Being Brave

In my last post, I talked about being brave and writing more authentically, despite my fears of feeling exposed and vulnerable. Sometimes writing the words seems hard and I want to quit because it requires stepping out into the public eye. My introverted self doesn’t like to be in the spotlight. I’m the person who thinks the background singer or the drummer has the best job….the one in the background!! 

I keep second guessing myself, but then remember that when God calls you to do something, it’s not necessarily going to be easy. Of course, then I second guess the calling!! 

Putting words on paper (or a computer screen) doesn’t seem exceptionally hard, but every single word is like a little piece of yourself, something you created being sent out there for people to read and judge. 

Luckily, I have come across a woman whose bravery is so big it makes me feel silly about my fears. Her bravery inspires me to move forward and keep writing. Her name is Lizzie Velasquez. Lizzie is a worldwide motivational speaker and author. She has a TEDtalk with over 9 million views and an amazing documentary. I don’t know Lizzie personally, but from what I have seen, despite her tiny body (due to a syndrome that keeps her from gaining weight), she has a huge personality. She is smart and funny and I’d let her come style my closet any day! Plus, she is a Texan girl like me.

When Lizzie was in high school, she came across a YouTube video entitled, “The World’s Ugliest Woman.” She clicked on the link and was shocked to see images of herself! She was crushed after reading hundreds of hateful comments calling her a monster, saying that her parents should have aborted her, or that she should kill herself! After many, many tears, her sadness eventually turned into anger and she fought back in a most brave way. She began her own YouTube channel! Talk about being in the spotlight. She should be called the BRAVEST woman in the world!

Lizzie decided not to let her outward appearance or negative comments define her. She said she would use those comments to fuel a fire and move forward to become a better person. She wanted to fight back with her accomplishments and use negativity as a ladder to achieve her goals. You know what? It worked!! 

I encourage you to watch her TEDtalk, her documentary and visit her YouTube channel. I have no doubt, you will be moved and inspired by her honesty and yes, her bravery. 

In the words of Lizzie Velasquez, “Brave starts here!”

Thanks Lizzie!  

Until next time…..be well and be brave!

Lori

Just wanted to let you know that Be Well Heart and Soul participates in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. When you click on a link and make a purchase it allows me to earn a little commission without any cost to the reader.

Into the Deep End

My son is learning to swim. He is now able to cross over the ropes into the deep end (closely supervised!) without a life jacket. He boldly jumps in and bubbles back up to the surface wearing expressions of excitement, uncertainty, and a little bit of fear. He takes a breath, puts his face in the water, swims to the edge, climbs the ladder and goes in again. His strokes are still clumsy but he is making great progress.

As a writer, I’ve been avoiding crossing over to the deep end. It’s safe over here in the shallow end where my feet can touch the bottom, writing about topics like laundry, cooking, great deals I found on Amazon, and what I’m reading. Every now and then, with great trepidation, I move a little closer to the deep end and publish something that requires a bit of vulnerability, but not quite over the ropes, where I’m more susceptible…..to drown. 

I have poured out my heart writing pages and pages about anxiety and panic attacks, feeling isolated without a circle of friends, introversion, dealing with life’s unexpected curve balls, not living up to expectations, and abandoning crazy dreams for something safe…..all the topics that require me to drift into open water allowing all my imperfections and struggles to be exposed but I have not published them.

Brene’ Brown, vulnerability expert, says, “Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it.” 

So I am just going to have to jump in and experience the uncertainty and fear along with the excitement because I feel called to share. Maybe what I write will resonate with at least one person and let them know they are not alone.

And if I feel like I’m going under, if the vulnerability feels too heavy, I’ll just take a breath, put my face in the water and swim….even if my strokes are clumsy.

Is it July Already?

Hello and Happy July!

Sundays at the Lake is my version of a newsletter. I’m hoping it will be more consistent as I focus on writing. I started this blog just over a year ago and I’ve loved it. I appreciate everyone who has taken the time to read, follow, like and/or comment. Thank you. Thank you.

I’m not sure what happened to June. It seems like it came and went in a flash. I spent most of the month making the transition from a structured 7:30-4:00 workday to being at home all day with a very active almost 8-year-old boy. I’m also making the transition from being a practicing speech-language pathologist to being a practicing writer.

