Going through a divorce was probably one worst thing I have been through in my life. I couldn’t eat and struggled to even get out of bed each day. I knew in my heart that I needed desperately to get out of this dark place I was in or something terrible was going to happen. Through prayer and counseling, I started to see a light at the end of the tunnel. Although I knew the marriage was over and there was nothing I could do about that, there were still things in my life that brought me happiness - like my kids, my health, my family and friends, my relationship with God. It was during that time that I made a commitment to myself that I would find joy in my daily journey. Sometimes I needed to remind myself on a minute-by-minute basis, but the more I focused on the positive, the better I felt. For some situations, finding joy would be reaching out to a therapist to help you navigate through your dark time. For others, reaching out to someone you trust to talk to, is finding joy. The more you search for it, the easier it will be to find it. In Demi Moore’s memoir, Inside Out, she says “We all suffer, and we all triumph and we all get to choose how we hold both.” Dark times in our life are inevitable, it’s how we navigate through those times that will make the difference.
I encourage you to set a daily intention to find at least 5 things throughout the day that bring you joy. Once you set that intention, you will start LOOKING for things that make you happy and the littlest of things will remind you that joy can be found everywhere. As my cutie patootie, Kenny Chesney says ““Don’t blink - Life goes faster than you think”! Don’t waste another minute being unhappy! The worst thing than being unhappy for 24 hours, is being unhappy for 24 hours and 1 second. You write the book of your life. “Today is where your book begins – the rest is still unwritten.” - Natasha Bedingfield
As a little girl, around five years old, I experienced both emotional and physical trauma. It lasted for a couple of years, but manifested itself into fear and social anxiety as I grew into a teen and then young adult. I lived my life in constant fear and only found peace in the comfort of my own home. As I got older, and with the help of a lot of therapy, I started to become more independent and desiring of a more social, active life. As a result, I trustingly welcomed anyone and everyone into my social circle without reservation. I trusted everyone and being surrounded by people brought me new found joy. As you can imagine, that brought about a very eye-opening realization that not all people are trustworthy and deserving of my time and friendship. The result was some serious soul searching: let a wide circle of people into my life, or be more selective of who I spend my time with?
One day I was watching a comedy bit by Madea, a character developed and played by Tyler Perry, about understanding relationships. Using the analogy of a tree, Madea describes people in 3 categories - some are like the branches on a tree, some are like the roots of a tree, but most people are like leaves.
“When the wind blows they [the leaves] go to one side of the tree and then the wind blows the other way they are on the other side. They are totally unstable. All they do is take from the tree and only give “shade” [wink wink]. When the seasons change, they wither and fall off the tree. But don’t be angry with them; this is who they are. God put them in your life just for a season. Some people are like branches on the tree but watch out for them. They make you think they are your friends but the minute you step out, they break and leave you. Oh, but God bless those folks who are the roots. But find two or three people who are your roots. They are there to help you live and give stability to your life. A tree may have one thousand branches but just a few roots. Hold on to these people.”
Listening to this really opened my eyes and allowed me to view my friends in a different way. All are important in my life, but not all will stay in my life. I refer to the friends that are my roots as the people that “get to sit at my table”. My table is very sacred and I am very cautious about who I bestow that honor to. These people add nutrients and strength to my life. I give my whole heart to these people and am devoted to nurturing their lives in return. I view the idea of having a seat at my table as an honor and those that are invited must be able to view it in the same way.
Author, Rachel Hollis says “You, and only you, are ultimately responsible for who you become and how happy you are.” Surrounding yourself with friends is important and should not be taken lightly. Motivational speaker, Jim Rohn, says “You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.” Are you surrounding yourself with people that are adding value and nutrients to your life? If not, it may be time to prune your tree.
