5 Ways to Thrive in the NICU [or any challenging environment]

Today marks the tenth day of little Lennon’s arrival. Although being in the NICU is not ideal, it’s been a great opportunity for personal and spiritual growth. There are a few things I’ve picked up on over the past week and a half on how to not just survive this experience but to thrive. If you’ve been in a situation like mine or one similar, what things have you learned to help along the way?

1. Positivity breeds positivity

When dealing with a seemingly negative situation count your blessings. It’s amazing what a positive attitude can do for you, your baby, and those around you. Austin and I won’t allow negativity into the room. So when we’ve been tired and¬†start to get cranky with one another, we pause and focus back on having a positive conversation. We even change the tone of our voice! We want Lennon to be surrounded by positivity. When I was pregnant, I wouldn’t even allow myself to listen to negative music. So when music came on full of strippers and hoes or angst or anger, I changed the station. Even now, I focus on putting good in so that my output is good. ūüôā It’s amazing what our subconscious picks up.

2. Keep deodorant with you

In all seriousness, the NICU is warm. Plus every day I’m carting in my tote bag, our meals for the day, my massive Law book and more! So by the time I get up to see her, I’m already a bit hot! Then after my skin-to-skin care with her, I have to peel myself off the leather chair. It may not be cute, but the sweat is real! I’ve also read that after giving birth, you tend to sweat a ¬†bit more as your body regains balance and eliminates extra fluids. Keep it fresh. Your baby and nurses will thank you.

Another quick tidbit¬†is if you wear contacts be sure to pack some solution. If given the opportunity for a quick nap, you’ll need to refresh your eyes.

3. Be nice

You would be surprised at how rude people can be – well maybe not. In every interaction, we try to focus on being kind to those around us. People around here are under a lot of stress and emotion. It’s easy to judge and be critical of behavior especially when you’re tired and dealing with your emotions. When I find myself slipping into ‘judgment zone’ I try to focus and silently pray that the Lord will bless that person. This sounds soo cheesy! However, it helps me regain focus on what’s important.

4. Go home

It’s hard to leave your baby, Period. It’s important for her health and mine that we go home to recharge and rest. It’s that simple. Go home when you can and be sure to take care of yourself and your relationship with your partner. When your home take care of your to-do’s for instance, make dinner the night before or throw in a load of laundry. Each day choose a small task to conquer. Doing so will help you to avoid building a mountain ‘to do’s’ and allow you to focus when with your baby.

5. Get dressed

It’s so easy to throw on sweats, put on no makeup, and make little effort to look presentable. I’ve found though that by getting up and dressed my mind is better focused and prepared for the day ahead. I’m not in mourning. I’m not depressed. So, why look that way? By getting dressed, I’m setting myself up for a successful day. Again, the power of attitude can make all the difference in how we deal with the daily opportunities.

xoxo,

Blonde Chick

Define What Matters

I’m on day 7 of Hospital bed rest. It was going fine (relatively speaking) until last night. Out of nowhere I was completely broken, discouraged, and had a suffocating feeling of being trapped. So like all adults do,¬†I called my mom to come sleep here with me.

As I woke up this morning, from little to no sleep, I continued to struggle. My eyes red from tears that had dropped continuously through the night. I decided to take a shower, clear my head, and watch this weekend’s past service. One of the major take-a-ways for me was the understanding of pain and how the joy of the Lord is what will sustain me over these next few weeks (well, and in life).

In defining what matters, my focus goes from myself and to the mission. Quite literally my mission is to provide a house for our baby and to do what the Dr says. Success in life is not the absence of pain, of heartache, or of bed rest. Success is the leveraging of pain. By focusing on what matters, the goal, the mission, I can embrace the pain knowing I am making progress. Every day I am here our baby is making progress. In defining what matters, I can refocus my attention on the goal.

Although my analogy¬†identifies the pain of having to be on bed rest and the multitude of emotions surrounding this, the fundamentals of this message resonates in all areas of our lives. Often, we focus on the negatives of what we are experiencing. We question God and seek to eliminate any discomfort. The reality is pain like failure is crucial to joy, which is God’s will for us. (John 10:10). There is no gain without pain. There is no opportunity for growth when you are unproductive and tired. Pain allows¬†us to experience change, and this alone is a blessing. I challenge each of us to be clear in defining what matters. In the midst of any trial, focus on the mission and not the moment. In doing so, your pain becomes temporary, and your balance is restored.

xoxo,

Blonde Chick

Address the Elephant

In the past six months, I found out I was pregnant (surprise!) and had to deal with many family difficulties. I hate to say it and be cliche but the thought of becoming a parent has changed me. Instead of shying away from the awkward conversations that arise when people make poor choices, or do things that negatively influence you, I now find it necessary to address the elephant when these things happen. Why? Because¬†my priorities have shifted. Because during this time my faith and friendships have grown stronger as a result of having these key conversations. I will not blame hormones for the issues I have had to address. Rather, I’ll credit hormones for giving me the strength to address things that once I would have let roll off my back or bury somewhere to never deal with. There’s something liberating about addressing an issue in a non-confrontational¬†manner. Instead of ignoring it, pushing it down, or rationalizing it I have chosen to identify¬†why it bothers me and communicate¬†compassionately.

