Bye, Negativity

Happy Wednesday, loves!

How many negative thoughts have you had this morning? Hazard a guess. I’ve probably had dozens already, and it’s first thing in the morning. Honestly, it’s so hard not to find negative thoughts creeping in these days. Any day, really, but these days it’s almost impossible not to feel negative more often than you’re accustomed to.

Let’s face it; the world is an ugly place. No matter your personal beliefs, your political affiliation, your stance on current events in the world, it’s an ugly place right now. Most people are in a mood…and it’s not a good one. You already know I’m not that much of a people person, but I’m so much less of a people person these days. It seems everywhere I go, more and more of the people I encounter are in a bad mood.

The news is filled with negativity. Newsfeeds are filled with negativity. I’ve taken to using social media to post my photos to share with my grandmother and other family members, and then I’m out. I haven’t scrolled my own Facebook feed since the beginning of July. I can’t. It’s so negative. People can’t have their political beliefs without shoving them down the throats of everyone else. People who don’t speak up about current events are suddenly the problem. People who don’t speak up soon enough about current events are the problem. People who speak up about current events but not in a timely fashion are the problem. People who speak up about current events but disagree with your opinions about current events are the problem.

April Stock Photo

You guys…we have enough problems. What’s with all the negativity? Everything is so negative anymore, and you know that this kind of negative consumption is feeding our brains and our hearts nothing but garbage. I’m done with it. I am so careful in so many areas of my life to choose positive people, positive influences, things and people that bright me joy and happiness, and I’m not about to let the fake, fear-mongering news and social media and everyone else’s opinions ruin all that hard work I put into leading a happy life.

To quote that one woman that one time (can someone remind me of the exact event, please?), “Ain’t nobody got time for that.”

So, how do we stop these negative thoughts from sinking in and becoming our prevalent thoughts? It’s not easy. We are hardwired to have negative thoughts simply because we are more sensitive to negativity. But, it’s possible to (I’m sure I’m quoting my mother, here) ‘turn that frown upside down,’ and have positive thoughts.

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Get Rid of the Phone

Social media, the news, our emails, all of it. It’s killing us a moment at a time. How many times a day do you dread checking your email because you know that you’re going to get an email or a text from a client, a coworker, a friend, a family member, a company, someone who needs a favor, wants to add something else to your plate? How many times do you check social media and find yourself annoyed by the posts you’re reading?

Get off the phone. Stop checking. Turn off your notifications. Set aside a few minutes a day to check the important stuff, and stay off social media and the news sites you’re so accustomed to inhaling and absorbing each and every day. This is especially important in the morning when you wake up. Don’t start your day with that nonsense.

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Write Down Your Feelings of Gratitude

You already know that this is helpful, but let’s start actually doing it, okay? Pick up a notebook today while you’re out. Write down three to five things first thing in the morning that you are grateful for and that are good in your life. They can be big, small, whatever. Just write them down, then read the list. Then add a few more things to that list at the end of the day that are specific to that day. Keep this up. You’ll be amazed how quickly you are able to turn your negative thoughts into less frequent visitors. For example, this morning I am grateful for these things:

  • Watching the sunrise over our backyard from my spot on the lanai while it’s still quiet at home
  • Being able to be home with my kids to make memories and be present in their lives
  • Listening to my sweet twins read books to me out loud
  • Family dinners and game nights
  • A whole cup of coffee consumed in absolute silence while the sun rises
  • Front porch rocking
  • Being married to a man who kisses me every single time he walks by me

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Shut Down Your Thoughts

When negative thoughts come to mind, make it a habit to literally tell them to stop. Literally, say it aloud. Say, “Stop, right now. Stop this train of thought, right now,” and keep that going. Every single time a negative thought comes to mind, tell yourself to stop. Out loud. Where you can hear it. It’ll help.

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Write Down Your Negative Thoughts

Okay, Tiffany, tell us again how we are writing down things we are happy for and then telling ourselves to physically stop thinking negative thoughts, yet you have us writing down our negative feelings and thoughts on a piece of paper?

I realize it seems counterproductive, but it’s not. Now that you are working on getting rid of negative thoughts, take a moment to write down what bring you these thoughts. Your negative beliefs. Your negative feelings, etc. For example, if I were writing down my own negative beliefs right now, my list would look like this:

  • People are so negative
  • No one bothers to use their common sense anymore
  • The world is so divided
  • Kindness suddenly seems gone from the world
  • All I see are bad things all day, every day

But, that’s not true, now is it? People aren’t all negative. Some are, but not everyone in the world is negative. Some people lack a lot of common sense, but most don’t. The world is not as divided as the mainstream media wants us to believe. Kindness is everywhere; it’s just not as visible because it’s not nearly as newsworthy. All I see are bad things everyday because I’m seeing news stories and opinions online, and I’m not focused on the good things that surround me all the time.

You see? I just debunked – to borrow a term from mainstream media – all the negative thoughts in my mind. They look a little silly when they’re on paper, don’t they?

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Just Relax

What’s going to happen is going to happen, and worrying about it and thinking about it and feeding it your constant negative attention is not going to make a difference. Let life unfold before you, and don’t perpetuate fear and uncertainty in your own mind. It’s not helpful.

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Detox Your Digital Life

I’m not an advocate for unfollowing people or pages that don’t fit your narrative or simply because you don’t agree with their outlook, but sometimes you have to do it. Let me be very clear; don’t go unfollowing people because they have different beliefs than you. Do unfollow them if they bring negativity to your life or your feed. For example, unfollow someone who name calls or belittles or says hurtful things. Or, even more simply, detox your pages so you’re only seeing things that bring you joy and happiness, even if that means unfriending your mom and only following pages filled with kittens and puppies and donuts.

