Posted in Uncategorized

Pandemic Parenting

Pandemic Parenting is definitely something I was not ready for. When I was pregnant with my first child, I read all the books and went to all the classes. I knew what to do in most situations I could expect to run into as a parent. Thanks to a wild streak and some bad luck he was born with, I even navigated through some things the books had missed. By the time my second came, I teased she’d have to try real hard to throw me for a loop. I was a pro. 

But now, Pandemic Parenting has nearly broken me. 

At first, I was rolling with it. We made forts, embraced wacky hair colors, and did every craft kit we had overlooked over the last decade. We set up desks for learning at home and got chores sorted out. I knew everyone being home would mean more messes and dishes than before – I wasn’t dealing with that on my own. It was fun organizing our new life and we were all leaning in to make something scary feel fully liveable. I was a pro, remember?

Nearly a year later, I am a shell of the mom I was before. 

There used to be less screen times and more outside time, but those plans have both fallen to the wayside. They can facetime with their friends even when they cannot be near them right now and those interactions are more important to us right now.

We played more games and watched less tv, but we all just want to be distracted from the crazy world right now. The family that binges together will stay together. At least that’s what I’m telling me. 

Now, I am keeping track of more than I could imagine

What days do I go into my office this week? What days will the kids be in school or online? Who has virtual therapy? When is the dance class zoom call and the guitar lesson zoom call. Is the laptop battery charging? When can we play the church YouTube video sermon? When is the last time everyone showered? Do we have toilet paper and sanitizer?

I’m struggling to keep up tracking online dr. appointments, requirements to go into the dentist, trying to support restaurants with take out, and keep my own career going – among hundreds of other things.

We’re all in this together. 

I know, I’m not the only one struggling with this. We all are. Maybe we can all agree there isn’t one right or wrong way to get through this. Let’s be real: we’re all operating in a survival mode we’ve never known. Our mothers and grandmothers never knew anything like this. Our great grandmothers were likely kids or teens the last time. Let that sink in for a minute. If you thought you had nothing in common with your Great-great grandmother, think again.

If we keep doing things right, hopefully our daughters and granddaughters (and beyond) won’t need to tread into this realm of parenting. Their parenting might be better for all the weirdness we are going through now. Perhaps they’ll roll with changes easier and give themselves a little grace if they have an “off day” as a mom. I’m struggling to do that for myself now after a year of practice. 

Someday, maybe…

Best of all, maybe they’ll see we’re all doing our best. Every family has the same end goal but will go about reaching it in their own way. That doesn’t mean one way is right and another is wrong. In the end, all that matters is everyone is loved, happy, and cared for. Before the pandemic, I think we can all agree mom-shaming was a real thing. It still rears its head on my news feeds as people debate vaccines and masks. We should all be kicking back on a zoom happy hour to celebrate our little wins and cheer each other on throughout these weird days. 

Maybe our kids will do better. Over time they may come to see how we shifted our lives and still came out on top. It’s possible we can do the same now and come out of this with more grace for everyone around us (including ourselves). We’ve done so many other hard things this year – what’s one more? Pandemic parenting can be the start of a wonderful shift in our world.

Posted in books, Christian, Depression, Mantras, Uncategorized

What's in a letter?

What’s in a letter? The best self-improvement books I’ve read are scattered all over my house with loads of letters before and after the author’s names. I love self-improvement books. Some are religious (Lysa TerKeurst), some research-based (Brene Brown), and some are just inspirational stories (Anne Lamont). The idea people can overcome ridiculous situations and still be good humans is amazing to me. Certainly, hearing how people have done it and gathering tips I can use in my life is inspirational.

I have never found one book with all the answers. Please, no one comment with The Bible either. Even that leaves me scratching my head and not fully sure how to handle some situations in life at times. Therefore, I don’t think there really is a one size fits all book, which is actually pretty awesome in my opinion. That means we’re all capable of doing great things in our own way. I really like that. 

I was looking at the self improvement section at the bookstore recently and I noticed many books are written by people with many letters after their names. A few I see often include Ph.D, L.M.S.W., and M.D.. I know what they mean, these people worked really hard for those letters and I respect them. Besides, what’s in letter?

Other letters people should get

I also love how the aisle is also full of people with no letters after their names. They have a lot of info and wisdom to share also. As a result, I’d like to give them letters after their names too. Therefore, I started brainstorming a few:

B.T.S. – Been through Shit.

