"Are you going to do it Mom?"
"I think so."
"Are you nervous?"
"Yes, terrifed actually"
"Then why are you going to do it?"
"Because as nervous as I am, I know that if I don't do it I will look back one day in the not too far away future and wish that I did. I will wonder what I had been thinking when I had said no."
"That's a good reason Mom."
Good enough for me. Good enough because 13 years ago my husband asked me to be in one of his music videos and I said no, I let another woman take the part.
I said no because I had just had two babies in a row. I said no because I wasn't back in my pre-baby shape. I said no because I thought I looked tired. I said no because I thought someone else would do it better than me. I said no because I didn't understand that real, unshakeable confidence doesn't come from a number on a scale, a reflection in a mirror, a false approval from strangers.
How many times has someone wanted to take a photo of you and your kids or you and your husband or (gasp!) you alone and you have expertly averted the situation and got yourself out of that photo op? We become pros, us women, at taking the spotlight off ourselves when we don't feel how we think we should look.
I will be the first one to advocate taking care of your health and you in general - you look good you feel good right? Absolutely! But the confidence that comes with looking good on the outside when the inside is a complete contradiction is short lived, it's surface level, it's easily shook and it's always fleeting.
As much as we begrudge the aging process because of the physical challenges it presents to us, it brings something we don't have in our 20's, for some of us even our 30's.
It brings us the gift of experience. Experience brings knowledge. Knowledge brings power. And power is what brings unshakeable confidence.
The power to internally feel like you can walk into any situation with a "been there, done that, got the t-shirt" attitude. It's not abrasive, it's not boastful. It's quiet, it's humble, it's an internal peace I spent years looking for.
At 43, I may have moments when I wish my skin looked younger and my body kept weight off with one trip to the gym like it did when I was 30, like it did the first time I said no to being in a video. Like it did the time I let someone else take "my" place.
At 43, I have found an inner confidence that I wish I could go back and shower my younger self with - from the inside out, not the outside in.
I wish I could tell her not to put so much value in what others say. Others will talk about you, others will come and go in your life, let them go - the ones worthy of you will stay.
I would tell her that no one is as hard on her as she is on her self. I would tell her that no one sees the flaws that she does. I would tell her that her husband doesn't focus on the fact that she hasn't lost all the baby weight, he is too focused on how well she is doing being a new Mother to their children.
Have you ever looked back on a photo and thought, "wow, I looked good back then?" Did you really feel that way about yourself at the time though? Or were you too busy picking apart your appearance?
How about if you looked at that same photo and thought, "wow, look what a great Mom/Wife/Daughter/Friend I was being in this photo"???
Do you remember when I posted over Fall break saying I had gone in the ocean with my kids more than I probably ever had? I had my photo taken with them IN MY SWIMSUIT! Because at 43, I realize that when they look back on these photos one day, it won't be their Moms body they will picking apart, it will be the memory they will be reminded of.
When we let our insecurities run our lives we miss out on experiences we don't get back. We miss out on making memories, we miss out on documenting those memories to have to look back on one day. We watch our lives from the sidelines.
When we lead with confidence as Mothers, Wives and Friends we give the people around us security too. How can we tell our children to reach for the stars when we aren't sure we deserve them ourselves?
At one point during the video shoot, a guy on the crew (who was from Argentina) gave someone in our group a compliment that she didn't accept (in his opinion ;) and he said,
"in Argentina, if we ever hear a woman put herself down we immediately have to tell her she is wrong, it's our job to build them up." he followed with,
"it can make it hard to find a woman who thinks you are good enough because they are all so confident" haha.... he wasn't kidding.
His statement reminded me of something I have watched since our daughter was born 8 years ago.
I've always said to my husband, "her expectation for a future man in her life is going to be completely unrealistic, she will never find anyone that treats her as well as you do."
Although I'm pretty sure that may be part of his plan to keep her at home forever, I think he may be on to something. At 8 years old she has a confidence that I am often in awe of. There is nothing she thinks she cannot achieve, no obstacles she cannot overcome and Lord help anyone who tries to bring her down.
