Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Latest Learnings

Hey, it's a list post!
I love list posts!



So here we are heading into winter time...into Christmas time!
And this most recent new season of my life has certainly brought a lot with it! Come see what I've learned this fall!
Some of it is serious, some of it is fun, and some of it is just something really, really cool that I discovered and thought you might find interesting too!

{one} Alma is my new little inspiration!

Oh my goodness, Alma Deutscher is the coolest! She's a child prodigy who is only 12 years old and she's already composed her own opera and even more absolutely exquisite music...full blown symphonies for all instruments. And it's all just in her head! I may not be a musical genius like her, but hearing about her and reading about her completely rekindled my musical passion! And, even though my brain works completely differently from hers, in some other ways, she reminds me a lot of myself when I was her age. I'm glad I ever found out about her and I can't wait to keep following her and see where life takes her!

I love that she says, when compared to Mozart, "I would like to be the first Alma! Not the next Mozart!"

Take a listen to part of this beautiful piece that she composed herself...



{2} These videos right here, are the actual...best...EVER!

Where has this woman been my whole life?!? I. Can't. Stop. Watching!
Need a laugh? Start with this...and then just continue clicking through her YouTube channel!
 
 

{three} This quote changed everything for me this season…
 
 

It put completely into perspective why I perform...and the people I should be thinking of when I perform.

{4} "Appcompanist"…AKA the greatest invention for earth! (at least for singers)

I can practice pretty much any piece of music that I am working on, with full, high quality piano accompaniment! Biggest, best enhancement in my practicing experience! All fellow music and theatre people, GET THIS APP! Totally and completely worth it!

{five} I absolutely LOVE chili!
 
 
 
My school had a chili cook-off on a very cold, dreary day this fall. And I had no idea there were so many different ways to make chili! I sampled so many and actually had a lot of trouble choosing my favorite!
 
Although there was a recipe for Chocolate Chili...which sounds kind of weird...but OHHHH MYYYYY! That's really all I can say about that!
 
I used to think chili was kinda boring, but that's probably because I've only ever tried one or two recipes and wondered what the big deal was. I never knew there was so much out there on the chili spectrum! I think chili is my new favorite fall/winter food!

{6} Even extroverts like me have limitations.
 
 
 
I'm the top picture...ha!
 
Oh yes, I had a week this fall that I NEVER thought I would get through. Demands and needs coming at me from all sides. Don't get me wrong, I love all of the people I work with, all of the parents and students at my studio, and I'm always happy to help. And I know that these people did not intentionally choose to overwhelm me. I just got to a point where “people-ing” quickly became a verb that I couldn't do anymore, at least for a short while. I spent an entire Saturday free of any kind of chatting, working, and doing for anyone else but me. And it was exactly the right choice. Sometimes we just need those days. I rarely do. I am a total “people-er”...but eventually, even the most extreme of extroverts need to take a break.

{seven} I had to redefine the word “BRAVE” for myself.
Brave is not some magical action that makes all the anxieties disappear. Brave is a choice to do something IN SPITE OF the anxiety. And it's a place of genuine faith where we can come back to God after sitting alone in the shadows of fear and shame and recognize the value HE sees in us. We can take risks for the sake of Eternity, because God says we CAN and we SHOULD! Sometimes what seems like the smallest, most unimportant things can still have eternal significance

{8} Our Instant Pot that we got as a wedding gift is the other greatest invention in the world! (And you don't even have to be a singer to enjoy this one!)
 

 
Quick and easy to use! We have made so many things in this contraption, and we can't wait to try more! And you can make just about anything in it, even your own yogurt! It can be an extravagant purchase, but what an investment! Although I will be honest and say that I am glad we got it as a gift ;)
 
{nine} Letting go of shame is still really hard...but freedom cannot exist where shame exists!
 
Actually this isn't so much something I've been learning this fall...more like over a couple of years really! But it's a daily process still. Shame is so real, but it's such a liar! I deal with so much shame as a wife, as a teacher, as a director, as a friend, as an employee, and as a singer. And it just piles up and piles up to the point where I can't function anymore.
 
I put a lot of pressure on myself. And I feel pressure from other people...whether it's real or just perceived on my end...and I deeply internalize it to the point where I am defined by how that person may or may not feel about me. 
 
And I still struggle with feeling completely unworthy of anything good...or if something good DOES happen to me, I have a hard time enjoying it because I feel guilty that's it could be taking away from somebody else.
 
I AM learning to bring these thoughts to the Lord, but fearing other people's thoughts has been overpowering the freedom I could be finding from it. I know full well what that freedom is like! I've had it! And I know that to continue to have it is a daily practice of willingness and surrender to the Holy Spirit...and reconnecting my own spirit to His. But the enemy has really been using my fearful, shame-ridden mentality to hold me back big time.
 
{10} And finally...THIS...
 
 
 
 
You're turn! What are some things you've learned this fall? Life lessons? Exciting discoveries?
I'd love to hear all about them in the comments!
 
{Linking up with one of my favorite authors, Emily P. Freeman, for "What I've Learned"}

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Adoption should be CELEBRATED!

