Knowing Your Worth & When to Walk Away

Like many women, I myself have been guilty of this in past relationships. You hold on long past the relationship’s expiration date hoping that something will change, but all the waiting often leads to disappointment. Now let me qualify this by stating that this post is not meant to disrespect men. I absolutely adore men, and I do believe deeply that love and relationships can be lasting with the right person. For me, this is more about knowing your value as a woman and holding on to your dignity in love and life in general.

Knowing Your Worth

As women, many of us tend to act as caregivers and nurturers and this is a beautiful thing. We are used to giving love and affection to those around us whether that person is a child, friend, family member, husband, or lover. I myself thrive off of caring for others, but the problem arises when we begin putting everyone else’s needs before our own. Although tempting, especially in the butterfly-ridden, early stages of a relationship, don’t neglect your friends and hobbies for a man. This will only leave you feeling unfulfilled and unhappy.

Of course you want to make time for someone you care for, but just remember to make time for the other wonderful things that make you, YOU. I love adventure, hiking and trying new things I am afraid of and I enjoy spending some time alone. These are a few of the things that make me beautifully who I am, just as you have things that make you beautifully you. My supportive friendships with the other women in my life are also a big part of who I am as a woman. Spending time with my friends lifts me up and makes me a better human being.

Chances are that many of these things are exactly what made you attractive to someone in the first place. So in giving those things up, you are throwing away a very alluring and valuable piece of yourself. I also recognize that my time and attention are just as important as any one else’s and if my time is not respected then I just simply stop giving that person attention – this goes for any relationship (friendship, love, etc.). Save your dignity and refuse to beg for someone’s attention – it won’t work anyways (trust me I have tried).

The point is you are valuable, you are loving and you are beautiful. You simply need to find that person who sees these qualities you possess and understands that these gifts are precious.

When to Walk Away

Men are different creatures that I will never claim to completely understand. However, they are human just as we are, and will sometimes make mistakes and fail. It is okay to give good men the space to make mistakes. I can only hope to be shown the same grace in a healthy relationship. Some men also just need space and don’t know how to ask for it without hurting a woman’s feelings – space they should respectfully be given.

In the past I have been inclined to worry (there’s my anxiety kicking in) and ask what’s wrong and overthink everything until I have driven myself completely crazy. I know that I cannot be the only one who has done this in relationships. Recently, I have made a commitment to myself. I don’t take things personally until someone makes it personal. If someone is too busy for me or needs space, I simply give it to them and make time for all the wonderful things that I love. Sometimes men and women need alone time and you should allow a person to have that. My life is full and I don’t need someone to complete me, but if a man can add value and join me for a beautiful ride then amazing! That being said you can not control someone else’s actions and they are not a reflection of your worth as a woman. Sometimes it isn’t about you at all, it’s about fulfilling their own needs.

The problem is knowing when a relationship has crossed into unhealthy territory. As I mentioned, we all need space to ourselves and time for our own hobbies and friendships. That being said, if a man can not find any space for you on his calendar then don’t take it personally and don’t push for attention (again, save your dignity). Pull back and focus on you. Trying to force something that doesn’t fit is unhealthy for both people involved. You have too many amazing things going on in your life to focus all of your attention on someone who isn’t willing to be there.

I have held on to some relationships in the past where I gave everything I had of myself, but was not made a priority in any way. This will never change and sticking around is degrading, disheartening and disappointing. I held on because my hopelessly romantic heart thought that if I loved harder and gave more then they would see my value. I am here to tell you, I have tested this theory and it DOES NOT work. Forgive them, move on and focus on yourself. Make room in your life in case the right person comes along.

A woman is not defined by her relationship status, a woman is uniquely defined by what sets her apart and reflects the beauty inside of her soul. I am currently single and dating. This does not define me, as it does not define you. I am a career-driven, family-oriented, loving, daughter, sister, dog mom, and friend. I crave adventure, need time outdoors, and time for reflection. These things make me the woman I am. Focus on your relationship with yourself and the rest will fall into place the way it is meant to, but don’t force things to fit. Just let them go.

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Alone Time – A How To Guide

Learning to enjoy your own company can be more challenging than most realize, but finding contentment with your own company can also provide a sense of peace and empowerment. Doing things on your own, as trivial as it sounds, can often be intimidating and out of an individual’s comfort zone.

