want to live with more joy (and less angst)? join the #findingjoy challenge

Seriously.

Have you seen the quote/image going around Facebook about anxiety girl? It’s this super hero drawing of a girl with her hand in the air and it says, “Anxiety Girl. Able to jump to the worst conclusion in a single bound.” Or something like that. But, you get the picture, right?

That’s me.

Without a doubt.

I could be at the store and someone could look at me and I could be like do I have something in my teeth? Is my zipper down? Are the kids not behaving? Is this color of my shirt not good? Did I not brush my hair? Am I missing something? One of my kids? Is it because I don’t coupon? Should I go to a different lane? I really liked these shoes, maybe it’s my shoes. I knew these shoes were ugly. Do I have chocolate on my shirt? What is it about me?

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She probably wasn’t even looking at me and was probably trying to read the sign at Starbucks stating that if you bring your receipt in after two pm that you’ll get a second treat for only $2. Yeah, I know. I fall for that every single time. Hmm….now I think I need coffee.

But the worst case scenario thing?

That’s me.

Wait. I said that already. But, it’s the truth.

And beyond that part of me, that let’s jump to the worst case conclusion about what others are thinking about me or how this day is going to go or all of that, I’ve found that I have a really hard time letting things go. Like really hard. Like harder to budge than an elephant sitting on my car. Although that’s never happened either.

I fester.

I think about things. Way into the middle of the night where I toss and turn on my flannel sheets which are much too hot for summer but they’re my favorites and I analyze everything. And then I jump to the worst case scenario much much too often.

But I’ve realized somethings in this past year. First, anxiety isn’t something to mess around with. If you deal with anxiety and it’s crippling then seek help. There’s no shame in that. Thankfully, I’ve had some great friends that have talked with me and shared with me some truths and I’ve dealt with those bouts of it and still sit in my bed most nights smiling. But, beyond anxiety, I want to talk about that worst case thinking that I tend to do.

Like the gal that looked at me in Target.

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Maybe she was just looking to look. And maybe, just maybe I shouldn’t make it about me.

You see all the things that I was worried about were really things about me. Do I look okay, are my kids behaving, did I do this right and so on type of things. You know the truth is that probably those things don’t really matter in the sphere of meeting people. And when I allow my own insecurities and doubts to creep into my mindset and posture then it’s not about finding joy it’s about finding a million and one things to worry about.

Worrying, jumping to the worst case scenario, and all of that robs us from the joy of today. That’s angst. We don’t want that. That’s what I’ve discovered. I have friends who simply want me to be happy and who wonder why I allow stuff to fester at times and not allow the happiness to sink in.

I don’t want that.

I don’t want that for you either.

I want this group of moms (and dads because there are some great dads who read finding joy as well) to embrace life even in if it’s not perfect. I want us to put our heads on our pillows at nights and to not think we didn’t measure up but to know that we made a difference. I want us to not deal with angst or anxiety but to rather seek out joy.

That stuff. The stuff that, at the end of our days, we will wish we had spent our time on instead of letting other stuff creep in and push the beauty, the joy, and the awesome moments of life out.

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So starting today and for the entire month of August we’re going to do a little challenge on the Finding Joy page on Facebook. It’s going to be easy (And I’ll do recaps and highlights and extra posts here too). And all it is is that I’m going to post one simple thing to do each day. Maybe it’s call a friend and tell them how much you appreciate them. Maybe it will be to do something for yourself. Maybe it will be to take a picture of you with your kids and to only take one and to not make it perfect (so smile…as you can see from mine). These things are going to be about living life fully.

Not worrying what people think. Jumping to the worst case scenario. Not being stuck.

And maybe, maybe it will be saying hello to the woman at Target who smiles at you.

Will you join me?

I can guarantee you one thing – participating in this won’t make life perfect. But, my hope is that it helps you find just a bit of joy in your journey. My hope is that it will diminish the times we spend worrying about what others think and instead interact and love on those around us. My hope is that it helps you smile even for a moment. But really?

I want it to be about being happy. Loving who you are. Taking care of you. Being thankful.

Rock on awesome mom. That’s our rally cry. Less angst. More joy.

