I Give You Permission to Quit Trying So Hard

I love the early morning.  Before the girls became a part of our life, I used to wake up early just to experience the peace and quiet of life before daylight and hustle crashed in. It was during those quiet hours that I had the leisure to think my thoughts as they came; untidy, unfiltered, and unpolished.

I still rise early, but it's to be able to have time to brush my teeth and throw on some clothes before the mad rush of the day begins.  Some mornings, as I look back at the woman whose face I see in the mirror, I think, "Man, she's gotten old." 

I notice all the imperfections I see there.  The tired eyes, the fine lines and wrinkles that seem to multiply daily, the haggard look of a woman in her fifties with a whole lot on her plate.  On those mornings, it is so easy to doubt.  Easy to doubt God, easy to doubt His plan that includes me raising babies all over again; easy to doubt my ability to do it well, do it again.

But most mornings, I rise early, brush my teeth, throw on a bra, a t-shirt and some jeans, rake my fingers through my hair and think to myself, "You look pretty damn good for an old lady, Carol Jones."

Then I dash upstairs to greet the day and the two beautiful little girlies who await my morning greeting.

Amidst the frenzied pace of getting them dressed, fed and off to school, I am often caught off-guard by my reflection.  Not the one I see in the mirror, but the one I see in them.  Turns out, some mornings they, too, notice the tired, doubting version of me.  And other mornings, they delight in the me who is ready to conquer the day.

I've been thinking about my reflection a lot lately, because the me I see reflected in them is a much clearer reflection than the me I see in the mirror.  What my children learn and receive and hear and see in me; they will practice those things, they will reflect those things. 

All that to say,  I'm not trying to pressure myself into becoming a perfect mom so that my kids will reflect that.  I'm giving myself permission to relax, take life a little slower, a little easier, let some things go that aren't really important anyway, and let *that* version of me be the reflection I see in them.

And just in case you need it, I give you permission to quit trying so hard as well. What do you say, you in?

Photo by Shauna Maness Photography

Quit Making Resolutions You Won't Keep and Instead Carry Your Strengths into 2014

Ahhh resolutions.  We love to make them, fail to keep them, and discard them as quickly and as carelessly as we made them in the first place.

But it's the new year.  Aren't we *supposed* to make resolutions? Aren't we supposed to take a look back at all that we didn't get accomplished last year and make a plan to do it right, to do it better this year?

You know, out with the old, in with the new . . . that's how the saying goes after all.

But what if instead of focusing on all that we didn't get accomplished in 2013, we started the new year with a celebration of all that we did well, focusing on our strengths, and making a plan to use those strengths in an even new and better way.

What if old became the new new?

What if the celebration of "Old" was the thing to do each New Year's day instead of making resolutions we know we will never keep?

Today, I'm going to dump the marbles of 2013 out on the table and look for the patterns I see there, making a note of strengths I see in myself and my family members.  And then, I'm going to spend some time thinking about how to use those strengths in a new and better way in 2014.

All that to say, out with the new and in with the old. I'm celebrating the joy and strength of 2013 and carrying those things forward into 2014.  Who's with me?