Being Content: Finding Happiness Right Now

Happy Monday, loves!

I hope you all had the most fantastic weekend. We did, and I loved every second of it! I know I say it all the time, but we are so fortunate to have had the same amazing friends in our lives since long before any of us had kids. We all got married around the same time, we all had our babies together. We’ve been to every one of the other’s baby showers, we’ve spent a least a day together every week for more than a decade, and we are family.

How does it get better than that? How does it get better than having your very own amazing family and then having this amazing family you’ve created for yourself? You have all these memories. You travel and vacation together. You raise your kids together. You spend so much time at one another’s houses you know them and feel as comfortable in them as you do your own.

Family is what life is all about, whether you are born into them or you make them yourself. And I love that.

It also has a little bit of something to do with today’s post, which is all about being content. If you know me, you know I have my off days and a bad attitude and all the uglies sometimes. But you also know that I lay my head down at night with a full heart and a sense of peace that I don’t take for granted. You know that saying, “I remember the days when I prayed so hard for everything I have now?”

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I do.

I remember those days.

And I know that it’s like to want more. I’m always looking to expand my business, to grow more, to have more, to do more, to give back more, to experience more, to be more. And there’s not a damn thing wrong with wanting more.

But, if you know me, you know that I know that I’m content. Like, really, truly, happily content. What I have is everything I’ve ever wanted. I wasn’t always. There was a time when I was younger when I thought I needed more of everything to be content. More money. A bigger house. A more expensive car, another expensive bag, more expensive shoes.

And don’t get me wrong – I love those things.

But they don’t make me happy. I mean, okay, they do make me happy, but they don’t make me content and fulfilled. They bring me temporary joy (like every single time I put them on) but they don’t make me content.

What makes me content can’t be measured in terms of more.

It’s babies who want to be cuddled. Sweet little faces who love me to the moon and back. A handsome man who has loved me since I was 18 years old and has seen me at my very best, my very worst, my most vulnerable, and my ugliest, and somehow decides every single day to love me even more than he did the day before, and to show it in everything he does. It’s people to surround myself with who would do anything for me, who love me, who make fun of me, who make me feel like I’m home when I’m with them.

Learning to Find Content In Your Life

Here’s the thing – once you learn to find it, it’s so easy to keep it.

  • Don’t compare
  • Don’t wish
  • Don’t complain
  • Focus on what is important

 

Comparison is the thief of joy. If you spend your entire life comparing what you have/are/look like/do/go/whatever to what other people have, you’ll never be happy. Additionally, what makes other people happy probably won’t make you happy and vice versa.

Don’t wish. If you want something you don’t have, make it a reality by creating a goal and working for it. Don’t wish for it. Do it. Make it happen. It’s okay to want more if you’re willing to work for it and make it happen. It’s not okay to sit back and wish your life away.

Don’t complain. I mean, it’s okay to complain that Starbucks once again took 2746938473 minutes to make your latte, but then let it go and enjoy the deliciousness of it and remember that without all those minutes, you wouldn’t have this amazingness in your hand.

Focus on what’s important. People. People are important. Things are not. They’re fun, but they’re not important.

 

Really, and honestly, the best way to find content in your life is to focus on what is good in your life. It’s not to sit back and wish for more. It’s getting to work to make your life what you want and then sitting back and enjoying it every step of the way. If I complained about all the things that go wrong in my life, I’d waste a lot of my time being very unhappy. Instead, when life throws me a curve ball, I take a moment to panic, and then I remind myself that every single thing I ever thought was a bad thing in my life somehow turned into the best thing that ever happened to me.

Every lesson in life is just that – a lesson. You learn form it. You grow from it, and you change from it. You let it hurt, you let it get to you for a minute, but you stop yourself and learn to be content with it. You cannot change it, but you can use it to change you for the better. Everything that happens in your life is for a reason, and that reason is to help you grow. Put your faith first and you will always remember that there is something happening because you need to learn from it. You need to grow and change and evolve, and that shit doesn’t happen inside your comfort zone.

That’s how you find content in your life. You smile when you feel happy. You walk away when you need a moment, and you love what you have while you work for more. It’s easier than you think, and I certainly hope that even just one person reads this and realizes that life is really, really good.

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Friday Thoughts: Growth and Confidence

Happy Friday, loves!

Funny story – I did not have a blog post scheduled for today. I’m writing this on Thursday, scheduling it for Friday morning because it’s currently on my mind and I’m feeling a bit passionate about it.

