Monthly Archives: October 2018

Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone

Have you ever done something that was out of your comfort zone? My guess is more than likely, at one time or another, you have.

Maybe it was traveling by yourself for the first time? Or going into your first job interview? What about having your first baby? Or the moment you realize they are actually going to send this tiny human home with you just 48 hours after birth? That was a big one for me. I vividly remember crying to the nurse as we were going through the discharge paperwork. What would we do with this precious little baby (who seemed incredibly vulnerable to the dangers of the world, might I add) when we got home? Talk about being out of your comfort zone.

Yes, I have been out of my comfort zone a time or two (or lots.) It may not have been pleasant in the moment, but the end result is usually the same – growth.

I recently experienced one of these uncomfortable growth moments. A friend of mine, Amber Sandberg, has an incredible podcast called the Mom Inspired Show, and I was scheduled to be a guest.

Ironically, I am the one who asked her about being on the show. It sounded like a lot of fun, until the day before it was scheduled. Then all of those, “What are you doing?” and “You can’t do this” monsters tried to sneak in and steal my joy.

I can write all day long, but unedited speaking that other people are going to be listening to? Gulp. When I write, I have the ability to edit. I can go back and add words, remove and rearrange sentences and even delete it all if the mood strikes. This is not the case with a podcast.

After a couple of minutes, I realized Amber was right (which shouldn’t have come as a surprise given this was her 105th episode.) It was just as she had described, two friends chatting.

The topic of conversation, friendship, is near and dear to my heart – so it was easy to talk about.

Amber and I are both midwest girls who relocated to a suburb of Nashville. She moved over a decade ago, and I moved a year ago. We met at MOPS last year and learned that our Birthdays are just one day a part, and to top it off – we were both about to turn 40. Instant connection.

In the podcast, we talk about moving, seasons of life, the challenges of developing and building relationships with the demands of motherhood, the importance of showing up, vulnerability, different personalities and self-awareness – all under the umbrella of friendship.

It was so much fun. Prior to the call, I was nervous and felt like this was completely outside of my wheelhouse, and by the time it was over – I was hungry for more. I absolutely loved being on her show and quickly asked if I could come back as a guest again.

What started as uncomfortable, ended up being an opportunity for growth and self-discovery that I’m incredibly grateful for.

Interestingly enough, the more I thought about my feelings – I realized the discomfort I felt in trying something new can be a kin to how it feels when pursuing new relationships. Finding friends means being willing to, at times, be uncomfortable.

Joining a mom’s group or a Bible study may not be comfortable. Being the first to say “hello” and introduce yourself to someone may not be comfortable. Asking a potential friend to go on a walk, or share a cup of coffee, may not be comfortable. Having 20 interrupted conversations with someone you are just getting to know at the park while you are watching your kids may not be comfortable. Opening up and beginning to share your past with someone may not be comfortable.

There is a lot about friendship that has the potential to take us outside of our comfort zone, but it is so worth it. I truly believe we are made for connection and the more deep and meaningful relationships we have in our life, the more fulfilling life becomes.

Here is my podcast debut with the very talented Amber Sandberg. You should totally check it out and while you are on the site, I highly recommend listening to her other podcasts as well. They are fantastic.

Click here to listen: http://mominspiredshow.com/why-friends-are-important-and-how-to-find-them-jennifer-thompson-105/

I hope you enjoy the show!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Skating Toward Plan C

Have you ever set out to do something and it didn’t turn out the way you planned? I would have to imagine so. That’s just part of living. Isn’t it?

That’s why we say things like, “Go with the flow” and “Roll with the punches.”

For example, you’re getting ready to head to the gym and get a call to pick up your sick child from school. So you do a workout video instead. You plan to make meatloaf, reach for the oats in the pantry and find an empty container. So you make spaghetti. You’re on your way to an appointment and your tire goes flat. So you reschedule.

The ever reliable Plan B, C, or D is like the boy and girl standing against the wall waiting for their turn to be chosen during the Rockin’ Robin at the roller rink (yes, that was a very specific memory from my childhood that I just randomly tossed in there because it made me smile.) You might be skating toward A all sweaty-palmed and nervous when someone goes flying past you like a bolt of lightening. How do they skate so fast? They beat you to it. So what do you do? Do you pout off like a baby and spend the rest of the day at the pinball machines? No. You pull up your skate strings and adjust course. And lucky you – look at all of the other incredible, and possibly even better, options waiting for you to grab them by the hand.