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Take Care of You

I feel like a broken record because I say this all the time, but that should really make it obvious how important this is. Take care of you. Don’t put yourself last. Don’t tell me you don’t have time to work out or eat healthy – nothing is further from the truth. I see you – and I hear you – saying you’re so busy and overwhelmed and you don’t have time to go to the gym or work out or eat a healthy diet, but I also see you sharing dozens of memes and articles and commenting on every political post on the internet each and every day and talking about binging your favorite shows every evening when the kids are in bed. You have time; you don’t have the right priorities.

Get up. Take a walk. Go a quick breathing exercise. Work out at home. Download a workout app. Go for a quick run. Do some squats or crunches during commercial breaks. You have time, but you have to make it a priority. Meal prep. Or, if you’re like me and you cannot fathom the idea of eating leftovers (I cannot eat anything that’s been put in the fridge and then taken back out to reheat), order a meal service so the hard work is done. We love Hello Fresh. We love their calorie smart and vegetarian meals, ironically (we are not vegetarian). They’re quick, flavorful, and so easy.

Drink more water while you’re at it. If you’re not hydrated, you’re not living your best life. It’s really that easy. Take care of yourself. Eat right, make yourself a priority. It’s easier to feel good when you actually feel good, you know?

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Focus on the Good in Your Life

The best things in life really are those small moments. Of course, you’ll always remember the big ones and the amazing ones, but those little ones are what make up your entire complex system of happiness and fulfillment. You find your joy in those little moments. Focus on those. Look around you. Focus on what little things you do each and every day that bring you so much joy.

For me, it’s when the kids laugh and giggle and climb all over us in the pool. It’s doing cannonballs and letting down my hair – literally – to jump in the pool in the pouring rain not caring how I look. It’s simple Saturdays talking about life and laughing about every-damn-thing with the people we love most. It’s Saturday nights laughing nonstop with some of the most hilarious people around. It’s the excitement on the kids’ faces when someone rolls a Yahtzee during game night. It’s the moment my husband makes eye contact with me during the eyeroll-inducing 3908 questions Carter asks during every. Single. Movie. Night. Ever. It’s his excitement when we watch a movie about tornadoes. It’s mornings when my husband’s alarm goes off and he snoozes it for 9 minutes so he can cuddle with me a little longer. It’s Wednesday night traditions. It’s sitting on the lanai with my coffee in the morning. It’s Sunday dinners. It’s the way Addison is so sweet with her sisters and her brother. It’s Ava’s quick wit and smart mouth. It’s Charlotte’s sugar-sweet kindness and love for everyone. It’s Carter’s quick laugh and sweet “I love you, mommy,” and the feeling I get when my husband reaches for my hand when we are walking anywhere.

It is so many small moments that, when you put them together, create such a beautiful life. Even when the world is a shitshow of WTF all around us, it’s those moments you can turn to and know that you are living your best life even if you momentarily forgot all about it.

Gratitude Prompts Days 15 to 31 (oops)

Sooo…I’m behind with my gratitude posts for the month. Honestly, I cannot believe I allowed two weeks to go by without a post! No excuses. I dropped the ball there, and today I’m catching up in a big way (with the remainder of the month). Can we just talk about how great I did the first week-and-a-half? It’s not an excuse, but I will share with you why I completely failed the second half (three quarters) of the month.

I was in a wedding planning haze! My husband and I had a beautiful trip to St. Kitts and Nevis planned for our 15th wedding anniversary. We booked a Nevis Peak Suite at the Park Hyatt St. Kitts Christophe Harbour. A beautiful suite with a massive private balcony with its own infinity pool overlooking the beach and the mountains across the way. We were excited…and then COVID-19 happened. Cancelled. Refunded. No trip.

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So, during one of our quarantine weekends with our favorite quarantine crew, we had the amazing idea to plan a vow renewal for our anniversary. It’s 15 years! We couldn’t go anywhere and celebrate, so we decided that we’d put the River House to good use and renew our vows on the dock using the river as our beautiful background. It was very last minute, very thrown together (have you ever tried to cater anything during a pandemic, even when things are opened back up and you can go out again, when there’s an apparent meat shortage, the florist can’t promise to have flowers here in time, and you have to just do it all yourself?). Needless to say, the week prior to our May 15th anniversary was hectic, and I was busy meeting my regular deadlines for my clients, helping my kids with their distance learning, celebrating with my husband, and planning our second wedding.

You guys…it was the most beautiful day! We were surrounded by the people we love the most, and we definitely had entirely too much fun! There is something so special about standing in front of the man you’ve loved for 18.5 years, to whom you’ve been married for 15, and stating new vows to grace your original vows. I can’t even describe the feeling, but it was more exciting than the first time we wed. To know that after all these years, I still love him – but better yet, I still like him – more than ever is an amazing feeling. It was a good, good day.

Once that was over, I was going to catch up on my blog posts…I was. But, I woke up that Monday morning sick. No, it’s not the coronavirus. I’ll leave this right here for anyone confused or slightly misinformed – but other illnesses do still exist. Not every sore throat, cough, and general feeling of malaise is the corona. Things like the common cold, the flu, bronchitis, and strep throat, and other things, well, they’re still here. They’re running rampant, as always, but it’s not newsworthy, so we’re ignoring that, right? Anyway, I spent the better part of the week sick and staying in bed to rest, so I wasn’t doing more than I needed to do.

Of course, I’m out of excuses now. I felt good enough Friday to take my oldest to a birthday party at Hammer and Stain for her sweet twin friends while I went to lunch and shopping with two of my very favorite friends (whose kids were also at the party), and good enough to go on date night with my handsome husband and our best friends that night, and good enough to pool party it up on Saturday, and host Sunday Funday at home, and have a Memorial Day pool party with our favorites.

Soooooo…I just dropped the ball there. Sorry.

I’m catching up. Today. I promise. Here’s all the prompts for the rest of the month. It’s still possible to be filled with gratitude with me, even if it’s a bit late, right?

Day 15 What activities bring you joy?

