I am starting this musing out with a super fun thing… HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MAMA!!! I didn’t realize this little musing (inspired by her) would end up posting on her birthday, but it did- and that’s just so great to me. If you have the moment, send her a little birthday shout today because she is one pretty incredible lady! #allthefeels
2018 felt like jab, right hook, jab, cross.
And over again.
If you aren’t into boxing or never watched any of the Rocky movies, you may have zero idea what I just said. Basically, 2018 was rough and life beat me up a little. It was a year where I felt like I couldn’t catch my breath let alone catch a break. Maybe you felt like this too? Over and over through the year, the wisest woman I know, my sweet Mama, kept reminding me, “you cannot connect the dots going forward, you can only connect them looking back.” Her wisdom would meet my unease of the moment or situation and it would allow my soul to be still. Somehow that reminder always soothed like a balm on rough, dry skin. I think maybe Mama’s are good like that. Showing up with wisdom when we need it so deeply.
I live in a world where nothing is random. I truly believe the good and the bad happen for a reason- a greater purpose. I don’t think coincidences are a thing, and I don’t believe we meet people by accident. I believe there is a greater power (for me it’s the will of God) guiding my life. Maybe I am wrong about the way I look at it, but that’s the basket I am putting all my eggs in for this lifetime.
The newfound wisdom about connecting the dots has allowed me to keep life’s punches in perspective. Maybe it will allow you to do the same? Try on that thinking and see if that’s something that fits for you and your life.
Looking back over time, maybe we will see that nothing was ever random.
One day soon – or 20 years from now – just maybe we will be able to connect the dots.
Connect the dots on situations we found ourself in.
Connect the dots on things that happened to us.
Connect the dots on people who had parts in our story.
You cannot connect the dots going forward, you can only connect them looking back.
For now, we roll with the punches as they come, because they will come.
And we believe it was never, ever random.
Meet you back here next week, same time, same place!
We’re Italian which means we will always have more than one refrigerator in our home. It’s like a rite of passage to being Italian. You have to have one in the kitchen and one in the basement. Recently, we bought a new second fridge and suddenly all is right in the world… at least as far as my food refrigeration needs are concerned.
When the new fridge arrived, I began the process of organizing my fridge and freezer in my kitchen which meant cleaning it out and bringing a plethora of adult beverages, homemade olives and meats down to the auxiliary fridge. It is here that I should pause and offer a shout out to Hubbz for adding the term “auxiliary” in front of anything that I do in life that he finds to be “extra”… a list of auxiliary things include: an auxiliary patio set, an auxiliary Keurig in the laundry room, an auxiliary mini-fridge- also in the laundry room, multiple auxiliary Christmas trees, and of course the auxiliary fridge. It amuses him to point out where I live in excess. I think he should be careful because if he keeps up his shenanigans I may need to find an auxiliary husband… I’m only kidding, relax. Hubbz is my O.G., Ride or Die, and also my Champion. Back to the process of organizing the fridge…
As I was carrying a box down the stairs that would have made my Orange Theory coaches super proud, my Ma warned me, “be careful – the first step is the hardest!” Sheryl Crow’s version of “The First Cut is the Deepest” instantly started playing in my brain because I make weird associations to songs. Over the melody of her voice, and per usual, I got to thinking…
The first step in life is ALWAYS the hardest. In love, in our careers, in working out… basically in all things, the first step is the hardest… unless you’re getting chased by a bear or something. Then well, you don’t even think about steps- you usually just run. Not that I’ve been chased by a bear… but if I did, that’s how I think it would go. I digress.
The first step walking away from a toxic relationship is always the hardest. Sometimes we find ourselves in relationships with men who will gladly hold our bodies but not our hands and never our hearts. Sometimes find ourselves in relationships with people who won’t admit their feelings (or not feelings). Sometimes we find ourselves in relationships that help us fill our time but not our souls. In these moments, we need to take a step back from the emotions that can cloud our thinking. We need to examine our hearts and what we truly want and are looking for. This isn’t an easy process and sometimes it hurts like hell… but it’s imperative to do the hard work. Our hearts and souls deserve it.
The first step in getting real about our careers can be the hardest and let’s be honest, the most terrifying. Sometimes we find ourselves in jobs that pay the bills (or not) but leave our hearts void of joy and purpose. For myself, if I am going to spend 40-50 hours or more working, it is a non-negotiable that it needs to be something that lights me up and impacts the world. If I am trading a day of my life for something, it needs to be something worth doing. That worth can come in the form of money but deeper- in the form of fulfillment. I have had positions where I made very, very good money but it didn’t light up my heart. I have had positions where I didn’t make a lot but the job lit up my soul and the souls of others. I have come to the conclusion that the magic is finding the career that does both. A role that offers you a lifestyle that you want while lighting you up inside and sharing your gifts with the world around you.
