Hello friends, today I’m sharing another Thoughtful Thursday post with you. I wanted to talk about remaining loyal. As someone who considers myself an empath, I feel like loyalty is just something that comes naturally to me. I am maybe sometimes loyal to a fault and hang onto relationships, jobs, or other commitments longer than I should. But in this society where it’s much easier to give up on something or on a relationship and move along to the next thing, it’s so important for us to lean into and keep working at something even when it gets difficult. Many times there is something absolutely beautiful on the other side of the struggle and on the other side of really working things out. And in the meantime you become a stronger person, and a better version of yourself for having stuck it out!

I was thinking about this topic of loyalty recently as I just celebrated 27 years of marriage over this past weekend. I wanted to share some of the thoughts that I shared in a blog post 2 years ago when I devoted an entire post to a tribute to my marriage to celebrate my 25th wedding anniversary. I can link that post right here if you would like to read it. But I wanted to share some additional thoughts with you.

When you’ve been married for this long, sometimes people will say things like “what’s the secret?” But honestly, I don’t think there is a secret. I kind of feel like “secrets” are a myth. I think there are only obvious answers in life, but usually people don’t like the obvious answers. The obvious answers usually require hard work. When someone is fit and you want to know how they stay fit, it’s probably the obvious answer – they workout and eat healthy, drink plenty of water and get good sleep. It’s the same thing with marriage – you remain loyal when times get tough, you forgive, you ask for forgiveness, you give grace and compassion, and show humility.

But, HOW do you do that? I recognize that is all easier said than done. I will share with you that I can’t imagine being so dedicated to my marriage if it weren’t for my faith in Jesus. In the Bible in Philippians 2:3 it says, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility, value others better than yourselves.” This is one of the principles I strive to live by. In all relationships, but especially in marriage. Believe me, there are times when I have to fight to believe this and live it out! It is certainly not always easy.

Also, marriage has not always been easy! That’s when I have learned to lean into Jesus and trust that He is refining me and making me more like him through my marriage. It also helps me to not put all of my hope and faith in a person {{my husband}} but recognizing that he is human and will let me down at times.

 Loving someone unconditionally for 27 years is not easy – and I’m not just talking about me loving my husband, I’m talking about my husband loving me! It goes both ways. We both believe in the 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 passage regarding love. We may not always feel it, but we have to keep coming back to this passage:

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”

But these ideas translate to other relationships and other commitments we are loyal to. It’s not always easy to work things out with a friend when you have differences. It’s not easy to stick with a tough job, but like I mentioned at the beginning of the post, oftentimes there is great reward on the other side of remaining loyal.

I will say, it can be difficult to know sometimes if something is just difficult or if you’re just going through a rough patch versus if something is actually toxic. Sometimes relationships, jobs, or obligations in life become toxic and you must be self aware enough to know that line. Sometimes it’s helpful to talk to a professional to process through that to determine the difference. But I personally like to err on the side of working through the tough times.

I hope these thoughts were helpful or encouraging to you today! Check out my YouTube video I made in conjunction with this post, linked below!


Okay friends, for today’s Thoughtful Thursday video I wanted to share with you how to stop worrying. As I type that I realize this is a tall order! It sounds so much more easily said than done. But before I get into that, I thought I would share a little bit of a back story on my journey with worry and anxiety.

I have struggled with anxiety my entire life – or at least as long as I can remember. Even as a young child I remember being worried or nervous about all sorts of things. As a result of this I struggled with GI issues, and started regularly taking antacids in my teens to combat the symptoms. I was mostly able to manage my anxiety and GI issues throughout my young adulthood. I did this mostly through trying to control my environment. Keeping my spaces cleaned and organized definitely helped ease my anxiety. Also, keeping physical clutter to a minimum helped.

However, as I grew older, slowly over time more and more responsibilities and things piled on me. First it was getting married, and learning to manage not only my things, but my husband’s things as well. Then our daughter came along, and two more children after that. The responsibilities and the THINGS kept multiplying. I suppose it was a mercy that I only added to our chaos a little at a time, however it was like that analogy of a frog in a cool pot of water that began to get hot and boil over time – so that it wasn’t noticeable that more responsibilities and stuff were creeping in.

