Life Is Not About Likes

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Mother’s Day has come and pass, but I am still cozied up on my couch, taking in all that’s around me. My family. My home. This new life I am living as a stay-at-home-mom.

As I started to thumb through Facebook last night, I had to remind myself that what I had that morning, the breakfast and laughs with my family, that is what matters. NOT the responses I got on Facebook.

If you’re like me, sometimes this is hard to remember. I am honored to be published on Her View From Home where I talk a little more about my struggle with social media, If you struggle keeping your peace sometimes when you start comparing and looking at the numbers, then I would love for you to click over and read my post.

If it resonates with you, would you be so bold to share it with others to remind them of the Truth?

Thanks friends, and Happy Monday! Cheers to a GREAT week!!

Gloryanna

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Attention Bloggers: Be Comfortable in Your Own Skin

 

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(This post also appears on gloryannaboge.com.)

I keep hearing a lot about how we can’t be all to everyone or we can’t be everything to all that’s out there. It seems we are always going going going and getting ourselves deeper and deeper into the busyness that is blogging. You see a lot of posts out there about “Simplifying Your Life: Use a Post Planner” or “5 ways to being more balanced in Your Writing.” I will quickly click on those posts because I, too, need to simplify and slow down, get focused and write. When you find yourself constantly clicking on these posts, you start to evaluate what you’re doing and why you have this constant feeling like you’re spinning your wheels and not ever moving. I started wondering why I get myself into that crazy mode that is the fast lane of blogging.I realized I wasn’t being honest with myself and I wasn’t being honest with my readers.

I try to do it all and have it all because at times I am not comfortable in my own skin.

I am constantly looking over my writing and my goals and where I’m going with all of it, but I get so easily wrapped up in the day-to-day demands, that I lose myself. Trying to stay up on all the social media trends, trying to find the right time to post an article on Facebook and the totally different time to try and hit the sweet spot on Twitter. Growing a readership. Making genuine connections with other writers and not just “liking” something so it will somehow serve me back. How do you keep the balance of the genuine and the reality of needing a social media base to grow your readership? A blogging friend of mine mentioned the other day about how we get so busy trying to put the daily fires out, we sometimes lose site of our long term goals. I find my constant attraction to these day-to-day fires draws me farther away from my authentic self.

No longer was I operating in my own skin, but the demands of trends or numbers. Stats or comments. I was becoming a servant to my social media.

I do this because if I was comfortable in my own skin, I wouldn’t worry about trying to get all the right #hashtags or getting in on all the blogging circle discussions and figuring out the best way to write engaging captions and posts to boost audience interactions. My own skin would stick with the genuine follows and growing my readership organically. My own skin would stick with when it works best for my family life to write and not when the stats tell me to. My own skin doesn’t like to post selfies. There I said it.

We all have our own interpretations of what it means to be comfortable in our own skin as writers. I know plenty of writers who have a system and are efficient with their time as they grow their readership. There are so many bloggers out there whose strength is connecting with their readers and building a community on their blog. These writers are passionate and comfortable with their writing processes.

I want to stay passionate and genuine to myself as a writer. I want to embrace my personality that shapes my writing. This means I’m not always going to be on the up and up with the latest social media trends. It means that I may miss out on some awesome blogging discussions. It means that I’m going to have to put my phone down for a while everyday so I can stay in the moment with my baby boy who is growing wildly fast. It means I need to set aside the evenings so I can focus on my husband and nurture our relationship.

I don’t want to be defined by my readers. I want to define my readers.

I find this to be such a hard act to balance. Clearly, writers need to be aware of their audiences and pay attention to efficient ways to interact with their readers, but when do you draw the line? How do you decide when you’ve gone too far and it’s no longer your genuine self out there but you, wearing a mask trying to be all things to everyone?

The comfortable-in-my-own-skin me would rely more on God’s direction for my writing. After all, He is the reason I started this.

Maybe you started your blog to make money by monetizing. Maybe you are working on a platform to being a freelance writer. Maybe you are writing a book and are hoping to grow an audience and use your blog to write more. We all have our reasons and we all have what makes us the writers we are.