When I was growing up, I used to love telling people I was adopted.

I liked that it made me unique, and I think I really just wanted to see people’s reactions to it.
 
They weren’t always positive reactions. Especially when I got into middle school. Kids in middle school are so mean in general, but when you throw something into the mix that makes you different, it can become a source of constant teasing, and a reason for the “mean kids” to make you feel less than everyone else.   

The fact was, being adopted DID make me different. And yes, I may have abused this little fact about myself, and used it to draw attention to myself, even if it was negative…but as someone who always felt like I was on the outside looking in no matter where I was, soon enough this never felt like a GOOD different.

 

 

From a very young age, my parents explained my adoption to me.
 
Quite early on, I understood that my birth mom loved me, but she could not take care of me…so she chose two parents who could. As a wide-eyed little girl who was constantly chatting and asking questions, it made me feel special to know this about myself. I actually felt important knowing this. And I shared it with everyone I knew…with no fear and no shame.

 
A Distorted Perception... 
 
As I got older, my lens on this seemed to shift. 
 
I was in doctors’ offices a lot growing up, because I had scoliosis and I was fitted for a brace, and then prepared for surgery a few years later. Nurses asked all kinds of questions about my genetic history that my parents and I obviously could not answer.   

In fact, in these and other situations, my parents often made light of the fact that I was not their biological child by jokingly saying, “Wait, you’re adopted?! Didn’t know that!”
 
And believe me, I get it! They were trying to make me feel like I was one hundred percent THEIRS, and in their minds, being adopted didn’t make any difference to them. They loved me just as much as if I had been their biological daughter. I KNOW their intentions were good.

But looking at it all now, I think often I wondered…why couldn’t my adoption have mattered to them just a little bit more? I suppose, in a way, I felt as though I was loved in spite of the fact that I was adopted. Not because of it.
...
 
Heading into middle school, still feeling like it was a beautiful thing, I shared my adoption with my peers, who in turn used it to isolate me. I can clearly recall a day in my 6th grade art class, when the teacher asked us to split into groups for a project. No one chose me. And one girl even said, “No one wants you in their group, Emily, just like your parents didn’t want you.” 

That was the moment everything changed for me. My adoption story was no longer beautiful. It was a reason to be ASHAMED. 
...
 
Now see, I knew that I knew that I knew, that what this girl said to me was completely false. I knew my birth mom WANTED me. I knew that she WOULD have taken care of me if she COULD. I knew it was the hardest CHOICE she could have made, and I held her up in the highest regards because of that.  

But in my mind, even though I was aware that her decision was the BEST for me, and made fully out of LOVE…even though I believed the fact that I existed at all meant God had an amazing plan for my life…I still felt to my very core that my life was not worth the existence, and I was not worthy of being loved.

 
Family Differences...
 

 
My large clan of cousins were all aware that I was adopted.
 
I was very clearly wired differently from them. I had a different personality type. I was interested in different things. I just was different.  

But the mentality always seemed to be, Yes, she’s adopted, but that doesn’t matter to us. We don’t think about that. 

Even if I wasn’t consciously thinking about it at the time, I'm pretty sure I always wanted my follow up questions to be, Why not? Why does it not matter? Why don’t you think about it? Why can’t this be more important? Why do we just ignore it? And just like everywhere else, I found myself on the outside looking in…all the time…simply because I came from a different gene pool than the rest of them.  

Eventually, I just couldn’t advocate adoption anymore.

I started to realize that all of the issues I’d had growing up – feeling isolated from every group including my own family, desperation to be loved but never connecting with anyone, constantly “on guard” and scared that everyone in my life was just eventually going to leave me – they all stemmed from my adoption. And I just couldn’t promote something that had seemed like such a negative, in my own life, for so many years.

 

 
A BETTER Perception... 

But more recently, I’ve also seen adoptions that are fully embraced by celebrating something called “Gotcha Day”…the anniversary of the day the adoption was finalized.

It’s a day for parents to celebrate, acknowledge, and yes, completely REVEL in the fact that they have an adopted child! And it’s so much different from a birthday. Everyone has a birthday, but this is a celebration of their PURPOSE…the reason why they are here, and why they are loved so deeply.

Seeing the connection these children have, not only with their families, but with the world around them, brought the beauty back to adoption that I had been missing for so long.

It enabled me to recognize that adoption is not just a word. It is an ACT of love.

I was able to see that adoption is an incredible picture of God’s goodness, and how HE views us as His precious children. And He celebrates us every day.

I could see that an adopted child COULD in fact make real, loving connections. And that they didn't have to be so fearful and guarded as I was, along with so many other adoptees I knew. 

...

Now, having shared MY story, I want to end with these thoughts…

 

CELEBRATE those who are adopted!

*We want to know that we have purpose. Yes we may have come from an "unplanned pregnancy", but nothing about our lives is unplanned! And sometimes we just need to hear that.
 
*Don’t shy away from talking about adoption with other people. It sends the message to the adoptee that it’s something to be ashamed of.