When our youngest son was a toddler I started struggling with severe anxiety symptoms. I struggled with periodic panic attacks, which began to disrupt my life. My doctor diagnosed me with Generalized Anxiety Disorder and prescribed Xanax, which I could take when the symptoms were unmanageable. I was able to cope like this for several years, until my anxiety reached a point where it was affecting my everyday life. The journey that ensued is a whole other story, but ultimately I ended up seeing a holistic doctor and discovering that I had multiple food sensitivities, exasperating my anxiety. I was thankful to have answers, and with diet and supplements I have been able to manage for over 12 years now.

But something I have learned since then is the power of my thoughts. I have learned the importance of positive self talk – replacing negative thoughts or negative things I tell myself with positive ones. I also learned about the power of the unconscious mind and started adding sleep meditations and positive affirmations to my daily routines. 

In addition to this, recently I have been learning about stoicism and implementing these principles in my life. Something that has helped me greatly to deal with my anxiety is the idea of reframing. One of the stoics, Epictetus, said, “It’s not things that upset us, but our judgments about things.” When we worry, it is often about something bad happening, or about things not going the way we would like them to go. If we can learn to reframe our circumstances, not judging them as good or bad but accepting them as they are, then our worry dissipates. We must learn that all circumstances in life can be viewed as something that was meant to be for us – for our growth and maturity. When we let go of expectations of how things SHOULD go, we begin to feel peaceful. 

Another encouraging quote comes from the stoic Seneca and he said, “He who suffers before it is necessary, suffers more than is necessary.” Understanding that we are not in control of others’ nor our circumstances releases us from the responsibility to be in charge. Obviously we are in control of ourselves and everything we do, every decision we make has a consequence – whether good or bad. Therefore we have full control of those outcomes – for example choosing to go to bed at a reasonable time means you will get good sleep, and therefore will feel well rested in the morning. However, we cannot control other people, the traffic, the weather, etc. We must let go of that feeling that we can control it in order to experience the peace we long for. In my sleep example, we are in control of when we go to bed and when we get up, but we cannot control if a siren or a snoring spouse wakes us in the middle of the night.

Learning to be self aware of our thoughts and reframing our experiences, and learning to release control of things that we think we have control over but do not will help tremendously with extinguishing worry. Like I mentioned at the beginning of this talk – that certainly is easier said than done. Yes, this sort of inner work takes practice – and it is WORK, so it is not easy, but it is worth it!

10 Ways To Find Joy and Purpose in Homemaking

Whether you stay at home or work outside of your home, I believe you can find joy and purpose in homemaking. I was a stay at home mom and homemaker for over 20 years and I truly enjoyed it and appreciated my husband working hard to financially support our family so I could pursue homemaking.

Unfortunately, I think staying at home with children and homemaking is undervalued in our culture. It used to be common for women to stay at home during the mid century time period in America. Now I think there is a high value on financial compensation and many families are now two income families. In addition to this, the standards in America have changed with regards to how big homes are and how many possessions Americans own, making it a necessity to have two incomes to keep up. The average size of home in America in 1950 was about 1,000 square feet with two bedrooms and one bathroom according to an article from the Chicago Tribune. By the year 2000, a typical home was 2,000 square feet or more and that average just seems to keep going up!

I wanted to share with you 10 ways to find joy and purpose in homemaking! I hope this encourages you if you are a stay at home mom, homemaker, or work outside of the home but also work as a homemaker!

First, value serving your family. For me, taking care of my family is a way that I show them love. Your husband and kids will see what you are doing day in and day out. They may not always verbally thank you, but I think seeing you consistently taking care of the home and family has a big impact. Being a homemaker gives you opportunities to show your kids how to serve others as you are an example of love and care for your family.

The second way you can find joy and purpose in homemaking is to be content with where you are. Regardless of if you stay at home or work outside the home, have a positive attitude about your roles in life. We all can have moments or even seasons of feeling overwhelmed, feeling unappreciated, or feeling like what we do may not matter. The truth is, what you are doing is very valuable. Focus on being grateful, and this can help you to find contentment.

Number three is to see beauty in the mundane. Let’s be honest, homemaking tasks can be very mundane, but you can reframe your thinking by being present in everything you are doing. You can also make the mundane meaningful. One thing that I have done since my kids were very little is to pray for them while I fold their clothes, this helps this mundane task become more meaningful. If you don’t pray, maybe you could speak positive affirmations over your family as you do tasks to serve them.