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Spread the word. Get a group of friends to decide no more angst and instead more joy. Let’s laugh, think, love, and know that we’re making enough. Let’s be the person that learns to love life and herself. Let’s live. Really really live.

#findingjoy

To join simply join the finding joy blog Facebook page below. Starting August 1 I’ll put one simple joy finding challenge up on the page. Be ready for awesome. I tell you, I can’t wait to see what happens. I know this. It will change lives.

21 Things Normal Moms Do

A short list of normal mom things.

1. Drive the extra loop in the neighborhood just so you can have a moment more of quiet. No guilt for this one. This is a sanity, give me the extra moment to get ready to enter the battlefield and clean up the kitchen strategy of motherhood. Employ this when needed.

2. Go to bed thankful for Netflix. If the extra loop in the neighborhood trick doesn’t work, then the next option to getting that clean kitchen is Netflix. There’s no shame in being thankful for that wonder that pulls up on your television with options to entertain. If using Netflix helps with the sanity now and then go to bed thankful.

3. Know exactly what aisles to avoid at the grocery store so that you don’t deal with kids who want cheap toys. We don’t need anymore army men that don’t stand up, plastic coins with paper dollar bills, dolls that look like Barbie dolls but are made from the cheapest materials, and the leftover clearance toys that didn’t make it in the big stores. And to put them directly across from the neon colored sugar doused cereal of joy that kids want? A recipe for disaster. Avoid. This. Aisle.

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4. Tell your kids the jumbo carts are broken today. Shhh… I’ve done this. Especially during cold, flu, and anytime I hear about some other kid throwing up season. That season is the worst. If someone updates Facebook with words about stomach flu I think two things 1) NO. NO. NO. and 2) This is not a good Facebook update.

5. Have walls or windows  that are covered in handprints. Even though you washed them last week. Wait. We wash walls? And windows? And I know, I know, I know, someday we will miss those walls. But, I tell you, I can clean those windows so that you don’t know they existed and thirty-two seconds later it looks like I don’t know what Windex is. Or vinegar (because sometimes I use that too).

6. Can make a meal with noodles, beans, carrots, and any other random item. And then we’ll be told this is the best meal ever make it again. And we’ll have no clue how it even happened but we’re just grateful.

7. Are known at your Target. Or Walmart. Or Starbucks.  Or maybe that’s just me. Let’s just keep the fact that I’m a regular at Starbucks our little secret. It’s like fuel for a mom’s body. Oh and yes, I know my Target so well I know when things are going to move to clearance. And I’ll wait for the 70% off (what happened to 75% – does it make that big a difference in the bottom line? Seriously.)

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8. Can scrape every last bit of peanut butter out of a jar with an opening at the top that is ridiculously small. Listen. This is my plea to peanut butter manufacturers world wide – we don’t need a taller jar that is so deep that the knife cannot hit the bottom and our hand is covered in peanut butter. We need a jar that is wider than it is tall. End rant. #momsforpbjarsunite

9. Hide chocolate.

10. Have a phone that has numerous kids apps on it. And my iTunes store is locked. Holy moly. Could you imagine? How many versions of Monkey Preschool, Lego apps, Angry Birds, and Cut the Rope could I have on my phone? Way too many. And those upgrades? I might just make them clean their room so that I upgrade.

11. Turn the music up loud, dance in the kitchen, and make the kids laugh. If you don’t do it – do it. Life is too short to be the serious mom all the time.  We need those silly moments with our kids. And even if you can’t dance well – that makes them laugh even more.

12. Get tired of the begging for things and sometimes just says Fine. Have it. just so that the begging will stop. Yeah, probably not the best strategy, but sometimes us moms need to do what we need to do. Popsicles at 9:30am might be an option on somedays.  Or Fruit Roll-Ups. Or gum at the gas station. Or watching a show on Netflix (see? that one always comes up.)

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13. Sleep very very little. And we can sleep half awake listening for that child to wake. And we can sleep with feet in our face. Or on the floor.  Remember point six about Starbucks? This is why we’re known there. Sometimes I think I need to buy stock in my Keurig K-Cups.

14. Order pizza some nights when the noodles, beans, and carrot option just won’t work. I’m just telling you the Domino’s Tracker is a gift for moms. Budget in the pizza ordering night. That was like my last night – walking into Dominos, being handed three boxes of pizza, and having them smile at me and say thank you was absolutely wonderful. I was like no — thank YOU.

