Be Prepared to Fail

Be Prepared to Fail

My summer goal is to make a loaf of bread. Homemade. I’ve been diligently researching the best Pinterest recipes . . . and the easiest. Saturday evening I took my KitchenAid on its maiden voyage and baked my first loaf of  bread. It was an “Easy Crusty French Bread” I found on Pinterest that I will not link for you here because I did the author such a disservice by making the most difficult, crustiest French bread there ever was. It was like a communion cracker.

Like any millennial these days, I walked confidently and in faith that my first bread would not be as terrible as everyone said there first bread making experiences would be. But it was terrible and hilarious and I found that even though I failed, I wasn’t all too disappointed in myself.

I’m somewhat of a perfectionist, and when things spiral out of control, I find that I hold on even more to what I can and do the very best at what I have at hand. I recently had an instance where someone went to my boss to discuss the way I handled something. I was devastated to discover that doing the best I could in an uncontrollable circumstance still left someone unsatisfied. Failing bread is one thing. Failing a person is another. This got me to thinking about all the ways I failed this month.

Be Prepared to Fail

Ways I Failed This Month

I tried to wake surf at the lake. I managed to stand up in the wake, but quickly fell over.

I tried to make bread and it went disastrously.

I went to the grocery store 3 times this weekend and still failed to remember to pick up a couple items.

I failed at a couple of things at work.

I failed baking a lemon blueberry yogurt bread.

 Fear of Failure

I was recently reading Unrivaled by Lisa Brevere. In one of her chapters, she mentions that she wishes she risked more when she was younger. So many opportunities come our way but we are stifled by fear and by fear of failing that we turn back into our comfort zone where it’s cozy and safe.

Good things may happen in our comfort zone, but extravagant things happen in No-Man’s Land. (Wonder Woman reference, anyone?)

As I’m taking this online Jane Austen seminar, I am seeing how much I am out of my league. I get onto these discussion boards with college students and realize that in two years, I’ve already become rusty in my close reading skills. I feel as if I’m typing out fluff while these other students are creating intriguing and thoughtful content. Some days I feel like I am failing. . . and that is okay. We have to let go of our fear of failure.

We have to let go of our fear of failure.

Be Prepared, and Be Proud to Fail

Failing is not something we are generally proud of, but it is something that happens to everyone. For perfectionists, failure is particularly scary because perfectionism is not just a way that we handle things, but it is a part of our identity. It doesn’t help that fail is attached to shame in our society.

It’s good to recognize that you aren’t good at something. And then it is good to continue in that something. And while we continue, we do the best that we can, and if we fail, then we fail.

For instance, I am a shame to English majors and want to be English teachers everywhere because I am horrid at Words with Friends. I would like to blame the tile distribution, but games like Words with Friends, Bananagrams, and Scrabble frustrate me. I can never think of words that earn me more than 10 points. As someone who has studied the English language her entire life, Scrabble is something I should be good at. But I’m not. And my husband beats me into smithereens every. single. time. I used to just ignore my Words with Friends notifications until the timer ran out and I would lose. But this time, I’m playing. And losing. Maybe I’ll get better at it, maybe I wont.

If I succeed, hoorah. But if I continue to fail, well then I’ve learned to fail gracefully.

Rather than hide under the cover of shameful failures, celebrate that you stepped out, were brave, and tried something new. Everyone fails, but the ones who make it are the ones who got up again.

So Tell Me, Readers. . .

What is one thing you tried and failed at?

 

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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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!

The Most Important Marriage Lesson

#1 Marriage Lesson

I recently walked in on my husband using steel wool on our new wedding plates.

“Honey!” I said in a hushed yell. I kindly asked him not to use steel wool on our wedding plates. They were expensive, and it could scratch! Unless you’ve been using it when I’m not looking. . . I trailed off as I handed him a dishrag. It didn’t quite do the job as well, he said. It just needs a little elbow grease.

I walked back into the living room to text my Mom about what I just walked in on: my husband sweetly offered to do the dishes because he knows how much I love cooking, and how much I dread the clean up afterwards.

I wasn’t going to text my Mom to brag, I was going to text her to commiserate over our husbands using unorthodox dish washing methods.

But then I paused.

While Pai and I were dating, I read an article calling wives to rise above the stereotypes.. The article outlined the ways that media can influence our marriage. Often on TV, the Dad or the Husband is made out to be the dumb one. I aligned with the article. Yes! Let’s empower our husbands though our words!

And here I was, getting ready to belittle my husband (albeit in a light-hearted way) because he was doing something I thought was wrong or dumb.

What if he treated me like an idiot because I did something wrong while we were kicking the soccer ball around? Even though I played one whole year of soccer, I know I’m not the most talented and the one who’s up to speed here. If he made fun of me, or complained about me to his dad or one of his buddies, I would be crushed.

But my husband honors me. Even in the way we argue – which, yes, we do argue. Not as often as we did when we first started dating, thank goodness, but we do have a disagreement here and there. When we argue, he still speaks to me in a way that honors me and makes me feel safe.

Someone recently asked me what is the biggest thing I’ve learned in marriage so far.

“Don’t be passive aggressive. Be aggressive-aggressive.” I joked.

I can’t believe that we’ve already been married for 4 and 1/2 months and younger couples ask, “What have you learned so far?”

While I have learned a lot (and will continue to learn more!) most importantly I’ve learned the sacredness of respect and honor.

I always want my husband to be lifted up both through my words and my attitude in referring to him. I told my friend, “Your friends and family see your boyfriend/fiance/husband through your eyes. So how do you want to portray him?”

While I will brag all day long about how wonderful Pai is, we both are flawed. But I don’t need my mom to know about his flaws. He doesn’t need his co-workers to hear about how I was too lazy to throw in the laundry and now he doesn’t have his khaki pants to wear for the week.

What his co-workers, my mom, and our friends need to know is how our relationship is thriving. I believe in authenticity in relationships, but I believe in honoring at all times. Yes, a true relationship has its ups and downs. But a healthy relationship consists of two people honoring each other, even in the little things.