The fourth way to find joy and purpose in homemaking is to acknowledge that it allows you to create a safe and cozy space for your family. I recognize that some people don’t enjoy decorating spaces to make them cozy, but perhaps you like baking and filling the house with the smell of freshly baked cookies or bread which also creates a sense of coziness. Perhaps just lighting a candle or turning on an oil diffuser will create that cozy feel. Whatever you do to create a soft space for your husband and children to land at the end of the day is valuable! It also allows you to enjoy the space you have created as well.

The fifth way is to recognize that it actually builds a lot of valuable skills. Managing a home, particularly if you have children and their schedules, is not an easy thing. It takes a lot of organization and executive functions to spin all those plates! Learning how to balance all of the responsibilities without a “boss” to direct you is actually challenging. There are a lot of little tasks that need to be taken care of, and a lot of little needs each of your family members have. Staying on top of all of this is a valuable skill set!

Next, recognize that homemaking provides an opportunity to learn new skills. I know that since becoming a wife over 25 years ago, I have learned so many new skills! Mostly by trial and error, sometimes with the help of a friend, or even taking a course. I have learned how to cook, sew, organize, and execute administrative tasks! Not to mention, learning to take care of our children, which was really trial and error!! Before I had my daughter, I had never changed a diaper before!

For those of us who are stay at home moms or homemakers and do not work outside of the home, recognizing that staying home allows time to make healthy meals and exercise can also shift our mindset and help us to find joy and purpose in homemaking. I am so grateful to have the margin in my life to exercise several times per week. We also eat at home 6 nights a week because I have time to meal plan, shop, and prepare healthy meals!

The eighth way to find joy and purpose in homemaking is to surround yourself with like minded friends for encouragement. If you are constantly hearing negative feedback about your role as a homemaker, it can wear on you. Surrounding yourself with friends who also value homemaking can help you to also value it. I have been really grateful to always have friends in my life who were stay at home moms or homemakers!

Number nine is to remind yourself that in the end your children will be grateful for all you did. I think back on what my mom did to make our home feel warm, welcoming, safe, and cozy and even though I did not realize it as a child, I recognize as an adult what she did was intentional – in spite of my mom being an elementary school teacher! Even if your children don’t appreciate it now, they will one day appreciate all you did. If you don’t have children, your husband will be grateful for the effort and energy you put into making your home cozy and safe.

Lastly, to find joy and purpose in homemaking, acknowledge when you feel undervalued and remind yourself of the aforementioned things. As I mentioned, it is not uncommon to sometimes feel undervalued or feel like what you are doing doesn’t make a difference. In those moments, it is helpful to remind yourself of all the things mentioned above!

Well, I hope this post was encouraging or inspiring to you today! Oftentimes, to be joyful and content in anything, it’s about a shift in mindset. Being grateful for the things we have and the roles we play in life.

8 Healthy Habits In My Routine

In today’s post I wanted to share with you healthy habits that I have built into my daily routines. I’m not perfect at doing everything on this list every single day, but when something is a habit and part of your routine it makes it easier to pick it back up even when you get off track for a bit! I hope these ideas inspire you to come up with healthy habits in your routine!

First is that I get up in the morning and go to bed at night at approximately the same time every day. I know these are healthy sleep habits, but truth be known I might not follow through on this one if it weren’t for my little alarm clock… my dog! He keeps me honest because he likes the predictability of this routine. Unlike a lot of people, I do this even on the weekends when I don’t necessarily have to get out of bed. I do think it helps me to get more consistent good sleep to get up and go to bed at the same time every day. Of course as with any of these habits there are exceptions and times where I go to bed later and/or get up earlier.

Next is that I have a regular skin care routine both in the morning and at night. Taking care of our skin is important, especially as we age. The skin is the largest organ of your body, so keeping it healthy is just as important as doing other things to keep your body healthy.

Along those same lines, I have a habit of drinking lots of water every day! Drinking water definitely helps with skin health as it keeps your body and therefore your skin hydrated! I personally aim for about 80 ounces of water per day, but definitely take into account your activity level, how warm your climate is as sweating equals needing more water, and your body size. On most days I only drink coffee, electrolyte drink (powder that I get on Amazon that is sweetened with stevia), and water. I like to have a refillable water bottle with me wherever I go to help get enough water for the day. Yes, there are some days where I drink other beverages, but my habit is to focus on drinking water!