Its been a whirlwind of a month; however, I’ve been able to find peace in the couple of hours I have to myself after my husband has gone to work and before my son is awake. I look forward to coffee and quiet as I work through The Struggle is Real but So is God bible study by Misty Phillip and Fervent by Priscilla Shirer. I have found these two work well together to help strengthen my relationship with God and teach me to fight the enemy through prayer.

It seems not long after breakfast, I get the notification, “Mom, I’m bored!” Luckily, we have been able to take advantage of activities at the public library and the pool to combat boredom. The library has satisfied my introrverted personality and the pool for my son’s extroverted personality. It’s also a great way to get some exercise and stay cool. Texas summers are HOT!

My son recently attended Camp Invention. It’s a “STEM summer program that turns curious students into innovative thinkers.” He loved spending the day making new friends and learning new skills with a hands on approach. I loved having a chance to declutter piles of papers and work on getting my new home office organized. I also organized all the papers covering my fridge with these magnetic pockets. It’s is not looking so scary anymore and I have a pocket for each person.

During lazy afternoons, we have been trying to control screen time and limit snacking while avoiding melting in the afternoon sun. These little bowls are the perfect size for a small snack, plus they are colorful and and don’t take up much room in my cabinet.

I read somewhere we could read something like 200 books a year if we replaced screen time with reading time. WOW!!  That really makes me want to put down my phone because I have about a zillion books on my Amazon wishlist.

We have successfully reduced our screen time, and audiobooks have helped. My son and I have enjoyed 2 Audible Originals so far: Riley Mack and the Other Known Trouble Makers and Jukebox Joyride. It’s been fun listening to them in the car while we drive into town and run errands. I just completed Educated by Tara Westover and I’m still trying to wrap my head around this astonishing memoir. It’s unbelievable how this sheltered girl, oblivious to the world outside of her home, was able to overcome obstacles larger than the mountain where she was raised and earn degrees from prestigious colleges.

I’ve also been listening to podcasts to make trips into town and chores a learning experience. Right now, I can’t get enough of By His Grace by Misty Phillip. She has some of the most amazing guests whose stories reveal how God’s grace guided them through even the most unimaginable struggles.

Ann Kroeker’s podcast (Ann Kroeker, Writing Coach) is giving me great lessons on writing. In short segments (usually less than 10 minutes) she shares “resources and inspiration to be more curious, creative, and productive.” I have gained valuable information about the craft and business of writing, been able to improve my overall writing and been inspired to keep going even if it’s one paragraph at a time.

TV is not my go to for entertainment, but every now and then I find something worthwhile. I love a great murder mystery and was happy to find Agatha Christie’s The ABC Murders. I loved this 3 episode series starring John Malkovich and Rupert Grint, who you might remember as Ronald Wesley from Harry Potter. It was suspenseful and had a good twist at the end. Now, I’m anxious to read the book.

This month I’ll be working on my next few post, a new website, and hopefully starting on a book! I can’t wait to share more about that. However, for now, I’m off to read On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King. I’m about one third in and can’t put it down.

I’d love to hear what you are up to this summer.

Until next time…..be well!!

Lori

Just wanted to let you know that Be Well Heart and Soul participates in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. When you click on a link and make a purchase it allows me to earn a little commission without any cost to the reader.

Deciding to Live in Color

Making a career change had been floating around in the back of my mind for several years; but, I had a good job with a secure paycheck, it was my security blanket. It seemed reckless to think about giving that up. Unfortunately, my security blanket was starting to suffocate me. In the middle of my 20th year as a speech-language pathologist in the public schools, the stirring in my soul for something different became uncomfortable. My job was lacking in providing me any creative outlets and as a supervisor, I was working less with the students and more at my computer churning out reports and preparing paperwork for meetings. Much like the man in the short film “Alike,” I felt like I was turning gray.

My career had been a good one. I enjoyed the people I worked with and the students I served, but I couldn’t ignore my desire to write and connect with people about issues other than speech and language disorders. I needed a place to dump all the words and ideas from my head and send them out into the universe. Like Rachel Hollis says in Girl, Wash Your Face, “So I have two choices, I can write down words and send them out into the world and hope they find a home. Or I can hide my light under a bushel because I’m too afraid someone won’t like the glare.” I wondered, “What if God has given me a light to share with others?”