If you’ve been following along the past few years, you already know my family and I have what we call Wednesday Night Dinners. It’s a looooooong tradition that began before we even had kids. As a matter of fact, it all began in 2008 when I was pregnant with our first child. My husband and I had been married three years and our friends, Corinna and Geremy, were married for two years at the time. They weren’t parents yet, either, but they were working on that.

My husband and I always went out to dinner on Wednesday nights to our favorite local restaurant. It was like our halfway through the week celebration, and we began inviting our friends. They joined us for the better part of two or three years every Wednesday night for dinner. Addison came along in the late summer of 2008 and their first child, Geremy Jr., came along in the spring of 2009. Somewhere in 2010, we made the decision to stop going out to dinner on Wednesday nights and start hosting our dinners at home.

We’d host one Wednesday, they’d host the next. And we’ve been doing that ever since. We’ve also added a total of 5 additional kids for a grand total of 7 little people. Wednesday nights are loud, fun, and something we all look forward to every week. We laugh – a lot.

(Fun Fact: Craig and Corinna are the same person, and Geremy and I are the same person. In fact, we are so much alike in our mannerisms and the way we think and act that we’re POSITIVE that somewhere along the line, we share some familial DNA and we are FOR SURE related in some way, shape, or form.)

These kids have grown up together, but so have the adults.

And that’s where this post actually begins now that you’ll never get the past two minutes of your life back. My bad – but not really.

During our #wednesdaynighttradition this week, Geremy mentioned he read my New Year blog post, and that he just had to tell me that he feels that I’ve changed so much in the past year – for the good. I’ve become more confident in myself and who I am, unapologetic, and very much a badass motherfucker – language situation, y’all (maybe I should mention that the four of us use BAMF regularly in our vocab to describe our current life situations and the things we’ve accomplished in the past few years…).

Anyway, he’s not wrong. I have changed a lot in the past year. I have become so much more self-aware and confident. I know what I bring to the table, and I don’t make apologies for who I am and where I stand.

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And that made me realize something – when the three people you look up to and admire and respect most in the world all think you’ve grown so much in the past year, you take a look at what they’re talking about. I spent some time this morning reflecting on the conversation the four of us had about that, and it makes me want to share some of what I think helped me to grow in my confidence and my success over the course of the past year – their love, support, and sarcastic comments aside.

I’m always learning

At some point, it occurred to me that my failures are just learning curves. Perfection is overrated and unattainable, but perfectly imperfect is pretty darn awesome. I make mistakes, but you won’t hear much about them because they’re nothing more than a notation on the list of “things that taught me to do better,” in the future. If I make a mistake, believe me when I tell you that I’m owning that mistake. I don’t place blame. I don’t pretend that everyone else is wrong and I’m right, and I never assume I know everything. I make the mistake, I own the mistake, and I move on from the mistake with a newfound lesson in life that will help me grow and become better the next time around. And I apologize when I’m wrong.

If I’m happy, I don’t care if anyone else is happy

I recognize the harshness in that statement, but I don’t apologize for it. What I mean by this is being happy with myself is far more important to me than making other people happy. It’s important for me to like myself, but it’s not important for me to have others like me. I live by two mottos in life – the first is that what other people think of me is none of my business, and the second is that I just don’t care what other people think. It’s a waste of time and energy. If I cared what others thought of me, I’d spend my life very sad. Trust me – I’ve written well over 100,000 articles over the past 11 years since I began my business, and they’re posted online on dozens of client websites in which I have millions of monthly views. And with that comes the comments. The emails. The Facebook messages. The Instagram messages. The Pinterest messages. And most people aren’t nice.

In addition to that, I recognize how I look, the things I love, the way I speak and the way I behave – and I know it’s not for everyone. I get it – and I like it. I like me – a lot. If you don’t…that’s okay. You don’t have to. I don’t mind. The caveat here is that you have to stop worrying about other people, too. How other people live their lives is none of my business, and it’s not my concern other than to be happy for them when they’re happy.

I know the kind of person I want to be

I might like myself now, but I’m always looking to evolve, change, and grow as a person. I can always find something about myself I could improve upon. For example, 2018 was one of those years I learned a little bit about how easy it is to backslide into habits I thought I gave up in high school. Gossip, judgment, negativity. They can creep into your life in a quick second, and it took me a little longer than that to realize that I needed to get that in check and reel that in fast. I’m imperfect, but I can fix those things when I realize they’re a problem.