I also include the habit of spending time quietly in thought and reflection first thing in the morning prior to doing anything else. For me that includes reading my Bible and praying. I do this before checking email or social media notifications. This helps ground me for the day ahead. It puts me in a mind frame to handle whatever I have to tackle that day. I know this one might not resonate with everyone, however I believe spending time in quietness and reflecting on life is a good practice. If reading the Bible (or some other spiritual book) and praying is not your thing, you could journal your thoughts and feelings or spend time meditating on positive things.

The next daily habit I have is to reset my kitchen after I drink my coffee and spend time in the Bible. Typically we run our dishwasher after dinner, and since I have older kids (and a husband!) who like to get snacks after dinner, there are sometimes dishes ready to be loaded into the dishwasher in the morning. I like to unload the dishwasher first thing in the morning and reload it with any dishes leftover from the night before. I also like to just take the opportunity to wipe down the counters as well.

Another habit I have incorporated in my routine since I was in middle school is getting exercise. I typically exercise at least 5 times a week and do both aerobic and anaerobic exercises. I do have a video on my YouTube channel where I share specifically what I have been doing in my exercise routine! You don’t have to do anything strenuous. Especially if you are just starting out with an exercise routine. Just walking around the block is better than doing nothing. Also, you don’t have to join a gym to have a good exercise routine. Sometimes joining a gym or class helps with accountability, but there are plenty of great options to get exercise at home, including YouTube videos.

After my workouts I will drink a protein shake and take supplements. I like making a variety of different protein shakes with different ingredients, making it less boring to drink everyday. I think getting plenty of protein and getting the right nutrients for your body is important to feel your best. Definitely consult your doctor about what works for you, or what nutrients your body is missing. I work with my GP doctor and my chiropractor to be on a regimen of supplements that my body is lacking. Simple blood work can determine what your body needs. 

The last healthy habit in my routine that I wanted to share with you is that I take breaks. I think it is important to give your body and your mind breaks. Sometimes knowing the break is coming is all you need to push through to get tasks completed. I build in breaks throughout my day – having a coffee break in the late afternoon for 30 minutes to an hour (depending on what my schedule allows that day) can be very helpful. I also choose not to do any work on Sunday and use that day to take a break from social media as well. Giving my body time to rest and recharge. I often end up taking a nap on Sunday afternoons, which is probably much needed! I also choose to take breaks from working out and typically only work out five times per week, allowing my body and muscles to recover the other two days of the week.

Well, I hope this list of healthy habits in my routine gives you some ideas of things you can incorporate into your daily routines. Like I mentioned, I am not always perfect at all of these things, but when I have an “off” day it’s easy to get back to these healthy habits since they are part of my routine!

Here is the YouTube video I made in conjunction with this blog post.

My 25th Wedding Anniversary

Today is my 25th wedding anniversary. When you’ve been married this long, sometimes people say things like, “what’s the secret.” But honestly, I don’t think there is one secret. To tell you the truth, I don’t even feel like it’s possible that we’ve been married that long! I will share with you my thoughts on being married this long.

9,131 days. 

1,300 weeks. 

25 years. 

7 vehicles. 

6 apartments. 

3 kids. 

2 dogs. 

2 homes. 

This is us.

You know, I really think “secrets” are a myth. I think there really are only obvious answers. When people say things like “how do you stay looking young and healthy?” I joke – “It’s a BIG SECRET *insert sarcastic tone* – I eat healthy, exercise, drink lots of water, and get good sleep.” It’s the same with a lasting marriage, there is no big secret – you remain loyal when times get tough, you forgive, you ask for forgiveness, you give grace and compassion, and show humility. That doesn’t seem to be a big secret to me.

But, HOW do you do that. That is all easier said than done. I will share with you that I can’t imagine being so dedicated to my marriage if it weren’t for my faith in Jesus. In Philippians 2:3 it says, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others better than yourselves.” This is one of the principles I strive to live by. In all relationships, but especially in marriage. Believe me, there are times when I have to fight to believe this and live it out! It is certainly not always easy.

Also, marriage has not always been easy! That’s when I have learned to lean into Jesus and trust that He is refining me and making me more like him through my marriage. It also helps me to not put all of my hope and faith in a person {{my husband}} but recognizing that he is human and will let me down at times.

Loving someone unconditionally for 25 years is not easy – and I’m not just talking about me loving my husband, I’m talking about my husband loving me! It goes both ways. We both believe in the 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 passage regarding love. We may not always feel it, but we have to keep coming back to this passage:

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always preserves.”

