Walktober Challenge!

I have been working a lot on my mental health recently, and have realized that walking is so therapeutic!  I love being outside, submerged in nature and organizing my thoughts.

As October is quickly approaching, I have decided to push myself in hopes of walking 250,000 steps!  I can’t wait for cooler days, more leaves falling, and more time outside.

I’d love some company on this personal challenge!  Please let me know if you’d like to join the challenge for yourself or join me for a walk.  I plan to keep a spreadsheet of each day’s steps to help keep tally and stay focused on reaching my goal.

So, grab your pedometer, grab a friend, and let’s get to walking!

live, brooke

Successful Self Care

I recently watched Ann Lamott’s Ted Talk: 12 truths I learned from life and writing.  She had many good lessons to share but one that stuck out was the importance of self care.  Yes, we know we should care for ourselves for lots of reasons- physical, emotional and mental reasons- but her point was that it helps others.  In fact, she calls self care “a huge gift to the world”.

Many times we may feel selfish about our self care.  That sentence makes me laugh a bit… that’s kind of the point, right?  But, when we stop and think about how our lack of self care can be a drain on those around us, it makes me realize that it’s more than just caring for ourselves but also caring for others.  I am reminded of what I hear everytime I am on a plane… secure your oxygen mask first before helping others. I have wanted to scream, but what about my baby boy? He needs oxygen just as badly and fast as I do!?  But then I remember, I can’t do any good for him if I’m suffocating.

Like most things, I had some preconceived notions about what self car looks like.  So, I did some research among my friends to find out what they find successful in feeling rejuvenated throughout life.  It’s important to remember that self care doesn’t have to be financially expensive.

1. Exercise.  This was a very popular response for many of my friends.  One said that “its a huge stress reliever to physically exhaust myself while building strength.”  Others preferred a more low key workout like yoga which also involves meditation too. Ideas:

  • Tennis
  • Running
  • Yoga
  • Fitness Classes

2. Solitude.  This is a big one for many moms.  We often share most of our life with others- even if we don’t want to (ie: a toddler busting in the bathroom while showering).  So, taking a break from those we love to be able to focus on ourselves and doing things that we love is a great thing to recharge.  Some examples from others:

  • Solo walk
  • A nap
  • Taking a bath
  • Driving in silence
  • Being still

3.  Personal appearance.  This was one I had never really considered before as I am super low maintenance in my appearance.  But, I can definitely understand how it can help with your confidence and mood. If you feel blah about your appearance, than spending some time and energy on it can improve your outlook and interactions with others.  

  • Facial
  • Manicure
  • Botox
  • Plastic Surgery
  • Make Up

4.  Protecting your commitments.  One of my friends said she has to say no to opportunities as a form of self care.  At first hearing, it didn’t make sense to me, but as she went on I realized that protecting her calendar/schedule was a major form of self care as it prevents over-scheduling and extra stress.  For every yes we say, it’s a no to something else.  Feeling guilty?  I’ll be your No Cheerleader 🙂

5.  Do something fun.  This may look different for many t people because we all find fun in a variety of ways.  A girl’s night out, going on a guy’s camping trip, or exploring a new part of your city could all be fun. The key is to do something fun with other people is make sure they are fun and that you enjoy being with them. Doing something out of the norm gives us something to look forward and gets us out of the normal daily rut.

  • Reconnect with an old friend
  • Visit a brewery with  neighbors
  • Picnic at a new park

I’d love to hear how you practice self care!

xoxo, brooke

The Idol in My Pocket

When I think of idols, a few things come to mind.  I’m reminded of the golden calf that was worshiped in the Old Testament.  Celebrities come to mind, especially Kim Kardashian, as she is the most commonly mentioned celebrity during plastic surgery consultations.  People want to manipulate their bodies to look like her.  I think of the tv show, American Idol, as many devote their weeknights to watching it, voting and buying music produced from it.  I also think of college football (as I wrote about here) and the amount of money and attention spent on football.  

Webster’s dictionary has 5 definitions of idol.  The one that resonates with me the most is “an object of extreme devotion”.

Sadly, I’m here to announce that I carry an idol in my pocket every day.  My iPhone.  

I am extremely devoted to it.  If it gets left at home, it is a source of frustration and feeling of nakedness.

It causes great distraction for me.  If someone is talking to me and I can’t hear them because I’m on the idol, then it’s hurtful to them.  I’m saying/showing through my actions that the distant person, thing, pictures, or whatever on the idol are more important than who is in my presence.

My devotion to my idol causes me to waste precious time that could be spent on solitude, time with friends, or time with God.  I get so caught up on it that I miss opportunities to help others.

My idol keeps me up later at night than it should.  It prevents me from getting more sleep and distracts my mind when I should be winding down.

It’s the first thing I think of many mornings.  I’ve made it a habit to reach for the idol, check email, texts and social media- all before even telling my husband good morning.  

It distracts me when I’m driving which is unsafe for me, my passengers, and everyone else around me.  

My idol weighs too much on my self worth.  Someone hasn’t texted me back- that must mean that they do not like me or I’m not important to them.  This photo only got 28 likes, it must not be cute enough.

My idol steals joy through comparison.  I’m at home in sweats with a sick kid while my friend is in Bermuda snorkeling with dolphins.  

My idol is a liar.  It tells me I’ll be more connected but it causes me to be more disconnected.  Even though it’s fast, it causes me to be more impatient when real life speed isn’t.  It wants to make me happy but it causes those around me to be less happy.

Do you have this idol in your pocket too?