I think we can all admit, dating is a chore! It takes a lot of effort and patience to date. Fortunately, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Although I am no longer single, I learned and perfected it and wanted to share some tips in hopes of helping you or someone you know during the dreadful process. During my single years, I was working full time and a busy mom of teenagers. However, through the process I developed some dating “rules” that really worked for me. I have a few single friends now that come to me for dating advice. Some may say my approach is a bit cold and harsh, but I feel like if every single person would heed my advice, their dating process would improve significantly.
First before I go over my rules for dating, here is a few little caveats to keep in mind:
Rule #1: The first date should ONLY be a “meet and greet” that should not last more than 30 minutes. This expectation should be communicated in advance with whoever you are meeting up with. This allows you an “out” if you get there and they are 5’3” rather than 6’, like their profile stated, or 350 lbs rather than the “athletic build” they described themselves as. Additionally, It allows the other person an out in case you are not what they expected. There is nothing worse than having to sit through a long, drawn out date and dreading it from the get-go. At the end of the meet and greet, if there is a mutual connection, then it leaves you with excitement and anticipation for the “real” date.
Note: The meet and greet should never last over 30 minutes (typically coffee or a meet up at the park) and should always be Dutch treat (each pays for themselves).
Rule #2: Second date…NO SEX!!! This may be hard for some of you, but let’s be real…you don’t even know this person or who they have been with. And even more than that, for most people, that emotional connection should be the most important at this point. Once that connection is made, the physical connection is inevitable. This date should be used to ask questions of one another and really get to know them as best as possible.
Note: God gave you two ears and one mouth for a reason…LISTEN!! My biggest pet peeve is when you are trying to say something and someone keeps interrupting or when the other person dominates the conversation. Ask questions, allow them to answer and they should do the same for you. If you are finding that the conversation is not 50/50 this is a red flag (not a deal breaker, but definitely a red flag).
Rule #3: Serial dating is OK. It is ok to date multiple people at the same time. At this point, you are getting to know people and find out who you have the best connection with. Some people may have a few red flags for you but if you limit yourself to dating just that one person, you may miss the opportunity to find the person that has no red flags. When/if the time is right, you should both mutually agree that it is time to commit to the relationship.
Note: Make sure you are open and upfront with the person that you are just dating and that you have not committed to be in a relationship.
I hope you found some value (or at least humor) in my 3 tips for dating. Comment below on what your rules are, how you feel about my rules and/or if you have anything you would like to add!
February is the month of love, so this month I am sharing products I am loving! You should know this about me - I am the kind of person who buys every new item that comes on the market. If it looks cool, I’ll buy it. With that said, 85% of what I buy ends up only being used once and then stored in my closet’s “junk basket." When I find something that truly brings me joy every time I use it, I want to shout it from the rooftops! (I am not sponsored by any of these items, I just like to share the love with others.)
Health: These 3 items are my daily go-to items.
Hi - I’m Jen and I'm a cookie-holic! During the holidays you'll find me watching hours of Food Network programming, especially the baking and cookie challenges.
My passion for baking started in early childhood but really blossomed in 1994 when I married. I've always loved being a homemaker, especially baking sweet treats for family and friends. I remember one year my sister was hosting Thanksgiving and she asked me to bring a dessert. For some reason my brain thought six desserts would be better. The dessert table that year was almost as big as the dinner table!
A couple of years ago I read The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman. After reading the book I immediately took the online quiz. No surprise - my love language is “Acts Of Service." The joy I get from baking something delicious and sweet is incredibly satisfying, even if it’s only to post on social media for others to enjoy. Cooking meals has always been a chore for me, but baking truly brings me joy.
In 2015 I attended my first, in-person cookie decorating class and something “clicked.” At that moment I knew I needed to leave the Corporate world and pursue my passion for baking. My focus…custom cookies! Today, cookie baking and decorating is my full-time job, and my passion.
I’d like to thank you for stopping by to learn a bit about who I am. I hope you’ll be back!
PS Have you met my sweet granddaughter? This is Braelyn Claire. She is the love of my life!!