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Month: April 2017

Friendship and faith in adulthood

Friendship and faith in adulthood

WTF? (relax – it means “where’re the friends”!)

I have always liked people.  I was friendly with everyone in elementary school and had one close/best friend.  It seemed so easy when we were young! In middle school my friendships changed, but I still had one close friend and a lot of other superficial friendships.  The middle school years were not completely smooth sailing for me and I made some bad choices.  Then I went from one long-term relationship to another one, and neither one of them went to my school, so I wasn’t very involved in school activities.  This all led to me having a lot of acquaintances and very few actual friends.  As I entered adulthood and started working I had the same pattern – one close friend, friendly with everyone else. I then got married and we were busy raising kids and neither one of us really had friends outside of work, with the exception of a few friends that my husband stays in occasional, superficial contact with. I of course have one close friend and several acquaintances – shocking, right? I think that part of my personality makeup is such that this is what works best for me.  Scratch that – not best, easiest. Because if it was what is best, I don’t think I would have this constant feeling of missing out.

Is it me?

Back in my middle school days, there was a period where I was bullied by a group of girls.  And then I ended up in group therapy with one of them.  That was fun! Okay, not so much at the time, but there was something she said that has stuck with me.  When asked to describe me, she said I was stuck up and thought I was better than everyone. What?!  Me?? No, no, no, that’s not right at all!  I was worried that I wasn’t good enough, pretty enough, smart enough, enough.  I had no idea that my insecurities were coming across that way. This revelation really didn’t make a huge impact on me then, but I have thought of it off and on since then.  I consider myself to be very friendly and like-able (sorry if this hyphenation troubles any of you; it was one of the auto correct options.  Apparently “likable” is the right spelling, but I see it as “lickable” and don’t like it), but maybe that’s not the case.  I feel like I can talk to anyone one-on-one, especially if they initiate the conversation.  It’s the moving beyond the initial convo that gives me trouble.

It’s not just me!

I started looking into this a little more, because honestly, I felt like I was just out of luck.  I have told myself for years that 30-somethings and now 40-somethings already have their circle of friends and that is just that. But maybe it isn’t.  See, I love social media, especially Facebook.  It’s a great way to connect with all of those acquaintances that I haven’t spoken to in years, stay in touch with family, and get the word out about my business.  But it can also be a source of discontent.  Seeing pics of groups of friends from high school or college reuniting and having a blast is great, but makes me sad that I don’t have that. And it can give you a false sense of friendship and intimacy.  I read an article about friendship in Live Happy magazine  that says since I have a close friend I’m in good shape.  And I agree to a certain extent.  I am incredibly grateful for my best friend.  She knows me and all of my crazy moodiness and quirks and loves me anyway.  It’s not that I want twelve people that I could call in the middle of the night, but just having a few people close enough that I could call (not message via some app, actually have their number and call them) and see about going to a movie or dinner or just hanging out – that’s what I want.  And I guess I’m not alone – there is a website called GirlFriendCircles.com that is geared toward “introducing women, inspiring friendship.”  There is a cost to join, and I’m not convinced I need to take this step just yet, but it’s nice to know that there are other women facing the same issues.  I just downloaded the free report, “Ten Ways to Meet New People” and I’m happy to say I’ve been doing a couple of them lately!

Stepping outside my comfort zone

Remembering that I have come across as snobby and standoffish in the past, I knew I needed to do something.  What if there are women out there thinking the same things I am thinking?  Women who would love to have someone to chat with and connect with?  People who know me well would probably be surprised by most of this. I love to talk (sometimes too much) and love to be around people.  But I have come to the conclusion that I am an introverted extrovert, which I think is explained incredibly well here.  I recently realized how much the part about being social but then needing alone time is totally me.  I had a great extended lunch with a friend and we talked and talked but the next day I was much more withdrawn at home, and even on edge when there was too much stimulation.

I have know that there was this void for a while.  It’s painfully clear to me at church, where we have attended for seventeen years.  It’s a big church.  And probably ten people (maybe) know me by name.  That’s sad and ridiculous and completely my fault.  So I have decided to be bold (well, bold for me).  Here are a couple of things that I have done in the past couple of weeks to get more comfortable meeting new people.

