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Find your tribe....

Find your tribe....

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.  


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.  


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".  



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.   




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Gift guide for Her

Gift guide for Her

1.  Brookstone Nap Blanket

This blanket is one of the softest and coziest blankets you will ever wrap yourself in!  The price point is unbeatable and it comes in an array of colors!  Who doesn't love a great blanket?  Make someones day by draping them in this coziness!


2.  Starbucks or any favorite Coffee Shop gift card

I love this kind of gift because it's something most everyone will appreciate! You can either put it in a Christmas card, in someones stocking or my favorite way -- inside a coffee mug!  Starbucks now also offers E GIFT CARDS - you pick your holiday card and it's emailed to the recipient for them to redeem electronically! Easy!


3.  Coffee Mugs

If you have been following me on instagram for a while you know my obsession with these mugs!  Here's the thing, it's not just the sayings - it's the mugs too!  I have been in plenty of stores where I loved the saying on a coffee mug but when I picked it up thought, "I wouldn't enjoy drinking coffee from this".  If you are a TRUE coffee lover you know the mug is just as important as the coffee - it's the experience!  


If I were giving them as a gift I would include a starbucks gift card inside the mug - anywhere from $5.00 up. Depending on who you are giving it to, you can kick it up a notch by also putting a miniature Baileys bottle inside as well.  At the liquor store they sell Holiday packs of mini (it think it's 2 oz???) bottles in amazing flavors!  Put one of those with chocolate kisses inside the mug or with the gift card.  You can make it personal, whatever works for you! Have fun with it, there's no right or wrong way!

Use the code: JEN10 to receive 10% off  your order.  Also, if you live in the Nashville area you and have not checked out this store in Cool Springs you MUST go - they have the most amazing gift ideas - SILVER & STEER CO.


Easy!  See below for a super cute and festive way to give them!

4.  Wine Glasses

Not only do I love the sayings on these glasses, I actually LOVE them as wine glasses.  They are the perfect size and because they are stemless there is less chance of tipping them over! Surely you know someone that can relate or would appreciate each of these sayings.


Use the code: JEN10 to receive 10% off  your order.  Also, if you live in the Nashville area you and have not checked out this store in Cool Springs you MUST go - they have the most amazing gift ideas. - SILVER & STEER CO.


If I were giving them as a gift I would also include a bottle of wine!  You could put the wine glass (or 4) in a cute basket with tissue to keep them safe!

My favorite wines which I love and therefor love to give as gifts are:


White: KIM CRAWFORD Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc


5. Voluspa Bourbon French Vanilla Candle 

This is my absolute favorite candle to give as a gift - any time of year!  I have never heard anyone say it smells less than AMAZING!  It comes in an array of sizes ( which vary in price) and containers - you pick how much you want to spend.  I promise your recipient will thank you!


6. Wickman 

How I lived this long not knowing these existed is a real mystery.  You know when you blow out a candle and your wick has turned into a big black ball that just keeps smoking???  Plus they're really ugly to look at when your candle isn't lit!  Introducing the Wickman, here to solve all your wick problem needs!  It's like a pair of scissors for the wick except it catches the tip and holds it in its little handle until you open it and drop it in the garbage.  I cut the tips off all my candles now and when I blow them out now there is no smoke or big clumps left on top.  This is a great gift to give someone on it's own or give it with a candle. Wrap the candle and then tie the Wickman to the outside with ribbon (like a little hint of what's inside!  See below for example!


7.  Manicure or Pedicure Gift Certificate

Why do I love this gift idea?  Because a lot of women don't want to spend the money on themselves to get their nails done!  This gift "forces" her to take a minute and pamper herself!  She deserves it!  Find a local nail salon * tip: going to a spa to find this will hike your price up almost double, find a walk in place that just does nails!  They will be able to tell you the cost of each service so you know how much to purchase.  I also like to include a tip (which you can do) and write it on the gift certificate so your gift recipient isn't left wondering if they should tip when they are finished!