15. Can be caught singing and humming various kid songs. Like Everything is Awesome. Or Let it Go. Or Do You Want to Build a Snowman? Or What Does the Fox Say? Well, maybe not that one as much anymore. But, let’s face it, those are the unspoken anthems of motherhood.

16. Work on not judging. Super hard.  This one is so hard. Sometimes I think we judge to make ourselves feel like better. And we’re really not judging, we’re just being hard on us. Let’s not do this one. Let’s try to just love.

17. Take selfies in the car with the kids. It’s almost a badge of like look we all got in the car. Somedays we need that. You know what is cool about these selfies? It gets us moms in the picture with our kids. Sure they’re all buckled up in the back and you’re looking over your shoulder, but they’re awesome. So are pics at Starbucks with them. Take these pics. You’ll be grateful. Especially when they give you stickers and say that the sticker looks like you. Ha! #frazzledmom

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18. Throw away the container, even though it was expensive, that housed leftovers from another week and avoid attempting to clean out the science project growing inside. I am the worst at leftovers. I don’t even know why I bother putting them in my Rubbermaid containers with the red lids because I know that come next grocery shopping trip I will see them in the back of the fridge staring me down shouting leftover failure you could have used us! So yeah. And if it looks too dicey it’s gone.

19. Cry.  Yes. The cry. The cry over the times when we yell when we thought we would never do it. Or when we’re just tired. Or for no reason at all. Crying is normal. Mothering is hard work, my friends.

20. Wonder if she’s doing this mothering thing right. Oh my word. This. We all wonder it. How could we get through motherhood not wondering if we’re doing it right? But the truth is that we’ll all discover that our right will look different from your right which will look different than the right of the other mom in line at Starbucks which will look different than the moms on Facebook and so on. There’s really only real. And grace.

21. Make a difference. Yep. No matter what your story you’re making a difference. One peanut butter sandwich cut into triangles, one messy face wiped, one soccer drop off, one let’s check your homework, one finding the missing sock, one tuck the covers up to the chin, day at a time. It may feel like normal, but let me assure you, it’s extraordinary.

There really isn’t a normal.

There is just real.

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Real Awesome Normal Moms… 

…who have kids who think they’re awesome too.

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Join the community of AWESOME REAL MOMS here.

 

the first (and limited edition) finding joy teeshirt is here!

Last week, on Facebook, I posted this simple and fun question for our awesome, and I mean encouraging real mom kind of awesome,  Finding Joy Community

 

Simple, right? But look at the comments and likes. You all were awesome. Suggestion after suggestion after suggestion for the first official Finding Joy teeshirt came in. And I was blown away and filled with gratitude. For real. Not only did you encourage me with your words, but you gave me tremendous direction.

And now? Now I’ve got the teeshirt ready. It’s made. It’s the first limited edition of Finding Joy teeshirts. (That’s fun to say – first edition – especially since we’re going to create a series of awesome shirts.) So I’ve got it ready to go and we can get it printed. It’s only available for six more days. And this is the only time this edition shirt will be available.

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Here’s where I need your help.

One. Grab a teeshirt. This will be the only run of this style of teeshirt. I have an amazing list (200+ comments deep) of teeshirt ideas. So if you love the Finding Joy #littlethingsmatter teeshirt now is the time to get it. There are three different cuts and colors available. I happen to be quite partial to this red one. Bold, really.

Here is the link -> Limited edition awesome teeshirt

Two. Help me spread the word about the teeshirt. You guys keep Finding Joy going. For real. Every share, like, comment, email, and all of that makes a difference. It helps create time for me to write, time for me to learn, and time for me to share my passion for motherhood with you all. So from me to you – truly thank you.

Three. Continue being awesome. I know, I know, I know…not about the shirt. But I couldn’t help it.

So that’s it. Three things. And I think I was going for a record in using the word awesome in this post.

You all mean the world to me. For real.

~Rachel

p.s.  here’s a closeup. Because, let’s face it, we all need closeups of things sometimes.

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“i am enough” – the power of moms

It’s been a year.