This is how it is with life. Plan. Adjust. Plan. Adjust. Plan. Adjust.

Skate toward your goal and if something happens to throw you off – stay calm and make another lap until you figure out your next move. Before you know it you will be in a sweat-covered, awkward hand-holding skating session with a near stranger and all will be right with the world again.

I have made a lot of laps in my day.

And with each lap, I have learned the value of taking deep breaths, staying calm and realizing that just because something isn’t going my way – that doesn’t mean it’s the end of the world. In fact, it’s usually in those moments when things don’t go my way that I learn a little something about life – and myself.

Take, for example, a moment I had last week. I was standing on my back porch looking at our little yellow bistro table that resides in the corner. I love to decorate and am in a constant state of “What would look good there?” Which is exactly what was happening in my brain as I stood on the patio staring at the table. It needed something. But what?

A vase. That’s what. More specifically – a white vase.

Lucky for me, I happened to have a white vase that wasn’t being used at the time. Off I went into the closet under the stairs in search of the vase (and in search of Harry Potter – just kidding. But that would be super cool.) I retrieved the vase and took it outside where the unforgiving light of day revealed the white spray paint I had used years ago to cover the glossy light pink was slowly starting to chip off. It wasn’t a white vase anymore. It was now a white and pink speckled vase. Not at all what I was imagining when I was looking at the table and thinking, “What would look good there?” (Honestly, I don’t think the answer to that question will ever be a white and pink speckled vase.)

No worries. White spray paint worked before and it would work again. Unless we’re out. Which I quickly discovered we were. Ugh.

Now I realize in the grand scheme of life, wanting to paint a vase and not having paint isn’t really a big deal. At all. But the thing is, I had a plan. And I can be impatient. And a strange combination of extremely motivated and simultaneously lazy. Like in this instance, I was motivated enough to paint the vase, too lazy to go to the store to get paint and also too impatient to wait.

This vase was getting painted. Now.

Enter the ever-reliable, always waiting to be chosen – Plan B. I made my way upstairs for the acrylic paint. That’ll do. Except it wouldn’t do. I tried and it just didn’t look right.

Enter the ever-reliable, always waiting to be chosen – Plan C. I checked the garage and found some leftover chalkboard wall paint. Now this could be interesting.

I went outside and began painting, and with each stroke I remembered how much I love to paint. It had been awhile. The feeling of the brush in my hand ignited something in me. As I painted one stroke and then another, I began to notice I actually liked the way the paint looked as it went halfway down the vase. The lines from the brush reminded me of fringe on a scarf. I decided to leave the bottom half white.

After I finished, I felt very grateful we were out of white spray paint. Something that had frustrated me just moments before was now something to be grateful for. In the absence of the spray paint, I was reminded of how much I love the feeling of a brush in my hand and the creativity it sparks inside me.

I started to make plans for how to incorporate my love of art back into my life.

Plan C enriched my life way more than Plan A ever would have.

So whether you find yourself skating toward plan A without any obstacles in sight, or making your fifth lap around the rink – look for the joy. Look for the blessing. Look for the challenge. Look for the beauty. Look for the possibilities.

For me, that moment was about learning how to be okay when things don’t go my way. It’s about knowing sometimes the things that threaten to throw me off course, are exactly what I need to get me to the place I ultimately need to be. Sometimes beauty is waiting to be found in the most unexpected places. Sometimes all it takes is a house, void of spray paint, filled with unused paint brushes – waiting to be used again.

 

 

 

 

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Fake News

Last week, as I was preparing dinner, I found myself admiring the lovely pot of vegetables cooking on the stovetop. It was so lovely, that I couldn’t help but to grab my phone and snap a picture.

“This will look pretty on Instagram,” I thought to myself as I stirred. “Or maybe Facebook? I should familiarize myself with Snapchat. That may really be the best.”

Next, I sent a picture to my husband so he could see the healthy and visually-appealing meal we would be having that evening. I was completely tickled with myself.

As I was mentally preparing the words to go with this scrumptious post, it hit me – this was fake news!