This is something I had to learn to do the hard way. Nearly 3 years ago I moved from my small, comfortable hometown of Owensboro, KY to Louisville. Although Louisville isn’t a huge city, it is much larger than where I am from and needless to say I was a bit intimidated. The first year was pretty rough, as I had gone through a recent break up and didn’t really have a group of friends here yet. As challenging as that first year was (and there were many homesick, teary-eyed nights), it was probably the most transformative year of my life, as I learned to be truly independent.

This is not the “I moved out of Mom & Dad’s independence” – but the I am comfortable and happy with my own company kind of independence. My experience with forced solitude pushed me out of my comfort zone and challenged me to do things on my own without companionship, which in turn gave me an amazing feeling of empowerment. This period of time has also pushed me to look inwardly at the things I like about myself, as well as the things I need to improve upon.

So with that I wanted to share that from my experience, the best way to learn to be alone is to just push yourself to try new things and see what you learn. Here is a list of a few of my favorite alone time activities:

  1. Enjoy a spa day getting a manicure/pedicure.
  2. Go buy yourself an outfit that makes you feel beautiful.
  3. Enjoy a picnic at a park under a nice shade tree.
  4. Read a book.
  5. Plant a garden, or if you don’t have a yard plant some potted plants.
  6. Go for a bike ride – if you don’t have one, rent one.
  7. Volunteer to walk the dogs at your local animal shelter.
  8. Volunteer your time to a local charity you’re passionate about.
  9. Grab your camera and go take interesting pictures around town.
  10. Learn to cook a new dish.
  11. Spend the day hiking in nature.
  12. Take yourself to a nice dinner at a new restaurant.
  13. Organize your closet and drawers.
  14. Learn a new skill (photography, sewing, cooking – there are classes in every town if you look).
  15. Take a yoga class.
  16. Make time for exercise and join a gym.
  17. Go on a road trip to a nearby town.
  18. Join a group to meet new people (I joined the Junior League of Louisville).
  19. Take yourself to see a new movie at the theater.
  20. Make time for journaling.
  21. Spend some time meditating.
  22. Make up a dance – if your home alone there’s no one there to judge you lol.
  23. Think of a random act of kindness and then go do it to make someone’s day.
  24. Go to the farmer’s market – there’s one in every town.
  25. Clean out your refriderator.
  26. Spend a day nesting in bed watching your favorite Netflix series.
  27. Explore your local public library.
  28. Enjoy a day at a local art, history or science museum.
  29. Visit a local tourist hot spot that you’ve never been to – here in Louisville it’s bourbon tours!
  30. Make a list of personal goals.

I’m Coming for You May…

So I am a bit behind because the start of this month was a Derby whirlwind. If you live in Louisville, you understand. We are nine days into the month of May and the days are finally longer and warmer, and this has me feeling very motivated to set some new goals for myself this month.

Accomplishing new goals shouldn’t be something we save for unachievable New Year’s Resolutions. Instead they should be challenging yet achievable. We should also spend time editing these monthly and making changes for the things that do/don’t work for us while striving to be better. Lately, I have been focused on making time for the things that make me happy without guilt, which is something I want to continue.  So for the rest of the year, I plan on picking three goals to work toward each month.

Giving Gratitude

Being grateful makes you happier – its science (I think). This month I want to write down three things I am grateful for each day. I also want to show my gratitude for someone every week. I know… I know… I am a big cornball (in case you didn’t already know) but I think this is important. I have a lot to be thankful for in my life and I want to start spending a little time acknowledging that.

Running Weekly

Now here is a commitment that I have tried to stick with time and again. I always feel better when I make time for exercise, but it is so hard to motivate myself to do it. I really have no excuse since there’s a gym in my neighborhood and a park 5 minutes away. Instead of saying I am going to work out everyday (we all know that won’t happen), I want to make a commitment to 3x a week. On these three days I will get a good run in and whatever else I feel like doing at the time. I want this goal to be less about how I look and more about how I feel. The scale tends to discourage me these days. Being a woman, I feel I put too much pressure on myself to be a certain size. I have struggled with the fact that my womanly body has changed quite a bit since my early 20’s and for me its time to accept and embrace the curves (wanted or not). My goal here is really just to feel stronger and healthier.

Yoga/Meditation

I have really let this habit go over the last month, which makes me sad because I was making a lot of progress. That’s life though… and mine has been busy. I am going to  recommit myself to my at home practice, and I plan on doing this around 5x a week.

