Women Are Scary!

I was wondering through a bookstore a couple of weeks ago, looking for a new book to celebrate my birthday, when I found it… it was out of place, sitting there on the shelf with it’s front cover exposed, and it caught my attention right away with it’s hilarious and ironic title,

Women Are Scary

I laughed out loud, “You BET!”  Picked it up and leafed through it to see if it would be any good.  Two little cake pops on the cover with female heads looked like they were fighting; one had bitten off part of the other’s head!

This book… is the one!  

It’s been a funny read, cataloging the author’s awkward journey to understanding female friendships, especially other mom friendships.  She’s socially a little awkward (who isn’t?), she’s got her own weirdness, and she’s had a lot of disappointment and heartache in trying to have women friends over the course of her life.  Her journey is an interesting one to read, I laughed, I underlined in the book, and I even cried when it came to the stories of betrayal or loss of friendships the women in the book had gone through.

I understand, I’ve been there, too.  I’m lucky to have found my niche so to speak with getting to love women and mommy friends who are in our weekly life, but I haven’t always had this, quite the opposite at times!  I’ve been the enthusiastic, extroverted, crazy girlfriend, and I’ve been the socially awkward, weird one out because I couldn’t find anything to connect to someone with.  I’m sure all of us have had experiences like that – where you just click with some people, become immediate friends, or where the friendship never even gets off the ground because you’re too different.

In high school and college, I was a social butterfly.  I had friends that were gothics, friends that lived in mansions (we lived in a rich area), friends that lived in trailer parks, male friends that played video games and listened to Marilyn Manson, and a close female friend that was the Co-Captain of the Cheerleading squad.  I was always just a little bit weird though, and even I thought it was odd that I could connect with so many different kinds of people… like a sign of my weirdness.

With mom friends, anything goes now!  I have never had so much fun connecting to women of all sorts!  We all have our pasts of what we were in college, and it really doesn’t matter.  The only thing that matters is how willing you are to open up, be yourself, and be extroverted at least in the moment it takes to find someone new to talk to that could end up being a great friend!

Here is an excerpt from the book that I thought was especially cute.  For all you mommies out there looking for a sweet, easy read or for ideas on how to expand your inner circle:

“So for you, who are your people?  If you’re looking for moms with whom you can go running, let’s get you out on trails chatting up girls about their jogging strollers.  Do you love baking brownies?  Let’s find you a friend who loves eating brownies.  Do you struggle with confidence?  You need a friend who excels at encouragement.

Finding friends also means learning how to be a good friend, so we’re also working on our own stuff too.  As we seek to encourage and support the moms around us, we become exactly the kind of friend we want to have.

Where are you going to find your people?  The library for story time, a “mommy and me” class, the preschool pickup line, a young moms’ group at a church, or the sidelines at a soccer game.  Moms are everywhere, and most of us are a little bit lonely and starved for adult conversation. If you work outside of the home, you may spend time with other adults professionally, but yu stil need other moms to talk to.  Stay-at-home moms just need people to talk to, period.

My favorite relationships are the ones that start out bonding over our kids but transition to talking about books we’re reading, our thoughts on different issues, or just straight up laughter about something absurd.  I love coming together with other women over coffee to solve the world’s problems while a few feet away, our children learn how to share.  My girlfriends make me a better mom, a better friend, better wife, just… better.

I’d met Martha through another friend and really liked her. She was pregnant with her fourth child and looked like a supermodel.  No, seriously.  Picture the hottest pregnant chick you’ve ever seen.  She was always draped in something fabulous, and her third trimester looked better than my six months postpartum.

One day I was crying about my dog, and I needed a friend.  I should mention that at this point Martha was a cat person.  But something made me call her and invite myself over.  She is gracious and kind and makes hospitality look effortless, so I rang her doorbell.

I quickly learned that even though she had four kids, Martha was a voracious reader who had delightful opinions about everything and was going to change the world.  As I got to know her, the phrase, “just a mom” catapulted out of my head never to return.

I drove back to her house again and again, and she helped me decorate my messy new place.  We talked of books and writing and faith and events and ideas.  She showed me that as a mom I can still take interest in other things besides my kids.  Isn’t that a relief.

We have different friends for different aspects of our personalities.  I have my sci-fi-loving friends for movie watcing.  These are my “get my references” friends.  And I have the friends I call when I’m cracking down the center and need someone to pray for my brain.

So figure our who your people are, then start trolling (for moms).”

