Wednesday, April 11, 2018

My Top Ten Favorite Blog Posts (April 2018)

Over the years, I've written my way through several different post series. I've dropped them when they didn't work for me, picked them back up again at will, and adjusted them as needed to fit my writing style and current interests. But one of the things that remains the same throughout many years of blogging is that I love to read blog posts just about as much as I love writing them.

I can't help it, really; it's like having the nostalgia of reading the perfect magazine article - complete now with photos and sometimes even video! But it's better because it's customized to me, curated content that I pick and choose based on what I love most at the time. It gives me comedy, compassion, education, relatability.

And that's why I can see this post series sticking around for the long haul - I love sharing my story here, with all its ups and downs, all its challenges, lessons, and celebrations. It's such a beautiful blessing to me to be able to do this, to know that there are people out in the world who will stop in to catch up.

So I like to pay that forward by sharing the blogs I love, right here on a blog I hope you love.

(in no particular order)

When I first found this article from Marelisa at DaringToLiveFully.com, I was actually building this post and had gone to Google for help, looking to clarify my memory of a different but similar metaphorical comparison. I didn't find exactly what I had been looking for, but I went ahead and built my own post, saving this metaphorical exploration for another time. Days later, I finally found a few free minutes to sit down and read these 10 life lessons - and I'm glad I did. This post fit so well in that moment with the things I'd been thinking and dealing with, and the comparison between life-building and gardening was spot on. Not to mention, there were some hard truths hidden in the post as well - which is a good thing. Pruning, after all, is how we continue to grow.


2.) "How To Date Yourself"
Dating ourselves isn't something we often think of; so many of us are running through life frantically trying to find someone else to date. We find it shocking when we meet someone who isn't looking, and we can never quite understand why a person would be perfectly okay with being single. But I believe spending time alone - as a single, unattached and not dating person - is just as important at times as being attached with a significant other of some kind.

Yes, we need love and companionship, and we crave the sense of being fully known and accepted that is found most readily in a romantic relationship, but one of the things I've learned over the last year and a half in the single life is that you can't appreciate the feeling of being known by others until you have learned to know and accept yourself.

Besides, how can anyone else really know you if you haven't bothered to get to know yourself well enough to be able to show yourself to others authentically? Which is why Kia Stephens's post on FatherSwap.com had such an impact on me personally - and that's without counting the whole "father wounds"/"daddy issues" concept that often plays into things like this with women who have troubled, toxic, or nonexistent relationships with their fathers.


3.) "How To Tell Her You Love Her"
I found this post - written by "Human Parts" on GoodMenProject.com - entirely by accident, and I just totally loved it. It expresses so beautifully how terrifying new relationships can be after heartbreak, and how appropriate it is that we walk into new relationships with a certain measure of perfectly understandable caution. But I also love that this article reminds us - in a poignant, yet pointed way - how much we need relationships, while also giving us an idea of how we can walk into new relationships intentionally, going the extra mile to let our loved ones know that they are loved. Because here's the thing about life:
"Life will never wait for you to be ready. It will toss you towards the people you’re meant to be with and the places you’re meant to be in with such stunning velocity that you will wonder how you made it in one piece. And you have to accept that someone or something infinitely wiser than you made this happen."


4.) "Cultivating Happiness"
This was a great post from Jessica at garvinandco.com, and it's one I plan to keep in mind for a while. The post itself was a great list of little ways to cultivate happiness in daily life, but the quote about prayer (in general) and being bold in prayer (more specifically) really stood out to me in a way that was perfectly attuned with things I had already been dealing with. The thing is, I have experienced my fair share of pain due to people who should have believed in me but didn't, and as a result I tend to pray with great caution, almost as if God Himself would also scoff at what I most want in my life. But then I remind myself that HE is the one who planted my dreams, and that all He's waiting for is for me to request manifestation. This post was a great reminder of that concept.


5.) "you are not too (fucking) sensitive"
I have spent huge portions of my life being told that I am "too sensitive." That I "take it personal" or I "give too many f@cks." And honestly, it hurts. It's a crappy way to speak to people, a careless way of invalidating someone else's right to feel hurt or sad or ignored or disregarded. Or angry.