We need to be reminded about those writing tips to boost our readership and  new ways to simplify our writing methods.

But we also need reminding to BE who we are and stay comfortable in our skin.

The result should be a simplified life.

What do you do that keeps you from drifting from your authentic self?

What reminders or tips would you give to writers to encourage them to be comfortable in their own skin? I would love to hear you thoughts in the comments below!

(This post also appears on gloryannaboge.com.)

Attention Bloggers-PIN

Dear Readers: I Haven’t Been Honest Lately

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I woke up at about 1:00 AM with a long night of tossing and turning. The fan droned in the background as my thoughts just wouldn’t stop. I had started to feel it a few weeks back. This feeling of always being unsettled. It was like I couldn’t breathe. I was questioning myself. Worried about what people were thinking.

As someone who likes to write and put it out there on the Internet in hopes that it reaches someone and meets them where they’re at, you are always running the risk of anxiety. Worry that someone will misunderstand what you’re trying to say. Worry that you’ve said too much about your perspective that you end up crossing the line of someone else’s privacy. Worry that you sound, well, like a jerk maybe. Judgmental. Whatever it is, you worry about the representation your words bring to the table.

Worry that you might lose yourself in the process and start writing for your audience instead of yourself.

At 1:00 AM in the deep of the night I had lost myself. Lost myself to a world that I slowly walked into.

When I started blogging, I knew that this was something God wanted me to do. I had made a big transition in my life going from a teacher to a stay-at-home-mom and I saw writing as an outlet. I saw writing as a way to still “teach” others one might say. I saw writing as a way to encourage others in their relationship with Christ. It didn’t matter if you were a mom or dad or aunt or uncle. What once was a vision to write to edify others, became a morphed road that I hijacked. God showed me an opportunity and I grabbed it with greedy hands and let it devour me.

In the middle of the night I was starving to know why I was empty without any of the peace I had once had when I started this little blog. Scenes started triggering my mind.

The first trigger came in a conversation I had with my sister. She made a comment about who my target audience is in my writing and she said, “Well you are writing towards stay-at-home-moms, right?” My response was that writings about my faith and walk with Christ could be for anybody. Later that night I couldn’t shake that feeling. The feeling that I had veered off what my original intent was with all this writing. I wanted to reach anyone in their faith. Not only moms, let alone stay-at-home-moms. Granted, God has given me this new role of being a mom, so there will definitely be times I write about that journey, but forgiveness? Grace? Those are for everyone. Looking over some choices I’ve made, my writing has become well, a little like tunnel vision and I feel like I am becoming blind.

The second trigger came when I got sucked into the bumpy road that is social media and started equating my writing success based on the interactions I would get via social media. God has opened my eyes to these sneaky, yet heavy chains and is growing in me about it. At this point, I rarely check my blog stats anymore and try to keep all social media outlets to a minimum. I use a post planner for social media as much as I can so I don’t have to actually be on it all the time. God has broken the chains in this department and His peace is starting to fill me up more. If you want to talk about losing your peace in a snap, spend too much time on Facebook. Let me just say, and as obvious as it might sound, life is not about likes. But that is another post for another day.

The third trigger came when I was cleaning up old photos on my computer and the original photo with my blog tagline popped up. It was only a few months ago, but in that time I had completely forgotten. I had chosen the name of this site for a couple of reasons. As we go through this life, we are constantly moving through the different seasons, and they happen in the blink of an eye. The baby that won’t sleep through the night? It’s only a season. The rough patch with your friend? It’s only a season. Not so much as in, “it’s only a season, get over it.” No, it’s like it’s only a season, slow down, work through it, or pause and enjoy it. Enjoy this season because it will go so fast. While I was pregnant with Asher, I clinged to Ecclesiastes 3:1

For everything there is a season,
a time for every activity under heaven.

Asher was 12 days late and this verse was the only thing that got me through that time of waiting. Knowing that everything happens in its time. Hence, my blog name was born.

