself, and isn’t afraid to show her imperfections.

Let’s be that lady. Let’s share the messy parts of life, and let’s support each other without judgment. Let’s laugh when life takes a sideways turn and cry without shame when life warrants it.

Five levels of why

Whenever I’m struggling with a potentially life-changing decision, my husband brings up the five levels of why. Like an inquisitive four-year-old, you keep asking “Why?” to get to the real root of the issue.I recently brought up the idea/fantasy about

I recently brought up the idea/fantasy about hiring out some basic household tasks. I usually dream of having someone come clean or mow the lawn, only to quickly squash the idea. While we have the money, there’s the opportunity cost to consider. Simply put, opportunity cost states that time or money cannot be spent on the same thing at the same time. So, money spent is money we can’t invest.

I usually squash the idea of hiring help because we technically have time to do it all…although we often come up feeling short. But the thought occurred to me last night that this writing has the potential for so much more. Already I’ve written a couple of blog posts that I am proud of and have started to see the value in my ideas.

Could spending money to free up time to write actually provide a ton of benefit years down the road?

This is where the five levels of why comes in. You start off with your first goal or idea and ask why to get a little deeper:

I want to write more.

Why? Writing helps me organize my thoughts.

Why? My mind is always thinking. Often these thoughts are all over the place and I never get anything accomplished. Writing allows me to create something that could help others.

Why? I think differently. I don’t just take the status quo. I look at others who are more successful than I am and I wonder why and what I can do to emulate them.

Why? I believe that much of life is in your power.

Why? I’ve had many opportunities: a great childhood with two parents who loved me and could provide a safe home, a college education, a well-adjusted husband who can provide emotionally, physically and financially. Some of these things have given me a leg up in life. But I attribute most of this to habits, not handouts.

You can keep going on asking why until you get to the root cause. For an indecisive individual like myself, I don’t always feel that this exercise provides the clarity I’m looking for, but it does bring up some ideas that I hadn’t thought about.

Have you ever used the five levels of why to come to a decision? Did it help?

All of the fun with none of the work

The title says it all. Sad to say, but I have succumbed to the entitlement attitude. You might think I’m lazy, feel sorry for me or tell me to “suck it up.” But I’m actually proud because today is the day where it all clicked and became aware of this self-defeatist attitude.

I have this bad habit of spending gobs of time doing research and then backing out when it’s time to pull the trigger. A couple of months ago, I started to become aware of this and it’s driving me nuts. I can now predict when I’ll give up before I’ve even spent a lot of time researching. But, knowing that I’m going to give up does not make it easier to quit early. What can I say, I love research. Still, what good is research if you never take action?
Today, I was reading about how to become a staff writer at other blogs. At the moment I read “Keep a portfolio,” my brain said “Pssh, I’m not going to do that.” But this time, my subconscious mind was caught mid-thought, red handed if you will.
I don’t know what is so wrong with keeping a portfolio. So often I have looked at applying for grad school and have given up as soon as I read the requirements for letters of recommendations.
It’s almost as if I don’t want to do anything that requires help from others or requires me to do things the way it’s already been done. I want to be a trailblazer, doing things my own way. But that way has not led me to the results I want.

I talked the other day how I’m slimming down my priorities. Before I can push myself to follow through, I need to get very clear on my priorities. If everything is a priority then nothing is a priority. If I followed through on everything that tickled my fancy, I’d have no time for the things that actually matter to me, like time with my family.

Hope you are having a great day! Do you struggle with entitlement? (Or is it just me, haha?)

Status quo plus one

I started reading “Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less” by Greg McKeown. The general gist is that it’s better to pick one item, focus and do it really really well than it is to fail because you’re spread too thin. I’ve heard it often stated as you can either dig an inch wide and a mile deep or a mile wide and an inch deep.

Right off the bat, I’ve had to start considering what I want my priorities to be. First and foremost, my most important priority is my family. Beyond that, these are my hobby priorities:

  • Learn to cook.
  • Read non-fiction books.
  • Review non-fiction books on Youtube (this helps with my comprehension and public speaking skills).
  • Write daily on my blog.
  • Have a house that is 80-90% clean all the time.
  • Eat healthy food.

The problem is, try as I might, I can’t commit myself to picking just one. I’ve tried to create timelines so that I don’t feel like if I don’t do a goal now, I’ll never do it. But it doesn’t work. Slowly, I forget my resolve to focus on one item and naively think that I can do more. I end up adding more on my plate until I become so overwhelmed that I have to go back to square one.

It’s almost as if you have to be okay with the status quo…plus improving one tiny little area of your life. You would make more progress if you were content in your life as it is than if you were discontent with everything.

Contentment is a great topic for tomorrow’s blog post. I for one am absolutely terrible with contentment and gratitude (although, at least I’m conscious of my short-comings). See ya all tomorrow!

The meaning of life

There are certain true life stories that just bring me to tears. Mainly those involving children who die in a painful way. It just seems so non-sensical. Why would God subject creatures so pure and innocent to a life so short and bleak? What is the point of life if it can all end in a seemingly random, non-senical way?

Today, it hit me. What is the meaning of life? Love. To love and be loved. Even when life ends abruptly or is filled with pain, it is also usually filled with love.

This thought has reoriented my thinking. I’ve long been frustrated with how arrogant we can all be with our complaints. Whenever you feel like complaining that the internet is slow or that your two-year-old doesn’t listen (yeah, that was me this week), put it into perspective. Did you know that the median household income worldwide is around $10,000? (1) Which means that 50% of the world’s population makes less than 10k/year.

The thought that the meaning of life is love has made me instantly reorganize my priorities. Instead of clamoring for wealth, fame or early retirement, I’m looking at ways I can increase the love in my life.

I can stop being so busy to pick up my son when he asks. I can cultivate acquaintances into friends without being so concerned about having a spotless house or always being perfect. I can give my husband more undivided attention and not just assume he’ll always be there.

What things are you doing in your life to cultivate love?

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