I've heard it so many times I've even gotten pissed off enough to write about it here, addressing the wrongness of this way of treating people and my firm stance against folding under the pressure of it. No, I am not too sensitive. And I'm not wrong to take it personal - because how I am treated by others is personal to me. I have a right to be annoyed or offended or whatever I am ... and I don't need anyone else to approve or like it in order for it to be valid. I'm not going to be told that I'm "too sensitive" or that I "take things personal" as if that's a wrong way to be, because I believe that in general, it isn't.

So when I was listening to a podcast that briefly referenced "you are not too (fucking) sensitive," I paused the podcast and Googled the article, which turned out to be a brief but meaningful post from Kate Courageous on YourCourageousLife.com. Check it out - if you've ever been told how "too sensitive" you are, then you'll love it as much as I did.


6.) "The Secret To Being A Good Listener"
I confess, I'm not always the best listener. I'm actually rarely ever even close to pretending to be the best listener. You see, I am a recovering people pleaser and - partly because of my particular anxieties and partly because of my genetic hardwiring - also have a tendency toward problem-solving. I like to plan things, I like to organize things, and I like being able to answer a question when someone asks it.

But sometimes I struggle to remember in the moment that just because someone brings me a problem, that doesn't necessarily mean that they're bringing it to me to solve. Sometimes, my person just wants to be heard, and I'm trying all the time both to be better at this and to be better at understanding why I'm not so great at it (so as to become more mindful and therefore better at it). I want very much to be known as a good listener, a good friend, and a solid person that other people could count on to be there; like Kelly said in the article referenced here, "I want people to remember me by the feelings I gave them." And I want those feelings to be good ones. This article from theeverygirl.com was a great way for me to remember how much I want that - while learning how to get closer to achieving it.


7.) "I Want To Make You Uncomfortable"
I love the way this post from Nicole at jthreenme.com totally reminded me of how strong I can be simply by reminding me of the people that make me most passionate: my kids. The post is really about taking challenges and opening your heart, life, and world to the unexpected blessings that only seem to find us when we're on the edge of our comfort zones, but it's also about the resilience and warrior's grit needed to carry on despite the things we might be afraid of - especially when it's for the sake of those we love the most.

Already in 2018, we've had a surgery (Eden), an MRI (Joey), a 30-day heart monitor (Joey), a failed vascular surgery (my mom), a tire blowout, a sprained ankle (Joey), a financial crisis, several other injuries and minor illnesses, and more interpersonal conflict with certain other people in our circle than we care to admit. We've had school bullying issues, conflict with teachers, drama, tears, and struggle.

We're all outside our comfort zones a lot lately ... but we're learning to lean on each other as we cope with the discomfort, and as we soak up those lessons, we're also learning to appreciate how much stronger we are for the struggle.


8.) "Creating Stress Free Mornings"
Mornings tend to be stressful for lots of people regardless of their job, their age, the number of children they have, the ages of those children, and the relative health and wellness of the person in question. Some people just aren't morning people, right? And that's okay.

But I'm a non-morning person with one non-morning kid and one totally balls-to-the-wall-morning kid. It gets a little stressful sometimes, and because of that, I often feel neglected or too rushed to take time for myself. So I loved how this article from Justine (at JustineSpencer.com) was filled with such common-sense practicality. Little things like getting up a few minutes earlier so I have time to pee, wash my face, and brush my teeth in peace changed the entire scope of my mornings, then when I started adding other simple things like having everything I need packed and ready to go as often as possible ...

Well, that really helps too - partly because it helps me sleep without stressing over what isn't done yet, and partly because utilizing the space between when the girls go to bed and when I go to bed means that I can do what needs doing in relatively uninterrupted peace. Which means less anxiety during the process, less resulting stress and brain fog, less forgotten to-do's, and a smoother life all around.


