Giving From The Heart

Print“In lieu of gifts, please bring donation items for the food pantry.”  When I recently received this note on an invitation for a five year-old’s birthday party my first reaction was, “That is so sweet.  What a great idea!”  My second reaction was, “Should I do this for my five year-old’s party, too?”

Lately, I’ve been in purge-mode.  Simplifying.  I want to spend less time picking up toys and more time playing with my children.

I’ve also been yearning to teach my daughter the true joy that comes from giving to those with needs, greater than our own.  But with a 1, 3 and 4 year-old in tow, time to grocery shop is hard to come by, let alone visits to nursing homes, food pantries, and homeless shelters.

This idea to accept donations in lieu of gifts seemed like the perfect solution.  I would prevent more stuff coming into the house and provide my daughter the opportunity to put other’s needs in front of her own.  This would be a great lesson not only for her but also for her friends!

Except that she didn’t want to do it.  “But I want to open presents, mommy!”  She’s been counting down the days to her birthday for the last 364 days and now I was encouraging her to forgo the gift-giving?  This was not exciting for her.  She seemed genuinely concerned about the kids that didn’t have a home but she still wanted presents for herself.  What is a mom to do?

I reached out to my friends on social media who provided a mountain of great advice.   I soon realized the following things:

  • The joy of giving is when it comes from the heart, not when you are forced to do so.
  • There is plenty of time in the future for me to get my children involved in volunteer work.  There’s no need to combine it with a birthday, unless my child is on-board.
  • As the oldest, Aurora has always had to share her things.  Something I had not considered when comparing her to the friend, who is an only child, that asked for food donations.
  • I should not compare my daughter to other children or myself to other mothers.  We all have different situations.
  • Implement a “new toy in, old toy out” rule.  Involve Aurora in selecting the toys to donate.
  • Many small actions can be more impactful than one single great action.  I can teach my children the joy of giving all year-long by continually donating our clothes, food, and toys.  We can participate in toy drives.  We can continue to pick up trash and do nice things for our neighbors, just because.  There are always teachable moments.

I want to continue to be mindful about the pressure I put on myself and the possibility of me transferring that pressure onto my child.  I don’t want to turn Aurora off from doing good-deeds because her “mom made her” when she was little.  I want her to give because it makes her feel good.  I want her to pray because she wants to talk to God, not because she fears the consequences of not doing so.  And I want her to enjoy the thrill of opening her birthday gifts, free of guilt.

In my excitement to turn Aurora’s birthday into a charitable operation, I found an incredible organization.  It’s called “Project Night Night”.  I was going to order bags from this charity and ask Aurora’s friend’s to bring a new or gently used stuffed animal, blanket and book to her party.  After the activities of the day, we would all sit down and stuff the bags to give to children in nearby shelters.


Although I don’t think we are going to do this any longer for her birthday, I think I might still organize an opportunity for us to do this with some friends.  That way she can still receive gifts and we can still give to those in need.  In other words, we can all have her cake and eat it, too 🙂

For more information about Project Night Night, click here: 



Reading the Signposts


Nearly a decade ago, my husband and I hiked ten miles down to the bottom of the Grand Canyon to visit Havasu Falls.  This is an incredibly vast and remote stretch of desert; a place people have died after taking the wrong turn.  Needless to say, we made sure to keep our eyes open for the trail markers to lead us down the right path.

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Just the Way You Are



I have had something weighing heavy on my heart but it didn’t all come together for me until I crawled into bed tonight and had to crawl back out to write this article.  This post is likely going to cause some friends to unfriend or unfollow me but in the end, it’s not my intention to criticize, rather to scream from the rooftops.


I was in direct sales for four years.  It allowed me to build my own schedule and work from home while raising my daughters.  It gave me financial freedom.  I quit once it became too much to be both a full-time mom and part-time consultant.  I’ve had to give up many creature comforts as a result, but I am fortunate enough to have a husband that earns enough and a family that supports us enough that we can survive on one-income.  That is not the case for many others, which is why direct-sales truly offers the best of both worlds.

