Finding Freedom in a Laundry Basket

There is this area in my life that I have been trying to get ahold of for YEARS and yet, despite my many promises to myself to “do better” and “try harder” I seem to fail and fail time after time.

Keeping my house clean.

You might think I’d be embarrassed to admit that so publicly, but let’s not kid ourselves, we all have those areas – right? I mean, maybe you are perfect and are in control and living exactly how you’d like to live, but I am going to go out on a limb and guess that you have similar areas in your life. Areas that are ALWAYS bothering you, that you wish you could get control over but just never seem to be able to.

Shame lives in darkness, so I’m bringing it out in the light – airing my dirty laundry (which I seem to always have a lot of in this house) but not just for the purpose of venting or being gross or having a pity-party, but because I’ve had a minor break-through and I’m hoping it will help you as well!

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So, in all my years as a fitness coach and business mentor, it is my job to help people have breakthroughs in areas where in the past they have failed and the biggest mistake people make when they try to change behavior is just that – they try to change BEHAVIOR. You can try to pull apples off an apple tree and staple oranges on it all day, but it won’t be long before the rotting oranges fall off and apples grow once more.

Behavior is a SYMPTOM of mindset. We all do what we WANT or what we believe is best. Until we change our MINDSET, and tap into a deeper motivation or belief, and get the ROOT fixed, the fruit and behavior will never change.

Buying a new workout program, joining a business opportunity, putting together a budget or chore chart, those are all well and good, but they won’t last, unless the mindset has shifted.

So, first I had to identify what my CURRENT mindset was when it came to keeping my home clean. What were some of the thoughts and core beliefs I had? I actually wrote them down, and here’s what I came up with:

  • I have four small kids, our house will never be clean.
  • In order to have a clean house I’d have to be one of those uptight, anxious, no fun, anal people that makes everyone uncomfortable when they come over, and I don’t want to be like that.
  • Having a clean house would require me to be cleaning 24/7 and I’d rather be present with my children, not worth it.

It’s the mindset that stops us isn’t it? I had convinced myself that all this was true. I’d tell myself these things over and over, even though I was incredibly unhappy with how our home was kept, I just believed it wasn’t possible, or the sacrifice I’d have to make wasn’t worth it.

It wasn’t until just a week ago, when we had to evacuate because of Hurricane Irma and ended up staying with a good friend on mine in Orlando that all my “reasons” disappeared.

We were graciously hosted by my friend Sarah, who has three children, the same ages as my older three and is pregnant with her fourth. She works a full time job, has a husband and of course the kids to care for, and is a Beachbody coach to boot! Yet, somehow, her home was so clean, and organized and well kept and peaceful and comfortable and I never felt like the kids couldn’t be kids, and I never felt like she was stressed or overwhelmed or missing out on time with her kids because she was scrubbing the floors all the time.

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I’m sure she’d tell you she gets tired by the end of the day (she is growing another human after all), but during the week we were staying with her, I saw her constantly taking an extra minute or two (that’s really all it took) to clean a dish in the sink, wipe down a counter top or table and put away the toys the kids had finished playing with. Probably what had my jaw on the floor the most was when she pulled a load of laundry out of the dryer, folded it all and put everything away, all at the same time.

You can do that?!?!

Never in my life had I actually done all of those steps all together in one day: wash, dry, fold and put away.
(gosh, we are REALLY getting into some embarrassing reveals here aren’t we?)

Something finally clicked for me.

Having lots of kids didn’t mean it would be IMPOSSIBLE for me to have a clean home.
I could work hard to maintain a clean home without being uptight and making guests feel uncomfortable.
I could still spend beautiful, quality time being present with my children and just do the laundry all at once after they are in bed.

Seeing someone in MY SHOES, doing what I thought could not be done gave me such HOPE. It allowed me to believe it was possible and made me actually want to work hard to make it happen.

Over the past three days we have been home, I have never felt so happy with our little place. I cleaned, organized, threw out unnecessary clutter and have consistently maintained our home to a level I have NEVER in my life done before. I even washed, dried, folded and put away a load of laundry all in one day.

