Blogging Boot Camp

I’ve been blogging off and on since 2010. I’ve read lots of books, talked to lots of people, and joined lots of Facebook groups. There are two things that have helped me more than anythign else. First was personal coaching with Christine Tremoulet. You can read all about her awesomeness on my Smith Squad blog. Second is Blogging Boot Camp with Brenda Ster.

Brenda is the owner of the company “The Sassy Suite” which she started to help direct sellers excel in their business without annoying all their friends with spammy marketing tactics. She has some absolutely amazing classes on using social media to sell. Two of the many I’ve taken that I loved are the Suite Success with Instagram video course and the Winning with Pinterest video course. My absolute FAVORITE course is blogging boot camp. In fact The Muchness Mama wouldn’t exist without Blogging Boot Camp. I was a member of Blogging Boot Camp 5.

The best part of this Blogging Boot camp is that they help you with both the technical and the artistic details of creating and maintaining your blog. They don’t just set it up and leave you high and dry to figure out the rest. This course is completely comprehensive on how to use wordpress, pick and change themes, customize themes, come up with content ideas, create basic graphics, etc. Best of all you get tons of help from the other students and the instructors in a private facebook group as well as assistance and feedback from the community at large in a closed Facebook group. I can’t say enough about how fun and helpful Brenda, Wendy, Hope, and the other instructors are. I’d honestly say this course is worth double what they charge.

If you are ready to revolutionize your business, reach new costumers, become an influencer, share your message, and get found on Google the Blogging Boot Camp is the way to do it. Simply click the image below to get more details and get started.

Sassy Suite Blogging Boot Camp

The 5 Love Languages- Understanding How We Give and Receive Love

Have you ever struggled with feeling like you are loved and appreciated in your marriage, parenthood, friendship, or other relationship? On the flip side have you ever felt like you were showing an overwhelming amount of love only to have someone tell you that they don’t feel appreciated? You might be dealing with a love language barrier. Have you heard of the five love languages before? You can learn all about them in the book “The 5 Love Languages” by Dr. Gary Chapman, but here’s a little summary for you.

The Five Love Languages | muchnessmama.com | Quality Time | Words of Affirmation | Gifts | Physical Touch | Acts of Service | Relationship advice | marriage | Couples Therapy

A Summary of the Five Love Languages

The love languages are the ways in which we both give and receive love. They are physical touch, words of affirmation, gifts, acts of service, and quality time. You both receive and give love through these languages. Pretty much everyone has 1-2 dominant languages. Some people speak the same language as they hear, while others speak and hear different languages. If you aren’t sure what your language is check out this quiz.

The Five Love Languages | muchnessmama.com | Quality Time | Words of Affirmation | Gifts | Physical Touch | Acts of Service | Relationship advice | marriage | Couples Therapy

Are You Speaking Your Loved Ones’ Language?

While knowing your own love language can be very insightful, it is also important to know what the dominant language is for those you love. Whether it’s a spouse, friend, or child if you really want to show them the most love possible you have to speak their language. What is an amazing gesture for you may fall flat if you do the same for a spouse. By not speaking in their language, or worse by punishing in their language, you can really inhibit their ability to feel loved. For example if you have a child who has the dominant love language of words of affirmation a critical statement can cut them far deeper than it may a different child. If your spouse’s love language is acts of service and you are constantly asking them to serve you without returning the favor then their love bank will go into the negative pretty quickly.

The Five Love Languages | muchnessmama.com | Quality Time | Words of Affirmation | Gifts | Physical Touch | Acts of Service | Relationship advice | marriage | Work Relationships

Can You Hear What Others Are Saying?

Even more important than learning to speak another language is learning to hear the language that they are speaking. As an acts of service person it is sometimes hard to feel love from my kids. I mean come on, how often do small children spontaneously clean the bathroom or fold the laundry? I need to learn to hear in the way that they do say I Love you to me. The hugs and kisses, the weeds (flowers) brought in from outside, the pictures they draw just for me. I have the choice to sit here and feel sorry for myself that no one appreciates me because if they did they’d help out with the housework more, or I can choose to feel loved by all the little things my kids do every day that say I love you to me. It’s easy to do with my kids. It’s harder to do with my husband. He’s a grown-up afterall. I should be able to tell him my love language and have him just give me what I want right? Nope. Just like learning Spanish Chinese, Russian or Arabic it takes work to learn to speak a new language, and some languages are harder for us than others. My husband is a words of affirmation adn physical touch kind of guy. I’ve had to learn to accept those things from him as signs of love as well as communicating to him when I really just need a service done for me.

