The Barn.

My husband and I just celebrated our 10 year wedding anniversary. Holy macaroni, you read right, TEN WHOLE YEARS. How time passed so quickly, I don’t think I will ever know but as our anniversary date approached we started planning and trying to figure out what the best trip would be. We knew we didn’t want anything in a big city..or city at all really. We knew we didn’t want to be busy the whole time. We knew we didn’t want there to be a lot of people or really any people for that matter. We wanted simple, we wanted to be secluded, we wanted total peace and quiet. Which is what led us to our first stop on our vacation. The Barn.

The Barn was a lucky find on Airbnb. I say lucky because I searched for what felt like weeks for a good hideaway and it was hard finding a place that could accommodate us on such short notice. I wanted something that wouldn’t be too far off of our main route to the Boltfarm Treehouse, which I will be blogging about next. My first few searches were in some small towns in Alabama. There was a really cute Caboose…yes, a train car, an actual caboose that was completely converted into an adorable tiny living space. Then there was this house thirty plus miles from the nearest anything but the views were gorgeous. Lastly, there was a Yurt we found on a campground overlooking a lake. All of them were beautiful and different, just like we wanted but none of them seemed like the perfect fit so, I continued to look. I found myself looking just south of Atlanta along our route, which led me to The Barn.

As soon as I saw it, I knew this was it. I immediately showed pictures to Nick and he was like YES!! It’s basically everything that Pinterest, Rae Dunn and Farmhouse dreams are made of. The owners put every little detail into thought when they created this space. From the beautifully landscaped grounds, the outdoor grill area, to the screened in game room, the pool and hot tub to all the homey details of the inside of the barn. I was definitely taking notes for our new home in Breaux Bridge! As we told friends one of our stays was at a Barn, the looks we got were hilarious. They were like,” …..you’re staying in a what?” It made me laugh, they just didn’t know how good this was going to be.

The whole space is incredibly dreamy. The Barn is actually situated in the owners backyard but it’s off set and there’s a lot of privacy. It’s not in a big town but it is about 40 minutes south of Atlanta. I say it’s not a big town, it’s much bigger than what I’m used to over here. The Chick-Fila and Burger King look like five star restaurants (seriously) compared to how they’re constructed down here in Louisiana! The town has a lot of places to shop, restaurants and antique stores. To be honest, even though the town has all of those amenities, it has a lot of country to it too which is what we were mostly interested in. With a short drive, you can easily get to a lot of beautiful hiking trails that have lovely sights and waterfalls. We went to Chochran Mill Park which was about 20 minutes away from The Barn and it was amazing! We only hiked one of the trails but one of the first sights was a gorgeous waterfall.

Back to barn though, when we arrived, we were greeted by a deer in the driveway. Which totally reminds me of going home. Back where I grew up, it was nothing to drive up and see them in the driveway or in the yard somewhere. Sounds cliché but this was definitely a home away from home experience. What made the experience even more personal was a little letter board in the hall welcoming us to their Barn and the owners wishing us a happy anniversary. This is the part where you say ” aweee!”

Even though we did go hiking and out to dinner one night at a local Sushi restaurant, we spent all of our time soaking up the barn and each other. My husband and I are both entrepreneurs and are both always incredibly busy. He is also a Firefighter meaning, even when he is sleeping, he is working. I am a stay at home mom, raising our two sweet girls ages 4 and 2. While that is a lot in general, I am also a Director and Certified Mentor for LimeLife by Alcone and I blog. All of it makes us super happy but just like anything else, sometimes you need a break. The Barn was perfect for this. I like to think we are simple people and simple things make us very happy and that’s what The Barn delivered for us. An opportunity to slow down, get some rest, reconnect with each other and enjoy each other which is something I think every modern day couple can definitely appreciate these days.

We sat in the hot tub, we played pool, we laughed, we played the large sized Jenga, we napped on the outdoor swing, we laughed some more, we caught up on some of our favorite Netflix shows, we hiked and it was the most fun My husband and I been able to have in a while together. I think my husband would agree. We basically got to be the big kids we are and have fun! Having kids and hustling to have thriving businesses are definitely some of the best blessings life can offer but it was so nice to disconnect for a minute and just be. Just enjoy time and each other. Jesus says in the book of Mark 6:31,

Come away with me to a quiet place and rest awhile.

