Mother’s Day Hangover – To the Moms who were Let Down

It’s so easy to scroll through our social media feeds, become disgruntled, and find things lacking in our own experiences in comparison to those we follow online when it comes to holidays or special occasions. Today (or yesterday – because this will be posted the day after  😉 ) is Mother’s Day and a few of my close friends and I spent some time sending joking texts back and forth about how we were still having to perform menial everyday tasks like cook, care for our children, and clean despite the fact that it was Mother’s Day. We joked how the day had basically gone up in flames and our lives were shit. We joked about that stuff, because we all have seen women actually making posts like that online in groups that we are a part of. We joked, but the sad truth is that there are so many moms who were genuinely let down by the way that their Mother’s Day panned out.

And while, yes sometimes the people in our lives truly do let us down. They have all the time, opportunity, and wherewithal to recognize and fulfill our needs but still refuse to do so.  However, I would bet money that nine times out of ten – those who are upset about how their loved ones didn’t do this or that for them during a holiday is because of mismanaged expectations and relying too much on other people to provide your fulfillment, happiness, and joy.

So, if you just spent Mother’s Day crying in secret or venting to your girlfriends in a group chat about how your husband didn’t load the dishwasher for you and none of your kids planned something special for you guys to do together  – well, this post is for you. Because, let me tell you – I am not sitting on my high horse like I’ve never been that woman. I have. I spent my first couple of Mother’s Days super upset about all the things that my significant other did not do for me. I felt pretty damn awful actually and was so mad and aggravated with him. BUT – eventually I came to my senses and realized that I could fix all of that pretty easily. And I just wanted to share that with you.

Manage Your Expectations I mentioned how my partner didn’t give me what I needed during my first couple of Mother’s Days. I should have never expected him to roll out the red carpet, flood the house with flowers, be able to READ MY MIND in order to complete all the little chores I had arbitrarily decided were beneath me because it is Mother’s Day. Why should I have never expected those things? That’s not his MO. That’s not what he has ever done. That’s not his instinct. I’d never expected in any other situation before (birthdays, holidays pre parenthood, etc ) that he would treat me with such extravagance. I never set that standard. Why in the world did I expect that would suddenly happen a month after becoming a mom? Who was I to feel such entitlement? Let me put it another way. Say you’ve been living with your man for several years, and for several years you’ve come behind him and picked his clothes up off the floor. You set the expectation that you’re going to pick his clothes up from wherever he decides to discard them throughout the house and then place them in the hamper for him. You can’t then get mad several years later that he’s not picking up his dang clothes. You can’t expect that he will start doing that for himself. You don’t expect to be that woman who picks up her guy’s discarded clothing from the floor? Well don’t. Leave his clothes on the floor.

Most of the time – in any life situation – if we just manage our expectations. Take a little look at how life has been functioning prior to whatever situation is coming up .. and then build our expectations from that point – THEN we won’t be left feeling so empty or let down.

Ask For What You Want Alright, so you’ve got those expectations under control. Did you find that maybe you want a little more than what you’ve found you can expect? You did? Cool – ask for it. Yup, sometimes it’s that simple. Ask for what you want from the people who love and surround you. You don’t want to do dishes or laundry all day, but you also don’t want to wake up Monday morning with a pile of dishes and laundry to do? Ask your people to do that for you. You want to go out to a restaurant and have dinner with your kids + people? Ask them to do that for you.  If you want it, ask for it. If you’re not a mind reader, how can you expect your loved ones to be a mind reader?

Make Your Own Happiness  Ok, so maybe you asked for what you want and you still didn’t get it? Or maybe you know that even if you do ask for what you want, your people aren’t going to come through? Well girl, do it for yourself. Take yourself out to eat. Cook yourself a bomb meal. Spend all day on the couch binging Dead to Me on Netflix. Scoop up your littles and go to the beach. Lay out in your backyard with dranks while soaking up that sunshine. Look deep inside yourself and figure out what is going to make you happy. Evaluate what will give you joy. And do it for yourself. If you are depending on the people who surround you for your sole source of happiness and joy – then you will continually be let down. No matter how considerate or how much someone may love us – they are still in fact very human and very capable of becoming self involved or simply just making a mistake. Or misunderstanding what would make you happy. Because that’s not their job. Unfettered happiness and joy come from within ourselves.

