Posted in Christian, God, happiness, longreads, Uncategorized

Seeking peace

“They should shun evil and do good; seek peace and chase after it.” — 1 Peter 3:11

     I have discovered that there are two kinds of passengers in the world: the ones who find joy in the ride and the ones who cannot wait to be there. When he was little, my son fell into the latter category. He could ride like a champ but got bored easily, which led to thousands of hours of “I Spy” between the front and back seats of my car. 

    Until one hot sticky afternoon when we were leaving a parade. I was exhausted from searching for a parking spot, lugging all our spectator gear to the route, and packing it all back after hours under the blazing summer sun to drag it back to the car with a three year old in tow. Out of snacks and trapped in miles of traffic moving at a snail’s pace I did not have a round of “I Spy” in me when the request came in from the backseat. 

    In a moment of desperation, I had a genius mom moment that still lives in infamy in our family. On that hot day I invented what would become “The Yellow Car Game”. I knew there were plenty of cars for him to look at in the traffic, he would be focused on searching them all, but I didn’t see a yellow car anywhere. It was the perfect challenge to keep him busy and rest my mind for a few minutes.  He only found one yellow car that day and it took him 30 minutes – because they aren’t that prevalent.

Stop for a minute and think, When was the last time you saw a yellow car? 

    This immediately replaced “I Spy” as out go-to car game. It was hard at first, until we really started looking closely at the world around us. We had to survey parking lots we passed, drive-thru lines, and car lots to find them. We couldn’t just wait for one to pass us on the highway like so many other colors. We had to seek these out. 

    Eventually, a ten minute trip across town could uncover two or three yellow cars. We could find upwards of ten to fifteen in the span of a day of errands (never the same car twice is the rule). Either everyone suddenly started to buy yellow cars or they had been there all along but we just hadn’t seen them because we weren’t looking for them. I’m going with the second option. 

If you seek it, you will find it.

    Peter would have been good at the yellow car game. Peter knew the importance of seeking things and shared that in his letter to God’s people scattered throughout the world. Times are hard, people are struggling, many are suffering, but Peter reminds them they can still find peace if they seek and chase it. 

Obviously, all of their sufferings won’t be cleared away in a matter of days just for looking for peace but it is a clear reminder that even within hard times goodness is present. It may require difficult searching, like moving stuff in the front of the fridge to see what’s in the back, but it is not impossible. It needs to be actively sought or created but the choice to be a good person, search for peace, and strive for it is always available. 

For those receiving Peter’s words years ago, it likely referred to living good lives in whatever land they found themselves in. They should find ways to live harmoniously wherever they were and actively live as good citizens. Avoiding evil deeds, seeking peaceful living, and making it their goal is what God wanted from them (it applies to us too…).

For us, these words have far more power and application than we likely realize. 

Shunning evil in life is obvious, but there are many mini-evils we face every day that do not always strike us as such in the moment. How many times are we faced with opportunities to spread gossip, judge others’ actions, tarnish a reputation, speak harshly, flip the bird in traffic, or many other things in a day? 

When we slip up and do these things, and we will slip up – we are only human, we diminish the peace around us. We create hurt feelings, anger, conflict, and spread discontent around us. 

If we change our mindset to look for the good in people and situations, we will find it. When we are faced with frustration and respond with healthy conversation, we will uncover more peace. Small steps in our every day can lead us to more happiness and peace by just adjusting our focus.

Gossip stops with you.

Accept others as they are, not as you want them to be.

Meet anger with conversation.

Smile and wave instead of rant and rave. 

Be patient, life isn’t a timed contest.

Find peace everyday. 

The harder you look, the more you will find. 

And keep an eye out for yellow cars. You’ll see them far more often than you expect. Remember those finds when goodness and peace seem out of reach, they’re out there too. 

Happy searching. 

Posted in happiness, kids, longreads, love, moms, motherhood, parenting, Uncategorized

My Son Calls Someone Else Mom…and I love it!

My son’s father and I divorced when he was 1. 

He got his step mom when he was 2. 

He started calling her mom when he was 3. 

People used to ask me how I could stand for my child calling another woman mom. Actually, some still do. 

When we got a divorce, I knew this meant I would be away from my child. There would be days he would wake up and go to sleep without seeing my face and that fact shattered my heart. That was not the idea of motherhood I signed up for nor was it the kind of childhood I had imagined for him from before I even knew of his existence. 

