Gratitude, the Killer of Comparison #GratitudeChallenge

Gratitude

Every time an Internet browser opens it’s an emotional ride that can leave you reeling from all the pins you want recreate, the latest workout you want to try, or the friend you want to trade lives with. With every scroll comes a constant reminder that someone else’s life seems more fabulous, more successful, more fulfilling than yours. Just thinking about all the comparisons can provoke a mild panic attack leaving you reaching for the nearest Xanax ™.

The aforementioned dramatization of emotions got me thinking. All these people whose posts leave me feeling like my life changing diapers and wiping noses is menial, have also brought so much joy to me. Each one of them, unique and special, has inspired me in little, and very big ways. To tell you the truth, sadly, most of them don’t even know it.

So, my #GratitudeChallenge, is to tag someone you are grateful for, and list a few words describing how they’ve inspired you. Let’s kill the sorrows of social media comparison by recognizing those who have lit a fire in our hearts. Hopefully, this post will fill you with joy and love that you can pass on to someone who does the same for you. Happy Thanksgiving, my friends!

XOXO,

Samantha Jo

P.S. Who are you grateful for and how have they inspired you? Give them some love, tag them in this post, and tell them how they’ve inspired you.   #GratitudeChallenge

 

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Friend Therapy

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I hope my girls are blessed with many beautiful influences on their lives, too!

On a beautiful fall night we were dressed to the nines sitting on the patio of a local restaurant. Before the hostess could place the menus in front of us the floodgates opened. We were inundating one another with questions to get the latest updates on life. This was JUST the beginning. Shortly thereafter, phrases like “You are so much better of without him!” “Remember when. . . ?” “Can you believe we did that?” began volleying across the four-person table. We were laughing so hard we cried, cried so hard we laughed, and wishing the night would never end. Here we were, high school (some even grade school) friends, reunited at varying stages in life and it was like we never parted ways.

When I got home that evening, my husband asked “what did you girls talk about?” The funny thing is I replied “not too much.” You see, it wasn’t the content of the conversation, but the feeling that made the evening so special. Being with my long-time friends felt like a glitter bomb exploded in my heart and a parade of unicorns in my stomach 😉 I wanted to bottle the feeling and share it with everyone I knew!

As we move through different stages in life, it can sometimes feel lonely and isolating. After reuniting with these beautiful ladies that evening, it made me realize that reconnecting with friends can be the best therapy. Sometimes you need a good laugh, or cry, with people who knew you before you even knew yourself.

As I am writing this post, a barrage of beautiful women enter into my mind making life seem a little brighter and becoming the Golden Girls not as much of a pipe dream. In the wise words of Blanche, Rose, Sophia, and Dorothy “Thank you for being a friend!”

XOXO,

Samantha Jo

 

P.S. Reach out to a friend and tell them how important they are to you.  Tag a friend who inspires you!

 

 

Maybe I’m a Weed?

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I was sitting in a Walmart parking lot sobbing with my head hung over the steering wheel of my little white Honda Civic. I kept repeating to myself “maybe I’m a weed?” “They” say the first year is for “weeding” out the weak. Maybe that was me? I am the weed ready to be plucked from this bed of blooming blossoms that overshadowed my weaknesses. My mind went down a dark road where everyone else was smarter, more talented, and would definitely be more successful than me, so I should just move on and try something else.

 

This is how my first day of law school ended, as well as my self-victimization. Yes, a dramatic scene. The summer leading up to my new educational venture, I was so excited and dreamt of the endless opportunities and new experiences. However, once I was surrounded by my new “competition” of classmates, I knew for sure I could not stand tall next to these “flowers.”

 

After my little pity party, something in my clicked! I had to reroute my thinking. This challenge was an opportunity, and these classmates were new relationships to embrace. Not to mention, the real competition was with myself. I had to challenge myself to look at my education as an opportunity and not a three-year sentence to hell.

 

The next day, I walked into that law school with a cup of coffee in hand and the adrenaline rush of waiting on something fantastic to happen. Luckily, I did not weed myself out of this legal bed. I may not have been top in my class, on law-review, or big firm material. But, I met my husband, have life-long friends, received amazing jobs I was able to grow and learn from, and the possibilities are endless. And oddly enough, I actually loved law school.