What I didn’t plan for, was to let myself get sucked into a blogging world I wasn’t ready for. THERE IS SO MUCH OUT THERE FOR BLOGGERS. It is overwhelming. I soon became engrossed in approval addiction and statistics for viewership on my site. I slowly started writing differently, driven by these suffocating emotions. I sort of gave myself this “momblogger” identity that I hadn’t originally planned to be. I changed my website header, got rid of the Bible verse and started brainstorming like crazy over all these topics I could write about that would draw in the mom crowd. All the while, losing my identity as a writer. You would think as a mom, that writing about being a mom is a no brainer.

I have met some awesome mom bloggers and I have gained some phenomenal support from women in the blogging world. Unfortunately, I let some of these circumstances change my goal for writing. Instead of staying honest to myself and writing about what God was revealing to me in my heart, the raw, honest stuff about my faith, I started writing about the best way to cook homemade dinner rolls. Instead of writing about God changing my character as a wife, I started writing about the best baby food meals. Don’t misunderstand me. There is absolutely nothing wrong with writing about these things and I love reading about them and the world needs this stuff!! What became wrong for me is that I wasn’t writing about what I knew I should be. Writing became a struggle each time I sat down at the computer. Posting on social media became a task. The joy was slipping away.

I have realized that I haven’t been honest with you because I haven’t been honest with myself. I have been so busy writing to appeal to the masses at times, that I have lost site of why I originally started this. So, all of this to say that if you’ve been following me along this bumpy way, and have seen how I keep changing on here, well, I can’t guarantee that it won’t happen again, but hopefully you’ll see the real me continuing to emerge and it will encourage you in some way. Hopefully, you’ll draw closer to God in your relationship with Him.

I’m not in this to make money or some kind of blogging celebrity fame. I just want to write. I just want to stay honest to myself and be comfortable in my own skin. I don’t know if I’ll keep falling into the category of a #momblogger or #faithblogger or maybe #mombydaybloggerbynight.

Better yet how about a Child of the true God who writes for His kingdom.

I know one thing for sure. I will stay true to the calling God has placed on my heart right now and that is to grow closer to Him on this journey. Even if this writing gig is only for a season.

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5 Survival Tips for New Bloggers

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An original version of this post appeared on livingfornaptime.com

Sigh. I look at the stats and only a handful of views for my new post. OK, put the phone down. Wait to check for like 15 minutes this time. Eeeek. I can’t. The adrenaline is irresistible. Oh boy, one more view than two minutes ago! Progress! Yessss!

You Can’t Be All Things to Everyone

And so are the thoughts of many new bloggers as we embark on this new journey of putting ourselves out there in the blogosphere. I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I started my blog about sixish months ago. I remember thinking to myself I just want to write. This is my release and I need this. Then it morphed into I just want to encourage others. I want others to feel like they aren’t alone. Someone else has been there. Then you start picking up steam and think you need to write about everything. You start thinking I’m a genius. I need to let other people know about this awesome thing I have discovered. Everyone needs to know that you can knit underwear in five minutes.

Before you know it you feel like your blog is all over the place and last time you checked the stats on your phone, things felt pretty stagnant. All that work you’ve put in to try and be versatile, then trying to be coherent, then back to being versatile, then OK, I’m going to keep a focused content on my blog this time. You feel like no matter what you do, you come up empty handed with hardly any new followers to show for it. Why is it that us new bloggers get sucked into this? Whether you lose focus and keep trying to reinvent your blog or stay focused but feel like your progress is “meh,” many bloggers come to some sort of crossroads at some point.

I decided to survey a group of bloggers. I was interested to see how they got in the game and how they survive the journey. I gotta say, reading the responses were incredibly enlightening. I started flipping through the sheets of responses and not only did I notice a similar trend of advice from veteran bloggers to new bloggers, but I noticed a similar struggle amongst us newbies. It was like the new blogger was speaking their frustrations into the wind, hoping for a change, while the veteran bloggers were whispering back keys to stay the course. While I initially was going to make this article a little more about statistics, my muse sent me in another direction. Thank goodness, because any time the muse shows up, I must bow down.