When he first started calling someone else mom, it stung. It stung deep. I was worried I would be replaced or he would end up confused. I hated the idea that someone else could possibly be equal to me in his eyes; I just wanted to be the greatest human he’d ever met (let’s be real, I still do). 

It wasn’t until he was 4 and we could have an actual conversation about titles, right around when he wanted to call his step-dad “dad”, that it all made sense.

He hadn’t been calling her mom because he had no faith in me, he had been calling her mom because it felt normal. When he was there and the other kids said it, he could too. He could blend in and not feel weird; he just wanted to have a “normal” life. He also found comfort in her. He knew she wasn’t me, I was his favorite, but having a mom when he was away from me made it better for him.

He told me about games she played, parks they went to, and things they did. He smiled and giggled sharing funny stories that had made him happy. He said she was nice and she loved him. He said he loved her too – if that was ok with me. 

In that moment, the clouds parted and I understood how lucky I was to have her in my son’s life. She wasn’t there to replace me, she was there to love him when I couldn’t. Though we had never really met, we were silent teammates in the loving of this boy. Two women, on opposite ends of the spectrum, loving and guiding a small boy. He was the one I gave birth to, the one she signed up for, and he loved us both. 

I realized how lucky I was that he called her mom. He wanted to call her mom. That meant he felt her warmth and love wrapping him up when I could not. He knew she would make sure he had breakfast and make dinners he liked. She would play games, go to the park, and be silly with him during his time away from me. I may not have seen him every day, but he laid his head down every night knowing a woman who would keep him safe and loved him was just down the hallway. Always. No matter which house he was at.

So, no. I had no problem with my son calling another woman mom. Fourteen years after he first met her, she is no longer his step mom on paper, but she is still his mom. She loves him, she has seen his ups and downs, helped him when he was sick, and is still in his corner to this day. I have no doubt she will be there for him forever, either. I’m not hurt at all he calls her mom, in fact, I’m grateful he does. Kids need all the love they can get.

He found a soul that loved him purely and forever, which is what motherhood is really all about. It has nothing to do with a bloodline or what a piece of paper says. Motherhood is about love, dedication, tough love, and hopeless optimism for a child’s life. It comes from moms, but sometimes from other people our children are blessed to come across in life. It’s a gift to know your child is loved like you love them when you are not around. 

I’ll never be replaced, neither will you, but knowing your child is loved brings a peace unlike any other. 

Happy Mother’s Day to everyone. The moms, step moms, bonus mom, grandmas, aunts, cousins, best friends, teachers, neighbors, and anyone else who steps up to lovingly guide a child through the complexities of life. When they’re scared, lonely, and can’t be by their mom – you are a gift from God. 

Thank you to everyone who is part of my kids’ mom tribes – especially Ben’s other mom. 

Posted in Depression, happiness, love, Uncategorized

What’s your rating?

Like most people, I am in a few Facebook groups for my town that offer up things for sale and recommendations for businesses for people in our area. In the last week I have seen people asking for recommendations for a lawyer, a mechanic, and a cake baker among other things. I have no need for any of these but because I’m nosy curious, I look at the comments to see what people have to say. I’d like to say it’s because I want to know if there is anything new in my town, but really it’s likely because I believe the places I use are the best, like most people do, and I like to see if everyone else is on board with me. 

How do you rate?

Today, someone posted a very specific request of “Has anyone used ABC mechanic and what was your experience?”(obviously, I’ve changed the shop name to protect the innocent). The responses were crazy. No one was on the fence about this place, there was a clear line in the sand – people either love or hate this place. People either had been going there for decades with fabulous results, or went once and their lives were never the same from the headaches this place caused them. 

I’d dealt with them and had mixed results so I panicked and couldn’t pick a side so I just read without chiming in. Sometimes I went in and it was fine, other times I left frustrated. Honestly though, I think that can be said about a lot of places. They have good moments and bad moments – no one is perfect all the time. The debate roared on so I never did comment, but watching it happen got my mind going. 

What if life worked like this and we all decided who we would interact with and how we would treat them based on the reviews or recommendations of others. What if people handed out ratings of 1-5 stars about all of us? Then, before other people would interact with us, they could go online to search or ask others for recommendations. 

How would I rate?

“Hey, thinking about joining a book group with Danielle – does anyone have any experience with her?”

“Anyone ever sat next to Danielle at the Memorial Day parade? Pros and cons?” 

“Looking for opinions on Danielle as a neighbor. Is it worth saying hello?”