  • I introduced myself to someone from church at Target.  This is one of those people that everyone knows (she happens to have beautiful hair that is just “her”) and so I feel like I know her, but I don’t.  So I walked by her and then I turned around and walked back and said something along the lines of, “You don’t know me but I go to X Church and I just wanted to introduce myself.”  I think then I rambled on a bit, and then we chatted and she was incredibly sweet and it was a little awkward but I did it.  And I didn’t die or do anything really embarrassing, so that’s something.
  • I asked someone out for coffee via Messenger.  Again, someone that I know from church and know who she and her husband are, but they don’t know me.  She actually initiated the conversation in response to a post I had made and it seemed like we had some things in common, so I asked if she’d like to get together for coffee sometime.  As I typed the question to her, my finger paused before I hit send. When I finally poked the screen, I just sat there for a minute staring at it, thinking how glad I was that I never really dated.  That simple little coffee request was stressful!! And then she said sure and we met for coffee this week and it was fun.  I don’t know if we will ever meet up again.  What I do know is that there wouldn’t have been any hope of a friendship starting without my tiny bit of courage.
  • I am going to a networking event next week. Again I am stepping outside my comfort zone, but I am having faith that just on the other side is where the good stuff happens! Jim Rohn said, “For things to change, you have to change” and I believe that wholeheartedly.  So little by little I’m trying to reach out and create the relationships I want without letting that negative voice in my head discourage me.  We’ll see how it goes!

    I’d love to know your thoughts on friendship! And please subscribe and share! I’m looking for new blog friends! 🙂

 

Mindset matters!

Mindset matters!

You know sometimes when you go to church or you hear a particular message and you think ‘oh my gosh, they’re talking right to me?’ That’s what happened to me on Saturday.  I attended an all day training that was absolutely amazing. I took 68 pages of notes. Granted, my writing is kind of big and my notebook is about 5 x 8, but still that’s a lot of notes! I’m sharing this because I feel I that it applies to every area of my life and maybe can benefit you as well. A good portion of this is material that I have heard before, and maybe you have too. If so there is a reason – because it’s right/good/something worth remembering. Repetition is our friend!

Mindset (from the training of Puya Ghandian)

There’s no point in planting a seed if you’ve got dirty soil. If your mindset is not where it needs to be then you’re not going to have the results that you want.

Puya’s journey into personal development started at age 17 when he was working as a bagger at a grocery store and a woman gave him a copy of the book The Slight Edge as his tip. (Side note – if you haven’t read this book, please take the time to do so! It’s a common sense approach to how to make every area of your life work better.)

A………………..B  When getting from point A to point B, the gap in between is 80% psychology and 20% mechanics. Are you being your number one cheerleader or your number one critic? You also have to have focus and clarity. You have to know where you are and you have to know where you were going. Similar to a GPS you can’t just know that you want to go somewhere vague and expect to get there. You’re also not going to successfully arrive if you don’t know where you’re starting from.

Set SMART goals. How many times have you heard that one? Yeah, me too. Now how many SMART goals do you really have, right now, written down? None? Yeah me too.  I have some vague ideas in my head and a few goals written on scraps of paper, but nothing that I refer to daily. There is also something to be said for reading your goals aloud on a daily basis.  Some people use different words to describe them, but the overall meaning is the same:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Realistic
  • Time-sensitive

When your mindset becomes congruent with where you want to go that’s when success happens. Where focus goes energy flows. How many times have you thought that you lack confidence or are disorganized or procrastinate? Would you agree that that is not always the case? So maybe 95% of the time those things apply to you? If so, focus on the 5% of the time that they don’t.  Reinforcing the negative thoughts in your head keeps them real.  If I constantly think that I’m a failure or I can’t lose weight, I’m right and will continue to be fail and be fat!  It has been said that we have 90,000 thoughts per day and 60,000 of those are repeats from the day before (Puya quoting Jenni Byrd-Grier).  What we tell ourselves matters.

The importance of language – I actually read this somewhere fairly recently and started trying it myself. It is funny how just a simple tweak in the word you use, even when you’re talking to yourself, can make a difference. Like using “have to” versus “get to”. For example, “I have to go to grocery store.”  That makes it feel like an obligation, but if you really stop and think about it aren’t you grateful that you have access to food? And that you have the money to buy it? The same applies to, “I always have to pick up after my family.”  there are many people who would love to have a family to care for, and things that need picking up. I know that we’re all going to have days and moments where it’s frustrating and feels like there’s a lot of things that we HAVE to do. But really, don’t you have a choice in just about everything you do? You may not like the consequences of not doing something, but you still have a choice. Focusing on why you “have to” do something can help bring you back to an attitude of gratitude. The same can apply to words in many different situations. Such as someone asking how your day is going or how you are. There is a different emotion that is evoked when you say, “good” versus “outstanding”.