I needed to write about this. To write this for me. I wanted to write this for the new blogger. I wanted to write this to remind veteran bloggers. We bloggers must never forget these life blood tips from our very own. The ones who have been there. I pulled these from the mouths of the very ones who have traversed the line of success and a mess, but always pushing forward to better themselves as writers.

Write about what is important to you and stay the course. Don’t get caught up in appealing to the masses.
Write what you love. Write what you feel, not what you think others want to read. I find this hard at times. I see other blogs thriving and easily get caught up in tweaking my blog to some similar version of someone else’s. I mean, if they have a gazillion likes then they must be dong something right! Yes, and no. They are doing what’s right for them. Trying to do your content based on what you see out there working for someone else will most likely lead you down a path of writing destructiveness. Yes, cliche comment coming but just be yourself. Let your own personality come through and learn to harness your own creativity over whatever topic fits you. Come on people, there are a bazillion mom bloggers out there writing about their life as a mom and tons of them are successful. You know why? Because they write about what’s important to them.

Write because you want to, not to receive validation.
I keep going back to that image of my staying sucked to my phone checking stats. While I like to think I’m a little more lax about it, boy those first few months I couldn’t get enough of my stats reader. It would be arrogant and ignorant to say stats don’t matter at all as you write. Maybe for some, stats don’t carry much weight. For the rest of us, remember to walk the balance of learning from your readers but not being controlled by them. So you have a certain page that gets the most views? Great, keep developing that page IF you feel good about it. Don’t change everything you enjoy about your site just for that statistic. I have easily been sucked into the numbers game and finally decided to go with what I felt most confident with my writing. While I am learning to be patient as my readership grows, I am not defined by them. I should be defining my readers.

Connect. It is the life blood of bloggers.
It is easy to get isolated in the blogging world, so get yourself out there and join a blogging group or two. I did not realize how rad the blogging world can be until I started joining blogging groups. The more I started engaging in our own community, the better I started to feel. The more you give the more you receive. You can’t make it blogging very long by yourself. You need the help and advice of other bloggers. If you aren’t part of Naptime Nation Facebook group. Join. Trust me. It is a life saver and I have not found a woman in that group who tore another writer down for her success. Choose to encourage those around you who are success. It will make you a better writer in the long run. Stay out of the vortex that is jealousy. Lindsay from Pinch of Yum has some great tips about fighting jealousy and being supportive of our fellow bloggers.

Write. Write. Write. And BE PATIENT.
The more you write, the better you’ll be. Focus on producing quality content and the rest will fall into place. Be patient. Good things can come from being patient. Patient as your writing skills grow. Patient as you grow your number of followers. Patient as you wait to hear back from ScaryMommy to see if your piece gets published. Patience doesn’t mean sitting on your hands. Keep working your butt off to engage your readers to grow your readership, but as we all know, most empires take time to build. Build your blog by writing, writing and writing some more. Be patient as you continue to learn the process and learn from others. “As one blogger said from our survey, “Don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s midpoint/end because at one point, they were right where you are now.” Nuff said.

I couldn’t write this list without adding the most popular, beefy tip from our fellow bloggers.

DON’T GIVE UP.
Don’t get discouraged by your stats. Learn from them, but don’t live or quit writing by them. Don’t rush. Blogging is a forever learning experience. Enjoy where you’re at. OK, begging for some sponsors with your media kit may not sound all that enjoyable, but remember why you started this in the first place. Keep that in the forefront as you move forward and remember what is important and obsess less about what isn’t. Capiche?

An original version of this post appeared on livingfornaptime.com

5 Survival TipsPIN

5 Reasons Mom Bloggers Rock

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Have you ever Googled “mom blogs” before? Talk about overload. Upon my Googling adventures I saw writers out there saying that there are almost 4 million ladies who call themselves a mom blogger. Holy Buckets. I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I started blogging. Seriously, talk about sticking your head back in the sand.