Too many to count! But, I will say that reading is a favorite. Our customary Wednesday night dinner with our best friends brings me joy. Playing board games with my families on rainy evenings. Rainy day movie days. Traveling. A good cup of coffee on my back deck while the sun is rising. Working out. Yoga and running. It’s so many little things.

Day 16 How is your life more positive today than it was a year ago?

This is a tough one. A year ago we were celebrating the last week of school with our littles coming off of a long few months of traveling – so fun, but exhausting – and my husband and I were getting ready to travel to Washington D.C. with our oldest daughter and her friends and their awesome parents for a week of Safety Patrol tripping. That was…an experience.

This year? We are coming off a long few months of going nowhere, doing nothing, being forced to slow down. But, at the same time, it’s been the best few months. We’ve really bonded with the people we love the most as we quarantined together. We’ve learned to appreciate the simplest things. This time last year, I was fresh into an adventure I thought would be so much fun and so enjoyable, and it ended up being the most toxic situation that brought so much negativity into my life. This year, that’s done, gone, and in the past – thank goodness – and I’ve learned that not everything is worth my time. That’s a freeing feeling.

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Day 17 What did you accomplish today?

This is going to sound silly, I know. I’m such an early riser. I’ve always been a 5 am riser. I like the quiet and the solitude. I like to sit down with my husband when it’s still dark outside and enjoy a cup of coffee while everyone else sleeps, and I like to get into my office and start working before the kids wake up, but quarantine life has changed that. Today, however, I was out of bed at 7:30 and in my office by 7:40 and it felt really good. Not that sleeping until 8 every day isn’t good, though!

Day 18 When was the last time you felt lighthearted?

These days? It’s every day in those little moments. It’s still really early, though, and I haven’t had a conversation yet, so I’ll go back. Last night, during dinner with our best friends we were having one of our infamous inappropriate conversations and laughing so hard at the dumbest stuff, and I just felt so lighthearted. Not many people get to have friends like ours and a relationship like ours, and it’s so special to know that we can have the deepest conversations and the most motivating conversations and then turn around and literally laugh at the most asinine stuff a second later. It’s good times. That makes my heart feel light.

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Day 19 What Inspires you to keep going when it’s hard?

This is a good one. Life is hard sometimes. Sometimes, it’s just plain dumb and stupid and hard. But, what inspires me to keep going is my husband and my kids. My husband is strong, and very little affects him negatively. He’s just magic like that. Things always seem so effortless and easy to him, so he’s always the ‘strong’ one as I’m the over-reactor and the panicky one and the freak out in the moment before I have time to realize it’s not a big deal one. So, I’m inspired by him and his ability to see that things really are never as bad as they seem. Also, our kids. I’m always inspired to keep going on hard days because they’re watching. I don’t want them to be quitters or learn to give up.

Day 20 What sounds make you happy?

Easy – the sound of the twins laughing. I love to hear all the kids laughing, but Carter and Charlotte were blessed with the best laughs. Both of them. It is physically impossible not to smile, laugh, and feel elated when you hear their laughter.

Day 21 What makes you feel alive?

Running. I feel so strong and so alive when I run. It’s such a liberating feeling.

Day 22 What makes you unique?

This is tough. I don’t know what makes me unique. I think it might be my ability to find the right words for anything, and to see through the words of others to figure out what they really mean even though that’s not what they are saying. Does that even make sense? Probably not, but it’s just a thing. Someone can say something, but their eyes and their body language, and the words they choose to use, their inflections, their mannerisms, their tone…all of it says something, and it’s not always the same as their words. It might be why I’m so empathetic to people, even when I don’t particularly care for them.

Day 23 How do you show love to yourself on a daily basis?

I workout every single day. I also get myself ready each day. Makeup, hair, and a cute outfit; every day. It’s not for everyone, I know, but it’s for me. I find that being put together helps me feel more put together, which helps me have a better attitude, a better mood, and a more productive day. I can’t stand the idea of feeling lazy and un-put together. It’s not for me. So, I show myself love by appreciating my body each day.

Day 24 What are some things you are really good at?

Being efficient. I never fail to cross everything off my to-do list each day even when I don’t know how I’ll find the time. I’m also exceptionally good at letting go and enjoying when the time is appropriate. I’m very good at baseball. I’m a good mom and wife and friend. I’m really good at keeping a clean house and car (you guys, it’s not that hard or time-consuming, I swear).

Day 25 What are some things you’d like to be better at doing?

I would love to improve my patience. I find that it’s very easy for me to lose patience with people, and then literally blame them for every moment of it. For example, my patience is tested when I’m driving (or passenger-ing) because I cannot handle people who don’t know how to drive. I mean, how hard is it to use the left lane to pass the slow right lane drivers, merge over when you’re done, and let the rest of us continue to pass until we can merge into the right lane? How hard is it to at least drive the speed limit rather than 15 miles under the speed limit? How hard is it to walk off to the side of the aisles at the store so people can continue to drive down the aisle and find a parking spot? How hard is it to just keep driving to park a few spaces back rather than sit in the aisle blocking traffic for 898 hours while you wait on someone to finish loading their car, answering their text message, calling their mom for a chat, and buckling their kids in the car before they depart so you can park two spots closer to the door? Honestly, is the extra 10 foot walking distance going to kill you? I could have been in the store, purchased everything I need, back in my car and gone in the time it took you to sit there and save yourself 10 feet. Clearly, I have rage, right? So, I’d like to have more patience.

Day 26 What is something money can’t buy that makes you happy?

Let’s be honest here – I’m a material girl living in a material world. That will never end, but what brings me the most joy in my life are the things that money can’t buy. Like the feeling of peace knowing that at only 36, I’ve already accomplished more in life than younger me thought I’d accomplish in my whole life – and I still have all these years ahead of me! My family brings me so much happiness. Our friends. Our freedom. Our love. The feeling of knowing that the little things are the ones that matter the most. Something that money can’t buy is this amazing feeling that I’m not defined by things. I don’t feel the need to compare myself to others or to care if mine is bigger or better or more expensive or more whatever. I love that feeling of knowing that what I have is what I want, not what society or other people make me feel that I need. That, my friends, is a powerful feeling.