*If you have an adopted child, don’t assume that acknowledging how special and important that is will make that child feel like they belong to YOU less. I can pretty much promise you, it will have the opposite effect.

*And remember that loving your children EQUALLY (adopted or not) doesn’t necessarily mean loving them in the SAME WAY. Everyone is so unique…but, especially those who come from a different biological background are going to be wired differently from you, and will need to be nurtured and loved in different ways. No way is going to be “better” for one child than for the other…just different from what you may already know. But these differences can be so, so good!

I am not at all resentful about how I was raised. PLEASE, don’t take that from this post! My parents did what they knew to do. They wanted me to feel that I was loved “equally” as my brother who was also adopted, and my youngest brother who was not. Their intentions were great! But I think my entire family has learned, now that my brothers and I are all adults, that we were all so different and had different needs. And that’s okay.

 

 
I AM SO THANKFUL…

…to the Lord for being my ultimately security. For His constant reminders that He created me for a purpose, I am worthy of love, and worthy of being celebrated every day. I find my worth only in Him now.

…for my birth mother for the choice she made.

…for my adoptive parents for the choice THEY made, and for doing the best they could.

…for my cousins and extended family. It took seeing my own worth to finally recognize that I was always a part of them, and I was just so scared of rejection for my differences.

…and even for all the pain I went through as a result of being so open about my adoption. I may have done it to get a reaction, but I had to learn and grow through all of the fears and anxieties I experienced over the years. And grow, I did. I still find that those old hurts find their way back to me every so often, but I am no longer slave to it.

Now I love talking about and advocating for adoption. I find such joy in having a renewed perspective of it. Not because I find my identity or security in this element that is such a huge part of me, but because of the sweet picture it paints of God’s goodness, love, and adoration of His children. He created adoption, and He did so with a beautiful, meaningful purpose to reveal Himself and who He is.
 
CELEBRATE THIS WITH ME!            

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Checking Back In...Hello!!



Friends. I haven't touched this blog since June. That's 4 months. FOUR!
I'm not quite sure how I feel about that.
I've really missed writing...more than I can even explain! And I can blame my lack of posts on the fact that I've been insanely busy since June...which is actually quite true!

On August 5th, 2017, John-David and I were married.




It was the most beautiful, perfect, memorable day! We were truly blessed beyond measure! And it was so evident that God's hand was ALL OVER the day!



And then a new semester of dance started, and we jumped in, full speed ahead. We are doing The Nutcracker Ballet this December, and it's been A TON of work. But the students are so excited!



And we celebrated World Ballet Day! I love seeing all the girls' passions and how hard they work in dance class.






So yes. I've been very busy.

But the honest truth about why I haven't written in so long, is that I've wondered if it's still worth it.
I look at other people's blogs and immediately fall head first into the comparison game.
Even with people I know personally, I find myself thinking, What makes their blog so much better than mine that I'm not getting the readership they are? Maybe I'm just not as likeable. Maybe my blog is just not worth reading.
I've actually started several different posts many times over the last several weeks, and then changed my mind. Even now, I'm hesitant to push the "publish" button.
But my Word of the Year for 2017 is "BRAVE" and I've made some other brave choices recently, so I'm making another one. I'm going to keep at this. Yes I feel completely undeserving...completely unworthy...and very self-conscious. But I fully believe that writing is a CALLING and a GIFT given to me by the Lord. And I'm not going to allow the enemy and his lies to stop me from doing what I KNOW I'm supposed to be doing.

So I'm back.
Life is good.
And I'm writing again.

Monday, June 12, 2017

What Food Freedom Looks Like {or how I'm kicking disordered eating once & for all}!


I’ve kept pretty quiet about this…



 

I didn’t want to say it and then not follow through with it…again.

I didn’t want to talk about yet another method I want to try to overcome my long-time struggle with disordered eating…only to find it not working for me…again.

I think I was publically sharing about other “plans” I’ve created for all the wrong reasons.

It was like, maybe if I wrote it all out and shared it, it would give me more motivation to actually do it. Or, maybe if I saw it in writing, then that would make it true.

Not the case. Ever. And I’ve been doing that for far too long. Scripture tells us that the praying you do in secret will be rewarded by God {Matthew 6:6}…so I opted to just let this be between God and me for a little while, rather than sharing it with the world before I had even surrendered this stronghold of food to Him.

I did share this with my fiancé, as I wanted his support {which, of course, I got}, my future mother-in-law {who also uses this same eating plan I’m going to talk about here in a sec}, and a couple of very close friends {who know my struggles with food well, and whom I trust sincerely with my heart}. Scripture also tells us that we are not meant to do life alone. “Two are better than one, because good return comes when two work together. If one falls, the other can help him up. But who can pick up the person who falls down alone?” ~ Ecclesiastes 4:9-10. So if I had tried to do this on my own, sharing it with no one at all, I definitely would have fallen down, and felt too defeated to get back up. God has blessed me with wonderful people to support me through the early stages of this new lifestyle. And with HIS help, I am conquering disordered eating once and for all!

 

So…what IS this change? What AM I sharing about this time?


Well…

 
I’ve been off sugar and gluten for two weeks.