I first started out posting here or there, not really worried about which way I was going. When I wanted to put more focus and energy into this “hobby,” in hopes of making some moolah off my writing someday, I realized I needed support. I needed to figure out what the heck I was doing and where I wanted to go. I did what anyone would do before they get ready for the big game. You stalk your opponents.

As I began spending way too much time late into the night reading and ciphering through a gazillion mom blogger sites, I started noticing a trend. Not only were my opponents pretty flipping awesome, but they were team players. These amazamoms are out there, cheering on the next mom, encouraging her to write her story and be vulnerable to the spectators. It didn’t take long for me to realize that we’re on the same team and that we’re pretty rad. If I had to narrow it down, I’d say these are the five reasons mom bloggers rock.

We are the masters at multitasking.
You know what I love about mom bloggers? They are constantly mind blowing me with their talent. Not just their talented writing, but their ability to to keep on balancing mama life and everything else that demands their attention. How is it possible that a mom can write, work, chase kids, love husband, write, work, rinse and repeat and still put herself out there time after time to share with her readers? Because we are awesome. I heard once that being a mom puts you in the top ten list of a job that requires you to make the most decisions in a day. I think some people equate a mom blogger as someone who watches Netflix all day. If they only knew the time and energy we expend as a mom then tack on whatever else it is we do–work away from home, work at home, travel, maybe have the ability to cook or clean, having to help take care of the place in which you live…. I’m getting exhausted just writing this.

We remember to pause, breathe and enjoy where we’re at.
There’s nothing that can keep you more grounded then writing about your life or your experiences and then realizing you need to enjoy what you’re writing about. If I want to write about #enjoyingtheride then I need to actually do it. That’s why I told my husband we need to take a vacation to Ireland, so I can write about it. Fingers crossed people.

We cheer each other on.
I would be amiss if I said jealousy is not a force to be reckoned with as you enter the mom blogging world. I think you have to make a choice if you choose to join the #momblogginghood. You can either choose to let jealousy eat away your talent and motivation or keep your eyes ahead on your own path and learn to appreciate the ladies you identify with. I hear #momtribe alot these days and love the unity this term brings. No matter how we all write, we’re all moms and we can all identify with what that means.

We like to write.
Do I really need to add to this? We enjoy writing  when many others would rather take a chainsaw to their toenails before they sat down to listen to the muses out there and write about it. We are a special breed who choose to use our “spare” time to write. #mamaswhowrite

We are diverse. 
Like I said, I was overwhelmed when I started connecting with other mom bloggers because it seemed like we were all “competing” for the same thing–page views, followers, readership numbers, blah, blah. Honestly, I was intimidated by all these awesome ladies. But you know what? There are a bazillion love songs that say I love you in a bazillion different ways and we keep on listening to them. There are a bazillion moms writing about that one recipe that will kick off your holiday weekend or 10 ways to get your kids to bed before it’s too late or 5 reasons mom bloggers rock, but behind each screen is a woman whose perception on life is different than yours. A woman who reminds you that there is more than one way to make a cake. A woman who reminds you that you are an awesome mom. A mom who identifies with your loss, your gains. A mom who rocks .

P.S. I’m totally digging the 5 hashtags for the 5 reasons. Sheesh, I’m obsessed.

 

 

 

 

What’s Up with Fake Follows?

 

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I recently created an Instagram account for my blog. I had a personal one, but felt like I needed to promote my blog separately and since Instagram recently created a way to have multiple accounts on your phone and I have a new email address by having Blue Host for my WordPress site, long sentence short, I joined the blogging world of Instagram.  I use Twitter and honestly, that started out as a personal account, which I never used, so I switched up to be my an outlet for my blogging. I noticed an interesting trend that began as I beefed up my use of #hashtags. One day I would have some new followers, so what was 100 followers now is 105 followers. The next day, my followers number would be 99. What? That’s when I discovered fake follows.