8.  Love Your Melon - Beanie

Not only does this company make a stylish product, they have a great mission behind that product!  Started by 2 college friends who had a goal to provide a hat to every child battling cancer,  this company has donated over 80,000 hats and 1.5 million dollars towards pediatric cancer, research and those childrens families.  50% of net proceeds are donated to Love Your Melons non-profit partners in the fight against pediatric cancer.  They have been wildly popular this season and many colors have sold out but there are still a few cute color choices left like this black and white speck one!


9.  Yeti - 20 oz

I was given this as a gift a couple of years ago and cannot imagine ever drinking from another tumbler again!  It's almost like magic!  You can put ice in it in the morning with whatever you are drinking and the ice will still be there at the end of the day!  Perfect to keep in your car and PERFECT to take to the beach or lake - even in the sun it will keep your drink cool and ice from melting.  They come in an array of sizes but this one is my favorite!  And yes they also keep your hot drinks hot if you like to take your coffee on the road!


10.  L'Occitane Shea Butter Hand Cream & L'Occitaine Magic Key

a) The Shea Butter Hand Cream - ahhhhh I promise it's like putting magic on your hands!  Be careful because you will have a hard time going back to anything else!  It also smells amazing without being overpowering.  This is a gift I would love to receive!  You can give this on it's own or step it up a notch and add the...

b) Magic Key!  Your guaranteed tool to get every single ounce of lotion out of that tube! You simply slide the bottom of the hand cream tube into the key and turn the key as you use the cream (it stays on until you finish the tube), definitely a great way to get the most for your money and it's reusable for the next tube you buy!

Also, if you live near a store they do a great wrapping job (which saves you doing it) get them to wrap the box of hand cream and tie the magic key on the outside with the ribbon!  



11.  SAVVY Infusion 

It's not as scary as it looks and it's a fun way to spice up your water without artificial sweeteners!  Plus it looks cute which makes it more fun to drink!  You can add different fruits and even different herbs to make tea.  Right now with purchase you receive a free e-book full of different recipes and suggestions for use.


Here's a great way to wrap a wine glass, coffee mug or candle.  All you need is tissue paper, cello wrap and a ribbon!  

1. Place a large square piece of cello wrap on your counter.

2. Place a slightly smaller square piece of tissue on top of the cello wrap (the cello will prevent the tissue from tearing)

3. Place your glass, mug or candle in the center and pull all the sides up and around until it comes together on top.

4.  Wrap a piece of ribbon around tightly to secure.


5. This is when you could attach any extra items (like the Wickman) to the ribbon





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soooooo.... what do you do for a living?

soooooo.... what do you do for a living?

And you Jen? Do you work? Ahhhhh I can feel it coming from a mile away.  That dreaded question that every stay at home mom fears, usually asked in a social situation while standing next to her husband - the worker.  Over the past 15 years I have been asked that question more times than I could ever count.  I don’t think any (or at least most) of them ever asked trying to be rude or condescending, I really do believe they were either genuinely curious or just trying to make conversation.  So if that was the case then what I needed to accept was that the dread, avoid at all costs and even embarrassment I sometimes felt when that question was asked came solely from me, no one else.

I have always thought of my husbands career as something WE did, together.  His passion and gift was so contagious I suppose I kind of took it on as my own.

At first I could say I was on maternity leave, then that ran out (one year in Canada everyone, the rest of the world should follow that lead) and I was left saying, “umm, well I did, then I had a baby and I'm just staying home with him for now”  then I had another baby and another and another. I could have gone back to work between them and then again after I knew I was done - but I didn't.  When we first moved to America our first son had just been born and I was only here on a spousal visa which meant I could legally live here but could not legally work.  I got used to staying at home with my first two and as hard as it was I enjoyed the routine we fell into. 

My husband travelled so much I couldn't wrap my head around me working too and having to juggle child care between us AND a 3rd party.  It was just so much easier for my only commitment to be to my children, we decided jointly that I would be at home with them until they went to school.  Even after I finally became a permanent resident and was allowed to work, the thought of going back truly never crossed my mind.  Who on earth would organize, drive, feed, bath and take care of my family?  How on earth did people do all of that AND have a full time job?  How would I travel with my husband? It was a concept I could just never grasp, at least if I wanted to keep my sanity and my children in tact.  

It was never just HIS dream, it was OUR dream.  The "WORKER" has to see the "NON-WORKER" as part of the equation in their success in order for BOTH to be happy.

