5 Ways to Fight Loneliness

5 Ways to Fight Loneliness

I spent Friday getting my nails done with my friend, Saturday with my husband at a nice dinner and at a bonfire with friends, Sunday with my family and grandparents, and Monday with my Zim family and spiritual parents. I celebrated quite the birthday weekend filled with non-stop action, laughter, and a whole lot of cheesin’.

On Tuesday night, after spending quality time with quality girls studying our God, I got into my bathtub and waited for Pai to come home. I was feeling slightly anxious and sad. But why? After some introspection, I pinpointed the feeling of loneliness. But loneliness? That makes no sense. I just spent an entire weekend surrounded by the people I loved and who loved me. I just spent 3-4 hours being vulnerable with ladies who have a common goal as me – to find out who God is. So why, after they left and I was by myself, was I feeling lonely?

I remember being a senior in high school, on my couch with my dad holding me, crying because I hadn’t been invited to something (I honestly don’t even remember) and feeling lonely. I had people to talk to at school, but only my family to hang out with on the weekends. Granted, my family is awesome, but as a teenager, we all desire that acceptance from our peers.

Do we ever outgrow that desire for acceptance? I don’t think so. And I think that striving for that acceptance leaves us lonely at times. I always say, as an ESFJ, I need affirmation. I’ll make a decision and then say, “What do you think?” It drives Pai nuts, which cracks me up. He says, “Just make the decision!” But as an ESFJ, I say, but I need you to affirm this is the right decision!

Relationships require vulnerability

This is not just an ESFJ thing. It’s a human thing. We all were created with the desire for relationship, and part of being in relationship is being vulnerable, mirroring conversation/feelings, opening yourself up to constructive criticism, and opening yourself up to positive affirmation. Some days it feels like we have opened ourselves up and been left on the operation table. The vulnerability door has been opened, but no positive affirmation has stepped in. It’s in these moments when we start to question ourselves: Am I worth it? Do I have any friends who love me enough? Do I have any friends? 

On being left behind

Some days loneliness doesn’t stem from a lack of affirmation, but instead from a feeling that everyone is moving on without you.

I always felt slightly stressed in elementary school when my best friends were placed in a different class than me. When my friends graduated and went to college before me – stress. As an adult it’s a little different. We’re not in different classes, but we are in different stages of life. Everyone is married and you’re single. Everyone has a baby and you and your spouse do not. Someone achieved their dream job and you are still in the waiting room.

Being in our 20s is like the teenage years of adulthood. We had time as a teen to figure out who we were, and then we hit our 20s and our bodies started changing again, relationship dynamics change, and you find yourself liking things you never thought you would (like broccoli, and salad, and vegetables.) Everyone is in a different stage even though we are all relatively the same age, and it’s hard to measure up.

A disconnect in communication

Another stream of loneliness is feeling like there is a disconnect between our head and our mouth. It can be incredibly lonely to know in your head what you are wanting to say, trying to communicate it through your mouth to someone else, and they are not understanding you. Why do you think there is so much teen angst?

So how do we fight loneliness?

First, we don’t fight loneliness.

Loneliness is a part of life – always has, and always will be. See above: I was feeling lonely even though I spent so much time with all the people I loved. I’m secure in my friendships, but I still feel lonely at times.

Learning to live with loneliness in a healthy way will help us to learn to love ourselves in a different way. When we wallow in loneliness, rather, we wallow in self-pity. And no one wants to hang out in your pity party.

Find something to do when you are feeling lonely. Go for a walk, read poetry, take a bubble bath.

Help someone else feel less lonely.

One day I have this dream of starting a ministry that just goes and hangs out with people in the nursing home. I imagine how lonely they must be – sometimes the only physical touch they receive is the nurse coming to change their bed sheets or help them to the restroom.

I have found that on days when I am feeling lonely, if I do something to get out of my head, I then find I am no longer lonely and immensely blessed.

Write a letter to a loved one, ask a friend out for coffee, check with your elderly neighbor to see if they need help grocery shopping, weeding their garden, etc.

Get off your phone.

