No one talks about what happens when the pursuit of happiness doesn’t work out the way you thought it would

It’s been said that the test of a true man’s character is the way he behaves when no one is watching. The last few years of my life have lead me to believe that a better testament of personal character is how we respond to life’s blows, and how we treat others when we lose everything.

This past year my family has lost every single asset that has come to define modern day success.

Whether filling out school, home, or job applications, our entry to security and opportunity are all qualified upon this value of financial success…of winning.

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The world tells us to boldly chase after what sets our soul on fire. To be fearless and to #riseandgrind. We put entrepreneurs and risk-takers on pedestals, and we are led to believe that if we want something bad enough, and are also willing to put in the time and sacrifice that it takes, we can achieve all of our hearts greatest desires (these photos are an example of a dream come true…that was suddenly gone).

Sometimes that happens. My husband was lucky enough to achieve enormous success in business at a very early age. He brought significant impact to companies by doing things he was remarkably talented at, and those impacts made companies a great deal of money. His personal financial gains from those wins made taking more bold leaps possible, and seven years ago when we embarked on building our life together, we set off to do just that.

At that time, I believed that my husband and I were both destined and entitled to even more “success” because we were two of the most intelligent, honest, and hard-working people I know.

We do the right thing, even when that meant we took the biggest hits, because we value integrity above all else. We are not afraid of hard things.

We have collectively sacrificed so much to try and get ahead, and we did it all because success meant we had the opportunity to change other people’s lives.

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But even in the face of all of those realities, we managed to lose the two things that we thought we needed the most - my longing for security - and my husband’s desire for freedom.

Let’s be honest, those two losses were horribly difficult to swallow.

Some of our losses were due to the inevitable missteps that one takes when pioneering and disrupting into new territories, some were the byproducts of personal growth, and many of our losses (and the hardest to recover from) were the consequences of being taken advantage of by people who did not share our core values.

No one talks about what happens when the pursuit of happiness doesn’t work out the way you thought it would.

How do you stomach disappointment? How do you modify your lens of success when you try your best and you don’t succeed?

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And this is what I have learned as I stand here today in the reckoning of letting go of the security that I once believed defined me…

Most leaders believe that the biggest indicator of success is money, because money equals power, power equals freedom, and without freedom we have no control. I have learned however, that the things that give you the most fulfillment in life (for us, there is no greater meaning in life than the kind you experience as a parent) are often the things you lose sight of on the journey towards building your safety net.

While research has proven that money only increases happiness up to the point of about 70K a year, I still held on to this notion that ambition, if altruistic in nature, could bring purpose to your life.

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I surmised that business could act as a vehicle to create impact and to give back - and I have since come to understand that the biggest gifts I have given to others didn’t lie in the money I donated to charitable causes, or within the opportunities I provided, but in the ways I loved just a handful of people with my whole heart.

I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.
— Maya Angelou

For a long time, I held onto this system of belief that my need for safety and freedom had to be met in order for me to be happy.

I have transformed that ideology in recent months to uncover quite the opposite. When you are the most stripped down and sitting in the absence of the things you think you need the most, is when you truly awaken to the magic of the world around you.

When you are forced to stop all the doing, grinding, charging, achieving, driving, hustling, and fighting is when you get still enough to focus on the being of human existence.

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I should admit that I am still in the process of forcing myself to stop the cycle. Accepting disappointment is certainly not my biggest strength.

When you don’t feel secure - you feel afraid - and its human nature to want to charge to fix it, control it, and solve it. When you feel stuck, and you don’t have answers to your problems, it is ever so difficult to let yourself be still and to focus on the sound of your child’s laugh, the wind at your back, the blessings you have in just being alive.

But this is the new measure of success I have set for myself and these are the goals I am striving towards: embracing disappointment and finding joy in the absence of getting what I thought I needed, being fully present to the simple joys of life, and expressing gratitude for what I have instead of mourning all that has been lost. 

The silver lining of my story is that when you lose everything, you get to wipe the slate clean and start over…and as it turns out the security, freedom, and success I have always wanted, was always right here for the taking. It just looks different than I expected. The world is still our oyster, and I wouldn’t bet against us.

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That’s all about doing, not being – and while doing will bring you moments of joy, it won’t necessarily reward you with lasting happiness. Stop and breathe. Be healthy.

Be around your friends and family. Be there for someone, and let someone be there for you. Be bold. Just be for a minute.

