Walking path

Best Life Lessons of 2017

There’s nothing I like more than embracing growth and looking back and thinking “man, I’m glad I have moved past that part of life”. I love how everything evolves when you stay open to learning.

Every step leads to the next, and I am grateful for all of the lessons of life. Instead of writing down resolutions this year, I want to look back on what was learned in 2017.

The first one is my favorite.

1. It’s Okay to Walk Away

It’s okay to walk away from good, or maybe even prestigious things. Doing so freed me up to make way for the great. Sometimes we get used to thinking of ourselves in a certain light or we get in a rhythm of things that make sense.

But sometimes those things are self-imposed distractions. We know we’ll get by being busy with something that fits, even though we know we could be doing something with a higher purpose.

Walking path

Photo: RealHonestMom Blog

I walked away from travel writing altogether and lightened my freelance writing workload considerably. I was over-committed and stressed out and distracted when I was with my family. The joy of the work I was doing was no longer there, so I stepped back.

My pocket book was lighter, but the quality of life shot up. I used some of the extra time to volunteer at my sons’ schools one day a week, and it made me so happy. It’s okay to walk away.

2. Taking Control of Your Health Matters

My health took a toll since I was working so much, and I knew my lazy diet had a big effect on my anxiety and down moods.

I made the time to take better care of myself. I prayed for will power and a taste for foods that come more naturally to the Earth and I did Whole30 in August. No exercise, just big changes in nutrition.

It was a challenge, but it made a huge difference. I lost weight, but the true victory is in what it did for my overall mindset, moods and confidence (without which, #3 would not have happened).

To date, I’m still eating a whole foods diet most of the time with a net weight loss of 16 pounds and down 2 sizes.

3. It’s Okay to Dream as a Parent

This year found me at Business Boutique again, the lady business conference in Nashville, TN.

I went last year with a vision to expand on writing, which I did. But this year I went with a new idea and pushed through to file for an official tax id and business name.

Moms can dream. Photo: RealHonestMom Blog

In the thick of raising a young family I’m tempted to say “I’ll do this when the kids are grown, when we have more money, when when when…” But I want to get going now.

It feels slow as molasses some days, but by golly I feel alive when I dream and take the steps to get there. I am working with a business coach and slowly laying out the foundation, bit by bit. More on this soon!

4. You Should Teach What You Know

I have been through a lot in this life, we all have. And what I keep finding is that there is always someone else you can help with your hard-earned life experience.

The pains of my childhood gave me the drive to provide a functional and safe home for my kids to grow up in. Not a perfect household mind you, because that isn’t real. But one that is stable, efficient and carefree for a child to grow up in? That’s my bag, baby.

I learned so much through hard financial times. In those trials by fire, I learned about contentment, budgeting, mindful parenting and wanting to set my kids up to win at life through basic life skills.

There will be more on this in the very near future, so be sure and keep an eye on the RealHonestMom Facebook Page. (In the meantime, I’m available to work with people one-on-one in those areas on a consulting basis.)

5. It’s Okay to Be a Kid Again

Sometimes we get so busy being serious adults we forget to have fun. I can be a downright stick in the mud, but we splurged on front row Guns n Roses tickets on a school night and I danced and sang and for a few hours like it was 1990 all over again.

Axl Rose, Guns n Roses Concert in Nashville, TN

You know where you are??! Photo: RealHonestMom Blog

Say what you will, but my inner teenager goes nuts for hair bands. I don’t care how old and round we all might get, GNR will always be my love language.

You’re in the jungle baby! Photo: RealHonestMom Blog

I’m not sure what the exact mission was that night, but it was accomplished.

I also went indoor skydiving with my son in Pigeon Forge over the summer to liven things up a bit!

6. Nothing Beats Family and Ride-or-Die Friends

On a once-in-a-lifetime cheap round-trip plane ticket opportunity, I met one of my life’s dearest friends in Laughlin, NV for our December birthdays. (Laughlin is like mini Las Vegas with far less chaos and a retiree clientele. It was perfect.)

She gave me the surprise of my life when she revealed she flew my mom in to join us. Our moms have been old friends since before we were born and it was a blast of a time just being unapologetically us with old jokes and new memories.

Lifelong friends times two. Photo: RealHonestMom Blog

And a few weeks later, I made the annual trek to KS with the fam and we and got to spend special time with our extended family for Christmas. I didn’t open my laptop once.

Giant UNO game playing cards

A bit of a handful. Photo: RealHonestMom Blog

Some favorite moments: playing Giant UNO and the gag gift exchange game for adults. I ended up with an awesome Christmas Vacation snow globe. (affiliate links)

Shitter's Full rv snow globe

Shitter’s Full! Photo: RealHonestMom Blog

7. You Have to Run Your Own Race

It’s so easy to get caught up in the comparison trap. I do it, we all do it. Despite the blessings right in front of our faces we always seem to find greener grass elsewhere.