Two. Whole. Weeks.

Now I’m sure some of you are thinking, “That’s nice, Em, but it’s only been two weeks.”

Yes, I realize that’s not that long. But I’ve never been able to go more than just a couple of DAYS before with no cheating. So this is actually a huge feat for me!

And I’m sure someone else is thinking, “Why go COMPLETELY free of sugar and gluten? What about everything in moderation?” or “Why not just gluten, or just sugar? I could NEVER give up both?” 

I know. It sounds so negative doesn’t it? I didn’t think I would be able to do it either. That’s part of the bondage I was stuck in, and exactly where Satan wanted me to be. I’m not saying that food is a stronghold for every person who loves sugar and heavy carbs, but it has a real danger of becoming one, just like anything else.
 
 

I was introduced to the Trim Healthy Mama plan over a year ago, and it made a whole lot of sense to me. I’ve tried it and stopped, tried it and stopped, unable to stick to the plan. Unable to stop my urges to binge. Unable to stop my cycle of negative, self-sabotaging thinking {i.e. “I’m never gonna be able to do this, so why even try?”} from the enemy. So, as I said before, this time I approached it differently by only surrendering to the Lord, and only sharing with a few supportive people instead of publically. That was enough to remove the “pressure” and “expectations” of doing something a certain way, and then having to tell everyone that, once again, I did not succeed.

What is Trim Healthy Mama, {link} you may ask?

I’ll go into more detail in a later post, because it gets a bit complex and hard to explain. But I do HIGHLY suggest you check it out for yourself, by clicking HERE!


{NOTE: No one from THM has asked me to say any of this. I’m sharing this with you because I believe in it, and it makes so much sense!}

 
All of the recipes I’ve tried from this plan have been so unbelievably delicious, and they don’t even “taste healthy”. You can’t tell that there is no sugar and no gluten. Even with the desserts! I even found a recipe for a soda that was so yummy, it’s officially my go-to drink for when I’m seriously craving coke {which happens A LOT}! And I know it’s so hard to believe that it didn’t taste sugar free, but I’m telling you, if Emily thinks it tastes good, it tastes good! ;) It is definitely not a SAY GOODBYE TO ALL THE FOOD YOU’VE EVER LOVED ordeal. That WOULD give it a lot of negative connotations, and this is the most positive thing I’ve ever done!

So even though two weeks is not that long, I’ve learned A LOT already. I’m officially, and totally ALL IN on this venture, and I have no desire to go back!

Maybe you’ve never had an eating disorder, but you DO want to establish healthy eating patterns, or maybe just feel better physically and mentally over all. This eating plan is so doable and GREAT for long-term, unlike a lot of fad “diets” or 30 or 60 day “meal plans”.  

Here’s what I’ve learned…and what you can benefit from too…

 

{one} Attitude is EVERYTHING!

I’ve turned up my nose at lot of veggies for most of my life. Especially green ones. Granted, I’ve always loved cooked {even sometimes raw} broccoli and cauliflower, but I could never bring myself to eat things like cucumbers, celery, onions {although I know they are not green, but still}, and especially lettuce or other leafy greens. But recently, I was served cooked collared greens made with sausage and rutabagas. And I just made the CHOICE that I was going to like them when I tried them. Guess what? I loved them! And now I would eat them all the time if I could! I haven’t been brave enough yet to try onions or cucumbers, or even lettuce in a salad yet, ha! But the fact that I was able to try, and then completely devour collared greens is a good sign that trying new foods with an open mind is a REAL AND EFFECTIVE THING! 

I also experienced a swift slap across the face not so long ago when I heard someone say, “If I don’t like a food that was created by God Himself, then I have a problem.” WOW! Talk about a huge heart conviction, and a good reason to change my mentality towards healthy veggies that come straight from the earth that I previously “didn’t like.”
 

 

{2} Saying, “Just this once,” or “Just a little bit,” is NOT okay.

These types of phrases open yourself up to temptation WAY too easily. If you’re anything like me, you might have an “all or nothing” mentality. For me, there is no such thing as “just one bite.” One bite turns into the whole thing. “Just this once” turns into, “Eh, I’ve already messed up, so what’s the difference?” And that becomes a huge downward spiral.  

Now that’s not to say that special occasions don’t call for a “cheat day” once in a while. My wedding shower is next week, for example, and I have every intention of splurging! But I know that won’t turn into a problem because I am prepared for it. It’s about anticipating those times, and allowing yourself to let go of the guilt of treating yourself for a special day.

 

{three} The detox is the WORST part…but don’t give in!

Yeah, so in this case it’s not so much about giving UP the plan, it’s about giving IN to how painful and hard the detoxing might be on your body. My detox was AWFUL! I had severe headaches for almost the entire first week, and no matter how much Tylenol I took, they wouldn’t subside. There were also two days in a row that my entire body was in extreme pain from head to toe, to where I could hardly even move! Those were the days when it was hardest to keep going. I wanted so badly to have some sugar just to make myself feel better physically. But I knew if I did that, I would have to start all over again, and I just couldn’t face the defeat of that. I got through the detox, and I now I’m feeling better than I have in literally YEARS!
 