Having said that, my newsfeed is FILLED with my friends in direct-sales.  I am so happy that it has given them an unexpected career path, providing support, goals, and money along the way.  I know how truly joyful it feels to succeed in that business.

But when I am constantly confronted with photos of how I can trim fat off of my body or improve the wrinkles on my face, I am left wondering “Am I good enough?”

I recognize we all likely have room for improvement.  I have a growth-focused mindset, love learning and am always open to learning a new perspective.  I respect the desire to feel good about yourself and I am happy for those that found success after they received that push they needed in the right direction.

The fact of the matter is, I feel pressure to continually look younger and fitter.  I enjoy fitness for the natural high it gives me, the personal satisfaction of having done it and the health benefits.  Sure I like looking cute in a dress, but with three daughters at home, I certainly don’t obsess about it.  I had major body issues as a teenager and fought hard to recognize that my personal worth was much more than the size of my waist.  And I don’t want my girls to see their mommy worrying about such things.  I DO want them to see me exercise, but I don’t want it to become something they constantly worry about whether they are “keeping up” as they age.  I want it to be a healthy part of life- not about achieving a certain “look”.

The same goes for my face.  Y’all.  I’m aging.  Some of us do it more gracefully than others.  And yes, it can be hard to look in the mirror and see some extra lines that didn’t used to be there.  And yes, I realize there are SUPER effective regimens out there that will decrease the appearance of these lines but dammit- I DON’T WANT TO.  I don’t want to wash my face twice a day (I never have as gross as that may be for some to read) but what’s more, I don’t want to focus on turning back the hand of time.

Each year that I age means another year I’ve been fortunate to live on this Earth.  I’m not trying to sound poetic, I’m just being real.

Lately, I’ve started an open dialogue with my oldest.  I realized, too late, how much I am the cause of her obsession with princesses because I gave her the tools- the movies, the dolls, the performances.  Now, I am doing damage control, talking to her about true beauty- that it comes from the inside.  That you can’t put a pretty dress on the witch in Snow White and make her beautiful.  That kindness is what makes somebody beautiful.  But it’s a hard sell when all she has ever known as role models have been ageless beauties.

I want her to see a mom who ages gracefully.  I don’t mind using some wrinkle creams here and there or some makeup when I want to look especially nice.  But my husband fell in love with a girl on the beach, with no makeup.  When I asked him to buy me a perfume for Christmas he told me it would be a bottle of sunscreen because that’s what he loves.  He loves the memory of us on that beach.  He loves me unfiltered.  And I do, too.

My friends who are ruling their businesses. . . I am so happy for you to find that purpose and success.  I know for some customers, it has been absolutely life-changing and I celebrate that with you.

It’s just hard when I have SO MANY friends who are involved.  Rather than seeing one post a day or every few days, I am literally bombarded with over 20 posts a day of before and after photos- of pounds lost, of lashes lengthened and faces “improved”.

So for those of you who feel the same as I do, I want to hold your hand and remind you that you are good enough, just the way you are.  If you feel inspired and want to improve the clarity of your face and the tone of your body, I have many wonderful friends that can get you on the right track.  And if you are comfortable with where you are, I say cheers to you.  So am I.


See this article on Scary Mommy!




Is it your weight?  Is it the job you spent a fortune getting a degree(s) in but that causes you a lifetime of stress and sleepless nights?  Is it an addiction of alcohol, nicotine, drugs, shopping, or starbucks?  Infidelity?  Credit card debt?  Hoarding?  A lie?  The wrong relationship- not necessarily a bad one but one that you know deep-down is not the right one for you for whatever reason?  Is it a conversation you’ve been avoiding with a relative, spouse or friend?  Is it regret?

Denial.  You don’t want to read further because you don’t feel ready to face the truth and reading about denial might help you recognize that which you are avoiding.  It makes your heart race.  It makes you sweat.  It might make you cry.  It’s too overwhelming.  It’s too big to tackle.  You aren’t ready and you aren’t sure when or if you ever will be.

Here’s the thing, though; admitting it is actually one of the hardest steps so once you’ve conquered that, you’re already on your way. Continue reading