Day 27 What is something in nature I’m grateful for?

Okay, so when we bought our dream house five and-a-half years ago, it had everything we wanted. The space, the number of bedrooms, the character, a massive covered front porch and a beautiful back deck and all this outdoor living space, and a corner lot, and did I mention all the character? But, honestly…the magnolia tree in our front yard was the kicker for me. I’ve always wanted one, but I was too afraid to buy one and plant it at our other house because I do not have a green thumb. This one is already established and mature, and I literally fell in love.

And then that motherf*cker never, ever bloomed. Okay, that’s a lie. It had three magnolia blooms on it one year, three years ago. Three flowers. My magnolia was a dud. But, guess what? Not anymore! I don’t know what changed, what happened, whatever. But, my beautiful baby has been showing out like a champion for weeks now! She’s got a minimum of 10 blooms open and fragrant at a time, and always 10-20 more buds ready to bloom at the same time. She’s a beauty, and I walk outside every single day now to watch her in action. I’m in love, and I know that I’m a dork, but this tree brings me all the feelings of joy and happiness and excitement. Am I showing my age yet?

Day 28 What is something that comforts me that I’m grateful for?

Aside from the obvious, my family, a good book. Beautiful words put on paper bring me so much comfort. I’m guilty of downloading most of my books on my iPad and reading them in that light, but I keep a collection of my favorite literature in actual book form in my office. The weight of the book. The smell of the paper. The feel of the pages on my fingers. I find so much comfort in words, but especially in book form.

Day 29 (that’s today, you guys) What is something you are grateful for today?

Today, I’m grateful for adventure. I am beyond excited to be headed off on an exciting adventure this weekend with my sweet family and our best friends.

Day 30 Where is your favorite place to go?

I can’t pick just one. So, here we go. Home. Our home is my favorite place in the world. I’ve never felt happier than I do here. The way the light pours in our family room doors and windows when the sun is rising. The way the sky turns the most beautiful shades of pink in the evenings while we sit on our front porch. The attention to detail, the character. It’s so light and bright and filled with windows and natural light. I always feel so sad and down when I walk into a home that’s dark and dim and has solid doors and few windows. It’s my favorite place.

My second favorite place – New York City. Over the past 13 years, my husband and I have made it a point to have at least two date weekends a year in the city. We have our favorite hotel (the Omni Berkshire on 52nd between Park and Fifth Avenunes), our favorite restaurant with our favorite bottle of Sangiovese (Il Tinello), our favorite place to watch the sunset over the city (Salon de Ning rooftop at the Peninsula) and our favorite place to have brunch and enjoy the view (the BoatHouse in Central Park) and our favorite place to have the best glass of champagne and the best service (the Champagne Bar at the Plaza Hotel). I could go on, but the city is my home away from home, and I love to be there. I love that our hotel doorman is always excited to see us when we arrive because we’ve become friendly over the years. I love that the staff at Il Tinello has never changed, and they always remember us. I love so many things about the city.

And then there’s SoCal. Orange County is another of our favorite places. Some of our very favorite people live there, and we love to visit. We have our favorite hotels (the Montage in Laguna Beach and the Surf and Sand) and our favorite restaurants (I’m looking at you Javiers in Crystal Cove) and the views and the smell of bougainvillea and so many other things.

Hawaii – We haven’t been in years (because I’m not willing to be that far away from our kids, but we also weren’t willing to take on a 12-hour flight day with the twins being so little, either) but we think the twins are finally at an age they can handle the flight with us, so we’ll be back soon. I mean, hopefully. Right now, we don’t even know what’s open and what’s not. But, we loved everything about it here, and we cannot wait to go back. Some of my fondest memories are from here.

North Carolina – it’s just the simplest, friendliest, most beautiful place, and we always feel so at home here.

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Day 31 What is the best gift you have ever received?

Hmmmm….I love all the gifts I’ve ever received, honestly. Okay, well, most of them. I love the things the kids make for me. I love everything my husband has ever given me. It’s hard to pick a favorite. Nope, let me stop myself right there. I have two favorites.

When I was pregnant with Addison Grace, my husband gifted me the most beautiful Tiffany & Co. Necklace with a small circular charm on it with a simple “A” engraved on it at our baby shower. Then, on my first Mother’s Day, he gave me a matching Tiffany & Co. bracelet with a charm on it that says “Mom”. Since that day, he’s filled that bracelet with the most beautiful charms, all meaningful in some way.

My other favorite gift is the one he just gave me for our 15th wedding anniversary. It’s the crystal anniversary, so he gave me a beautiful crystal vase. It might not seem special to some, but I’m obsessed with fresh flowers. I always have a fresh bouquet on the fireplace, on the island in the kitchen, on the dining room table, on the breakfast nook table, on the formal living rooms tables, and in our master bedroom. I refresh them weekly so we always have fresh flowers. So, to go along with my beautiful vase, he bought me a flower subscription. I’ll get fresh flowers delivered weekly for the rest of my life (well, year, I think, but he’ll renew it every year knowing him) to put in that vase so it’s never empty. I thought that was the most thoughtful, most beautiful gift.

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What’s important as we round out this month with gratitude is that we are thankful and appreciative of the beauty in our lives. Every day may not be the best day, but every day is a good day.

Gratitude Prompts: Days 12, 13, and 14

I know, I know…I missed a few days of gratitude this week, didn’t I? Oops! Well, let’s be honest. I’m not perfect, and sometimes things slip through the cracks, and this was just one of those weeks…and it hasn’t even reached crazy capacity just yet! I can’t wait to share more with you guys next week, but I will tell you that right now, this is one crazy, hectic, amazing week!

So, to catch up on day 14…I owe you days 12 and 13, too!