I think it's unrealistic to think that at some point in her life her confidence won't take a hit, I can only hope that it will be momentary.
When the day finally came to shoot the video of course I was nervous. For real though, it lasted about an hour, it lasted until my husband showed up. And it wasn't just because he told me I looked good (although that was an added bonus).
The nervousness was extinguished by the confidence, internal confidence I had within me that no one else could take my place, no one else belonged there more than I did. I knew there was no one else he would rather have there so why not act like it?
The things that give me confidence may not be the same things that do for you. I may hold value in things that you may not and vice versa.
What I know today though is that I only listen to the opinions of people I care about - and I mean REALLY care about.
I do the best I can to take care of myself and exercise so I can be healthy and strong. For ME, exercise gives me a mental & physical confidence that's hard to explain. It keeps me feeling in control, stable, powerful.
I try to be the same (no wait...better) woman that my husband married 17 years ago. Being confident isn't always about doing things for yourself, sometimes it's in knowing what you can do for someone else.
When your husband gives you a compliment, say thank you.
When your kids have a momentous experience, get in the photo with them.
When your kids ask you to get in the water, swim.
And when their Dad asks you to be in his music video, say yes.
"Mom, when you get married do you have to love your wife more than you love your Mom?"
"No, you love them the same, just differently"
"I'm probably not going to get married then"
And just like that I was done. For life. Heart on fire.
My 3rd boy - he was 5 years old when he asked me this - the boy that when I was pregnant everyone would say, "awe, were you hoping for a girl?"
Side Note: Please don't say this to a woman who is having another baby of the same gender. First, it's rude and second, it's insulting to the child she is carrying inside of her. I remember feeling so defensive of my little man by the time I had him, constantly having to assure people that I was OKAY he was not a girl.
When my third son was about one I remember feeling totally outnumbered by these boys in my house. Outnumbered and overwhelmed not just from having ALL boys but also by the love that can only come from a boy when he looks at his Mom - I had this times 3.
I was also overwhelmed more often than not by the craziness, the wildness, the testosterone that accompanied all these boys literally from birth!
Why did they seem to grunt before using actual words?
How could every single object they picked up somehow be turned into a weapon?
Why did every great story they told end with someone dying?
Was it just MY boys or was it the case for most other Moms out there raising boys too?
How were my husband and I going to raise these boys to be well mannered and all around awesome humans without losing OUR minds in the process?
Because in the big picture, that's what we ARE doing. We aren't just taking care of our boys - we're raising boys who will turn into young men who will turn into grown men. Boys who will likely one day become Fathers and Husbands.
So not to put TOO much pressure on ourselves, but if we look at it that way than MAYBE we will look at how we are raising our boys differently.
Maybe if we look at it as raising future husbands, fathers and all around good people we would change our game plan.
My husband and I raise our boys in what some might call a more traditional way. Boys and Girls are different for a reason. Equal? Yes. The same? No.
Chivalry is alive and well in our home and I wouldn't have it any other way.
If I ever saw my son walk through a door without holding it open for a girl I may literally faint of despair.
If I ever saw my son watch an elderly person struggling to do something and they didn't offer a hand, I'm pretty sure they may LOSE THAT HAND at the hands of their loving Mom.
Do I expect my daughter to have similar behavior? Absolutely. But if she ever goes on a date with a boy who doesn't hold the door open for her I hope that she turns and runs.
I remember when I was growing up and my brother or I would complain to my Dad about a rule or punishment we thought was unfair we would say, "it's only because he's a boy" or "it's only because she's a girl." He would say, "you're right, it is, what's your point?"
Boys and Girls are inherently different - their genes say so from the beginning.
If you have a boy than you know that they can go from a ferocious super hero that wants zero help or affection from you one minute to a cuddly mamas boy laying in your lap the next.
It's confusing I think, being a boy I'm sure. We raise them to be strong and tough, we put a football or hockey stick in their hand from the time they can walk. Before they are even talking we are teaching them "how to be a man."
