Like a Mother

When I had my first child, I remember it hitting me for the first time that everyone had come into the world a helpless, adorable baby. And that everyone had a mama who went through nine months of body-morphing, magical weirdness and the pain of childbirth in order to bring that person into the world. I know it’s sad that it took having a baby of my own for this to dawn on me, but I can be slow and a little self-absorbed.

After my daughter was born, I couldn’t pass a homeless person without thinking about that person as a baby–a baby with a mama who had probably loved him or her dearly and fiercely at one point.

I couldn’t stand in line at Starbucks without seeing the baby-ness in everyone. Once you start seeing people this way, those crazy specific drink orders seem less annoying in their toddler-like pickiness, and become more endearing.

Everyone becomes more endearing if you search for their baby-ness—that fragile infant inside of them who is scared and needy and so hungry for food and love and acceptance…and could probably use a nap.

When I went back to work after nine years of being at home with my kids, my boss figured out what made me tick pretty quickly. I was overwhelmed by the job I had been tasked with, which required that I project manage the publishing of twenty-something online educational modules. Each module was in a different stage of development and there were a million details to remember. It felt like I was solely responsible for remembering each and every one. I must have looked at my boss with big eyes one day. Sensing my anxiety, she told me something that has always stayed with me. She said that I needed to think about those modules as my babies. Each one was on a different schedule and each one needed different things at different times, but she knew that I could handle it. She knew I would be okay because I knew how to be a mama. All I needed to do was be a mama to those modules.

I know that sounds weird, but for someone who felt insecure in the workplace, but totally confident in my ability to be a mom, that advice really resonated. I mommed those modules so hard. I got on top of that job and convinced our agency that we needed another person to help because the amount of work it took to be a good mama to those modules was not a part-time job by any stretch. Those modules needed two mamas. So we hired another person and together we took very good care of our module babies.

Mamas are heroic. Mamas get their hands dirty. They get up before everyone and are wiping down counters and prepping for tomorrow when everyone else is done for the day. They drive forgotten lunches to school. They know when someone hasn’t really washed their hands in the bathroom. They can sense when someone has had a bad day the minute they walk off the bus. Mamas can’t sleep if one of their babies is hurting or sick. They have a Spidey sense that jolts them awake the second a baby cries out in the night.

We are able to do all this stuff not because we are superhuman, but because we care so much. The heroic things we do to care for our families are just a by-product of the intense love we feel. We can’t help it.

My challenge for myself and anyone reading this (whether you are a mama or not) is to apply those mama superpowers to everything–everyone you encounter and the work you do in the world. Care so much that you can’t look the other way when someone is hurting. Care so much that you simply have to stop what you are doing and help someone in need. Care so much that you can’t not march at that rally, cheer at your friend’s race, volunteer to help kids learn to read, teach that Sunday School class, bring someone a meal. Do it because you love the world too much not to.

Be a mama to everything. Be a mama to yourself. Have you eaten any vegetables today? Do you need to get some rest? Are you hustling too much to please others and forgetting to fill your own cup? There is a baby inside of you too and that baby needs rest and food and a little tucking in. Caring for others when you are not caring for yourself is like taking a tired, hungry toddler to Target—you could do it, but it probably won’t go well.

Are you anxious? Stressed? Stretched too thin? Worried? Feeling shame about that thing you said or didn’t say, or that thing you ate or didn’t eat? Try to imagine what you would say to your own baby girl if she felt those things. You are okay. You are more than okay, you are amazing! Look at all the things you do so well. You are so much more than this thing you are focusing on. You are valuable and worthy of all the love and kindness in the world. Stop beating yourself up, baby girl. Now, say those things to yourself.

Our world is a mess. It needs us to love on it and clean it up. Our world needs one of those crazy cleaning sessions you do when company is coming in an hour and you are suddenly a force of cleaning wizardry. It needs us to smile at strangers and look at them with light and joy in our eyes, to let that person with his blinker on merge. For the love of God, let the people merge! It needs us to pay for the coffee of the person in line behind us, to feed someone who is hungry, to walk with someone who is hurting, to listen to someone who needs to talk.

Be a mama to everything. And let others be a mama to you. See how it changes you and filters everything you see through a curtain of gauzy love that brings you to tears with how much goodness there is in the world, how much kindness and humor and joy.

In some ways the world is a place only a mother could love. So let’s go love it. Like a mother.