Being a visual person who thrives on beauty, I had no idea how much it was affecting me to be living in such a dirty and cluttered home. I even feel like I am more thankful and in love with our home now that I am showing it some love (which is actually the same thing that happened when I started working out and eating well, I started loving my body more, just from the sheer action of being kinder to it).

Taking care of my home isn’t a waste of time, like I thought it was, in fact, if my home is clean and peaceful and under control it can be a place of SERVICE to others – just like Sara’s home was to us while we were fleeing the storm.

I guess I am writing all this to say, if there is an area of your life that you are unhappy with, but you are CONVINCED there’s nothing you can do about it, maybe it’s in the area of health and fitness, maybe you want to start a business, or a blog, or a YouTube channel, want to write a book or pay off a large amount of debt….dig a little deeper. What are the “reasons” you are giving yourself for why you can’t. Are they ACTUALLY true? You will never attempt something until you BELIEVE it might be possible.

Is there someone in your life that you can go to, watch, learn from and be ignited with a spark of HOPE? Sometimes that’s all it takes, to see someone doing all the things you thought couldn’t be done!

Maybe, all the hard work to get healthy, build that business, live frugally, keep the house clean, seems like a drag, but time after time I am learning, it’s actually just the payment for a much richer, happier, peaceful and wonderful life.

Chia Seed Jam

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I’m always in that struggle between wanting to make healthier things for my kids and at the same time not having a ton of time to MAKE everything from scratch. Convenience always seems to come at a price nutritionally but this is real life. So, when I come across something that is healthy, easy to make (oh – SO easy), replaces a sugary staple and my kids love it – I mean…I HAVE to share!

PB&J’s are like my last resort – when all else fails, behold the PB&J!
I have improved our bread choices (Trader Joe’s Sprouted Multigrain Bread – so good!) and our Peanut Butter is all natural with a little honey for sweetener, or I make our own Almond Butter with Maple Syrup and Cinnamon – but JELLY. That sugary, syrupy, goopey JELLY!

So yesterday I decided to take our beautiful, ripe, sweet strawberries (That were like $1.19 a pint at Aldi this week) and turn it into a healthy Chia See Jam.

Here’s the recipe – took me less than 5 minutes to make – no cooking involved and the kids LOVED IT!

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Chia Seed Jam

2 Cups of chopped strawberries
4 Tbs. Chia seeds
1 packet of stevia (or maple syrup to taste)

Place all ingredients into a blender. Blend up and store in an airtight jar. You can replace the strawberries with other berries if you like.

See – wasn’t that stupid simple!?
I mean, that’s what I’m all about folks – get it done, make it healthy and delicious and be on with your day!

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Taking a Family Sabbatical

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Taking a sabbatical is something that many professors and pastors do. The concept is to go away for one year, after seven years of working. The time away is usually spent on travel or study. It’s a break from the day to day grind to get refreshed and inspired.

I’ve had a lot of questions about what we were doing this month in Mexico. And yes, we’ve had some fun “touristy” experiences while here, but it’s been more than just a vacation for us.

It’s been a family sabbatical.

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We’ve been intentionally taking things slow. Savoring time together, chatting while taking walks, going deep with the kids in conversations when they throw tantrums or get into fights. We’ve had EVERY SINGLE NIGHT free from meetings or events or parties or obligations, just think about that! Getting to spend our evenings just Fernando and I, talking over things we’ve been needing to, getting to be early, pushing the pause button on life.

Traveling is beautiful and fun because you get to go and see, but this month is more than just that – it’s really putting on the breaks. Giving ourselves time to BREATHE, time to ask questions like: “How are we living?” “How are we raising our kids?” “How are we building our marriage?” “Is this how we WANT to live?”

It’s been super helpful for me as the stay at home mom, to have Fernando apart of our day to day life. We brought our school books and did a few days of formal school and he was shocked at how hard it was and how much patience was required. He was able to be a fresh set of eyes on the kids and give me some much needed encouragement and feedback that he just never could in our regular day to day.