And that’s exactly what we did. We both loved our stay and highly recommend The Barn in Newnan, GA. It’s such a fantastic getaway! I’m just glad I gave AirBNB a try before booking a hotel room somewhere along the way because there is absolutely no way any hotel, five star or not, could ever top our experience here. I don’t know when our next trip would be but if I can help it, The Barn will definitely be a part of our stay any time we travel on that side of the country. This AirBNB is perfect for a one night stay, a weekend stay or even a week long stay for any occasion. Thanks again to Mona and Brent for allowing us to come and experience your little piece of heaven!! We will be back!

Check out the link to The Barn here: https://abnb.me/6WHs3w3T5W

 

When I grow up…

The one huge question that probably resonates with everyone is the almighty ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ I don’t really know if I had a solid answer for this growing up, I just knew I wanted to be happy and confident.

When I think about my childhood, I think about a lot of genuinely good times. Some of my favorites include my best friend and I playing in the woods until the sun was almost gone, making things in my dads wood shop with him, winning handstand competitions at Bela Karolyi’s gymnastic summer camps, talking on the air at my grandfathers radio station, riding around with my brother and his friends listening to “Gangsters Paradise” so loud my ear drums would vibrate long after we got out of the car and playing “chase” at church with my friends. Those are just a few of my favorites..I can continue writing this list for days.

Although I have an incredibly long list of amazingly happy memories..not all of my childhood was sunshine and rainbows. Just like any kid, I’m sure, we all start school and things change. Not all children are nice and all I can pray is that I instill a kind heart in my children so that they never inflict anyone with the kind of hurt that I had in school. Although, I know that at some point I will have to mend a broken heart or two.

I remember when I was in kindergarten, I used to take the bus to school. I was the first one on and the last one off. I would go back to sleep when I got on the bus and wake up when we got to school. One morning, I guess one of the older kids on the bus thought it would be funny to stick gum in my hair. I didn’t know until I got to school and I cried. The school ended up calling my mother to come try to get it out in the bathroom with toothpaste and peanut butter…and I still cried. That day, I earned the title as a cry baby and that name followed me until the day I graduated. I say I earned it because I cried…a lot.

Leading up to 3rd grade, I started wearing glasses and I spent the entire summer with my mom at my grandfathers house in South Louisiana and I basically ate REALLY GOOD the whole time I was there. Let’s just say that my glasses and my weight gain added to my really awesome cry baby resumé. Let’s not forget that the genes ran super strong for me to start a uni-brow very early in life. Que the facepalm.

I remember every year being incredibly trying but my 6th grade year really opened up my world for how awful kids can really be and also how school systems do not always do what they should do for their students. My mother picked me up at school that afternoon and immediately wanted to know what was wrong and what happened. This was the one time(besides the bubble gum incident) that I physically couldn’t hide what was wrong. I had scratches all over the sides of my face, some of them having broken the skin. I remember just wishing I could close my eyes and disappear because I just didn’t want to talk about it. I wanted it to go away. But, this wouldn’t go away and my persistent mother had to know what happened. And once again, I cried like a baby when I told her that several girls held me down in a bathroom while another used a toilet brush to scrub my face.

I would love to tell you that as a cheerleader, a top band student, a starter on the softball team, being a top student and having a popular football playing boyfriend that I had the perfect time and perfect life in High School. I will never tell you that my adolescence was perfect but I won’t tell you that it was absolutely horrible either. I tried really, really hard to deal with the hard times and I most definitely made the most of the good times. But..just as I did when I was five years old..I cried, a lot.

I didn’t tell you any of my stories so you would feel sorry for me or to get a rise out of you. I told you so that perhaps you could relate and understand that even though it appears like someone has it all or everything is so good..that’s sometimes very far from the truth. I want you to know where my heart sits with my life, my family and my children.

