Judge Much?

Judge Much?

Who judges people? Raise your hand! I’m raising my hand right now too. We all do it in some form or fashion. When we see someone wearing something we deem inappropriate, we judge. Might be all they had to wear-we don’t know their circumstances but we judge anyway. When we see someone with an expensive item and think “Well, they don’t make enough for that.” or “Didn’t they just apply for assistance?” and we make the assumption that they’re spending poorly and that’s why they’re in a financial rut. Not knowing someone blessed them with something that not only could they not afford, but wouldn’t personally buy for themselves. And lastly, the mom judge. When another mom sees another mom doing something or making a decision they disagree with we judge her. We judge how she dresses her kids, what she feeds her kids, how she disciplines her kids….the list is endless.

I’m guilty of it. I have encountered and have people in my life who are single parents. They’ve, at times, had to make the decision to let their child go live with the father. And I’ll be honest I did not get that!!! I’m like I just couldn’t do that. I don’t understand any mother that would allow their child to go live with their father unless they had fallen on hard times or was found unfit.

When I got divorced I can’t tell you the thousands (ok maybe hundreds-I’m being dramatic lol) of times I’ve said that my kids wouldn’t go live with their father unless they asked to. And listen-I was convinced neither of them ever would. Fast foward to March of this year and that’s just what happened. My then 13 year old walks up to me and says “Mommy, I want to go to highschool at daddy’s.” Talk about a hard blow! I can’t explain all the feelings. There were just too many in that moment.

And now she’s gone. I cried weeks before she left and weeks after she left. I still cry and struggle with it. Sometimes daily other days I’m ok and can see that she’s doing well. But whenever I’m out with my other two and people say “Oh two kids. Y’all gonna have a third?” And I respond that we actually have three and she lives with her dad. I get the eyes. You know the eyes. The judgy ones. The ones that are like oh you must be a bad mom. Or you must’ve done something wrong. Dads don’t get that. When you meet a man and he says he has kids and they live with the mom most dads get oh ok that’s great. Moms we don’t really get that type of response and it’s sad.

I have a friend that I reach out to when I’m struggling with this. Both of her kids live with their dad. We had the best conversation the other day because this is hard! And some days the guilt of it is consuming. We wonder what we’ve done wrong. We go back and forth in our minds on ensuring their happiness but also wanting them with us. It’s hard to have your child live somewhere else and you can’t play the once active role you played in their life. The day to day decisions are being made by someone else. So when we tell someone that our kids live else where the last thing we want to feel is judge. We are judging ourselves enough.

The next time we find ourselves in a situation where we’re (in our mind-hopefully not aloud) questioning another mom, questioning her thoughts, her decisions, her actions, her reasoning we should stop and turn that around on ourselves and examine how it makes us feel. We aren’t that mom. We didn’t birth that child. We don’t know half the things about that child that she does. We don’t have the intuition that she does about her children. We don’t love her child more than she does. Trust that the decisions she’s making, although imperfect, are in the best interest of her child. Understand that some of those decisions she’s doubting and praying that they’re the right ones.

Making those hard decisions doesn’t make her a bad mom but a good one because she’s putting the well being and happiness of the child over her own. Judge less and encourage more. Judge less and love more. There’s no manual for this parenting thing and really we’re all just winging it because each child is different. So let’s just celebrate people who are deciding to choose their kids emotional health over what makes them comfortable or look good. I don’t want to look like a good parent. I want to actually be one!

Choose You

Choose You

I’m sitting here today writing this after coming back from an amazing experience in Nashville, TN. I was there for a conference called Business Boutique and I got so much more out of it than what was expected in my reasoning for going. I went alone, which was kind of scary and then kind of liberating. I didn’t have to engage in unwanted or awkward conversations. I could read my book without many interruptions. I walked around and took my time doing things I wanted to do. I didn’t have to worry about anyone else’s thoughts, desires or opinions but my own. I spent a lot of time just being quiet and taking in everything around me.