This in no way, shape, or form represents the majority of the meals I put on the table. The night before, I made cream cheese and chicken stuffed crescent rolls. Prepackaged crescent rolls that I can’t imagine are horribly good for you. The meal was great and the kids gobbled it up, but not once did I think to snap a picture of the chicken squares to post on any, or all, forms of social media.

This got me thinking. Why not the chicken squares? Why the pot filled with a variety of delicious veggies? 

Because it’s about appearance – isn’t it? Social media is a platform for showing the people in our lives what we want them to see. We get to choose. Are they going to see the good? The bad? Or the in-between?

My guess is that most of us default toward the good – whether we realize it, or not.

I never once thought to take a picture of my chicken squares, but immediately thought to snap a shot of the veggie pot.

I also have never thought to snap pictures of myself when I’m bed-heady and puffy-eyed after a full night of sleep. Who would want to see that? No, thank you. The pictures I post are usually of something I have deemed exciting and worthy of sharing.

And if you think for one moment that I haven’t scrolled through every picture snapped in those few seconds to find the one where I think I look the best – you are wrong. I always choose the picture I think looks best.

Isn’t that why we hold the camera (or phone – excuse me) up (never down!) when we take pictures – because it supposedly makes us look more slender? Or why some people put their hands on their hips and lift a leg the minute someone says, “Cheese!”?

We want the best version of ourselves on display. That means the best-looking, most kind, healthy-eating, most amazing parent, brilliant, buttoned-up version of ourselves.

And that’s okay. This isn’t meant to shame all of you on social media who post your most beautiful pictures. Post away! You can bet your bottom dollar I’m doing the same. Remember how I started? I completely do this. In some ways, I have to imagine we all do.

I don’t think the problem is that we want to share pretty pictures – the problem is when we start to believe the pretty pictures completely and accurately portray every part of a person’s life.

Someone can look absolutely incredible through the lens of social media – and still have some major issues. Or minor. I mean – who doesn’t have issues? (If you responded with “Me,” that may be an issue. Just saying.)

I believe we need to guard our hearts and minds when we scroll through our feeds. And I believe we need to teach our children the same. What we see isn’t the full picture. We see what people want us to see. And there is a whole lot that goes on in the blank space – in those moments when nothing is being shared.

The most perfect looking couple still argues. The most beautiful looking woman still gets pimples. The most accomplished children still whine. The best cook still serves her children boxed mac and cheese (or at least I hope so – that stuff is good.) The person on a luxurious vacation had to spend a lot of money, and time, to get there.

Nobody is perfect. Sure, on social media, some people may look pretty close to perfect – but it’s just not true. We all fall short. We all mess up. We wake up bed-heady and puffy-eyed, without an ounce of make-up on (unless we forgot to take it off – and in that case it may be smeared all over your face.)

(Case in point – This is me, right now. I haven’t showered or brushed my hair and I am still in my pajamas. And it’s almost 2 in the afternoon.)

My pot of veggies nearly turned social media post reminded me of this truth. I need to be careful of how I view social media. And I also want to be authentic in how I portray myself. Does this mean I’m going to stop posting my favorite pictures? Um. No.

But what it does mean is that I am going to try to start sprinkling in some of the not-so-pretty stuff, too.

The stuff that says, “Hey. I’m human. I just burnt my toast and yelled at my kids. Some days I’m rocking it. And some days…..well, some days not so much.”

Because some days are prepackaged crescent roll days. And others are beautiful veggie pot days. It’s time to remember that both exist. For me, it’s time to start showing both.

 

 

(Disclaimer – I love the yummy looking, healthy meals that people post. They make me want to eat healthier and are super pretty, too. This is in no way saying those posts are bad. They are awesome. Keep doing your healthy food post thing. I just realized for me, in that moment, it wasn’t an accurate portrayal of who I am. That’s all.)

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Thank You, Brave Women

Whether Democrat or Republican, liberal or conservative – I have to believe whatever side you lean toward – you can agree with this. Assault of any form is not okay.

In our core, as humans, we know this to be true. Or at least, I surely hope so.

This isn’t a political issue – it’s a human issue.

Regardless of what you think about Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford – can we agree on the bravery of the women who have come forward in the past months to share their personal stories of sexual abuse and assault?

Can we agree it takes a tremendous amount of courage to publicly relive those moments of pain and suffering?