How easy it is to be lonely when you are by yourself, in your house, eating ice cream out of the carton and you’re scrolling through Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, and see that everyone is hanging out. Perhaps without you. Let’s reality check for a second: what if those people just put up that picture reminiscing about the weekend while they are in their house, by themselves, eating ice cream out of the carton and scrolling through Instagram. You’ve done it and I’ve done it, too. We’re all guilty of making our lives seem cooler than they actually are.

So get off your phone, and put your nose in a book, or an adult coloring book, or something else that will remove you from the world of social media.

Because that’s what it is. Media. And we all know that the media is slant – even your social media.

Get creative.

They say that Emily Dickinson was a recluse, likely one of the loneliest people. Her art was underappreciated at its time. Maybe you’re the next Emily Dickinson. Loneliness is OK. It gives us a chance to explore ourselves, explore nature, and explore our creativity. I find that my best poetry comes when I am a) all alone b) feelin’ some type of way and c) not feeling like I can express myself to anyone else in a way they would understand.

When you are feeling lonely, grab your pen, grab your paper, and write. Even if you’re not great at writing! Draw – even if you don’t think you can draw! Dance – even if that means you have to Youtube some dance instructional videos!

Know you’re not alone.

The thing about loneliness is that it isolates our experiences. We are feeling lonely, therefore we are alone and no one else in the world ever feels lonely. Except that everyone experiences loneliness. Even Chrissy Tiegen. Accepting that loneliness is a reality in life allows us to take it in stride with the good times, too. Because after all, if we didn’t have the lonely days, we wouldn’t appreciate the full of friendship days as much either.

Have you experienced loneliness?
What is something you do to occupy yourself when you feel lonely?

PS – sometimes if I’m feeling lonely, I like to treat myself. So treat yo’self with an entry to win this opal gemstone lariat!

24 Notes of Encouragement

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24 Ways to be Encouraged (+ a giveaway!)

24 ways to be encouraged

Year 23 was quite a full year. When I look back to this day last year, I’m astounded at how much God did this past 365 days. Yesterday we celebrated Father’s Day and my birthday in my hometown with my parents. We spent the afternoon by the pool and the evening by a bonfire. I looked around at all my siblings, my husband in the mix, my parents and grandparents and realized how incredibly blessed I am. God gave me the privilege to be the daughter of two amazing parents who daily show their affection and commitment to each other, the older sister to five siblings who make me laugh and make my heart burst with joy, and wife to an incredible husband who is my number one encourager and dream pusher.

So you know those papers people put on bulletin boards where you can tear a piece off and carry it with you all day? That’s kinda what we are going to do today. Except, because you can’t tear a piece off the screen of your mobile device or computer, you can just pick out an encouragement below and carry it with you throughout your day. One of my favorite things to do is write little poems or encouraging thoughts in my journal, daily planner, and post-its. Even if I don’t need it that day, it will get filed away into my rainy day pile.

24 ways to be encouraged

24 Encouraging Notes

1 – The sparkling passion in your eyes ignites those around you to change the world.

2 – The way you chase your dreams and goals shows a resilient strength.

3 – You make the best chocolate chip cookies this side of the Mississippi.

4 – Your laugh is a joyful noise.

5 – You’re having a really great hair day.

6 – You love people in a fierce, genuine way.

7 – You are beautiful.

8 – You are incredibly loved.

9 – Your smile invites others into your world.

10 – People think you are awesome.

11 – You give the best hugs.

12 – By loving yourself, you are encouraging other women to love themselves, too. Go you.

13 – You always smell like sunshine and flowers.

14 – You have the intelligence and wit to command an army.

15 – You are someone’s favorite person.

16 – Today is the day you are going to do something amazing.

17 – People believe in you, you got this.

18 – The way you sing at karaoke makes other people jealous.

19 – Your eyebrows are on fleek today. (Or are they lit? I can’t keep up.)

20 – You are brave.

21 – Other women believe in themselves because they have you.

22 – You’re a great encouragement to the hurting around you.

23 – Bonfires wish they were as hot as you, because girl, you be smokin’.

24 – You are a phenomenal human being.

Now for a birthday giveaway. . . 

