Beautifying the Holidays

Let’s Enjoy Each Other’s Company.

The Holidays can be a difficult time for year for many people. Whether it’s due to a loss of a loved one, being alone and not having people to share it with, or the stress inflicted by relatives around you, it is also the time of year we can step back and learn to appreciate the simple pleasures in life, such as family, friends, our daily blessings and to become more grateful while giving back to others.

Sometimes we forget how to handle the stress of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years that we get caught up in ourselves and our own desires, while forgetting the needs of others. Instead of focusing on the gifts, the food, or the parties, let’s focus on spending time together or going out of our way for someone who is dealing with a difficult time. Learn to enjoy the company of every person, whether we get along or not. Annoy them with kindness! You know the saying, “kill them with kindness”.

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Credit: DMHeckenkamp

This isn’t easy advice to follow. It’s easier to give our time and money to those we love and show respect in return, but sometimes it means more to out of our way and enjoy the company of those who we cannot handle! Enjoy your Holiday Season and take time to think and care for not only those you love but those who might annoy you, but also are deserving of love too.

The Special Moments.

1.   Pick one person in your life who needs to feel loved and do something extra special for them. Send them flowers, make them cookies or even a funny card in the mail will brighten their day.

2.   Go out of your way to invite someone out for coffee who might annoy you, but needs a shoulder to lean on.

3.   Make extra time for those you love. You might make a small effort here, but don’t they deserve your time and attention. Even setting up a date night for you and your significant other or even more fun, schedule a date night for a couple who hasn’t had a night out without the kids in awhile.

4.   Truly take the time to listen to someone. Instead of zoning out when someone is seeking advice or even just to be listened to, maybe try to absorb what they are saying and be interested in them.

5.   Learn to love others more than yourself. This might seem obvious, or you are rolling your eyes at this point, but life has enough tragedies, woes and selfish people who want the attention all the time. Take a moment to accept your sufferings, appreciate your blessings, and stop dwelling on your own problems, oftentimes you will realize that others have it much worse and are in dire need of a friend.

Mirror Mirror on the Wall, Take A Look or Take a Fall

“Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening.”  ~ Coco ChanelIt seems that every time we go out, whether it’s to the grocery store, the mall, the office, the park, a date or even a wedding, there’s something missing!  You may ask, what’s missing…?  Does anyone own a mirror?

Wait, maybe it’s just a lack of common-sense.  We aren’t talking about spending excessive amounts of time primping and prodding just to buy groceries!  No, we are talking about the basics here:

Did you brush your hair and teeth this morning?

Did you take a minute to put on some mascara, eyeliner and a dab of lip gloss? (Come on, Ladies, you know what your face needs to look more awake!)

Are you wearing matching socks?  (And Men, brown socks and black shoes do not compliment!  Don’t even get us started on the white socks and black shoes!)

Did you get dressed?  And no, pajama pants that look like yoga pants do not count!

These questions might seem ridiculous and wreak of common-sense but for some reason common-sense is extremely lacking in today’s society!  Why is it so hard for people to put themselves together in the morning?  We don’t mean you have to leave the house looking like the Duchess of Cambridge (even though she always looks fabulous!) but give yourself 15-20 minutes to get ready and make a little more effort with a little less laziness.  You will be amazed at the results!

NO EXCUSES!

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Photo Credit: DMHeckenkamp

“Carelessness in dressing is moral suicide.” ~Honoré de Balzac

You think there is no time to get ready for work in the morning?  Think again!  Here’s your solution: wake up 20 minutes earlier!

You think that your children must look put together for school, and there is no time left for you?  Think again!  Here’s your solution:  wake up 20 minutes earlier!  Get yourself dressed first and then wake up the family.  Children will lead by example.

You think, “this is my day off, why should I get dressed?”  Please reconsider this thought process…  If you plan on staying home, that’s fine, wear the yoga pants but at least brush your hair and apply a small amount of makeup.  You may have an unwelcome guest sooner than you think.  If you do leave the house to run errands, it is important to put yourself together for the day.  You might run into a client, future client, past co-worker, old high school crush, or maybe even a future lover!

FIRST IMPRESSIONS DO COUNT!

Unfortunately, the theory of “individuality” has been taken to an extreme!  An extreme of laziness, self-deprecation, lack of common-sense and in the end, just irresponsible as the next person.  You won’t lose your personal style or values by dressing with style!  It has become abnornal to see a woman put together with clothing fitted properly, makeup complimenting her facial features and her feminine physique isn’t hidden behind frumpy t-shirts.  Men, show your masculinity, be proud of it!  Don’t wear baggy pants and t-shirts (enough said!).  Please get rid of the Hawaiian shirts or save them for Hawaii.  Why is it so hard for men to wear a polo and khaki pants?  Here’s a tip:  Women love a well-dressed man!  Use that to your advantage!