(Quoted excerpt from Women Are Scary by Melanie Dale)

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The Art of Travel

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Bali

I have a friend that is incredibly and amazingly the most adventurous girl I know.  Her love, her passion?  Travel.  I came across an essay in the book, The Art of Living, that drew images in my head of her and her journeys around the world.  She doesn’t just take time off a busy schedule to go on some two-week vacation, this girl orchestrates complex legs of her journey of life where she is working in a different country as a nurse (Nepal), or on an extended stay in Bali, Indonesia.  She’s been to several places in Europe, Asia, and America, while she grew up and lives in the arctic circle.  Allow me to present my friend, a beautiful woman who inspires me, challenges me with her capacity for bravery, and truly embodies the poetic essay, The Art of Travel.  I adore her… enjoy her pictures of her journeys!

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When you pack your bags to explore the beauties of your own country or to travel around the world, consider these keys to a happy journey.

Travel lightly.  You are not traveling for people to see you!

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Travel slowly. Jet planes are for getting places not seeing places; take time to absorb the beauty and inspiration of a mountain or a cathedral.

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Travel expectantly.  Every place you visit is like a surprise package to be opened.  Untie the strings with an expectation of adventure.

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Travel hopefully.  “To travel hopefully,” wrote Robert Louis Stevenson, “is better than to arrive.”

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Travel humbly.  Visit people and places with reverence and respect for their traditions and ways of life.

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Travel courteously.  Consideration for your fellow travelers and your hosts will smooth the way through the most difficult days.

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Travel gratefully.  Show appreciation for the many things that are being done by others for your enjoyment and comfort.

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Travel with an open mind.  Leave your prejudices at home.

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Travel with curiosity.  It is not how far you go, but how deeply you go that mines the gold of experience.  Thoreau wrote a big book about tiny Walden Pond.

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Travel with imagination.  As the Old Spanish proverb puts it:  “He who would bring home the wealth of the Indies must carry the wealth of the Indies with him.”

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Travel fearlessly.  Banish worry and timidity; the world and its people belong to you just as you belong to the world.

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Travel relaxed.  Make up your mind to have a good time.  Let go and let God.

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Travel patiently.  It takes time to understand others, especially when there are barriers of language and custom; keep flexible and adaptable to all situations.

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Travel with the spirit of a world citizen.  You’ll discover that people are basically much the same the world around.  Be an ambassador of good will to all people.  ❤

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Frenemies

I was thinking this week on the topic of friendships, what constitutes a good friendship, and what the balance really is between telling a friend how it is (for their good) and putting them down.  Where is the line between healthy competition between genuine friends and then competition where one seeks to sabatoge the other’s success?

What is a frenemy?  It is a difficult definition for sure… and I’ve honestly never wanted to keep such an oxymoron in my life.  Some may say, “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer,” but I’ve found that philosophy to be a set up for back-stabbing and major disappointment.  A person who desires, or who constantly plays the role, of being your “enemy,” really has no valid place in your life right now, and certainly not in your future.  I’ve always held the position that “frenemies” should also see the door as soon as possible in one’s life.

What is a friend?

Someone who supports you in life, who is there for you.  Someone who is joyful when they see you celebrating a real success in your life.  I recently had a close friend try to shame me for posting on social media (and here on my personal blog) about my journey in weight loss after the baby, trying to teach other women how it can be done, to encourage them to not gain over the recommended weight from the doctors, and to provide my personal workout routine and advice for how I was able to lose the weight… twice!  Instead of being happy for me like most of my other friends, this girl felt upset when she saw my post… instead of sharing in my joy, she felt negative feelings inside that were her own.  “It doesn’t help” to see someone lose it fast,” she said, and insinuated that I’m shaming the women who can’t lose the baby weight for whatever reason.  We talked about it for about an hour, and eventually I learned her insecurity over my success was coming from her mother telling her growing up that she and her sister were the reasons she had excess weight – that having children ruined her body forever.  She was viewing my success through a lens of fear & scarcity mentality, a false premise that people can’t control what happens to their bodies regarding pregnancy weight gain/loss.  The truth is that we can control the majority of what happens to our bodies, pregnancy or otherwise.  We control what we eat, if we are eating the correct foods that our bodies react well to, how much we gain, and even our hormones can be controlled when they are out of whack.  We control how much weight we gain in pregnancy, and we control if we decide to exercise during it or not.  We control how fast we lose the weight afterwards, and in no small part, that is directly related to how we treated our bodies during the pregnancy as well.