But First Tacos

but first tacos

Photo credit: 5thandGraceCo

 

You know how they say put the oxygen mask on yourself first? Well, the same is true for tacos. You can’t be a good you on an empty tummy. But it’s hard to find time to feed yourself in the midst of the tornado that is getting everyone out the door each morning.

Well I have a solution for all you hangry mamas out there!

This is going to sound like a pretty obvious tip, but it took me a while to figure this out and since I have started doing this one thing, I save a good 30 minutes making and cleaning up breakfast everyday. That’s like a good 3 and a half hours a week!

Are you ready for me to reveal my tip?

You sure?

Okay. Here it is. All I do is make a bunch of bacon and scrambled eggs at one time and then reheat them throughout the week to have an easy, delicious breakfast ready in seconds. I know, not exactly earth shattering in its originality, but I have been making breakfast for a long, long time and it just recently occurred to me to do this. So it made me think maybe others have not discovered this little nugget of efficiency.

I like to put my eggs and bacon on a corn tortilla and plop a little salsa or guacamole on top. One time I had leftover pork chops (the ones from my 30-day meal plan), and so I sliced up one of those bad boys and put it on top of my eggs instead of bacon. Whoa. It was good. You could also make a big batch of frozen hash browns and add those to the mix. I am happy with just simple bacon and eggs, but sometimes I add a little grated cheese if I am feeling fancy.

Here’s how I make bacon the super easy, no muss, no fuss way. 

IMG_1075

  1. Cover a large sheet pan with heavy duty foil.
  2. Set an oven-safe cooling rack on top of it.
  3. Line your bacon up on the cooling rack so that the grease can drip down onto the foil-lined pan.
  4. Bake at 420 for 10-20 minutes, depending on how you like your bacon. I like mine crispy, so I leave it in there longer. *Confession: I have a tendency to burn bacon. It’s my one flaw.
  5. Let things cool down before trying to dispose of the foil. Letting the grease cool down and solidify a little makes clean up less likely to give you a third degree burn.

 

 

While the bacon’s cooking, make your eggs:

IMG_1079

  1. Crack however many eggs you think you’ll need into a bowl. I usually do six at a time.
  2. Over low heat, melt a tablespoon of butter in a nonstick pan. I also give the pan a little spritz of cooking spray for good measure.
  3. While the butter is melting, whisk your eggs until they are all mixed together and are basically one solid color.

IMG_1081

 

 

 

 

I mean, look at that action shot.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pour eggs into the pan and gently start to lift and fold them gently with a rubber spatula. Lift and fold. Lift and fold.

The goal is to not let any eggs stay in one spot too long and get brown.

Brown scrambled eggs=gross scrambled eggs.

Don’t forget to add a little salt and pepper. I think it’s easier to season the eggs once they’re in the pan. You can get a better idea of how much salt and pepper you really need when they’re all spread out as opposed to when they’re in a bowl.

Keep cooking on low heat until they are as done as you like em. The big thing to remember is slow and low is the key to cooking eggs. Slow and low…that is the tempo. You want to lovingly coax them into luscious scrambledness. This cannot be rushed.

Let your eggs cool and pack them up for easy living all week.

Once you’ve got your eggs and bacon at the ready, you can have a quick, yummy, filling breakfast in minutes with no mess to clean up. Like I said, I like to make a taco by microwaving a tortilla with a little cheese topped with eggs and bacon. I microwave it for about 45 seconds and then I eat it standing up over my kitchen sink like an animal.

You could also toast an english muffin, microwave the eggs and bacon separately and then build a little breakfast sandwich. Yum. Or just eat them as eggs and bacon with a little toast. Feel free to mix it up. Add some veggies. Slice up some avocado. Once you have your base of eggs and bacon, you can do with them as you choose and it really doesn’t add much time to the equation.

Side note: Supposedly the way you like your eggs says something about your personality.

So, if you could only eat eggs one way forever, which way would you choose?

Did you say scrambled, like me? Here’s what that means, according to the internet: 

You’re a loyal friend to the end! Conservative, but always friendly and inclusive of others –– not the life of the party, but always at the party. Sometimes really bland, but whatever — people still like you so who cares.

Yay.

I don’t care if I’m a little boring. You over-easy people can have your wild parties and mucousy eggs. I’m scrambled eggs for life.