Today, my husband and I should be on a plane. We should be on our way to St. Kitts and Nevis to spend 4 days in a Nevis Peak Suite at the Park Hyatt St. Kitts Christophe Harbor Resort. We were so looking forward to it, but the Coronavirus said no. We are disappointed, but trying not to let it get us down too much. So, that said…here are my gratitude prompts for the past few days and today.

Day 12: What keeps you grounded?

My husband, for sure. He is the exact opposite of me. He’s calm and cool and collected to my very temperamental hotheaded kind of crazy. He is always reasonable when I’m emotional. He doesn’t panic. He is calm, and there is always a logical answer to any situation. He keeps me grounded in every manner of speaking. When I’m mad, he reminds me that things aren’t that big of a deal. When I’m sad, he reminds me I have so many more things to be happy about. When I’m overwhelmed, he reminds me that it’s my choice to be overwhelmed and I should let go of my obsessive compulsive need to do everything myself and ask for help (well, he’s nicer about it than that, but you see what I’m saying). He’s my rock, and I love that about him.

Day 13: What is the biggest miracle of your life?

Honestly? Once again, I’d say my husband. How I managed to find someone who is so good to me and so kind and such a good father and such a strong person is beyond me. Especially at such a young age! We found one another when we were only 18. That was more than half our lives ago. The biggest miracle, to me, is that even after almost 19 years together, it’s not boring. We share an office. We have four kids. We are together like 98% of our lives, and we aren’t tired of one another. I’m still so attracted to him. I still love him so much. I still need him and want him even more after so many years together. I can’t explain it, but it feels like such a miracle to not only get to spend every day with someone I love so much, but someone I just plain like a lot, too. I don’t take that for granted.

Day 14: What does it mean to be free and fulfilled?

Can I just stop for a moment and tell you how much I love this question? It’s such a good question! I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: for me, freedom and fulfillment go hand in hand. For me, being free means living life on my terms. It means not answering to someone else every day of my life. It means making my own schedule and my own choices and my own opportunities. It means not being on someone else’s terms every single day. It means going to the store and never worrying about price tags. It means being free of fear and the mundane.

Fulfillment is so similar to me. It’s that feeling of going to bed at night with a full, happy heart knowing that I don’t dread the following day. There is something so fulfilling about knowing each day, each season, is my own choice. It’s knowing that I can create all I want in life, and that I can do it around the things that are most important to me, like being present for my kids. It means knowing that I have everything I’ve ever wanted, and so much more is just an added bonus. It means loving where I am, and being excited about where I am going.

Gratitude Prompt Days 9, 10, and 11

I love when I get to go into a long weekend worth of gratitude…though I wish I had the time to do them all one day at a time! No, that’s not true. I love that I don’t worry about things on the weekend. I focus on having fun, making memories, and living my best life. That brings me to days 9, 10, and 11 of gratitude.

What’s a moment in your life that was pure joy and light?

The first night both of the twins were home from the NICU and we were able to put them into their sweet little bed in our bedroom, together, for the first time. Carter was discharged a day before Charlotte, and we had to leave her behind. They were in the NICU for a week after they were born, and we lived in the hospital with them – even after I was discharged, they let us keep our room.  We were in the NICU every three hours, 24 hours a day, to feed them, cuddle them, and spend time with them. When Carter was discharged, we made the decision to stay as late as possible, go home and be with our older girls, take them to school in the morning, and then come back. I cried all the way home with a broken heart. I never imagined being in a position where we’d take one baby home but not the other.

My heart was broken all night long, and I couldn’t wait to get to the hospital to be with our girl the following morning. When we got there, they were so excited to tell us that they were sending her home with us. She had a very rough night – as did Carter – which wasn’t something they’d ever had. They were both so upset and inconsolable for the first time since they’d been born, but when they were together again…they both relaxed, calmed down, and were happy and content once again.

The moment we got home and had all four of our babies together, the twins together, was the sweetest moment of pure joy. It was the first time the girls got to hold Charlotte (they held Carter the night before when we got home) and see the babies in person because of NICU rules. It was the most magical moment.

What season are you grateful for?

When we had Addison, we knew immediately we wanted all the babies. When we decided to have number two, we were shocked, crushed, heartbroken, and horrified when I suffered two miscarriages before our sweet Ava joined us. That season was the single worst thing we’d ever been through in our lives separately, together, and in our marriage. Losing babies is debilitating – even when you never got to hold them.

I would never wish that season on anyone, ever. But, it is the season I think that I am most grateful for in hindsight. We’d never been through anything difficult in our marriage or life until then. To go through that was a moment that hurt more than anything in the world, but to see how much stronger it made us, how much closer it brought us, and how much we leaned on one another during that time…that’s strength, and I cannot tell you how much more we appreciate one another, love one another, and how much less we taken for granted in life as a result.

I hated that season, but I’ll never forget our sweet Ava the day she asked us a question that made me realize that God’s timing is flawless.

“Do you think Carter and Charlotte are our angel babies we never got to meet that went to Heaven? Because I think they are. God decided we needed them,” and that’s when I realized that our season was awful, but she’s right. We did need them. If we’d had them before, we never would have known Ava, and what would life be like without her? God knew what we needed, and He provided.

What was the best thing that happened today?

Well, I’m writing this in advance, but I’ll go ahead and tell you what the best thing is that happened to me on the day that I’m writing, so it’s not specific for the day this blog is going live (full disclosure and stuff).

It’s still early in the day, but this is the moment that delighted me beyond measure already today. Per usual, I was awake and enjoying a cup of coffee while working in our bed. Charlotte woke up, woke Carter up, and went into the kitchen to ask Craig to make their breakfast. I could hear Charlotte telling daddy all about her dreams from the night before, and Carter came into the master to say good morning. He never misses a morning of coming to see me when he wakes up before I have a chance to put things down and come out to hang out. He walked over to me, he reached his hand out for mine, and I put my hand in his. He then pulled my hand up to his sweet little face and kissed the back of my hand very gently and said, “I love you, mommy,” before he told me he had a dream about chocolate muffins the night before.

