Jun 28, 2016

Family Vacation

My kids and I visited Panama City Beach earlier this month.  Lord knows we needed a vacation!  Not only was the trip the perfect way for us to get some much needed rest and relaxation, it also provided some amazing photo ops!  We took a sunset dolphin cruise while we were there, and although I didn't get any good shots of the dolphins, I did get some beautiful images of the sunset. 
Here are some of my favorites.  Honestly though, we had so much fun that I didn't have a chance to take as many shots as I would have liked.  Just a reminder that sometimes the memories alone are more than enough...







Jun 25, 2016

#familytimeisthebesttime

The past month or so has been crazy busy for me!  Both of my kids celebrate birthdays in May; add to that the end of school festivities (field trips, graduations...) as well as the demands of my full-time job, which were particularly demanding last month, and I felt like I was about to lose my mind!

So when I found out that my Uncle Everton (whom I haven't seen in 7 years!) was planning a visit to Miami to visit my cousin, Andrew (whom I'd never met before!) for a few days, on a weekend my kids happened to be with their dad...well I hopped online and booked myself a ticket to go and see him!  Only thing is, he had absolutely no idea I was coming!  The look on his face when he saw me walking towards the car with my suitcase was PRICELESS!

We had a fun-packed 4 days together; enjoying the beautiful Miami weather, visiting with family and taking in some of the sights.  But my favorite part was the time we spent catching up after so many years.  I had a great relationship with him as a kid, and that relationship has evolved into something even more special now that I am an adult.  It was somewhat surreal talking about "grown-up stuff" with him like my job, my kids...even romantic relationships.  But I loved every minute of it!

My uncle and me...once the shock had worn off!!
Photo credit: Everton Davis
While in Miami, I got to meet a lot of family I didn't know I had!  My cousin, Andrew and his wife, who were the best hosts and gracious enough to let me stay with them at such short notice.  Aunts and cousins I either had never met or hadn't seen in several years.  I have been living in Nashville for 14 years, believing I had no family close by.  I've spent way too many holidays at home alone, wishing I could be closer to my family.  When all along, I've had a large extended family living a two-hour flight away!  Family that loves me and wants to get to know me and be a part of mine and my children's lives.

More importantly, I learned that family time is the best time.  Never take for granted a single moment you get to spend with your family.  Tell them you love them at every opportunity, because you never know when it will be your last.  I'm not sure when I'll get to see my uncle again.  Hopefully it won't be anywhere near as long as 7 years.  But I can honestly say we did not waste a single moment of our brief time together.  Thanks for the memories, Uncle Ev!


Fun times at South Beach!
Photo credit: Everton Davis

Jun 1, 2016

Alone, But Not Lonely


For a long time after my divorce, I thought it was impossible to be happy without a man.  Just the thought of enjoying my own company, especially for an extended period of time, seemed foreign to me.  My married friends would tell me to enjoy my singlehood, do things I enjoyed and learn who I really am without having my identity tied up in some guy.   I thought they were crazy.
It wasn’t until a couple of years ago that I realized they might actually have a point.
There is a clear difference between being alone and being lonely.  It is completely possible to be content in your singlehood.  I’m so happy that I have finally come to that realization, and I’d like to share 5 ways you can be happy in your own company too!
1.  Understand Your Worth
There’s a thin line between confidence and conceit.  When you truly understand your worth, it’s much easier to stay on the right side of that line.  You’ll know you don’t have to make a huge effort proving your worth to others because it’s written all over you.  Your body language will say, “I am strong. I am confident.  I understand the gifts and talents I have been blessed with and as such I refuse to be treated any less than I deserve.” One of my favorite scriptures is Psalm 139:14 – “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” (Emphasis added).  In His Word, God tells us how wonderful we are; all we have to do is believe Him.  Even if you are not a spiritual person, it’s important to understand the true value that you bring to the lives of those around you so that you won’t settle for less than you deserve.
2.  Be content
My son loves computers, tablets, video games…anything technical and he’s all about it.  We all know that technology changes just as soon as it emerges, so he’s always wanting something new by the time his birthday or Christmas rolls around.  I tell him all the time: be content with what you have.  If you are always looking for happiness in the next new thing – or more relevant to this post, the next new relationship – you will never really be happy.  I once heard it said that a person can only make another person 20% happy at most.  That means the other 80% is completely on me.  If I’m only 20% happy by myself and not tapping into that full 80%, then even if I am in a relationship, I’ll only be 40% happy at most.  Oftentimes, this is what causes relationships to fail.  We set unrealistic expectations on the other person, expecting him/her to make us completely happy 100% of the time.  When they fail to meet that unattainable standard, we cut them loose.  This is why it’s so important to be content by yourself before entering a romantic relationship.  Seems counterproductive, but totally worth the effort.

3.  Do What Makes You Happy

This is really sad, but when I got divorced I didn’t know what made me happy.  If you had asked me what my hobbies were or what I liked to do for fun, I’d struggle to give you an answer.  This is where the loneliness kicks in.  There’s only so much TV and Netflix you can watch alone before the loneliness takes over.  Think about the things you’re good at; things that bring you happiness, or make you feel confident, even sexy.  I’m still a work in progress on this one, but I’ve learned over the last couple of years that I actually enjoy working out.  I love the feeling of strength I have while taking a Yoga or Pilates class.  Back in the day, I was the chick that only ran when it was absolutely necessary.  Then I discovered the Couch 2 5K app and now I’m working towards running my first 5K in July!  Even this blog is the product of me learning how much I love to write and encourage others.  Maybe for you it’s cooking, painting or scrapbooking.  You could take a class at a local community college to learn something that has always been of interest to you.  The possibilities are endless! 

4.  Expand Your Circle of Friends

I have mentioned in earlier posts that when I first became a single mother, I did not have many friends.  My family is literally spread across the world so I don’t get to see them very often.  About 3 years ago I made an intentional effort to expand my circle of friends.  I joined the singles community at my church, and made plans to hang out with some of the ladies outside of the group.  I reached out to make plans for lunches, dinners, happy hours and hosted parties at my house.  I’m an introvert by nature so it took a lot for me to do this, but I was tired of waiting for invitations and the disappointment of not being included.  Let me tell you, I have made some great friendships as a result and my confidence has increased.  Now I have to limit myself on how often I go out with friends for financial reasons, as well as to make sure I get enough rest on the weekends my kids are with their dad!  The point is, don’t wait around for others to befriend you.  If you want to make friends, be a friend to someone else.  Trust me, they’ll thank you for it.

5.  Encourage Others

Often times, helping other people will help you to feel better about yourself.  This is known as “Helper’s High” – a win-win situation!  Research has proven that helping others produces strong emotional and physical results.  Pick a charitable organization that is dear to your heart and research volunteer opportunities.  Or maybe you have an elderly neighbor you can make meals for or just sit and chat with.  Tennessee is known as the Volunteer State so finding a way to help out should be easy around here!  VolunteerMatch is also a great resource for finding volunteer opportunities with nonprofits across the country.

These are just a few of the things you can do to be happy and content all by yourself.  Leave a comment and let me know what you do to make yourself happy!