It saddens me to say, most women I know can tell about about a time in their life when they have felt sexually violated. Some have openly shared their stories with many – others with only a select few.

Tragically, these tales of abuse are far too common. Do you know what else is far too common? The silence. What else? The belief that the victim somehow did something to cause this to happen. The belief that she is at fault for the abuse suffered at the hands of another person.

When people ask why someone did not come forward sooner, I have to believe they have never been a victim of sexual abuse themselves. Because if you have, sadly, you understand all too well why it would take someone so long. You also understand why someone may choose to never come forward, but instead to keep their stories buried deep within – never to be spoken aloud to another soul.

Because when the victim finally has the courage to tell their story, and when the words are finally spoken – the response of those listening has the potential to be devastating. And I believe it is this potential that keeps so many from speaking.

Imagine this scenario: You are finally ready to share your story. You open your mouth. The images flash before your eyes. The words fall out and fill the open space between you and the person with whom you are openly reliving this life-altering moment. And what happens? Nothing. Even worse, what if they don’t believe you? What if they mock you? What if they insult your family, and your loved ones? What about your children? How will they suffer because you have come forward with this truth?

This is a he-said/she-said situation and without proof (which is usually the case) the victim is called a liar (in so many words), or asked what she did to cause the attack to happen in the first place?

Kind of makes sense, doesn’t it? In a world where there seems to be a double standard for sexual conduct. Boys will be boys, right? Boys receive fist-bumps and high-fives for their sexual prowess while girls are labeled “easy” and “slutty.”

I hope this is not how most would respond. I hope the response of most would be shared tears. A warm embrace. A thank you for the courage it took to come forward, and for the trust it took to share. An I’m sorry you went through this. I’m sorry you suffered in silence. I’m sorry you felt you had to hold that inside for so long.

I have three daughters and my hope is that, when it comes to sexual abuse, they will grow up in a world that is vastly different than the one where I grew up.

I want them to know that no matter how they dress, or what they say, or if they have one too many drinks some evening – that doesn’t mean they are asking for it.

I want them to know that “no” and “stop” mean exactly that. It doesn’t matter if they yell it, speak it, or barely whisper it. Those words are definitive. They are black and white. There is no gray looming anywhere in between those words. If someone hears those words and chooses not to listen – they are wrong. Point blank.

I want them to know that if they should ever ask a boy up to their room one evening, and then decide they want him to leave – he needs to leave. I want them to know that even if they have messed around with this boy before, that doesn’t give him free reign to her use her body however, and whenever, he would like. I want them to know that if, God forbid, something ever happens to them – that it isn’t their fault.

I not only want this for my daughters, I want this for all women. And men. Because men can be victims of sexual abuse, too. Let’s not forget that.

And for my son – I want him to grow up in a world where women are cherished, valued and respected. One where they are no longer viewed as sexual objects. I want him to know how to treat women and how to stand up for what is right. I want him to grow up in a world where the “boys will be boys” mentality is a thing of the past.

I believe one of the beautiful things to come from the #MeToo movement is seeing the avalanche affect. One woman comes forward and it empowers another, and another, and another, and another. Suddenly, we are not alone. Suddenly, we have found our voices. The thought that nobody will believe me is now replaced with hope. The thought that it was my fault is now replaced with the knowledge and understanding that it was not my fault. The second-guessing and wondering are replaced with confidence.

When one person finds their voice – so does another. 

Thank you, brave women, for coming forward. Thank you for being willing to relive moments that I would imagine have haunted you for years. Thank you for having the courage to come forward, even with the knowledge that you may be publicly ridiculed and picked apart for sharing your truth. Thank you for having the strength to face very powerful and influential people in our society. Thank you to the friends and family members of the victims who stand boldly by their side while very possibly enduring insults of your own. Thank you for giving so many of us hope. Thank you for helping us find the courage to share our own stories. Thank you for helping us find our voices.

Thank you for starting a conversation that needed to be started long ago.

Whether Democrat or Republican, liberal or conservative – I have to believe whatever side you lean toward – you can agree with this. Assault of any form is not okay.

This post is not political. This post is about gratitude. Gratitude to those who have been brave enough to share their story. This post is not liberal. This post is about hope. Hope for a different future for my children. Hope for change. 

Thank you, brave women for coming forward. Thank you for reshaping our future.

Thank you.

#MeToo

 

 

 

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