If you allow yourself to be in the moment, and appreciate the moment, happiness will follow.  Because allowing yourself just to be, puts things into perspective.

There’s a reason we’re called human beings and not human doings. As human beings we have the ability to think, move and communicate in a heightened way.

We can cooperate, understand, reconcile and love, that’s what sets us apart from most other species. Don’t waste your human talents by stressing about nominal things, or that which you cannot change. If you take the time simply to be and appreciate the fruits of life, your stresses will begin to dissolve, and you will be happier.
— Richard Branson

READ MORE ABOUT  CHRISTINA  (AND ALL OUR AMAZING CONTRIBUTORS) BY HEADING TO  THE & GAL  GUIDES SECTION.

READ MORE ABOUT CHRISTINA (AND ALL OUR AMAZING CONTRIBUTORS) BY HEADING TO THE & GAL GUIDES SECTION.

WRITTEN BY CHRISTINA CERANNA: ENTREPRENEUR, CREATIVE DIRECTOR, PHOTOGRAPHER, SOCIAL MEDIA & CONTENT STRATEGIST

10 Steps to Healthy Living (it may not be what you think!)

What comes to mind when thinking of “healthy living”?  When I say healthy I don’t mean we need to be at our ideal weight, or on a super strict diet…I mean we need to be pursuing health so that we can be the best version of ourselves.  In this article, I’m going to give you ten things you can start doing right now to help kickstart this movement!  I know what you’re thinking…TEN?!

Well, here’s the thing:

Baby steps still move you forward.

With those baby steps in mind, I encourage you to just hone in on one or two keys on this list that aren’t currently a practice in your life. Simply start there.  Have grace for yourself and dare to begin!

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1.Be kind to yourself!

Yes, I did this one first for a reason.  I know for me personally, I am the harshest with myself.  I “speak” to myself in a way I would never in one million years speak to a friend.  I truly think living a healthy life starts with treating yourself like you would treat a friend!  This is a process, no perfection required.  Be kind!

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2. Get your sleep

Research has shown that our bodies actually need 7-9 hours of sleep per night.  If we really paid attention, so much of poor health can be linked back to lack of sleep. Just like we often remind our children that they need to go to bed because this is when our bodies heal and recharge, we sometimes need to remind ourselves the same!  Set an alarm on your phone at a certain time and label it “shut it down” . Start winding down from your work/your phone each night 30 minutes earlier than normal and allow your body the rest it needs to thrive.

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3. Drink plenty of water

This is a great challenge for yourself to start your day with a glass of water.  My health coach painted this picture for me that after sleeping, our insides “need a shower” and that’s what a big glass of water will do.  Make it a point to drink water throughout your day and see how it makes you feel.  Also more water typically equals less caffeine, which is never a bad thing. Note: If you struggle drinking water, spice things up with lemon, lime, fresh berries, or a sprig of something yummy!

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4. Fuel your body

So much of what we put in our bodies determines how we feel.  Our body digests foods at different speeds and can tremendously affect how we feel. Changing the lifestyle of my eating has drastically improved my quality of life.  It’s not about losing weight, dieting, or looking a certain way - it’s about how you feel!  When we are fueling our bodies with whole foods (not processed), we have more energy and “fuel” for our days.

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5. Establish a morning routine

I fought this one so hard, but establishing a morning rhythm has allowed me to start my day in a healthy way.  I started by making a list of what my “idea” morning would be, and then worked from there.  It’s important to remember this is not a check list, or a to do list but simply a routine (or rhythm) allows our minds to take a rest.  It leaves room for creative space, increases productivity, frees up time.  YES!

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6. Live uncluttered

I truly believe that our physical surroundings affect our inner life.  Clearing the clutter of our physical space, clears up mental space and gives us time back.  Healthy living and living uncluttered go hand in hand in my book.

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Living an Uncluttered Life

7. Create a support system

Living a healthy lifestyle alone is so much harder than living it alongside someone else.  Ideally, our partners would be seeking to live a healthy lifestyle with us - but if your partner isn’t on board yet, find a friend or sister to come alongside of you.  Having the support and accountability is everything.

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8. Move your body!

Again, this isn’t about losing weight or looking your best but it’s about how you feel.  Find something that you love and go for it.  Maybe it’s a group class, an at home video, getting outdoors…..moving your body will help you feel good and give you energy.