As I stated in my previous post, I am going to be speaking on and addressing issues of co-dependency I know that I struggle with. One of them being people pleasing. People pleasing is described as follows: “It’s fine to want to please someone you care about, but codependents usually don’t think they have a choice. Saying no causes them anxiety. They go out of their way and sacrifice their own needs to accommodate other people.” I struggle with this a lot. I’m not sure if I have all of my life or if this is something that manifested in me and I never really recognized how much feeling like this clouded my decisions about me. I convince myself that by sometimes just saying “No, I can’t do that.” or “No I can’t be there.” that I will disappoint people and then they will walk away or no longer want a relationship. In my most recent relationships that are newly formed I don’t have this problem as much. I am comfortable saying no but I often find myself feeling bad about that too!

But honestly, disappointing people is a reality. People are not always going to be happy with your response or with you not being able to do the things that they feel they need from you. While it’s important to show up for those you care about and love, your well being and priorities are important too. Sometimes what needs to get done or who needs help may not be on your priority list that day and guess what? That’s ok. It doesn’t make you a bad person. It makes you a responsible one.

The problem I created for myself (especially in friendships) is that once I made myself available to those around me, because I genuinely want to help or be there, it became harder for me to step back and say no. Instead of setting up priorities for me I made everyone, and I mean everyone, a priority over any and everything I needed. Which then lead to doing things out of fear or obligation. Which then lead to being overwhelmed and frustrated and then further lead to other feelings and emotions that I didn’t understand or couldn’t process.

Going to this conference was a big deal because I, for the first time in so many years, walked against my own thoughts and fears. Instead of really focusing on doing something else that I could have been doing for someone else I focused on something that I needed to do for me. I tried to get out of it several times but thank God for a husband that won’t let me quit on me, who won’t let me take the easy way out because it’s comfortable for me.

I know we have all at some point heard that making someone happy is not your job. Making yourself happy is. Everyone is responsible for their own happiness. As many times as I’ve heard this, it was not until this decision on whether to go to this conference was presented that I actually truly understood it. I even said it to my husband when he said “Babe, I just want to make you happy.” and I responded “That’s not your job. It’s mine.” And I love him too much to let the burden of my happiness rest solely on him. It’s for me to figure out and it’s unfair to have him jumping through hoops to try to achieve something that only I can achieve within myself and within my heart.

So every time you think about making a decision that solely rests on making someone happy over doing what is best for you, your life, your family, your priorities remind yourself that if this person’s happiness rests solely on you (which if they love you I’m sure it doesn’t! They want what’s best for you) then your need to re evaluate that relationship and establish different boundaries. It’s ok to choose yourself.

Living Freely

Living Freely

I want to be free. Truly free. I don’t want to be caught up constantly in my own thoughts and feelings. I no longer want to carry around the same feelings, frustrations, and pain that I have carried with me for years. I am sure that there are so many of us who want the same thing. At times, we can feel like we are in a cage-emotionally and mentally bound and no matter how hard we try we just can’t break through. I can see freedom but I don’t feel like I can obtain it. But I do know that this is not how God intended for me to live.

I recently started going to therapy and on my second session my therapist said “I’m going to say this and you may say no but I want you to look it up and think about it-Codependency.” And I said “Yes, that’s me.” See at my church we have a group called Celebrate Recovery. So many times people have shared their testimony and how being apart of this group of people all trying to break free of something has really helped them. I didn’t really think too much of it until one Sunday morning, some of the people from Celebrate Recovery shared their testimony on how God had healed them from certain things. As I listened one testimony stood out to me, and it was from someone talking about how God had delivered them from codependency. From that moment on that phrase just stuck with me. I had so many moments when I thought I should have been attending Celebrate Recovery but I talked myself out of it!