The first step on the treadmill is always the most difficult and the first dumbbell we pick up is always the heaviest. Can I be super transparent and say that although I do love Orange Theory and workouts that leave me tapped-out, 100% of the time I would rather be laying on my couch, in my most comfy clothing, watching DVR’s with a pint of Talenti.
It is here I pause and tell you that if you don’t know what Talenti is, stop what you are doing, get in your car and go to the nearest grocery store. Joy and dancing await your tastebuds. Joy and dancing, people. I shit you not. If you are already at a grocery store and happen to be reading this… A) GOOD FOR YOU! B) Head to the freezer section, STAT!!! I whole-heartedly digress…
I have never been one of those people that L-O-V-E-S working out. I wish I was. I really, truly do. Although sometimes that kind of enthusiasm makes me raise an eyebrow. If you are one of those people who loves working out, I promise I am not judging you. I am mostly in awe of you and your enthusiasm… it is my eyebrow that is judging. She has a mind of her own. I can’t control her. Don’t get me wrong, I do get amped to workout but most of the time, it’s just my pre-workout drink talking. Alas, since I have made the resolution to not lose weight but to just grow taller multiple years in a row now and it hasn’t happened, I am confident I need to clean up my act when it comes to food and gluttony and moving my body. I can tell you that I know first hand that the first step is the hardest… and the second and the third… but something happens after you get going. You start to pick up speed and you start to eventually enjoy it.
The first step in making a decision to better your life is always the hardest to take- even when it comes on the heels of a “New Year, New Me, Who Dis?” mindset. Just because the calendar flipped a year doesn’t mean our minds magically shift. Changing our habits is HARD. If it wasn’t hard everyone would do it. To change your habits you have to change your actions. For most of us that means flipping auto-pilot to the off position and getting real with our thoughts, attitudes and feelings. In this space, we are free to dream and strategize and create lives we really truly want to get out of bed for. Some of the changes we desire to make are as easy as putting the Talenti in the auxiliary fridge and keeping it out of sight and out of mind. Some of the changes are harder. In relationships they take more thought, conversation and radical acceptance. In careers they take more time, training and a solid strategy. One thing I have learned is that regardless of how hard that first step is, a lot of the time it gets easier as you go.
You pick up momentum.
You gain more knowledge.
You increase your self-confidence.
You move swiftly through roadblocks.
Yes, the first step is the hardest, but to create a life you love, it is also the most necessary.
I sat there with a smug smirk on my face knowing I was super right about the topic at hand. I was right and the other person in my life was wrong and I wasn’t backing down. My friend looked at me after listening to me talk about the situation for longer than she probably cared to. It was then she said something that changed everything. “What if you stop being right about it and start practicing radical acceptance?”
After realizing she had blown my entire argument to smithereens with one perfectly offered question, I gasped as if to be offended… and then I got to thinking…
Soooo, lately I have been embracing the idea of radical acceptance. It’s basically acceptance but a drastic, far-reaching, wide-ranging version. To be super honest, it’s a new concept for me because, #TypeA #Perfectionist who also happens to sometimes think her way is basically correct… oops.
To say practicing radical acceptance has been a challenge is an understatement. To say the people who are closest to me probably like me more because of it, is not. Practicing radical acceptance has made me put down my pre-conceived notions about things (which apparently, I have a lot of). I have had to give up my judgements about things (which apparently, I also have a lot of). In order to radically accept things I have had to give up being attached to situations, people and outcomes and stop trying to control everything. I have had to let go of how I think things, people or relationships should be and accept them as they are.
A strange thing has happened since I have been practicing radical acceptance. While situations, relationships and people haven’t changed- something has… me! While I still may not like the way people are or situations that occur, I have found that accepting them as they are has offered a soul-settling peace around them. Like the Isaiah 55:12 kind of peace. Standing in this peace I am able to lay down my sword that screams #TypeA #Perfectionist #IamRiiiiight. With my hands now empty, I am able to outstretch them. I can offer my hands to help in situations that need understanding and not judgement. I can offer my hands to embrace others with love exactly where they are. I can offer my hands to serve and bring light into dark places.
Radical acceptance is one of the hardest things I have ever done and the moment I think I have it mastered the Universe offers me another test just to remind me that no, I definitely don’t. As I write this, I wonder what would happen if more of us started practicing radical acceptance? It would require vulnerability and understanding, sprinkled with mercy and grace. What do you think? Want to do something different with me? Want to let go of the way you think things should be and start radically accepting them as they are? It will be hard and maybe even a little painful at times, but what it could offer… well, my sweet friends, what it could offer could save a life, enliven our world, and maybe even impact an entire generation for the better.
Meet you back here next week, same time, same place!
Apparently, the Universe (or insert your version of “the Universe” here) thinks there is a topic I am supposed to be writing about in my blog. It’s a topic that has been presenting itself at every turn. It’s a topic that has been nagging at me since October. To combat the urging to write about it, I have convinced myself that:
A) I am too busy.