I promise you there would be comments and they would likely be from two camps, just like ABC mechanic’s were. I figure it would likely be either people saying “she is an amazing person” or people saying “she is literally the worst.” While others would likely shrug and reply “who?” or “she’s alright. Could do better, could do worse” with a shrugging emoji for good measure. 

Maybe the mechanic couldn’t get parts because of a supplier or maybe they really did miss tightening a bolt once that led to a major issue for someone. Maybe they also fixed someone’s car at cost when they couldn’t afford it and sponsor Little League teams. Judging off opinions that are only one extreme or the other is dangerous. 

What if someone saw me litter once or heard me get short with a stranger in a moment of frustration? If they never saw me volunteer at a school or help feed the people in my town they wouldn’t know the whole me. Just like those who see me do good, may struggle with my mistakes. And it’s not just me – it’s everyone. We’re all a wonderful mixture of good and bad, success and failures, and ups and downs. The balance makes us human and should be the reminder we all need to give people a chance, form our own opinions, and be objective in our opinions of people. 

Make up your own mind

Instead of tying people’s worth to the opinions of others, we need to try to find a way to go off our own experiences. I’ve been focusing on that the last few months and I’m finding myself happier with myself than I have been in awhile. I know I will never be enough for some people. I also know it’s personal, some people are never satisfied with what other people do. Everyone gets a three star rating in their world no matter what. 

I am too much for some, not enough for others and that is perfect because I am not here to live for others – I’m here to live my life as who I am. Sometimes the results will be fantastic, other times disappointing, but always fully authentic. That’s what matters most when we deal with people (or places) in life. No single moment, no matter how good or how bad, defines us. 

We’re all gloriously, simultaneously one and five star people – and that’s the best review ever.

Posted in Depression, happiness, longreads, motherhood, selfcare

Melting Piles – How to Tackle Your To Do List

I live in Michigan, right along the shore of Lake Michigan. We are quite accustomed to winters when streets, sidewalks, and every possible open space become filled with inches, or feet, of snow. After every snowy winter storm we do what we can to live and work around this pristine annoyance: we shovel, push, and throw it into massive piles. We shovel it as far out of our way as possible then get on with life and the rest of our to do list. 

Eventually, the storms subside and give us room to breathe. The sun comes out a bit to help melt, or at least compress, some of what was left behind. We do what we can to cut the big piles back more and return to our daily lives while we wait for warmer weather to eventually cut us some slack. We wait for warmer days to handle the small piles in a few sunny days with temps over freezing

However, the large piles still loom well into the Spring. 

Until the machinery comes out, loaders and dump trucks, to scoop up the piles and take them off to a remote area of town. They can melt at their own pace without continuing to be a visual danger to drivers or threaten to flood our neighborhoods along with all the other snow slowly disappearing into the ground. 

Today I realized, as I watched the scoop and dump ballet play out near a behemoth cul-de-sac pile this week,  I couldn’t help but think about how we apply a lot of our snow dealing theory to our problems and to do lists in life. We push things to the side, let small problems disappear on their own, and create messy behemoths we must deal with at a later date. Ever catch yourself doing this exact thing? I do (all the freaking time…).

When problems fall into our lives, we handle what we can and group together what we cannot in that moment – we have to keep going on in life after all. When things slow down, we can start working on our problem piles to make them less intrusive to our daily life. And finally, one day when things are finally sunny, we can scoop what is left and deal with them properly. I know we do not have literal piles but our to do lists can feel just as daunting.

We don’t have to deal with everything or fix everything all at once. We don’t need to deal with everything in real time. But if we don’t deal with it eventually, the piles become unmanageable. It’s ok to handle what we have to, then what we can, before finally dealing with the bigger stuff when we have the time and mindset to do so; but we need to be careful not to put it off for too long. 

We don’t have an army of loaders and dump trucks to bail us out. 

Putting off hard conversations and real self-assessment is easier and more comfortable that willingly wading through awkward, messy, hurtful situations. I get that. But unlike the snow, the problems won’t melt away on their own. We have to take thing apart bit-by-bit on our own or risk being buried alive. 

We have to push aside the fear and believe we can do the hard things. 

The voice in your head telling you that you can’t are lying. The one telling you to push them off and ignore them are wrong. The one convincing you that you don’t have the tools, time, patience, or energy is just fear trying to hold you back from the life you deserve (and let’s be honest – the one you want). 

