Monday, September 1, 2014

To the girl who made me cry: I Love You.

Zoe started kindergarten a month ago. I was so excited to see her grow, but so nervous that my little shadow wouldn't be behind me every time I turned around. I knew that my days of constantly being the one right there, making sure her life was filled with good things and where I could censor what came in, would forever be changed. It's time for her to be independent and make decisions based off what she has been taught and I became frantic wanting to crash course her on everything I could possibly think of. The night before school, I gave her one of my "life lessons."  The life lesson mostly had to do with making good choices, befriending those who seemed lonely, and always trying her best even when it gets hard. She said some really smart thing, like she always does, making me remember that Zoe will teach me more throughout my life than I will ever be able to teach her. 

One of my favorite things about this little 5 year old ball of fire is how she won't talk about the people she doesn't like, only the ones that she does like. I can always tell though, when someone has been mean to her or she doesn't want to hang around someone by little hints that she drops. But she is probably the easiest person to get along with. On Friday, the second I saw Zoe after work, she said

Something happened at school today and I've been waiting to tell you.
She told me that a group of girls were mean to her. They wouldn't let her play on the "spinny thing" with them and after a while, Zoe said she went into the grass all by herself and started to cry. She didn't want anyone to see her, so she hid until she was able to stop and the whistle blew for everyone to line back up to go inside. This shocked me. Zoe doesn't cry a lot, and she usually doesn't care what other people think about her. 

I got so upset thinking about my little girl crying all by herself, and she told me that she just wanted to see me so bad at school and she didn't know what to do. I felt mad, and started scheming in my head what we would do to fix this situation. Before I could come up with anything, Zoe said,

So here's what I want to do. I am going to write her a letter. Can you help me spell out all the words? I'm hoping that the letter will make her feel good and happy inside. I'm going to put it in her cubby and maybe she'll want to get back together again with me. I'm also going to draw her a picture. She has the most beautiful long hair and I want her to know how pretty it is!

I blinked a few times.
I was caught off guard. That was way better than anything I would have told her to do, and let's be honest, it was way better than anything I would have done myself. Zoe spent an hour on the letter and drawing, and sealed it up in a pretty envelope that she drew hearts all over. Tomorrow at school, Zoe will put it in the girls cubby and I pray and pray and pray that they can "get back together again." But if they don't, I know that Zoe has learned a lesson of compassion and I am so proud of her. 

The things I have been stressed about her learning and facing are things she can handle because who she already is as a person. Her kindness blows me away. I have been thinking all weekend,

Who do I need to write that letter to?
Who in my life has hurt me, and who do I need to forgive and write and say hey, let's get together again? Am I brave enough and kind enough to be the bigger person? 

I don't know. 
But Zoe is.
And we can be, too. 
I tell myself that I can be, now the next step is to just be.

Sometimes, people who are the hardest to love, are the ones that we need to love the most.
Maybe it takes smashing our own pride, getting over embarrassment or anger that someone caused us, and allowing ourselves to let love seep in. I think that it takes as much energy to love someone as it does to hate them… maybe even less, because the energy source is positive and good and it doesn't drain and destroy you. 

Write that note tonight.
Maybe add a picture on the back.
We can all be brave together tomorrow when we leave them in their cubbies.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Answers to The Questions About Men You've Always Had.

After my last post about what every millennial needs to know about marriage, I got a lot of questions, comments and emails from people who want more relationship posts. A common theme I found was a lot of you want to hear from Mike to get a man's perspective on things. Your wish, my friends, is my command. We had Mike's coworker ask him questions that girls are sick of trying to figure out on their own.