How you do the how’s – one of the things that the author of The Slight Edge, Jeff Olson, always says is, “It’s not the hows, it’s how you do the hows.”  I never really understood that and actually thought it had something to do with the system or approach or tool you were using. The “how you do the hows” refers to your mindset while you are doing whatever you are doing.  Maybe that was clear to you from the beginning but that was a big a-ha for me. Thanks to Puya for making it more clear to me.

A positive spin on a negative world

What it boils down to is we live in a negative world and we are hard-wired to focus on  what is negative more than what is positive.  But that doesn’t mean it’s hopeless! Just like someone with a predisposition to heart disease or alcoholism can take steps to avoid or lessen their own health issues, we can take steps to combat negativity.

  • Surround yourself with people who want to be happy.  That may seem like a no-brainer; doesn’t everyone want to be happy?  In my experience, no.  Some people thrive on negativity and that’s okay I guess – for them, not for me.  Yes, bad things happen.  A lot of it I don’t understand.  I do however have faith that even when something feels so wrong, there is a greater plan and something positive can come out of every situation.
  • Start with gratitude.  Even in the worst of circumstances, look for even the smallest thing to be thankful for. Right now my husband has a cough left over from a bout of illness.  We’ve been to the doctor, he is fine, he just has this lingering cough.  And it’s annoying!  The selfish part of me focuses on the fact that it’s annoying to hear, the loving wife part of me knows that it’s worse for him and feels bad.  The grateful part of me is thankful that he was sick but now is better overall and that we have the ability to get him checked out when we have concerns.
  • Spend at least 10 minutes per day (ideally more) reading or listening to some sort of personal development. Reading just 10 pages of a good book per day can lead to 12+ books read per year!  I love fiction too, but the time I spend on personal development is having a much bigger impact on my life.  And when I find myself getting down or lacking focus, I can almost always trace it back to slacking in this area.  Find a podcast or YouTube video and play it while you are getting ready in the morning or when making dinner or when driving. I like the Live Happy podcast.  Today I am also listening to Mel Robbins – she is very real and down to earth.

Today I will write down 3 SMART goals. I plan to read them out loud daily.

What is just one small thing you can start doing, TODAY, that will improve your outlook and life?

Nursing career part 1

Nursing career part 1

I’ve made some pretty big changes over the past couple of months, one of which was leaving my job of over eleven years.

To go back to the beginning, when I was little I was sick and in the hospital quite a bit. Thankfully I don’t remember too much of that time, other than the thermometers that the nurses had.  For some reason I
loved those thermometers and that is what made me want to be a nurse.  As I got into middle and high school, I started thinking that maybe I wanted to be a psychologist or social worker, some sort of counselor.

I got engaged the night of my high school graduation, to someone I had been dating for quite a while.  Let’s just say our life and career goals were not exactly in alignment and leave it at that.  My mom, being aware that I would probably need a steady job and income if I followed through with the wedding, asked that I finish school before I got married.  In the end I decided to go to practical nursing (LPN) school because it was one year and relatively inexpensive.  Overall it was as good of an experience as nursing school can be.  My mom had worked 2-3 jobs at times while I was growing up in order to support us, and once I made it through high school, she followed her dream and went to nursing school with me.

Out of school and starting out

When I was in nursing school I remember hearing some of the nurses at our clinical sites talk and thinking, “Wow, I would never be like that.”  They often seemed so uncaring and cold.  But how can that be when nursing is all about helping people and caring and making the world better?  Reality check – because it’s hard work and can leave you feeling empty.  My first job was in LTC (long-term care/a nursing home).  Even twenty-three years ago, it was a lot of work.  So much time is spent passing medication, doing treatments (everyone has at least some sort of cream that needs applied), and charting that there isn’t much time for the warm fuzzy moments I had imagined having at least occasionally.  I was there for almost three years when I decided I couldn’t handle feeling bad all of the time anymore.  There was always so much to do and so many needs to meet that I felt guilty knowing that people where not getting the time and attention I wanted to give them.  By this time I had met my now husband and was ready to move on to something different.  (No, I never got married to the previously mentioned guy.)  It’s funny how even though I had not attended church regularly for a few years and I was pretty far from God, I knew within a few months of meeting my now husband that God had led me to him.

Getting married and having babies

After I left long term care I worked in a clinic for a while and it was the opposite of LTC.  Where before I felt like I couldn’t get it all done not matter how hard I tried, at the clinic there was a lot of down time.  I loved the people that I worked with and I enjoyed the work, but it reached a point where I was just bored and unfulfilled.  So I got married and started waitressing.