{4} There is a big difference between willpower and self-control.

Willpower is something you make yourself do. It’s part of a “try harder” mentality, and invites a lot of guilt and shame if you can’t “will yourself” to accomplish something no matter how hard you “work”. Self-control is a fruit of the SPIRIT, not a fruit of the flesh, and it invites a lot of GRACE. If you are walking in the spirit, you are able to resist the temptations of the flesh {Galatians 5:16}. This has nothing to do with working hard. It requires nothing but your full submission to God, and full belief that His holy spirit has the power to GIVE you that self-control that you need.  

If you walk alone, and try to do it on your own willpower, you will almost surely fall down and become discouraged every time.
 

{five} Weight loss is a side effect…a WONDERFUL side effect…but only a side effect.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t doing this to lose weight. I really love the idea of losing weight. But my main priority truly is kicking eating disorders to the curb! I want to get my blood sugar under control and actually feel good both physically and mentally. I want food freedom…freedom from guilt and shame that toxic habits have pulled me into. And I’ve found all of that, PLUS weight loss. Of course, I haven’t lost a whole lot of weight yet, and it’s not super obvious to outside observers yet, but I can definitely tell on myself. Even though I have not stepped onto the scale {and I don’t plan to for a very long time…too many triggers}, I can tell because my clothes fit differently, and it LOOKS different in the mirror. And that’s such an amazing feeling, on top of just feeling better overall!

 
{6} Finding the right sugar substitutes is key!

Some people find certain sugar subs to be really yucky…and I agree! Sometimes THEY are what make foods or drinks actually taste sugar free. Well, no of course you’re not going to want to eat or drink that! Why put yourself through something that doesn’t taste good if you don’t have to?

So I’m going to introduce you to something spectacularly wonderful {yes, that’s right}!

It’s called xylitol. And it is the closest thing to sugar you will ever find. It’s the same texture and enough of the same taste that you really can’t tell a difference. I put it in my coffee, mix it into smoothies or other drinks, and many other sweet recipes.

Truvia and stevia are also excellent, good tasting choices. And Trim Healthy Mama has a couple of their own sugar subs which, once again, I will discuss further in another post.

 
{seven} And finally…ONLY with God’s help, and by His grace was I able to do this.

I’ve already pretty much covered this, but it’s so important that it needs to be reiterated…

Trying to do this on my own was not even a choice for me. Walking with God and living by His spirit is what gives me drive to excel…to “run this race with perseverance” {Philippians 3:14} toward the great reward He has for me! With His guidance I CAN do all things…and this WILL be a course I can stay on, to come out healthier, happier, and officially eating disorder FREE!

And that’s all I’ve ever wanted for YEARS!

 
You can overcome your food struggles, or just learn how to have overall healthier eating habits too!
Watch for future posts!

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

What YOU say, vs. What WE Hear

Please don't say, "I know how you feel."
What we hear: That what we're struggling with has a limit...that it can be measured. You're not trying to understand how we feel, you just assume you already know. And since you "just got through it" you expect that we should too. It insinuates that our problem is "no big deal"...not huge for us.

It is completely impossible to fully understand how a person with depression feels. Everyone has bouts of feeling depressed...that is, feeling sad...and there's a huge difference in that from actually HAVING depression. Feeling sad is VERY a wide spectrum. So is feeling happy.


Please don't say, "Just replace those negative thoughts with positive ones."
What we hear: That it's our fault we are so depressed. This is something we could just snap out of if we just try hard enough. Right?

Believe me, I think I speak for a lot of people when I say, I WISH IT COULD BE THAT SIMPLE!


Please don't say, "You have nothing to be depressed about!"
What we hear: The fact that we are depressed is pathetic. Nothing in our lives could possibly be that bad.

Because really, it could very well be nothing at all! It could very well be everything! Sometimes depression is definitely circumstantial, but more often than not, there is a chemical imbalance that we have no control over. That's where the "NOTHING" comes from.


Please don't say, "At least you're not____" or "You are much better off than so many other people."
What we hear: That we are not grateful enough for what we have, and that in comparison to certain other situations, our depression is minor.

This is a reminder we don't need. We are not homeless. We are not dying of a terminal illness. We are not starving in some far off impoverished country. Umm...YES! We know this! Of course we know this! So before I resort to the very called for, "DUH!" let me be very clear...Never would I EVER, in a million lifetimes, minimize any. single. thing that someone else is going through. Nothing! Ever! Because nothing should ever, ever, ever be minimized! I just ask that you do the same for me.


Please don't say, "You shouldn't have to take that medication to feel better."
What we hear: That you think you're smarter than the doctors who prescribed this medication to us. That you don't actually see this disorder as a "real problem" and we don't actually need to do anything to treat the CHEMICAL PROBLEM in our BRAIN.

This is probably the AB-SO-LUTE WORST thing you could possibly say to a person! Leave it to the doctors...the professionals! PLEASE! Saying these words could really put someone else's life in danger!