I have found that I have become quite particular with the pending arrival of our baby. Someone told me it was the hormones. Nope. It’s not the hormones. It’s a life-changing privilege and my particularities have grown to accommodate¬†what we feel is best for our baby. Is that ungrateful, selfish or controlling? Some may say yes. I say no. We feel so blessed to have this little, unplanned baby and want to provide for her in the best way possible. I believe that things come from God – including the visions we may have for our future (caveat to this: the visions he plants in us because we have prayed and sought wisdom for them, James 1:5).

To me, addressing the elephant in any room provides an opportunity for growth and effective communication. In doing so, we must approach the conversation without anger or accusations. We must do so in a way that communicates a desire for clarification and understanding.

Elephants appear in every relationship whether it’s a significant other, friends, family members and/or colleagues. Don’t ignore the thousand pound mass, greet it. It’s better to gain understanding regardless if ¬†in the end, your opinions differ. I guarantee the other person will respect you for addressing it and your relationship will grow.

xoxo,

Blonde Chick

The P word

Actually, when you think about it, everything boils down to the P word, that is priorities. Everything. And that’s a lot. A priority is not something you simply do. It’s something you won’t compromise in order to accomplish the things you need/want. A priority is immovable. It’s a commitment. It’s focus.

How should your priorities impact your choices? They are your choices. If you have to compromise your priority in order to take on a new project, a new job, a new anything then you should turn the opportunity down. (gasp!) In our culture, we wear busyness like a badge of honor. Yet, if your busyness impedes upon your priorities then it’s time to reevaluate what you have going on.

For me, creating priorities allows me to create boundaries on what I will and will not do. Although, there are great opportunities all around I am clear on what I won’t compromise. Saying no is often more powerful than taking on more. So if I by saying ‘yes’ one my priorities is compromised then it’s a definite ‘no’ for me.

It’s liberating to have these boundaries set in place knowing that my relationships and goals won’t be compromised because I was distracted by a shiny object. So, what are you priorities?

xoxo,

Blonde Chick

Agreeing to Disagree: The Ugly Truth

Lately, I have found myself in conflict whether it’s due to hormones raging, spring rain, or simply learning to speak the truth. I’ll never know. I have always been one to reply immediately to an email, a text, or a call as I hate having to deal with things later. Instead of avoiding conflict I tend to quickly push for it so that it’s over with. To clarify, when I say conflict I mean conversation and not necessarily passionate argument. Recently, I’ve been using less tact which has caused me to be in some uncomfortable situations.

What have I learned from this?  

That it is totally okay. It’s totally okay to not only disagree with someone but sometimes it’s worth the consequence¬†of living in unsettled conflict. Now, I’m not giving you permission to be a jerk just because you have an opinion. Rather, I’m realizing that it’s okay to say your peace, work through it, and then if you don’t come to an agreement to walk away unsettled.

In the past, I would stop at nothing to create a resolution. Sometimes there is no resolution. Sometimes you have to pray and trust that the actions you take and the words you speak are coming from a good place and let that be that. If it’s coming from a good place there’s no need to be defensive, no need to use hurtful words or actions. You can simply speak your mind. Yet, I urge you to pray that the words you choose come from logic and heartfelt sincerity and not anger, jealousy, or revenge. Before engaging in the inevitable conflict wait to respond, don’t rush into it in order to get over with. This is when you can run into trouble for when we rush to act or speak we can say things that are not necessary and cause unintended harm.

Conflict can either create chaos in your mind or it can provide clarity. I choose to embrace conflict as it allows me to stay true to my beliefs, to stay loyal to those I love, and to grow from new perspectives gained. Embrace the ugly truth that agreeing to disagree is simply a mature way of living in conflict without it impacting your life in a negative way.

xoxo,

Blonde Chick

Saying Sorry

I ended a career with a company due to many personal reasons.¬†In the ending months of that business relationship, there were several frustrating things that happened. Unfortunately, I handled the situation emotionally and did not respond in the best way. Instead, I let my frustration control my actions. Lately, it had been weighing on my mind. ¬†I decided to apologize for my behavior. I ¬†wasn’t sure what I expected to happen. Actually, I contemplated¬†blocking the response from my email so that I wouldn’t have to deal with the potential negative reaction.

