Progress, not perfection…

Most of you do NOT know that I’ve decided to write a book. With authoring a book comes a lot of extra stuff that you didn’t really think about. For example, you have to be pretty diligent about actually writing! Haha!

My life rolls at about 90mph at all times. I am technically a teacher on Monday through Friday, but we all know that teachers never really leave their job at school on Friday at 4pm. Am I right? Along with teaching, I am committed to health and fitness. I choose to spend one sweaty hour, 6 out of 7 nights a week, with my dear friend and boot camp instructor, Haley. I want you to notice that I said “I choose.” I am asking you to notice this because everything we do in life is a choice. We make a ton of choices every day. I will often have people tell me that they don’t know how I manage to keep a healthy and active lifestyle on top of teaching, being a newlywed and settling into our first home. My answer is always the same. You could do this, too! (People don’t like to hear that.)

I have never heard more excuses than when I share that we all have the same 24 hours in a day. Guys, I totally get that motherhood is hard. I do! I get that “no one understands your life and your struggles.” I completely get it that “no one has it quite like you do.” But, guess what? No one has it quite like I do and here I am showing up and making it work! I am not saying this to be cocky or rude or insensitive. I am here to tell you that you make time for what you really want… PERIOD. If you want to be the mom who has her kids in every extracurricular activity under the sun and is always wearing the designer outfits, by all means, GET IT GIRL! If you want to be the teacher who works all day with second graders and hurries home to spend all night with her kinder baby, THAT’S ALL YOU! But, please don’t come to me and assume that because I seem to have all the time in the world, it’s because I don’t have children yet.

I make my commitments just like everyone else with respect to the season I am in. There have been seasons where I was completely committed to work and put in countless hours making special activities and experiences for my kindergarten students. What you don’t know about that season of my life is that my relationship brought me nothing but anxiety and anger. I felt completely alone and decided that if I was going to continue failing as a partner, I could at least be the best teacher. I found reasons to “stay late” at school. I spent weekends working on “special projects” just so I could be alone because I knew that if I was in my office, I surely couldn’t disappoint anyone. There were also seasons where I was mentally drained and living from an empty cup and unable to really be as present as I wanted in relationships. It was those times I took to fitness and spent countless hours at the gym and counting calories. What you don’t know is that I chose that life because it was something I could control. I couldn’t change how my family judged me or tried to manipulate me. I couldn’t rationalize with them that their perception of me was wrong. So, I chose to completely withdraw and take control of what I could. These just a few chapters of my life that I chose to live out. Honestly? I wouldn’t trade those times for anything. All of those seasons of my life made me who I am today. Those seasons molded me and formed me. Those seasons helped me find my voice and discover clarity and balance. They brought opportunities for growth and without being at my lowest, I would never be here.

In one of my more lonely seasons, I took to social media and started following some teachers who happened to be christian and living in seasons I had only dreamed about. They had beautiful families, perfect houses and seemed to be able to do it all. I stumbled upon an Instagram post about a book called For the Love by Jen Hatmaker. In this book, Jen references the balance beam of life. We all have options every day to choose things we want to do. It all comes down to what we want to make time for and what we want to “throw off the beam.” This book helped me recognize that my perception of these “perfect” people was way off base and that even the “perfect” people are riding the struggle bus. Those pictures on Instagram of the farmhouse kitchen with the white cabinets and Rae Dunn collection? Oh yeah, those are real. But dear sweet girl, behind that camera shot is a pile of dirty laundry, a messy bun and a cold cup of coffee in hand.

Social media has completely changed the way we live our lives. It’s been a blessing and a curse. Without social media, would we be as creative and innovative as we are today? Maybe not. However, social media has become an outlet where we sit for hours and scroll through miles and miles of “perfect” only to end up wasting quality time (that you could be at the gym or making a healthy dinner) and feeling so inadequate that you just shut down and withdraw. Friends, I am here to tell you that I have fallen victim to that trap on more than one occasion. What I have found, though, is this. Social media is a platform for men and women all over the world to share their story. Each of these men and women are really good at something, but not everything. We see their strengths. We see their highlight reel. We see the perfectly filtered picture and then we see someone else. We see their strengths. We see their side hustle. We see them killing it. Then, we see someone else and the cycle continues. In the end, we assume that all of these people have all of these areas of their life on lock. They don’t. We need to stop assuming that the girl with the amazing side hustle has a perfect marriage, clean house and a huge savings account. We need to stop comparing our life to someone else’s.

When God made you, he already knew your purpose. He knew your path. He knew the world needed your gifts. Take a breath and think about your dreams. Think about what you are doing well. Think about the things you love in yourself. Commit to giving yourself some positive affirmations. Think about what you bring to this world. That should be your focus. From there, think about what brings you joy. Is it your job? Is it your family? Your friends? Now, think about the things that bring you stress and anxiety. Is it frustrating for you to be carrying a few extra pounds? If so, look into your circle and ask someone to watch your kids for an hour while you go to the gym. Are you thinking it’s selfish to do that? Well, you’re wrong. It’s self care. And if you have a strong tribe of people who support your mental health, you will find people lined up at the door to help you. Now, are you shifting your thinking and assuming that it’s impossible to workout after a whole day of work? I get it! I know that life! What about a home program that you could do in the morning before your kids wake up? There are options. You aren’t destined to put your life on hold because there are obstacles. You are meant to rise above them. You are meant to find a way. If everything was easy, do you think you’d be as motivated to find a way to get it done? Probably not!

So, make the choice to see progress over perfection. Be present. Be committed to owning your life and making every season count. And don’t forget to take a step back every once in awhile to see how far you’ve come. You’ve got this. And if you don’t, it’s okay to say “no.”

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