B.H.B – Been to Hell & Back

C.M.T.U – Can’t Make This Up

B.A.W – Bad Ass Woman

N.M.F.R. – Not My First Rodeo

P.O. – Prays Often

L.J. – Leaning on Jesus

M.L.B. – Momming like a Boss

F.Y.S. – Funny Yet Smart

Think I could add some to my byline? Danielle Peterson – B.T.S., B.H.B, L.J.

So what’s in a letter? What other letters can we bestow on people and what would yours says?

Posted in Christian, Depression, God, longreads, love

Love the World, Love yourself

“Service is the rent we pay for being. It is the very purpose of life and not something you do in your spare time” ~ Marion Wright Edelman

Love the World, love yourself. I think that’s what Marion is alluding to above. There is no denying this year its been hard. This winter is dragging on, isn’t it? Last year we were all together and doing great things with our people; but now we’re all kind of on our own. It’s so funny to think how much can change in the span of a year – for good or for bad. 

I don’t need to map out the bad for you right now; you already know exactly what that looks like. We’re all doing our best to get through that part of life right now. If yours is going anything like mine, the house is somehow messier than ever even though you are home more than ever and you regularly lose track of the last time you actually washed your hair (can I get an amen for dry shampoo, podcasts, and zoom calls!?).

Life looks different

We can’t do everything we did before, it’s just not safe and possible right now, but who says we can’t reinvent some parts of it? Who says we still can’t do good in the world? Seriously, I have no idea who says we can’t – but I know we can completely prove them wrong. I’ve been doing it. So can you. 

Love Your World

If you’re crafty and want to spread some love to kids who are living with illnesses – check out what the folks at Cards for Hospitalized Kids and Cards for Seniors are doing. You can spread some cheer without leaving your home. 

Want to bring it more local? Contact local nursing homes, schools, veterans groups, and hospitals for info on how to reach out to people in need of a smile. Local schools, churches, and community agencies all have people who need a lift in their spirits as much as they need help with other needs. 

You can make cards, send donations, order pizzas for schools, or become pen pals with someone so quickly and easily. Your loneliness and theirs can create something beautiful from this mess! 

We can still send love

Dream Big

Really looking to make a difference? Here is one simple action, go online and simply ask your people: Does anyone need help with anything right now?

The responses will amaze you. Someone you know is worried about food right now and someone else isn’t sure who to call for help with their car. Someone you know may need shoes in the size you were planning to drop at the Goodwill store. Maybe that extra bike in the garage is all it would take to make life good for a kid in your circle. You won’t know if you don’t ask. 

We think good deeds need to be huge, grand gestures or donations – but they really do not. The small things, the ones that often mean the most to people’s hearts, are easily overlooked and go unmet. Small deeds matter. You are beyond capable of being the person who makes someone else smile without making a huge donation or contributing a lot of time. 

How do I know? I’ve gratefully and humbly watched it unfold in front of me over the last 11 months in a Facebook group I started with a friend. We were sad for the world and community as we started seeing people suffer. We do not have deep pockets or loads to share ourselves – but we have big hearts and lots of passion. People share needs, we help connect them to help. It’s that simple. 

Love the world, love yourself

Yes, I miss my church family. I miss my friends from yoga class and work also. I miss the moms from the softball team. I miss my women’s retreat friends, my travel friends, and my conference friends I haven’t been able to see. The void in my life almost physically hurts. 

But, by finding new ways to reach out – I’ve formed new friendships and strengthened others. I’m not as alone as I thought and neither are you. You just need to speak up. 

Tell people you miss them. Tell people you want to help. Share your thoughts, expertise, suggestions, and that extra box of macaroni you know you do not need with them! The empty places will be filled differently, but they will be filled. You will see that no amount of social distancing or quarantining can ever stop love. The human spirit is simply too strong for that, even though some days it does feel insurmountable. 

You may not think your impact is large, but you are exactly the right person to make a difference to someone today. 

The Greatest is Love

“Faith, hope and love are some good things he gave us – but the greatest is love.”

– Alan Jackson and 1 Corinthians 13.

We focus on so many things in life: normal day-to-day chores, holidays, work, and adapting to our new normal that it’s easy to forget the greatest and most basic thing we have in life: love. 2020 made that all clearer than ever, but in 2021 we know what we’re up against and we’re ready for the challenge. 