“Like every good man, I strive for perfection, and, like every ordinary man, I have found that perfection is out of reach – but not the perfect suit.”   ~Edward Tivnan

The Importance of Family Time

As the cooler temperatures creep upon us, (what do I mean creep? It has been in the 70’s and 80’s for far too long in Wisconsin) it is that time of year when we all need to take a step back and examine more than just our life, but the lives of those around us. With the start of school and fall activities, one thing should become clear to us as the carefree days of summer disappear – the importance of family/framily time.

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Photo Credit: Katy Oberst

Family dinners were always a huge part of my childhood and even though my brothers and I might have missed a few when we were in high school, in exchange for our sports and after school clubs, but looking back, I wish we hadn’t. I’m very grateful for those activities, but looking at the bigger picture they appear very insignificant now. But I suppose that is part of life and learning to grow into a better person.

From the moment my husband and I started our family, we wanted to focus on family time, and so every night we sit down to eat as a family. I am grateful for this, no matter if we are rushed some nights to get out the door for soccer or if other nights we enjoy an hour dinner to make up for the rushed evenings, but this is our time and something that we value. This means putting away any distraction for the time being – whether that’s homework, cell phones, work papers, none of that matters during our dinners.

Family time doesn’t only include dinners, but we heavily value our Sundays. Each weekend it may look different, but overall, it is quality time spent with our children. Whether getting together with extended family for a game of soccer in the backyard, watching the Packers, or taking a naps after enjoying brunch, whatever encompasses our Sunday, it always includes time with our kids.

I’m not going to pretend that technology is obsolete on a Sunday and we have resorted to the “Old” Days, but we don’t want to waste too much time with those distractions. It isn’t always easy, because sometimes all I want to do is scroll through Twitter mindlessly. But that isn’t what my children need and when it comes to “family time” it’s about our family as a whole not as individuals.

So, find what keeps your family grounded. How do you come together? Are you working towards something bigger than just one or two people? How do you create an experience that not only allows, but forces you to understand and learn more about each other? If we don’t know the members of our immediate family, then we aren’t truly living. These are the people who will be there for us through thick and thin (even if it takes awhile to get over last year’s family reunion) but they are still family.  It might take awhile to find your family’s “thing” and sometimes if you have been gifted with a friend who is like family then you are truly blessed to open your circle and to grow in love. Continue searching, and eventually, you will find what brings your family joy and you won’t want to let it go. It will be worth missing the parties, the overtime at work, lunch with friends, and even the addicting Instagram stories because your family is where you can be yourself and where you can rejuvenate for the upcoming week. Put your family as a priority and everything else will quickly fall into line.

Motherhood Truths as School Begins

It took me awhile to write this post as I sit back and feel a bit sad that my children are returning to school. Yes, I am looking forward to that schedule, but I’m not going to pretend that our lives were chaotic with no schedule during summer. For everyone who knows me well, knows that I can’t live without schedules. I love to-do lists and planning my day. It doesn’t mean that we are doing something each moment, but I like everything to be in order, it’s one of my obnoxious personality traits. So, yes, it will be nice to have a few hours during the day with two children, instead of all four, since most of the older ones don’t take naps anymore…but it’s also not easy for me to let them go. As I sit and ponder why it’s getting harder for me to send them to school each year, instead of easier, here are a few of the “Mom Truths”that best describe my thoughts as another school year begins.

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Credit: DMHeckenkamp
  • As I stay home with my little ones and get to witness their first words, first steps, and much more, I don’t get to see all these firsts with my older children when they are at school. It’s part of letting them have independence and learning on their own, but I don’t get to see their first smile from meeting a new friend, or the feeling when they receive a treat for a job well done, or how they play in gym class. Yes, I get to hear about it, but I miss seeing these firsts and sometimes I wish I could be a fly on the wall.
  • It’s exciting to know that my children are learning to develop and become independent people as they step out of the house and venture into a new classroom. But, honestly, it’s really hard to let go. It’s hard to not be their only happy place. I’m so grateful that my children have a wonderful school to attend with loving teachers and I know it’s part of motherhood, to them fly, but it isn’t easy.
  • I didn’t always cherish these moments, but I have learned to love any extra time with my children when they desire me to be by their side. They haven’t reached the moody teenage years yet and they still want to sit next to me or hold my hand. As they enter a new grade this year and are another year older, it’s making me more aware that these days are going to end.
  • No matter how tough it is to be in the thickest waters of motherhood with four little ones, it’s getting hard to let this phase go with some of the older ones as they become independent. I am appreciative that the older ones are much more self-sufficient than the 20 month and 3 year old, but it does sadden me to know that they no longer need my help as they once did. I still remember feeding my oldest child yogurt in the living room over seven years ago on a lazy morning. Those were the mornings before I had any children in school and it could be a whole day of play. Now that I focus attention on more than one child, there are many more responsibilities and less time for lazy days.
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Credit: DMHeckenkamp