But now being in therapy I am ready to face it because I am tired of living this way. I yearn to walk into what God has prepared for me. I know that until I start addressing some of the things that I am dealing with and allowing to hold me back that I will continue to live in the same vicious cycle. For the next few blogs I want to talk about what co-dependency is in hopes that some of the symptoms and how they affect me will help someone recognize these symptoms in themselves and search for freedom. I know that God can heal us and free us of anything but we have to be willing and open to address these issues and the pain we are harboring in order to reach freedom. We can’t want to be free and then not do anything to, well, get free!

The symptoms of codependency are shame and low self-esteem, people pleasing, poor boundaries, reactivity, care taking, control, dysfunctional communication, obsessions, dependency, denial, problems with intimacy and lead to painful emotions. I want to touch on shame and low self esteem which is summarized as “Not feeling that you’re good enough or comparing yourself to others is a sign of low self esteem. The tricky thing about self esteem is that some people think highly of themselves, but it’s only camouflage for feeling unlovable and inadequate. Underneath, usually hidden from consciousness, are feelings of shame. Some of the things that go along with low self esteem are guilt feelings and perfectionism. If everything is perfect, you don’t feel bad about yourself” (whatiscodependency.com).

What stood out most to me in this summary was people thinking highly of themselves but it’s camouflage for feeling unlovable and inadequate- and the statement about perfectionism. I think that I am a great person. I think that I am intelligent, funny, caring, and understanding. I don’t think I’m perfect but often times find myself feeling like I don’t meet the standards of those around me. I feel inadequate. Often times these standards are things I’ve made up! Let’s be real-have you ever found yourself forgetting to do something or making a mistake and then convinced yourself that your husband or coworker or friend is upset with you but they haven’t said anything to you at all? They haven’t even given off the indication that they’re upset?! I convince myself frequently that my husband will be upset with me about something and he’s like “Nope. I think you’re doing great!” I think this goes along with perfectionism. I want to do everything right. Although I know I’m not perfect, I want to do everything perfectly to my or someone else’s expectations. Of course, realistically, I can’t always do things perfectly.

So……listen. I am going to put this as simply as it has come to me…..You can make a mistake, you can disappoint someone, you can unintentionally hurt people, you can do things but not do them perfectly and you are still a great person. You are still intelligent, funny, caring, and understanding. Your mistakes don’t take away from who you are. You can’t make a mistake and then God goes ok subtract the smart or caring characteristic from this person. There is no one sitting around subtracting from your greatness because you aren’t operating in perfect order. If you are struggling with your self esteem I challenge you (and I am going to do this too!) to start leaving notes for yourself. Write down confirmations like I am smart, I am loved, I am successful, etc. And together we can witness to and encourage each other on the growth and change we will see from speaking life over ourselves. Let’s get healed together. Let’s be free!

Keep Asking

I’m the type of person that if I ask for something a few times and I don’t get what I’ve asked for or a resolution to the issue I’m asking for assistance on I’ll stop asking. I’ll conclude that it won’t change or I’m not going to get an answer and I’ll attempt to just deal with it or work around it.

I was talking to someone the other day and I was saying “I don’t want people to be like me. If you need help keep asking until you get it. Keep asking until your questions are answered.” And even then it didn’t sink in to me what I was saying.

If you have kids or you’ve been around kids long enough you know they are some persistent little beings! When they really want something they will hunt you down, bug you, harass you to no end! They will not stop until they get an answer. They will not give up until you’ve given them what they want or need or give them resolution to their solution. Wow! We should be more like that.

The Bible says in Luke 11: 9-13 to ask and keep asking and it will be given to you! If there is something you are needing from God- if there is something you need answers, clarity or knowledge on keep asking. Don’t stop. This applies to life in general! If you need help with a project or help with your kids-help at home, help at work keep asking. Don’t settle for no replies and silence. Don’t set your self up to keep carrying things and then they get heavier and heavier until you can’t deal.

Listen, (and I’m talking to myself here) people cannot help you with what you don’t tell them you need help with. We have to stop seeing the need to ask for help as a weakness. My husband has said to me many times that asking for help is a sign of strength. You can’t do everything on your own. We want to because we want people to think that we got it handled and we are all put together like a present with a nice red bow on it.