When they fall down and scrape their knee we tell them to toughen up and keep going. When our girls fall down we scoop them up and tenderly hush them back to feeling better.
Whether we try or not, we DO treat them different from the beginning. Maybe you are someone who prides yourself on NOT treating them any different than you would a girl. Well that's great for you - for real. But society is treating them different, guaranteed.
And as they get older they learn that they will have to pay for what their predecessors did. These men before them that decided women couldn't vote, or work, or have equal pay.
These boys we are raising today are not the men who put these rules into place, we need to stop treating them as if they were.
Who Runs the World? Girls.
Where do the boys fit into all of this? It shouldn't make them less important should it?
How do we raise our boys and help them navigate their way though childhood into adulthood without feeling like lifting women up means letting themselves be put down?
Of course it's possible to do both. How?
We set an example. There is no better way to teach behavior than to exhibit it yourself.
"Ladies first", "No hitting girls", "Respect your Mother" - all rules in our house and all exhibited by their Father every day.
We have always had very clear lines with them (all of our kids really but the boys always tend to push on those lines a little bit more) about what is acceptable behavior and what is not.
If they smell fear, they rebel, and quickly so always be steadfast in your decisions.
AHHHHHH...... remember the newness of your relationship? Everything was so exciting, everything he said was so interesting, everything he said was sooo funny and when he took your hand for the first time you thought this may literally be what it feels like to touch a live wire?
Or not. Wait what? What if it's not always like the movies? What if your love story was meant to happen differently? What if your story was meant to happen at a slower, steadier pace, when you least expected it and certainly weren't expecting it? What if it began as friendship and it started out as a like instead of a love? What if you met on-line? Is it really possible to fall in love with someone you've never actually seen in person? Touched? Looked into their eyes?
What if you met that person in high school? Can you really be sure he is the one if you never dated anyone else? What if it doesn't happen until later in life? Can you really have that amazing connection to someone if they were absent for the first half of your life?
Which of these relationship beginnings is the right way? Which one will endure the test of time? The test of real life interference? Is there a perfect way to start a relationship? Of course there isn't - but we sure spend a lot of time analyzing, researching and stressing over HOW we will find love! Why is that do you think?
Does it really matter? Are we on a mission to prove that our marriage is somehow stronger than others because of how it started? How long it's been? Don't get me wrong, a marriage that has lasted for years is amazing, it can (and should) be a testament to the power of that relationship.
But there are also marriages that have gone on way too long, hung on for years for the sake of convenience, kids, money, hope? Marriages that should have been set free a long time ago and weren't, aren't. They parade themselves around with a "We've been married for 25 years" banner flying above while the truth is, the people holding that banner are falling apart at the seams, miserable with themselves and each other.
Oh wait, this is a Valentine's Day post - let's keep it about hearts and roses right? Well maybe we should keep it real instead. Maybe if we were a bit more real with our expectations than we wouldn't always feel like we're failing?
FINDING THE SPARK
This could honestly be the shortest thing I've ever written. Why? Because you will just know. THIS is not something that should require work. If you have to actively try to ignite the spark with someone you have JUST began dating than please send this relationship out to pasture... to die.
Your heart will skip a beat when you hear their name, you will get butterflies in your stomach when you know you are about to see them. You will find yourself checking your phone to make sure you didn't miss a call or text from them. They will have the ability to change your entire mood just by something they do (or don't).
When I first met my husband I would literally feel like I was either going to faint or throw up if I knew we were going to be in the same place. When I would see him walking towards me I would get weak in the knees. When he talked to me I don't know that what he said even mattered, I laughed at every word and had zero desire to have my eyes focused on anyone else.
Even if you start out as friends, when the above type of things start to occur is when you know that maybe this is turning into something more. But you will know, you can't force it, you will just feel it - Cupids arrow when you least expect it.
For all you single ladies out there, younger or older or somewhere in between... One thing I have learned and seen again and again over the years is this - if a man wants you to be in his life, if he wants a relationship with you, he will literally move mountains to make it happen.