 

The reason I write about this today is, I have some big opportunities ahead, and I don’t want to end up back in that Walmart parking lot crying in my “mom” car. Yes, it’s scary, I may fail, but I can’t “weed” myself out of the garden before trying. Who knows what I would miss out on?

 

So, honey baby child, let your flower blossom, stay rooted in your values, withstand the nasty elements, soak up the water and sun, and embrace the beauty around you.

 

XOXO,

Samantha Jo

P.S.  When did you have to look within yourself to overcome a challenge?

Fan the Flame

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You cannot love anyone until you love yourself. Everyone seems to give that advice, but what does that even mean? I mean, even when I want to crawl out of my own skin I still love my family and friends.

This question leads me to a conversation I had with my husband the other day. We were talking about the roller coaster that is marriage, or any relationship for that matter. All the highs, lows, and “mehs” were reflected on. When all was said and done, the light bulb went off and we realized our marriage was at its best when we were at our best.

For instance, my husband has been a fireman since he was in the womb. He can sniff out an emergency situation like I could a carton of ice cream when I was pregnant. Anyway, when we got married and moved, he had given up a lot of his involvement in the fire department. Then, last spring he went to fireman school and got certified as a fireman in Ohio. Throughout this whole process, he was so excited and happy. In general, he had more energy and a positive outlook on life. Now, I don’t know the first thing about fire fighting (aside from those calendars they sell for charity with the department’s best 😉 ), but I know it made me happy, too. It was so awesome supporting his passions and dreams and feeling like I was apart of them. Consequently, during this time in our marriage we spent a little less time together, but the time we did spent was quality and full of happy memories.

This leads me to believe, you CAN love others and feel less than stellar about yourself. But to have that happy, quality kind of love, you need to take time to do things for YOU. Yes, these activities take some time away from family and friends, but they make a better YOU. You grow to love yourself more and be the best you. When you’re a better you, you can be a better family member and friend. And while you are falling in love with yourself again, so are your loved ones.

 

XOXO,

Samantha Jo

P.S. What are things you love to do that will make you fall in love with you all over again?

Pep in Your Step

 

 

20170223_090426It’s in our nature to be creatures of habit and routine. Day-in and day-out we go through the motions in a somewhat mindless manner in our personal, professional, spiritual, etc. aspects of our life. I know I am guilty of this.

For example, since having my littlest nugget I have set out on a fitness journey. I was doing the same exercises and eating the same foods that I was before I was pregnant. But, I was gaining weight and didn’t know the cause. Something had to be wrong! Well, I spoke with my doctor and my trainer (my dad J ) and they were asking me about my diet and protein intake. Then suggested I journal my daily intake. I’m not going to lie, I was thinking to myself “I eat clean and workout 7 days a week, it has to be something medical.” Begrudgingly, I started my fitness pal tracked every little thing. Next, my dad suggested a different protein shake, so I switched it up.   Would you believe, I lost almost 20 pounds! Now mind you, most of that weight was bloat. But it turns out the protein I was using and the way I was consuming it caused immense amount of water retention.   Now I am back on track and keep evaluating and tweaking my food intake and exercise routine.

Another stale routine in my life was my moming. Every week I took my kids to the same places, did the same activities, and ate the same soggy peas. One morning, on a whim, I decided to go to a different park take my little nuggets to lunch. Can you believe it? Go to out lunch? As a penny-pinching mom who normally packs peanut butter and jelly, I felt like I was playing hooky. I must confess, it was very liberating and added pep to my step. My little nugget was so happy and we made some very special memories. Not to mention, after our “venture” my nugget took a two-hour nap. Win/win!

I’ve learned a lot from these little changes, even a humility.  Sometimes you need to ask for advice and utilize the wisdom of others. Remember to always embrace the day and be grateful for the little moments. Every day is a new chance to try something and push yourself outside of you comfort zone. Maybe it’s wearing a new lipstick shade, but these little changes can make a world of difference. Also, don’t forget to turn off the autopilot, because you miss out on the beauty around you.  Sometimes you need to take a step back and reevaluate your different daily routines, because you never know how one simple change may change your life.

XOXO,

Samantha Jo

P.S.  What are some little changes you’ve made that have been liberating?

 

Pass It On

img_62751Disclaimer: This is NOT a post on how to wean your child off a pacifier.