Smart Lunch Smart Kid Devotional

This weekend I was invited to a beautiful, catered affair…. An afternoon book club at a friend’s gorgeous home.  It was a special book club because the author of the book was there to lead the discussion.  To start the conversation, the hostess asked us all to go around and introduce ourselves and say a fun fact because many of us had never met.  The first lady owned a catering company, the next was a former Miss USA competitor, the next started a prominent charity, the next was an attorney, the next was in a top 10 music video, the next was a surgeon… you get the picture.  Then it was little ole me’s turn.  I could not think of one thing nearly as fantastic as what all of the previous women had said about themselves.  I felt so out of my league!

Yesterday, when I was telling my sister about the experience, she quickly reminded me of how I spent last week- volunteering with VBS.  I had the wonderful job of organizing the mission donations for the week.  Each day I was overwhelmed by how much God provided that day.  The campers, AKA God’s hands and feet, brought in 600 books on Monday, 800 toiletries on Tuesday, 3,000 diapers on Wednesday, 400 lbs of canned goods on Thursday, and 221 pairs of socks on Friday.  All of these donations were delivered to 7 organizations in our community to serve those in need.  Now, when I think of VBS, I can remind myself of how much God used me to do his service.  I can find comfort in knowing that God made me, honed my skills, and then allowed opportunities for me to use the gifts He gave me.  I may not be a surgeon, Miss US nor an attorney- but in God’s eyes, I am just as powerful for His Kingdom.  This has been a great reminder to me that I need to look at God for His approval and not myself or others.

As we make lunches today, not one of us does it all.  We may be the only person putting the sandwiches in ziplock bags… but before we even touch that sandwich, several other hands have already purchased the supplies, delivered them, set them up, and then made the sandwich to hand to you for the bag.  Every single one of those jobs is just as important.  Without each of them, the next could not occur.

This is just like the body of Christ.  Romans 12:4-5 tells us “Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.”  To me, this is a complicated way of saying that we all have strengths and skills.  Some of us are leaders, others are doers, while others are organizers.  Some of us think about logistics, others try to make things speedy and efficient and others are cheerleaders.  All of these skills are important when trying to accomplish a common goal.

As I think back on the missions donated at VBS, I think about how everyone doing a little is what accomplished SO much.  No one person brought in 1,000 items on their own.  No two people brought in 500 items on their own.  Instead, everyone pitched in some and with the sheer force of our numbers…. Everyone doing a little made a WHOLE lot.  We each contributed to the Body of Christ to do His work and serve so many more than we ever could individually.

So, today, as we each do our “little” job in this big process of SLSK… don’t forget that each part is just as important as the rest as we all work together to feed others as the Body of Christ.  Give thanks to God for giving you your skills and bring Him joy by continuing to use them to further His Kingdom.

Prayer:  God, thank you for bringing all of us individuals together today to form your Body.  Make us mindful of the gifts you have given us and how we can share them with others.  We pray your blessings over these meals and the homes where they will be enjoyed.  Allow this food to be a physical nourishment but also a spiritual reminder of Your love.  Thank you for using your people to recognize a need and use your Body of believers to address it.  In your name we pray.  Amen.

It’s OK to Say No

I get asked to volunteer my time to a worthy cause on an almost weekly basis.  Can you be room parent?  Can you lead a Bible study?  Can you be on the membership committee?  Can you bring a weekly snack?  Will you teach Sunday School?

Maybe your requests are different:  Can you captain our softball team?  Can you take on this extra work project?  Can you use your vacation for an extended family wedding?  Can you be HOA President?  Can you host a baby shower?

Many people would agree that these are all wonderful opportunities.  It feels good that people think enough of you to be able to handle these duties.  But, at some point- you can’t say yes to everything.  It breaks my heart to say no to great opportunities.  

Over the last few years, God has been revealing to me that new yes commitment is a no to something else.  Being aware of your current commitments is important before adding anything new.  A yes to serving on a charity committee is a wonderful thing- but it’s a no to dinner with my family each week during the meeting time.  A yes to teaching my son’s Sunday School class is great but it means I’m saying no to attending my own class at the same time.  

I feel awful letting the asker down.  I know they need help and they think I am a good fit for the task.  Plus, I want that person to still like me.  Like many people, I equate letting someone down as them losing respect for me.  But what I’ve learned is if they can’t respect my no, then they aren’t really someone I want to be friends with any way.  Friends value one another’s happiness and support decisions to make that happen.

I’ve slowly been learning that saying no is ok.  Life goes on.  I am realizing that some people may respect you for not taking on more than you can handle.  Plus, if you volunteer a lot, this encourages the asker to recruit new volunteers and allow others to be involved.  New volunteers and ideas can be a good thing.

FullSizeRender (8)It’s still hard to feel like you let someone down or can’t “do it all”.  I’ve decided to become a NO Cheerleader.  If you say no to something, I will clap for you and stand proudly for you saying yes to other wonderful things like your family, health and/or sanity.  You may feel bad or someone may make you feel bad- but know that I have your back!  Congrats on taking control of your calendar and resources!  You have figured out how to treasure your time, money and family.  Job well done!

Now, I encourage you to also become a NO Cheerleader.  Support your spouse, friends and neighbors if they have to say no to good things.  Cheer them on for protecting what’s most important in their life. In the process, I promise you will build your relationship to allow more vulnerability and support!

Also keep these thoughts in mind when you are the asker.  Be sure to respond to a no in the way you would want to be responded to in the same situation.  Allow a no to build bridges not cause division.

Together we can all support one another by celebrating the no that allows more time for the yes!

learn & love, brooke