I wanted to be several things when I grew up but ultimately, I just knew I wanted to be happy. I wanted to overcome all of the things that I believed shaped me into who I was. I wanted more. I wanted better. What I didn’t know is that my mind is more powerful than I thought it was.

 “It hurts but that’s all it does. The most difficult part of the training is training your mind.  You build calluses on your feet to endure the road. You built calluses on your mind to endure the pain. There’s only one way to do that. You have to get out there and run.” -David Goggins

Take Action.

It wasn’t until very recently that I truly grasped that I was in charge and that no one was going to do this for me. I don’t know exactly what I had pictured but I guess I thought if I prayed enough that one day I would just wake up and I would just be happy. That’s NOT how it works. You don’t just wake up and everything is hunky dory. It requires a lot of daily effort and more than just praying. If you pray for something, you have to act on that prayer. God will open doors for you but unless you take a step towards entering that door then the door will just continue to be open and you’ll just be standing there..or maybe it will close before you decide to act.

Your life is on you. Just like my life is on me. I will not pretend like my life is perfect now, because that is so far from the truth, I am giggling as I type this. But I can tell you that my self discovery, self love and personal development journey has been the most invigorating and life altering experience I have ever had in my entire life. I know that a lot of the things that have happened in my life could absolutely break a person and I can’t count how many people have told me this. I know that a lot of my childhood and High School experiences were not all that great but they also helped shape me into who I am today. There’s something very powerful about being able to use what most people would use an excuse as fuel for your fire.

Stop making excuses. For yourself and for other people.

Learning to stop making excuses will empower you more than you could ever realize. A lot of the times we say,” Well, this happened so this is why I am the way I am” and that’s the end of it. We don’t move forward passed that point because we decide that there’s a period at the end of the sentence instead of a comma.. We decide that there is this permanent barrier there that we aren’t supposed to cross..but it’s so far from the truth. The comeback can be so powerful if you stop drowning yourself in the excuses you keep making. If it is important to you then you will find a way to make it happen, if it’s not, then you’ll make excuses. And don’t make excuses for the people in your life either, worry about yourself and how you want to be treated. Leave other people to deal with themselves. And if those people are in your way of your ambitions, do them and yourself a favor..boot them.

You are worth so much more.

It all begins and ends in your mind. When you decide that you are worth so much more than the setbacks you have been given, the shift happens. You begin to take control of your life situations when you put your well being first. I think as a mom, this particular nugget was incredibly difficult for me to process. As a wife, mother and homemaker, my whole world revolves around being a caregiver for my husband, children and home. And while that is still my role as a stay at home mother, I’ve learned to create healthy boundaries with it along with my relationships outside of my home. It’s been trying at times but so empowering. When you realize just how in control you can be, a lot of things change and for the better. Life stops happening to you, it starts happening for you. And when curve balls get thrown in your way, your mind set is well equipped to handle the play. And not only that, when you start living with your best self present, everything else has a way of being easier to handle. The pressure is off by trying to please everyone all the time. You see, I live for my family, no doubt..however one of my main struggles has been pouring from an undeniably empty cup. When I decided I wanted more for myself, I began shifting things that filled my cup. Such as girls nights once a month, gym time or even trips every few weeks to get my nails done to give a few examples. Little things like that that help me refuel. I can better take care of my family and do all the things once I am taken care of.

The truth is, I never felt popular or like I fit in growing up even though I tried with ever fiber of my being. I had this idea in my head that if I fit in with the in crowd then my problems would stop. If my name had a space on the roster where all of the popular kids names were, I would suddenly just find peace and happiness. It never happened like that. When it came time for me to decide what I wanted to be when I grew up, sure, a few things that I loved came to mind and I pursued them..but none of them are as fulfilling as learning how to become who I am today. If I had known then what I know now, I wouldn’t have cared about fitting in or any of that. I would have focused on living my absolute best life.

I think about my girls and how I felt when I was in school. I’ve continued to see myself as the same timid little girl who’s anxiety level was through the roof. And ultimately, who thought that all of those things just broke her as a human being. I want my girls to know that they can be strong and do better than I did. And in order for them to learn it, they have to see it. They have to see a strong mama. I have to be strong for them..and myself. It’s a learned behavior and I want them to know from the beginning just how enough they are. I want them to know that experiences they have in their life, don’t have to define who they are. Unlike their mama, they don’t have to be a cry baby.

