Nurturing comes from within...

Ever have a holiday, anniversary, or milestone that just leaves you zoned out, melancholy or just without words?

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Well, most family holidays are like that for me, but Mother's day and my birthday are probably the toughest. My birthday usually lands on Mother's day weekend and I was my mother's first child at the age of 15. Up until the last minute, I was considered for abortion and my father denied me as his own. I don't know what it feels like to have a loving and nurturing mom. I've seen it in the movies, my friends' families, and dreamt about it for my future family, but never have I truly felt that unconditional bond or nurturing your get from hugging your mom, having her call you once a week to make sure you're alive, a mom that nags you about your latest dating stories, a mom who wants to help you through your hardships, failures, and successes, a mom that is proud to be a mom, a mom that loves who I am, a mom that protected me from strangers and violence, a mom that hugged us and told us she loved us, a mom that wanted to know about your day, a mom that wanted to make memories not wounds. I don't know this mother. I don't know this father.  I know a mother who was a single mom, struggling with bi-polar disorder and alcoholism. I know a mother who dropped me off at a foster home when things got too tough. I know a mother that made it clear that we were a burden on her life. This isn't a share about all the horrible things that happened to me or a cry for pity, but a way to be my honest true self and share a different perspective on Mother's Day. We all have a different story that needs to be shared. 

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My Role Models

Since a young age I knew that the only way to survive was to surround myself with positive people and do my best to create a better life. I connected with teachers, ambitious friends and other role models that inspired me to achieve my goals. The time spent with my grandmother, my aunt and the adults that believed in me and cheered me on in grade school were a crucial part of who I am and how I survived a chaotic childhood. 

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The Family I Adopted...

At age 16, I met my first mentor while developing a non-profit dance group for youth and gained her family (a brother, sister and dad). She has loved me the best way she could, given she has kids of her own, and gave me a beautiful example of family. She often calls me her "surrogate daughter". It has been one of the greatest blessings in my life to have love and a positive family experience, but there will always be reminders that I don't quite make the cut as a true family member, daughter or sister. Something I've had to accept as a got older. 

One of my greatest saving graces for finding a sense of purpose and unconditional love was when I became a dog mom to my dog Chloe. It's the purest bond I've ever had that feels consistent, safe, and unwavering. That feeling of "you're stuck with me because we're family". That sense of belonging and forever togetherness gives me hope.

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We all have a story, we all have to pull it together (family or no family) and create our own support system in order to live and be our best self. I'm grateful that I've been able to find a sense of belonging within myself, my fur kid and in the friends I believe truly love and appreciate who I am, messy and all. 

We all deserve to be loved.

Of course, when I see all these posts about how wonderful everyone's mom/family is, I see that there is hope, but can't help but wonder what it would be like to feel that true unconditional nurturing mother love. It's human nature to not wonder this. Many people like me, who have broken families, abusive experiences, parentless homes, etc., have to work really hard at feeling accepted, worthy, loved unconditionally, a sense of belonging. Feeling worthy and a sense of belonging has been the hardest obstacle I've faced in my life (which is probably why I've mentioned it a million times in this post). I write this because not matter what your family history or current support system is, know that true love and nurturing comes from within.

By loving yourself first you will contribute to a world of less stories like mine and more beautiful stories of loving families.
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If any of this relates to you I would love to learn more about your unique story and what a mom is for you. If you read all the way through this post, thank you from the bottom of my heart for taking the time to hear and value my story. 

13 lessons I learned by 31

The big 3-1...

This past weekend I turned 31 in a blink of an eye. On one hand I'm saying "where did the time go??" and on the other I'm feeling grateful for all the adventures and opportunities I've had so far. When I was a teenager dreaming about my life in my 30s, I never imagined I would still be this heavy into figuring out what I wanted from my career, my relationships and myself.

Here are 13 of the biggest life lessons I've learned in my 31 years...

1 | Embrace the journey

As I entered my late-20's I quickly realized that life is about the cyclical journey of dreaming, learning, and tweaking. Repeat. There is no end result; no "I've made it!" - moment.

2 | Healthy boundaries attract healthy people and opportunities

It's not easy to say no when you feel like saying yes, but if you want to avoid unhealthy codependent habits, the classic narcissist or the boss that calls you at home to complain, you must clarify your personal boundaries and stay loyal to them. 

3 | Let go of the wrong things to make room for the right

This includes someone you love. If having someone in your life is not helping you be the best version of yourself it's best to let them go. You will only be helping them grow while valuing your own personal growth journey. Don't settle or make something what it is not. We all have relationships for a reason, season or lifetime. It's up to us to understand when it's time to close a chapter to make room for something better suited for the next season of life. 

We all have relationships for a reason, season or lifetime. 

4 | Date yourself before dating someone else

If you're constantly asking yourself if someone wants or loves you, you must first ask if you want and love yourself. Once you truly find the joy and desire to be with yourself than you can be ready to receive that same desire from someone else, otherwise you will always doubt someone's desire for you. Avoid a mess and get back to you. Plan some dates with your charming self. 