I will assure you – romance fades, hormones change, the honeymoon stage is just a phase – BUT, none of that compares with building a beautiful life with that person you fell in love with, had romantic moments with, and for a while couldn’t keep your hands off each other! We have so many wonderful and beautiful memories! We have spent the last 25 years building our family, which God intertwined our very beings together through our children and all the memories. 

You will always be my person. I love you David. Forever and always.

10 Common Assumptions About Professional Organizers, Are They True?

Today I wanted to share with you 10 common assumptions about professional organizers and if they are true or false. Obviously this is from my experience and perspective, so other professional organizers may answer differently, but I thought it would be fun to share with you my thoughts!

{ONE} We want you to get rid of everything. FALSE. This is not at all true. We recognize that everyone needs and wants a different amount of items to bring satisfaction and fulfillment to life. We are all in different life stages, requiring different amounts of things. The most important thing is that you get rid of the items that are no longer useful to you, or no longer bring you joy.

{TWO} Every space in our homes is organized or perfect. FALSE. Most professional organizers likely have a “Monica’s Closet” (for you who are fans of the tv show Friends!) I have a few spaces in my home that seem to get disorganized easily or pile up with stuff. We have an attic crawl space, a storage closet in our garage, and the desk in our kitchen which all get out of control from time to time. Truthfully, organization is not something that is once and done. It is a constant process.

The next three assumptions are similar but separate assumptions…

{THREE} We judge you for your disorganization. FALSE. This is certainly not true! We understand that not everyone has the time or ability to easily organize a space. We recognize that you likely hired us because you want your space to be organized but don’t know where to start or how to efficiently do it. We don’t judge your disorganization, and think it’s amazing that you took the step to hire someone to help you get organized!

{FOUR} We judge you for how much you own. FALSE. Like I mentioned with number one, everyone has different needs and wants for how much they own. And everyone is in different life stages, requiring different things. I will certainly organize any amount of stuff, as long as it fits in the space! My only rule is that we do purge any items that you are no longer using or loving because it’s silly to organize things that you no longer want or need. My goal is that when I organize a space, everything has a home!

{FIVE} We judge our friends and family member’s homes. FALSE. This is also false! Most of the time when I go into someone’s home, I experience how THEY make me feel not how their home makes me feel. Everyone has a different comfort level when it comes to clutter and cleanliness. While I would not like clutter in my own home, I don’t judge other people for clutter in their home because I don’t have to live there!

{SIX} We are perfectionists with attention to detail. TRUE. I will have to say, this assumption is true. I like to call myself a “recovering perfectionist” because I feel like the word perfectionist has a negative connotation. I don’t want to be the type of person who has high or unreasonable expectations on others. I’m learning that sometimes good enough is good enough!

{SEVEN} Organizing comes naturally to us, so it’s really easy for us. TRUE + FALSE. This is true and false. I think there is a natural component to the ability to organize – whether it’s inborn or we are taught to keep our things tidy and to have a place for everything. However, I am not always motivated to organize, declutter, or clean. Also, some projects are challenging and take a lot of thought and time to complete, so while it might come naturally, it’s not always easy.

{EIGHT} Our homes are always tidy. FALSE. This is definitely not true. In my home, I have 5 people who are currently living here. There are constantly things that need to be cleaned up or tidied. Where people live, there will always be things to clean!

{NINE} We are minimalists. FALSE + can be TRUE. This can be true, but certainly not all professional organizers are minimalists. Everyone wants a different amount of things to feel fulfilled in life. Some people like an abundance and some people don’t. Being a minimalist makes it easier to keep things clean and organized with minimal effort, however that doesn’t mean all professional organizers are minimalists.

{TEN} Our kids are also organized. FALSE. Just because we are organized, does not necessarily mean our kids will be organized too. I have two kids who are more on the disorganized side, and one who is more on the organized side. I have taught all three of them techniques to keep their spaces neat and organized, but not all of them follow through. Which is perfectly fine since they are each their own individuals and need to learn to navigate life, and find what works for them!

Well, I hope you found this post interesting or entertaining! Let me know if there are other assumptions you have about professional organizers!