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9. Establish a Quiet Zone

Take time away from your phone, the noise, your work….this is so important especially as women who are juggling so much.  If we never stop, we will burn out.  Setting aside an intentional time each week to set away from the never ending responsibilities to just BE will do so much for your health and wellness.  I’m challenging you!

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10. Set your intentions

This is so much a mind game, y’all.  I promise that living a healthy life is possible for you, but you have to decide that for yourself!  Be intentional, set yourself goals or intentions and just dare to begin!

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I believe in you!  You are one step away from living a healthy life…all you have to do is dare to begin. 

Forever cheering for you, Wynne


READ MORE ABOUT  WYNNE  (AND ALL OUR AMAZING CONTRIBUTORS) BY HEADING TO  THE & GALS  SECTION

READ MORE ABOUT WYNNE (AND ALL OUR AMAZING CONTRIBUTORS) BY HEADING TO THE & GALS SECTION

WRITTEN BY WYNNE ELDER: PHOTOGRAPHER, WRITER, ENCOURAGER, & COMMUNITY BUILDER.

How Time-Blocking Changed my Life

All of us working moms know that the after school hustle is real.  Call it witching hour, or call it whatever you like but those precious hours starting when you get home from pick up or the bus pulls away from your house, until bedtime can be a little nutty.  Especially if you are in a season of small or school aged kids.  So, I’ve found a few things that have been pretty helpful in managing the potential stress and chaos.

WHAT IS TIME BLOCKING?

Ok, I’m sure you get the concept of what this is, though I’ll admit when I first heard about this concept, I binged watched every youtube video I could find.  I was enamored by the idea. 

THINK ABOUT BLOCKING OUT THE HOURS OF YOUR DAY LIKE WHEN YOU WERE IN HIGH SCHOOL.

Yes, really!!  Remember when the bell would ring, and you would pack up your Geometry books and head off to Art? Then after the bell rang for art, you would pack up your supplies and head to English?  You get the point…

Instead of doing ONE MILLION THINGS at a time, you were laser focused during that particular block of time.

(Having trouble with this video? Try watching it here instead)

So what would it look like to block out your time as a working mom?  Well we could talk about a lot of different parts of the day right now, but…

LET’S TALK ABOUT THE AFTERNOON BLOCK

This is potentially the hardest and most freeing block of time for me personally, when I adhere to my time blocking schedule.  

I pick up my daughter from school at 3pm, and then by 4pm my son is home off the bus. I also have a 2 year old who somewhere in there is waking up from her nap.  So how does time blocking work?  I have an alarm on my phone that is set every Monday-Friday at 4pm that says “kids home/evening block”.

That alarm serves as a reminder for me to put my phone AWAY for the next 3ish hours.

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I know what you are thinking, “Wynne that is so hard! I do a lot of business during that block!” And I totally hear you, and I understand.  I’m just here to say that there’s a lot more productivity that can happen when you aren’t screaming at your kids “just one more minute” and getting so frustrated with them because they are “interrupting you”.  I know y’all get it, the struggle is real.  

What if instead of multitasking and trying to help with homework, cook dinner, be present with your spouse, play with your kids AND work at the same time…

What if you shut down the temptation to work during that block, set up a healthy boundary, and gave yourself permission to be present? 

I have found this to be extremely helpful both in my resting and my producing.  I fill myself up on kitchen dance parties, cooking dinner, and looking my kids in the eyes so once bed time rolls around, everyones tanks are full. You know what happens next right, the next alarm goes off!  

THE GOAL:

Be present wherever you are or with whatever you are working on, while still being the badass #momboss that you are.

Me/us time/work block rings and with our mind and bodies, we move onto the next block of time.  I promise that little “rest” of your mind from your work tasks onto your family will only give you the mental capacity you need to move onto your next big task or project!

NOTE:

If you want to see what the rest of my day looks like (time-blocking wise anyway), check out the photo below.

This one (and the image used above) are the actual alarm reminders I use each and every day!

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FOR EXAMPLE:

5:12am DO NOT CHECK SOCIAL MEDIA OR EMAIL

6:00am Write

6:21am Get Camp up! You got this!!!

6:55am Bus is coming!!!!

fast forward to evening

4:00pm All Kids Home/Evening Block (i.e. PUT PHONE AWAY)

7:30pm Kids Bedtime/Me/Us Time Block

9:30pm Shut it down (phone), Read, and Sleep

TRY IT!