Waitressing was actually a nice break from nursing.  I wasn’t the best waitress, likely because I’ve always struggled with what people are thinking of me, but I was decent.  Unfortunately the best money to be made was on the weekends and that was when we had the kids.  My husband has kids from a previous marriage and they spent quite a bit of time with us, with us eventually getting custody of the four of them and then having two more boys.  A house of six boys kept us pretty busy and I stayed home when they were little, working occasionally doing home health and some agency staffing work.  (Basically this involves going to different LTCs and working shifts when they are short staffed.  The pay is good, the work is fairly routine across LTCs, and there is the added benefit of no set schedules). This is what I was doing when I had my first work related “calling”.

Hospice

In 2005, my best friend from my teenage years’ dad had lung cancer.  He had a sudden change in condition that prompted an emergency room visit, where he was given a week to live and sent home with hospice.  Now this family is a wonderful family, but not very medical, and honestly not a family that likes to talk openly about bad things.  My friend was understandably freaking out and I went and stayed with them for most of his time on hospice.

I don’t recall being taught anything about hospice in nursing school.  I had never even really thought about what hospice meant, but I did know that it had to do with death and I thought maybe cancer. I was soon to find out that hospice is so much more.  He had medications that were delivered to the home to keep him comfortable.  The nurse came when there were issues that couldn’t be handled over the phone, and someone was only a phone call away.  The support and care that were provided to the family and to him so that he could stay at home, surrounded by so many people that loved him, was amazing to me.  He died peacefully with all of us there, and that was my first time to witness the immediate raw grief that comes with death. And I knew this was something I could love.

I waited a couple of months before I applied.  I can get very caught up in the emotion of a moment and I wanted to make sure that wasn’t the case.

Please stay tuned for part 2!! In the meantime, this is a verse that has helped me through so much. I’d love to know your favorite verses!

Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares
the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm
you, plans to give you hope and a future.

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Gratitude (and books)

Gratitude (and books)

I started reading a book which is now on hold because I’m reading a couple of others.  This is something that I do frequently and always mean to stop doing but then don’t.  I love books.  I love to read.  And there are soooo many options out there that I have a hard time picking just one at a time.  So I often have 2-3 physical books that I’m reading in addition to an audiobook or two in progress.

Back to the original thought – I am in the process of reading One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are by Ann Voskamp .  I was in a small group a few years ago and started reading this on the recommendation of a couple of the women, but then I moved on before I finished it.  That’s another habit I have – I don’t always get back to the books I start.  I used to feel guilty about that but I now choose to believe that I get out of them what I need to at that particular time.  Sometimes I may not need the whole book or be ready for it all at once.  And that’s okay. This book is a very interesting read, although the author’s voice is a bit hard to get used to in the beginning. She has a unique writing style that I have come to enjoy. The book focuses on gratitude and joy in the everyday things, the thought that giving thanks is the precursor to joy.

“and he took break, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them….” Luke 22:19 NIV

Ann goes on to study the words and finds that eucharisteo is the word used in the original Greek and it means not just thanks, but grace and thanksgiving and joy.  The rest of the book (at least as far as I have made it so far) then focuses on showing gratitude for all of the little things, all of the day-to-day, no-big-deal, normal things that if we just stop and think about them for just a minute are a huge part of what makes life so delicious!  Some of them can be deep and others silly, but the act of noticing and then showing appreciation can change your mindset.  We live in a world where more and newer and better is constantly being pushed at us.  But we have so much already!  Focusing on gratitude for what we have, both materially and otherwise, can be a way to remember how blessed we are.  I’d love to hear your thoughts on this!  Here’s a few of things I am grateful for:

  • the laughter of a baby (seriously, is there anything more precious?!)
  • squirrels playing tag around a tree
  • naps with a window open during a (not severe) thunderstorm

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Beauty in imperfection

Beauty in imperfection

I just got back from a quick beach vacation that was filled with a lot of thinking and just being.  I went with my best friend and her son and my boys, and even though we were in the car together for a LONG TIME (we are not the quickest travelers) the boys spent a lot of time doing their own thing and we talked and listened to different personal development topics along the way.  Both of us are kind of at a crossroads in our lives professionally speaking and the time to just get away and reflect was good for both of us.  Although I don’t consider myself to be a big fan of water (I don’t like to get my face wet and  I don’t swim well because of that), I love seeing and hearing the ocean.  Really it doesn’t have to be the ocean, although there is something special about saltwater.  As long as there are waves and that roaring crash and a body of water big enough to go as far as I can see I am happy.  I feel an intense connection to something so much bigger than myself, something that I can’t describe but I know is there.  I feel it to my core. And although I know that tides and wind and whatever else physically happens have an impact on what I am seeing and feeling, for me there is a knowing that this was all created by God.