That little moment just melted my heart. What could be better than that?!

Gratitude Prompt Day 8: What You Love Most

You guys…it’s Thursday. That might not mean much, but it means that we are coming up on the most exciting night ever – our first date night outside of the CAR! We’ve been having our regularly scheduled date nights almost weekly during the pandemic, but they’ve been in the car. Like, put the second and third-row seats down and have a picnic in the car kind of date nights. It’s been a lot of fun, we have some photos that will literally bring us so much laughter the rest of our lives, and we made some seriously good memories, but we get to have date INSIDE A RESTAURANT. I get to dress up. I get to wear heels. I get to DRESS UP. You guys…nothing else matters right now. I cannot wait.

What do you love most about life?

The people I share it with.

Cliché? Probably. Cheesy? I’m sure. But, the people I share my life with are, without a doubt, the absolute best thing in my world. They’re what I love most about life. My husband, who makes me smile with his kindness and his sweet demeanor, his handsome smile, and his desire to be with me 24/7 even after almost 20 years together…that’s everything to me.

Our kids, who make us laugh like crazy when they’re not making us literally crazy. They are so perfectly imperfect that I cannot even stand it. Just look at them. They are amazing! To get to be their mom is such a gift. To know that they’re cool, and funny, and that they are witty and just sarcastic enough to be funny without being impolite or rude, and that they are loving and kind and happy and generous and selfless and that somehow that’s primarily because of us is the coolest feeling in the world.

Our friends and family, with whom we live our best lives. They are always there for us. They’d do anything for us. To know that no one is ever going to go to the front door let alone ring the doorbell or knock, to know that they’re going to bring me the very special laundry detergent we use for Sweet Charlotte because of her sensitive skin after I made – and promptly forgot – a comment about how it’s getting harder and harder to find it with all the pandemic stuff going on because they saw it in the store and knew I needed it, or that I’m going to grab them toilet paper because I know they’ve not seen any lately, or to know that it’s always filet Friday/Sunday/Wednesday or that their bar is always stocked with our favorites and vice versa, to know that our kids all feel at home in one another’s homes and everyone just helps themselves, and that there is literally nothing off-limits in conversation…ever.

The people I share my life with – they are everything. They’re amazing. I don’t even know what I did to deserve them.

What do you love most in life?

Gratitude Prompt Day 7: Personality Traits

How’s everyone doing with their gratitude prompts? It’s hard to keep up with all that needs to be done each day. Some, in my opinion, require a little more thought and a little more time – there’s more to say. Others, still, are quick and easy. This is one of those for you.

What’s one of your personality traits that you’re grateful for?

This one is so easy for me, but I do have two that are right up there.

Number One: I am so grateful that I have an open mind and the ability to entertain thoughts that I don’t necessarily agree with. I find one of the least attractive personality traits in the known universe is a know-it-all. You know what I mean – the kind of person who is always right, whose opinion is always superior, who is never wrong, who becomes immediately defensive if your opinion or thoughts differ from their own. The type that makes you avoid certain topics of discussion at all costs. I love that I can have an opinion, I love that I can carry on a debate and still remain calm and respectful even when I disagree with others. I love that I can see things from other points of view not my own, and that I am generally not an asshole about things.

Number Two: I am so grateful that I don’t feel the need to compare myself to others. I feel a profound sense of sadness for people who compare themselves or try to one-up everyone. I imagine it’s an awful way to live, and it must suck so much happiness out of life to feel that way rather than to feel the desire to celebrate the victories of everyone around you. I am so grateful I feel happiness and pride when people accomplish things, or when good things happen, or when people are killing it. I also love being invited to the celebrations mainly as an excuse to get a babysitter, dress up, and have some champagne – so call me if y’all are celebrating anything. I mean, literally, anything – because I’m thrilled for you and ready to raise a glass!

What is something about your personality you’re grateful for?

Gratitude Prompt Day 6: My Proudest Accomplishments

As I sit here writing this, it’s still the weekend and it’s early. I have my coffee in my office where I’m watching my husband water the flowers around our front porch. Our hibiscus is growing vibrant pink flowers that make me smile every time I see them. Our gardenia is overflowing with fragrant white blooms that we can smell from the driveway on the far side of the house and along the walkway all the way from the driveway around the garage and to the front door.

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The French doors are open to the lanai. The picture windows along the front of the house downstairs are all open letting the cool air in, and the girls are playing quietly on their own. Our son is following daddy around ‘helping’ him with the watering. I’m reminded that these are the mornings I have always pictured in my mind when I thought about life as a grown-up. I feel an overwhelming sense of peace and of gratitude and of calm happiness. Life is messy and loud and chaotic and crazy most of the time, but it never fails that those moments are fleeting in the midst of the simple things that mean the most. Which brings me to today’s gratitude prompt – the sixth this month.

What’s an accomplishment you’re proud of?

That is the single most loaded question in the world, isn’t it? What are you most proud of that you’ve accomplished? What is an accomplishment? Are we talking personally or professionally or something different? I feel a great sense of accomplishment in knowing that I began a successful business doing something not even remotely related to the educational path I chose – something I love with a passion – when I was 25. Something that’s grown so much over the past 12 years that I never would have imagined happening.

I feel an amazing sense of accomplishment that I was able to birth four beautiful babies, but especially two at the same time, and that we have raised (mostly) well-behaved, polite, kind, funny, silly, intelligent little humans who are a lot of fun. I feel an amazing sense of accomplishment at the fact that we didn’t follow the ‘standards’ or the ‘norms’ when it came to our life in any capacity. We don’t have ‘traditional’ lives by any means. Growing up, our generation was always taught you go to college, you get a degree, you go to work for someone else Monday through Friday from 8 to 5 and you bring home a paycheck and you go on a vacation every year with your family somewhere okay, and you raise kids who play sports, you go to church, you donate both your time and your money to good causes, you buy a nice, normal house and you dream of ‘one day’ living in your dream house, and you sit around waiting on raises and retirement and ‘the golden’ years to show up.

