Don’t Be Afraid to Take Risks

Seeing as how we shared a quote from Chip Gaines on our social media pages last week, it may come as no surprise to you that I am a huge fan of the Gaines family.

A few years ago, I had no idea who Chip and Joanna Gaines were. I saw their photos all over magazines in line at the grocery store, but all I knew was that they were on HGTV. I was a little surprised that a couple on that channel was of interest to news tabloids (though today it’s not surprising at all), but other than that, I thought nothing of them.

Then I became aware that they were under attack for the church they attended. After that I began to pay a little more attention to them; as a Christian myself, it’s always interesting to see how others—especially those in the spotlight—handle those types of situations.

At some point last year, I became completely enamored with this joyful and delightful couple. I loved watching their show. I loved Joanna’s Target line. It was beyond just liking their style or products. I grew to respect them as people. I loved that they involved their kids in their work. I loved that they worked hard as a family. I loved that Chip was always bringing animals home. I loved that they lived on a farm. I began to think that maybe my own similar dreams were possible.

After reading their books, The Magnolia Story and Capital Gaines (OK, I lied—I am still in the middle of the latter), I respected Chip and Joanna even more upon learning about how they’ve reached the level of success they have today.

I think, in the back of our minds, we can sometimes make excuses for why some people are successful—as if to make excuses for why we aren’t or why we can’t reach that same level of success. We think, “Oh, well that’s because they had money to begin with” or “Well, they knew people in the industry.”

What I love about the “Magnolia story,” if you will, is how honest the Gaines are about what it took to get where they are. This couple took risks to see their dreams come to fruition, and it worked because they weren’t fearful of failure. They saw failure as a learning opportunity and never as something to be ashamed of.

Taking risks is something I’ve always feared because, ultimately, I didn’t see failure as acceptable. To fail, in my mind, was to be not good enough or to have not worked hard enough.

Chip and Joanna have given me an amazing gift. They’ve helped me understand that sometimes failure is out of our control, and there are times when it’s actually necessary to experience failure in order to learn the life lessons needed to accomplish greater feats.

Whatever your dream is in this life, go for it. Do not be afraid of failure. Keep running after it until it’s in your grasp. Do not let fear intimidate you or cause you to second-guess your abilities. Life is far too short not to achieve all you can.

Chip and Joanna worked hard to make their dreams and goals a reality. You can, too.


What are your dreams? What risks are necessary to make those dreams come true?

Finding Hope in the Midst of Tragedy

As I write this, the Holy Fire in Southern California is blazing away not far from my parents’ backyard.

I hope, hope, hope, and pray that by the time this is published the fire is mostly contained or completely extinguished.

My heart breaks thinking about all of the wildlife being displaced, fighting for their lives. My heart breaks thinking about all of the people who have had to face the question of “What in my home can I not live without?”

My heart breaks for the people who have had to make the hard decision of what precious memories are to be left behind in homes they may not be able to return to. My heart breaks for the people who didn’t even have that option.

I cannot fathom how anybody could commit such an act that could cause so much pain. I cannot fathom how anybody could purposely cause such mayhem and destruction.

For those of you who have had to face tragedy, I cannot possibly know what you have gone through. You are far braver than I am.

We will all inevitably face some tragedy in our lives. We will all lose people we love. We will all go through hardships and trials.

In those times of darkness, it is so vital that we cling to the love in our lives. Think of those who give you purpose. Think of those who need you.

You could lose all of your possessions in a fire, but so long as you have loved ones and people to cling to, you’re going to be OK.

And, if you feel alone, I urge you to find a community to help you as you rebuild your life. Find it in a church or a support group. Find it through volunteer work.

It’s people who can bring us those first flutters of that “everything is going to be alright” feeling. In your darkest times, don’t hide. Don’t push people away. Cling to them. Let them in.

Don’t push hope away.

Finding Your Sunshine: Tips to Improve Your Mood

If you’re anything like me, sometimes you just get in a funk. You could be stressed about work or school or sad about a friend or family issue, or sometimes you don’t even know what’s wrong—you’re just not in a happy place.

Below are some tips that almost always improve my mood during those times.

The Three Day Rule: Health and Fitness

A lot of times I get in a funk because I start to feel bad about myself for not eating right and failing to exercise the way I want to. Sometimes it can be downright daunting to think about where you want to be fitness-goals-wise and how long it will take to get there—which can cause you to get in even more of a funk!