It was a big decision and a big move, so I prayed for guidance. I was excited thinking about writing. It would allow me to be creative, interact more with my writing groups, have a flexible schedule, work from home, and take better care of myself and my family. I prayed for God to send me signs to know if I was making the right decision and folks, its started raining signs.

First I got this in my Facebook feed and then I came across the same quote on an actual sign in a store!

and I started reading this…

and then I came across this…

Maybe the Heavens thought I wasn’t getting the message kinesthetically or visually and I needed a sign in audio! In this podcast, Emily P. Freeman discusses ending her career as a sign language interpreter to write and she references Greg McKeown’s book!

I pondered……”What is essential? What is the next right thing?” I was feeling pretty certain that it was time for me to make a change, but I was scared. For several months, I let fear push me around like a playground bully and all the “what ifs” took over. What if I make the wrong decision? What if I quit and end up regretting it? What if I fail and let everyone down and look like a fool? What if….what if……what if? It was making me crazy until I changed my perspective with the help of Emily P. Freeman.

The Next Right Thing was being published as a book and I was accepted to the launch team. This gave me the ability to read the book before it was released. The information I gained was invaluable in helping me make my decision.

After a lot of pondering and thoughtful prayer, I finally made up my mind and got my husband’s blessing since writing isn’t always a lucrative career and I wouldn’t be bringing home a steady paycheck. Even then, I sat in fear, scared to turn in my resignation and seal the deal. What got me moving was something I read in The Next Right Thing. Emily writes, “If God has something to tell you, and you continue to place yourself before him, he won’t let you miss it. As you take your next right step today, trust that God won’t let you miss your own future. Follow the arrows.”

I trusted God, followed those “arrows” and I did it! I will not be returning to my position next year. It still doesn’t seem real. I’ve never not worked at a job where you clock in and out and have a steady paycheck since I graduated from high school almost 30 years ago. (Um….except for the 6 months when I opened an art gallery which was a total blast creatively, but a complete failure financially.) You can read about that here. I lost money but I gained so much more and have no regrets about that adventure.

Its been only weeks since my last day of work; yet, I can already feel color washing over me, filling me up. I’m coming alive again! I want this color to overflow to my son, my husband, and others around me. My husband, who is a mostly serious man, likes to say I live in a world of bubblegum and bobby socks. I guess I kinda do; but, I LIKE it here! I think we should all try to LIVE IN COLOR!!! I’m not saying throw caution to the wind and your responsibilities out the window. I’m just saying, don’t let years pass by before you stop the color from draining. Find a way to do whatever it is that fills you with color.

By the way, I’d love to know what that is and if you’re not doing it, what is holding you back?

Until next time……be well!

Lori

Just wanted to let you know that Be Well Heart and Soul participates in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. When you click on a link and make a purchase it allows me to earn a little commission without any cost to the reader.

Why I Canceled My Subscription Box Service

Today you can get a subscription box for just about anything. Companies will deliver meals, clothes, books, pet supplies, beauty supplies, shaving supplies, toys, crafts, and more to your door monthly and charge your account without you even having to think about it. While it might seem convenient and economic, there are drawbacks that you might not notice right away.

I have been what I call a “minimalist in training” for almost a decade. I’ve read Marie Kondo, Cait Flanders, Tammy Strobel, Courtney Carver, and Joshua Becker. I’ve watched Minimalism: A Documentary About The Important Things more than once, and my favorite websites have the word simple or less or purpose in the titles. I KNOW how to practice essentialism and minimalism, but from time to time good marketing has caught me off guard. I’m not saying subscription box services are bad or trying to trick you or swindle you. There are probably a lot of people who love them and find value in the service. I’m just not sure if you are trying to live a life with less that this is the way to go. Here’s why….