24 ways to be encouraged

I am stoked to partner with GingerandPearl to give away an adorable necklace to one lucky winner in honor of my birthday week! Grace from GingerandPearl is a new mom (and sometimes she shows her adorable son on the Instagram.) She is not only a fantastic jewelry artist, but also a wonderful lady herself!

Entries will be counted from June 19 – June 26.
Winner will be contacted on June 27 via Instagram Direct Message for mailing address.
Entries open to U.S. residents.

24 Notes of Encouragement

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3 Poets Who Will Brighten Your Day

Nayyirah Waheed, Rupi Kaur, Mary Oliver

I woke up this morning to my husband giving me a kiss and telling me what time it was and that I needed to get out of bed. The unfortunate thing was that I thought I had already awakened, got dressed, and drove to work. Imagine my disappoint when I realized that was all a dream and I still had to wake up, get dressed, and go to work. When I oversleep (which is most of the time), my whole day is slightly thrown off and then I find myself in a bit of a grump slump.

Of course, coffee always helps. But when coffee isn’t helping, I have to pull in reinforcements. Some days, that’s poetry. While I like to write poetry myself, I often find that reading poetry revitalizes my soul. I see the beauty in the world, and fall in love with words all over again.

When I finally am a fully-formed adult and can wake up early in the morning, my ideal routine would involve french press coffee, Jesus, poetry, and some creative writing of my own. And bacon. Always bacon.

The beautiful thing about poetry is that it draws you in, encourages you to sit with it a while, inviting you to breathe slowly. Today I’m sharing with you the top 3 poets I read when I’m having an off day. You can find excerpts of their poetry in my journal, daily planner, and on little sticky notes by my desk.

I discovered Mary Oliver in college. I told my English professor, “I’m an English major, but I hate poetry and Shakespeare. So I’m a terrible English major.” As you would have it, I had been reading the wrong poetry. I had immersed myself in the likes of John Milton and T.S. Elliot. It turns out I love poetry, but I’m a more modern 20th/21st century kinda gal. Give me all the Mary Oliver and Gertrude Stein you can devour.

We recently read Rupi Kaur’s Milk and Honey for my book club a couple of months ago. I spent a Sunday afternoon cuddled up on the couch with a blanket and this book. I finished it in an hour. And then I read it again and again and again. Her poetry is short, but you have to mull over each poem, and the emotions it evokes. I could go back to this book again and again.

My best friend and fellow English major was recommended by our professor to look at Nayyirah Waheed. She shared with me her treasure, and I bought Salt. my junior year of college as soon as money was deposited into my account. Salt. is a book of poetry I love to open on a summer’s day. Nayyirah Waheed writes with a tight simplicity that cuts you and leaves you open.

Do you like poetry?
What do you do to ease a bad day?

Choose Bravery

choosing bravery

One of the things that most defines my inner thought life is fear. As happy and bubbly as I am, a pessimist sneaks into my thoughts every now and then. Some days it’s a constant battle to think of the bright side instead of allowing fear induced thoughts to creep in.

When I was a freshman in college, one of my friends gave me an ornament with a Bible verse on the back. She told me she had prayed specifcially for each person and wrote down a verse that she felt like God was leading them to. On the back of my ornament was 2 Timothy 1:7: For I have not given you a spirit of fear, but of power and love and self-control. I appreciated the gift, but didn’t think too much of the Bible verse until a couple years later when I started my senior year and found myself fearful of everything.

I was afraid to graduate because I didn’t have a job, or a 5 year plan.

I was afraid of the world because there were so many terrorist bombings and evil being publicized every day.

I was afraid to get vulnerable and blog about my faith, because what if there were consequences?

And then I remembered: God did not give me a spirit of fear, but of power, and love, and self-control. God’s perfect love cast out my fear (1 John 4:18.)

The Anxiety Generation

Millennials are crippled with anxiety. We have been labeled the most anxious generation. Some experts think it is because we lack a familial support system. Half of us are living with our parents, and half of us have moved across the country and only see our family one or two times a year. Other experts think we have too many choices.

In my college psychology classes, we learned about the paralyzation of too many choices. When we have 10 things to decide from, we have to think 10 times as hard about what we want. Rather, when we only have 2-3 options to choose from, we are able to make a more informed and less overwhelming decision. Regardless of the origin of our anxiety, we are an anxious generation.