 

How To Take Control Of Anxiety & Depression

adult alone anxious black and white
Photo by Kat Jayne on Pexels.com

Suffering from anxiety and depression means living on the edge..with basically everything. The tiniest things trigger you and cause a lot of mental chaos. It means overplaying scenarios in your mind on things you could have said or done but for whatever reason, you didn’t. For me it meant a lot of days spent in bed under the covers with the curtains and my eyes closed. It also meant a lot of nights of silent crying. You know the kind of cry where you curl up in a ball, you feel the ache in your chest and throat, then tears just come uncontrollably? The kind where you can’t breathe anymore but somehow you breathe through it because you don’t want to wake anyone in the house and being upset about it is easier than explaining it. Because let’s be honest, that’s way easier anyway since we don’t even understand it ourselves.

I’m going to tell you about some of my  struggles and how I internalize them. I want you to know that what I tell you might help you but it might not either. Each of our journeys are beautiful and unique in their own way. Even if we don’t see it that way at the time. The times that hurt or put us through hurt, those times aren’t necessarily beautiful but it’s how we react to those situations that mold us into stronger beings.

Blaming yourself.

I won’t tell you things happen for a reason and I won’t tell you ALL things happen according to God’s plan even though I’ve been raised to believe it all of my life. Or maybe a broken heart was all apart of God’s plan all along, who knows..all I know is the number one thing that set me back the most were those two phrases. At thirty years old I can’t come up with one solid reason that makes sense for why I was bullied in school, why I’ve had five pregnancies but only have two children, why my mother drank herself to death, why my father-in-law was murdered or why anything negative with friends, family or people in my life could go so incredibly sour. Trust me, I’ve taken a long hard look at myself in the mirror(quite a few times) and tried to figure out what was wrong with me and how these things could keep happening to me. I asked myself what I had done in my life to deserve these things. I beat myself up over these things because I’m a huge believer in what goes around comes around. Surely I did something somewhere along the way to deserve this kind of pain.  Perhaps I did. I have done so much bible reading, self-care reading and discovery, therapy, journaling and praying…I know my faults and I have worked and still work so hard on them to better myself. I know I will never be perfect and I never want to wear that kind of crown. But getting through my anxiety and depression is a constant run on the hamster wheel. Waking up happy doesn’t just happen. Something to factor in is that I didn’t choose depression or anxiety, it chose me. If it chose you too, you have to give yourself credit where it’s due. You did whatever you had to do to stay alive today. Even if it was as small as changing from one pair of pajamas to the next or showering, getting dressed and showing up to work, keeping your children fed and happy…you’re doing it! You’re doing what you have to do to keep going!

The reason I said I won’t tell you that all things happen according to God’s plan is because I think a lot of us tend to forget that there’s a fallen angel out there who’s only goal is to rip every good thing from our lives until we feel like we have nothing left to live for. Satan wants nothing more than to control our hearts and lives and bring us the most utter and sick sorrows. I think God’s plan for us would never intend to bring us such hurt or pain. The bible says in Deuteronomy 31:8 ” The Lord Himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid. Do not be discouraged.”

This might not be what you think or believe and that’s okay.

white printer paper with black and silver gel pen on top
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Writing it all down.

One of the number one things that helped me was journaling. Something about putting it all down on paper helped to get it all out of my system. At the time, I wanted to write it all down because I didn’t want to forget anything that happened. Whether it was a dream, something that happened, how I was feeling..you name it. Anything and everything had fair game in my journal. It’s interesting to look back and read now. I still feel everything that I wrote down years ago but it’s inspiring to see how far I have come since then.

Learning to say no..and yes.

I think we all know darn good and well when we really ought to say yes and no to things but for whatever reason, we just don’t go with our gut. We do things we don’t really want to do for fear of upsetting someone or letting them down. In turn, we really end up letting ourselves down. Or those times when we know we should say yes because whatever it is, could be good for us but again..we do the opposite because fear of the unknown is a safer space.