I know who I want to be, and that’s a good person. I love giving back. I love doing for others. I love people who do the same. I surround myself with the best of the best. Kind, humble, hardworking, successful, generous, hilarious, wonderful people who I’m so fortunate to call my own – because you become like the people you spend the most time with.

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And, you guys, I don’t want to be a petty, reactive, overdramatic, loud 4-year-old. Cute as they are, I spend most of my time with tiny humans who suck the soul right out of me when they’re not being sweet and cute and reminding me to let my inner child out (does she come with that inner child metabolism if I let her out? Because my kids have been doing nothing but snacking every 2.4 second this Christmas break and I could use some of their never-gain-a-pound situation).

I choose people who mimic the traits and qualities I love and admire the most, and then I learn from them every single day. I want to be more like them because they are the best of the best – and anyone who knows them will tell you the same. From my husband to our friends – I can honestly say that I have the best people in the world, and I know who I want to be is more like the kind of amazing people they are.

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I embrace whatever

My confidence is growing daily, and it’s because I embrace myself. I don’t mind being overdressed. I don’t mind being materialistic in many aspects of my life. I’m good because I embrace my situation. I don’t mind being a bitch, because I get stuff done. I don’t mind that I’m not ‘traditional’ in many aspects of my life. I don’t really cook or do laundry, but my husband is so good at it that it doesn’t matter. I embrace that. I embrace that my life doesn’t look a lot like everyone else’s. I embrace that my husband and I don’t have traditional careers or that I’m not much of a housewife.

I embrace that I have OCD tendencies that might make people raise their eyebrows. I embrace that I like things my way, all the time, and I’m not all that lenient about wanting it my way. I embrace that I like certain things, certain places, and certain creature comforts, and I’m okay with that. I embrace whatever I am, whoever I am, and whatever makes me happy. I have high expectations, and I don’t view that as a problem.

I choose to be happy

Life is not perfect, y’all. But it’s pretty damn great. While we sat at Wednesday night dinner this week, we were discussing our goals for the new year. None of us make resolutions, but we always have new goals – though we don’t just make goals in the new year. We make them all year, work on meeting them, exceeding them, and then working on new goals. It’s a thing (BAMF, anyone?). When my sweet friend, Corinna, made a comment about seeing all these people on social media making new year resolutions this week, she said she has a long list of goals to meet this year, but she doesn’t have resolutions because she likes how she looks, she likes how she feels, she likes her marriage, she likes her life, and she’s really happy where she is and she’s not looking to change any of that.

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It’s like she took the words right out of my mouth – probably why we are so close. But she’s right. When you choose to be happy where you are and with what you’re doing, it’s okay to not want to change your life. It’s okay to say, “Thanks, but no thanks. I’m good where I am. I like me. I like who I am,” and then make some goals and let it go. I like that.

In a nutshell, if you’re not surrounding yourself with people who are just so badass and awesome and you don’t respect them or admire them and they don’t respect and admire you in return, you might want to make it your goal this year to surround yourself with people who bring out the best in you every single day. It’s like I tell my kids – a friend is a person who will never utter a negative word about you when you get up and walk away from the table…they’ll walk with you.

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It’s not hard. 

Growth is not optional – it’s a requirement. If you’re not changing every single day to embrace a stronger, more confident, better you by auditing your life and spending less time with those things that don’t bring out the good in you and more time with the things and people who do, now is as good a time as any to get started. If you aren’t good with yourself right now, make a change. The most difficult part is getting started – once you realize the kind of freedom you have when you don’t worry about how other people feel about you and you stop focusing on other people instead of focusing on yourself, life is much sweeter.

Instagram Roundup

Happy Thursday, loves!

I love that this new year is already off to such a great start. It’s been a few days, and it’s already been one of those weeks when you just sit back and embrace life to the fullest. I basically took the past month off work. Almost entirely other than the two weeks before the kids were out of school where I played catch up and work ahead. Other than that, I’m only doing some contract work for one client until the second full week of the year. The kids are home. I like to be with them. I like to spend time organizing, getting things prepared for a great new year, going to the dentist and the doctor and all those things.

Mostly, I’m just enjoying the laidback mornings. Sleeping a little later. Enjoying a little more. Being fully present. Those are things I value and love, and this year is off to a great start already. And on that note, I’m sharing with you a quick Instagram round-up since it has been a while since I’ve done that!