Remember that movie, "He's just Not That Into You"? every single scenario in that movie is true. Stop making excuses for someone who doesn't call or text you back, who cancels plans at the last minute, who waits to see if there's something better going on before making plans with you.
Men like a challenge, they like to feel like they have something that was unattainable to someone else. If the guy you are interested in is being wishy washy with you and you are unsure of his feelings than put him to the test.
So many times we are scared to call someones bluff, scared to walk away. If you aren't getting what you really want than what is the point in staying anyways? You teach people how to treat you. Teach your possible future husband that you are worthy of being sought after.
Be a challenge, make him work for you because YOU ARE WORTH IT!
Okay, where were we????
KEEPING THE SPARK
The million dollar question right? I have been married for 16 years, we dated for 5 years before that. As of last year we have been together for half of my life. Pretty good right? I think so. Does it make me an expert on relationships? No. Because my husband is not like yours and I am not like you and the chemistry him and I have with each other will not be the same as you have with your husband, we are all so different - even just from a biological standpoint!
Then you throw in all the external factors! Life, careers, kids, money, health and how are your husbands coping skills anyhow? How are yours? Did you discuss this before you were married? Would you have even been able to answer?
Marriage is often a learn as you go commitment - I am committed to learning how to deal with and handle lifes ups and downs - with you.
You and your husband have to find your own formula for success, for YOUR marriage. It may not be the same as your parents, your sisters, your friends.
Never underestimate the power of making each other laugh, laughter can get you through almost anything. Not because it will make everything better but because in the present moment it's light will outshine the dark and it will refuel your soul like nothing else.
Always make an effort to be the person you were that your husband fell in love with. Yes we change as we get older, hopefully you both change, at the same pace, for the better. Be an example, he will follow suit.
My parents have been married for 45 years. Growing up my Dad would come home from work at the same time every day. He would walk up the stairs, into the kitchen and the first thing he would do was walk over to my Mother and kiss her hello. Then he would say hi to everyone else.
It was the smallest of gestures that meant so much. It was letting us all know that she was his priority, they were a team, they were parents but they were ALSO a couple.
Remember those things that ignited the spark? Make a conscious effort to still do the things that first took his breath away. Compliment him, ask him about his day, what's happening at work (and be engaged when he answers), ask him how he's feeling? Make him dinner, bring him coffee, touch up your makeup, don't go to bed looking homeless (must work on this myself).
TALK ABOUT YOUR FUTURE!!! Do you do this? and I don't just mean your retirement fund. Make plans for when the kids go to college, what will you do with yourselves? Have inside jokes with each other, sit on the couch with each other, next to each other with your legs tangled. Go to bed at the same time and FOR THE LOVE can we please put our phones away at the same time?
Marriage is not a given. It doesn't build itself and it certainly doesn't fix itself. It requires you to show up every day and be present, be mindful and engaged. Don't compare yourself to others, focus on your own marriage - not someone else's.
GETTING BACK THE SPARK
Can you get it back once it's gone? And did it really go out or did it just dim a little? A lot? Do you even want it back? Are you just going through the motions?
Sometimes s*** happens. It can't be 24/7 rainbows and unicorns - if you say it can well then it's unlikely you're in my circle of friends.
Did you wake up one day and realize that you somehow let the kids, work, bills, friends jump to the front of the line in front of your husband - your line. Who controls the order of this line? YOU.
When did the spark go out? After kids? When you were so physically tired that the last thing you wanted to do was "get busy" with your husband? When you started that new job? The one that took everything out of you mentally that the last thing you felt like doing was coming home and conversing with your husband?
When you got older or had kids and your body changed? Did you stop feeling attractive? Did you worry that he would no longer be happy with you? I would imagine that if you asked him he would say that the time you look most beautiful is when you're being a Mother.
I would imagine that yes, what initially attracted him to you was physical, but now, after all these years it is about so much more. I would imagine that you are way harder on yourself than he is.