Everyone has that special something that if taken away would result in heart palpitations, sweaty palms and an immense amount of anxiety. For my two-year-old nugget this would be her pacifier; a part of her bed-time ritual since the day she entered this world. The moment she nibbled on that nuk I cringed about the thought of breaking her of that habit. However, it became clear the time had come to give it up, or else local orthodontists would start headhunting her for a metal mouth.

Yesterday, on a whim, I grabbed an Amazon box and some packing tape. I told nugget that her cousin in South Carolina would love her passies and that it would be a great idea to send them to him (she loves her cousin and talks about him everyday). Surprisingly, she began skipping around the house picking up her passies like she was on an Easter egg hunt and gingerly placed them in the box. Over and over she talked about sharing her passies with her cousin and how much he would love them. She sealed it with a kiss and we placed the box on the front parch for the mail man to take to “Souf Carowina.”

Step one was done, but the real battle would be bedtime. All day my stomach was in knots. How was I going to handle whatever terrible – two behaviors that were about to be thrown at me like yesterday’s juice box? Every night the first thing she asks for is her passie as she nervously scourers her bed for the first one she can find.

Bath (big bubbles of course), Ariel jammies on, hair braided, hugs and kisses for Daddy and baby nugget. This is it! I tucked my little nugget into bed, said our prayers, laughed about our day, and read some books. Once our routine was done, I laid next to her to circumvent any anxiety, but NOTHING, nothing happened. Soon she was fast asleep.

I cried. I cried because I realized this beautiful little blonde, that still wears diapers, taught me a huge life lesson. Through this whole process I was so concerned about myself, and how this was affect me, that I totally lost sight of the fact that she was the one experiencing loss. Not only that, but she gave up her most coveted item without so much as a tear, because she wanted to pass it along to someone she loves.

In the simplest and truest form, this innocent little nugget showed me love and selflessness. Thankfully, each day she reminds me what’s most important in this average Jo’s life.

 

XOXO,

SamanthaJo

I Gained Weight and I’m Kind of Proud

screenshot_2017-02-03-10-26-43There it was, this chart that resembled the Rocky Mountains staring back at me. This was a very harsh reality that had gained a significant amount of weight over the past several years.

Now, this was the first time I saw actual numbers slapping me in the face. Since I was in college, I never ever looked at the scale. When I would go to the doctor I would back up like a garbage truck on that brutally honest piece of machinery and nervously tell the nurse “I don’t want to know my weight.” Then, I would step off blissfully unaware of those three digits.

The reason for the ritual was a consequence of many other rituals starting at the ripe old age of eight.   Since that sprit young age, I’ve had an eating disorder. You name it and I’ve had it; binging, purging, restricting, over exercising and under eating, and on and on and on. Not to mention the constitution I bestowed on myself of not eating items with more than 5 gams of fat, or baking indulgences for others and watching them savor it, or not eating a certain restaurants, because their food would send me into a tail-spin.

Everyone’s dealt with weight issues and insecurities; young, old, men, women, you name it! In college, I felt so insure with my body and style. My nights out would be consumed with wanting to take a hammer and chisel to my body so I could sculpt it into a beautiful long-legged statue that emulated the bright-eyed beauties, wearing the latest Forver21 fashions, which I was out with.

I always swore to myself I would never exceed a certain number on the scale or on my jeans. Well guess what? Even with daily workouts and majority healthy eating, I surpassed those numbers long ago. I’ve had two kids in two years and my body’s been through a lot of change. Just a few short years ago, if I saw the numbers that I witnessed at yesterday’s doctor’s appointment, I would’ve stopped eating, binged, purged, cried myself to sleep, and experienced copious amount of anxiety. Sounds dramatic, but part of the disorder that is difficult to control

Yes, it was very difficult and unnerving to see the weight gain. But instead of regressing back to my old rituals, I set a plan. Also, my family is aware of this, so they can keep an eye out for my old ways. There are going to be good days, and days where positivity is met with resistance. But I’m going to keep going to the gym and trying to make healthy choices.

Ultimately, I am not happy about my weight gain, but am proud of how I handled something that would’ve once almost killed me.

XOXO,

SAmantha Jo

P.S. Have you ever struggled with body image issues?  If so, how do you get past those negative thoughts?