Be Brave

So you may remember that my word of the year is Be Brave. I was laying in bed at the end of December, thinking my word was going to be Creativity when the words “Be Brave” spoke so loudly in my heart that I opened my eyes right away.

“God, is that you? Are you sure you want me to be brave? What does this mean?!”

I kind of freaked out, because I’m a pansy and don’t want to do anything scary. I concluded that being brave meant dreaming, being vulnerable, and punching fear in the face.

And so far, so good.

Dreaming

I had been dreaming of starting a book club since I graduated college. I love to read, and I love to discuss. I need the intellectual engagement and I need a lovely group of people around me to push me to think about something differently, so in January, I started a book club.

Being Vulnerable

I like to say that Dating is Vulnerability 101. Engagement is Vulnerability & How to Communicate Through Stress 201. Marriage is The Vulnerability that Never Ever Goes Away Practicum Level 500. Vulnerability is real. And it is so beautiful.

After we got married, Pai and I moved to a new church. We loved our old church, but we knew God was calling us out into something new and taking us away from our comfort zone. A couple months in, I tried to figure out the blue feeling inside of me, and realized it was because I was lonely. I had moved churches, got married, and separated myself from a group of ladies. So I got vulnerable, and asked a couple of girls to get together a couple times a month. We share our stories, we study God’s word, and we are learning to be vulnerable.

Punching Fear in the Face

Yesterday I went kayaking and boat riding with some friends from church and my blogging & IRL bestie Tiffany. As we were kayaking around the lake I suddenly thought of brain eating amoebas. Y’all, I am so dramatic. I sat there in my kayak, nervous to actually get in the water because I didn’t want to be the rare case of a newlywed 20something year old who died of a brain eating amoeba. But I thought of the rarity of it. I asked myself, “Am I going to allow an irrational fear keep me from having the time of my life?” And that answer was no. So I jumped in the lake, and even tried to surfboard in the wake of a speed boat.

I didn’t want to surf board because I was scared. The moment I recognized my fear, I said “I have to do it. I have to try.” So I climbed out of the speed boat and onto the surf board and tried something new. I got water up my nose, and I had a blast. I got to test my strength, practice patience with myself, and celebrate the 5 seconds I stood on the board.

It’s easy to allow fear and anxiety rule our lives.

It’s hard to recognize what we need to do to make that change. For me, it is all about perspective. It’s about changing my mindset. It’s about choosing to be brave.

Apply for that job you’ve been eyeing.

Break off that toxic friendship that has been draining you.

Do something that allows you to step outside of your comfort zone, chase your passion, and makes a difference.

What is one brave thing you’ve done in 2017 so far? Tell me in the comments below!

5 Ways to Rock a Swimsuit this Season

5 Ways to Rock a Swimsuit this Season

Who here has felt personally victimized by a bathing suit? I can recount numerous times growing up where I was choking back tears in the fitting room as I tried on bathing suit after bathing suit.

Now that swimsuit season is fully upon us and I’ve been married for 6 whole months, I realized that some things on my body have changed. The beginning of marriage is like puberty all over again. Your body starts to change, and your hormones are out of whack, and you’re establishing a new identity.

The Sin of Scrolling

The more I scroll on my Instagram feed, the more I start looking at pictures of myself, and the more I feel down on myself. It came to a head yesterday when we got our staff photos back and I sat in my office, big fat hot tears rolling down my face because I realized how self conscious I have been feeling about myself and my body.  I had a good little cry sesh, ate lunch, spent time with Jesus, and came back to the photo at issue and saw that it wasn’t really as bad as I thought it was.

We compare. So much. I do it, you do it. We all do it. We look in a magazine or our Instagram feed and look in the mirror and see that someone else has something we don’t have, so we feel like we don’t measure up, forgetting that each of us has something that someone else wishes they had. The women on the magazines always have the skinniest, toned legs, but we know that is airbrushed. Now we have Instagram models. Who still have the skinniest legs. And not every girl with an iPhone can airbrush those beauties.

James 3:16 tells us, For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.