Nothing gets better and growth can’t happen without doing big things. They might be scary or feel overwhelming at first but that’s how you know it’s important. I don’t care if you’re trying to move a 10 foot tall snow hill or apologize to someone after saying some hurtful things – it’s hard and needs to be done. The sooner you start, the sooner the overwhelming pile starts to disappear. 

How do you handle your pile? One scoop at a time. 

I fix problems for a living and the best advice I can give is: make a plan. Which is easier than it sounds. Grab a piece of paper for this quick crash course:

  • Look at your pile and list everything out
  • Take a deep breath, quit rolling your eyes at me, I know the list is long but stick with me.
  • Prioritize the items into three groups:
    1. Urgent (like you’ll be homeless, hungry, in jail, or dead if you don’t deal with it soon 
    2. Soon (things you need to do soon like oil change, schedule bill pays, or make a dr. appt). 
    3. Upcoming (things needing attention with no firm end dates like dropping of Goodwill donations or cleaning out the crumbs from your floor mats). 

How long will each list be? That all depends on how long you’ve been pushing your pile aside. From here, I do one urgent per day (or more if time permits!) until it’s done, then move onto the soon pile. Eventually, the major pressing things are handled. It’s not as fast as a loader and a dump truck, but lifts a weight just as heavy.

The upcoming pile? Well that ones not so bad. You can sprinkle it in along with other things or just do it when you’re done. OR, you can look at it and see if there is anyone else who can do any of it or help you out. Does your spouse drive past Goodwill on the way to work? They can drop off the bags. Your kids are likely capable of vacuuming their own messes out of your backseat (or at least picking up the wrappers). Get them to work and maybe, JUST maybe…they’ll think twice before messing it up again.

Who am I kidding – they will not. but it’s off your list now, so you’re welcome.

The point is, nothing in life is too much – it just may be too much for one time. Even the most overwhelming and defeating mountains of problems or anxieties can be dealt with. It all comes down to never giving up, never giving into fear, and never doubting yourself. Whether it takes one month or twelve to dig out, making progress is all that counts.

Posted in Christian, happiness, podcast

Big news !

Hello all! 

No new blog post this week… because there is a new PODCAST instead! I’m so excited! 

Check out the top menu for access or look me up on Spotify, Google podcasts, and Breakers! 

Search She Proclaims on Spotify!

Please subscribe, listen, give me some feedback and stay tuned! I’ve got big things planned and 2021 will be amazing!

Posted in Christian, God, happiness, longreads, Uncategorized

Faithful Resolutions are the Key to Success

Faithful resolutions are so much better than the others. The expectations for the year are realistic and basic. With the state of the world these days, I’m confident that was the right move heading into the New Year. While resolutions are hard to keep, we know looking for more happiness in our life is always a good undertaking. Some days will be more productive than others, but we’re making progress. Progress is more than enough. 

What about your faith this year? What are you doing to grow that? Faithful resolutions are my favorite. Unlike the crazy variables in our spastic world, our faith will never let us down. In fact, it’s the rock that we can firmly stand on amidst the chaos in the world and our life. Faith is life. 

All you really need to do in your faithful resolutions in 2021 is follow this lead from Jonathan Edwards:

Resolution One: I will live for God. Resolution Two: If no one else does, I still will. 

I love it. Sure it sounds basic and simple, but at the end of the day pure faith and love are basic and simple too. The beauty of God is that he doesn’t track how many times you read your Bible or how many daily devotionals you complete in your lifetime. Yes, they bring His words closer to us but if we aren’t letting them sink in to become the core of us, I don’t think He cares how much studying we do. Our faithful resolutions require more action from us.

God Loves Faithful Resolutions

He wants people who love Him. People who know how to ask for forgiveness for mistakes and gracefully give forgiveness to those who wrong us. People who not only read or speak his words, but actively live them out. Love each other, help each other, and worship Him.

Say your prayers. Use the canned ones if needed, but speak to God honestly and openly from your heart. Tell him your mistakes, worries, and fears. If you cannot be raw and vulnerable with Him, who can you? Ask him for his help and mean it. Sit in the stillness and keep your heart open as you move through your day. He’s there, you just need to let Him help. 

Resolving to be more faithful doesn’t require anything flashy or special to achieve. It doesn’t require perfection or daily tasks to be checked off. There is no required purchase or equipment and no mandatory meeting to attend. This resolution is the easiest and will change your life deeper than any other. 

