Life Update and Latest Projects

I have been absent from the blogging world the past few months, and I apologize for that.  With two jobs, being a full time student, and figuring out life as a newlywed it’s easy to forget to make time for the things you love to do.  However, my semester has come to a close and I am looking forward to a summer that is going to be packed with some fun trips and a couple new projects I am working on.

First things first, I promise to blog more often this summer.  However, I am probably going to start focusing in more on living a happy, healthy lifestyle.  It’s been done a number of times, I know.  The thing is thought that I am not a certified trainer, fitness model, pro chef, or anything else you might picture when you think of someone who runs a health blog.  I am someone who has lost 20 pounds since the new year entirely on their own without any fad diets or intense workout schedules.  So my blog would focus primarily on helping others who have busy lives similar to mine and showing them how to stay healthy and happy in spite of the madness.

Second, I am VERY excited to announce that I have been asked to be part of a new, local nonprofit called W.E.L.L., which stands for Women’s Education Leadership League.  I will be running their social media, and am looking forward to watching them grow.  When I say we are a new nonprofit, I mean we just started this past Monday.  So please check out our webpage at well4women.org.  You can also find us on Facebook, twitter, and instagram @well4women.  I will be re-blogging their recent post explaining who they are and what their mission is, so please give that a read and let me know what you think!

I’m excited for all of these changes and hope that you all are gearing up for an incredible summer as well!

-SM

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Falling For Myself

I have never been the type to be fully comfortable in my own skin.  There has always been a laundry list of things that I would love to change about my appearance tucked away in the back of my mind.  Whenever I’m having a rough day I can recite the things I dislike about myself as readily as if I were being asked to recite the alphabet.  My almost non-existent shoulders, my lazy eye, my nose, my not-so-white teeth, my round face, my thick and often unmanageable hair….

The list goes on and on.

I have also never been the type to like to admit that I have insecurities.  But then I guess no one is.  I hide my insecurities under a smile and makeup, hoping that if I do it just right it will somehow imitate the confidence I seem to have lost so long ago.  It’s gone on this way for a few years now, and it could probably go on for a few years longer.  But what way is that to live?  Who wants to live in fear of mirrors and transparency their entire life?  I make money telling young adults that they cannot live this way, yet I have made it a habit myself.  I have become a hypocrite, and coming to that realization was so incredibly hard to swallow.

I have been my greatest enemy, constantly letting the whispers and expectations of society fill my ears until they get to my head and the lies dance around in my mind.  I let myself lose control over my self image, and in doing so I let the idea of confidence fade away until it was nothing but a nice yet unattainable concept.

It was time to go to war with myself.

When I look in the mirror and feel the urge to look away, I stare myself down instead.  I dare myself to think a negative thought so that I can shut it down and replace it with the truth I have been denying myself: that I am enough.  When I am afraid to look someone in the eye for the fear that they might see right through me, I instead silently dare them to look away first and make sure that I flash them a smile (after all, I’ve always had a brilliant smile).

It isn’t easy to reverse the negative, false image of myself that my mind has so generously created for me.  But it’s something I have to do, and something I will continue to strive to do every day of my life.  I owe it to myself.  If I choose to wear lipstick, it is for myself.  If I decide to wear no makeup and wear clothes that are dangerously on the border of not matching, I will smile because I know I’m doing it for me.  Maybe it’s selfish, and that’s okay.  Because if I can’t be happy with who I am, if I can’t look in the mirror and like what I see, then I’m doing something wrong.

If we as individuals cannot learn to be kind to ourselves and appreciate the things that make us unique, if we are unable to fall in love with ourselves all over again every day, then how could we ever ask or expect that of anyone else?  Or even more importantly, how can we give that kind of love and acceptance to someone else if we deny ourselves it?

Treat others the way you would want to be treated, but also remember to treat yourself the way you would want others to treat you.