I guess I’m somewhat oblivious to some of the “follow” rules out there. I came across a post from a blogger I particularly like, and Courtney mentions that bloggers should cut out all that “follow for follow” crap. Really? This exists? Apparently I’ve had my head in the clouds, but I didn’t realize this was a thing. Why would I follow someone just because they started following me?

 

I feel like this is just another example of why social media has created folks to be obsessed with themselves. Don’t get me wrong. I have clearly fallen into this trap from time to time. I mean if one of my Facebook photos doesn’t get 50 likes within 30 minutes, then clearly it was not worthy enough.

 

But really, I don’t follow anyone unless I’m interested in seeing the content they put out there and I would never expect someone I choose to follow to follow me back “just because.” If this is some kind of social media etiquette, then whoever invented this “rule” was probably some super, narcissistic crazy person who feeds off of numbers. Numbers are not the end all to why I write. I write because it’s my outlet. I write because I can. I write because I hope to encourage someone else. I write to blow off steam. I write for a good laugh. If you aren’t interested in what I have to say, then by all means, don’t follow me. I want the authentic. I want the curious. I want the genuine readers.

So what about the people who do follow you? I was talking to my friend about this and she mentioned people who start following someone, like a blogger or a “typical civilian” expect a return. If you’re Beyonce then it’s not expected for a follow back. Duh. But an “average Joe”? Their is an expectation they will be followed back. What will I do with people who follow me? I’ve started sending a “thank you” message. Saying, “I noticed you noticed me. You are awesome. Thank you!” And if I’m interested in their profile and what they have out for everyone to see, I will follow back. If they put out content that is about knitting underwear for their family for Christmas, then I might not be interested. I don’t think I would ever have the patience to knit, let alone knit underwear. There’s nothing wrong with knitting underwear. I’m just not interested in that topic and it doesn’t seem like a topic I would branch out on either. Nothing personal, people. Sheesh.

Do you follow people back if they follow you? Do you agree or disagree? Why?

Do you follow backPIN

 

 

 

 

Word for the Year 2016: Focus…and Cultivate

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I couldn’t decide on one word for this year. I had a few goals and thoughts that I was mulling over for a couple of weeks and I just kept coming back to these two words. Focus was the dominant word. Each time I would delve deeper, the word cultivate kept swimming around my thoughts. So there you have it. My two words for the year are FOCUS and CULTIVATE.

Every year I tend to fill the need to change something in my life. One year I allowed myself to watch TV/Movies for a total of three hours in a one week period. Another year I wanted to run everyday. Ha! That was the year I got bronchitis AND laryngitis. (If you’re wondering, no, I didn’t end up running everyday that year.) Another year Mike and I pledged to eat at one new restaurant a month. One year I decided to read a new book each week. (I was close. I ended up with 50 on my reading list that year.) You get the idea. I have never picked a word to focus on. This will be a new endeavor.

I got the idea from Frank Viola. He posted a great article about getting ready for 2016 and I decided to run with it. If you’ve never heard of or read any of his stuff, you should head over to his site and check it out. Once I decided to pick a word for the year, I started to pray about it. I plan to take this seriously, so it seemed natural to ask God for help.

I knew I wanted to be on social media less, run more, eat healthy, read more, write more, be angry less, spend time with people I care about more and be purposeful in my relationship with Mike. I wanted to focus on them, but not just that, I wanted to grow these things. Improve upon them somehow. Enter cultivate. So here’s my list of focus and cultivation for the year 2016 and how I plan to “implement” them.word2016

1) Facebook less. I plan to turn off all my push notification on all my social media apps (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest). I have found that I have great excuses to be on these all the time (while I’m nursing, while Asher is napping, when I’m going for a walk…you get the idea). I keep missing the present because I’m so focused on someone else’s “present.” Who wants to spend life on Facebook. I don’t even want to know how much of my time is spent either surfing social media or the Internet in general. So, I’ve decided to allow myself two times in a day to check these things. I get up early and like to do emails, etc. so morning seems natural. I’m not sure when the other time will be, but it will be minimum.