The truth is – all those people you see on social media sharing their lives.. That’s just a tiny slice of their reality. And you don’t know all the details that went into making that day happen. You don’t know their partner or their kids. You don’t know all the groundwork that Mom may have laid throughout the year to build the Mother’s Day she’s currently experiencing. You don’t know about all the not so pretty moments that also happened during that day. That post you’re seeing on social media? Maybe that was just a couple hours out of her day – and maybe she spent the rest of her day living life as usual.

So, don’t let it get you down. Don’t start picking apart your life. Look for the positives. Decide what you want. And start working toward that for next year. Cheer up Mama. Be the sunshine in your babies’ lives. And if your daughter is anything like my Sophie Grace – force her to give you a hug and kiss – because she’s three and saying, “It’s Mother’s Day – do X, Y, & Z for me” doesn’t hold any weight with her. In a few years though? It will – and I bet I get special hugs and kisses because she knows I expect that.

Being a Mom is something I always wanted, and it’s something I treasure every single day. I’m happy because I’m their mom. What they do or don’t do – doesn’t affect that happiness. They gave my life a whole new purpose. I chose them. I chose to be a mom. I’m so thankful that I have them and that I had to make ten million cups of milk for them during my Mother’s Day – because without them..that day wouldn’t be the same.

— Ashley

For the Love of a Grandparent

I was extremely fortunate to grow up knowing all four of my grandparents. I grew up physically around them, and they all four played an important role in my life. I have fond and concrete memories of spending time with them. My memories of childhood holidays are grounded in traditions that were centered around visiting and spending time at my grandparents’ homes. I spent summers at my Mimi’s house with all of my cousins. Christmas’s were spent hopping from my mom’s parents to my dad’s parent’s house.

And then just all of the in between and ‘ordinary’ times we spent with them… to name a few…

My Papa would always take us to the gas station with him where he’d buy us all little candy treats. I remember watching soaps with my Mimi during the summers. I was a chatty little girl and my Pawpaw would always threaten to mute me with his remote when he was trying to enjoy some old western show on the television. I vividly remember Sunday mornings spent with my Mawmaw in our church nursery while she sat in a wooden rocking chair watching all the young toddlers and babies.

Sophie Grace + Ppop

And while my grandparents were involved in my life – they really can’ t hold a candle to the way that my parents and Shaun’s parents actively pursue ways to be in our children’s lives. It’s a beautiful thing that brings me to tears to think of how lucky we are that our parents accept nothing less than total involvement in the lives of our children on a regular basis.

We lost Shaun’s mom late last year – and as death tends to do – it has made me all the more thankful for her part in helping to raise my children. She wouldn’t let us put Cooper in a daycare. She and Shaun’s dad watched both our babes until Cooper was in school and until her declining health no longer let her watch Sophie. Everyone said that Sophie was probably too young to even really feel the impact of losing Mawmaw, but even at three years old – Sophie Grace has felt the loss in a profound way. She often speaks of her Mawmaw and says things like she wants to be a doctor so she can fix Mawmaw when she grows up.

Sophie Grace + Pawpaw

Our parents have not ever waited for us to bring the kids to them. They were there beside the hospital bed as soon as each one took their first breaths, and they see them every single week. My parents take the kids most every single Friday night, and Shaun’s dad comes over to our house at least once a week to simply sit and play and visit with the kids.

Baby Coop + Mawmaw

I can’t even begin to count the number of times that I’ve come across an online article spouting the health benefits for grandparents if they are involved in their grandchildren’s lives. I wholeheartedly believe that claim, because we all need something/someone to live for. But – we’re really the lucky ones. Us (their children) and our children are lucky to have such actively involved grandparents. Grandparents who are selflessly involved and outrageously generous with their time. You can throw every dime you own at someone you love, but if you aren’t investing your time – are you really truly showing love?

Sophie Grace + Grammy

There are no amount of words that I could use to truly express my gratitude and how filled up my heart is over the ways that our parents show their love for our children. And I would just urge you – to look at our parents’ model for showing love and apply it to your own life in some way. We have this one life to live, and what really and truly makes it worthwhile are all the moments spent with those that we love: The big moments and the ordinary moments. Take advantage of the time you have and fill it up with memories that will outlast even your own life and trickle down through the people you leave behind.