So sometimes, you will find yourself in the position I was in today. My bacon and egg stash had run dry, and I didn’t have time to make more. What could I eat…what could I eat….

Well, necessity really is the mother of invention because today I invented what I believe to be the next big thing…

IMG_1074

Yep, that’s a waffle taco. And it was delicious. And there was fruit, y’all, so it was healthy.

All you do to make this amazing handful of self care is toast a blueberry waffle. Swipe on a scant amount of Nutella. Just the tiniest amount. Like, so little, it doesn’t even register on My Fitness Pal. It’s like you basically didn’t even eat any Nutella at all. Pile on some blueberries and fold it in half. Voila! You have made an entirely different, but equally yummy breakfast taco.

So, what do y’all like to eat for breakfast? I would love to hear if you can top my waffle taco. It gets a ten out of ten for both easiness and deliciousness, but it needs a better name. Maybe we should call it… Wacco? Taffle? I need your thoughts on this.

Love,

Elizabeth

 

 

 

 


One Meal Plan and Done: A Month of Easy Family Dinners

Something happens after you turn 40. Well, a lot happens, much of which I won’t go into now, but one thing that I have noticed now that I’m 43 is that I think about time so much more than I used to.

Once you get up on top of that 40 hill, you can see clearly. You were climbing, climbing, climbing for the first four decades of your life, and now you’re up on top looking out over everything and going, wow, this is amazing! My life is pretty awesome! I still feel good (hopefully)! And I’m not clawing my way up this mountain trying to prove myself anymore. I’m here. I’m enough. And I have perspective. I can see ahead of me and behind me. I can use the tools that got me here to keep getting better and stronger and driving forward. But not because I’m hustling for others’ approval, because I now can see what’s important, what I care about most.

I love being in my 40s. I’ll take the gray hairs and the weird lines on my neck and creaky knees if it means I can have that mountaintop view of life. No contest.

I’m not nearly as concerned with appearance or external success as I used to be, but what I am a tiny bit obsessed with now is time and how I use it. I now see time as a finite thing. I of course knew that before I turned 40, but now I feel it. I hear it like a jungle drum beating constantly in the distance. There is only so much time to do the things I want to do, and it makes me hyper-aware of what I’m doing with each minute.

So what does this have to do with meal planning? I thought there were going to be recipes, you’re saying to yourself.

Planning a month of meals at a time saves me time. Not just a few hours here and there, but exponential amounts of time. That’s time that I can use to train for a marathon, write a novel, garden, volunteer at school, be a good friend, sister, aunt, wife, daughter, mom. You know, big stuff from my life list that is way more fun and important than going to the grocery store.

Also meal planning saves us money. Since I started sticking to a meal plan, I only go to the grocery store once a week. (Every time you walk into the grocery store, you buy more than just what you came for, so staying away as much as possible means you spend less.) But the big way we save money is by not eating out. We can easily blow $50 feeding our family of 5 by eating out. And that’s fine if it’s a treat that we are all excited to enjoy. But if we spend that kind of money just because I forgot for the third time in a week that I can’t drive and make dinner at the same time…then that is not a treat. That just hurts.

But really my main motivator is saving time. I want hungry people to be fed, family dinners to be a priority, and I refuse to spend hours upon hours making this happen every week.

So before I reveal my arsenal of dinners, I have a few tips:

Tip #1: Use Google sheets to create your meal plan, then add your grocery lists as additional tabs at the bottom of your sheet. 

You can see in the screenshot below I have created a Google sheet with my dinners plugged into a calendar. Then, at the bottom of my meal spreadsheet calendar thing, I have different tabs for each week’s grocery list. This is where things get really nerdy and amazing. I can just re-use these grocery lists each week for the rest of my life if I want to. Or I can copy and paste and tweak them if I want to change up the rotation a bit. And I can always see and edit them, because I can access my Google drive from my phone. OMG, I know.

Screen Shot 2018-09-04 at 1.26.47 PM

Here’s my week 1 grocery list. It includes stuff other than just what I need for dinners obviously. I needed cilantro twice apparently. But only once did I need it to be capitalized.

Screen Shot 2018-09-04 at 2.00.52 PM

Tip #2: Add your meals to your digital calendar.

Once you’ve got the above setup, you can add your dinners to your Google calendar or whatever calendar you use. This will help you see that, oops, Back to School night is on Tuesday and it’s not a good night for that super complicated recipe you clipped out of Food and Wine magazine.