One of my favorite things to do is just walk along the water with my toes in the sand, water washing over my feet.  I also love to look for shells.  There is something so cool about finding little bits of things that were alive and so beautiful and are now just here for me to bring home and enjoy! So as I am walking and thinking and shell collecting I see several of these little white perfect shells, kind of plain but just beautiful in their simplicity.  I come across a few different, more colorful types and get excited when I see the ridges of a particularly large one sticking up out of the sand. Oh, wait.  It’s not the perfect, whole shell I thought it would be.  Instead it is broken in half and I feel disappointed and almost leave it.  But then I think of how sad that would be.  Why wouldn’t I want something that made me happy when I first saw it?  Why should I reject it now just because it isn’t perfect?  It still has beauty and value to me, it still makes me smile inside.  That is how I came to have this beautiful mess of a shell collection from this trip.  The broken pieces that I continued to find remind me that I don’t have to be perfect, and I shouldn’t expect that from anyone else.  We don’t have to be the same – different colors, shapes, sizes – it doesn’t matter.  It is our flaws and rough edges that make us unique and wonderful.

 

 

Praying vs. Worrying

Praying vs. Worrying

     I have always been rather impatient, although I do feel that I am improving in that area. I suppose it is only natural that my prayer life is no exception.  There are times when I feel like I have really been praying about something and I am trying to wait patiently for a response from God but it seems like nothing is coming through. When I stop and think, I often realize that I haven’t been praying at all.  I have been thinking about, worrying about, at times obsessing about the issues at hand, but it is all internal. I am trying to clearly define the problems and the possible solutions and the best course of action to take, oftentimes without involving God or giving Him a chance to respond.  When I realize this, it’s easy to pretend it doesn’t matter, that God is too busy with the bigger problems in the world to be concerned with all of my questions.  But according to Philippians 4:6-7, “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” That sure makes it sound like God wants to be a part of it all. And for those of you like me that grasp the overall meaning of “supplication” but aren’t totally sure what it means, supplications is “the action of asking or begging for something earnestly or humbly”.    1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 speaks to this as well.  “Always be joyful.  Never stop praying.  Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.”  Can it be as simple as just talking to God instead of just talking to myself?
     I am always looking for the right way or the best way to do something.  If I’m just talking how do I track what I’ve asked about and what has been answered? How do I make sure to follow up?  I have prayer journals in addition to my regular journals.  And just like the many fitness DVDs I have bought have failed to make me strong and lean, the act of purchasing the journals and letting them sit on my shelf has not made me stick with regular organized prayer.  I’m trying to go with the flow a bit more instead of needing a perfectly laid out plan.  In some areas I have never been much of a planner; just ask anyone that has taken a trip with me. But in other circumstances I become paralyzed by options and questions and struggle to even take the first step because I don’t know what will happen. That’s why this whole blog is a huge step for me!  I have NO IDEA what I am doing.  Parts of it are much more complicated than I thought they would be.  Okay, it probably isn’t that complicated, but I don’t know how to do it intuitively.  And I’m doing this publicly, which means I can fail and embarrass myself, two things that I have fought to avoid for my whole life.  But even if no one reads this or people do but it doesn’t resonate with them, that’s okay because it is helping me to sort out my thoughts and feelings.  So it doesn’t have to be perfect.  And neither do my prayers.  Who knows the depth of my imperfection better than God?  Why spend time and energy trying to make Him think more highly of me (I don’t think it works that way – I think He just loves me no matter what, right?) when I could be spending that time talking with him or with the people who I have been blessed to have in my life?
Hello!

Hello!

My name is Jenny Lytle. I am a wife, mom, daughter, sister, friend, nurse, network marketing professional, and child of God. A lot of people may feel that faith should come first, and honestly I am one of them. The reality is that I have struggled with my relationship with God for a long time.  I have come to the conclusion that I am not the only one that doesn’t have it all figured out. After much thought and prayer, this is my attempt to sort things out for myself and maybe help someone else not feel so alone in their own journey.

More and more lately I feel that God is with me all of the time, in all of the little ordinary moments that seem so inconsequential but what if those moments are really what matters?  And if we wait for the big events we will miss out on all that God has in store for us? I have been incredibly blessed in so many ways, and I believe God has even better things in store!  I recently remembered how much I have always loved to write.  Journaling seems to be therapeutic for me, but like most things, I have struggled with consistency.  I have probably twenty journals lying around, some with a few entries in a row and others with a few years in between.  I’m interested to see if just the act of writing and putting it out into the world is the extra something I need to keep me going.  I’m not exactly sure what this will look like or evolve into, but my overall goals are to stay consistent, stay real, and grow  my faith. I hope you’ll take this journey with me!