what I’ve learned about being happy

It’s a choice.

Plain and simple. And, just like any other emotion, we can choose to be happy despite what is going on around us. It doesn’t have to be this false and surface level plaster-a-smile-on-your-face-and-act-like-you’re-not-dying-on-the-inside type behavior. There are times life just seems to turn on us, right? We may feel like none of the work we are doing is reaping the benefits we expected, our plans aren’t panning out the way we expect them to, or we cannot find our passport for anything in the world and it’s bugging the mess out of us. Sometimes, it feels that there are so many things that aren’t going “right”, that simply being unable to find that passport or your favorite pair of shorts is enough to make you lose all faith and hope in the Lord & what you believe in…. because nothing just seems to be working out right and you feel forgotten about.

One thing I know is that while you can’t control what goes on around you or the decisions of others, you can control how we respond to our feelings. That was the hardest lesson for me to learn because I couldn’t separate a feeling from an emotional responses/behaviors. I feel hurt, so my emotional response is to be angry. I feel afraid and when I’m scared I talk a lot, try to plan  control what is going on, and I do just about everything I can to figure out what is going on. There is nothing wrong with feeling our feelings, but if we’re going to have healthy relationships, raise emotionally stable children, and function well through  life’s ups and down, we have to literally get a grip.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”
Galatians 5:22

There is freedom in knowing that you can be hurt without acting out in anger or vengeance. That if you’re embarrassed about a slip up at work or something that happened in front of a large crowd, you can respond with humility. You can have joy and peace in the middle of chaos. It’s possible. We can control our responses to our emotions….. as we as adults work hard to teach our children.

Choosing to  be joyful, loving, peaceful, enduring, kind, just plain old nice, faithful, gentle, and self-controlled takes lots of practice…….. at training your mind to focus on the Lord instead of your issue/s. Life can be hard ….. sometimes it seems so very unfair, but if it weren’t for a sovereign God who sees us and everything we go through knowing what good is awaiting us, there would be no reason to continuing fixing our eyes on our Lord & enduring whatever it is on his strength. Living in a disposition of gratefulness for what we have been given would be silly, just as being frustrated for what is going wrong would be purposeless as well, right? The fact that there is a plan encourages us to continue hoping for what is coming, allows us to want to go through the tough stuff with a bit more tenacity because we know that ‘all things work together for good for those who love the Lord’.

Now what I didn’t say is that this is easy. it’s not. Especially if you feel hard like I do….. But, what a benefit it has been to me!! When you realize that the poor responses is equivalent to a toddler tantrum & how unnecessary the outbursts are, it pretty much shamed me into doing better at controlling my responses & encouraged me to communicate & focus on what I felt and managing that than controlling/fuming/crying over what someone had done to me. (Ain’t nobody got time for that.) But, I do have time to work on those fruits of the spirit and loving in spite of.

 Learning how to control your emotions while not stonewalling, hardening your heart and becoming cold, or bitter can take some effort and it also helps prevent that hardening, too. Helps you to take things a loss less personal.  Giving into your emotions and having negative responses is one allowing someone else to control you but also shows that you haven’t truly forgiven and your heart still hurts a bit ….. possibly mixed in with a little denial. lol. Not knowing what it is that causing you to feel like this or respond like that are huge tale tail signs of denial or just not taking time to really process your emotions.

Either way, choose. Choose to find healing. Choose to get help. Choose to live your best days and be content in every and any circumstance.

My next book purchase will be What to Say When You Talk to Yourself…. I’ve had to work really hard at positive self talk and reprogramming my mind to see the best in myself and not condemn what needs some improvement.

….it has all for my good and His glory.
There’s nothing to be mad about. Disappointed, yes.
Angry and bitter, no.

Life’s about choices….. and, I’m choosing happy.

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Mother’s Day 2016

As a mom, all I’m trying to do is raise my children to be loving, hardworking women. Girls who are strong and gentle, fiery & understandable, self assured and humble, confident in who they are, what they believe, & what how they feel. Girls who are thoughtful, caring, & sacrificial with amazing personalities, big hearts, & exceptional character.