-SM

Finding Your Tuesday

It started with the usual suspects: a few glances at the time only to roll back over for a few more minutes of sleep, the joy of knowing I did not have to work, and the inevitable surge of shame as I realized it was almost ten and I was still in bed.

Until today this has been my typical Tuesday morning routine, except usually I can be found sleeping in long past ten.  I’m the type of person who likes to think they can do everything until eventually the exhaustion catches up to me and I just want to go into hibernation  for the next few months.  After taking on two jobs, school, and various Bible study group it became clear to me that I needed more free time.  This realization resulted in me deciding to take Tuesday’s off (unless I get called in to one of my jobs) and spending those Tuesday’s sleeping well into the afternoon and then loafing around the apartment not doing much of anything.

This brings us to this morning, which started off the same was as the past weeks have.  Yet, as I prepared to snooze a little longer I couldn’t help but think that this was not what I should be doing.  Somewhere between my hectic schedule and weekly snoozefests I lost myself.  I was going through the motions of life without really doing anything unique.  In taking on everything I should be doing, I gave up ever doing any of the things I wanted to be doing.  Tuesdays are the one day out of the entire week that I have to myself  to do whatever I desire, and here I’ve been letting them slip by.  This morning as I lied among some dangerously comfortable pillows with the promise of a new, beautiful day hiding behind my curtains I knew that it was time for a change.  I lost myself somewhere between the craziness of everyday life, and I was determined to find myself again.

I decided that I wanted to spend today doing all of the things I always tell myself I don’t have time to do.  I put on an extremely cute outfit for no particular reason.  I gathered my belongings and headed to my local Barnes & Noble for a change of weekday scenery.  It was there with the help of Taylor Swift and a delicious, free nonfat pumpkin spice latte (thanks Brittany!) that I was able to finish a lot of homework that would have otherwise ended up getting done at the last possible minute.  I could have done more, but I was determined to make today about doing what  I wanted to, not what I needed to.

I went to Target and bought new leggings, for no occasion or reason other than the fact that I wanted leggings.  Well, that and they were only eight dollars.  I came home, changed, put on more Taylor Swift, and decided to bake pumpkin chocolate-chip cookies for no particular reason (they taste better than they look, I promise).photo(2)

You better believe that I was singing and dancing around my kitchen in the process.

I repainted my nails.  I did the dishes.  I did all of the things I wanted to do but often found myself convinced that it just wasn’t a good use of my time.  Somewhere in all of this I found myself.  I found the joy in simplicity that I used to pride myself on.  Needless to say, I’m going to make an effort to make sure this is not a one time thing.

I think that it is so easy for us to get caught up in routine.  Don’t get me wrong, I love working and value my education, but I feel like when we let our schedules dictate our happiness we have forgotten what joy really is.  Especially for us ladies, there is so much preasure on us to be perfect.  Whether we strive to be the perfect wife, the perfect mom, or maybe just the perfect person, we are all facing expectations placed on us by the world and even by ourselves.  It’s imporatnt that we allow ourselves time to simply do the things we want to do.  Because of today, I do believe that I am starting fall for a new favorite day of the week.

I realize that not everyone can take a day out of their work week to dedicate to themselves, but that’s okay.  Maybe it could be during the weekend. Perhaps it could even be half of a day per week, or a few days a month.

Regardless, I challenge you to do something this week that you have been wanting to do but have been telling yourself you are too busy to do.  It doesn’t have to be something big.  It can be something as simple as sipping a latte with your favorite music playing in the background.  Whatever it is though, I hope you are able to do it with happiness and contentment, knowing there is nothing else you want to do.

I hope that in this crazy journey called life, you are able to find your Tuesday.

A Voiceless Generation

Today as I was scrolling through Facebook while killing some time before class I came across an article that sparked my interest.  I won’t say who wrote this article or what site it can be found on, as my goal is not to call anyone out or start any controversy, but I will say that after getting less than half way through it I was pretty disappointed.  The objective of this article was to advise young adults of mistakes they shouldn’t make in their 20’s.  Turning twenty this year, I thought that maybe I could learn something from this article.  To say I was wrong would be an understatement. 