I am really just hoping this will help me kick start a happy, healthy summer. Summer is definitely my jam, and I am hoping this will be another one filled with adventure, new friends and fun. What are some of your goals for this summer?

My Experience with High-Functioning Anxiety

I first notice it in my throat, a tightening, like I just swallowed a pill that didn’t quite go down the right way. Other times, I will notice it in my neck and shoulders at night, when I finally quiet myself enough to realize all the tension I’ve been carrying throughout the day. Often this makes it hard to fall asleep. Even still there are times that I am left wide awake by the endless stream of thoughts that permeate my brain when all I want is rest. Then there’s even the feeling I get in my chest. The palpitations and the nervous feeling only made worse by the fact that my heart is racing, an endless cycle. Usually when this is happening, I say nothing and push through until the wave of anxiety subsides.

Last night was one of those nights. I tossed and turned and replayed every scenario of everything going on in my life up to the current moment. Work has been pretty challenging for the last several weeks. Things have been extremely busy, and there are a few people that I have felt I am constantly walking on egg shells around. Trying to manage this with my need to make everyone happy is exhausting. I deal with the stress with a smile on my face and try very hard to not let anyone see behind the façade.

I have been diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder, but I tend to refer to it as high-functioning anxiety despite the fact that it is not an officially recognized diagnosis. For me it is just a better description of my personal experience. Sometimes people mistakenly assume that someone with anxiety tucks themselves away hiding from the world outside, and this may be the case for some people, but my experience has been very different. For me it has more to do with my endless pursuit of perfection. The carefully constructed image of myself that I want to convey to others in order to hide my insecurities and imperfections.

I have an endless array of hobbies, volunteer work, achievements and pursuits. Many of these things do bring me joy and fulfillment. But there is also my need to be busy, to fill my time so that I can stay out of my own head.  There is also my embarrassing nervous laughter. Laughing to fill the space in a conversation, when maybe I am feeling insecure. Other times it is my shortness with someone caused by how overwhelmed I am feeling at that moment. Different things trigger this for me and I am aware of what those triggers are, but every once in a while the wave of anxiety still pours over me.

Most people (outside of those who read my blog, and those very close to me) would never realize that I am constantly at battle with my own mind. This is significantly better – I do take medication, practice yoga and breathing techniques nightly and try to eat healthy and live a healthy lifestyle. But occasionally nights like last night sneak up on me and suck me into that black hole of my mind, with the endless gravitational pull of my incessant thoughts.

It’s often hard to remember but if you are coping with an anxiety disorder, realize that you’re not alone. Often those you may least expect may be dealing with similar issues. Anxiety isn’t a stereotype, it looks different on some people than it does on others. Exercise and breathing techniques work, talking to someone is even better, self care is a necessity.

Exploring Clifty Falls

“We’ve all had a heartache. And so my journey now is to find some sort of grace in the face of this defeat. And I can look at the journey, not just the destination. I can feel proud, I can stand here in front of you tonight and say I was courageous.”  – Diana Nyad

The quote above speaks loudly to me. We all face disappointment and I know that I have endured many of my own heartaches. But somehow, wandering in the woods brings out the strong, sometimes buried courageous side of myself.  Its not just about the destination, but facing head on the challenges of your own journey. Sometimes I find myself trudging on trying to get to the end destination instead of focusing merely on the beauty around me, and the strength it took to reach the top of that hill.

So much like life… some times we find ourselves wishing it away. I will be happy… when… if only…. as soon as (insert end goal). Often, I relate my hikes back to situations I am facing in life because I find there are a lot of comparisons to be made there metaphorically. Clifty Falls is one of those special places with no end destination, because there is so much beauty every where you turn. There may be a few hills along the path, but the payoff and strength gained is worth it.

A couple of weekends ago I visited Clifty with a friend of mine and did some exploring. First, we went to scope out the waterfall, because it’s super easy to get to and is a must see for the first visit. Then, we went down to the creek bed to wander around for the rest of the day (Trail 3). There was hardly anyone there that day (it was still cold) so we let the dogs enjoy some off leash time too.

For me the creek bed is always a delight. Its dried up in many areas, which allows you to explore all through it. The cliff sides and trees surround you and the beautiful creek stones and occasional flowing water makes for gorgeous views. The creek also features many large coral and shell fossils. All of these sights, and sounds let me fall away from my daily barrage of worries (again… coping with anxiety) and just savor the current moment. FYI there are many different trails in this park and it is certainly suitable for beginners.