So without further ado, I am sharing a month’s worth of dinners my whole family will happily eat. I am breaking these dinners up into categories so that you can plug them into your specific schedule. For example, if you know you have a crazy driving day on Wednesdays, pick a meal from the slow-cooker category. You will feel like a genius when you roll into your driveway at 6:30 with a hot meal ready to be dished out to hungry loved ones.

So here’s what’s for dinner at my house this month:

Slow-cooker/Instant Pot Meals

Make-Ahead Dinners

  • Spaghetti with meat sauce: Brown 1 lb ground beef and 1 lb ground mild italian sausage. Drain fat. Add 3 cloves of chopped garlic and cook with ground meat for 30 seconds. Add half a cup of wine (any wine or no wine is fine) and cook until almost all the liquid has evaporated.  Add 24-oz jar of Rao’s marinara sauce + 1 8 0z can of (unseasoned) tomato sauce + 1 tablespoon of Italian seasoning + tablespoon of sugar + salt and pepper to taste. Let everything simmer for as long as you have. Add water if sauce seems too thick. Serve with pasta and any veggie your kids will eat!
  • Lasagna (Make extra spaghetti sauce and freeze half for lasagna night. Woo! I use whatever recipe comes on the box of lasagna noodles.)
  • Chicken and dumplings (Make your own stock with a whole chicken or use a rotisserie chicken with store-bought stock. You are your own boss!) I have concocted what I believe to be the perfect chicken and dumplings recipe. Sorry, I need to figure out how to share recipes on WordPress. Once I do that I will share that in another post. Stay tuned!

Sheet Pan Dinners

  • Sausage with Roasted Vegetables: slice up your favorite sausage (I like Pederson’s), add chunks of red onion, and veggies, toss with olive oil and salt and pepper and roast for 20ish minutes on 425.
  • Sheet Pan Meatballs with Crispy Turmeric Chickpeas

Dinners You Can Make With Your Eyes Closed*

  • Crispy Tacos=ground beef + Old El Paso seasoning + Crispy taco shells + fixings
  • Fish Tacos=frozen battered fish fillets + southwestern salad in a bag + tortillas + fixings
  • Grilled Chicken=I actually make this in a pan, not on the grill. Sprinkle salt, pepper, and season salt on the chicken. Add a tablespoon of olive oil and a tablespoon of butter to the pan. Cook on medium high heat on both sides until done. For extra thick chicken breasts, consider cutting them in half lengthwise to make them thinner. Better seasoning to chicken ratio that way. And they’ll cook faster.
  • BBQ Chicken=See above method for grilled chicken but add barbecue sauce to chicken at the end and throw it in a 425 degree oven to let it caramelize a little.
  • Homemade Pizza**=buy a ball of fresh dough from a pizza place near you and flip and toss it around like you made that thing yourself. Or make it yourself using this recipe that is super easy, but just takes some time for the dough to rise. For anyone still reading this, you are awesome, and please know that an envelope of yeast is equal to 2 and 1/4 teaspoons.
  • Baked potato night. The potato is your canvas. Get creative. Expert moms have baked potato night after BBQ chicken night and put leftover BBQ chicken on their potatoes. Just sayin.
  • Quesadillas=tortilla, cheese, other tortilla. Put them in a pan and melt the cheese. We are a simple folk and don’t need anything else but a little guacamole to make this a meal. But you will likely have extra pulled chicken or pulled pork sitting around at some point, so just think about that. Don’t cook more. Cook smart!

Dinners You Can Outsource. For us Sunday night is usually Daddy-grills night. Yay!

  • Grilled hamburgers
  • Grilled hotdogs
  • Grilled anything. I don’t care because I am not cooking!

Fancy-ish Dinners that Make You Feel Special

*Don’t do that. Just saying these are really easy meals.

**We eat pizza once a week, which is how this meal plan stretches to be a month’s worth of dinners.

It’s a little embarrassing how excited my month-long meal plan makes me, but I don’t care. I will shout about my meal plan from the top of my 40-something hill.

This kind of stuff used to seem unimportant, like if I had nothing else to do I might get into meal planning if I felt like it. Now I see how much of an impact doing a little planning can have on the rest of my life. I estimate that I used to spend at least 3-5 hours a week planning what to make for dinner. Between looking online for recipes, making lists, and going to the grocery store multiple times a week, the time really adds up. Now, that I have a system that works, I spend only the time it takes to go to the grocery store one time once a week. The rest is already done. It blows my mind.