I am so happy that my children are growing into beautiful people who one day will need to thrive on their own without my help. It’s our job as parents to provide all of these life lessons in order for them to succeed, but as we do, we also give up a bit of ourselves. That is the hardest part. It’s beautiful to love, but it sad to lose a bit of ourselves with each life lesson we teach our children. But, isn’t that the ultimate gift of love? To remember that our children are only on loan to us and they have their own missions in this world. Let’s hope that we are all giving them the tools to succeed and make it a better place for everyone.

Motherhood is More than a Mirror Image

We all do it. We all stand in front of the mirror every morning, some mornings are less hectic than others. But we all stand in front of that mirror looking for the flaws, the pieces of us that only we can see. The pieces of don’t really make us into the person we are inside. This rings true even more so with mothers. There’s something about mothers, who sacrifice each day of their lives for the sake of their family, but only focus on the negatives and I am no exception to this bad habit. It’s time that we truly begin to value our worth and learn to love ourselves as we are. We stand in front of that mirror with self-pity, something my grandmother told me to never have, yet there it is creeping in. But why? Why do we allow ourselves to only focus on the mirror image?

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Credit: DMHeckenkamp

Maybe it’s from the fact that we spend more time getting our children ready than ourselves. Shower? Who has time for a shower?

Maybe it’s because we spend hours making dinner, but only get an opportunity to finish the toddler’s plate of picked-over food. We really can’t blame the toddler for our actions.

Maybe it’s because we no longer find the desire to go shopping for clothing because it either won’t fit or it will only get covered in food from the two year old’s fingers.

Maybe it’s because we would rather spend the time sleeping than taking a shower and putting on makeup. We have all been there.

Maybe it’s because leggings are more comfortable than anything else. Don’t get me started on my opinion of leggings as pants.

Moms. These aren’t good enough excuses. Yes, we have a tough job, one of the toughest as we teach our children how to obey, behave in social situations, and learn life lessons, but they still aren’t good enough excuses.

We are all tired, and yes, there are many different stages of motherhood. Of course, if you just had a baby, you get a pass. If you are going through mental turmoil, you get a pass. If there is a death in the family, you get a pass. But don’t allow these passes to become part of your everyday routine. If we want to teach our children to be upstanding citizens one day, then be their first example. Teaching is more than just speaking words, it is actions. Just like the infamous saying, “actions speak louder than words.” Something my grandmother would repeat to me on a daily basis. What are our actions saying to our children?

Are we telling our children, by our behavior, that only high expectations apply to others? Or are we setting the bar high for ourselves making it easier for our children to follow, because they will follow. Are we showing ours friends, family, and strangers that we have given up on life during this “stage”? Because if that’s the case, then motherhood doesn’t look very appealing to young women.

Motherhood is difficult, but did we really expect it to be easy? There are countless expectations from society and even ones we put on ourselves. Motherhood is a gift, a true vocation of pure selflessness. That doesn’t mean we should take care of everyone else and not ourselves. We must also care for ourselves, because if we don’t, our families and friends will also suffer the consequences.

Motherhood is not a mirror image. What you see is not what you get. EVER. But that is fine. We must only be able to recognize who we truly are within ourselves so that we may help our families thrive and our children learn to grow in virtue and goodness. If we are to look for what is good, true, and beautiful, as mothers, we should be the first to portray that image. For if families cannot be the first to give this gift to society, then what do we have left to rely upon? Because the world is dark and full of heartache, yet, what better place to bring light than through ourselves as mothers and through our children. We can’t change the hate in the world, but we can start by taking care of ourselves which will in turn transfer to our children – the ultimate gift from God.

 

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Credit: DMHeckenakmp

Five Ways to Love Your Life

Life is too short, let’s enjoy the moments of love and try to overcome the heartaches with a smile, because there will be heartaches and lots of them. It isn’t that we should ignore these troubles, but we need to remember that everything shall pass.