Live like he wants. God loves justice, love, and helping others. Speak up for those who cannot and be there for them in their struggles – even while you’re dealing with your own. The best way to grow your personal faith is to look beyond yourself. Doing His work and living his words is worth more than being able to recite verses. 

Don’t Stop Believing

Finally, even when the world around us seems to be losing its faith everywhere we look – hold strong to yours. It’s easy to love God when life is full of rainbows and sunshine. Loving God during dark and stormy times is where faith grows. Keep walking with God, even if no one else is, and goodness will be restored around you. 

“Forget the former things;

    do not dwell on the past.

 See, I am doing a new thing!

    Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?

 I am making a way in the wilderness

    and streams in the wasteland.”

~ Isaiah 43:18-19

This year, I’m not focusing on the mistakes or shortcomings I had in 2020 to make resolutions I likely won’t keep. No one should. Every day is a chance to start something new, to do good things, and to improve ourselves. Take them one day at a time and give yourself grace throughout the year. It’s ok if you miss a Monday, eat that brownie, or forget to do a week’s worth of reading. Life happens. 

Just stay focused on the good stuff. Wake up daily full of gratefulness for another chance at life and do good things. No matter how big or small they may be, do them in love. They’re the key to successful resolutions for a righteous life. 

Posted in Christian, Depression, happiness, longreads, love

Make Graceful Resolutions

We talked about skipping resolutions, but be honest – some of you still did it, didn’t you? I knew you would… so let’s be gracious in how we proceed here.

I hope you shall be in the 8% that keeps them (and is honest in their reporting to the people who track these sort of things). I also hope, whether you make resolutions or set smaller goals for the year that you remember to be kind to yourself. Give yourself grace. 

In years past, I’ve set goals to work out and eat healthy but I was never kind to myself. I took away everything I liked, signed myself up for things I don’t like doing, and internally scolded myself any time I stepped remotely close to messing things up. The moment I actually made a mistake in my goals, I declared myself a failure at my resolution and gave up completely. Sound familiar? I’m sure I’m not the only one. 

Why do we always focus on things we’re bad at in the New Year? We make a whole list of things we need to fix about ourselves without really stopping to look at all of the things that make us wonderful. Can a resolution or goal be to just keep being awesome instead of focusing solely on our flaws? 

This year, I challenge you to love you and be kind to you. You made it through last year, you made it through all the hard days, and you are still here. Celebrate those wins and build upon your goodness by growing your goodness and loving your imperfect self. I’m following this method for 2021:

  1. Take an inventory of what you’re really great at and do more of it. Be honest with yourself and don’t worry if others would agree – this is your list, not theirs. If you think you’re a great singer – who cares if you make it onto the voice? You love it, do more of it. If you are an amazing organizer, see if you can volunteer with a group or just help a friend get her crap together. Do more of what makes you amazing and launch that happiness into the world.
  1. Take an inventory of what you’d like to do and do more of it. You want to work exercise more? Then just do it a little longer than last year. If you do 1 minute or 1 hour more each day you’re doing it. Celebrate that win. You want to read more books? Get the Kindle app on your phone and stop scrolling Facebook in bed or on the toilet (don’t act like you don’t do that). If you read 1 more than last year, you did it! Whether you end 2021 with 1 book or 200 books read, you did better than 2020 and that’s a win. Do more of what your heart wants. 

3.    Smile. This one is easy. If you’re from the Midwest, we already do it. Make eye contact with people and smile. Smiling reduces your blood pressure, lowers your stress, and boosts your immune system. It literally makes you healthier with barely any effort (see more on its perks here https://www.henryford.com/blog/2017/10/health-benefits-smiling).

4. Live like Elsa. Just let it go. All of it. Quit yelling at people while you drive, fighting with strangers on the internet, and unfriending people with different political leanings than you. Just because someone says something you don’t agree with doesn’t mean you need to launch a verbal nuclear assault on them and their family. As my boy Thumper has been preaching since 1942: “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothing at all”. You don’t have to attend every argument you’re invited to. Move on. 

That’s it. Low effort, big results, and completely doable. Focus on one day at a time, don’t bash yourself if you have a slip up – just try again. If 2020 taught us anything it’s that “Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13. 

Let’s do 2021 with love. For us, for others, and for the world.

Posted in Christian, happiness, longreads, selfcare, wtf

Happy New Year

Please note: this was written as a three part series and supposed to post before the events in Washington D.C. on Wednesday January 6, 2021. The sentiment is still the same, but 2021 has already proven to be surprising.