Your marriage is the foundation for your family, if it isn't nurtured the concrete will start to crack and eventually crumble, taking prisoners with it.
You always have two options - fix it or let it go.
Fixing it will require work, on both sides but of course you can do it! It's often the little things I mentioned above that will slowly get it back on track, day by day it will start to rejuvenate itself.
SO WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?
To all my single ladies out there - there is hope! I promise you your time is coming, be patient, don't rush it and please don't settle! Be open to the possibility, be aware of who you're surrounding yourself with and be open to feeling that spark!
To the ladies who are trying to juggle it all, including a great marriage...
I don't take my marriage for granted, ever. I know how lucky I am to have the husband that I do. And although it can feel like it, it's not magic, it's not without fault and bumps in the road and it certainly didn't get to where it is without effort.
If there was one word to describe what both men AND women want to feel in a relationship it would be APPRECIATED. It validates us as people and as partners.
You appreciated him when you met him right? You probably appreciated every single thing about him? You appreciate him every time he does something to keep the spark alive right? And you better be appreciating him if he's trying to do things to get the spark back! Then TELL HIM - men want to feel appreciated, valued and needed. It gives them a feeling like nothing money could ever buy.
So with all your choices for Valentine's Day Cards, maybe try writing your own this year? From the heart, make it personal, make it cheesy, make him feel amazing.
Lose the old t-shirt and track pants you've been wearing to bed and go get yourself some fancy pajamas - that would be enough of a Valentine's gift for most men, seeing that YOU put in the effort for them.
I would write more but I need to take my own advice and get myself to the mall for some "fancy" pajamas - now I just need to figure out a way not to fall asleep before 10pm.
Happy Love Day everyone!
Ok ladies, you've officially got 2 weeks to find the "perfect" gift for the love of your life!
The one who makes your heart go pitter patter! The one who puts up with your emotionally craziness (oh wait maybe that's just me), the one that you know for certain you could not live without.
Here are my top picks that I think most men would love to receive. They range in price from a little to a lot - there is something for every man and every budget!
In our house, Valentine's Day has never been about extravagant gifts (and remarkably I've been ok with that, I kid).
Because back in the day when we didn't have enough money to spend on such gifts my husband and I would always give each other chocolate and a card and it was always enough.
It was enough because we would BOTH always take the time to write in our card something personal, we would take the time to choose the perfect card for one another.
I still have those cards and I wouldn't trade them for any diamond in the world!
1. BOOK BOOK FOR IPHONE
My husband can seriously not live without this! He used to get so frustrated carrying a wallet and his phone around and then one day his amazing wife produced this gift of all gifts and his life was simplified! It holds any size iPhone (the site will ask you to choose which size phone you have) and then holds all his cards usually kept in his wallet! Available in both brown and black leather.
2. BEATS WIRELESS HEADPHONES
If you're feeling a little more generous and your budget allows.... any man would love a pair of these Beats by Dre Wireless headphones! I have a pair and I promise you the sound quality is beyond amazing! Plus the convenience of not having to work around a cord is awesome! You will win some major wife points with this gift!
3. COPPER MUGS
These beauties were on my Christmas Gift Guide and they are making another appearance on this one! They are my husbands favorite glass to drink out of it, they truly do keep your drink ice cold! The Moscow Mule is the typical cocktail served in these cups but he could really use them for any drink his heart desires!
4. IF YOU CAN READ THIS... BRING ME A BEER - SOCKS
These socks started popping up around Christmas and made me chuckle. If you can envision your husband sitting on the couch with his feet up on the coffee table than he NEEDS these socks!
One of the most used gifts I ever gave my husband! Before we built a outdoor fireplace this was our go to! I love it because you can move it around, depending on where you are sitting. It's an amazing price point and ours lasted forever!
6. BEATS PILL WIRELESS SPEAKER
How did my husband and I live without this product for so long??? This bluetooth wireless speaker gives off a sound like no other! We pack it in our suitcases for any vacation we go on! We take it to the beach, to the pool and even to our hotel room (to help us sleep of course, geesh). The sound you get out of this little device is amazing and I promise your husband will love it!