Luckily, I’ve found that all it really takes is three days to build back up your self-esteem. You don’t need to hit any goals; you just need three days straight of eating better and exercising the way you want. I guarantee you that just those three days will drastically improve your mood (probably from being healthier!) and build up your confidence. 

Get Out of the House

My husband and I are both introverted people, so sometimes we can spend a whole weekend just hanging out at home, and since I am not working right now, sometimes that means I don’t leave my house for a whole week at a time outside of grocery shopping or taking our dog, Cooper, to the vet.

I often won’t even realize how in a funk I am until I finally do get out of the house for a non-chore-related event and feel my mood improve. Make a point to get out and do at least one fun thing a week. You need it!

Do Something Productive

Ever heard the saying “messy room, messy mind?” It’s kind of true. If you’re feeling down, it may seem counterintuitive to force yourself to do chores, but when you’re done, you’ll feel so much better. It can be something small, like cleaning your room or organizing your closet. You could even do some virtual cleaning by cleaning up your computer desktop or organizing the apps on your phone.

Watch an Old Movie

Sometimes, if you’re feeling really down, the last thing you want to do is go out or be productive. If that’s the case, I recommend watching an old movie you loved from your childhood or a guilty pleasure. Watching childhood favorites brings back old feelings of comfort and safety, while guilty pleasures can just be pure fun to watch. Some of my favorite films to watch when I’m feeling sad are Lady and the Tramp, The Little Mermaid, and Something Borrowed.

Find Reasons to Be Thankful

Another way to bring some positivity back to your day is to take a moment to think of three things in your life for which you’re thankful. A lot of the times when we’re in bad moods, we just need perspective switches. You can read more about the benefits of gratefulness in our blog post on the topic. It might be the best mood booster on the list!

 

Facing Rejection Like a Champ

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I know it’s trashy, but I live for my weekly viewing of The Bachelor, The Bachelorette, or—the king of them all—Bachelor in Paradise.

Maybe it’s because I live a boring and drama-free life compared to the people who go on these shows, but sometimes after a stressful week, nothing can make you feel better about your own life than watching guys or girls (depending on whether it’s a bachelor or bachelorette time of year) lose their minds over a love interest they barely know.

I find the most common thought I have (or statement yelled at the TV) while viewing is “why are you crying? It’s OK!”

Especially early on in the seasons, it’s a little silly when contestants start crying when they aren’t chosen to continue on to the next week of dates.

The thing is, these contestants aren’t crying because they are brokenhearted over losing a chance with the bachelor or bachelorette; they’re crying because they’re facing rejection.

Rejection is a tricky emotion. It can manipulate you into thinking you care about something you really don’t. It can trick you into thinking you have feelings for someone you don’t.

This happened to me as a teen. I was not happy in a relationship, but once I was the one facing rejection, I did everything in my power to get the guy back because I thought those feelings of rejection were something that they weren’t.

Just because those feelings of sadness aren’t real feelings for a person or for something in your life (maybe it’s a job offer or not being included by a friend), that doesn’t mean those feelings of rejection don’t hurt. They hurt a lot! That’s why it’s all so confusing.

The pain is still very real and has to be dealt with. The key to accepting rejection in a healthier and less painful way is to change your perspective.

The reason people cry when they’re rejected on The Bachelor or The Bachelorette is because they compare themselves to all of those other candidates who were chosen to continue on. They think they don’t stack up compared to them. Perhaps the girls are prettier or funnier. Perhaps the guys are more attractive or have more appealing careers.

This way of thinking is toxic and completely the wrong way to look at it—that’s why I end up yelling at the TV, “Why are you crying?!”

It’s not because I think they shouldn’t be sad; of course they should be. It’s extremely disappointing to be sent home, but they usually start spouting off a bunch of self-deprecating, pity-me comments about how they don’t understand what the remaining contestants have that they don’t.

That’s the thing—it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter what those candidates might have that the person crying in the back seat of the limo doesn’t.

What should matter is that it wasn’t a love connection. Those remaining people just click a little better with whoever is handing out the roses that season. They are by no means better people than the ones being sent home (well, most of the time!); they just are better matches.

It’s the same with being rejected after a job interview. Whoever got the job isn’t better than you; that person just fits better with the position you both were vying for.

It doesn’t make the rejection sting less or make it any less disappointing, but it can keep you from losing your confidence or being too hard on yourself if you think of rejection as more of a two-way street.

Even if you are going through a time in your life when you feel like you’re facing rejection in the dating world, in your career, or amongst your friends or family, think of it as a saving grace.