I can’t wait to hear your stories and see how you make this your own. 


READ MORE ABOUT  WYNNE  (AND ALL OUR AMAZING CONTRIBUTORS) BY HEADING TO  THE & GALS  SECTION

READ MORE ABOUT WYNNE (AND ALL OUR AMAZING CONTRIBUTORS) BY HEADING TO THE & GALS SECTION

WRITTEN BY WYNNE ELDER: PHOTOGRAPHER, WRITER, ENCOURAGER, & COMMUNITY BUILDER.

Beating The Working At Home Guilt

I leave for work most days the same time as my kids leave for school. They are old enough now to fix their own breakfasts and pack lunches, so our mornings flow fairly well. Okay-most days they flow. Then there are the days my 10-year-old decides to take a 45 minute shower, but I digress.

Depending on the day, I pick them up after practices and we head home for dinner, which we always do together. It is literally the only thing in parenting that I am consistent with. No matter if it is bowls of cereal or the nights where we clean out the fridge, for at least fifteen to twenty minutes every day, we speak to one another. One of the only mom hacks I have is Clean Out the Fridge Night. At least one night a week we pull out all of the leftovers, heat up the containers and I pass out forks. We stand around our kitchen island and fork fight over the last bit of spaghetti or the remaining meatloaf. It’s fun, it reduces our food waste and it cleans out our fridge.

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There you go, you now have the secret sauce to the only beneficial tip I know about raising kids.

On the other nights of the week, the rules are different.

There are no cell phones allowed at the table, usually the TV is turned off unless it is something we all are pressed to watch together and we get to discuss our individual days.

And then we disband.

The kids head off to shower, lay out their clothes and projects for the next day and finalize homework. And  I open my laptop. Monday through Friday, this our routine.

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Now some days are different and at least once a week we go out to eat because I have forgotten to meal plan appropriately. Those are the dinners we actually have more interactions across the table from one another, mainly because I have trapped them into a booth to talk.

Then there are other days where practice is cancelled or my work load is not pressing and we play games or watch movies.

But at this stage of parenting a teen and pre-teen, our weekends are for fun and our weeks are for getting through.

I would like to tell you that only have a brief moment with my children each day depresses me. However, it is all we can do with the lives we are leading and the time we spend is good. They are active and have homework and I almost always have a daily project to finish or a court date to prepare for the following day.

I have a no work on Saturday rule. Not for any other reason than soccer for both kids is almost entirely year round and Saturdays are game days. We are bustling from field to field, cities to varying States and I couldn’t work even if I had to. It also is an entire day that my kids know is devoted to them. You have to find a pattern that works for you, your business and your family.

The worst advice I’ve ever been given in business is that you have to have a work life balance.

There is no such thing.

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Sometimes, your business requires your family to make sacrifices. And then at other times, the laptops are closed and business can wait. The ebb and flow of that will change depending on your schedule, your family’s obligations and the needs of your business.

You cannot beat yourself up for the nights that you miss family game night doing expense reports. Because there will be days that you can move everything around to make it to your 3rd grader’s science project presentation. Giving yourself the freedom to know that a balancing act is not feasible, will free up space in your head and heat to think of something other than guilt.

You love your job…or maybe you need the income from it. And you most certainly love your kids. And that’s ok. In fact, that’s GREAT! The most important thing to remember though is wherever you are, be all there. When you’re home, make sure you’re looking into you family’s eyeballs. Ask the questions, be the encouragement.

And when you’re at work, remind yourself not only how grateful you are to have one, but also what an incredible blessing it is that your children are taken care of while you’re hustling. Whether they’re at school, with a nanny, or daycare…they’re learning so much about playing with others, independence, seeing mom work hard, and thrive in a multitude of ways… all because you have given them the opportunity to.

Mom Guilt? Push it away and pass out those forks.

READ MORE ABOUT  LINDSEY  (AND ALL OUR AMAZING CONTRIBUTORS) BY HEADING TO  THE & GALS  SECTION.

READ MORE ABOUT LINDSEY (AND ALL OUR AMAZING CONTRIBUTORS) BY HEADING TO THE & GALS SECTION.

WRITTEN BY LINDSEY W. ANDREWS: LAWYER, ENTREPRENEUR, AUTHOR, AND SPEAKER

You can connect with Lindsey on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or www.lindseyandrewswriter.com