— Ashley

Inspired by Azalea Blooms

This past Sunday I drove a little bit north to George County MS to visit with my best girl for a bit during her father’s funeral services which were in Lucedale, MS. I’m from and live on the coast of Mississippi, but I did live in Lucedale for a short time after college which is where I met my friend. 🙂 When you’re in George County you truly are transported to a more quaint, country, and small town place. It’s that cliche kind of sweet southern town where everybody knows everybody and the yards are big and conveniences like a Target and Starbucks within a few miles will likely not be experienced there in our lifetime. But as I drove along those country roads – listening to music and admiring the scenery, I kept seeing the most beautiful and huge Azalea bushes. And I just thought to myself, “Are you even really in the south if you don’t see Azalea bushes growing wild in someone’s yard?”

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Azaleas are my second favorite flower next to a Tulip. Both of these flowers signal Spring time and all the fresh starts associated with Spring. The days are longer and the weather invites you to linger outside. You know that Spring has really made an appearance when you start seeing those Azalea blooms.

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My grandmother had two really large and mostly wild Azalea bushes on either side of her front porch. Azaleas will always remind me of her and Easters spent hunting eggs in her yard with my cousins.

It’s just really kind of magical the way that the blooms overwhelm the bush. I feel like you can’t help but smile and feel welcomed and happy when you see an Azalea bush at full bloom. Also, it seems that they really are low maintenance plants. You can let them grow wild and and free and they look as beautiful as the ones that I’ve seen trimmed and well maintained.

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We’ve been trying to figure out what we want to do with our yard now that it is Spring time. This is our first Spring and full Summer in our house, and we really want to fix up the landscaping. My drive this weekend solidified for me that I have to have Azalea bushes in the yard. I stumbled across this picture on Pinterest , and the whole scheme is just perfect. We have a similar looking front porch (minus the railing) and Shaun definitely wanted hanging ferns. I think this look with Azalea bushes in the flower bed is simply perfect and completely Southern.

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Now, all I have to do is find and hire a landscaper to implement this project! haha Any local suggestions? 😉

— Ashley

34 Affirmations

For Self Empowerment and Improvement

Hey there! Today marks my 34th birthday! I was thinking the other day about affirmations because I saw someone I follow on Instagram talking about using them. And obviously I’ve heard of people using affirmations before – but in that moment it just really clicked with me how speaking affirmations to yourself is incredibly related to my belief that you can speak things into happening. You can say to yourself, ” I want to achieve ___ in my life.” or ” I want to have ___ in my life.” and if you truly want it enough, you’ll start doing things to make that happen…even if at first they are small little habits or changes that will eventually snowball into big actions that will make that thing you wanted come true. Yes, people set goals and start making and taking clear steps to achieve those goals…but what I’m talking about is usually much more passive. Sometimes you want something so much – and maybe there isn’t any clear or concrete first steps that you can see to take…but you just start believing that it will happen for you. You envision it happening. You plan around it happening. You eventually make it happen for yourself.

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It seems to me that affirmations work in that exact manner. So many times we say negative or self deprecating things about our self. I am especially guilty of saying things about myself with the implication that these things
cause chaos and inconveniences for me and those around me. I say things like:

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I am clumsy . I am annoyingly forgetful. I am not a morning person. I am self sabotaging. I am fearful of change. I procrastinate frequently. I put off hard things. I ignore problems until they go away.

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I would use those characteristics to describe myself…and really how mean is that? I’ve decided to come up with 34 affirmations to turn the negative things that I say to myself around. I’ve decided that I’m going to use these 34 affirmations daily in order to change the course of my life over the next year.

So, happy birthday to me…I hope you enjoyed these cupcake flat lays as much as I have been lately. I started a whole Pinterest Board dedicated to them. LOL Just over here devouring them visually instead of physically. 😉

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Anyway, let’s get into those affirmations!