Love the world, love yourself. 

Posted in Christian, Depression, longreads, love, selfcare, Uncategorized

You don’t need a Valentine. Love yourself.

There are many definitions of love but my favorite is the verb form:

love : verb

 \ˈləv \

1: to hold dear : cherish

Living the verb life

I love (hold dear…cherish…) this form because it is limitless. The verb love isn’t tied to other people, places, or things. It can apply to anyone or anything which makes it the perfect form of love as we enter February. This love applies to us all. 

February can be a real downer month for some when they’re facing it alone. We all know alone has many different definitions too, so use which one applies to you. Whether now or in the past, we have all been alone on this day and it can be the worst. Like a flashing neon sign over your head announcing to the world “I am not wanted, worthy, cared for, or cherished by anyone!” every time another bouquet of flowers passes you by on its way to someone who has been chosen by another. 

I’ve been there. Many times. I used to believe I couldn’t celebrate this month, certainly not Valentine’s Day, without someone else in my life. There is some outdated idea that we can only be loved romantically and when others deem us worthy. I get it, Cupid is the love goddess’ kid and St. Valentine is the Saint of Lovers so that’s where it started.

But St. Valentine is also the Saint of epileptics and beekeepers, so if he can diversify, so can we.

We need to start every Valentine’s Day (and every day for that matter) by remembering love isn’t just gifted to us by other people, we have the power to gift it to ourselves too. In fact, we should gift it to ourselves because if we can’t love ourselves, how can we ever expect someone else to? If we don’t cherish our own greatness, it’s hard to find someone truly worthy of our love. 

Quit chasing love.

I know. Easier said than done. I am well aware. I have spent plenty of time over my lifetime chasing after people I hoped would see me as worthy of their attention. Maybe then they’d decide I was worthy of the love my heart cherished so badly. I could name many things about them I loved and was dying to hear them love just one thing about me in return. My happiness literally hung on their answers, which were generally not what I was looking for. 

I based my self love on their approval which completely removed the “self” part from the equation. It took me years to see the insanity I was putting myself through, trying the same things over and over while expecting different results. Each year, I was disappointed but not surprised. I just assumed love wasn’t for me. It took me a few more years to see that was a complete crock of shit. 

We don’t need love from any outside person to be loved. We are loved already and wonderfully made (see Psalm 139:14 for more on that). The sooner we start believing that, the happier our lives will be. Maybe with someone special, maybe without but there will be love. Lots of it. 

Instead of waiting for outside sources to “gift” us some other definition of love – we need to live a love verb life with ourselves. We need to hold dear and cherish ourselves. In this day in age, waiting around for some White Knight to show up and bestow affection on us is not only outdated but completely unrealistic. 

Learn to love yourself

This month: it’s time to love yourself. No, this isn’t selfish (unless you start treating others like crap to love yourself, then we need to talk). We will not hate our flesh but love and care for it like Jesus does (Ephesians 5:29, generously paraphrased). Everyone will be loved in their own way with just a few little tweaks to life. 

  1. Buy yourself some flowers. I’m not kidding. Go to the store and go as big or small as you want but get some flowers in your space. It’s dark and wintery, they will make you smile. Bonus: you will get ones you definitely love.
  2. Treat yourself. Yes, it’s hard right now. Money is tight for some and many places are limited on availability. That can’t stop you from still treating yourself to a little something for being awesome. Grab yourself something off Amazon or order your favorite take out to enjoy with a good book. Cook your favorite meal, even if it’s a little more work than the Hot Pocket you were planning on. Take a nap and ignore your dishes one afternoon. Hike that trail you love. Do something that makes you happy, no excuses.
  3. Pamper yourself. Hugging yourself isn’t the same as hugging someone else, I fully agree. That doesn’t mean your body can’t still be loved too. Take a long bath or shower. Make a playlist of your most relaxing music and soak. Get a new lotion, a facemask, paint your nails, practice yoga, meditate – just do something that leaves your body feeling renewed and refreshed. 

You are love.

Treat yourself the way you want others to. Love yourself fully and show the world what you deserve. Don’t settle for less. You don’t need other people, cheesy stuffed animals, or chocolates to make it known you are loved. Wake up, roll out of bed in love with yourself and the rest will fall in place in due time. 

You do not have a timid spirit; yours is powerful, loved, and full of self-control (2 Timothy 1:7). Remember your power and love yourself fully.