All I’m trying to do is be a woman worth looking up to, imitating, listening to, seeking her advice on all things life/love/fashion/fun… I’d like to be the mom who is a has been a best friend, a support, encourager, the one who is taught, led by example, & sacrificed with joy for the well being of my daughters (& hopefully one day a son? Or another daughter? Or two??)

…. And, make it to bedtime every night.

As I mother (especially as a single mama) I’m learning so much more about the difficulty of mothering well. It’s not easy….. We have the greatest impact on our children’s emotional well being. As children we had no idea that our parents’ lives aren’t centered around us and that they were actually people……. it wasn’t until I was older that I realized that they are indeed people who have hurts & pasts, who are struggling to deal AND raise productive little people who know & feel love. Who know acceptance, hard work, responsibility, & deep relationships.


So we have a work to do. As mamas, as women, as leaders, friends, wives, daughters. We have a responsibility to the generations that follow to be whole people. Whole people who know & love the Lord, who live our beliefs out loud. Who seek help for hurts so they aren’t passing down those issues to their babies, who aren’t lashing out because of unresolved issues, who are emotionally stable & able to separate their concerns/fears/hurts from their babies needs. It’s hard. Their are days that outside frustration & exhaustion can be hard to  hold, difficult to let go of. But, from my baby’s perspective…… How confusing is it to be treated with hostility & frustration for no fault of their own? How do we feel when someone comes at us with an attitude out of the blue??

One of the hardest things for me to learn how to do is not isolate & shut down when I’m stressed, hurt, frustrated or exhausted. My habit is to literally shut down- no talking, no socializing, no engaging. But, man! How hard is that on my babies? How difficult is it for them to reach out to me for hugs, comfort, to read a book or touch my nose (their favorite body part) only to be met with a hostility or mom who isn’t “all there”, who waves them off, or ignores them completely? How is that helping to build our relationship? Is it causing them to trust me or fend for themselves? What I’ve learned to do is put all of that stuff aside and deal with it after I’ve loved on them, played with them, & put them to bed. My issues aren’t theirs and they shouldn’t bear the brunt of them.

But it isn’t easy and we aren’t perfect. 
So, friends. Counseling. Sounding boards. Relationships. The gym. Alone time. Self care. Dinners out. Vacations alone. Naps. Wine. All the advice. All the people. All the moments. All the girl time. It’s all needed. It’s all so important to our emotional health. We forget about ourselves because we give so freely, intentionally, unintentionally.  Out of habit, sacrifice, expectation (our own & others).

My sweet friend hosted a Mother’s Day brunch the day before the day & it filled my near empty mama heart so well. To be surrounded by other mamas who are going through the same parenting (nightmares) experiences and have the same fears was so comforting. We have the same little girls give the massive amounts of sass only to back door with the sweetest love…. It’s scary, it’s hilarious, & definitely lets you know you aren’t going through mommyhood alone. My girl has 4 month old twin girls and loved us all so well.

Then, there was Beyoncé.

My little sister invited me along to this machine of a genius’ concert and I loved every bit of it. We laughed and sang and danced…….. It was needed. A day of friends and music. A day of being understood and encouraged. Inspired and challenged.

At the beginning of every experience, we have these dreams and ideas of what life is going to be like during that time. We have unrealized & set expectations from our past, things that we’ve seen, or even what we’ve intentionally picked up & wanted to model.  I wasn’t sure how this Mother’s Day was going to go or how I would feel. Single parenting was never on my radar & Mother’s Day is THE day (along with birthdays!) that you’re to be showered with love & surprises. I initially thought I’d be sad at the fact that there wouldn’t be any gifts or breakfast waiting for me when I woke up. But, seeing my girls happy faces and watching them play together was the best gift. Our happiness, peace, and this insane bond we have… The fact that I am even celebrating Mother’s Day with these babies is enough. Everything else is icing on the cake.