My heart breaks to think about how many pre-teen girls are growing up glued to their Instagram right now. Comparison is at an all time high because it is so accessible. And when we compare, we try to find ways to be better, overcome, or somehow measure up. We starve ourselves, we throw up, we cake our faces with makeup. And instead of measuring up, we imprison ourselves to our insecurities.

When we compare, we are focusing solely on ourselves and what we lack. By focusing too much on ourselves, we are distracted from our destiny. We are sidetracked from our potential, and from chasing our dreams – which is exactly what the enemy wants.

Swimsuit Season

Swimsuit season is a big deal for women. There are diets, fads, advice on how to get swimsuit body ready. I know all the ab workouts to have a perfectly toned bikini  body. I also know how much I love to eat tacos.

Because we are in a fitness trend society right now, there are a lot of healthy lifestyle ideas going around right now, which is a good thing. I believe we should live healthy lifestyles, but every body type has a different definition of healthy. Not everyone will be able to rock a thigh gap, because their bone structure is not built that way. A girl can run and run and run and eat healthy and still have a little pudge around her belly, because her body is just built that way. And when we look at each other and compare, the only result we will get is hating ourselves.

I hate that our society is so hyper focused on our appearance, that even if we think we walk with confidence in a bathing suit, there is still the voice in the back of our head that thinks, Can they see how my thigh jiggles? Does this bathing suit make look ___ Insert your own insult, because we are all definitely guilty of pointing out every flaw. Like my mama always said, I am my own worst critic, and I bet you are too.  Instead of enjoying myself, I find myself wondering what other people are thinking about me.

Choosing Confidence

I have a teenage sister, so I am constantly thinking about how I view myself, because I know that she is looking to me and my other sister to see how we interact with our bodies.

I don’t want her to feel insecure in a bathing suit, so I am going to have to show her that I am not insecure in a bathing suit. And in order to do that, I am going to have to choose not to feel insecure, and celebrate the things my body can do.

I don’t want her to feel like she needs to lose weight when her body is normal, so I am going to have to show her that it is not about being skinnier, but it is about making healthy choices. I’m going to have to start eating more vegetables, and less potato chips. But if I’m at a cookout and there are potato chips, yes I will eat them. And I’ll have a brownie, too, because I’m not going to neglect the good things in life. A good thing in life for me is a sunny day and a pool, so I am going to rock my swimsuit this season, and enjoy a little splash under the summer sun.

5 Ways to Rock a Swimsuit this Season

1 – Like they say on Annie,  You’re never fully dressed without a smile.

Even though swimsuits mean we are barely dressed, at least we can smile and light up the room, er, the pool area.

2 – Find a swim suit that flatters your body type & makes you feel cute.

I know, this is a tough one. The one reason I do like two pieces is that I can mix and match sizes. There are some two pieces I will never be caught dead in because I’m not about to be the girl who wore an itsy bitsy tweenie weenie yellow polka dot bikini. I’m really digging the high waisted trend right now; it’s a modest way to rock a two piece and cover up as well! If two pieces aren’t your thing, there are so many cute one pieces around. Online shopping for bathing suits can be scary, but I had a really great experience buying my bathing suits with Cupshe, and they have so many cute items!

3 – Drink lots of water.

Because you’re having fun in the sun and dehyrdated looks and feels beautiful on no one. Duh.

4 – Stop looking at yourself so much.

Let’s face it, everyone else is feeling too self conscious about their own problems to notice you in a bathing suit. When I notice other women in bathing suits, I’m looking at the suit, not their body, because heck their swimsuit is cute! I’d imagine a lot of other women are doing this, too.

5 – Speak kindly to yourself.

I heard the other day that we think around 55,000 words a day to ourselves. 70% or what we say to ourselves is negative, unconscious self talk. We also repeat 95% of the same statements to ourselves. If we are spending 70% of our time talking negatively to ourselves, what are we going to become? We are going to become what we have declared over ourselves. Half the things I say to myself I would never say to my best friend, because I don’t take pride in being mean to people, but I have no problem in being mean to myself. The ugliness that sits in my thoughts will eventually make its way to my face, and I certainly don’t want to have an ugly face.

So tell me, what is something you love about yourself when you wear a swimsuit?