How do you get dinner on the table every night? Do you have any tips or tricks that keep the meal train chugging along? Please share!

Love,

Elizabeth

 

 


What are you going to create?

I was prepping for teaching Adam and Eve to 4th grade boys in Sunday School, and I came across this video by Rob Bell that totally shifted my perspective about this story.
I have always had a hard time with Adam and Eve. It’s not a fun story. God makes this beautiful, perfect thing in one chapter and in the next humans have completely ruined it forever. It is not how I like to see the world, or people, or God.
We are Adam and Eve. We have been given this beautiful, perfect life. What are we going to do with it? We have a choice. We can choose to create something good or something destructive. It’s a new day, a new week, a new month and you have a choice. What do you choose to create?

How to Win at Back to School

back to school conceptual creativity cube

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

There are two types of moms out there—the ones who never want summer to end, and the ones who start planning for the fall in July. As much as I’d like to believe I am an endless summer fun mom, I am decidedly not. I like structure, a quiet house, and people learning things from professional teachers. My kids actually really like school too. We are all much happier once school starts.

I want to share a few things I’ve picked up along the way that help us live our best back to school lives.

Treat Back-to-School like it’s New Year’s. Have the whole family come up with resolutions (goals) for the school year. Whether it’s learning a new instrument, trying out for a new sport, making straight A’s…harness those New School Year vibes and make some goals. Talk to your kids about coming up with goals that are within their control (tryout for the soccer team vs. make the soccer team) and that are measurable (read all 20 Bluebonnet books by December vs get better at reading). Don’t forget to make goals for yourself and share your goals with your kids. Somehow my kids did not realize I was writing a novel until I shared recently that my New School Year goal was to finish my novel by January. It was motivating to share that goal with the kids and get their encouragement.

Think about setting three big goals in three different categories (personal, professional, family). Be real about what you can do each day to accomplish those goals. This translates to looking at how much time you have and how much time it takes to accomplish your goals. When I really looked at what it would take to finish my novel by January, that translated to writing 10 pages a week, which meant I needed to carve out two hours a day every weekday for that goal. And I needed to do that at a time of day when I’m not totally brain dead. Which leads me to my next tip…

Make a schedule and be realistic about where your time is going. Look at drop off times, pick up times, soccer practice, after-school tutoring, gymnastics, church youth group. Write down everything you will be doing in a week in some sort of calendar—you could make one yourself, bullet journal style, or use a printed Google calendar set to a weekly view. But I would recommend using paper and pencil to write down a master calendar with what is happening every day at what time. Don’t forget to add the driving time. The amount of time I spend driving is always a shock to me. And it is a huge reminder about why it’s so hard to figure out family dinners during the school year. So much of my time between 4-6 is spent in the car on weekdays. This year I actually wrote down what time we need to eat dinner each day to accommodate all of our activities. The timing of everything then led to my next tip…

Make a weekly meal plan that aligns with your driving schedule. Refer to your weekly schedule. If you have to be in the car during prime dinner-making hours every Tuesday, then that is not a good night to make a dinner that requires a lot of time and babysitting. Plan to make a slow-cooker meal on days when you know you will be out all afternoon. I love to wing it in the kitchen, so this has been a hard lesson for me to learn, but, man, once I started doing this, I felt like I had cracked the dinner code. I actually went next level this month and made a month-long meal plan, which I’m going to share in my next post. Stay tuned for that.

And while I am loving having a plan, and I think plans are super helpful, I do want to add that they should serve you and not the other way around. Which brings me to my last and probably most important tip…

Be flexible. The older my children get (I have a freshman, 7th grader and 4th grader), the more I learn that parenting is not about enforcing my will and plans on them but about listening to their needs and desires and adjusting as necessary. I try to plan my time and schedule as much as I can so that I can be available for those last-minute crises that pop up, or to host spur-of-the moment study sessions or playdates or trips to get a frappuccino  when they’ve had a bad day. I am so not perfect at this. I screw this stuff up all the time, but my intent is to be able to provide a soft place for my kids to fall when life is hard. And it’s impossible to do that if you are super rigid about sticking to a routine at all costs.