Our first week was difficult because I wasn’t used to him being involved in EVERY part of our lives, and we had more than one “heated discussions” but it was SO good – it revealed cracks and weaknesses in our marriage that we just didn’t have time to deal with but NEEDED to. We had many late night talks, tears, prayer and healing. Away from everyone and everything familiar we couldn’t distract ourselves with events, meetings, parties, dinners or church functions. It was me and him and the kids – banding together like never before.

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Life get’s SO busy and hectic and often times it’s EXTREMELY difficult to have those kinds of conversations, to carve out time for really thinking and praying and planning.

I know for many, the idea of taking a month, or more, completely off and taking a sabbatical might seem impossible. However, you might be surprised at what can happen when you start to get creative and figure out how to make things work. At one point this would have been unthinkable for us as well, but then I got a vision for it. I could imagine how it might benefit our family. You see, this vision started years ago, when I started supplementing our family’s income and we could actually DREAM about what we would do as the income grew.

We set aside some of my income, little by little. We decided on the town we wanted to live in, we found great flights and an air bnb for a month. Everything started falling into place, but it was only because we were looking for it to fall into place, we were working for it to fall into place.

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Now that we are home, we have many things that we are planning to implement from our month abroad – less hustle and bustle, more slow and savoring. Less letting other’s agenda’s dictate what we should do, more being intentional with our time. Less buying stuff, more making memories.

Not feeling like we HAVE to say yes to EVERY social invite, making time to take more family walks, enjoying the mundane and we are already looking forward to planning our next trip – no idea where or for how long, but we are setting aside airline points and keeping our eyes and ears open for where we might got next.

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This sabbatical, this sweet family “detox” has been so refreshing for us and something that we are planning to do on a regular basis.

What about you? Have you ever thought of taking a sabbatical as a family? Have you ever tried to intentionally slow down life? What’s the hardest part for you?

Slow Days Ahead

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Hey friends!!!
Gosh, I haven’t had this long of a hiatus from blogging since starting, over three years ago.

The reason for it was simple, I felt the Lord pressing on my heart: “Do less, be more present. Be fiercely devoted to your priorities and do away with all that is secondary.”

My poor sweet little blog, although massively important to me, and always will be a part of my life, needed to take a back seat for a bit. But, in the past few weeks I’ve felt the need to get back to it – content ideas stirring up inside – excitement to get writing again….and there’s also a new chapter in our life that may be fun to document.

You see, in addition to my blog taking a back seat, my husband and I have been having many – many long, late night talks about our life. How do we want to live? What kind of priorities do we have as a couple and are we honoring those priorities? How can we live more slowly, more intentionally and prepare now for future ministry?

We threw around several ideas, and some of them had potential, but none of them fit 100%. You see, our goals in life, as we prayed and talked and prayed some more, seemed to always revolve around these core thing:

– A desire to live for MORE than the status quo and the “American Dream”.
– A rejection of the accumulation of THINGS and debt and being a consumer of entertainment and addicted to comfort.
– A desire to be a strong, stable family, emotionally, spiritually and financially, so our home can be a place of ministry.

Living abroad with our family kept coming up as something we would like to do in the next 5 years. It just seemed to fit with all of our goals and vision.

And then, we both had a crazy idea (we actually came up with the idea SEPARATELY on the same day, and when I told Fernando I needed to talk to him about something, he said, “Me too!” and it was absolutely INSANE when we both had the same idea, same country and all…)- why not try it out this summer?

My husband is a teacher and has the summers off, we’ve ALWAYS wanted to travel with the kids during the summer but I was either pregnant, giving birth or we were broke.

I can’t believe this is really  happening, but….the tickets have been purchased, the AirBnB is reserved, we will be spending one month this summer in Mérida Mexico.

We truly have no connections to this place, no family, friends or churches that we know, but surprisingly almost everyone I’ve spoken to about this knows someone who lives or has lived there, and we’ve got several great people over there that we are talking to and a little community waiting to receive us and give us tips and help.

Mérida is a historic and beautiful city, from what we gather, and we are thrilled Merida07to get to take our kids out of the country, live with the locals, improve our Spanish and bond together as a family unit.