People are hurting inside and falling apart because they won’t say “I need help with this.” “I can’t handle all of this”. Don’t be that person. If you are asking for help and not getting it keep asking! Don’t stop making your needs or requests known. So much stress is carried that’s not necessary because we won’t ask and then keep asking. God hears you and sees where you’re at. Ask Him for help and I promise He will send it!

The Answer May Not Match

The Answer May Not Match

Have you ever asked for directions and what the person told you (or that crazy GPS) had you in an area unfamiliar to what you asked for? You’re looking around thinking “Well, I asked for direction or clarity but this isn’t what I thought it’d look like…”

I’ve had experiences where I’ve asked for or prayed for things and it looked totally different from what I visualized. Sometimes it wasn’t so much the question I asked but who I asked the question to. Other times it wasn’t what I prayed for but the lack of clarity that had me sitting back wondering why things didn’t make since.

To say I’ve had a trying few weeks would be an understatement. I’ve had an experience that even now writing this still shocks me but at the same time I’m grateful for. People like me, Type A personalities, always want to be in control and we hate failing. We want to do and get everything right. Often times we are our worst critic. We are so hard on ourselves.

I’ve said so many times that God is in control. But is He really? (Ask yourself that?). He can’t be in control if you’re in control too. He can’t do the things He needs to do in you and through you if you haven’t opened yourself up to Him and released the need to make things happen yourself. You can’t say that God’s in control and still sit around stressing over things in your life that haven’t even happened yet.

I recently lost total control and in the moment it was very scary. After the moment, it’s strange how clear things were. Everything in my mind was dumped out and blank. There was nothing up there. No lists of things to do, no sad thoughts and most importantly none of those negative thoughts were up there either. All of the things that were floating up there in my head that I had convinced myself were true (like…you’re a failure, you can’t do this, you’re always alone, no one listens to me, you’re not being a good parent) all evaporated. And the things that needed to get done without me got done one way or the other. I was sitting around one day and thought “This is what it must be like when you let God be in control.”

When we remove the worry, self doubt, self criticism, other people’s perceptions, worry over decisions, stress over things that aren’t for us to stress about anyway-when we remove our selves from the equation and let it just be God moving in our lives….well we get peace. We get thoughts that focus on His goodness and His will for our lives. We get clarity. We get a release from the one thing holding us back (which is us-we hold ourselves back).

So I’d prayed for direction. I had prayed for clarity. I had prayed for peace. I had prayed for God to guide my steps. I had prayed for freedom from myself to accept God’s will. And what happened didn’t look like any one of those prayers I asked for but they all got answered. When you seek Him and pray- your prayers will be answered at some point or another. But….expect the unexpected because they may come in a way that you think will break you but instead puts you on the road to victory.

Connect to Something….

Connect to Something….

That makes you feel good or that releases stress and reminds you of the things that you have to be grateful for. For me I love music. I love singing and dancing. From Kindergarten until I graduated high school I was always in a musical program of some sort. I watch a lot of tv shows that involve singing. I used to love Glee and American Idol. I love watching So You Think You Can Dance, Dancing With The Stars, and World of Dance. Watching these shows often makes me wish I would’ve taken up dancing as a child and pursued a career in professional dancing.

I listen to music of all different types of genres and it doesn’t have to be in English either! Spanish, German I don’t care. If it touches me or makes me dance then that’s all I care about. I’ve told my husband so many times that I want to take Latin dance classes. I can Salsa, Merengue and Bachata but I know I would just love taking classes, dressing up and performing.

What is it about music and dancing that I love? Well it makes me feel free. Free from stress, worry-all the things I’m balancing. It also helps me to process my feelings. When I’m having a difficult day and I need guidance I’ll turn on Praise and Worship music to connect deeper with God and often times it turns into me remembering how good He is and how He’s blessed me more than I deserve. I don’t just turn on Praise and Worship when I’m sad, but when I’m happy as well.