7. BABY DADDY MUG
I mean.... do I really need to sell this to you? I saw it and knew my hubby was getting one for Valentines Day!
8. YETI RAMBLER, YETI COOLER, YETI BEER HOLDER
I cannot say enough great things about this line. It truly is like magic! Whether it's the rambler, the beer holder or the cooler... you have NEVER seen anything keep something cold for so long! You can put ice in the cup or cooler in the morning and it's still there in the afternoon! They aren't cheap but they last forever and are worth every penny!
RAMBLER - Hold any beverage - hot or cold!
COOLER - Fill it with Ice, fill with his favorite beverages and he is good for the ENTIRE day!!! Available in different sizes.
BEER HOLDER - Holds any canned beverage and keeps it cold all day! Beer, soda, sparkling water, anything that comes in a can will fit in this container! Perfect for days at the lake or beach!
9. PERSONALIZED GRILLING TRAY - OUR FAMILY IS FLIPPING AWESOME
Love this so much! You can add all your family members name to this tray, a perfect keepsake to use summer after summer!
10. MAN GRATE
The perfect gift for the man who loves to grill! A cast iron grate that sits on top of you grill - he will get the same steak house quality found at a restaurant, with perfect sear marks and even cooking. Virtually non-stick, just oil before use. Available in different sizes to fit your current BBQ.
11. PERSONALIZED PHOTO MUG & BOOK
My hubby is a big fan (although he may not admit it) of anything with a personal touch. Shutterfly has an amazing Valentines selection at a great price point. You can choose a coffee mug or make him a photo book - all personalized and super easy! You just drag and drop your photos onto their pre-existing templates. The mugs they have this year are amazing. I love giving gifts like this because it's a reminder year after year of the year it was given!
12. WHAT HAPPENS IN ---- GARAGE, STAYS IN THE GARAGE SIGN
This is a fun and inexpensive way to personalize something for the man who loves to spend time in his garage! Let him know that you think his garage is as important and sacred as he does (we all know you don't but it's the thought that counts!)
13. PERSONALIZED WALL MOUNTED BOTTLE OPENER
Another cute and inexpensive gift but with a personal touch. This would be perfect to hang on a back deck, near a BBQ, a dock on the lake, a garage, anywhere your man and his friends would be cracking open a beer!
14. NFL DRINKWARE
For the Sports Fan! Get an array of drinkware with his favorite team logo on it. The reason I like this brand is that they aren't cheesy and the product quality will be great! If you're buying glasses ALWAYS buy 2! 1 is too lonely!
I hope you have found this helpful and it's given you an idea or two for the perfect gift. Valentine's Day is truly a time when "it's the thought that counts" should hold true. Use your words, be specific, men want to feel appreciated and needed above anything else!
Happy Shopping! xoxo
Love them hard. You've seen the trending hashtag emerge over the last little while, but what does it REALLY mean? Who are these people that I'm supposed to find and how do I know if I'm loving them hard enough? I have 4 kids, a Husband, a Mom and Dad, a Brother and Sister-in-law, a Niece, In-laws, 4 dogs and a cat - why do I need more? More people in my life? More people that I have to be concerned whether I'm doing and being ENOUGH for?
And there begins the beauty of a #tribe - they aren't there because they HAVE to be, they're there because they WANT to be.
I was raised in the same city until I left for College. I went to school with the same kids from elementary through high school. I had an amazing, large group of friends. I spent endless hours talking on the phone, going to friends houses and having sleepovers.
I thought of my friends as family, they were an intricate part of every detail of my life. There were things I shared with my girlfriends that I couldn't / wouldn't share with my family, things that only your girlfriends would understand. Almost all of them still live close to the area we grew up in. I was the lone one, the one that left.
I still keep in touch with a lot of those friends and when we are able to get together it's as if no time has passed, we still laugh and chat the way we did all those years ago.