If you live near Louisville it is only a short 1-hour drive to Madison, IN where you will find Clifty Falls State Park. Madison itself is a charming, historical riverside town. Anyone needing a place to hike this spring, and a place to enjoy the “now” should certainly add Clifty to your list of nearby visits.

 

Finding Balance

So I am a week behind on blog posts, but last week was a killer for me. I was stressed to the max and felt like I just couldn’t keep up with my to-do list (both for work & at home). By Friday, I was  so irritable I just knew I needed to readjust my attitude and get centered for the busy week ahead.

Do you ever just feel like… I am going to scream if I get one more email request for something someone needs “now”? Yea… that was me. Needless to say, if you spoke to me last week, I apologize for my less than bubbly disposition. There are certain things I have noticed have a tendency to greatly affect my mood throughout the week including the amount of sleep and rest I get and the time I make for myself.

Thanks to my generation (yes… I am a millennial) there is an expectation we should always be connected and available. Work days, are no longer 8 hours, and I know there are times I find myself checking email late at night. This is one thing that I have tried to really get a handle on not doing. After 8PM, I feel like whatever it is can wait until the morning. My evenings are for catching up with friends/family, snuggling on the couch, walking the dog, and taking care of me. It’s not that I’m less committed than those who do, it’s that ‘ME’ time is a necessity.

And now at the risk of sounding like an extremely old lady (I swear I am only 32), I try to get 8 hours of sleep throughout the work week. My devices go off at 8PM, and I am in bed reading a good book at 9PM. YIKES… I sound so old! It’s amazing how my evenings have changed over the last 5-10 years.

Gone are the days carousing at a bar on the weekends – although I’ll proudly admit I poured myself a bourbon or two last Friday. I need weekends to be restful and I particularly enjoy spending time outdoors. My work week is fast-paced and stressful, not to mention, I spend time the majority of my day at a desk in an interior (no windows/fluorescent light) office.

I am still figuring out balance and how to achieve it. But these are things I think we all need to be a bit more mindful of – particularly allowing yourself to unplug every once in a while. This doesn’t make you less committed or productive. This allows you to have time to pursue other interests, which in turn guards against burn out and makes for a more positive working environment for both you and your team. Make time for rest, the hobbies you love, and of course your family and friends.

Next weekend I challenge you to explore a new town, read a book, or take a yoga class – invest in your own happiness and well being.

 

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How my Friendships with Women Inspire Me

Happy Women’s History Month

March is Women’s History Month, and I wanted to write a post about my relationships with other women and how these friendships impact my life. We all have our different types of friends; some are old or new, some are thoughtful, some are the life of the party and always providing the laughs, while others are no-nonsense, “tell it like it is” companions. All of these various women in my life help give me confidence, support, and even sometimes a shoulder to cry on.

First, I have to say I have been blessed to have always been surrounded by strong women, starting day one with my mother. Growing up she always pushed us to try our hardest, but also gave us love and comfort when we needed it. She set an example for hard work when she not only worked full time as an RN raising two kids, but also went back to school to finish her Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing. Then, I had my grandmothers who both raised kids and took care of husbands. I have been fortunate to have close relationships with both of my grandmothers, and their loving advice is worth more than gold. The lessons I have learned from these women I carry with me daily.

I also grew up with a younger sister, Emily (yes – my poor Dad had to endure a house full of women). Though we fought a lot growing up, as sisters often do, we have a great relationship as adults. My sister has been there for me through many ups and downs and she is one of those people I know I can always call. Lord knows, she’s had to listen to me cry about more breakups than I would care to admit, but I know she always has my back.

I have always had wonderful friendships with other women (I don’t get the whole – I’m not a “girl’s girl” thing, and frankly think it is stupid). In my hometown, I have friends I love that I have known for years, and since moving to Louisville I have gained a whole new group of friends. All of these women inspire me with their goals, hobbies, careers, community involvement, bad ass parenting skills, and many of them seemingly able to juggle it all. These friends give me career advice, push me to be more involved, give me pep-talks before Bumble dates (LOL – true though), and most importantly they show me what I am capable of through their own achievements. Seeing women further in along in their careers kicking ass, or being an awesome mom raising an actual human being (I’ll stick to my dog for now because you know… training wheels), these things are inspiring to me. These things show me what is possible.

So cheers to all you bad ass women from the past to present! Thank you for your support, drive, dedication, and most of all your inspiration.