“Depression has many possible causes, including faulty mood regulation by the brain, genetic vulnerability, stressful life events, medications, and medical problems. Many chemicals are involved, working both inside and outside nerve cells. There are millions, even billions, of chemical reactions that make up the dynamic  system that is responsible for your mood, perceptions, and how you experience life.” {SOURCE}


Please don't say, "You can CHOOSE to be happy."
What we hear: Obviously we don't WANT to be happy. We are choosing to stay in this suffering state, and not trying hard enough to get out of it.

{I cannot convey to you enough how much I HATE this phrase!!! No I mean it...it truly makes my blood boil!}

But really, though?? I mean...REEEEAAAALLLLYYY???!!!!
Thankfully no one has said this to me for a very long time...and, honestly, if anyone ever does again, believe me when I say that you'll be seeing a side of me you won't expect.
But I've heard this said to other people who are suffering. For the sake of the sufferer, I've been holding my tongue. But I'm not going to do that anymore. From now on, anyone who says this is going to get a mouth-full from me. Friends, if you hear this from someone, you need to immediately remove that person from your life. They are TOXIC!!!


So....instead of saying all of these things...here are some things you could say instead...


"I believe you are suffering. You are seen and heard."
"I know I will never be able to fully understand this part of you, but I want to try."
"Can I do anything to help you?" {typically the answer to this one is, nothing, but it is still nice to hear from someone}
Say absolutely nothing. Just be with the person. Give them a shoulder to cry on. Hug them.


And if you don't agree with anything at all that I've said here, that's okay. That's your choice. So if you take nothing else away from this, at least understand this part...
Just walk away. You don't need to say anything. You don't need to "pretend" that you care. If you don't truly believe in a person's suffering, that person doesn't need you in their life. Leave.

Harsh? Maybe. I'm typically not harsh. But this stuff NEEDED to be said.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

How Knowing your Personality Type can Change your Life

 
 
Hello, I’m Emily. And I’m…well…more than a little obsessed with personality tests.

I’ve taken so many personality tests, and I fully believe in the science behind them.

Now of course, there’s those super silly, totally rigged ones that you see floating around Facebook, like, What color is your personality?...Which Gilmore Girls Character are you?...Which Literary Character are you?

And I’ll admit to have taken those and enjoyed them anyway…especially the literary character quiz. (Because I got Jo March from Little Women)!

 But I’ve also taken tests like Myers-Briggs and the Ennegram Test (there are others, but these two are my favorite), where I’ve found out that I am an ENFP (Extroverted, iNtuitive, Feeling, Prospecting)  and a Type 2 personality.

I could seriously just sit and talk personality types all day long.

I would begin by convincing you that you NEED to take at least one of several (legitimate) tests out there (your best bet would probably be Myers-Briggs). And then I would completely geek out in helping you learn all about your type.

Yes, “geek out” is the right phrase here ;)

But I really am a firm believer that the benefits to knowing your personality type are numerous! And probably even more than what I'm including here...
 
 

 
You find out that people who do things differently from you are just that…different. NOT wrong.
 
Ever since discovering personality types, I’ve found that I can get along, and work with just about anybody. Rather than getting frustrated with someone because they do something differently than I would, I know how to take a step back and recognize that everyone is different. I may have one kind of perspective on a situation, but that comes from my OWN personality. I can’t expect everyone else to think or act the same way I do in the same situation, and that’s OKAY! There are ways to work together, and extend grace in ways that allows people with clashing personality types to find common ground.
 
You learn to give YOURSELF grace too.
 
I have a few “staple” phrases that you will hear a lot from me…
 
“Oops! I got distracted, sorry!”
“Wait. What was I just talking about...?”
“Oh, shoot, I forgot about that!”
 
I will own up to being the most scatterbrained human in the universe MOST of the time! I get myself stuck in an endless cycle of brain overdrive. I’ll be focused on one project, task, or thought…and then my mind just shifts over to another one before I have a chance to stop myself. But then it’s like the first thing was never even there.
 
And forget  about actually completing a to-do list…most of the time I don’t even finish WRITING them.
 
And then there are these phrases that come out of my mouth quite frequently…
 
“So, I had this thought…”
“I’M SO EXCITED, I CAN’T STAND IT!!”
“But, What if…?”
“WHY in the world…?”
 
In other words, let’s get as on board, happy, and pumped up about something as humanly possible…only to question every possible thing that could go wrong in the process, and become overly critical of details that we think shouldn’t exist. Then let’s get so wrapped up in the negative, that we ultimately just toss the entire idea out the window.
 
With all of these things constantly happening on a regular basis, I tend to become very, very hard on myself (which is ALSO a dominant trait of my type, ENFP), and absolutely hate myself for how my brain works (or…how it does NOT work).
 
I’m still learning how to accept myself as I am, and that I will just always be kinda “all over the place” (although it is always healthy to make changes to help you in the long run, and I’ll get to that in a bit here). I’m learning that this is how my brain is wired, and it’s NOT bad. It’s NOT broken. I’m NOT a failure, and I’m NOT a “screw-up”.  
 
  
 
You understand the WHY behind all the things people do.
 