So that’s how we not only survive, but THRIVE now that school is in session. I’m sure there are a lot of other new school year tips and tricks out there that I haven’t thought of. I’d love to hear what works for your family!

Happy New School Year!

Love,

Elizabeth


Nailed It!

Lately I have been thinking a lot about the following questions:

What would you do if you didn’t have to do it perfectly?

If you dared to be a beginner, what would you try?

What’s something you would never try but sounds like fun? 

I read those questions in A Book That Takes Its Time: An Unhurried Adventure in Creative Mindfulness, (love this book!) but they originally appeared in the Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. (haven’t read this book, but have always meant to!)

I especially love the first question because I am a perfectionist, which for me translates into either not finishing or not even attempting a lot of things. If I never finish something, it will never be done incorrectly or fall short of what my vision of it was. If I never attempt it, I can never fail. It’s a foolproof method except it keeps me from doing a lot of the things I really want to do, like host dinner parties, finish my novel, write this blog, landscape my yard, etc.

It’s frustrating because a lot of what’s most important to me, a lot of what’s on my life list, is stuff I’m afraid to fully pursue because I’m afraid If I really go after it, I’ll just mess it up. So it keeps me stuck in this loop of wanting to do something that I ultimately don’t do because I am afraid to fail. Very annoying.

So, how do I get off this self-defeating merry-go-round and actually make some progress towards my goals?

This is going to seem like a weird transition, but stay with me. Have you seen the new Netflix show “Nailed It!”? My kids and I have been cry-laughing over this show. On “Nailed It!” inexperienced but enthusiastic bakers attempt to make impossibly difficult cakes and cookies with hilarious results. Here’s a description of a scene from the show from a recent New Yorker article:

 “I don’t mean to laugh, but your princess is terrifying,” Byer says to a contestant named Toni. She’s doubled over in laughter in front of the final reveal: a collapsed phallus of a castle tower made of underbaked vanilla cake coated in liver-beige frosting. The princess is demonic: a disembodied ball of fondant perched on one of the layers, with giant, staring white eyes, two snakelike nostrils poked in with a toothpick, and long blond hair that snakes down the buttercream walls like lumpy, overlong Cheetos.”

Image result for nailed it show images

There is something about the earnestness of the contestants trying to make these incredibly challenging cakes that just cracks us up and brings us pure JOY. It is so refreshing to see other people struggle and NOT accomplish what they set out to do, but have the ability to genuinely laugh about it right along with the audience.

I wish I could bring the Nailed It! attitude to accomplishing my goals. This, I think, would be the antidote to my perfectionism.

After all, the stakes are only as big as they are in my head. I think my perfectionist brain lies to me and tells me the stakes are enormous, that everything depends upon the outcome of whatever it is I attempt to do, whether it be writing a book or having people over for dinner. When really it’s about the process. I like the process of writing. I like the process of cooking and being hospitable. Doing these things makes me happy and helps me feel connected to other people. Why am I denying myself the pleasure of doing something that makes me happy?

I’ll tell you why. Because perfectionism is whispering in my ear, telling me it could be a disaster. It could be humiliating. Some dinner guest might wander into the wrong room and see that we actually live like a pack of animals, and the rest of the house was just cleaned up for the benefit of outsiders. My toilet might overflow and send a river of toilet water down the stairs (this actually happened at an office Christmas party I hosted. Still trying to laugh about it.) The food could be terrible and we’d have to order takeout. The book could get a bad review and it would make me cry. My blog might be trolled by Donald Trump. “There are so many things that could go wrong! Better not to try at all,” perfectionism warns.

And I totally believe all of this. This all sounds very plausible and like solid advice. So I don’t do the things that scare me. And everything stays very safe, and for the most part nothing bad happens because I haven’t risked anything.

But then again nothing happens.

And the thing is I want stuff to happen. I want to accomplish the goals that have been on my New Years Resolution lists for the past decade. I’m forty-something now. One day I will be really mad at myself if I don’t do some of the stuff I always meant to do. And there’s no telling when that one day will be. It could be a long time from now or it could be sooner.

Perfectionism has literally gotten me nowhere. It’s time to listen to a different voice.