B) No one wants to hear what I have to say.
C) I am not “qualified” to write about it.
D) See A through C.
If those lame-ass excuses aren’t enough, it’s a nagging topic that has begun to make me wake up in the middle of the night thinking about it. If you know anything about me, you know I love sleep like a fat kid loves cake. So here I am writing, if nothing else, so I can sleep at night.
(Sidenote, if the fat kid and cake analogy offends you, please know I am talking about myself. I was, at various points in my Italian upbringing, a fat kid… and I loved me some cake. So it’s cool.)
Before you roll your eyes and stop reading, just hear me out…
Every single one of us has an already-always listening for what marriage is. To some, it’s a sacred covenant. To some, it’s the punchline of a joke. To some, it evokes wonderful warm feelings. To some, the feelings are terrible. Some people love the idea of it, and some people loathe it. Some see it as a commitment to be honored and others a means to an end, while still others who see it as a noose to be avoided at all costs. Regardless of your feelings about it, today, it’s the topic of my blog. Since you are already here, why don’t you settle in for a moment and at least read what I have to say.
There is someone who needs to hear this message today. A husband or a wife somewhere riding the Struggle Bus and feeling frustrated, sad, angry, hurt, pissed, betrayed or alone- maybe all of the above- probably a mix of most of them, all rolled into one shit storm. Maybe your marriage is broken beyond repair. Maybe it’s in the process of falling apart. Maybe your marriage isn’t falling apart or broken but it’s just kinda “meh”. I get it. It’s like the thing that people usually don’t talk about but everyone is feeling on some level.
Friends, our social media highlight reels love to paint pretty pictures of our lives- pictures that sometimes don’t always match what is happening behind our very pretty wreath-adorned doors and perfect welcome mats. I am willing to bet quite a bit of moolah that if the world saw our #reallife- like the raw and the fugly, we might cringe a little. I can see the Facebook status updates now:
“It’s payday and the paycheck is already spent. Ended the day fighting over dinner with my spouse about money. #NotoriousBIGwaswrong #LessMoneyMoreProblems”
“Spouse has really let themselves go after all these years, but Attractive Other Human that pays attention to me at work seems intriguing. #PlayingWithFire”
“Feeling a little unfulfilled and bored with spouse and kids so instead of pouring into my marriage, I am going to check out of my life and login to other people’s. #ItsJustHarmlessScrollingRight #JustZoningOut #IDeserveIt”
Y’all. Did any of those kinda make your heart pang in your chest a little? Maybe yours isn’t on that list but if I kept going I bet we would eventually get to yours. Can I tell you the truth about something? A truth no one tells you as they are wishing you a lifetime of happiness… Marriage is the hardest commitment you will ever enter into. More than I like to admit, I have rolled over in the morning looked at my husband and thought “Seriously? You again?” And don’t worry, that’s not mean. I promise you as sure as I am writing these words, Hubbz has felt the same. I even asked him if he minded if I put that in there- he laughed and said “Of course not! It’s the truth!” (To which I raised a brow at him and gasped… how could he really get sick of me!?)
Anyway, I digress.
I have one simple message, to the husbands and wives out there with marriages that are less than stellar- and lately I know a lot of marriages have been. Do not, under any circumstances, stop fighting for your marriage- even if you don’t feel like fighting for it- especially when you don’t feel like fighting for it. Find the resources and tools you need to make it happy and healthy again. If your marriage seems broken beyond repair, Friends, hear me when I say there is NOTHING the love of Christ cannot heal.
I just read and re-read that last sentence and deleted and retyped it 4 times. It sounds so hokey and weird. I legit feel like a weird person typing that. If 7 years ago you would have used that line on me I would have looked at you like you were one of those weird “Jesus People” and kindly told you “good luck with that“. Friends, as sure as I am sitting here today I can promise you with every cell in my body that Christ can heal anything. Even your marriage… regardless of the state it is in. I know this because Hubbz and I lived this. Our marriage is proof that God can heal anything. Don’t believe the lies that say your marriage is unfixable. God is bigger than any circumstances you might be facing. Don’t believe me? Come have a chat with Hubbz and I.
Friends, I don’t know why I am so compelled to be writing encouragement about marriage. My brain tells me I am a weirdo and no one will read it. My heart says I need to write about it. God is in the business of healing marriages and redeeming love. Never, ever, ever stop fighting for your marriage.
If you don’t know where to turn or where to start, open your bible and start with the Truth. Hebrews 4:12 tells us “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” His word heals. It heals anything we can manage to jack-up. If you need Christ-centered resources, please reach out. Do not, under any circumstances, stop fighting for your marriage. There is hope and sometimes it starts in the most broken places.
I am sending all my love to the hurting hearts that needed to hear this message. Over the past two months we have been praying daily for marriages. We will continue to pray- you continue to fight for your marriage. And more than anything, know that you are not alone.