1 // I AM WHO I WANT TO BE

2 // I CHOOSE WHAT I BECOME

3 // I HAVE THE POWER TO CHANGE MY STORY

4 // I CAN CONFRONT PROBLEMS

5 // I AM CAPABLE OF MAKING TIME TO COMPLETE TASKS IN A TIMELY MANNER

6 // I DO NOT WAIT UNTIL THE LAST MINUTE TO DO SOMETHING

7 // I AM CONFIDENT

8 // I AM NOT AFRAID TO SPEAK MY MIND

9 // I AM CREATING MY OWN HAPPINESS

10 // I WELCOME CHANGE AND GROWTH

11 // I AM LIVING IN THE PRESENT AND THEREFORE FOCUSED ON MY SURROUNDINGS AND AM MORE SELF AWARE

12 // MY OPINION AND VOICE ARE WORTHWHILE

13 // I CAN GET UP EARLY IN THE MORNING IN ORDER TO START MY DAY IN A MORE RELAXED MANNER

14 // I WILL WAKE UP WITH A PEACEFUL MIND AND GRATEFUL HEART

15 // I AM NOT MY MISTAKES

16 // I WAS NOT MADE TO GIVE UP

17 // I WILL CELEBRATE MY SMALL WINS

18 // I WILL WORK EVERYDAY TOWARD MY CONTINUED HEALTH AND WELLNESS

19 // I WILL DO THINGS EVERYDAY TO INCREASE MY PHYSICAL STRENGTH

20 // I AM NOT AFRAID TO ASK FOR HELP

21 // I DO NOT HOLD ANGER WITHIN ME

22 // I DO NOT HOLD GRUDGES

23 // I CAN FORGIVE MYSELF AND OTHERS

24 // I AM A POSITIVE PERSON

25 // I WILL NOT SACRIFICE MYSELF IN AN EFFORT TO NOT BOTHER OTHERS

26 // I AM NOT AFRAID TO ASK QUESTIONS IN ORDER TO BE SUCCESSFUL

27 // I AM NOT BOUND BY MY ROUTINES

28 // I WILL ACHIEVE MY GOALS

29 // I DON’T HAVE TO BE THE PERSON I WAS YESTERDAY

30 // I DO NOT RESTRAIN MY FEELINGS

31 // I ASK FOR WHAT I WANT

32 // I ACTIVELY PURSUE WHAT I WANT

33 // I WILL NOT PUT THINGS OFF THAT I CAN DO RIGHT NOW

34 // I WILL TAKE CARE OF MYSELF – MIND, BODY, AND SOUL

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— Ashley

On International Women’s Day

Today is International Women’s Day, and while I usually reserve Fridays to talk about products that I have tried out and want to share with you guys – I thought it would do all of you more justice to spend a few words speaking about the importance of today. 🙂

I’m sure that by the time this post publishes you will have come across several social media posts declaring that it’s International Women’s Day. I think that’s fantastic. I took some time to research and do some reading on the history of IWD, and I did some self reflection on what IWD means to me. Over and over I saw people writing, “ While women have fought and won many many battles in the arena of gaining – there is still much to do.”

I can’t wait for the year when we feel like we don’t have to explain ourselves. I can’t wait for the year when everyone is aware and accepts that change still needs to happen and women don’t feel like they have to justify their basic needs and rights. Wouldn’t that be amazing?

In my opinion, one of the greatest way that we can enact any kind of change is to take a grassroots approach. Look around at your own life, into the lives of the women that surround you, into your hometown and see what you can do to start making changes there. Throw a pebble in your pond and watch the ripple effect explode out around you.

International Women’s Day was accepted by The United Nations since 1910 and has been officially celebrated on March 8th or every year since 1914 by many countries. This year’s theme is #balanceforbetter – to “Think equal, build smart, and innovate for change.”

For so long, women have just been fighting for equality and balance – and the cold hard truth is that women are still not getting equal pay in all work environments, there are lower proportions of women to men in government positions, and women’s education is still being withheld across the world.

I hope that my daughter will not have to fight these battles. I want my daughter to know that she can do whatever she wants. I want my daughter to know that she is strong and she is worthy and has the right to be seen and treated as equal. Yes, maybe her body is biologically different from a man’s – but that doesn’t mean she should ever be treated as less than.

So, if you’ve read this and you think that today is a one sided affair. If you think that you still need to be advocated for. Then do it.

Because there’s a need for women to be advocated for. There are still great strides that need to be made for women to live in a gender balanced environment. That’s why IWD is a big deal. We’ve recognized a need and we are doing things to try to meet that need. We are. Women are. Not surprisingly, it was a woman who proposed that there even be an IWD.

So, we’re not sitting around waiting for someone to hand us a to do list. We’re not waiting for someone to do it for us. The laundry basket is full and we need clothes for tomorrow so we’re washing the damn laundry. The trash can in the bathroom is overflowing and we’re not going to wait two weeks for someone else to empty it. It’s International Women’s Day and we’re here to celebrate women. To uplift women. To inspire women. To motivate women. To encourage women to seek out balance in every aspect of their lives.