Chances are that, if you’re being rejected from something, it probably isn’t a good fit, and that rejection is saving you from a possibly miserable situation dating someone you wouldn’t be happy with, working in a job you’d hate, or spending time with someone you maybe shouldn’t.

Rejection never means someone is better than you. We all have different flaws and strengths. Rejection just means someone may be a better fit than you for that particular situation.

It means you probably have something way better out there waiting for you. And isn’t that worth celebrating?

 

It’s OK to Be Quiet

My Post (37)Recently, I was at Petco with my 6-month-old puppy, Cooper. Now, Cooper has had some fear issues. She is extremely apprehensive of strangers and the outdoors, in general. She’s been improving a ton, though, and we try to take her everywhere we go (when possible) so that she can socialize with more people and other dogs.

A week or so ago, I was in Petco with Cooper. I usually have to carry her around the store because she’s so aware and fearful of the other dogs and humans doing their own shopping. This time, though, Cooper was doing amazing. She pranced right in and sniffed around, walking down aisle after aisle with me. I was so pleased and excited for her that she reached this new milestone.

A woman approached and asked if she could pet Cooper. I said yes but asked her to go slowly. Cooper has been known to snarl if people approach her too quickly (we are working with her on this).

The woman tried to let Cooper sniff her hand, but Cooper wasn’t interested and stayed near me. I could tell that the woman thought this wasn’t normal dog behavior. She started asking questions about Cooper with a concerned tone as if she was trying to pinpoint where we’d gone wrong with her training. In the end, she suggested we try socialization classes.

I was polite but left the encounter rather upset. I kept thinking to myself, “just because my dog isn’t interested in you doesn’t mean she’s broken.”

Now, I’m not saying this line of thought is healthy; I was taking this all way too personally, and Cooper really does need more socialization. That’s why she was at Petco, after all.

But it did remind me of how I sometimes feel since I’m a more introverted and shy person. I have often felt as if people can think less of me for being too quiet or too private or see me as unsocial.

I’ve seen this with other shy or introverted folks, as well. I think all too often that we can look at quiet people and think that they’re broken, that they need our help. We need to break them into the social scene. We need to drag them out of their houses and to parties. We need to build their confidence.

What I want to stress here is that it’s OK to be an introvert. It’s OK to be shy. It’s OK to be an extrovert. It’s OK to be outgoing. It’s OK to be a combination of these traits. We are all broken in our own way, and usually it has nothing to do with how much we enjoy socializing or talking.

Quiet introverts can still be confident—maybe they just express that in different forms than spoken words. Quiet introverts can still enjoy socializing—they just need time alone to recharge. Quiet introverts have just as much to offer as outgoing extroverts, and we desperately need both in the world.

Regardless of where you fall on that shy or loud, introvert or extrovert spectrum, the world needs you. Because, yes, we all love a good party, but sometimes we need the quiet.

You are not broken because you prefer the latter.

 

Some Advice for College Freshmen

My Post (34).jpgAs we close out our Fourth of July celebrations and the end of summer looms closer, many of you will be about to head off to college.

College is an amazing—but sometimes horrifying—time to grow and figure out who you want to be in this life. As someone who didn’t enjoy or take advantage of her time in college, here are some pieces of advice so that you, hopefully, won’t make the same mistakes I did.

You don’t have to be BFFs with your roommates.

I moved into a triple dorm room during my freshman year. I was so excited. Two automatic friends instead of just one, right?

Unfortunately, in my case, the other two girls became best friends, and I felt odd for not fitting in. I wish I would have realized at the time that it was completely OK. You cannot get along or be best friends with everyone. You do not have to be BFFs with your roommates. There is nothing wrong with you if you don’t click with them. Just be nice and courteous; that’s all that really matters.

Join clubs, and find your people.

You may get lucky and find your new friend group right in your dorm building, but even if so, college is the time to get involved and discover your interests.

Go to your campus’ club showcase, and sign up for a few clubs that match your general interests. Try them out, and then narrow it down to one ot two that really excite you. This is also a great way to figure out what you may want to do career-wise.

Be a little silly.

College is the last stop before adulthood responsibilities set in. Sure, there’s a lot you still have to be responsible for in college—definitely more so than when you’re in high school—but paying rent sure is less stressful when you don’t have student loans to pay!

Make sure that, in between studying and internships, you remember to have some fun. You won’t always have hour breaks in the middle of your day or Fridays off.

You will fail, but don’t give up.

During your freshmen year of college, you will probably end up failing in some way. Classes are harder than they were in high school (or at least they should be), professors aren’t quite as accessible (especially if you attend a large university), and it may be hard to be without your family and friends from back home.