Here's what you need to know about relationships, from a man's perspective.
Take it away, Mike!

why don't guys listen?
Wait what did you ask?  Just kidding :)  I have learned, that men, in general, are not very good at understanding what is going on around them.  A man's mind is generally able to focus on one thing and one thing only, and that one thing usually involves food or something funny... or sleeping.  Women, on the other hand, remind me a lot of Jason Bourne (I love those movies), able to know everything that is going on around them at all times.  Even if they don't know how they know everything they know, they just know it.  The advantage a man has in this situation, is that when he chooses to listen to a woman, you can pretty much guarantee he is listening to you with 100% undivided attention, because he is physically and mentally incapable of thinking of anything else, even if he tries!  Men do, however, have the ability to understand how important it is to pay attention to women when they are explaining why something is bothering them.. there is a small sensor inside a man's brain that can detect when he needs to pay attention to a woman.  And when that goes off, the man is then able to listen - it is a wondrous thing.

why do guys play games?
If a guy is playing games with you, it means he isn't ready for a serious relationship and only wants to have "fun".  Period.  Guys that play games are not interested in a relationship.... they're interested in other things I am not going to write. ;)

why do guys play dumb when girls make hints?
Guys don't play dumb, we are dumb.  This is not pretending.  We do not think we are being judged for the lead role at an audition for our school play.  We just don't understand "hints" women make.  Men are very black and white.  If you like a guy, say to him, "Hi there, I like you.  Would you like to kiss now?"  At that point, a guy will understand you are interested (hopefully).  If he still does not fully get it, he may think you are teasing him.  If he acts shy and bashful, this is your opportunity to carpe diem (seize the day) and get him.

By the same token, even after you are married, ladies, you need to make sure you are being direct if you want something.  However, you should still be sneaky about it and make the guy feel like it's his idea to take out the garbage, not yours.  Do I see the trash can is full and little Billy can't fit his paper plate in there because it's packed with last night's dinner scraps that didn't get eaten??  Yes, I see them!  Just make me think it's my idea to take them to the garbage.  And appreciate me when I do a job well done - you'll get more out of me that way. 

Are guys capable of being fully committed to just one person on all levels emotionally, physically and mentally?
Men are, although you may not agree with me, capable of being emotionally, physically and mentally committed to just one woman.  How does this happen, you may be asking yourself.  This happens, when the man realizes he is making a choice, on his own free will, to be with just one woman for the rest of his life (and beyond that if that's what you believe, as I do).  A man has to understand, that once the rings are on the fingers, that's it.  You don't "court" members of the opposite sex anymore - that time is done.  Now is the time to focus on strengthening your relationship with your spouse.  The most important thing a man can learn regarding this topic, is this: when in a healthy and loving relationship, the grass is NOT greener on the other side.  The way you keep your side having the greenest grass, is by putting each other first, always.  Living selflessly is how you keep the happiness and love alive.  A man works hard at his job and when he comes home, he is happy to see you and the kids (if applicable).  He doesn't mind doing chores and helping around the house either!  He just needs a good ole' fashioned smooch when he walks in the door, and he wants to feel like you're excited to see him.  It is scientifically proven, that when you smooch your guy when he comes from a hard day's work, he will start to understand your riddle-like hints and he will not only take out the trash, he will even wash the dishes and clean up the dog poop in the back yard.  Just kidding, that's not proven, but I bet it works.

What makes a guy decide to propose to woman?
Ashley and I did not date for very long.  In fact, from the time we first kissed to the day we got engaged, was 43 days.....  When I knew I was going to marry Ashley, I had some of the strongest and most powerful experiences of my life.  There were things that tried to pull me away from her, and she from me, but there were stronger forces and influences in our lives that kept us together.  I knew, that THIS was the woman of my dreams, and NOTHING was going to stop me from marrying my girl!  Was it easy for me to realize such a life-changing event was happening to me, not at all.  But I had faith and I knew she was the girl I was supposed to marry.

We know that every relationship, person, and situation is different. This isn't a blanket statement for everyone who has ever walked the face of the earth, so don't take it as such. Let us know what topics/relationship posts you'd like to see next!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Art Of Caring For Your Spirit.

Jeans- ℅ Dittos, Jacket- ℅ Voi Jeans, Shoes- ℅ Shop Prima Donna, Shirt- Anthropologie

Do more. 
Be more.
Spend more.
Make more.
Get more.
Help more.
more. more. more. more.