45 Things I’ve Learned In 45 Years

I know this blog post is a little different than my other posts, but heading into the new year I have been thinking about all the things I have learned over the years that I want to truly implement in my life this year! You know how sometimes you can know something in your head, but your heart hasn’t caught up? With several of these things, that is the case for me! I know they are true, but it’s hard in the day to day to carry them out. So, this blog post is just as much for me as it is for you. To write things down and see them in black and white makes a bigger impact than we know!

1 Love is always the answer. This sounds cheesy, but it’s true. If we love others we can’t go wrong.

2 Vulnerability is not a weakness. Usually vulnerability allows others to feel comfortable sharing their own struggles. It is a beautiful thing to have people in your life who know you intimately and can encourage and challenge you to grow and be better!

3 Your body is amazing (everything it has done). Oftentimes, especially as a woman, we can dislike our bodies – shape and size. Instead let’s focus on what our bodies have done and what they can do!

4 Gratitude changes your perspective, be thankful. It can be so easy, especially in this time period with social media so prevalent, to become discontent with what we have, what we can do, with who we are. Instead we should focus on all the positives in our lives!

5 Forgiveness frees you, holding onto resentment doesn’t hurt your offender only you. It’s not easy to forgive. It is certainly a process. But you will find deep peace in forgiving and letting go!

6 You cannot change or control others. You can only control yourself. You are not responsible for others’ behavior, feelings, or reactions. Only focus on yourself and what you can do to change a situation or relationship.

7 Little acts of kindness go farther than you can imagine. You never know what someone is going through. Buying a cup of coffee for the person behind you in the Starbucks line or even just holding the door for someone could really make their day. Or just a smile may change someone’s entire day. I think smiles are underestimated. Even now with wearing masks everywhere, people can see the smile in your eyes.

8 Everyone has their opinions. You do you! Oftentimes people have conflicting opinions, so there is really no way to please everyone! Follow your heart and your gut, and don’t worry about the critics!

9 Fun is underrated, do crazy fun things!

10 Age is just a number, it’s never too late to start something. I used to feel this for sure! There are many examples of people who became successful later in life – Samuel Jackson and Julia Childes just to name a couple. George Eliot says, “It’s never too late to be what you might have been.”

11 We aren’t promised tomorrow, so live today to the fullest!

12 Purchasing that “next thing” will not make you more happy.

13 Don’t sweat the small stuff. For real though… I spent way too much of my life being anxious about things that in the long run really didn’t matter. I could have been putting my energy into other things.

14 You will almost always benefit from putting others first. I know this sounds counterintuitive, but trust me on this one!

15 It’s okay if everyone doesn’t like you. You’re not for everyone, so just be yourself!

16 When someone is rude to you or says something rude it usually has nothing to do with you. They are hurting and have not processed the pain.

17 Exercise! Even if it’s just walking. Exercise releases endorphins which is the happy hormone!

18 Never underestimate the power of drinking lots of water! It gives you energy, makes your skin look young, and more!

19 It’s okay to have needs! Everyone has needs. We are human. We can’t do everything ourselves.

20 Communicate your needs. People can’t read your mind. If you need help, ask.

21 Set boundaries. It’s okay to say no. You only have so much time in a day and only so much bandwidth. Say yes to the things you enjoy and will bring you fulfillment.

22 Find something you love and are passionate about and do that! Being able to do something you are passionate about brings energy and life!

23 Don’t be afraid to take risks. It can be scary to step outside of your comfort zone, but oftentimes we are glad we did it, and if we fail…

24 Failure is not a bad thing. It’s a teacher. We can learn and grow from our failures.

25 Being positive is a choice. Choose positivity. We can choose to focus on all the negative things in life, or the positive. Focus on the positive and give more attention to the positive!

26 Adversity is not bad. It helps you grow and to become a better person.

27 Give financially to a cause that’s important to you. Being generous brings fulfillment to life!

28 Volunteer your time to a cause that’s important to you. Being generous with your time also brings fulfillment to life!

29 It is what it is. Sometimes things out of our control happen, so roll with the punches.

30 Rest. Prioritize rest in your life so you don’t get burnt out. Schedule it in if you have to!

31 Don’t go to bed angry. Communicate your hurt. Reconcile. Forgive.

32 Learn new things. Read. Take a class. Watch a YouTube video to learn something new. It is good to stretch and exercise your brain to keep it in shape!

33 Prioritize people over to do lists. I still struggle with this as someone who really likes to get everything checked off my list! But I’m getting better at not looking at the clock when I spend time with people, but instead to just enjoy their company. Along with this, I stopped worrying about if my house was clean or everything was perfect before having people over!