Who knows what the next 5 years may hold, and if we end up living long term out of the country at some point. These summer travel plans and these principals around which we are building our lives may not be popular or understood by most, but there’s something SO freeing to take action on a big decision and KNOW that it lines up PERFECTLY with your core beliefs and values.

It’s literally a dream come true and to think that this is only possible because of the flexibility I have to build my business ANYWHERE and the amazing income to support us while we are there!

Something in my bones tells me this trip will be pivotal in our family’s history – I can’t wait to go (trials and all, because I know there will be bumps along the road).

Mexico – here we come!!

Our Screen Free and Sugar Free Experiment

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Whenever I try something that’s a little off the beaten path (even for me) I like to call it an experiment. Being a mom four times over has humbled me and I do not claim to be an expert or some sort of super mom in any way.

So, please know that I was that mom who had all these ideas of how I would raise my kids and then I actually HAD kids, a lot of them, very quickly, and many of those ideas and aspirations went right out the window!!

Also, please know that I am in no way trying to prescribe this as something other moms or families should do – and I don’t know that we will do this forever either – but I’ve gotten a lot of comments on it, so I thought I’d share our experience.

After a crazy holiday season with sugar overload and my husband being off for two weeks (he’s a teacher) it was a TOUGH re-entry into our normal routine of school and bible study and grocery shopping and life. The very first Monday back (January 9th to be exact) after my kiddos woke up in a TERRIBLE mood and all of them collectively fought me on EVERY single activity from getting dressed, to using the bathroom and even sitting to eat breakfast – it had only been one hour and I was already being stretched to my limits – I made a very knee jerk and drastic proclamation. This would be a NO SUGAR and NO SCREENS day!

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I don’t think my kids really knew what to make of this.

“Do you mean, I can’t play Angry Birds? What about dessert after lunch or dinner?”

“Nope. No screens and No sugar – you will not be watching TV or movies or playing on my phone or the computer.”

Of course, like everything else that day, they fought me. I believe there was some heavy negotiation and a few tears, but I stuck to my guns. I felt like a detox period was in order and I just needed to pull in the reins a bit.

You see, prior to this day, I was getting lazy. If I was still in the middle of some work when the kids woke up (I typically work from 5am – 7am every morning) I would let them turn on the TV and watch a show. And because they were quiet and entertained, I would keep working, sometimes they would watch a solid 2 hours before they had even had breakfast. Then we’d eat and chat and do a little school and if we didn’t have a play date – there were days I would put the TV right back on – so I could finish the breakfast dishes or send a few emails.

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After lunch, same thing, there were days when it was TV, ok turn it off mom needs you to do something (eat, school, get in the car, etc.) and now back to the TV.

That, and the constant asking for candy or ice cream or chocolate – I didn’t have a lot of sweets in the house, but always just enough that there was SOMETHING they wanted at all times. I felt like all my interactions with the kids was either begging (or yelling) at them to come do something, or telling them no, or fighting with them to get school done, or not be too crazy in the store. It was so much negativity around our interactions and then, because I was exhausted, I would throw them right back in front of a screen.

Just being completely 100% honest here.

So, when I told them the new rule, I wasn’t even sure I could follow it. But I had said it, and I didn’t want to go back on my rule because then it would be open season on all rules. this. was. happening.

Surprisingly, after the initial moment of being upset, the kids did pretty well. They asked a few times to watch a show, but when I gently reminded them it was not a screen day, they moved on and found things to play with. I was amazed at how MUCH they were playing and how little they were fighting. I also started interacting more with them in their playtime. I had to really…when they did fight and needed a referee it just made more sense to sit and play and head off arguments before they began than to try and do something and get interrupted every couple of minutes.

Something amazing began to happen, I started really enjoying my kids more. My interactions weren’t just limited to me needing to get them to do a certain activity or get out the door or stop hitting your sister!! I was playing with them more, being silly with them more – and when they were content on their own (which they learned to do really quickly) I would work extra hard to get whatever chores and things I needed to do with focus and urgency. In the past when they were watching shows, I would take my time and browse social media for a bit before diving in because I knew I had time. Now I had to work more efficiently.