There were a number of little things I disagreed with, but the one thing that really shocked me was when the author of the article stated that you should avoid falling in love in your twenties.  Here’s a sample of what I read:

Not only does it make you complacent with where you are in life, but it makes you boring.  When your business is at stake and your future is resting on your shoulders, the last thing you need is to be bogged down by an insecure lover rushing you home.

The author goes on to write about testing limits and how just because some of your friends are doing it, you shouldn’t fall into the “trap of a relationship”.  So I naturally jumped to three possible conclusions: 1.) This guy has had a really bad relationship, 2.)This guy watches too many sitcoms, or 3.) This guy just isn’t ready for a serious relationship. 

If the author of this article is not in a place in his life where he wants to settle down and have a serious relationship that’s totally okay.  Good for him!  However, what’s not okay is saying that if you fall in love in your 20’s you’re falling into a trap.  Curious to see if I was the only one that was bothered by this I skipped the rest of the article and read the comments, and saw I was not the only one who was less than satisfied with what looked to be a promising post.  A lot of the comments complained about it being sexist, which I guess in a way it could be, but my reason behind writing this post is not fueled by any feminist angst.  It runs just a bit deeper than that.

My parents got married when my dad was 24.  My in-laws got married when they were in their twenties.  My fiancé and I know plenty of couples who are married and in their twenties.  In fact, every Saturday night I attend a group that is exclusively for couples who are engaged or have been married seven years or less, and believe it or not a good number of these couples were married in their twenties.  You know what’s even crazier?  I’m engaged and I’m only nineteen!  So obviously, all of these relationships I’ve listed are boring and restrictive to one or both spouses, right?

Wrong.  So, very wrong. 

Not everyone should get married in their twenties.  Not everyone wants to get married in their twenties.  So they shouldn’t, and that’s okay.  But what isn’t okay is to write an article that attempts to act as a guideline for twenty-something’s everywhere.  In fact, it’s not okay to write anything that attempts to speak on behalf of anyone.  My concern isn’t just with this article alone, my concern is with my generation letting others speak for them.  Every day on Facebook I see at least one link to an article or blog post with a title along the lines of “10 things short girls hate”  or “8 questions people of mixed ethnicity are tired of hearing”.  People my about my age and younger gobble these things up, they can’t get enough of them.  I’m just as guilty as anyone else, because obviously I was reading this article about twenty year olds for something. Every time I see a post like this that I think I might relate to, I read it. Yet, I’ve found that while these articles can sometimes be entertaining, and on occasion have something I can relate to in them, more often than not I find myself disagreeing with the author. 

So why do we read this stuff?  The bottom line is that people like knowing that they are not alone.  We as individuals like knowing that there are people we can relate to and that our way of thinking isn’t totally wrong.  We need some type of reassurance, and these articles give us exactly the sense of belonging we’re looking for.  At first this isn’t really a problem, it’s perfectly natural.  But what we don’t realize (what I didn’t realize until about two hours ago) is that what these types of posts and articles do is allow someone else to speak for us.  And when we do that, we start to lose are sense of individuality and with that we lose our voice.  We see a post that kinda-sorta relates to us and are so quick to click like, share, reblog, etc. that we don’t even realize that we are letting someone else speak for us.  And this really boggles my mind because my generation, “Generation Y”, claims to be all about individuality and being different. On top of that, we are blessed with so much technology that allows us to do just that: to put our thoughts out there, give our opinions, and speak for ourselves. So why let someone else speak for us?

The author of the article I mentioned at the beginning of this post is not a bad writer. I’m sure that a lot of people probably agree with the things he said. I’m not trying to say that he’s a bad person because he shared his opinion, I applaud him for that. What I want more than anything is for people to have the courage to speak for themselves. To open up and share their ideas and thoughts with the world in a way that is unique to them. Sure, it’s a lot more comfortable and way easier to sit back and let someone else do the talking for us. But do you want to be comfortable, or do you want to be heard?