2) Run More. I like to run. I feel healthier, stronger, and usually mentally stronger when I’m running. Especially if I have a plan for my running. I plan to run a half marathon this spring. That’s as far as I’m taking it right now. The fall gets pretty busy for me with coaching, so we’ll see what it brings. I already try to run a few times a week, so this isn’t new, but I am cultivating this habit. See what I did there.

3) Cook More Wholesome Foods. I believe I’ve mentioned before how I love Lisa over at www.100daysofrealfood.com. I use her site as my go to when I want to make wholesome, less processed foods. I’ve decided to use my blog to help me with this goal. I’ve got some ideas turning but I’m thinking of a “Supper Sundays” post. I’ll post what I cooked, how it went over, the recipe I used and any other resources. I don’t know if anyone will read it, but it will help keep me accountable to cook at least a wholesome, non processed, possibly all organic meal, once a week. I’ll most likely cook this on Sundays, hence “Supper Sundays.”

4) Read More. If you check out my side bar, you can see that I’ve signed up at Goodreads.com for the reading challenge this year. I plan to read 40 books this year. If you are a struggling reader or like to read, this is fun to do. You can join others and check out who’s reading what. It’s an easy way to find some accountability for your year of reading. I love it!

5) Write More. I’ve thought about using my blog to help me accomplish this. Obviously it’s two-fold with the Supper Sundays idea. I’ve thought about other “day themed” writings. I’ve seen a lot of other bloggers do this and it seems like a good idea. I wouldn’t have to keep it up every week, but when I get an idea, I could tie it to one of those themes. I also have realized that I want to schedule more time in for writing. This can be tricky. I have two prime times in a day to do this, but I use that time for a lot of other things too, so I’ll have to decide maybe what days to do what. Book ideas keep floating around my head. Right now, their just floating. I’m trying to get the sail up still.

6) Relationships. I would definitely consider myself and my husband an introvert by definition. We have friends we see every now and then but nothing consistently. I tend to easily run in my head that “I’m introvert. I don’t need to see people to get energy.” This might be true, but that doesn’t mean it’s the way God intended things for all introverted people. I plan to invest in some of my relationships more this year and spend time with people I care about. I’m pretty sure Mike will go along with this 🙂 I also have a big family, and we can go a long time without talking to each other. This bothers me when I think about it. So, I’ve decided to plan a phone call/text to my family members more often throughout the week.

7) My marriage. I can easily see how married couples lose their intimacy and friendship when they have a child(ren). I can see this slowly happening to Mike and me. He works fairly long days and it’s easy to fall into the roommate mode and give all  your energy to your kids. I’m thinking we need to implement two date nights a month or something. I haven’t worked out all the details of this because I need to talk with Mike about it. but I plan to be proactive in this. We’ve got a great babysitter that we trust and Asher doesn’t have any issues going to bed at night, so we just need to plan to go out together!

That’s my list to help me FOCUS this year and CULTIVATE some things that are important to me. Have you thought about your year? I really like Frank Viola’s idea of making a list of your “Dream Year.” How inspiring! I would like to sit down with Mike and do that. I think it would be a cool idea to see how those dreams pan out for the year. What would  your word for the year be? Why?
Thanks for reading!

Crying in the car and being a control nut: What is your top ten list for 2015?

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I know many are focusing on New Year’s resolutions, but before I jump in to looking ahead, I like to sit back and look at the year and all the things I experienced. I like to make a list, (shocking, I know) and reflect on what had an impact on me as a person. I like to try and narrow down these experiences to ones that seemed most impactful to me. These “experiences” could include a book or music or even a movie. So before you jump into the new year, I would encourage you to reflect on your year in 2015.

WHY make a list?
It’s good for the soul to remember things that have helped mold you into the person you are. As a society, I feel like we’re always looking forward to the next date we have marked on our calendar that we forget to reflect on important things that have happened to us.