So many days I would question if I was doing the right thing.  So many times I thought, “really? is this what I spent 4 years getting a University degree for”?  “Diapers 101” and “How to prevent a temper tantrum in aisle 8” were not courses offered where I went to school.  How did I qualify for this job anyways?  It is by far the hardest thing I could ever imagine doing.  I have threatened my kids more than once (I admit it wasn't my finest moment), “Mom is just going to get a job and let someone else take care of you if you don’t appreciate what I do” - they’ll probably need therapy later in life for that but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.  

It really is like running a small business even though many days it feels like the inmates have taken over the asylum.  Clearly I am outnumbered, especially when my husband is gone!  

One night (of not a particularly great day) I remember saying to my husband, “Imagine if you spent all day at work, trying your best to accommodate everyone else, making their life and their job easier.  Trying to ensure they had the best day possible, only to have them leave the office that day sulking and moaning about how hard and unfair their job was and it was YOU they held responsible’?  Well you get the comparison I was trying to make.  It may be full of joy and laughs on most days but there are equal amounts of days when you seriously question if it would be easier to get your 3 year old down for a nap or perform open heart surgery, blindfolded.

As much as I enjoyed being home with my kids, some days I would yearn for that feeling of being amongst adults again, using my brain, being praised for my wisdom and skills.  Even though I knew my husband worked hard and traveling was tiring and stressful,  I would envy the alone time he had - away from the house, babies, laundry, diapers, melt downs.  I yearned for that feeling of being appreciated for my hard work, my efforts.  When you become a Mom you learn quickly to shelf those expectations.  It’s a rare day your child looks at you and says, “Mom, you have gone above and beyond today, we are lucky to have you as part of our team.”  Forget it, not happening.  But holy smokes do you remember the first time your child looked at you and said, “I love you”?  You may have been sleep deprived and un-showered but did you not feel like you had just won the Nobel prize for Mothering?  Clearly, you were doing something right, they did love you AFTER ALL.

This guilt we feel, constantly questioning whether we are doing the right thing.  To go back to work or not?  How do you decide to go back to work full time and not worry if you are missing out on your kids?  How do you stay at home and not worry you are giving up on yourself?  Not setting a good example for your own daughter to be an independant woman?  How do we know if when our kids are grown we will not look back on the choice to work or not was the right one? For us? For our family?  We can’t know, hence the guilt and self doubt.  We go with our gut, maybe we go with our circumstances instead because they don't give us the option to choose.

Last year my youngest went to Kindergarten and I was finally a stay at home Mom who had her days free with all her kids in school.  Oh how I had waited for this, longed for it, all this time to MYSELF.  The first week of school (not gonna lie) was bliss - so much time alone and with other adults, it’s like I had crossed the stay at home mom finish line.  You know the one where champagne, leisurely lunches, a perfectly maintained home and dinner on the table at 5 awaited everyone?  Or did it?

I remember on multiple occasions saying to my husband, my friends, myself… “When all the kids are in school I will go back to work.  Not what I did before but something that I enjoy,  I’m using this time to figure out what I’ll do”.  I envied the people I knew who had a “passion”, something they were undeniably good at and something they loved to do - OF COURSE they would one day return to that, how could they not?  I would take the time of being at home raising my kids to figure out mine, to find my passion.

And so the second week of Kindergarten came and the oddest feeling came over me that I couldn't make sense of.  I wasn't celebrating on the other side of the finish line like I thought I would be but I also wasn't desperate to cross back over it.  Sure I missed my kids… and I did realize that a chapter in my life had come to an end but that wasn't it either.  Every day I felt like every conversation I had I was on the brink of tears and I swear I could not understand why.  Then one day someone said, “how are you liking having all your kids in school? what are you going to do now”? and it hit me like a ton of bricks.  I had forgotten.  I’d forgotten to make a plan, to figure it out.  I’d had 14 years to decide what to do, to start, to make my OWN  - and I didn’t, I had no plan.  How had I let this happen?  How was I going to start now?  I would literally be blowing the dust off my resume.  What would I say?