Not only that, I noticed their ability to focus was improving, when we sat down for school or went out and they needed to be more calm or quite, it was a marked difference.

Now, don’t get me wrong, they still fight, I still have to struggle through parts of our school day and the mess (now that they are playing so much more) has been a lot more to keep on top of – so no – this hasn’t been a magic pill for perfect children – but – BOY do I see a difference!

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I decided to continue our no screen and no sugar rule for a few more days and it naturally morphed into a during the week rule. Monday through Friday we don’t do sugar or screens, on Friday afternoon on our way home from their sports program we stop at Wendy’s and everyone get’s a frosty, that is our end of the week celebration, and then we usually do pizza and a movie for family night.

Again, this is just what we do, but I am absolutely loving it and thought I’d share just a little bit more. I feel like it’s something that from the outside looking in seems harder than it really is. There are moments when I just want to give in, I just want to put on a show or buy them some ice cream, but then I push through and we find something else to do, we spend more time outside or I involve them in my chores and things I need to get done.

I’m so proud of my littles and I love that our interactions have become more meaningful, I am enjoying them so much more and loving the richness it has brought to our weekdays.

 

Garbanzo and Spinach Hash

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This meal was so simple and delicious so I knew I HAD to blog it and share the goodness.

You really only need three ingredients plus some seasonings and olive oil.

Start 1 turkey kielbasa and sauté with a small amount of olive oil until cooked and browned.

Take the kielbasa out of the pan and add in one can of garbanzo beans that have been drained and rinsed. Add to a sauté pan with a little bit of olive oil, season with salt, pepper, garlic powder and chili powder (sorry I don’t measure, but start with a small amount of seasoning and then taste and adjust accordingly). Once the garbanzos are heating up, add in several handfuls of spinach and re-season. Cook until the spinach is wilted and add back in the kielbasa.

It’s really that simple and GOOOOOOOOD! The garbanzos are creamy and the chili powder gives it a little smokey bite which works so good with the kielbasa.

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Speak Life

I’ve always been fascinated with the power of words.

You can’t touch them. They don’t cost anything.
But they have unparalleled power.

I wonder if there is anything that has more power than words.

I’ve recently started doing morning affirmations with my daughter. I noticed her experiencing some negative self talk, getting really down on herself when she makes a mistake and feeling like she’s not as smart or as good as her older brother. So, I decided to battle that with the most powerful weapon I could think of: words.

Every morning this week, as I brush her hair, I pull out my list of affirmations and I say them to her, one by one.

“I am smart.”

She looks at herself in the mirror, her beautiful almond shaped, light brown eyes get a little brighter.

“I am smart.”

She repeats. I keep brushing and move on to the next one.

“I am loved.”
“I am a good helper.”
“I try my best.”
“I am God’s treasure.”
“I am funny.”
“I am creative.”
“I am beautiful inside and out.”

When I reached the end of the list on the first day she turned to me and said,

“Ok, now it’s my turn!”

I wasn’t quite sure what she meant. She looked at me through the mirror (I still wasn’t done brushing all the tangles out) and said,

“I am a good mommy.”

I was completely taken aback! She held my gaze, expecting me to repeat the affirmation, and so I did. I looked at myself in the mirror and said, out loud,

“I am a good mommy.”

She continued on:

“I am a good coach”
“I love my kids.”
“I am a hard worker.”
“I am strong.”

Each time she spoke and I heard through her little voice what she thought of me, what she saw in me and then verbalized it myself, looking straight into my own eyes, at times, willing myself to believe some of the things that I was saying, it was nothing short of emotional.

I’ve believed in the power of affirmations for a little while now. I’ve believed that they are valuable and powerful but to be honest, I still feel a little silly doing them. Especially when I am alone. To speak out loud, to no one, really positive things makes me a bit uncomfortable. But in that bathroom, with my daughter’s hair half brushed I realized the power of affirmations.

When vocal chords strike together and sound waves move through the air, you may not be able to touch it, but something physical and real happens.