I've been getting tired. So tired, in fact, that in longing to be more, I have actually become less. Life is an interesting balance of so many things. When I get on social media every day, the balance looks like it needs to involve a lot of things that I really shouldn't spend time caring about. For some reason I'm told that I'm supposed to care about this Kardashian drama, or that Miley Cyrus shenanigan, or that the top retailer in the country is having the best sale of the year and I need what they are trying to sell me. Sometimes I start thinking that I actually care about this junk and find myself spending 10 minutes of my life reading the most garbage articles my eyes have ever laid eyes on. And then I'm told that I'm not parenting good enough, or that my ideas of love and marriage are too old school, and that I can be better so I need to change xyz and w. 

You're told these things, too. If you scroll down just your Facebook home page, sponsored post after sponsored post and tags of what is trending tell you these things every day. I'm starting to get so cranky at everything because I feel like garbage is being flung into my daily life and I have no control over it. I had enough, and I needed peace, and space, and quiet. I needed to get away from work, and people, and phone and media and everything. So I do what I always do in the moment, and called my sister and told her that we were going to Sedona. Actually, my husband told me that I was going to Sedona… probably so that the poor guy could find a small ounce of hope that his crazy wife would stop going batty over little things, take a chill pill, and come back refreshed. And of course, my sister had to come with me because I can't do anything without her and I desperately wanted her new baby for 24 hours to be right next to me.

We drove. We drove up to where we retreat when we need more armor for battle and where we can sit and be still. Within minutes of arriving, my over anxious life started to feel like it was winding down and that I could feel peace. Peace, I have learned, is the only feeling the world can not mock. It's a feeling that only comes from God. It can't be faked or bought, it can't be mimicked or intimidated. It belongs to a higher power, and can only come to us when we're able to feel it. 

I live in this war with myself, a lot of you know what I mean.
My mind and my head are running around 200 miles an hour. I tell myself more and when I logically can't make sense of things or figure out how a situation could possibly end well, my head makes the rest of my body freak out. It controls me, if I let it. 

Sometimes my spirit will kick in. It will fuel up with hope and faith, and give me a little more love to offer. It tells me things will be fine, and it helps me regain focus on what is important. It helps me live a life that I want to look back and say I lived. But the battles between myself and myself get rocky sometimes. And I get caught up in listening to my head, all the while forgetting that if my spirit leads, things will be fine. But we don't live in a spiritual world. We live in a temporal world that tells us things that are contrary to the things that are really true. 

You need time in your sanctuary. You need to make time in your retreat, to guard up and add more spiritual man power to your daily fight. Get away… in your room, on a mountain, in a church or the middle of nowhere or on a bench in the middle of the city. And let it be quiet. Don't think about things, 
feel things. The art of caring for your spirit comes from having the courage to let trivial matters pass you by, while maintaining focus on love, service, living and light.

A soldier doesn't go to battle unprepared.
You shouldn't either.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Fishtail French Braid

I've been so excited to share this hair tutorial with you. I teamed up with Harley Chapman for this tutorial, and she did my hair and make up. Images by Mallory Fraughton... You will need to know how to fishtail for this braid. If you do not know how, click on my sidebar under the hair tutorials link and I have a very easy one on there!  Make sure you tag @theshineproject on Instagram so I can see your final hair masterpiece :)

1- Pull a small section of hair from the top of your head. You will use this section as the first fishtail piece in the braid.
2- Fishtail only that section of hair about 2-3 inches, as shown in the top row of images above.
3- From the top side of your hair (use above your ear as a good reference point) grab a loose piece of hair and pull that into your fishtail. You will fishtail this piece into the first section that you have already braided.
4- After braiding 2-3 inches, pull a loose hair strand in from the opposite side of your head and start to fishtail this in.
5- Continue this process all the way down the back of your head. Keep pulling random pieces in to your braid, and fishtailing it a few inches before grabbing another loose piece.
6- When you get to the end of your hair, fishtail everything together and put an elastic in it, and you are DONE my friend. So, so pretty.