Please list your biggest strengths:

  • making 4 different meals at the same time (short order cook?)
  • stain removal (crime scene clean up?)
  • driving back and forth to the same location multiple times a day (chauffeur?)
  • birthday party planner extraordinarre (chuck e cheese?)
  • whispering / threatening in a low and scary voice (hostage negotiator?)

None of the career choices I saw that matched my current strengths appealed to me (shocker) and it was time for me to figure something out.  I don’t do well sitting still, feeling like I don’t have a purpose throughout my day, feeling like I haven't accomplished something.  I suppose this blog, my Instagram was my first step down that path.  My attempt to connect with other women who may be feeling the same way. What I have realized is that you don't need a paycheck (although it would be nice) to say that you WORK.  

Not technically working over the last 15 years has allowed me to learn and experience things I would never have had the chance to if I'd gone back to my office.  It has allowed me to tap into a creative side I didn't know even existed before then.  I found a love in decorating, party planning, travelling, photography, fitness, cooking, creative thinking! Who would have thought? Not me.  

If you have found your balance, found your answer to the motherhood / work balance than be thankful because I would imagine it would be like finding a pot of gold.  If you have found total peace with being a stay at home Mom or being a full-time working Mom than you are ahead of most of us... again, be thankful and PLEASE share your secret with the rest of us!  Or maybe you are like me and just taking it day by day, believing that if your kids are fed, clean, homework done and still breathing when you put them to bed and MAYYYYYBE you had time to squeeze in work or something you are passionate about than you are totally winning in the Mom department. 

Whichever category you fall into, own it.  Don’t second guess yourself, your choices - that’s what makes you a good role model for your children.  For all you stay at home mommas who feel like you need to defend the reason you don’t work and all you working mommas who feel like you need to defend the reason you don’t stay at home….. let’s just agree that Mothering is the hardest (and yes, best) job in the world and cut ourselves some slack.  I never did come up with the 'PERFECT' answer to say when asked if I worked.  I guess I realized there wasn't one.  If I was confident in what I did than the answer I gave didn't really matter, I just had to believe it and own it.  In this tribe of Motherhood we need to build each other up and give ourselves and each other the credit we are due.  


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“Never?'  I said  (my facial expression surely changing to one of bewilderment, shock and awe)

“Nope.  Never.  We’re best friends.”

It was in that moment that I :

a) knew we would never be close friends and

b) was thankful for the friends I currently had in my life.

It’s not that I wasn't happy for her, it’s just that I didn't particularly believe her.  And if I did believe her I wasn't sure I knew how to be around someone who didn't feel things on such an emotional level that it caused her life to always be full of rainbows and unicorns.  My face clearly had not moved from its contortion because she followed her statement with, “do y’all fight a lot”?  ‘What? Who us? Ummm no, well yes, sometimes, we are good though, really’. 

I cannot relate to you…. where is the closest EXIT??? 

I must admit that on the drive home I did think about what she had said and the weight it held, if any.  Was she being truthful with me?  With herself?  Who cared right?  Not me.  Well maybe I did just a little.  Maybe it made me question how often my husband and I did argue, was it a lot? Was it a little? Was it normal?  Should I try harder to be a wife like her?  One that didn't argue with her husband?  One that didn't have an opinion, a view, an identity?  I’m not saying she was any of the above, but if I was someone who didn't have differing opinions of my husband, someone who didn't stand up for those opinions, then that is what I would be - I knew this for certain, I would be numb. Numb.  If someone asked me one word to describe my husband it would be “passionate”, on every level, in every aspect of his life.  I struggle with my patience (or lack there of) - he blames it on my French and Irish roots.  Me?  I don't know if there is really a need to blame anything - it's just our personalities, it's who we are.  We are both passionate, we are both stubborn, we both love hard

Remember the newness of your relationship when it first started?  When you were on your best behavior at all times?  When you still had your own individual life?  Your problems were your own, the responsibility shared with no one.  If something went wrong, you only had yourself to blame.  

Bachelorette party - 25 years old - I thought I knew everything.  In hindsight, I knew nothing, except that I was madly in love with the man I was about to marry - it even said so on my t-shirt.