Many people go through life only finding the negativity that surrounds them. What a horrible way to live! It seems that this type of mentality would exhaust a person more than having a happy disposition. Life is too short, let’s enjoy the moments of love and try to overcome the heartaches with a smile, because there will be heartaches and lots of them. It isn’t that we should ignore these troubles, but we need to remember that everything shall pass.

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  • Wake up each morning at the same time and preferably at an early time. Depending on your schedule, of course. There is no reason to waste your life away in bed. Carpe Diem! Waking up a bit earlier might give you a few extra minutes that you can enjoy by yourself with a warm cup of coffee and a good book.
  • Schedules are important, but they should never stress you out. If you are making a schedule to improve your chaotic lifestyle then that’s a step in the right direction, but if this schedule is unrealistic and can never be achieved, don’t push yourself into a state of despair. Adjust the schedule, little by little, so that it fits into your life appropriately. Remember, good things usually happen in small steps.

 

  • Smile more, laugh more, talk more, and yes, even listen more! Take a moment the next time you are at the grocery store and count how many people you see smiling, usually the clerks aren’t even happy. Stand out from the norm, make a point to smile at people, make them laugh, and engage in a conversation. Not a conversation all about YOU, but about the person standing in front of you because they deserve kindness too.

 

  • Take care of yourself. If you aren’t happy about your life, your body image, your health, or your financial situation, then it’s time you make changes. Of course, these changes won’t happen overnight, but this is all about setting realistic goals. No one gets out of financial difficulties within 2 months, sometimes it take years or even a decade, but it can be done. Our society is based on wanting self-gratification immediately, but this is completely unrealistic. Find a friend or ask a professional for help to get you back on the right track. Never be afraid to ask for help, it’s okay to be vulnerable.

 

  • Good Things Take Time! Don’t expect your life to change without you initiating those changes. It is easy to pick up a bad habit, but it is so much more difficult to permanently fix those bad habits. They say it takes 21 days to fix a habit, that’s almost a month. Give yourself a month before giving up on your goals! At no point in our lives will we be perfectly happy. There are too many factors outside of our control, but if we make the most of our situations, work to better ourselves, and assist those around us, life will always be good!

Finding a Friend to Last a Lifetime

Sometimes we go through life searching and never quite knowing what we are searching for – sometimes it’s a career change, our purpose in life, and sometimes we find ourselves searching for a friend. And just when we least expect it, an amazing thoughtful person is sent our way. Someone who doesn’t take advantage of our kindness, but desires to give it in return. Someone who stands by us no matter the mood or stage we are going through in life. Those are the true friends, who stick with us through thick and thin. If you have found someone like that, hold onto them, because good friends are hard to find!
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WHAT MAKES A GOOD FRIEND?
But what makes a good friend?  Why does it rarely occur to us that a good friend needs to start with ourselves and maybe, just maybe, we will find that amazing person(s) who will be by our side just because of who we are? It is true that people with similar characteristics are drawn to each other. So, start by becoming the type of person you would like as a friend.

  • A good friend is never in the relationship for their own personal gain. Yes, we all want someone to talk with, to laugh with and to just be ourselves with, but that’s not personal gain as long as we desire the same for the other person. Thinking of others is sometimes one of the hardest things to do, but good habits are formed only by repetition.
  • Friends have each others backs! It’s called devotion, dedication, and sometime with a lot of compromise. We all have to learn these behaviors as adults, whether it’s in the workplace, at home with our spouse, or with our family, but why do people think that this shouldn’t exist within a friendship? It shouldn’t matter where or how you and your friends spend time together, it just matters that you are together!
  • Take it easy and enjoy the ride. We often forget that life is a ride and we really don’t have control over most of it. If we remember that it isn’t all about us, it will make life much smoother. A good friendship will learn to “go with the flow”. Schedules change, moods change, and it’s okay. Friendships should never be exhausting, dramatic, or hurtful. And if you can’t enjoy your time with that friend, then it’s time to weed out the bad, toxic friends.
  • Love your friends. Appreciate their virtues and their vices. You should want to do everything in your power to be there for the people near and dear to you. Everyone desires a happy life, so why not work each day to make the lives of those you love a little bit happier, easier, and above all filled with LOVE! Because all we need is love, right?

 

  • Smile! A happy person can move mountains and make some of the best friends!

 

ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE!

A shout-out to my best friend, Katy, of many many years, who has stuck by me through thick and thin, but this is what has made our friendship great. I hope you all find a dear friend who keeps you grounded and laughing at the same time!

 

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