34 Spend money on experiences over things. I believe this with all of my heart! My grandparents were big travelers, so they were an example to us of this principle. Memories are so much more valuable than things!

35 Notice small miracles. I think people can overlook small miracles. Recognizing them builds your faith.

36 Compliment people when you notice something you like about them. I know this can be hard for some people who are shy, but people really appreciate being noticed. Especially in this time when so many people are focused on themselves.

37 Thank people when they help you or do a job well. This is more appreciated than we know. People like to feel valued, like their time and effort was noticed.

38 Listen more than you talk.

39 Give up your place in line. For a mama with a young kiddo, for an older couple, for someone with less items than you.

40 Make the time to cultivate good friendships! It can be easy to get busy in your everyday routines and not prioritize friends, but my friends are truly a Godsend. I don’t think I would make it through this life without them!

41 Don’t worry about perfection, good enough is usually good enough!

42 Burn the nice candles. This one is silly, but I spent many years “saving” my nice candles for a nice occasion, but that occasion usually never came!

43 Your actions will have a bigger influence on your kids (or those you have influence over) than your words. You can teach your kids (or people you influence) all you want how you think they should live, but they notice what you do and will usually replicate that.

44 Pain is not a bad thing. It tells us something is wrong.

45 Pray. This is the only way I am able to get through life!

Well, I hope this was inspiring or encouraging to you today! Also, hope you enjoyed a glimpse into my photo memory lane!

Inspired By Grandma

Unfortunately on Sunday February 2nd of this year, we had to say goodbye to my Grandma. She had lived a long, beautiful life. She was 93 years old, and suffered from Alzheimer’s disease, so it was bitter sweet to say goodbye. Grandma was basically like another mother to me. My grandparents lived 10 minutes from our house, so we spent a lot of time over there. Before my Grandma was a mother or grandmother, she was a teacher. Even after she retired, she continued to “teach” us. I wanted to write about my Grandmother to honor her. Tomorrow I will be saying my last goodbye at her funeral, so I thought it was an appropriate time to share.

Grandma taught me that you don’t have to follow a recipe to whip up something with ingredients you have on hand. Or if we were following a recipe and we had missing ingredients, she always knew how to improvise. Not to mention her cooking was amazing! There’s just something about a grandma’s cooking, right? Almost every Sunday after church Grandma would host us all for lunch – our family, which included 5 kids plus my two cousins. I remember she would wear her apron to the dinner table. I always thought that was funny until I became the main cook of my own little family and learned her secret – that an apron is a sly way that an adult woman can wear a bib! Grandma grew up in the south, so it was fried chicken, fried green tomatoes, fried okra, and banana pudding! There was always a feast on Sunday afternoons.

My Grandparents with my husband and me on our wedding day.

Grandma’s house was a wonderland for kids! They lived in a big house with a basement – where all the fun happened. They also lived on acreage, including a wooded path behind their home. They had a big red barn where Grandpa did all of his woodworking. Every summer they had a garden, and they had a pool too. We spent many summer days over at Grandma and Grandpa’s house, picking ripe fruits and vegetables from their garden, swimming in the pool, and slurping popsicles out in the sun on the deck attached to the front of their house. Summer was the best time to spend the night at Grandma’s house. She would let us sleep with her. We would balloon up the sheets to make a “tent” and laugh and laugh. With the windows open, and the cool summer breeze rushing in through the screen, we would be lulled to sleep by the tune of the bull frogs and crickets who lived outside her window.

My Grandma meeting my firstborn, Cora. Her namesake is from my Grandma’s mother.

A famous story told in our family is “that one time Lorraine (age 6) and Joy (age 4) ran away to Grandma’s house.” Who doesn’t love Grandma’s house more than their own?! Now as a mother with my own children, I am horrified to think about two little pairs of legs walking nearly 4 miles to their Grandma’s house! Don’t worry, I apologize to my mom every time this story comes up! My Grandparents raised our cousins, so our plan was to live in Tim’s room and he would bring us food. When we arrived on their property, we hid out by the big pine tree at the edge of their front yard. We kept peeking around the tree, to see if anyone would see us. We then ran to the next tree – a little closer to the house. Grandma caught a glimpse of the flashes racing across her yard. When she came out and saw that it was us, she of course immediately called our mom – drat, the plan to live in Tim’s room was up. But, she did give us popsicles and let us swim in the pool in our clothes. We were hot after all.