After being enticed by multiple adds on social media, I tried a meal plan subscription. I thought the service would save me time and money and might even make cooking fun. The plan was customizable and I could change delivery dates if I didn’t need a box one week. I thought I would eliminate waste not having to throw out expired goods and moldy produce from the grocery store. However, there was a lot of waste. The huge box and packing material filled up half of my huge outdoor trash can. The recipes were not always easy or fun and my family was not impressed with the meals I created. The plan also required me to be online quite a bit trying to decide which meal plan and recipes were best and scheduling and rescheduling deliveries. Eventually, I decided it wasn’t worth the money, time, or trash and quit.

Years later, I came across another service that was very popular on social media, so I gave it a try. I found all kinds of eco-friendly household products with prices comparable to a grocery store. Again, I thought this service would save me time and money and help save the planet! I got free shipping, numerous discounts, and even free products with each shipment. However, I was soon spending at least $20 each month on items I really didn’t need. I found myself scrolling through pages of products deciding which ones I should “try” and adding them to my cart. I was feeling happy cleaning with a delightfully scented product and I was doing something good when I bought toilet paper made from bamboo. It was not long before happiness was replaced with anxiety as products were starting to spill out of my cabinets. The “high” was wearing off and I realized these products were not really making me happy or bringing any real value to my life. I decided to cancel. I anticipated simply clicking a button to delete my account, but it was not that easy. I had to deactivate the service at one website and also go to my Pay Pal account and delete the subscription service from there as well.

In the end, there was really nothing those services provided me that was helpful or purposeful or that added value to my life but I can tell you what I lost.

  • Time – I was spending time scrolling through pages of products or meals rather than simply adding items I needed to a grocery list. I was spending a lot of time planning my online purchases or checking to see if I earned a free product.
  • Money – I was adding items to my cart on an impulse and making excuses for why I should purchase it. I kept saying, “Its only $20.” While $20 might not be a lot, I could have used it to share an experience with friends and family or to learn a skill. For example, I recently used what I would normally spend on a subscription box service and signed up for an online painting class. I’m loving it way more than my scented soap.
  • Space – All those cabinets I took time clearing out were again crowded and cluttered and my garbage can was overflowing from all the packaging.
  • Contentment – I was starting to feel that I needed all these items but soon felt guilty as I looked at the free hand lotion that I didn’t like or the cleanser that ended up not smelling good. Additionally, the bamboo paper towels didn’t tear easily and the free dish scrubber brush needed replacement scrubbers. I soon began to feel mad at myself for somehow going back to the clutter and chaos that I had abandoned long ago.

If you are considering a subscription box service, ask yourself:

  • Is this service really convenient? Are the products readily available at a store I shop at frequently?
  • Is there a service fee, shipping fee, or annual fee? Sometimes these are charged to your account without notice.
  • Why are you making the purchases? Is it something you really need or are you adding things to your cart on impulse because they are on sale, or you just want to try it out?
  • Are you using what you purchase or are products starting to pile up because they are not what you expected?
  • How easy is it to return an item? Consider the time and money it might cost to return an item (e.g., printing out labels, driving to post office, paying for postage).
  • How easy is it to cancel?

I am happy to report that I am subscription box free and feeling much better. I’m using up the last of the products and have given several items away. I am returning my simpler and happier way of living…..with less.

I’d love to know if you use a subscription box service or have in the past. What did you think of it?

Until next time…..be well!

Lori

Letting Go of Fashion Trends

When you are searching for what brings joy to your life, sometimes it can be helpful to take a look at what doesn’t bring you joy and let it go. For me, that would be shopping for trendy clothing. Actually, shopping of any kind drains me of joy, but for this post, I’ll focus on clothing.

When I was a child, in the 70s and 80s, there was a clothing brand called Granimals. Each clothing item had a tag that you matched together to form a color coordinated outfit. Tiger pants went with tiger shirts, lion shirts went with lion skirts. It was a no fail system that made shopping easy, gave you several options , and elimiated decision fatigue. My dream is for Granimals to return with a similar system for adults!

All my life I have stuggled with fashion and style. Until about 8th grade, my style was determined by my mom and there were plenty of battles. If I was brave, I would post my 7th grade school picture and you could get a good laugh. I wore a giant plaid bow around the collar of my discount Ralph Lauren oxford and my new hair style was far overdue for a cut. My 8th grade picture was a little better. I had a fresh hair cut and was allowed to wear make up. My outfit was from the mall, chosen by me. It was a only one of a few of outfits over many years that I really liked and felt comfortable in.