The key is recognizing it and knowing when to wave the white flag. I started feeling competitive with others in my industry on top of being so busy, and it’s simply not worth the stress.

You run your own race, and you have the power to put your foot down and say “no more”.

8. Be Mindful of Your Environment

Mindset is hard enough without shouting voices and noise. It’s important to curate your environment and remove unhealthy messages or people. The Unfollow feature on Facebook has been helping us love people from afar since 2014. Use it.

Doing so does not make you a snowflake, it makes you smart and you will not miss the noise. There are a lot of distractions that take us away from what we want, so take care of yourself here.


Stepping back and slowing down this year to truly see what was right in front of me paid off in droves. Not financially, but in quality of life. I have less in my pocket at the moment, but I’m more content than ever.

There are still things I want to achieve, but I got out of an unhealthy hamster wheel. I don’t regret stepping back in 2017 at all. Not one little bit.

I will step forward in 2018 with joy, impact and service leading the charge. Stay tuned!

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Upon My Death

The other day I got a splitting headache unlike any other. It was the worst.  It was to the point that I started giving my husband a half-joking refresher course on my desired burial requests and future plans for our two boys.

I don’t believe I am sick or that a doctor visit is warranted, it was likely just dehydration. But it did get me really thinking.

Photo by ChelseaChaos

Photo by Chelsea Chaos

What would I want my kids to know if I really were on my deathbed? What would I want you to know? I should write those things down so I can make sure people know that stuff when I die…

And then I thought, why should I wait until I die? I’m here, you’re here. No time like the present.

First and foremost, regardless of whether I go quickly or if I suffer great pain, I am okay. Really, truly okay.

Photo by Stephen M. Katz

Photo by Stephen M. Katz

I have no plans to go anytime soon, but if the good Lord is ready for me, I will go happily and skip down the lane if you know what I’m saying. I will live in that glory and I will watch over all of you with fondness. I love my life here, but I will not let the door hit me on my way out.

I am about to turn 40. Some will think I’m old, and some will think I’m just a pup, but I’ve got some hard-earned notches on my life lessons belt.

Each of these took time and trial and lots of error, but they made life a lot easier. And most of it came about when I decided to completely get over myself.

If I’m on my death bed, here’s what I’d want you to know:

  • Grudges are an atrocious waste of energy and time. Mourn your hurts, attempt mending fences and then set yourself free.
  • Forgiveness is excruciating. But people rarely die thinking they were so glad they held onto their pride.
  • Apologies are golden. Crow can be delicious when you eat it. You’ll never know if you don’t try.
  • Admitting when you are wrong goes a lot further than excuses.
  • Leaning down to embrace a child-when you’d rather give them the spanking of their life-will do both of you a world of good.
  • The demeanor of a cranky child (or parent) can be completely changed by going outside or having a warm bath.
  • Kids will forget all about the toys they begged for if you take the time to really teach them things.
  • Not everyone is easy to love. But the difficult ones need it the most.
  • Take a genuine interest in other people. Life is far better when you take the focus off of yourself.
  • People are more important than things.
  • Rekindle old friendships. Rekindle, rekindle, rekindle!
  • Love Thy Neighbor trumps any theologian’s in-depth analysis of the precious and complicated Bible.
  • When in doubt, love people. It really is that simple.
  • If you have suffered a great hurt, you have been chosen to lead. Nurse your wounds and use the scars to lead others. You’re already gifted with what you need. There’s always someone else.
  • Don’t hide from people. Let them see you.
  • Loving God isn’t always popular and it often alienates the cool kids. But cool kids turn on a dime, and God never falters.
  • Really open your eyes in trying times. You will learn something if you look for it.
  • There will always be hypocrites in church because there are will always be people in church. That is not God’s fault. Don’t shortchange yourself on faith because of people. And besides, I’d rather the hypocrites be at church than anywhere else because one day it might sink in.
  • Don’t judge people that only go to church on Easter and Christmas. You are representing the body of Christ and we want them to come back.
  • Live your life in a way that makes non-believers want a piece of what you’ve got. Draw a curious crowd with your light, not an angry mob with your fist.
  • Ask God to show you the people around you the way He sees them. And more importantly, ask Him to show you the way He sees you. It will give you grace in abundance.

I still stumble with some of these, it has been a lifelong process. I will always be a student of forgiveness and grudges. And loving difficult people. And hiding.

But boy are you glad you know me now instead of then!

And go ahead and cry at my funeral, I want you to. A wise and treasured friend just told me that if you follow your tears, you will find your heart and what really matters. Cry those tears and don’t apologize for them!

And don’t worry. I plan to be one of those old chicks on the news celebrating her 110th birthday with a mind as sharp as a tack.

But in case I don’t, now you know what my tears brought me to. What really matters.

I am grateful for the opportunity to sit down and think of how I want to leave this life, but I also plan to start drinking a lot more water!

Peace and hugs for you, my friends. May we all live long and prosper.

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