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I love, love, love this Likely dress so much it actually hurts. I picked this up a few months ago and knew it would be my Christmas Eve dress, and it received so many compliments! It’s elegant and classic – and it’s perfect. Paired with my favorite Manolos, and I was the happiest mom around.

(I cannot find this exact dress anymore at Saks; they have the shorter one available. I found some similar dresses here and here. My Manolo Blahniks are a few years old, but I love this red pair. Givenchy large sunglasses are sold out everywhere, but I did find these online.)

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This Topshop sweater is one I picked up a few weekends ago when my husband and I had a date weekend in Tampa for his company’s Christmas party. I can’t go to Tampa without making a stop at Nordstrom and bringing home all the things, and this sweatshirt is one thing I’m glad I took home…in every color. I sized up to a US 4 because I wanted it loose.

Topshop Sweatshirt, Tinsel jeans (my new favorites), Michael Kors booties (old but similar here, Givenchy Sunglasses linked above).

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This jumpsuit is every single thing. I mean, I cannot even begin to tell you how much my husband loves and adores this jumpsuit. I originally rented it for Thanksgiving from Rent the Runway, and I ended up ordering it to have after I sent it back because he loves it so much. I mean, so, so, so, so much. He cannot keep his hands off me when I put this on, and since he typically can’t keep them off me anyway, this was even better! And these fun little kitten heels are actually like 13-year-old Jimmy Choos that I picked up. Aren’t they fabulous?

 

 

 

2018 Reflections and 2019 Goals: Happy New Year

Happy Tuesday, loves!

And Happy New Year!

Want to hear something funny? This is my least favorite time of the year. Well, December 26 – August 31 is my least favorite time of the year. I live for September 1 – December 25. The rest of the year I could actually care less about. There’s something so magical and amazing about those four months, and I get a little sad when they are over.

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Of course, I love the new year and what it means. I love days each of my five loves were born. I love our wedding anniversary. I love the fun we have all year. I just don’t feel the same magic every single day the first eight months of the year. But I do the moment September 1 arrives. Every single day until Christmas is magic.

The magic that happens the rest of the year is more situational than it is every moment, and that’s where I feel I love it just a bit less. Also, I don’t care much for being hot. Ironic, for a lifelong Floridian, right?

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It’s a new year right now, and that’s significant for so many people. While I’m a firm believer in making changes and starting over any day, any time, and for any reason you feel the need, there is something so magical about starting over on January 1. It’s like the slate has been wiped clean, the new year is here, and there is just too much to be excited about.

 

Reflecting on 2018

 

What. A. Year.

Okay, so we say that every year. But it’s amazing that every year seems like the most amazing year and it cannot be topped, and yet the following year always manages to top it. That’s certainly not to say that there are not moments in which life is not the best ever or that we don’t have low moments, but we are fortunate enough that our low moments and our down moments are few and far between, and they are far outweighed by the good. We are big on choosing happiness, and that works for us most of the time.

2018 was a fun year in so many ways. It brought at least one getaway or trip every month, which was our goal.

We took the big girls to New York City for the first time. Craig and I have been going a few times a year for the past 12 or 13 years, and it’s our favorite city. But the girls have never been, and we decide they were finally old enough. And oh my goodness, did Craig make sure they had the best time. He made reservations at our favorite restaurant, Il Tinello, one night. They got to stay at our favorite hotel and meet our favorite doorman. He made sure that every dinner reservation he made was for a great filet for Ava, since it’s her favorite.

He took them to American Girl and let them go to town getting whatever they wanted. We went to Times Square and they disliked it as much as we do – so we know for certain we never have to go back there again. We took them to the Plaza for brunch. We took them to Saks to go shoe shopping because that’s my favorite pastime there. We took them to see the Statue of Liberty from the Ritz Carlton, and to tour Tiffany’s (because I can’t leave NYC without a new little blue box) and to every Starbucks and to Central Park and everywhere in between.

 

We visited my grandmother in Texas twice in 2018. She’s almost 100, and it’s our priority to spend a few weekends a year with her these days. The kids went with us for four days the first time, and Craig and I went alone to spend a whirlwind 24 hours with her – and my parents and brother and extended family – in November.

Craig and I went on a cruise with our four favorite couples for a long weekend. Cruises are not my favorite, but these people certainly are. Craig ended up definitely, totally, almost ruining night one for me when he got SO sick, but our friends made it hilarious, funny, and enjoyable, and of course, he definitely made up for it the rest of the cruise.