It's a Tribe from a different era of my life, a group of girls who are now women that helped shape ME into the woman I became.
When I left for University, I was devastated to leave my childhood friends, how would I ever replace them? I lived on campus in a dorm and I quickly made new friends, great friends. They didn't replace the ones I had back home, they just expanded my circle.
It was my first time away from home, 8 hours from my family. The friends I made away at school truly did become my family. We lived, ate, studied, partied, laughed and cried together. Four years of memories that shaped my life and they were there for all of them.
They were there when I met the boy that would become my husband. We watched each other go through things that no one else would understand, things that were never spoken of again, they didn't need to be.
We spent our transition from teenager to adult together, the good and the bad. They were at my wedding and they were the first ones I told, "we're moving to Nashville!" (insert shock and awe emoji face). Almost all of them live in Toronto, minutes from each other. I was the one who left.
Social media is a great tool to keep in touch with people but you miss the physical interaction, looking someone in the eyes and hearing them laugh.
Last year while my husband was on tour they all came to a show in Toronto. We went out for drinks afterwards and laughed until we cried recalling crazy times from our days together. I forgot how much I had missed them.
At our wedding I remember looking around and realizing that I had more friends in attendance than I did family. I remember the happiness that brought me, knowing those people were there because they wanted to be, not because they had to be.
My husband always knew how important my friends were to me. He knew I would always make time for them in my life and he respected that because he could see how much fulfillment I got from those relationships.
Right after we were married we moved to a new city for my husbands work. I was excited for the move, for the change, the opportunity. I assumed I would make new friends, maybe through work? Maybe the neighbors? the gym? It never happened. Don't get me wrong, I met people that I liked but I never met anyone I had that "friend, instantly hit it off" connection with.
My husband started touring and I couldn't go because I had to work, that was what I did - worked and worked out and then drove "home" on the weekends. People have asked me if I liked living where we did at the time and I always say, "mmm.. not really".
In all honesty, I probably never gave it a real chance, I based not liking it on not having friends there, not having a social life, not having a group of girlfriends to be with while my husband was away.
Fast forward one year later, I was just about to have a baby and we had the opportunity to move to Nashville, again for my husbands work. I jumped at the chance, get me out of here!
Moving to Nashville was not only a shock because it was a new country but also it was the first time I would be introducing myself as a Mother, I was now a girl... with a baby. What I came to realize quickly is that having a baby or small child with you may be the quickest way to make a new friend, ever.
I joined a Moms group, met other new Moms who I would meet with once or twice a week, just us and our babies, trying to be friends. Which comes to the next question you find yourself asking in these situations..
Would I be friends with these women if we didn't have children? Would I enjoy spending time alone with them? Going out for drinks with them? Do we really have anything in common ASIDE from the fact we both have kids? Sometimes the answer is not yes. But sometimes it doesn't matter. You are a new Mom who needs to have some sort of adult conversation in her life during the day, this will do just fine.
One of my very best friends today I met during that time. I was 8 months pregnant with my second child, a 14 month old on my hip and in she came to the moms group and sat right next to me with her 5 month old. By the end of that morning I knew we would become friends, it was that instant connection I'm talking about - I just knew.
WHERE DO WE FIND THESE TRIBE MEMBERS?
Because life gets busy right? If you don't already have your friends in place when you start having babies who turn into kids who have school and after school activities and weekends filled with Birthday parties then when are you supposed to ALSO find time to make AND nurture friendships? If you did already have your friendships in place than what do we do when our time for friends becomes smaller?
How do we not let other things overshadow their importance? Friendships are an investment and you only get out of it what you put in. Sometimes you have a friendship that you keep investing in but the return is not there.
Your time is valuable, you only have a certain size of the pie to put friendships in - make sure the ones taking up that space are deserving to be there. If you don't keep contributing to a friendship it won't grow, if you start withdrawing from that friendship it will dwindle away.
If you're like me, you've had moments or events in your life that reveal the beauty and true meaning of friendship.