— Ashley

Dealing with Discontent

I’m currently writing this post with no working title which pretty much sums up my state of mind lately. I have this … feeling I don’t even know what to name it.. other than feeling discontent. But really it feels much more complicated than that. And is breeding feelings of non inspiration and inadequacy. BUT – I committed myself to this place. I said that I’d show up here no matter what and post something at least three days a week, because in the end sitting down to write about something – even if it’s a frivolous as the newest razor I’m using – is good for my soul.

The weather has just been absolute grossness lately.. plus I feel like our house has been a host to some illness or another for weeks now. But beyond that nothing is really wrong. Isn’t that a weird thing? To be completely happy – yet not happy over really nothing in particular?

When I find myself in this kind of place one of the best things that I can do for myself is to accomplish something. It can be something really small like organizing the kitchen junk drawer that has gotten out of control.. to tackling ALLL the laundry in one day. Andd, I may or may not have (ok I DID) do both those things on Sunday.

Sometimes, getting cleaned and organized within the physical spaces that I occupy really help me get my mind cleaned up and organized. It’s in my nature to compartmentalize and avoid confrontation … even with that confrontation is within my own self. So – if I can physically confront something.. like the giant pile of laundry in my bathroom hamper plus the dirty rugs/mats around the house… and emerge Monday morning with a house full of clean laundry and clean mats to walk on.. I feel more prepared to face the real issue(s) at hand.

I make lists and burden myself with arbitrary timelines and goals which sometimes end up really bringing me down even further because I haven’t met those goals or I end up “late” for something. I feel like I’m letting the people in my life down. When the truth is – I put all those expectations on myself. I did that. I can easily undo all that damage.

Sometimes – I just need to reset. I need to throw out the lists. Let go of my expectations. Stop looking around at the people around me to measure myself against – and focus on me. I have to remind myself to start taking small steps to get to where I want to be.

— Ashley

P.S. I hope these pictures made you smile as much as they make me… this is Sophie Grace not wanting to corporate with smiling yet refusing to exit the picture and Cooper attempting to cheer her up then deciding his efforts were fruitless. Because… in the end if I can’t get myself together – my kids do it for me. They make me smile even when all I want to do is cry. 🙂

Let’s Get UNCOMFORTABLE

In my opinion, pretty much one of the worst qualities that someone can have is to be close minded. When you narrow your viewpoint so much so that you only see and hear the things YOU want to hear so that YOUR opinions will be validated, you’re just really doing yourself a disservice. Also, that’s incredibly dangerous. You come off as dogmatic and overbearing (in the worst possible way). People are not going to want to listen to you. You’ll end up being able to convince yourself of untruths.

It is so so so important to expose ourselves to ideas and notions and ways of life that are different from our own. Someone once told me that I should, “do things that scare me”. I was telling this person about something I didn’t feel like I could do because it was just so incredibly scary to me, and he replied with that little pearl of wisdom that has become my internal mantra when I’m trying to get the guts up to make a leap or even a small step that seems scary and impossible : when I’m about to do something that will make me uncomfortable.

You have to push yourself out of your comfort zone. You have to question your own beliefs and priorities. Change is such a hard thing for so many people – especially when it comes to even considering changing our minds about our beliefs and mindset and worldview.

How do you do that? How do you open your mind? I feel like its a pretty simple endeavor. Something as small as opening up who you follow in your newsfeed on social media. Follow some people that make you cringe and make you uncomfortable. Go places where there will be people that live different lives from your own which can be as easy as taking your kids to a park in a part of town. Educate yourself on different religions and lifestyles and cultures.

After a while, you may find yourself to be a different person. You may find yourself to be the same person. Either way – you’ll be a better person for the exposure.

Kindness and consideration go such a long way. If you can just open yourself up to someone else. If you can just manage to see things from their point of view. You’ll find it easier to be kind and considerate.

Our differences make us beautiful. Our differences make this world we live in a much more interesting place.

Often times, our differences define and divide us – but how amazing would it be if we could learn to appreciate and value each other’s differences instead. How great would it be to not run from something that makes us uncomfortable but to look at it in the face and dive right in – for better or worse.

Admittedly – I’m the WORST at getting outside of my comfort zone. I love a routine and I love knowing exactly what to expect which is why I’ve made it a thing to constantly challenge myself. Especially with the way I think about the people and world around me.

— Ashley