Some people prefer getting together in big groups of friends for dinner, drinks, and dancing.
 
Some people prefer having a cup of coffee in a quiet café with one or two friends, discussing life and deep topics.
 
Me? I’ll take BOTH! And at any time! It’s part of being an ENFP. We love “letting our hair down” and just going crazy sometimes. But other times, we are perfectly content with long, in depth conversations. As long as we are TALKING. As long as we are with PEOPLE.
 
Some people recharge from a long or difficult day by heading straight for home, and crawling into bed with a good book or movie.
 
Some people NEED to get together with friends, even if it’s just to forget the events of the day.
 
For me it depends on my mood. Sometimes I can’t handle going home and being alone, because I get too stuck in my own head and become sad. Sometimes the day has wiped me out so much that I can’t even handle the thought of going out. Again, all part of being an ENFP.
 
Extrovert, but also “internalizer”.
 
You learn what gives you (or robs you of) energy, and how to manage that.
 
Three years ago, I was living by myself in a one bedroom apartment, and working as a teacher assistant. We had just had a massive snow storm, AND a massive temperature drop in Northern Indiana. We had also just gotten done with a two week long Christmas break, and all the surrounding towns closed their schools for that Monday, of course. But then a state of emergency was called, and no one was allowed to be on the roads. Schools were closed for the rest of the week!  But once the state of emergency was lifted, even though there was still no school, I had to GET. OUT. OF. THERE. I actually bundled up, totally dug out my car that was practically buried in snow, and I drove to the nearest video store JUST to have contact with the outside world for crying out loud! I didn’t understand how anyone could stay home alone for that long! And still knowing that some people enjoy it!
 
But some are driven by solitude. After hours of “chit chatting” with a lot of people, they make like to retreat to their solitude place to “recharge”. Me?...being NOT in solitude is what recharges me! 
 
Needless to say, I felt better that day just getting a chance to talk to another human! That connect (no matter how brief), that draw to people, that’s what drives me.
 


 
Knowing your type helps you evaluate the concrete, positive changes you need to make in your life.   
 
Now you shouldn’t use your personality type as an excuse for all of your actions. But it is a great tool to help you pin point what your “negative attributes” might be, and how to make changes that will help you get through some tougher times.
 
For example, I become very unhappy and totally unmotivated when I feel tied down to a mundane, repetitive schedule. But I also tend to drown in overwhelming urgency when I don’t have enough structure and life feels like it’s falling apart. So I am learning to create routines that can easily be switched up whenever I need it to be. And besides that, not much about what I do is mundane (teaching dance and music, singing, taking ballet class…). It is definitely something different and surprising every day. So that alone helps! An ENFP needs to be in a career where they are constantly moving, and the environment and tasks are exciting to hold their enthusiasm. I’ve definitely found that! But even when I start feeling burned out (as we all do, no matter what our type), I know how to change things up so they start feeling fun again.

 

Everyone is different. I am not going to do things, feel things, handle things in the same ways you will. And that’s okay. In fact it’s wonderful!

 

Do you know your MTBI Myers-Briggs personality type? If not…CLICK HERE to take it for yourself! *Hint, Hint* ;) Do it! Learn something about yourself. Learn something about someone else. And let me know what you find out!

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

27 Things I've Learned in 27 Years

I celebrated my 27th birthday a few weeks ago. And this past year has been the year of the most growth and change I've ever experienced. But there is plenty I have learned as I've gone along. Some of it may not be super "earth shattering" or anything...and some of it is just silly stuff...but much has had an impact on me, and God has used much to mold me over the years. I didn't think I was going to be able to come up with 27 things, but it really wasn't that hard! And I had fun doing it!





1.      I still HATE lettuce! I always thought maybe my taste buds would change as I became an adult and I would be able to enjoy salads, or like having lettuce on my sandwiches. Not the case! I still absolutely loathe lettuce, and won’t take it on anything!

 2.      I think I always knew I was an extrovert. I was just afraid of what everyone thought, so I kept all of myself TO myself. Everyone just expected me to be shy and introverted, so I stayed that way. Until I realized that I was being ridiculous to hide so much of myself. My transformation from being the most insecure, quiet girl who kept everyone at arms-length, to the girl who thrives off of being with people with a much stronger sense of self-worth, was such a 180 that it’s still a surprise to people who knew me several years ago.

3.      Personality tests are the best life tools ever to exist! Knowing my own type truly helps me to step back and be very aware of the people around me and how different and unique everyone is. Everyone does things, handles things, processes, and thinks about things in a different way. It’s helped me to extend a lot of grace towards those who may be different from me. Especially in the workplace, or even within my own extended family.  

4.      I should have been a lefty.
Soooo…this is totally a dancer thing! I was always dominant on my left side doing most things. Especially turns. Other dancers would tease me again and again when I got more excited about turning on my left side than on my right side, because most people are right dominant. Plus I’m more comfortable carrying things in my left arm or on my left side. And yet I write, and eat, with my right hand.