A few years ago I found myself in a vulnerable situation after I lost my drivers license due to a sudden health issue (a topic for another blog post!).
I had 4 kids at 3 different schools and a husband on tour. Not long before that we had decided to build our dream home out of the city, on a beautiful piece of land. No neighbors in site, no traffic, just peace and quiet.
But now, everything I loved about where we lived had turned into an obstacle. I couldn't walk anywhere from our house, Uber hadn't come to our city yet, taxis you had to book 2 hours out, there was no subway, no bus, no public transportation at all.
It was during this time of feeling lonely, frusterated and somewhat helpless that I realized the full meaning of friendship. I've always believed that everything happens for a reason but this was a hard one for me.
I didn't feel lucky or fortunate, I didn't see the silver lining. I felt sorry for myself, I was not at my best. I was not what someone would consider a "catch" as a friend. I now came with baggage, and you'd have to put that baggage in YOUR trunk because I didn't have a car to drive ;)
I wasn't looking for new friends during that time but looking back, if my situation hadn't been what it was I don't know that they would be in my life the way they are today. I think the story would have been different.
Meeting them was nothing short of a divine intervention. That day that changed everything because they all watched it happen to me, at the gym in the middle of class.
Until that point, I had walked in, done my thing and left. I didn't need to make friends there. I valued my privacy. I had become suspicious of people when they showed too much interest in me, I always had my guard up. But now I was different, I was vulnerable and my walls came crashing down whether I liked it or not.
I was overwhelmed by the outpouring of concern and support from total strangers. I was at a place in my life where I was so isolated and there they were, showing up day after day, offering to come over to visit, pick me up to go to lunch, drive me home from the gym, pick me AND my kids up to go and do something just to get out of the house!
My husband would say, 'that's so nice of her to do", and it was but it was also genuine, the only thing anyone ever wanted back was friendship.
At a time in my life where I felt the most alone, I slowly started to feel surrounded by these women, we began to form our own group, our own Tribe.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO LOVE THEM HARD?
It means I will drop everything I am doing to be there for you. It means that your problem, your heartache, your sadness becomes mine as well. Your happiness, your success, your triumph makes me happy for you, not envious. It means if you call or text me any time of day and need something I will do everything in my power to make it happen.
It means that sometimes my kids have to WAIT A SECOND (gasp!) because you have something going on that's more pressing. It's giving someone an external support system that doesn't judge them, where they can be their true self.
It means encouraging them in whatever it is that they are doing, their young-life, mid-life, old-life cheerleader. Saying, "If you don't like them, I don't like them. If they hurt you, they hurt me because I HAVE YOUR BACK".
ONE TRIBE, TWO TRIBES, THREE TRIBES OH MY!
Maybe your Tribe is one person, maybe it's a few, maybe it's 10. Maybe you have multiple Tribes from different times and areas of your life. Sometimes it's important to know which of these you need or don't need in your life.
My experience is that women need other women. You may be someone who would rather have a handful of great friends vs. a ton of women you view more as acquaintances. Maybe you need that large group of women, that you can pull from at any given moment? One is not better than the other, it's knowing and learning what YOU need and it may change over the years.
I think everyone we meet is placed in our life for a specific reason. Good, bad and everything in between. It's up to us to decide whether they are there to stay for a lifetime or just a season. They may have shown up in your childhood or not until adulthood.
They are there to find you when you least expect it, when you need it most. But you have to be open and willing to the possibility. You have to put yourself out there, let your walls down, risk being dissappointed if they don't turn out to be the best friend there ever was. It's a lesson, there is always a lesson in every experience.
My husband has said to me more than once, "one of your greatest qualities is that you are a good friend." Hearing him say that feels like winning the lottery. I don't know if he knows what a compliment that is for me.
Being a good friend is not hard, it's not rocket science. Be someones cheerleader, be their shoulder to cry on, give them your ear, your time, your words of encouragement. Be present, be reliable, be trustworthy, be their "person".
This is how you love your Tribe of 1 or 10 or more, this is you - loving them hard.