My Grandma with my daughter Cora at my sister’s house in Atlanta.

I loved writing and poetry when I was younger. Grandma always encouraged me to write – a poem or a short story, or just write about your day – what you saw, heard, or felt. A few days after Grandma passed away, I had the urge to “deal with” my teenage angst ridden journals. I had found them in my closet several months back when I was doing a closet purge and I had decided then that I was ready to let those journals go. I didn’t want my kids to one day stumble on these horrible tales of my childhood. I seemed to write only when I had negative feelings, and I wanted to shred those and dispose of them for cathartic purposes. I began the process of shredding. When I got to the mauve Precious Moments journal, and opened the cover, I saw the beautiful scrawling which was my Grandmother’s writing. I ran my fingers over the words, tracing them as I read them. She had given it to me right before I entered high school. She wrote in the front a sweet poem about keeping record of your days. This journal I noticed I used in a different way than the other journals. The other journals were more of a “Dear Diary” scenario. This journal I WROTE. I wrote poems, deep thoughts, and unprocessed unfiltered feelings. Although the content was still angsty, I decided to keep this journal. The timing was so serendipitous. It’s like my Grandma was talking to me through the history of words on paper.

My Grandma, sister, and my sister’s son came out to visit us when we lived in Oregon.

My Grandma  was a teacher at heart, and never passed up opportunities to teach us. She loved to bird watch, and would teach us about the different birds and different bird calls. When we would walk through the woods, across the dilapidated wooden bridge, she would point out different types of trees. One time, I remember collecting leaves, which we would bring home and preserve between two sheets of wax paper using an iron to melt the wax. We got out the encyclopedias to look up what type of tree the leaf belonged to.

Grandma with my son, Luke. My Grandparents came to Austin to visit us!

A great way she taught her grandchildren was through travel and learning about other places. Her and my grandfather traveled all over the world! For each of their 7 grandchildren’s 5th and 11th birthdays, they took us on a special trip somewhere. I had to share my trips with my cousin Tim, because he was my age. Which I didn’t mind because we were good friends. For our 5th birthday trip, we loaded up the camper and drove to Savannah, Georgia. I don’t really remember much from this trip, other than a ride on a ferry boat. I also remember walking down the shoreline, and finding a huge jellyfish. A photo of my cousin and I squatting over this sea monster is still displayed in her home today.

My Grandma with my daughter, Cora.

For our 11th birthday trip, we drove all the way down the northeast coast states – starting up in Maine and working our way down. We went to a small fisherman’s town in Maine, where I learned you don’t eat the tails on shrimp. We went to New York City where I saw the first homeless person I had ever seen, was lectured by a woman with a cane on the subway that I should learn manners and give my seat to the “elderly” (referring to herself), and tried to walk up all the flights of stairs in the Statue of Liberty because the elevator was broken. Well, at least we made it to her feet! We went to D.C. where we walked past the white house, saw the Capitol Building, the Lincoln Memorial, and of course The Mall. We also went to the Smithsonian Museum.

Grandma always had funny, made up songs for everything. She liked to make us giggle. One time, on a trip traveling in her camper, we were sitting in the top bed overlooking the road as Grandpa drove the 5th wheel. We drove through a section of roadway that was nothing but pine trees across the hillside, as far as the eye could see. She started singing, “pine treeeeees, pine treeeees, pine trees. Pine treeeees, pine treeeees, pine trees,” then she paused for a moment and started this chorus again. We were both rolling with laughter!

My Grandma with my sons, Luke and Cade.

My college degree is in Journalism. I loved writing, even when I was very young. I attribute my love for writing and poetry to my Grandmother, who encouraged it in me. Today, I may not have a job using my journalism and writing skills, but over the years I have written in different capacities including currently writing blog posts. I thought it apropo to write a tribute to my Grandmother. I’ll end with a poem that I wrote about my Grandma when I was young.

A Grandma’s Love For Nature

By Joy L. Vendrely

I always wondered why Grandma stopped to look at flowers…

…For hours.

Why did she want to look at a waterfall?

That’s all.

Or admire a mountain with trees spread across…

…As if she were lost?

Grandma loves to collect shells from the ocean off the sand,

Just because she can.

I always wondered, but now I know…

…Because nature told me so.