9.) "The Power Of A Kind Word"
In the last few years, I've been paying a lot more attention to the way I allow myself to be treated - both by myself and by others. I've put extra focus on using affirmations with myself, activating self-compassion, staying mindful as often as possible, and setting boundaries in my relationships with others. It hasn't always been easy, either - I've lost relationships, friendships, contacts.

Why? Because I'm a little less easy-going. I don't always say "sure, I'd love to!" or "oh I'm fine, how are you?" I don't agree to everything, and I don't agree with everything. And I'm confident enough to say so.

But what the loss has meant is that I learned the truth of the old idea that "when God takes something out of your hands, He's making room for something better." In the time since I started letting go of old relationships that were no longer healthy for me, I've open space in life for ones that are, allowing space in my heart for people who see value in me even when I can't. People who step up for me, go to bat for me. People who believe in me so solidly that they have sacrificed in order to prove ME to ME.

People who say things like "you deserve this" and "you can do this" and "I can't wait to see what's next for you" - and they mean it. They open every message, every email. They answer every text. They offer encouragement over every little thing, especially when the only things going right are the little things. They keep me trying - and this article from author Joshua Becker on becomingminimalist.com was a great reminder of why one of my goals this quarter was to make sure I'm reaching out in gratitude to the people who love me with more than just words.


10.) "Motherhood Confessions: Parenting When You Had A Toxic Parent"
I found this post from veronikasblushing.com while scrolling through recommended reads on Bloglovin' (follow me on Bloglovin' here), and I cried a river of tears while reading it. Veronika's openness about her childhood and the way it still impacts her as a mother spoke so deeply into my heart.

I still struggle all the time with countering my determination to give my kids a "better" life than I had against my need to be compassionate with myself and my own flaws (and yes, by extension, the flaws of my parents, who were only doing the best they had with what they had to work with at the time). Sometimes little things do get the best of me, and sometimes I'm a much less stellar mom than I imagined myself being.

But when I ask my kids, "Do you know I love you?" and they answer every time without hesitation, "Yeah, I know," it soothes my soul. When I follow up with, "But how do you know?" and they give some variation of, "You show me," it gives me hope. Hope that one generation can break the legacy of the last, setting a new course for the next. This article reminded me of my own worth as a mother, of my own need for grace and mercy as the grown child of dysfunction, and of the reason I get up everyday to keep on trying for a better way.


I hope you read and liked some of the posts I shared today - and that if you liked them, you left a supportive comment for the authors of the posts! Comments mean the world to us, because they let us know someone cared and wanted to interact with us in a more personal way. If you read any of the linked posts, which were your favorites? And if you didn't read them, why not? What was the best blog post you've read lately? Tell me about it in the comments!

BONUS: I've done this type of Top Ten before! You can check out some other great posts I've found by looking at My Top Ten Favorite Blog Posts from:

If you liked this post, related to it in some way, or know someone who needs to see it, make sure you drop a comment below - I would love your feedback as well as the chance to interact with you! It would also be great if you could share the link to this post with your friends - it helps me get my blog out there, and I love that it brings new exposure to the Undaunted Army and what we hope to accomplish! Be sure you check out my quarterly giveaway page, too - there are several free and easy ways to enter - and members of the Undaunted Army are always eligible for extra entries!

And speaking of the Army, I'd like to personally invite you to take your place among the ranks of those who have fought and survived the battles of life. Addiction, abuse, violence, divorce, parenting, illness, and other traumas are real battles too, and those who suit up to fight every day have a right and an obligation to nurture their own health, well-being, and self-empowerment. But there is strength in numbers, as as a member of the Undaunted Army, you have the hope of knowing that you will never have to fight your battles alone again. Enlist as an Undaunted Army Private for free, or invest in the growing impact of the Army with an Undaunted Army Officer Commission for as little as $1 a month.

However we stay connected, always know that my brand and Undaunted Army itself are solely built on what I write and who I'm writing it for. "Love Stories and Lifestyle for the Undaunted Woman" isn't just a slogan or a tagline - it's a purpose and a goal, which is why, whether you're a first time reader or a long-time loyal follower ... from the bottom of my heart, I thank you for being here.


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