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I feel a tremendous amount of accomplishment at the fact that the above scenario is not our life. I can’t imagine working for someone else. I can’t imagine being required to be somewhere and do for others what I do for myself. We both work from home. We share a home office. We were 29 and 30 when we bought our dream house in our dream neighborhood after already building our first home when we were only 20 and 21. We don’t wait around and think about ‘one day’ having what we want and doing what we want – we live that every day. We travel. We have fun. We enjoy our lives and our time, and we don’t fall into the norm. That’s an accomplishment to me.

But, at the end of the day, are those the accomplishments I’m most proud of? I don’t know. I can say that I feel a profound sense of accomplishment in things that are a lot smaller…simpler might be a more appropriate phrase.

I feel so much accomplishment being almost 37-years-old and surrounding myself with the same core group of friends I’ve had my entire adult life – almost all of whom are living life on their own terms working for themselves and running successful businesses and have made their dreams come true. People who are so like-minded that there is no negativity. It feels like an accomplishment to find people to do life with who are always interested in what’s going on with you, and who always cheer for you and celebrate successes with you, and want to be part of every detail of your life. People who just want to see you succeed and aren’t worried about comparison or keeping up with anyone else or trying to outdo one another. For many years, I thought this was normal – but it turns out, after being exposed to some other groups of adults, this is apparently not the ‘norm’ and it’s rare to find people like that.

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To have a group of people who are so close that our kids were born together, have known one another since before they were born, and whose successes and accomplishments I feel I’m part of. When they succeed, I feel like I succeed, too. Watching them grow from the time we were young adults through now and seeing them killing it makes me so proud and so happy, and it’s because I love these people so much. We love them so much. Between my family and my friends, I am surrounded by the greatest people in the world, and that is the most amazing accomplishment. The kind of friendship where you spend multiple days/evenings together every week and always look forward to it because there’s nothing better than being with people you love making memories with your family, with them, with the kids…that’s what life is all about.

I feel a tremendous amount of accomplishment in the fact that I get to live my life according to my own terms. It’s a powerful feeling to embrace a Monday while the rest of the world detests it. It’s a powerful feeling to know that I’ll never have to dream of the weekend or live for Fridays (I mean, they’re great and definitely the best days, but I don’t have anything to escape from, and that is a big feeling). It’s such an accomplishment to know that if I think it, I make it happen. So many people spend their lives talking about what they’re going to do, discussing ‘one day’ and how they’re ‘going to’ year after year until they one day wake up and realize that one day was that day and talking about it isn’t the same thing as acting on it. I feel a great sense of accomplishment knowing that I didn’t settle for anything.

I feel a great sense of accomplishment at being comfortable with myself. In knowing that no one else’s opinion matters nor does it bother me. In knowing that if you love life, it loves you right back. In knowing that I can honestly say I’m living my best life every day, even when the day isn’t the best one.

So, what’s my biggest accomplishment? It’s living a life I love in every aspect. Balance is hard, but we make it work, and that’s a gift.

What is your greatest accomplishment?

Gratitude Day Five: Do I Actively Practice Gratitude?

Happy Tuesday!

Today’s gratitude prompt is such a good one, because it’s more of a question than it is a prompt. It’s a little bit more in-depth, and I love that about it. That said, I’d like to go ahead and dive right into this one today.

Gratitude Prompt Day 5: Do you actively practice gratitude?

YES! Every single day. Not only is the beginning of every prayer I pray one of gratitude throughout the day, I also keep a journal. I picked it up at my local Home Goods store months ago, and it’s been so good to me. It’s called the “Intentions and Reflections Daily Journal” and it allows me to get up every morning and not only write down my goals, what I’m thankful and grateful for and how I feel, but also how I want to feel, what made me feel that way, and how I can keep that up. It’s like a diary I can go back and look at because it prompts me to use it first thing in the morning as well as before bed. It’s a bookend to my day.

I love it because it forces me to sit down at my desk first thing in the morning and outline my gratitude and my goals for the day. Those are two things that are so important to me. I’m immediately required to think of things I am so grateful for each morning, and that begins my day on such a good note. It also gives me a chance to sit down a few moments before I go to bed and write down all the things that I am thankful for that occurred that day.

Essentially, I’m waking up thinking of what makes me grateful, and then I’m going to bed thinking of what made me grateful each day. That’s a powerful tool, and it’s one that I highly recommend to anyone who is struggling to find reasons to be grateful.

Trust me – not every day has the same thing list. Many of them do, of course, but some are a lot heavier than others. Some are a lot lighter than others. Some days are a struggle. Some days I am just grateful that our kids go to bed without arguing because one more minute of them that day would have pushed me over the edge. But, being able to focus on that calms me, reminds me of how fortunate I am, and it helps me focus on the things that are important.

For example, there’s something that I’ve been focused on so much lately, and it’s been getting to me. My husband is so distracted with his clients and his work and with the kids home, and with their new school schedules, and with all the extra things we are now required to do for them throughout the day, and there have been a handful of occasions lately where we’ve had a conversation and he has no recollection of it. That enrages me (I mean, everything I say is obviously more important than anything else in the world, right? Right? I mean, riveting…) because I dislike repeating myself (we have four kids. I repeat myself a lot…and I don’t want to do it to a fifth person).

But, one thing that my journal has helped me to realize is that every single time he was thinking of something else when I was speaking and he totally forgot or didn’t hear or comprehend me, he’s quickly apologized and then gone above and beyond to make that up to me – every single time. And being forced to look past my frustration and to see that he’s going above and beyond to make sure I know that I am more important than the occasional distraction has been so good for me. He’s not perfect. I’m not perfect. We make mistakes, but being forced to look for reasons to be grateful when you’re not feeling it is a good thing – it helps me see past my own anger and hurt and see that it’s not intentional and it’s not from an ugly place.