There does need to be caution that we aren’t causing people to stumble, but losing baby weight after a pregnancy is something most people are proud of, and rightfully so!  It is hard work, and takes dedication through either having a very healthy-minded pregnancy, making sure your body is staying strong, or doing the hard work of getting back in shape afterwards.  I already know what I’m going to do for my next pregnancy in regards to controlling my weight and strength and health in general.  With each pregnancy it gets easier because I have more knowledge of what works for my body, and how my body responds.  I’m able to draw up a plan in my mind of how I’m going to better deal with the difficulties next time, because each time I learn something new.

A big part of my success in things like losing the baby weight, or parenting kindly or gently, is making sure I surround myself with friends who are supportive of my goals, and with me in my journey of life.  I learn from other mommy friends what worked for them, or we share how hard pregnancy is – how hard it is to just get yourself off the couch, let alone try to go for a walk or a run!  One mommy friend I have was running regularly up until the very day that she went into labor – and hearing her share that success, filled me with awe and joy for her!  Her success motivated and inspired my own success.  That is a good friendship.

When it comes down to it, we all have to make critical decisions of who we really want to hold close in our lives.  Do you want that person to be close, who cannot share joy when you lose your baby weight fast?  Or who makes rude comments about your furniture mismatching in your house, and then turns around and pretends that she is Miss Etiquette and tries to teach you how to behave when you’re her guest?  Do you really want someone that two-faced close to your heart, where they can conveniently stab it?

My answer is always no.

Friends are not your enemies, and they never should be.

No One Deserves Forgiveness

 

Everyone has at some point, been hurt by someone else – whether it was intentional or random, violent or passive-aggressive, we have all had our experiences with hurt and pain.  Sometimes these instances can come from the hands of those who were responsible for loving or caring for us, accepting us and making us feel welcome in their life.  When we are hurt by those whom we are supposed to have good relations with, it can be extremely painful because it goes against our expectations of what life “should’ve” looked like with them.  Its not in God’s design and purpose for us to have to experience pain and hurt caused by anyone, but especially from those who were strategically placed in life to be close to us.

Biblically, these situations call for us to forgive, no matter how horrible the offense.

It can be extremely hard to forgive someone who is unrepentant, who is bent on not wanting to change.  There are probably instances in everyone’s life where we ourselves have hurt someone, and yet continue to go about life without ever realizing the pain we caused to the other person still affects them.  They are then faced with having to forgive not only the offense, but also our ignorance of how much it really affected them.

Forgiveness is messy – life is messy – and if we’re ever going to live as real Christians, sometimes we have to be wiling to get into the mess of life, and do things that we know God wants us to do – even when we don’t feel like it.

Some things I’ve noticed about forgiveness over the years:

 

  • You don’t have to wait until the other person apologizes to forgive them in your heart
  • The person you can forgive doesn’t have to still be alive – even if they are gone, forgiveness will heal your heart as if they were still here
  • If you wait until you “feel like it” you probably will never forgive people who have hurt you
  • Forgiveness is a choice not a feeling, its a choice to follow God’s command

 

Forgiveness really isn’t about the other person, we are commanded by God (if you’re Christian) to forgive so that our own sins will be forgiven.  Forgiveness is about freeing ourselves from the binds of being tethered to another person who may or may not even realize how much damage they did to our heart.  You forgive so that you can heal and be freed.  You forgive, for you.

I’m reminded of a friend I dearly love, she grew up in the most horrible home you can imagine, was sexually abused by her own father (her mother put her on birth control at 13 just to ensure that she wouldn’t get pregnant with her father’s offspring), her mother constantly let her know how much she hated having children, and how they ruined her life.  Eventually she was placed in foster care, but when she was 18, her foster parents let her out into the world with no where to go, no money or resources, so she made the decision at that tender young age to turn to what she knew she could do – she turned to prostitution.

Years later when we became friends, she told me her story and how she has had to forgive parents who would never admit what they did to her was wrong (particularly her mom who seemingly got away with everything – her father was finally jailed for his actions).  She would try desperately with her mother to reconcile, to get her to admit that they abused her so that she could move into a healthy and restored relationship with her.  It still hasn’t happened, and my friend had to separate herself from her family so that she could focus on living life in a toxic-free environment, and have joy in Jesus.

Even though reconciliation wasn’t possible for her and her mother, her decision to forgive her family was still pivotal in her being able to break away from the circumstances and live a new life based on God’s restoration and ability to make all things new.