The powerful and uplifting feeling of saying yes and no in the right times is key in my opinion. It can be incredibly uncomfortable especially when you know you’re letting someone down but when you finally do something positive for yourself for a change, those people get on board with it eventually. Not to mention, if these people truly care about you and your wellbeing, they’ll either understand or move on to the next person who lets them use them. You have to stick to your guns. Shutting out all sources of negativity helps you get through those dark seasons. It’s also incredibly uncomfortable saying yes to positive opportunities that could let some good in but it also brings in sources of light in for future seasons. Which is a good thing! Being able to say yes and no in the right times gives you the opportunity to take control back on your life.

motivational quotes
Photo by Bich Tran on Pexels.com

Stop comparing yourself.

I still struggle with this all the time. I will not sit here and lie to you about that. One of the number one thief’s of joy is comparing yourself to other people. People who are prettier than we are, funnier than we are, have things we don’t have, do things we can’t do, have more money, drive a fancy car, have a bangin’ body, have more success, go on vacations..you get the idea. You already know what I am talking about it. We are all guilty of doing this at some point or another. It is so bad for us yet we do it all the time. But why? Is it because we aren’t satisfied with what we have? Is it because we want more but aren’t motivated enough to do anything about it? It probably has a lot to do with social media these days if you ask me. Everyone’s lives appear so perfect when you only see their highlight reel. Proverbs 4:23 says ” Above all, be careful what you think because your thoughts control your life.” If we applied this daily, we would stop stealing our own joy from ourselves. If we are constantly comparing ourselves to other people and wanting what they have, it makes us lose our sense of self and who God made us to be. Remember, God rewards those who are faithful with the gifts they are given. It’s not about what you have or you don’t have, it’s what you do with what you have that’s important.

Stop complaining.

I seriously wish I could go back in time and kick my younger, childish self in the rear end..all thanks to Facebook memories and TimeHop. I didn’t realize how negative and whiny I was until this cute little feature became available. I wish I knew how complaining would get me no where. It just drug out a super long and super sad process of nothingness. Instead, I wish I would have thought of it as what kind of lesson God was trying to teach me or tried practicing being grateful for what I did have over what I didn’t. I catch myself a lot these days falling into old patterns where I focus on everything that’s going wrong. This step is hard but if you practice on even the tiniest things that make you happy and how many of them there actually are, it gets easier to stop focusing on all the negative. Trust the process and remember not to beat yourself up about it.

Discover your why.

Finding your why gives you reason for everything. So I’ll cut straight to the chase here…my children saved me. That’s not to say the family or friends I have or my husband didn’t, they did but only to a certain extent. Those people gave me meaning to keep going but my children gave me my purpose to keep living.

My mother’s mom, whom I never met, left my mom when she was six years old. She chose to be selfish and do…whatever she did after she left without ever looking back or questioning her decision. Even when my mom tried to give her the opportunity to meet my brother and I when we were born, she wasn’t interested.

When everything happened with my mother, I couldn’t help but blame this person who I should have been able to call my grandmother. It’s like she set up this really screwed up domino effect. After my mother passed away, there I was, the next domino in line. It only made sense that I would be broken since the two generations of women who I should have been able to admire and learn from were both quitters.

And then I had my babies. I thought I knew love when I said I do, I thought I knew love when I had positive pregnancy tests, I thought I knew love when I felt their little flutters in my tummy..but it wasn’t until they laid them on my chest and I got to look in their eyes and see what my purpose in life was. My girls. My husband and I reconnected on a level like we hadn’t in a long time and it has been so beautiful and life altering. We both needed them more than they think need us.

They’re my why. They’re my reason for everything. For standing up every time I fall, for pushing through all the hard times, for bettering myself mind and body, for working to be successful with my businesses and for fighting my anxiety and depression like my life depends on it. Because it does matter. I matter. I never want my girls to know the kind of hurt I’ve felt. I never want them to know what it’s like to have a mama who gave up on them. It stops with me. I’m worth it and you are too.