If you’re not doing something like this, I recommend you start. It doesn’t take long to make finding your gratitude morning and night a habit. And it doesn’t take long to make your attitude change, either.

Gratitude Prompts: Days 2, 3, and 4

Happy Monday!

I figured I’d add a quick disclaimer on here; I’m not blog posting my gratitude on weekends…I save those for my family. But, I’ll be adding my additional gratitude for those days on Mondays or maybe Fridays so we don’t miss throughout the month. Does that sound fair? Here we go…

Gratitude Prompt Day Two: Describe your happiest memory.

This one is so easy. November 17, 2007. My husband and I had been married a few years at that point, we’d been traveling the world, living our very best lives, and enjoying our time together immensely. I didn’t think that we could be any happier than we already were. We had all we ever wanted, plus so much more, too.

But, that morning was the morning I was officially six days away from starting my period for the month. When we were in Hawaii for my birthday just a month before, my sweet husband asked me to have a baby. I wasn’t sure I was ready, but I gave it some thought. Ultimately, he was born to be a father, and I knew that. So, we decided to go for it. I didn’t think I’d be pregnant, or even that I’d get a positive test result with one of the ‘try this test six days early and find out,’ tests. But, I had to try it out because I could not wait any longer.

I’d bought the test the day before. We both work up at 6 am on a Saturday morning to take the test because we could NOT wait. We had plans to go to Gainesville that afternoon and attend the Gator football game, and I was so excited. I took the test. We sat on our bed, and we waited two minutes. We prayed together. Then, we got up and we went to the bathroom to read the results. I couldn’t do it at the last second. I just couldn’t look at it if it didn’t say what I wanted it to say, so my husband did it for me. His smile told me everything before his words formed, and I knew the test said, “Pregnant,” and we were having a baby. His face. His excitement. The absolute happiness in his smile, his eyes, and his voice; that was the best day of my entire life.

Gratitude Prompt Day Three: What makes you happy to be alive?

My family. What else? That I get to live the life I love with the people I love is everything to me. It’s literally everything. Sometimes, I find myself ready to complain about a bad day or a bad moment, and I am reminded that I get to live this life. I look back and remember when every single thing I have and get to do right now was just a dream in the minds of my husband and I when we were planning our wedding. We wanted to live in a big house in this beautiful neighborhood. We wanted to have a family to make memories with. We wanted to both have the freedom and ability to work from home and create our lives together. We wanted to make our own rules and our own paths, and we get to do that every day. This family of mine. This life of mine. It makes me happy to be alive.

Gratitude Prompt Day Four: List the treasures around your life.

Happy kids. Faith. A husband who still compliments me and calls me pretty and sexy and wants me every single day, who makes me laugh, who is always on my team even when we don’t see eye-to-eye. Friends who love us and who we love so much. Extended families who are so amazing.

I have a lot of treasures, many of them materialistic, but these will always be the ones that meant the most to me.

Gratitude Prompt Day One: What I’m Most Grateful for In My Life

Happy first day of May!

And, happy first day of our 31 days of gratitude journaling! I’ve been working on this for a month now. I began working on it when we were somewhere in the first few weeks of our quarantine, and I wanted to get it just right. (Fun fact: I use social media to post things all the time, but I rarely take the time to scroll through. I know, I know…) But, I did notice that when I did take the time to scroll through social media, when I received texts from my loved ones, when I paid attention to the articles I was reading online so many people are unhappy.

I get it. I do. I’m not always happy. Sometimes I’m downright cranky. Sometimes, I’m a raging bitch. But, at the end of the day, I don’t have many reasons not to feel good about my life and where I am, and those are the things that bring me back to my reality when I’m in a cranky mood (didn’t get enough sleep, I’m hangry, my monthly visitor is making me bloated, which automatically makes me cranky…etc.).

This whole life situation we are all living right now is weird, and that’s all right. It just took me a moment to realize that not everyone was happy to be home, and not everyone has spent their entire adult life working from home, and not everyone has spent the past four years sharing a home office with their spouse, so this is an extreme change for many. It just wasn’t for us, so we don’t relate to everyone whose entire lives have changed.

However, I’ve always found that gratitude is the answer. When I make the decision to appreciate life, it appreciates me back so much more so than I ever could have imagined. However, many people forget to be grateful. So, I wanted to take the time to create a challenge for all of us – 31 days of gratitude. I’m beginning with our day one prompt – and I hope you take note, write it down, and join me.

Gratitude Day One: What are you most grateful for in your life? (Choose just one thing)

Health. First and foremost above all else, I am grateful for good health in our lives. Above all else, I am so thankful that when we go to bed at night, it’s with healthy minds, bodies, and hearts. We are both healthy and vibrant, our kids are healthy and vibrant, and that’s all there is to it. I cannot tell you enough how incredibly thankful and grateful I am for this because I know all too well how it feels when good health is not part of your life.

After two miscarriages and a difficult pregnancy with our middle daughter, she was born with a hemangioma on her face that was thought – initially – to be cancerous. A biopsy showed otherwise, thank the Good Lord. She was thought to have Downs Syndrome when I was 20 weeks pregnant because of the echogenic intracardiac focus on her heart. Thankfully, our Good, Good Father had other plans for her. After a week in the NICU with one 3-pound twin who had respiratory issues at birth and her twin brother who ended up failing his hearing tests and being diagnosed as partially deaf in both ears at 6 weeks old, I get it. That same little man suffered a grand mal seizure when he was just shy of his 5th birthday for no reason at all – we still don’t know what caused it even after every test in the world and four days in the hospital.

I am so, so thankful and grateful each day for good health. It’s the one thing I thank God for each and every single day. Without good health, I wouldn’t have this sweet family to love. I am so grateful for this.