Don’t give up when you mess up. Learn from those mistakes, and keep going. Some mistakes may even cause you to rethink your major. Give it time before you make any drastic changes. Easy roads are not necessarily better.

Spend Wisely!

Money, money, money. If you’re moving away for college, my No. 1 piece of advice to you is to start saving now. Shop as cheaply as you can, and try to avoid unnecessary entertainment or eating out costs. Come up with a reward system so that you don’t miss out on something you really want, while still putting money away for the next year. You’ll thank yourself later.

Don’t compare.

When you’re in classes with people all competing for similar career goals, it becomes easy to compare yourself to your classmates’ progress. Comparison is never a good idea, but it can be especially harmful if you fall into that trap during your freshman year. You don’t want it to become a habit.

Everyone will have different career successes and majors. Don’t compare. You’re each on your own special path to reach your goals.

Stick to your beliefs and convictions.

College campuses are a bit tricky today. There will inevitably be some unpopular opinions that won’t be “cool” or even seen as acceptable to have. You might completely agree with the majority, or you could be in the minority.

Wherever you lie, I challenge you to research your own beliefs and convictions if you begin to have doubts. We should always strive to become more knowledgeable about what we believe and what the alternatives may be, but don’t change just because people tell you you’re wrong. You’re better and stronger than that. Look into the issue for yourself. Do the research. Present your case. Come to your own conclusions.

Make up your own mind. Don’t follow just to follow.

Stay in touch with your people back home.  

Lastly, stay in touch with your friends and loved ones back home or who have left on their own college adventures. You’re going to miss them a lot—especially in your first year. Send handwritten notes and sweet texts, and call or FaceTime whenever you can.

After all, they miss you, too.

Embracing the Plot Twists in Life


If there’s one thing that life will teach you pretty quickly, it’s that change happens quite often—and sometimes quite fast.

These changes can occur in your location, in your relationship status, in your friendships, in your family, in your career, and even in your heart. Some of them are planned, and others happen unexpectedly. Some are welcomed, and others feel more like punches to your gut that took you completely by surprise.

When I was going through a really difficult season of life (partly thanks to a fella breaking my heart), one of my sweet friends sent me inspirational quotes and funny memes every so often. She sent me one that I’m sure many of you have seen before that said “When something goes wrong in life, just yell ‘PLOT TWIST!’ and move on.” I love that, because it’s a reminder not to dwell on the tough changes that we face in life but to accept that they are happening and to keep living.

I studied journalism in college and dreamed of being a sports reporter and an eventual anchor on SportsCenter. I grew up admiring Linda Cohn and figured that I would follow in her remarkable sassy footsteps. When I graduated college, I got my first job as a sports reporter, and it wasn’t too long before I realized that it isn’t actually what I wanted to do with my life forever. I spent months trying to deny it—after all, I had big plans for my future—but it became far too apparent that I didn’t actually want to spend the rest of my life working in the media.

One day not too long after I started having those feelings, the president of the small news organization I was working for at the time informed us that we were going out of business, and I realized that my life was about to change more drastically than I had ever imagined. It was a tough change, but it was a change that needed to happen. And I’m forever grateful that it did.

I think that, just like changes in careers that we might not have seen coming, unanticipated changes in the heart are natural, too. Sometimes we want them to happen, and other times we try to resist those changes. I’d like to cue Moana’s “How Far I’ll Go” right now. I would share some of the lyrics here, but I’d have to sell essentially all of my possessions and all of the paychecks for the rest of my existence to Disney first, so I’ll let you consult the Google on your own for that one. But this young woman is experiencing a change in her heart and a desire to find her own identity. It’s a change that needs to happen within her, and she begins to embrace it.

Just like we often need to embrace the changes that happen within us, as well.

You might start off in a career that you later realize is not right for you. You might lose your job. You might find out that you have to move, even after you’ve spent years forming friendships and building community that you love. You might invest deeply in a relationship only to be betrayed or realize that he’s not the person you’re supposed to end up with forever. You might experience so much change all at once in multiple aspects of life and not know what to do. And you might feel a stirring for change in your heart that you need to acknowledge and that you need to let happen.

If you’re not yet ready to yell “PLOT TWIST!” and move on, start by simply telling yourself that change happens, and you are strong enough to face whatever happens as a result. It won’t always be easy, and it’s OK to admit that you’re struggling with it. But don’t dwell in that state—let yourself be bold enough to stand up and turn those changes into new chapters that are integral parts of your story.