One year since I sat in the Rogers, Minnesota, Starbucks and typed out the words about being enough as a mom. I remember the morning, a morning where I really didn’t know what to write about, and I was simply feeling a bit overwhelmed. So much to do, so little time, but not knowing how to start. I was chatting with my business partner and he sent a message to me. Simple, yet profound. He said, “why don’t you just write about why being a mom is enough?”

So I did.

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I’ve pondered that phrase, that I am enough, phrase over the last year. I’ve watched it grow from a phrase to a movement. Those little words ended up getting viewed 2.5 million times. I ended up talking on television about being enough. It’s been translated into many different languages. And today? Today I believe in the truth in those words more than ever.

I am enough.

How many times did you go through your day questioning if you’re doing enough?

How many times did you go to bed thinking that you fell short again?

How many times did you look at others and compare and feel like you need to do more?

How many times did you apologize for not seeming to measure up?

How many times did you let expectations of what you think you should do overwhelm?

Enough.

You are enough.

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Being enough doesn’t mean being perfect. Nor does it mean sitting around doing nothing. Being enough means being willing to embrace you in the midst of your life, whether it be roses and rainbows or the messiest stickiest place, and seeing the value in you. It’s about understanding that at the end of your days that your children are probably going to remember you for the amazing little unique things that only you can do.

Listen: Only you knows how to comfort your child in the midst of a thunderstorm. Only you knows the exact gift to buy at Christmas or birthdays or just because. Only you knows the secret phrases to put on notes that are tucked into lunch boxes. Only you knows what it feels like to go to bed with that ache in your heart because your child hurts and you don’t know how to fix it. Only you knows the joy of wrapping your arms around your little one and giving them sweet hugs in the morning. Only you knows how to mother your children in just the right, you are enough, way.

Sometimes it’s easy to look at the world filled with expectations and to attempt to derive value from the never ending have it all together to-do list of motherhood.

The world missed seeing the uniqueness of you.

It missed seeing how you know to kiss owes in just the right way. It missed out seeing you staying awake late waiting for the washing machine to finish so you could put your daughter’s soccer shirt in the dryer so she’s ready for a game. It missed out on the moments when you rearranged the budget again and again and skimped out on something for you so your child could get what they needed. It missed out on you standing in your room, gathering your resolve, and trying to negotiate with an overly tired not wanting to wear anything you choose toddler. It missed out on seeing you fight for what is right even though it’s harder than anything you’ve ever done.

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And now?

Now we live knowing we are enough.

You need to know it on the days when you’re ready to quit. You need to know it on the days when you feel like you’re failing. You need to know it on the days when you watch the other moms and compare your life with theirs and feel like you’re falling short.

For a year I am enough has been our rallying cry of motherhood.

And now?

We’re going to live with intention and purpose and joy. We’re going to live loving our friends and other moms and we’re not going to turn a blind eye to those in need. We’re going to live knowing that our value isn’t derived by doing more, running ourselves exhausted, and racing to keep up with the hypothetical Jones’s.

That is powerful.

Imagine the community of strength we will become.

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There will be days that we fall. Days where we doubt. Days where we want to throw our hands our hands in the air and yell I quit. They’ll still be there. But our worth, your worth, is never dependent on those days, those things.

So today, today, look up, look in the mirror, look at you and without a critical eye I want you to tell yourself one thing. And not only tell yourself it but live it.

I am enough.

That’s our journey now.

You and me.

And the millions more joining in the I am enough cry.

Onward powerful brave giving real and I am enough mom.

We have awesome to do. 

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Read: Why Being a Mom is Enough

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all pics, except the selfie in Target, courtesy of Hannah Nicole Photography

Dear Mom Letters Flash Give Away

Hey friends! I’m in a celebratory mood right now as I’m getting super close to finalizing all the details on my Dear Mom Letters book. So, to celebrate I’ve decided to give away twenty copies of my Dear Mom Letters ebook. Yes, yes, yes…twenty…the more the merrier!

Want to win a copy? It’s easy. There are two ways to enter to win. Follow the Rafflecopter widget thing-a-majig for help. And it’s easy. Join us on Facebook to chat about real motherhood and/or leave a comment to the question asking you to describe motherhood in one word. That’s it. Easy peasy.