I don’t like conflict, I hate drama, and I don’t like the idea of leaving a negative impression in someone’s mind. I decided to apologize for my behavior. I ¬†wasn’t sure what I expected to happen. Actually, I contemplated¬†blocking the response from my email so that I wouldn’t have to deal with the potential negative reaction.

I received a very gracious response. ¬†A huge weight lifted off my shoulders. A weight I didn’t realize I had been carrying with me all these months. Saying sorry is powerful regardless of who is right and who is wrong. There’s freedom when you forgive yourself and those who may have harmed you. A freedom I didn’t realize I had kept locked away.

This was a powerful lesson for me. I was so concerned with my feelings and my pride. Instead of focusing on reacting the right way, I let my pride lead. Learning to say sorry is the right way to live. Period.

xoxo,

Blonde Chick

La Sagrada Famalia

The Entitled Traveler

This is the story of a lady named Jane. Jane is an overworked mom traveling with her three kids, her sister, her sister’s kids and her elderly parents. Jane packed the family up with each person handling two large carry-on bags, oversized coats, purses, and personalities. Jane is overworked and tired, she deserves a vacation. She deserves a vacation. Jane waits in line, as we all have to. Yet, to her, a line is merely a suggestion for her sprawling family and their overstuffed bags. As kids are bumping into others and nearly knock down the rope that keeps us peasants at bay, Jane laughs disruptively without a care in the world. After all, she’s going on vacation.

Jane is on my flight. Prior to boarding, Jane lines up causing unnecessary chaos as others have followed her lead. No one has started calling for boarding. The airline has to announce¬†three times that they will be calling by row when the time comes. Hint: take a seat. Finally, Jane realizes that this too includes her and that she must wait her turn. While the line again is forming, Jane allows her entire family to go in and out of line so they can¬†handle some last minute business. i.e. run to the bathroom, grab water (you get the idea). So while the rest of us have planned accordingly are stuck waiting in a line that continues to ebb and flow as more of her family decides to join. One family member has been left behind as the others board the plane. Instead of getting out of the line, as most would have done by now, Jane continues to communicate by yelling across the airport to her relative. Oh yes, she’s holding up the line. Once again, we wait till her family is served. We wait for Jane.

Ah, the landing. Yes! We are finally home. We gather our backpacks, the one bag we packed for our 10-day trip, and wait to get off the plane. (Yes, people it’s possible to not bring 5 pairs of shoes). Typically, you wait your turn to get off the plane as people exit slowly by row gathering their belongings and gain their bearings. You guessed it, not Jane. Jane is seated in the back yet, is one of the first off the plane. I was in row 5. How is this possible? Jane had clearly instructed her family to jump up as soon as the plane landed then stand in the aisle to not let anyone else pass through. Jane was in a hurry. Jane needed a vacation.

As I shrug off my extreme irritability, I remind myself that I’m lucky to be where I am and promise to keep my mouth shut. Who knows maybe I’ll never see Jane again. Unfortunately, I’m wrong and run into Jane again with her large, chaotic brood. This time, it’s at security. Yay!

Instead of following instructions, like waiting your turn and putting your belongings on the tray, she rushes through creating a backup as the bins are now stuck. She yells at the airline worker, who is explaining the rules, that she is in a hurry. Well, obviously. The airline worker sticks to the protocol as Jane paces back and forth setting the tone with her family and creating more obstacles for herself. Her entire family gets through the line, but one member is called to the side for extra security. Do you know what Jane does? She approaches the inspector and tells him they are in a hurry and asks if he can be done. This is it for me. In a time where safety is a top priority, you expect that the worker hurries through his job so that you can get on with your life?

As I reflect on this experience. I realize we are all Jane, the entitled traveler. We are so involved with our needs, our wants, and our preferences that we have become desensitized to the needs of those around us. Can you imagine if the airline worker had said, “you’re right I’ll stop and hope that this person isn’t a security threat.” Yet, this is the mentality we have. We expect people to make exceptions for us. We expect the government to do things for us. We expect people to bend to our will. ¬†After all, we deserve it.

In the light of the attacks that are happening all over the world, the attacks happening online, the attacks that are happening in your own backyards, how can you think you are more entitled to freedom, happiness, and love than others? It astounds me that people can be a racist when all humans come from the same strand of DNA. It astounds me that people hate someone for their religion, especially in America, when it was founded on celebrating this freedom. It astounds me that people are willing to create discord within their own families because they don’t agree with something they do or think. Life is too short to live like this. This is not love. Don’t be Jane.