Forgiveness isn’t based on whether or not the person who hurt you is sorry, or anything they can do to “deserve” your forgiveness… no one deserves forgiveness, even ourselves!  Having someone apologize and acknowledge their actions can be crucial to repairing a broken or sometimes toxic relationship, however, it has nothing to do with your decision to forgive.

If we have any hope of surviving in this world of wars, crises, and pain in our own families without becoming hardened and cynical, we have to be able to forgive others in our hearts.  The only other option is to hold onto a grudge and forever be tied to those who have hurt us, as if we were chained to them and had to carry them around throughout life.  (It sounds like the worst punishment imaginable!)

Forgiveness is breaking free from the ties to abusers, controllers, insensitive and hurtful people, so that we can live with abandoned joy in our new lives and be unaffected by their past actions against us.

Forgiveness is for you.

And no one deserves forgiveness.

 

 

 

Super Bowl

Our sweet friends are having a huge Super Bowl party at their house today, the wife is 6 months pregnant and a friend of mine for a couple of years now – so I offered to help her clean her house yesterday.  In case you don’t know, when you are 6 months pregnant, you really don’t feel like cleaning anything, and she had the pressure of many many people coming over!  I remember how it was to be pregnant and feel yucky/awful, most of the time… and oh so tired!  I decided she shouldn’t have to do it alone.

I’m excited to say, I’m going to be making some theme related Super Bowl treats for the party later, definitely some cookies with white cream-cheese frosting and sprinkles the colors of the teams (Blue-Orange) & (Blue-Green).

Here are some pictures of ideas – have fun at the parties friends, I know we will ❤ !!!!

queso dip

Easy Cheesy Queso Dip

Ingredients 

1lb ground sausage 2 lbs Velveeta, roughly cubed 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese 1 can of Rotel Tortilla chip for serving
Recipe Source with Instructions
 

And to have a healthier option at the party, Fruit displays:

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(image from Pinterest)
 

Cupcake Themes:

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With adorable direction at Cupcakes & Cashmere

 

 

From 17 to 27

I’ve started mentoring a teen.  She’s 10 years younger, and there is just so much of life yet  to be known ahead of her.  There is so much of me in her when I was 17, and our striking similarities are enough to give me goose bumps! 

She goes to the same little private school I went to, and has had many of the same experiences and struggles in life (even at the young age of 17) that I did… it is just so insanely awesome that God has brought her into my life. 

To look into someone’s eyes and see their realization of our similarities, and for them to know they’re going to be ok – based on you – is inspiring.

From 17 to 27, these are some lessons I would tell any teen or young adult, things we all need in life:

Never gossip… it isn’t good or beneficial to anyone to talk badly about other people.  It not only hurts others, it hurts your own spirit.

Learn to really love yourself – be confident in who you are, and who you aren’t.  Spend time alone, get to know your likes and dislikes, and for goodness sake don’t worry what other people think.

Be a forgiver – you change on the inside when you choose to forgive.  It’s amazing how much peace you feel when you choose to release your anger or bitterness.  Never ever ever let ANYONE turn you into someone who is bitter.  Bitterness is never pretty on anyone.

Always be nice to people – you never quite know who you might be talking to or dealing with.  Your kind words just might be encouraging someone who desperately needs it.  You really just never know.

Never give up on goodness.  There is so much evil in this world, and you can’t insulate yourself  completely from it – but don’t think it’s the only force that is winning.  Make your life a testament to goodness in your actions, and confront evil when you see it.

Courage.  Have it.  It is by far one of the ONLY things that no one can ever take away from you.  People can say what they want, life can just do its own (often cruel) thing, but face it with courage.  Don’t ever give up. Courage will keep you true to yourself, and your principles.

Dress nice – no really.  It’s important to dress well at any age.  Wear things that make you feel beautiful – and know that you ARE beautiful.  Don’t stress about pimples and break-outs, braces, and feeling awkward.  Your beauty on the inside will shine forth as you grow and mature – pimples go away, braces come off, and you accept yourself.

Be a person of good character – you will never regret growing older when you decide to make good choices. 

Accept your own failures, you’re going to fail in life, and it will be ok.  You will learn from them, our failures are our best teachers.

Always always always have fun… laugh… go out with friends and cut loose!  You will never stop needing this – don’t ever let this go.

Never be afraid to ask for help, or admit you have a problem, there is ALWAYS someone who can help you.  The only way to get out of a fox den, is to go back towards the light.