Be realistic in your expectations for the New Year

My world is filled with people excited to be over with 2020. I agree 2020 will likely go down as one of the most difficult years in most of our lives. However, 2021 is not a magical cure for all of our problems. 

Celebrating the new year and making big promises for the new year is nothing new. Over 4000 years ago, the Babylonians made promises to their gods at their new year celebration to improve themselves so they could win the gods’ favor on their crops. If they were successful in their resolutions, they would have good crops and if they were not the crops would fail. My family would be very hungry if our ability to eat rested in my ability to stick to a resolution for a year. 

The Romans did the same around 46 B.C. They made promises to the gods of how to improve themselves and believed those actions were directly tied to their quality of life. Keeping of the resolutions would make an easy year for them and breaking them would lead them to a falling out with the gods. Again, I’d be in big trouble if life rested on whether I could actually stop drinking Coca Cola for a year (spoiler: I’ve tried many times, I crack by March). 

Of course, if it’s good enough for the Romans – our Christian church wasn’t going to be left in the dark either. “Covenant Renewal Services” popped up for people to repent their sins from the previous year and to also make new promises with God as a renewal of His Covenant with us. It’s great to examine yourself and reflect on how you’re carrying yourself in the world, but I’m also really glad God doesn’t attach strings to His love for me. Resolutions for any reason are hard. 

At this point, they’re mostly a secular thing and most people don’t even do them. Only 40% of Americans say they make them with roughly 8% reporting they keep theirs (I have no proof but I’d bet a few of those people are fudging too). I don’t make them any year, but this year in particular I think it’s best to skip them and limit my 2021 expectations for many reasons 

I have been disappointed enough over the last 12 months. Some decisions were my own and many were not. I did NOT see a global pandemic of this magnitude happening in 2020. Maybe some people did, I’m not exactly always up in the news as much as I should be, but last year went off the rails more than I think most of could have predicted. We all want it fixed, but problems this deep didn’t start overnight nor will they disappear overnight. 

The dropping of a sparkly ball at the strike ball at midnight does not mean the pandemic is over. 

We don’t have a fairy godmother waving her wand to put things back to normal at midnight. We can celebrate hope for 2021 but still need to be realistic in our expectations. The vaccines are coming but it will still take months to get them out enough to make a dent in the virus. People are still struggling to stay afloat while we wait to safely reopen places. We have new leaders coming in to try and heal years of problems. No single person can change years and decades of problems immediately either. 

We need to approach 2021 with hope and determination, not the expectation it will be better simply because it’s not called 2020. We have real work to keep doing as we continue having hard conversations, taking precautions to keep us all safe, and helping people around us. We need to just keep going and adding any more to our heavy burden entering 2021 just seems self-destructive at this point. 

I’m welcoming 2021 into my life calmly. It’s a breath of fresh air, we are closer to moving past a virus and stepping back into life more freely. But we aren’t there yet. Not with the dropping of the ball, flipping of the calendar, or changing of the year. We still have work to do. 

Let’s go into 2021 hoping things get no worse and enjoy the process of rising together. Last year disappointed most of us, but this year could surprise us. 

Posted in Anxiety, Depression, happiness, longreads, Mantras, motherhood, sad, selfcare

When You Can’t Choose Joy – SheProclaims.com

Choose joy. 

You’ve seen it plastered around the world and on your screens. I know I have. It’s a novel idea. An idea which aims to empower us and make us happy. Everyone wants to be in control of their life and feelings. They want to be happy and love their life. We would all love to choose joy, but it isn’t as easy as the quotes want us to believe. 

I Can’t Choose Just One Feeling

Life is full of complex emotions. They very rarely come to us in an orderly single-file fashion. Instead, situations we face are filled with conflicting and smooshed-up emotions. We feel happy, sad, and mad but we also feel emotions like nervcited (nervously exicted) and angity (angry pity). We experience glarrow (glad sorrow), desohope (hope in a desolate place), charenity (serenity in chaos), and thousands of other nameless compound feelings I haven’t made up names for yet. 

Shoving them all aside so we can simply choose joy robs us of the tapestry of the human experience. Also, it’s impossible for many people, myself included.