Mother’s Day weekend was perfect. It ended with dinner at my mother in laws, the girls playing with their cousins, & me napping on the couch.

Hope your day with your babies was special & sweet!!!

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Oh, there you are…

For the past maybe…… 24 months, my life has been consumed with two little people who are completely epic. They are amazing and they become more and more lovable with every passing day. I miss them when they’re gone, can’t wait to wake them in the morning, & look forward to all of the new daily somethings.

Motherhood is my jaaaaaaaam. 

But, I’ve hidden behind it, afraid. It’s easily consumed me because I have two small people to keep fed and clean on my own for most day….. there isn’t a whole lot of time to do my own thing. Motherhood and swamped has been an iceberg of an excuse to not ‘have time’ to feel and it’s cost me. Writing has taken a back burner, writing with transparency has almost become a thing of the past… the idea of not writing at all anymore has crossed my mind more than once. Relationships have suffered and my own heart hasn’t been given the opportunity to heal as well it could have by now.

You’ve got to put your oxygen mask on first.

Words of wisdom sent from one of my girlfriends that seems so logical, but can also feel so selfish at times. Yet, to be the mama parent my girls need, I have to be authentically me and whole. We’ve all heard that you can’t pour out of an empty glass – and it makes sense. While I don’t feel that my cup needs to be overflowing and full, it needs to be at a level where there is something to give and some left over for myself. There needs to be time allotted for me to refill my cup, as well. I believe that the levels can vary depending on circumstances and that there are more than a few ways to have your cup refilled. The most important thing for me has been to find different ways to fill myself up and to learn how to operate/love/mother well no matter how much there is to give.

A couple of weeks ago, I scrolled through my social media and calendar to realize that Alaina was not present; she only had a half hour space allotted in my planner, & my phone was pretty much dead. Everything revolved around the girls and having ‘all my ducks in a row’. I literally just saw a meme that pretty much said, ‘My ducks aren’t all in a row but they’re in the same pond’ and for me that’s pretty much the something. A spotless house isn’t happening over here. Toys are everywhere and I kinda like it like that. Now, there’s organization but you can tell children live here and they’re allowed to live in their house………. and, that there mama has plenty other things to do than perfectly put away toys. Away-ish good enough. Perfection has been escorted off of the premises as I’d much rather just be. Life’s junk, my own insecurities/judgments, and a much too large concern over what people think won’t rule my thoughts.

I’ve pulled my head out of the sand and although I’m terrified to feel and deal with emotions I’ve successfully ignored and dodged, for my own healing, it’s got to be done. Part of that healing, for me, is taking time for myself to be Alaina as well as a mother.

Healing is taking place and this season of my life is so good…. it’s been hard for a long time, and single motherhood is not a breeze nor is it glamorous, it’s been such a great experience where I’ve grown a lot personally. I’m thankful. God has definitely been gracious to me and I’m clinging to him….. for peace, comfort, direction, and provision…… of all things.

My girls are only as happy and healthy as I am and there’s nothing that would make me more glad than to see my daughters grow up well loved and guided, courageous, happy & joyful, and strong with a heart for the Lord. While the Lord can and will use others to impact my children’s lives, I’m an enormous and great piece of their lives…….. I want to honor the Lord well in this role and that requires mental and emotional health, them seeing me have and maintain friendships, balance various responsibilities, and taking risks.  Everything we go through in life is a process and I’ve learned that if you’re thankful for the process in the circumstance you’re in, you can be a little bit more patient in it, more respectful of it, and more joyful as you go through it. These girls have got to see a joyful mama who has been through a lot but is still standing with peace in her heart and intact relationships  surrounding and supporting her. I want them to see a happy and joyful mama who does things she enjoys both with them and without them….. it’s good and healthy for us both. It’s struggle but the Lord is good and will show each of us how we should be manage these roles and self care…..every mama is different, each mama needs something different, and her children have varying needs as well. We can’t judge another mama, lest we are in her shoes.

Mamas, how are some of the ways you recharge?

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