The Five Love Languages | muchnessmama.com | Quality Time | Words of Affirmation | Gifts | Physical Touch | Acts of Service | Relationship advice | marriage | Friendship

Focus on Giving, Not Getting

As a child I was primarily a physical touch speaker adn receiver. I was constantly wanting to be hugged and cuddled. I always wanted to give my friends hugs. I liked to roughhouse. Hubs and I should make a perfect match then, right? Being as we’re both physical touch people. Nope. While discussing love languages a few days ago I had the realization that physical touch is actually second lowest on my list right now. What changed? I realized that it had dropped lower and lower as I felt like physical touch was taken from me rather than freely given. The touches between my husband and I had become focused on him taking what he needed to feel loved, not giving me what I needed. For example he would try to grab me for a big hug and kiss and let’s just hold each other for a few minutes when I was in the middle of cooking dinner and worried that things were going to burn if I didn’t attend to them immediately. I began to resent his physical touch rather than treasuring it. As we have been researching a lot about bonding behaviors he has started using physical touch as a way to give, not just take. Now he does things like give me a massage when my shoulders hurt from carrying a grumpy baby all day, brush my hair, simply sit close enough to touch shoulders at church. By focusing his physical touch on giving not only is he helping me feel more loved and respected, but he’s finding that I am much more ready and willing to speak his love language and engage in nourishing physical touch with him rather than trying to push him away out of irritation. On the flip side I also find that the more I go out of my way to serve my husband (my primary love language, acts of service) he naturally returns the favor. As we’ve each focused more on giving we’ve allowed the other to do the same and we are both finding our love buckets are much fuller than they were when we were both just trying to get what we needed.

The Five Love Languages | muchnessmama.com | Quality Time | Words of Affirmation | Gifts | Physical Touch | Acts of Service | Relationship advice | marriage | Parenting

Learning More About the Five Love Languages

Gary Chapman has written several books about this topic. Start off with the basic book “The Five Love Languages” which will guide you through each language and teach you how you can both give and receive in each language. After that there are several books that are directed at specific audiences such as military, children, singles, men, and teenagers. Dr. Chapman has also written several other great relationship books which you can view here. Don’t forget to check out the official Five Love Languages website and Dr. Chapman’s Facebook page as well.

Do you know what your love language is? How has knowing yours and loved ones love languages helped you or how do you think it can help you in the future? Come join the Muchness Mamas Facebook Community to join in on the conversation.

Weak Things Become Strong

We all have weaknesses. Character flaws, not yet achieved ambitions, desires to do or be better. We also all have strengths. A big part of self-love and self-care is being able to accept our current state of being while still pushing forward to always be better. With that intent we often quite vigorously hunt for our weaknesses, catalog them, make goals for change, collect accountability partners, then proceed to beat ourselves up over our perceived imperfections and lack of acceptable progress. We all know that God can make weak become strong. He can change and refine us to be more than we ever could on our own.

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What if we changed our perspective a bit? Maybe the things we consider weaknesses can actually be our greatest strengths WITHOUT being changed. Maybe with some things exactly who we are is exactly who God wants us to be.

I was first introduced to this idea when I read the book “Parenting the Ephraims Child” by Jaime Theler and Deborah Talmagde. In this book they talk about traits that are often considered weaknesses in children and challenges parents to reframe them and strengths in need of refinement. For example stubbornness is VERY annoying when your 3-year-old won’t stay in their bed. That same trait, however, can lead them to say no when they’re a teen and their friends offer them drugs or alcohol. A child who is very sensitive and always having hurt feelings can become incredibly compassionate and charitable. 

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Take a moment a jot down a list of your perceived weaknesses. If you’re anything like me things like eating healthy, exercise, yelling at the kids, etc. might be on your list. Some things really are just weaknesses that need to be improved on. What things are on your list that maybe could be strengths if just refined a little? I’ll give you one of mine as an example. I am a very easily distracted person. I have a hard time sitting and completing a task all in one go. I’ve started, stopped, and restarted this blog post three times now! I’ve always thought my lack of singular focus was a weakness. Then I started to really think about why I was so distracted. It was because I was acutely aware of what was going on around me. This awareness leads me to notice things that need to be done, and often allows me to bless others. I am aware of the woman sitting on the edge of the room alone who looks like she may need a friend. I’m aware of the person in a wheelchair coming up behind me who may appreciate having a door opened. I am aware that a child is struggling with a task that they haven’t thought to ask for help with. This awareness allows me to bless others. This awareness also made me a really good intelligence analyst in the Marine Corps. My husband really appreciates it when we are watching movies with complicated story lines and I can point out the small details he missed that pull everything together.

God made each of us unique. We all have different talents and abilities. There is no one else on this earth who has the exact same mix of strengths and weaknesses as you. You aren’t a mistake or an accident. He created each of us quite intentionally. I would challenge you to take some time this week and identify those things that you have perceived as weaknesses that could become your greatest strengths. Celebrate who you are instead of comparing to others and wishing that you had their talents. Now take your newfound strengths out into the world for a test drive and let me know how it goes.

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Come join our Muchness Mamas Facebook community and share what weaknesses turned strengths you’ve identified. We’d love to hear your stories of how you have used them to bless yourself and others.