Think of someone other than yourself and change the world.

xoxo,

Blonde Chick

International Women’s Day: 2016

Celebrating-International-Womens-Day-2014-650x410Today is a day of excitement, opportunity, and progress. Today is International Woman’s Day.¬†Why is this important?

Because women still don’t have equal pay. Because people are more concerned with how Hillary looks than what Trump says. Because women in the U.S. have only been able to vote since 1920, less than 100 years. Because women grow humans in their bodies. Because women suffer pain that men can never experience. Because women are strong, we are built this way. Because women should have the same rights as men everywhere. Because women should be given the same opportunities to reach their potential.

The experiences privileged to women know no boundaries. You can’t build walls, or turn people away from the shared experience united in sisterhood. ¬†International Women’s Day reminds us of the inequalities that are easily forgotten in the day to day. Women face barriers in education, in the workplace, in family planning, and in career opportunities. This day is about uniting here and across the globe to bring a voice to those who don’t have one. IWD is a day of empowerment, of awareness and of celebration.

‚ÄėMy hope is that then one day we won‚Äôt need this special day at all. In reality, we should be having conversations about women‚Äôs achievements every day of the year if we are to really bring about change. But unfortunately, we still need International Women‚Äôs Day in 2016. We need it until we have an equal number of women in leadership positions, women earning the same as men for the same work, and women across the world having the same rights as men. Because until that happens, every other day of the year is basically International Men‚Äôs Day.‚Äô
Quote by Janneke Niessen, European Digital Woman of the Year and is co-founder of Inspiring Fifty and Improve Digital

photo cred: http://guardianlv.com/2014/03/celebrating-international-womens-day-2014/

The Unspoken Pressure

Many of the things I’ve learned since coming to Law School have nothing to do with the judicial system. Yes, of course, I’ve learned a ton in that regard, but more importantly I’ve learned a lot about myself. It’s easy to succumb to unspoken pressure when you’re in an environment of people who are extremely intelligent, driven and opinionated. ¬†By pressure, I mean the feeling of needing to compete, of seeking peer approval or of feeling like you have to pursue a certain path in order to be successful. (a.k.a pay back your student loans).

Recently, I was able to meet with an attorney for a ‘mock’ interview. It was a great opportunity to sharpen my skills while getting prepared for pursuing internships or experience. One of the things he said to me (I’m paraphrasing) was that you have to stay true to who you are and what you want to do. This is something I always thought I knew. Yet, after the pleasantries were exchanged and I shook his hand.¬†I went to my car and cried. I cried thinking, “What have I done?” “Why am I here?” “Why have I made the choice to take on more student loan debt?” “Why am I in Law School?”

Doubt started to overwhelm me. I thought about going home and giving up for the day. After an internal monolog, I pulled it together and went to school. Resolving to not get caught up in the idea of what other people are doing, which is much easier said than done.

I’ve known for quite some time that I don’t want a conventional career. (For goodness sakes, I was a theater major). I refuse to create a life dedicated to another [wo]man’s dollar or another [wo]man’s dream. With that mentality often comes uncertainty, instability, and sacrifice. These words have never really scared me. On the contrary, these words excite me.

I went to Law School to gain the skills to catapult my love for serving others into helping turn their dreams of entrepreneurship, of entertainment, of artistry into realities. Ultimately, I want to advocate for, protect, and serve creative geniuses.

I’m excited to be on this journey. I’m grateful for the opportunity. Although there is much¬†uncertainty, instability, and sacrifice involved I know I made the right choice. Others may think I’m crazy or wonder about me, but I’ll remain true to myself, my unique talents, and the dreams that God has given me.

xoxo,

BC

‚ÄúFirst, do no harm‚ÄĚ

‚ÄúFirst, do no harm‚ÄĚ is used in the medical profession as a guiding principle for physicians that, whatever the situation, the patient’s well-being is the primary consideration. I understand this is used by physicians in a literal life or death situation, but can’t it also be used¬†for ourselves in every aspect of our lives?

Shouldn’t we be more in tune to whether or not the decisions we make are going to impact us negatively or even permanently disable us from living the life we’ve imagined? This life I’m referring to is above and beyond a monetary or materialistic gain. It’s about living a life worth living, the life you were meant to live. If you’re like me then the worst, most crippling feeling in the world is to be a cog in someone else’s machine. As I make decisions I keep this very, real fear in mind in order to ensure I don’t lead down that path professionally and/or personally.

Ultimately when I say, ‘first, do no harm’ I’m suggesting that when you are creating your goals you must be mindful¬†of every choice you make. Will it impact your family? Will it limit your ability to give back? Will it allow you to go on that vacation that you’re yearning for? Keep your priorities in order and make your decisions surrounding those. No judgement here as to what those are. Just consider what harm really means for your life and who could suffer as a result.

xoxo,

Blonde Chick