 Okay…super random, I know. Moving on…

5.      I can handle Indiana winters. That doesn’t mean I have to like them. But I can handle them. I have mastered the art of driving in the snow, and I’m actually pretty good at it. I just choose to stop caring about the drivers around me. If they think I’m driving too slowly, they can go around me. In fact, I’d prefer that anyway. The driving process feels less scary to me now. And if I’m snowed it, rather than let it stress me out, I’m perfectly content to stay home, bundled up in sweaters, comfy socks, with a warm cup of coffee and a great book or movie.

 6.      Sushi rolls are a little taste of Heaven! In a teeny, tiny, bite-sized roll! I used to make a “yucky” face whenever my dad would tell me how much he loved sushi. Now…it’s one of my favorite things in the whole world! {Although, I’m pretty sure he would still tell me what I’m eating isn’t “real” sushi. Whatever though! It’s a step up from never touching anything even remotely similar!}

7.      Relationships, closeness, and connections with cousins, aunts, and uncles are so important!

8.      You are truly never too old for Disney!

9.      So many of the challenges and struggles I had growing up, stem from my adoption, even though I was adopted as an infant. I’ll be sharing a post on this as well.

10.   Grammar is seriously your friend. Even if you wouldn't consider yourself one the smartest people in the world, if you know your grammar, it’ll at least make you sound highly educated.

11.   People apologize WAY too much! We live in such a shame-filled world. And that makes me sadder and sadder all the time.

12.   Reading really is good for you! I definitely gain so much more through reading an amazing book than through watching an amazing movie. {Even though I love both!}

13.   College is NOT the greatest time in your life. High school is DEFINITELY not the greatest time in your life. High school can be the absolute worst (like a lot of it was for me…although, middle school was a lot worse still), and even in college, you’re still too young to really be the person you’re going to be for the rest of your life. College shaped me, for sure, and I don't regret my college experience. But I didn’t come into the person I am until after college.

14.   I was just not made for this time period! I went through my phase of feeling like I had to fit in, so I decided that I liked all the same music, or doing all the same things as the other kids in my class…but really, I’ve never “liked” a whole lot from this generation…I prefer to watch old movies and listen to old music. I’m not “joined at the hip” to my phone. I learned how to talk to adults and to articulate well very early on. I'd prefer to go to the symphony or the opera before I would go to a rock or pop concert. I prefer lace, vintage, and anything old fashioned. 

15.   Had it not been for show choir, I never would have made it through high school. I just wouldn’t have cared…at all.

16.   Having said that…Music, dancing, and the arts is NEVER a waste of time! Even if you never excel as a professional in your art form, you gain invaluable experiences from it all! But your passions are NOT a waste. Not ever.

17.   Strive for excellence, but not perfection. There are many versions of excellence…but no such thing as perfect.

18.   After a rough day, a hot shower is all I really need when I get home. It literally feels like you’re washing the day away.

19.   This quote is so true: “Every person you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind.” THAT has pretty much become my main life philosophy, and no matter how frustrating people can be, you just never know what they are going through.

20.   Stay away from toxic people. Someone who demeans, manipulates, and beats you down mentally and emotionally, is not someone you should keep in your life. In ANY situation.

21.   You can still have time of your life, WITHOUT alcohol. I learned this through attending a Christian college, where drinking was not allowed at anytime, anywhere. I had some of the absolute best times with friends, even post-college…and no drinking necessary. I do have a drink once in a while, but I don’t feel like I need it to have a good time.

22.   The fruits of the spirit…are just that…fruits of the SPIRIT. Not fruits of the FLESH. I cannot produce them in my life on my own doings. I’ll be writing a series on The Fruits of the Spirit very soon! And I'm so excited about it!

23.   Doctrine isn’t important. Neither are denominations. All were invented by MAN. Of course, to each their own. I’m not “bashing” denominations. But, my concern is, what does the Bible teach? What does the Lord want? How is the life I am living reflecting Him? So if my focus is on that, what does it matter what denomination I belong to?

24.   Attitude is everything! Even the most mundane tasks can be joyful if you just CHOOSE a joyful attitude. I'm really not a huge fan of cliché phrases like, "Have an attitude of gratitude." But it's true! Our perspectives on whatever circumstances we find ourselves in, even negative ones, are our CHOICE. 
{Note: This is NOT meant to diminish or downplay something very tragic or heartbreaking you may be facing! I'm mainly talking here about general frustrations, less than ideal work situations, or just overall yucky days, etc., that everyone faces.}

25.   You are NOT the only one going through what you’re going through. And once I found the people who’d had similar experiences, my life was drastically changed, for the better!

26.   People aren’t mind readers. You will never get anything if you don’t ask for it. I am now helping my students understand this concept. Don’t be so afraid to speak up.

27.   Legitimate thoughts are NEVER made off of emotions. Never make a big decision when you’re upset, angry, or maybe even a little too happy. You’ll end up changing your mind every day, probably multiple times a day, because our emotional state changes so much.  Chances are, you won’t be making a quality decision, and you’ll regret the decision later.

  
What have YOU learned throughout the course of your life?
Maybe you've gained some wisdom that I haven't yet...but should ;)
I'd love to hear from you in the comments!