Don’t be afraid to let change happen in your life. Sometimes those changes you weren’t expecting end up being the most beautiful journeys that you’ll ever experience.

Rejection Doesn’t Make You a Reject


Unfortunately, we don’t get everything that we want in life—and this includes acceptance. There will be times when we will come across people with whom (and situations in which) we simply don’t belong.

Rejection is certainly not fun. I remember a day when I was in college and felt like I was one of the most unwanted people who ever set foot on campus. I had applied to be in a variety of different leadership organizations that were available to freshmen, and I thought the interviews for them had gone really well.

It turns out that I was pretty much the only one who thought that.

I’ll never forget when I went to check my mailbox on campus (yes, this was an actual thing with paper envelopes and all inside), and I opened four back-to-back-to-back-to-back rejection letters to the four organizations I so badly wanted to be a part of that year. I sat on a couch in the student center for a little bit and just stared at the words before me: “Thank you so much for your interest in [name of organization]. We regret to inform you blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.”

What is wrong with me? Why don’t they want me?

Needless to say, it was a pretty rough day. I wish I could tell you that this was the end of my days of rejection, but that’s not the case. On more than one occasion, I’ve been on the wrong end of being rejected by guys I really liked. I’ve even gotten excuses from them such as “I have some chores to finish” (this was on a Friday night, and he was 27 years old—really, guy?), “I have to study” (this was for the following weekend and was made yet again by a grown man), and “I need to write thank-you emails” (don’t even get me started on that one). Again, I was left with those thoughts no girl or woman should have.

What is wrong with me? Why doesn’t he want me?

The truth is that nothing was wrong with me then, and nothing is wrong with me now. And nothing is wrong with those guys for not wanting to go out with me, either. There are places we’re not supposed to be and people we’re not supposed to be with—and that’s OK. We don’t get to have all of the desires of our hearts, and though it can be painful at times, we have to learn to trust that there are better plans for us ahead. Some things aren’t meant to happen in our lives because there are other opportunities waiting for us.

Rejection is a part of life, but how we respond to those rejections helps us to build character, become stronger, and be bold enough to keep pursuing our dreams.

Don’t let rejection make you think you’re not good enough. You are enough, sister. And don’t let the fear of rejection keep you from doing things you know in your heart that you need to do. Carpe the heck out of that diem, girl.

You’re worth of the risk of rejection, and you’re strong enough to endure whatever happens.

You Can Cheer for Yourself, Too


Life is filled with so much junk, and it becomes far too easy to get down about the situations you face and down on yourself, in general.

But what if you cheered for yourself, instead? What if, rather than getting upset with yourself and pointing out all of your flaws and what you’ve done wrong, you focus on saying things that motivate and inspire you? What if you let yourself feel encouraged instead of discouraged?

While I don’t think it’s necessary to go around tooting your own horn all of the time, I certainly don’t think there’s anything wrong with allowing yourself to give yourself a little self-encouragement. Wouldn’t you offer some uplifting words to a friend who needed it? Guess what, girl? You need it, too.

I love running, and sometimes I put myself through some pretty tough workouts. I was recently pushing really hard in one of these workouts, and I was struggling. It hurt! But if I don’t push myself through those challenges in my workouts, how can I expect to on race day?

One tactic I’ve used for a while now and that I used on this particular day is saying things like “Come on, Nat! You can do this!” or “Suck it up, girl—it’s not that bad and is only a small portion of your life!” Believe it or not, I usually pick up my pace after those little pep talks.

Honestly, I wish I did this more often in every other area of my life. Why is it easier to encourage other people than it is to encourage ourselves?

Think about a time in your life—maybe it’s right now—when you’ve needed encouragement. You might have gotten some from friends or family members, but what if you had encouraged yourself? Try doing it more often. Even when things are going really well, there are still likely multiple instances in every single day when you could use some sort of pick-me-up or cheering on.

If you have time this week, write yourself a little “lunchbox note.” Take a few minutes in the morning, and write a note of encouragement for the day—the kind a mom or dad would put in a kid’s lunchbox—and put it somewhere you’ll see it later.

And when you face a tough situation, encourage yourself. Afraid to talk to that cute boy? Girl, you’ve got this! Nervous about your exam? [Your name here], you’re going to ace this! Anxious about an upcoming presentation? Honey, you’re about to dazzle and impress!

You deserve encouragement, and that includes encouragement from yourself. Be bold enough to believe that and to pursue confidence.

You’re worth the investment in yourself.

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