When you stood at the altar and said, "I do, through good times and in bad" - did you really think about what that meant?  Or were you in a wedding day daze, blissfully happy and no one was going to bring you down by making you think of anything other than how amazing life was going to be.  Nothing bad was ever going to happen, you would always be as happy as you were in that moment.   

October 14, 2000.  Living on blind faith that all our dreams would come true.  

The joys of becoming new parents, the struggle of not becoming new parents.  The struggle of being new parents with no sleep, no freedom, no shower, no time to yourself.  It doesn't make you a bad person to feel this way but you don't dare say the words out loud to anyone or god forbid your precious new baby or your growing toddler.  Where does that frustration go? How is it released? 

Having 4 babies in 9 years is not for the weak.. physically or mentally!  They are my greatest joy but have taken me to places on the emotional spectrum I did not even know existed!  Kids Photo: Brooke Boling

Or maybe it has nothing to do with kids.  A job loss, financial troubles, what happened to the life you envisioned you would have?  Bills adding up, that mortgage payment that's due.  Why don't you live in the kind of house your friends are living in?  Why do the external woes you are facing make you feel like you are drowning and every time you think you've gotten it together here comes another wave?  You don't want to share this with anyone else. Where does that frustration go? How is it released?

Well for most of us it's released on the person we feel most comfortable with.  The person we feel safest with - the one that can see us at our worst behavior and still love us the same when we are finished acting that way.  Weird right?  The people we love the most and feel the safest with are also the ones we feel comfortable being our worst around?  Because we know that they love us unconditionally - right?  Everyone has a breaking point, everyone. 

It's easy to be happy and kind to everyone around you when things are going great - how many people argue while on a tropical vacation without their kids?  When they get a big promotion at work?  When they are able to balance their check books at the end of the month?  When life is going great?  It's easy to speak nicely and be generous to others when life is good.  The real test, the real challenge is how you treat others when life is not so great.  The human body, the human soul, is not bulletproof - understand that your words towards someone who loves you can be just as strong as bullets.  

Be each other's biggest cheerleader - life will give you plenty of people who will try and bring you down.  

My feeling on this subject (and again, its just my opinion) is that it's not so much WHETHER you argue, it's HOW you argue.  It's the WORDS that you use.  Are you trying to resolve the problem or solely worried about being right?  Do the words you use point you in the direction of resolution or are you going for the jugular?  This can change arguing into fighting, fighting dirty.  You know what I mean when I say that, fighting dirty ... do you push their buttons so that they'll feel the same way you are feeling?  Do you point blame in their direction? Make them feel like "YOUR" joint problems lay solely on them?  Do you stray off topic of what the argument is actually about, does it become personal instead of factual?  When you name call and bring up someone else's shortcomings it shows them that you don't respect them as a person, you don't value their self esteem, their self worth.  This is when arguing turns to fighting dirty and it's a one way ticket to disaster, to failure, to the end.  

My husband and I have been married for 16 years, together for 21 - believe me, we have had our fair share of arguments.  We have been through ups and downs that life threw us unexpectedly - that we didn't ask for, weren't necessarily equipped to handle.  He has been there on the worst day of my life and he has been there on the best.  We have seen each other at our worst and at our best and everything in between. He respects me enough not to push the buttons he knows he could.  

One of my favorite photos.  I was 7 months pregnant with our daughter and had just watched my husband win his 5th CCMA of the night.  This hug represented so much more than just winning an award.  It was a, "We did it, together.  No one else knows what it took for us to get here, together".   

Be kind, be compassionate, be understanding of one another.  If you don't have anything nice to say than say nothing, leave the room and take a breath.  There is nothing wrong with differing opinions, it's what makes us unique from one another.  It's about being able to disagree and still work it out, to apologize if it was our error, to not leave scars on the other persons heart, their self esteem.  

I love this quote I recently saw, "Marriage is like a house.  When a light goes out you don't buy a new house.  You replace the bulb" - @fiercemarriage ..... Think of your words as those bulbs.  If every time you replaced a light bulb it immediately went out again you'd eventually stop trying to replace it, stop trying to fix it.  It's not about IF or WHY you argue, it's about how you get to a resolution.  Your words have the power to brighten or dim your spouse - choose them wisely.






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