When I’m feeling super emotional I’ll play certain artist that tend to have emotional music because I feel like in their music is understanding for what I’m feeling or dealing with. There are times when I’m happy and excited and I want to dance. I’ll put on music that reflects that. A lot of the time that’s Salsa music. The point is my connection to music and dancing helps me to go deeper and to process what I’m going through in the moment. It’s a release for me.

A lot of the time I come out from my dancing/singing sessions feeling blessed, motivated, encouraged, understood and powerful. This could also directly represent my relationship with God. When I connect with Him in prayer or just spend time worshipping Him, I come out feeling the same way or ten times better.

No matter what you’re facing or balancing-good or bad- I challenge you to find your release. Look for something in your life to connect to that pulls you out from that dark place and reminds you of your purpose. Seek something that helps you turn your thoughts or your pain into something productive.

Yes, we may have people in our lives that we can talk to sometimes that can help pick us up or celebrate with us. But we all know from personal experience that people aren’t always there for you. Sometimes you have to tough it out alone and pull your own self out or celebrate alone. And that’s ok. Just find that thing that gets you there and keeps you pushing through. Find the thing that won’t let you give up on you. You’re worth fighting for.

Learn to Enjoy…

Learn to Enjoy…

The company of yourself!!! Ok I’m an introvert. Because I’m such a friendly, outgoing person people tend to find that really hard to believe about me. I do love people. I love spending time with those that I have relationship with but I also enjoy mass amounts of time alone. I have to mentally work myself up to be in group settings. After spending large amounts of time with people I need several days to decompress.

Sometimes I find it hard to commit to dates, parties, events or other “adventures” because I may have over exhausted myself by spending lots of time going out doing things with other people so I don’t have the energy to do it repeatedly. I tend to get cranky when I don’t have the time to regroup before embarking on something else. In life, things are busy. We don’t always get the alone time we desire. But you know how I learned these things about myself? By spending time with myself.

Early on in life I lost myself. Big time. I lost the motivation I had to meet my goals personally or career wise. I was fully committed to being a wife and mother and that’s what my life revolved around. When I look back on that time in my life I realized I was depressed but didn’t know it. But because I didn’t spend time with myself getting to listen to my thoughts and my desires and my heart I lost myself. It took me some counseling, some alone time just thinking and definitely some Jesus to get back to the things that I am passionate about.

Being alone with yourself doesn’t necessarily mean never going out with friends or doing things with family. But it does mean you need to actually carve out time to hear your own thoughts or think about your life goals or maybe evaluate your career goals. Being alone with yourself also provides you with the opportunity to seek God for His purpose for your life. Some of the loneliest stages of my life created some of the most beautiful moments for me.

When I felt at my lowest and on my own like I had no one, those were the moments and opportunities that I had to self evaluate and really get to know me without all of the clutter of people and life. There is something to be said for being set apart. Sometimes when we feel like we are all alone it’s actually God setting us apart so that He can take us to a new level in life.

You can’t know what you want in life if you don’t actually know who you are. You can’t know who you are if you don’t spend time with yourself and with God. Not with people all the time because, at times,people will put labels on you that aren’t what God says about you. We will let those labels stick and then let it hold us back. You have to spend time alone so you can hear what God says about you.

So if you’re finding yourself in a season of restlessness with yourself right now and you’re struggling with finding your purpose, spend some time with yourself. If you’re struggling through relationships and you can’t decide on what you should do within those relationships, spend some time with yourself. If you’ve gotten off track in life and lost your purpose, motivation, or drive then take some time out to clear your head and hear your thoughts. It is in these moments when we take time to quiet the noise and just sit with nothing but our thoughts that God can grab our attention and speak to our broken places, heal the shattered pieces and encourage us to keep going.

Spend some time alone getting to know you so that you can walk into the next stage of life that God is calling you to. Your future you depends on it!