I Matured Too Quickly

While growing up I often heard people say about me that I was in too much of a hurry to mature.  In some ways that statement is true, but the implications of it are certainly false. 

The first time I heard someone tell me that I was trying to grow up too fast I was pretty offended.  In my mind, they were implying that I was constantly unsatisfied with my current state and was in a rush to leave my childhood and everything that came with it behind me.  I would think of that “Thirteen Going on Thirty” movie and would be absolutely disgusted with the idea that someone might suggest I was behaving as the dreadful, ungrateful girl in that movie did.  Now – being nineteen years old, engaged, and already beginning my career – I can see how someone on the outside looking in might come to the conclusion that I’m rushing into adulthood much too quickly.  However, I would have to disagree.  I can act as silly, be as good at any video game, and can be as entertained by any Disney movie just as much as any eight-year-old child. To me there was never childhood and adulthood, there was no “real world”.  To me, there is just life and how we choose to live it. 

Growing up, I was placed in some situations that required me to mature a lot faster than most kids my age.  God took those not-so-great circumstances that I was placed in and used them to do amazing things in my life and to help me grow as a person, and I don’t regret a single thing that I have been through.  This doesn’t mean that at the age of eight or twelve I suddenly had the wisdom and sophistication of a forty-year old.  It just means that at an early age I learned that some things were more important than others.  To learn that lesson at the young age that I did in a world that thrives on superficial ideals did wonders for me, and I probably wouldn’t be the person I am today if God hadn’t placed the obstacles in my life that he did.  Another important aspect of my way of thinking is the way that my parents raised me.  I am blessed to have two amazing, strong, and hard-working parents who have always taught my siblings and I that the world doesn’t owe us anything.  If we want something, we have to work for it because nothing in life worth having comes easy.  This is something that I wish more parents emphasized, and if I ever have children years (and I mean YEARS) down the road, this is something that I certainly would want them to know.  I am a part of what some refer to as the “Selfie Generation”, a generation of individuals so caught up in themselves and much more interested in what the world has to offer to them as opposed to what they can offer to the world.  If my parents didn’t raise me the way they did, I would be a very different person.

Now, if you’re still with me you’re probably wondering what all of this has to do with my original point.  The easy answer is that age is just a number.  However, I’ve never been a fan of that phrase nor do I like to take the easy way out, so allow me to explain.  There are plenty of thirty-year-olds who have the maturity of a fifteen-year-old and the work ethic of a sloth, and there are plenty of teenagers who have maturity beyond their years and are some of the hardest workers you will ever meet.  I was never chasing adulthood.  I was never under any illusion that once I reached a certain age I would be satisfied.  I wasn’t drawn to the idea of any particular number, I was drawn to the idea of working hard to get the things I wanted.  I was longing after being the amazing people that my parents have turned out to be.  So in some ways those people that told me I wanted so badly to grow up were right.  But as I actually have grown, and continue to do so every day, I realize how instead of being offended by that statement, I should be proud of it.  Three days ago I was drawing pictures on the fogged up windshield of my car.  Today, I got my eighth badge in Pokémon Black.  Tomorrow, I’m going to get up early for work, and then go straight from there to school.  To me, childhood doesn’t end at a set age, and adulthood doesn’t pick up where childhood left off.  You don’t wake up one day and prance out of bed with the profound realization that you are now a part of the “real world” , as if to imply that everything you experienced until then wasn’t worth while.  There is just life and how we choose to live it.  I have always wanted to grow as a person.  No one truly ever is completely grown, we are all growing and maturing every day.  Some faster than others, and that’s okay.  There is no shame to be had in wanting to mature, and there is no shame to be had in still being able to dream the way a child does. 

The author M.J. Croan said it best when he said, “Maturity is when your world opens up and you realize that you are not the center of it.”  If that is the case then yes, I do wish to be mature.  I wish to be very mature indeed.