We’ve done our affirmations every day for the past week and a half now. First me and then her. Every day there are certain affirmations I hear her say with more conviction than when we started. Every day I have to swallow the lump in my throat when she starts on mine.

I decided that I want to surround myself with some more affirmations and so I created several iphone wallpaper images for my lock screen. I will be changing them regularly and saying them *out loud* at the end and start of every day (and throughout the day as I need them).

Words are powerful and life giving and completely free and completely within your control. Do you do daily affirmations? Do you speak scripture over yourself and family? Do you ever feel silly speaking it out loud when you are alone? I’m still a newbie, but I’m excited to continue our daily hair brushing routine.

Save these photos to your phone to set as your wallpaper and start your day (or end it) with your own affirmations!

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This is How We Grow

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Through dirt.
Through repetition.
Through failure.
Through hard places.
Through persistence.

Over a year ago I was at a personal development seminar and we did a visualization exercise – I closed my eyes and had to imagine myself getting into a boat and this boat took me down a river. The river was time and as I sailed down it time was passing. I got out of the boat and saw a house and I walked up to the house and knocked at the door. When it opened it was me, 10 years from now. My older self leaned over and whispered something to my present self.

(Are you completely weirded out yet?!)

The speaker leading us through this exercise wanted us to write down what the older self whispered, but in my mind my older self didn’t whisper anything to me, she wasn’t any older or wiser, she hadn’t accomplished anything, she was the SAME me – only older and more tired.

I hadn’t changed or grown.

I wanted to throw up. I was gripped with fear – is that going to be true?
Will I grow?

As humans we long for growth. We long for change. New projects, obstacles, lessons and challenges. This longing is kept in balance with our inner fears and love of comfort. However, no matter how much we fear change, we will shrivel up and die (not literally but emotionally and spiritually) if we don’t change and grow, or at least attempt to change and grow.

Being stuck is absolutely horrifying. Even more so when you see others who are doing what you cannot do and growing where you are not growing.

So, how do we do it? How can we change? How do we grow?

This is a topic that many – many people have written many –  many books on (The Power of Habit and The Slight Edge are two of my favorites) but here is my experience.

Step 1: Exposure

You can’t change what you don’t know to change. Step one for me is always exposure. I am exposed to a new way. I see a better type of living and usually it blows me away!

I remember one of my very first personal development books was The 15 Laws of Growth. Each law that was presented was revolutionary. I’m reading this man’s writing, the laws that he has in place for growth – laws like a monthly review of his schedule and mapping out a growth plan amongst other practices and my mind is being blown. People actually DO this? People actually have a PLAN for growth?

Exposure.

Step 2: Trial (and Error)

After being exposed to this new way, whether it be personal growth, a fitness plan or cloth diapering, if I am convinced that this is something I want to try, I usually jump right in. I research what I need to get to implement this new way.

Of course, because I have never done it before I am clueless as to the pitfalls and costs that await me. More often than not, I go strong for a bit and then fail. Things start to unravel. My lack of experience shows and I go back to the old way.

Only it’s not the same, because now, in the back of my mind I’m discontent with the old way – even though my first attempt failed, I’m ruined! I can’t stop thinking about the new way and the growth I want to see.

Step 3: Deeper Knowledge

After my initial failure, I usually try to think through (sometimes subconsciously) why it didn’t work. Sometimes it’s obvious (like when I started cloth diapering and didn’t have a travel wet bag for my dirty diapers and had to use a regular plastic bag instead. Never did I get that smell out of that diaper bag) and sometimes it’s not so obvious what needs to change.

Regardless, I tend to jump back in to the learning phase to get more information. Now that I know the pitfalls, I am more targeted in my research and training. I know the questions to ask those who have gone before me. It’s learning on a totally different level.

Step 4: Try, Try Again

After my second go-round at learning it’s time to jump back on the horse. This takes a fair amount of courage, especially at the end of my last attempt and this is typically when I have to decide and count the cost whether I REALLY want this growth in my life or not.

Many times, I see someone doing something and I think: “Oh, that looks like a fun idea.” but after trying and failing and researching again, I decide this just isn’t something I’m willing to spend THAT much time on.