HOW to make your list?
I tend to be a “free writer” myself. I don’t start out with a number one and then try to perfect my list right away. I generally sit down and just start writing about the year in total free form. Sometimes I go through all the pictures on my phone to bring up reminders of special events. Sometimes I go through my music play lists to refresh on my favorite songs. I also keep a journal. I like to go through it and reflect. You might even want to talk with someone you spent a lot of time with throughout the year. They might have some interesting perspectives on how the year went.

WHAT to put on your list?
Of course this is very general and can vary greatly depending on the person and what they experienced during the year. Some might find this reflective process liberating and motivating as they move into the next year. We can’t forget the struggles that the year brought. There are many who may have had a tough year who wish to leave it behind and never look back. Think about how your experiences could or may have made you a stronger or more considerate person than before. Your list may include a relationship that ended, a lost loved one, a new loved one, a book, a song, a trip, a concert, a restaurant your family was addicted to, maybe a TV show.

This list is wide open. Be serious. Be funny. Be thoughtful. Be gritty. Be honest.

MY LIST FOR 2015

1) Having my first child.
Of course, this seems like an obvious one, but I must say that it seems almost all my experiences this year revolve around this little guy. Honestly, I wasn’t sure if Mike and I would have kids. God opened my heart and now I don’t even know how I used to think that! I could live without the labor part, and really skip the nine months pregnant part. A stork delivery would be nice. But I would do it all over. Words can’t express all this, really.

2) Becoming a stay at home mom.
If you would’ve asked me a few years ago what I thought I’d be doing the rest of my life, I would have said teaching in a school somewhere. I never would have thought that I’d be a SAHM. Now, I can’t imagine working away from my little guy. The transition had its and still does have its emotional moments, but I am so grateful that I get to be with Asher for all of his “firsts.” Wearing leggings everyday does have its perks.

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3) Love and War by John Eldredge.
This book has brought a new foundational meaning to my marriage. If you are struggling in your marriage and are interested in faith-based insight, you really should check this out. I feel like this book gave me a huge reminder that we are all under attack by the Evil One and prayer is a powerful thing for your marriage, for any relationship, really. Marriage is hard and having a child and being parents is icing on the cake! This book saved us! I really should write a review for this book.

4) Since I’m on the topic of marriage, the song Broken Together by Casting Crowns rang true for me this year, especially after having a baby! There were many car rides, with a lot of tears upon hearing this song. Pregnancy hormones didn’t help either! (Come to think of it, there was lots of crying in the car this year…) There’s nothing more humbling than you and your spouse caring for this new little life (or lives) you’ve been given and realizing how utterly flawed you both are as you walk your parenting journey together.

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5) Organic and less processed.
This year I have tried to cut out processed foods and create a more “whole foods” shopping list. I am addicted to Lisa’s site www.100daysofrealfood.com I first decided to really pay attention to ingredient lists of foods I buy and I try to buy organic when it’s feasible. I really try to go by the dirty dozen. We certainly don’t always eat healthy, but I feel healthier knowing I’m making more educated purchases at the grocery store.

6) Being a control nut.
I have realized this year that I like control. I like to control as much as I can and when I can’t, I feel like a failure or I feel unstable. Again, having a kid can do wonders! I always knew I liked to plan and organize, but I feel I really saw my controlling flaws within my marriage and my relationships and the unhealthy side of control. I think control can be a good, healthy characteristic, but like anything, too much can become a problem. I certainly haven’t mastered dealing with being too controlling but I feel that being more self aware has already helped tremendously.

7) Learning to laugh more.
Laughter instead of anger. This practice has helped me a lot in my marriage. It could help in any relationship. There are several occasions when Mike and I could easily get snippy or rude with one another, but we’re finding out that sometimes. things can be pretty funny and laughing instead of getting angry can calm a storm very easily.

I could probably add Taco Bell, KLOVE Radio, and the public library to this list, but those are long enough for a post of their own! By the way, I realize I only have a list of SEVEN! I’m working on my controlling deficits.

The new year is almost here. Take some time to reflect before diving in with new resolutions or before planning away all your time. Remember those closest to you and how they have impacted you. Most of all, enjoy the season of life you’re in. We all know things can change so quickly.