The giveaway is until Monday night at 11:59. Feel free to share away. In fact, I’d appreciate it.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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why value isn’t based on the past, the things you do, or how others treat you

I learned to hate myself in childhood.

I learned that I was the girl who was spit on in the hallways of the high school. I learned that others could write nasty things about me and paste them on my locker or in my schoolbooks or on the wall. I learned to be afraid to come home at night because my house would be vandalized. I learned in fifth grade what it was like when no one talks to you for many months and you don’t know why. I learned that somethings we never talk about even though they should be talked about. I learned that most people wouldn’t fight for me or stick up for me.

I learned how to live in my own head and to chant the mantra I don’t care over and over again.

I learned how to live in a world of pain and hurt and how to fight.

I learned to place my worth on how others treated me.

I learned.

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There might be a reason I write about learning from the past and not letting it define you. Sometimes I think it’s due to the codependency in which I’ve lived for so many years. Even as an adult I’ve lived in a way that looks for worth on externals – it’s the do more, be more philosophy of hoping to please other people with the hopes that they will value you.

You see I learned in those young years that I wasn’t valued.

At least that’s how it wrongly translated and morphed and shifted into adulthood.

I began to think my value was based on being the best all the time. I stopped resting or doing things that were fun. I became afraid to speak my mind in fear that others would be mad at me.

At the deep level – I feared, and still fear at times, the being alone.

And that’s what makes me write today.

That’s what makes me a passionate voice for the words you are enough and I am enough. It’s what makes me tear up when I read about moms just like you who feel alone and that they feel as if they don’t measure up. I’ve had to fight to let the demons, the patterns of childhood and worth, not taint myself today. It’s not as easy as one would think. There are so many that just tell me to simply let it go as it’s in the past.

Logically I know that. Convince my heart of it sometimes as well. Sometimes I’ll slip back into that mindset – the mindset of overachieving to feel valued – and I’ll run myself ragged. I’ll let my emotions taint the present.

But I’ve discovered something that I want to share with you. Maybe in living a life where I’ve felt inconsequential because I derived worth and value from the wrong places for so many years has finally taught me wisdom 39 1/3 years later.

Your worth is never dependent on how others treat you.
Your worth is not dependent on everything that you do every day.

You are valued because you are you.

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It’s a hard truth to realize sometimes. It’s hard to let go of those labels that stick tighter than the gorilla glue to our hearts. It’s hard to remember it when it feels like the world is against you. It’s hard to define yourself not based on the things you do. It’s hard to speak up and fight and to love. It’s hard to appreciate yourself.

So I am here to remind you.

You are awesome, amazing, beautiful, funny, lovable, valued, and enough even if for most of your life you felt otherwise.

You are enough.

Today I want you to have a moment where you simply love you for you. For all your imperfections and mistakes and all of that. Let go of those mistakes.

The past is in the past.

You have now. Today. This moment.

Fill your life with things that are good. Have friends that love you for you and stick with you even when you make mistakes. You will stumble, fall, trip, and have times where you want to quit. You will have people not like you or respect you. Don’t let all of those moments, those things, the past, or others define your worth or value.

Embrace you.

Yes, you.

You are absolutely worth it. You are worth it. You are worthy of love, joy, happiness, and wonderful. You don’t have to be perfect. You don’t have to have the Hallmark past to have an amazing future. You don’t have to have a life of roses and rainbows and sunshine to be valued and loved. You don’t have to have a bank account bursting with extras. You don’t have to do all the things that you think people need to do.  You don’t have to live in fear of what others think of you or how they treat you.

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All that childhood stuff? I’ve let it go. I was a kid. I didn’t know the truths about life that I know now. What I do know is how important it is to love yourself for you and to not allow the past to taint today. I have learned how to fight for me and my family. I have learned to give myself grace for the times when I slip into old patterns of thought. I have learned to look at myself and to accept the journey that I am on.

So from me to you, my words today, while a bit different than normal are these:

You are wonderful and amazing because you are you.

Don’t let others define your value.

You are valued because you are you.

And in it all you are enough.

~Rachel

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Oh yes, one other thing – bullying in childhood is a serious thing. A child should never be forced to tough it out, look the other way, or deal with it. Children in situations like that need love, support, and a solution. They need an advocate.