If, however, I have decided this IS something I want, even with the costs and the effort it will take, I have to try again. Things usually go better, but I still feel like a newbie, I still feel like I am just *barely* executing – not mastering, but at least squeaking by.

Step 5: Refining

Over time I start to gain mastery of whatever it is I’m trying to do, and then I get discontent and I think: “How can I do this better?” I get more instruction and training and then I implement them.

Learning and then doing.
Doing and mastering.
Learning more and then doing.

Things never stick the first time.
I’m never a master after my first try.
Reading that very first personal development book – those 15 laws, I felt like my eyes were crossing and the principals were crazy, extreme and quite frankly, unbelievable.

Would you believe, nearly 3 years later I am, almost effortlessly, doing almost every single one of those laws.

It’s an ebb and flow. A learn and do. Pushing through dirt. Moving through failure. Learning what doesn’t work and what does. Watching life change and then having to learn all over again. Doing and getting into the business of change and then pulling back and reading and learning. Always going deeper, always seeking to improve – but most important of all: being patient.

I’ll probably have to hear something 100 times before it sticks. I’ll probably do it wrong the first 50 times, but just like a baby who learns how to walk, I can fall and get back up and fall and get back up – each time my balance improves. Each time my muscles strengthen.

How do we grow?

Inch by inch.
Through dirt.
After many mistakes.

If you are standing at the bottom of what seems like an insurmountable mountain – changes you want to make in your life that seem impossible. I’ve been there! I’ve felt overwhelmed, and then dipped my toe in and flailed about and then took a break, and then tried again.

Inch by inch – we all grow the same way – patience, hope and hard work.

I Am the Driver

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So, my Christmas tree is still totally up.

I’m not even ashamed – today is the day it all comes down! (Although I’ve said that at least four times now)

To be fair, yesterday was my husband’s first day back to work – he’s a teacher, so as long as he’s on “Christmas break” it’s totally legit for us to still have the tree up….at least that’s my logic.

Yesterday was day one back on our regular schedule – homeschooling, business hours, new chore chart (gah!) and meal planning, the whole shebang.

Unfortunately the day started a little rough. My first child to wake up, climbed into bed and asked me what we would be doing. I explained (with as much excitement and positivity in my voice as I could) that it would be a normal day! School, chores, play time, etc.

Tears. Anger. Utter disbelief.

“A NORMAL DAY?!?! We’re not going to do ANYTHING fun?!”

Oh boy. Hello Monday!

The day unraveled from there. Another child of mine LOST IT (like screaming, flailing on the floor, crying, throwing things, it will go down as the biggest tantrum in my mothering career to date) because I told them they had to share the craft supplies – yup, how dare I?

Getting back into a routine is hard.

Here’s the cool part. Yesterday was actually a REALLY good day!

I started it early, before the crazies got up – even though the baby kept me up quite a bit, and I got to bed late from witnessing my little niece’s birth, but I knew I’d need my morning time (boy was I right!). I read scripture and then listened to my personal development book of the moment called The Energy Bus while I got dressed for the day, brushed my teeth etc.

It was just perfect! The chapter was called: You Are the Driver.

No matter what happens TO ME I get to decide how I respond. I get to decide how I am going to see the events in my day and my life. I am the driver of the energy of the day.

I decided right then and there to set the tone for the day! As difficult as it was – I remained positive. I did not lose my temper with my kids. I was loving and gentle – I decided that we would have a sugar free and screen free day – I stuck to my decision, no matter how much the kids himed and hawed. We even went grocery shopping (yup) with all four, and it was ok! My positivity stayed constant – I had the mindset that my children’t actions didn’t mean I was a bad mom, I didn’t have to “make them” obey perfectly, they could have a bad day but that didn’t mean I had to.

I am the driver.3

Please don’t think I am some perfect super mom – because I am not. There were SEVERAL moments yesterday that I wanted to snap. I wanted to yell, I wanted to throw my own tantrum – yes, my kids make me lose my shit on the regular, I’ve got four of them after all. The point of this post is the POWER of a mindset shift.