As the years went on and I was given more independence in choosing my clothes, I never seemed to figure out my style, which made me very self consious. Style only got more challenging and confusing as I got older. My high school class had over 600 students and there was a myriad of style groups, the cowgirls, the modern girls, the nerdy girls, the beachy girls, the girls that wore big bows, the ones that wore all black, and then there was me. I really never fit in with any one group although, I tried almost all of them. I remember one year I got a pair of white boots with fringe. I thought they were awesome and proudly wore them to school. My self-esteem was quickly deflated when a group of girls made fun of what I thought was trendy and cool. Just more evidence that I was not cool and really didn’t fit it anywhere when style was concerned.

You know, that part of your brain that puts together cute outfits and accessories? Mine is almost non-functioning. I want to look put together, but shopping for clothing is not at all fun for me, it’s torture. The sheer volume of options overwhelms me. I remember one year when I was in my 20s, my mom took me on a shopping spree, we went to boutiques, the mall, and outlet stores. She was surprised when I was ready to throw in the towel after only 8 hours! My sister shares my mother’s enthusiam for shopping and putting together outfits. Going to TJ Maxx, combing through all the racks, and putting together an outfit is exhilarating to her. Whereas for me, its like a visit to the dentist (I’d actually rather go to the dentist!). Luckily, my sister has taken me under her wing and been my shopping companion for many years. But a year or two ago, I found something that saved me….the capsule wardrobe and Project 333!

I first discovered the capsule wardrobe on Pinterest. I was able to see a lot of examples; however, my closet was so out of order after years of buying random items that were on sale or well advertised and I didn’t know where to begin. I tried to pair down to only a few items but was still overwhelmed. I then discovered Courtney Carver‘s Project 333. It was the plan I needed on how to make it all come together. Having only a few items in my closet that you could mix and match was something I could go for. I took her microcourse called “Dress with Less and Create Your Capsule Wardrobe” and since then, my closet has had a major overhaul. It’s still under construction, but most items are ones I love wearing and I feel comfortable in. If they start to become uncomfortable I know they are either worn out or I need to cut back on the cookies!

Because summer is coming soon and I won’t be working, this is a great time for me to complete my closet project. I’m not including winter clothing because I have already packed most of it away. I’ll revisit that in the fall.

Here is a breakdown of what is in my closet right now:

  • Accessories: 4 pair of earrings, 10 necklaces, 3 bracelets and 1 purse.
  • Shoes: 20 pair. I live in the country and its really dusty and sometimes muddy, and then there is the cow poop. This is the reason I have to have a set of shoes that can get dirty and a set that stays clean. Cowboy boots (a weakness) 5 pair, Sneakers: 4 pair, Sandals: 2 pair, Dress shoes: 5 pair Flats: 3 pair, Rain boots: 1 pair.
  • Dresses: 3 – 1 little black dress, 1 summery dress, 1 dressy dress
  • Pants: 4 Pair. I hate pants unless they are jeans. I only wear these to work and I hate them. I haven’t found any pants that I like. Did I mention I hate pants!!
  • Jeans: 7 pair. I really only wear 3 pairs regularly. I have found that Gap jeans fit me better than any other jeans I have tried. I can go in and find my size or order them on line and know that when they will fit.
  • Shorts: 4. 2 casual and 2 very casual. It’s actually time to get new shorts.
  • Jackets/Cardigans: 6. I’m always cold, but I don’t know that I really need 3 black cardigans.
  • Shirts: 30
    • 7 graphic t shrits
    • 12 button downs
    • 6 Casual tops:
    • 6 Knit tops
  • Suit: 1. I bought this years ago for a job interview. I don’t even know if it still fits.

So here is my plan: Pull everything out and try it on. If it doesn’t fit, its out. If it is worn out, its out. If I don’t LOVE it, its out. If I haven’t worn it in 3 years, its out. That is an easy way to start.

I still have some work to do pulling it all together but I feel so much better not trying to follow a trend and feel like I have developed my own comfortable style that I can dress up when needed. I no longer search for items and try on 15 things when I’m getting ready in the morning. I get up pick out what I want to wear for the day and and if I want to dress it up, I have found that red lipstick is a great accessory!

