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.

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.