Because I had the mindset I did, because I realized that I HAVE THE POWER to be resilient to what goes on around me. Because I was DETERMINED to remain positive and give my children grace (and by grace I mean I didn’t put up with their tantrums or give in, but I just did it with lots of love and hugs) the day ended up pretty fantastic.

No matter what you face – crazy, out of control children, barely 2 hours of sleep, a boss who is out to get you, people who talk evil about you behind your back, or any number of difficult things – YOU ARE THE DRIVER.

I hope that gives you hope – I know it did for me.
Every time a child erupted in tears – “I am the driver.”
Every time I felt overwhelmed at the to do list – “I am the driver.”
When someone else’s negativity started to seep into me – “I am the driver.”

This is MY life and I only get one, I know what kind of energy I want in my house and in my life….now if you will excuse me, I hear one of my children crying and I REALLY need to get that Christmas tree taken down.

2

And I’ll Do It a Thousand Times Again

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Every year (for the past few years) I have chosen a word for the year. Something for me to focus on and rally around. A word that not only accounts for where I have been, but where I want to go.

Last year was quite a year of transformation. I transformed my body – it once again was sacrificed for a sweet child of mine, became round and full, gave birth and then healed and returned, stronger than ever.

It was a year where I took on the daunting but beautiful task of formally educating my children at home.

At the same time I was attempting to attain the highest yearly award that Beachbody has to offer and bring significant growth to my team and business.

It was a year where I was at my weakest, most vulnerable and quite frankly saw some pretty amazing failures. Being pregnant is not my favorite and that’s what I was for half the year. Having a newborn and not sleeping, while a special and magical time, is not ideal when starting something as daunting as homeschooling AND running hard after a large business goal, and that’s where I found myself for the second half of the year.

And yet, this year, in the midst of the hormones and the failure and the struggle – I went through a profound deepening of my faith. I had no other option, my stores were running dry and I was woefully inadequate for the rising demands and yet having less than normal strength and energy – and so I ran to HIM who is able to provide more than I could ask or imagine.

This is the year my business goals were not achieved, I added a fourth child to our family, I began homeschooling and I rekindled my faith.

In other words – it was a painfully, hectic, beautiful year.

I not only grew in my relationship with the Lord but I realized that if I was to continue on being all these things: wife, small group leader, mother, teacher, fitness coach, entrepreneur and mentor and still thrive, I needed to face some of my weaknesses (mainly organization) and level up and RISE to the calling.

I sought out tools, in my many failures, I decided that every time I fell, I would not let that be a sign to quit, but a learning opportunity to get new tools, learn new things, become better and stronger and try again. Fail and fail and then try, try, try again – was my mantra in 2016.

So I did. Tools have been gathered, lessons have been learned and as I face 2017 with a 6 month old (who still isn’t sleeping through the night, but…) who is less demanding than a newborn, half a year of homeschooling under my belt, new business goals in my sights, better skills and a mindset that will no longer allow me to hide behind the excuse of “I’m just not a _________ person.” I feel SO excited.

This is my year to RISE.

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This is my year to put my hand to the plow, to implement what I have learned, to brush off the dirt from my knees and to RISE. To build, brick by brick the life we long to live – to stop making excuses for why we aren’t there yet and just do what needs to be done – period – when we feel like it and when we don’t.

When the alarm goes off at 4:50am – I will RISE.
When the first attempt to teach the kids fails – I will RISE.
When others around me are giving excuses – I will RISE.
When my own fears whisper in my ear – I will RISE.
When the house is a mess and the to do list is long and I’m let down again and that phone call comes in with bad news like a gut punch to my soul – I WILL RISE.

I will build a life that RISES above mediocrity and complacency and discouragement and settling for earthly riches rubbish and I will RISE to meet my Savior, every morning, see who HE sees me to be, and shake off my guilt and shame and small, short-sighted vision and RISE.

I think you may have guessed my word for the year.

It fires me up.
Like those first few, bright orange rays of the sun that slowly dim the darkness.
I will RISE.

(The theme song for this year inspired the title for this blog post and gives me goosebumps every time I hear it. You can listen in here)