Is joy all that great if we don’t have moments of despair as contrast in our life? I am not sure we actually enjoy joy if we don’t know what the opposite feels like. Does joy alone help us to process great loss in a healthy manner? Can joy single handedly cure depression and mend broken hearts? If choosing joy, and only joy, were really possible I suppose it could do all those things in a very monotone manner. 

Of course, if you’re someone who struggles with finding happiness, failing to choose joy as easily as everyone else feels like just one more failure in your life. The exact opposite of what the sentiment means. I’m like that. I can try so hard to choose to be filled with joy and gratefulness and all the good feels in spite of difficult circumstances but it doesn’t actually change things. Then I am sure I am doing it wrong. Which leads me further into my shame and depression. Which then leads to me eating way too much ice cream and needing new pants. The absolute opposite of joy.

Stop Choosing, Start Looking

Instead of “choosing” joy, let’s start looking for joy. Just a tiny little bit each day.  

Looking implies we may not find it easily or right away. I’m still looking for a set of car keys I lost when we moved back in 2014. I haven’t found them yet, but I might. I look for hair ties at least four times per day. It shouldn’t be as hard as it is since I own 4.7 billion of them but I always have to hunt for them. I always find one eventually. Looking is so much better than choosing. It’s less pressure. 

In theory, you should see one joy per day. I really think that is generally an achievable thing. We had a terrible night last weekend filled with nightmares for our daughter and little sleep for me. At the end of the night, we saw a sunrise so bright and colorful it filled the whole sky out our window. It was full or purple, our favorite color. I could not choose joy in that moment as a tired, overworked, worried mom but I found a moment to smile about. 

Some days I find a huge joy or multiple joys. A cozy fire and happy family on Christmas. Everything at Disney World which makes my heart want to explode with joy. My favorite meal surrounded by my favorite people. Spending a whole day reading a book. Warm baths, good beer, long naps, salon day, game nights, owls, my people, my kids and zillions of little things. 

Some days, I find very few. Some days joy is celebrating the end of a very difficult day. Making it through something you thought would destroy you can be a strange joy but it still counts. 

Choosing Joy is Hard

I cannot choose joy and it is ok. I am ok. You are ok. We are doing our best to get through the strange journey of life. We may be on top of the world one day then lost in our lowest lows the next but we are doing our best. You are doing your best. Choosing joy is not a fair expectation for everyday living. 

Just remember to look for joy each day. 

Posted in books, Christian, happiness, moms, motherhood, selfcare, Uncategorized, What I'm Reading

The Best books to read in Quarantine – according to me.

The Best books to read in quarantine – according to me. I’d like to say there’s some science behind this to prove how correct I am, but there isn’t. I just love books.

So, I guess the best books to read in quarantine may be a stretch, since they’re all a matter of opinion, but I’m giving it a go anyway. It’s been awhile since I’ve shared what I’ve been reading so this seems like as good of a time as any. As always – I want to know what you’re reading so can add it to my list 🙂

My top 5 favorite reads right now

  1. Untamed by Glennon Doyle – It’s no secret I love her. She is real, she is full of love, and she has overcome some serious things to find her happy place. This book is no exception. I am currently reading this and its taking me a bit because I’m so busy underlining things and drinking in every word. If you’re feeling like life isn’t what it should be or that you aren’t feeling how you “should” about life, this one is for you. 
  2. It’s Not Supposed to Be this Way by Lysa TerKeurst – I seem to suggest this book constantly but that’s just because it’s so freaking good! There’s no denying life is going to get messy or mixed up and not always turn out how we planned. This book walks us through those hard times from a Christian perspective. My poor copy is full of my handwriting and highlighting , which tells you how great it is. 
  3. My (Not So) Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella – sometimes a light, humorous, “chick-lit” book is what is what life needs. It’s not a style I read often but this one is good. What happens when you get everything in life and it all seems to be going perfectly before it all comes crashing down. We all know that feeling right now, don’t we? But of course, good things can come from change and do. 
  4. A Perfectly Messed Up Story by Patrick McDonnell – yes, it’s a picture book. Yes, its meant for kids. I started reading it because my daughter loved it and asked for it at bedtime. Now, I think it applies to us all. Young or old, get a copy and embrace it.
  5. Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng – Honestly, I haven’t read it yet. I’m starting it soon. This looks so good AND there is a Hulu show to start watching too. But read the book first. Always read the book first.

What am I missing?

These are some of the best books to read during quarantine according to me. I could go on, but then you’d have no time for reading books! Get lost and inspired in a book to ride this out. What else should I read?

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