If you are like me and shopping and fashion aren’t your thing, Don’t let fast fashion and mass marketing make you feel like you don’t fit in. Declutter your closet, only buy clothes that you think are beautiful and that are comfortable and fit well and I bet you will end up finding your style one step at a time.

Until next time…..Be Well!

Lori

Ballet Slippers and Combat Boots

Before hope*writers, I had written a short children’s book and it sat in a box year after year for more than a decade. I read it many times over those years, envisioning how the words and illustrations would look on each page. Being a speech-language pathologist and working with small children for 20 years, I thought about how a simple little story might help preschoolers and children with special needs learn about shapes and colors and even sequencing and rhyming. Having it published and come to life was simply a dream.

Not long ago, I Googled “how to publish a children’s book.” It was daunting and did not look promising. I wanted to write and I was writing, but I wasn’t writing a children’s book. I became discouraged, and during a day of purging paper and clearing space, I wadded up the story, and tossed it. I can still hear the words I was thinking as the story flew into the trash, “You will never publish a children’s book.”

Then one day I heard about Emily P. Freeman’s podcast, The Next Right Thing which is now a best selling book on Amazon! (Click here to check it out.). I scrolled through the episodes and stopped at one called “Quit Something” and hit play. Emily shared a story about her career as a sign language interpreter and how she was dreading telling her boss that she was quitting. Then I heard her speak these words, “There’s something strong I can’t shake, something I think the Lord is drawing me to. ‘It’s time to write,’ I hear on the level of my soul. I’m excited and also terrified. Yellow is dancing around in my head, writing is yellow, the things that make us come alive always are.” I thought, “Is this lady a mind reader?”

As I drove down the road listening, I could not believe it. I was a speech-language pathologist, my job was helping others communicate, much like a sign language interpreter. I also was considering leaving my current profession and also felt a calling to write. Additionally, she referred to the book, Essentialism by Greg McKeown which I was currently reading. I thought maybe God is really trying to tell me something. It was defintely a turning point.

From there, I followed a garden path and ended up finding hope*writers, co-founded by none other than Emily P. Freeman! This amazing group has been a foundation for my growth as a writer. It has led me to a family of writers who are not just willing, but excited to guide me. Since becoming a member I have gained a tremendous amount of knowledge about writing and also the much needed confidence to continue writing. Thanks from my heart, hope*writers!

Then enter, Rachel Hollis 2.0! Rachel’s first book, Girl, Wash Your Face, really got me thinking about where I was and where I wanted to go. Her second book, Girl, Stop Apologizing, gave me a plan. Where Emily is the like pink cotton candy, holding your hand and encouraging you with her warm, soft voice, Rachel is like firey red hots, all up in your face, kicking you in the pants, encouraging you to leave your pity party, get up and go after what you want. These ladies have totally different styles and I need them both. I feel like they are little angels sent from Heaven to guide me. Emily in pink ballet slippers and Rachel in combat boots!

So Emily and Rachel…..I’m following your words of wisdom. I made a decision to make some big changes in my life. Emily, I’m not going to let fear push me around, I’m going to “do the next right thing in love.” Rachel, I’m saying out loud that I’m going to publish a children’s book. (Eeek, that was so scary!) Thank you ladies, for giving me the tools to make a hard decision and encouraging me to dig deep and not apologize for my dreams. Thank you for helping me realize what those dreams are. Thank you for sharing examples from your own lives to help me better mine.

And as for that little story that I threw away, I have read it so many times I have most of it memorized and I can start to fill in the missing pieces. Who knows? The second version might even be better!

If you have found yourself at fork in the road, or even what you think is a dead end, I sincerely recommend checking out the books by these two amazing and brave ladies. I could list a thousand inspirational quotes from the books, but I think it’s better if you read them on your own and let the words speak to you wherever you are on your journey. I will share this quote from Emily, because it was the one quote that really let me put my fears behind me and step forward. “If God has something to tell you, and you continue to place yourself before him, he won’t let you miss it.”

Until next time…..be well.

Lori

Just wanted to let you know that Be Well Heart and Soul participates in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. When you click on a link and make a purchase it allows me to earn a little commission without any cost to the reader.