5 | It's okay to break up with friends that don't allow you to be the best version of yourself

I had a really bad break up with a friend that I truly loved and still care for deeply. After a year of feeling like I couldn't be myself around her I decided it was better to stop letting myself be disappointed and just accept that we grew into different people at different season's of our lives. I wanted to make room for friends that accepted and inspired me to be the best version of myself. 

6 | Educate yourself on how to recognize and change if you or people around you are being toxic

Growing up with toxic family members and verbal abuse didn't help me as an adult. I always knew that what I grew up with wasn't right, but I had to learn about what good healthy relationships looked like. It's okay if you don't feel like you're an expert at relationships or dealing with people, no one is. After learning some basic guidelines for navigating and attracting healthy relationships, I feel more confident.

7 | Happiness is in gratitude

Even when the sh*t hits the fan there are always amazing things happening around you. 

8 | Less is more

When you realize you've got it all but are never happy that may be a sign to stop consuming and find gratitude in having less. Living minimally has made my life less stressful in so many ways. The less I have to manage, clean, or keep track of, the less clutter I have in my head. 

9 | Realizing your dreams requires you to FIGHT for it

If you don't want to fight for what you want you may not really want it or you need to work on believing in yourself. 

10 | Morning and night routines rock!

I lead with more intention and less stress when I take this time for myself. Read here about my fail-proof routine and how it helps me. 

11| Choose your relationships wisely

Seems a little repetitive, I know, but that's because it's freakin' important!!! Relationships and health are #1 influences towards our success and mental health. Don't settle for friends, girlfriends or boyfriends that don't inspire, support and encourage you to live the life you deserve. 

12 | Finished not perfect

Just like this post, there are many things I take forever writing or never published in my life because I didn't feel like it was at the standard I set for it, "perfect". What's that? No one knows. Because of this silly habit, I lost out on achieving my fullest potential in many areas of my life when I hesitated to put myself and my work out in the world. 

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13 | Close your eyes, ignore the nausea and face fear head on!

There are many more lessons that I've learned and continue to learn everyday. If I had to choose one lesson to learn sooner than all the rest it would be to face the fear of the unknown because nothing in life is perfectly planned, curated or as graceful as the movies. Don't stop living in the moment because you fear the unknown. You could miss out on some unexpected blessings.  

...face the fear of the unknown because nothing in life is perfectly planned, curated or as graceful as the movies. 

What are the biggest lessons you've learned in your life?

My 2017 Book List

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Books I've Read & Loved!

| Big Magic

Elizabeth Gilbert shares her blunt perspective on letting go of the doubts and fears that come along with sharing your creativity. This book inspired me to let go of the perfectionist side of being a creative.  Big Magic encouraged my new mindset shift of "finished not perfect" and allowed me to enjoy the process of creating and sharing no matter the outcome.

| Eat That Frog

Brian Tracy is a motivational success speaker who wrote a quick read about overcoming procrastination and prioritizing tasks that fast-track you to your goals. I read this book when I was 17 years old and it truly helped me organize all my crazy ideas into attainable action steps.

| Zen Dropout

Tweaked Style's very own photographer, Matthew Weiss, wrote a book! The main reason I knew that Matt got the TS culture was when I learned of his appreciate for the inner-work we all need to do in order to put our best foot forward. His book sheds light on the difficulty that comes from battling the stories that society, our friends and our family has us believing at one point in time. This book has helped me let go of trying to have it all figured out.

| Better Than Before

Gretchen Rubin does it again! I've read her other book, The Happiness Project, and was anxious for her next book. Rubin has a great way of inspiring you to take action in a way that works for your lifestyle. This book helped me continue making healthy choices in my life. 

 

Current Reads...

| You Are a Badass

On page 40 and can't put it down! If you're struggling to figure out what's holding you back from succeeding or being fulfilled in your life then this Jen Sincero book is a must-read! Can't wait to share my full review with you. 

| She Means Business

I've been following Carrie Green for the past 3 years as I've taken this full time journey as an entrepreneur. Almost half way through this book and loving the master action-items and mindset tweaks for achieving your business goals. 

Where did I get this book?

This book cover is a Tweaked Style design. Custom orders can be requested HERE.

My Future Reads...

| Lean In

"The book challenges us to change the conversation from what women can’t do to what we can do, and serves as a rallying cry for us to work together to create a more equal world." -Sheryl Sandberg, author

The Dip

"Every new project (or job, or hobby, or company) starts out fun…then gets really hard, and not much fun at all. You might be in a Dip—a temporary setback that will get better if you keep pushing. But maybe it’s really a Cul-de-Sac—a total dead end. What really sets superstars apart is the ability to tell the two apart." -Seth Godin, author

| Energy Leadership

"This engaging and fast-paced story clearly explains how managers and leaders from all walks of life can use the principles of Energy Leadership to inspire themselves and others to achieve extraordinary results in whatever they do." - Bruce D. Schneider, author