We spent a long weekend in West Palm, we spent a long weekend with our families in Orlando in a fun rental house doing nothing but enjoying the time we have with one another. We spent long weekends at the Omni Championsgate, at the Gaylord, at Disney, in New York, the Caribbean, Tampa, Naples, and more.

Our best friends bought a river house, and we spent so many Sundays there making memories with them and all of our kids. We celebrated our 10th year of Wednesday night dinners with them. We exceeded our goal of having 6 date nights with no kids with them (we made it to 9), and I cannot even tell you how much we laughed. We spent more time outdoors being athletic than ever before. We ran two 5k races. We went to the gym together. We had more family movie nights. Addison found a love of baking, which means she and I get to spend more time together.

We had more fun, made more memories, and celebrated so many things. We met our goals for the year much earlier than we thought we would, and then we killed them the rest of the year. We failed in some areas (I’m looking at you tiffanyraiford.com….I didn’t blog as often as I said I would simply because I put my clients first. The blog is a fun hobby for me, but the writing I do for my clients is my priority). We didn’t do nearly all the stuff around the house we wanted to do, but we did other things we didn’t plan on doing.

2018 was a fun year. It was also a year for learning – as they should all be.

One of the best things I do all year is spend some time looking back at the lessons we learned.

For example – we can do anything, but we cannot do everything.

Quality people are the best people.

Giving back is always the most important thing we do.

Quality is always better than quantity.

Forgiveness is always the answer.

What other people think of you only matters if you’re unhappy with yourself – change your life and learn to love yourself and it won’t matter how others view you.

The best times are the simplest times.

A full calendar is not my favorite.

#backtobasics is everything good in life.

We all make mistakes, and we should learn from them, take ownership of them, and move on to become better people.

Kids are kind of assholes, but they’re super cute.

Life is good, and I appreciate the hell out of that. I don’t take that for granted, and I am filled with grace and gratitude because of it.

Goals for 2019

What will this year bring? I have no idea, but I do know that there are some new goals I’d like to make. There are also some old goals I’d like to continue to live by.

I will continue to live with these goals:

  • Always say no if you’re not 100% invested in it from the start (life is too short to go about it doing what you don’t want to do)
  • Give grace
  • Practice gratitude
  • Put my marriage first
  • Spend more quality time with the kids
  • Re-evaluate anything that makes me second guess my own life and make changes as needed to get back on track if I feel off track or unhappy with anything in life.
  • We will spend at least one weekend per month traveling

 

I have set these goals for 2019.

  • Spend less time on my phone. Considering I run my business from my electronics, it’s not always easy to step away, but I’m going to do more than just put my ‘do not disturb’ on from 8 pm to 7 am. I’m leaving my phone in another room at 8 pm – and I’m not checking it at all after that.
  • I’m practicing patience. It’s not something I have much of, but I’m going to teach myself to have more.
  • I’m going to be more in the moment.
  • I’m reading more books.
  • I’m going to be better about gossiping. It’s easy to get caught up, and I dislike thinking that I’m not immune to that.
  • I’m going to surprise my husband more. He does such a good job of being sweet and doing wonderful things for me all the time, and I’d like to do more of the same for him.
  • Spend more quality time with our families.
  • Say yes to anything that sounds exciting and fun.
  • Travel at least one place we’ve never been with the kids and without the kids.
  • Relax more

 

Essentially, I like to spend my time becoming a better person. I don’t always make it in every aspect, but I am so down for trying harder and making strides anywhere and everywhere. I don’t set health goals because I work on that every day regardless. It’s not something I have to set my mind to, so I don’t set those goals. I always value my faith, my marriage, and my kids above everything else, too. I always make it my goal to focus on those things, so they’re not things I need to make goals, either.

The new year is a wonderful new start for everyone. If you’re struggling with what to do, here are some thoughts. Make it a goal to be a better person. Let go of things that bother you. Let go of anger, resentment, insecurities, and things that don’t make you happy. Trust me – when you learn to let go of that stuff, you definitely live better. Focus on the good in life, and create more of that. Make a list of things you aren’t happy about in life, and then change them. Don’t worry about what other people think. Don’t compare your story to everyone else’s. Pick your friends wisely. Grow up. Laugh more. Worry about yourself instead of everyone else. Own your shit. Be yourself. Do you, boo.

It’s a brand-new year, and that’s super exciting. Enjoy it, love it, make it yours – and always laugh more.