It’s all about the story you tell yourself. I have been telling myself a pretty intense story. My current story is like Mission Impossible, where everything depends on me and the stakes are very high and I’d better not mess it up or else the whole world could blow up. The Nailed It! story is way on the other end of the spectrum. Nothing is at stake. Maybe you could win $10,000 if you are the winner, but that’s like a bonus. Nothing bad will happen if you are not the winner. And either way you will have had a blast and probably spent some time doubled over in laughter. So why not give it a shot?

If I could just scooch my story a little further towards the Nailed It! side of the spectrum and away from Mission Impossible, I think I would be much happier and get a lot more accomplished. So that’s my new goal.

Back to the original question I’ve been pondering: What would you do if you didn’t have to do it perfectly?

The answer is anything I want. Everything. Because nothing is ever going to be perfect and that’s ok. It’s not just ok, it’s wonderful! It’s such a relief. It’s the kind of news that makes me want to cry happy tears.

What’s the story you tell yourself? Do you struggle with perfectionism? What would you do if you didn’t have to do it perfectly? I’d love to hear.

Nailed it!

Elizabeth

 

 


Goals Part 2: What’s on your life list?

 

My friend Meredith is such an inspiration to me in so many ways. One way I want to be more like her is to be the kind of person who gets up early and journals. Meredith gets up early every day and writes all of her prayers, her worries, her goals in one place. It’s more than a habit for her. It’s a daily spiritual practice that sets her compass on the things that matter most to her.

Recently I was talking to her about some worry I was having about one of my kids. I think it was something silly like a standardized test score, but at the time it was feeling like a big deal. She gently reminded me that everything she has heard me say about parenting rejects the idea of reducing kids’ achievements to how they perform on a test on a certain day. She reminded me of a Facebook picture I had posted recently of my boys hugging each other goodbye before one of them went away to camp.

IMG_0528

“That’s what you care about,” she said. “That picture. That’s who you are raising.”

Oh yeah. I forgot. She’s totally right.

But if Meredith hadn’t reminded me I might have spun myself into a little shame cyclone, and you know my kids would have had to bear the brunt of all that craziness. I mean, I had already gone out that day and bought a workbook. Who knows what other tiger mom shenanigans I was capable of if left to my own spinning, anxiety-fueled thoughts? Instead, Meredith was able to help me steer my rudder back to what I actually care about–raising loving kids who love each other–and focus on that.

She told me that on the inside cover of her journal she always writes a list of what she hopes to accomplish. These aren’t goals that you cross off of a to-do list. Meredith’s list is basically a catalog of what she values above all else, so that when she gets herself worked up about something and feels lost, she can go back to her list and see clearly again. She can remember, oh right, this is what I care about.

Here is Meredith’s journal that she very kindly shared with me and gave me permission to share with you.

FullSizeRender.jpg

I am calling this a “life list” because I want to distinguish it from just a normal to-do list.

I love this list so much. I want to steal all of Meredith’s things because they are what I want too, but I feel like this would be cheating, so I decided to create my own life list. Like Meredith I am starting each sentence with “I want.”

My life list:

  1. I want to make the people around me feel safe and loved exactly as they are.
  2. I want to show the love and grace God has shown to me to others.
  3. I want to connect with nature by gardening, hiking, trail running, and being outside as much as possible.
  4. I want to take care of my body by eating foods that fuel me and by exercising regularly.
  5. I want to use my love for writing to connect with other people and feel known.
  6. I want to raise children who know they are loved by their parents and by God no matter what they achieve, or do, or don’t do.
  7. I want to raise children who love their neighbors as themselves and who use their gifts to make the world better than they found it.
  8. I want my actions to reflect that God is at the center of my life.

Now the nerd in me really wants to make an algorithm out of this list. Something with lots of boxes and arrows that I can pull out whenever I want to take on a new goal. But Teddy is waiting for me to finish this post so we can go to the library. I will have to geek out another time.

But I would encourage you to make your own life list. These are the big things you want to accomplish with your life. The values you care about most. Not to be morbid, but think of this as a list of what you will care about most when you are taking your last breaths.

Eek. Pretty heavy stuff. But I did say you should always start at the end when making a new goal, right? 

When you want to start on the journey towards accomplishing a new goal, first check that this goal aligns with what you truly value and what you want your life to be about. Because what’s the point of chasing a dream that in the end doesn’t line up with who you want to be?

Ok, off to the library now.

Please share your life list with me! I would love to be inspired by you! You can comment below or on my facebook page.

Happy list-making!

Love,
Elizabeth