The Leaky Bucket-Managing Your Daily Energy Reserves

I had always imagined my energy reserves as a big metal bucket full of water. This bucket had holes all over the bottom constantly spitting out water as a small stream ran in. In my little mental cartoon I was manically trying to plug as many holes as I could to make sure my bucket didn’t drain faster than it could fill. As you can imagine that was a rather messy and quite impossible task.

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Then I watched “Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life” with Stanford professors Bill Burnett and Dave Evans on CreativeLive. They had the students make a chart. On the chart they were supposed to list their top 10-15 tasks that they typically did every day. Then they were supposed to use a bar to represent whether that task was energy filling or energy draining. Make sure to really think about this part. Draining doesn’t always mean unpleasant. I LOVE our weekly homeschool coop meetings. Being surrounded by 20-30 noisy kids for ~3 hours is still VERY draining for an introvert mom, no matter how much fun we are having. What they said next surprised me. I thought they were going to talk about how to get rid of or reduce the energy draining activities, AKA plugging the holes in the bucket. Instead they started to brainstorm on how you could manage your overall energy reserves by either changing the draining activity to a filling one, or creating a fill-drain-fill sandwich.

Changing an Energy Drainer to a Filler

So how do we CHANGE that draining activity into a filling activity? One example they gave was the daily board meeting. Instead of having it in the boardroom why not meet at the coffee house around the corner before going in to work and have some drinks and snacks while you talk? For those of us who stay at home why not turn on your favorite dancing music and sing along while doing dishes? By pairing a draining activity with a filling one your total energy balance after the activity will be much higher than before.

The Energy Fill Sandwich

What do you do when you can’t change an activity to make it less draining and more filling? Bill and Dave suggested the fill-drain-fill sandwich. In a work setting maybe you go for a short walk before the awful board meeting then treat yourself to a yummy healthy lunch afterwards. At home you may have hot shower, do the house cleaning, then take a quiet moment to read a book. By sandwiching a draining activity in between two filling activities you make sure your bucket is overflowing before it starts draining and then replenished after it’s drained.

Balancing the Fill and Drain Rates

While getting rid of energy draining activities certainly helps self care isn’t all about getting rid of the things that drain you. Fact is there are certain draining things that just have to be done. Living life drains energy. It’s just impossible to plug every hole in the bucket. When I started to shift my focus from plugging holes to increasing the water flowing in my energy level has gotten and stayed higher throughout the day. Instead of a 2 hour laundry marathon I now write a blog post (energy filling), fold a basket or two (majorly energy draining), then take some time to do a little art. I’ve been able to enjoy my kids more, feel more satisfied with my life at the end of the day and I find that I am getting a LOT more accomplished. Washing dishes doesn’t seem like quite the same torture it was before when I know my calligraphy pen is waiting for me when I’m done. The best part is that when the unexpected drains occur (three year old temper tantrums come to mind) my energy reserves are higher allowing me to better handle stressful situations.

What are your biggest energy drains and fillers? What can you do to restructure your activities or schedule to better regulate the flow of incoming energy adn keep your bucket full? Come join the Muchness Mamas Facebook community to continue the discussion!

My 2018 Word of the Year- Enough

A new year is a time for resolutions. I’ll be honest, I haven’t made on in years because I know I won’t manage to do it perfectly and I really don’t need one more thing in my life to feel like a failure about. Yep, that’s right, I often feel like a failure. You may have noticed that I didn’t put a blog post out in months. I didn’t know what to write about. I was suffering from some really big imposter syndrome. Who am I to tell you all how to find your muchness? who am I to think I can help other women feel good about themselves? Who am I to give parenting, relationship, life, etc. advice? I’m not perfect. Nowhere near it. Why should any of you want to listen to me?

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This has been a problem for e my whole life. I had a paradigm that if I wasn’t the best then I was a failure. “2nd place is just first place loser!” Rather than making me super competitive, however, this mindset made me a quitter. Worse than that if I didn’t think I could excel at something right off the bat then I wouldn’t even try. I talked about this a little in my post “I Am an Artist“. Despite my love and desire to create beautiful things I avoided trying for YEARS because I was afraid of being bad at it. Fact is we are ALL going to be bad at things. You can’t become good if you aren’t willing to start out by being bad. I have been working on adjusting my mindset to appreciate where I am in the journey instead of focusing on my failure to reach the ideal destination I have created in my mind.

 

I am enough | muchnessmama.com | self care | self love | self acceptance | self help | becoming a better you | love yourself

In the CreativeLive class “Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life” one of the instructors said (sorry didn’t write down who it was and there are two teachers lol) “Life is not a problem to be solved, it is an adventure to be lived.” That really struck a nerve with me. I’ve been so busy trying to solve the problems of my life that I have forgotten to enjoy the adventure of the journey. That is why this blog exists. It isn’t here so that I can put on my pretty perfect face and tell you all how to be perfect too. This blog exists because I NEED to share my hot mess with you and know that it’s ok. It’s so I can share my journey and maybe encourage you a little bit in yours. It’s here so that I can create a community of vulnerability where women can connect in our brokenness, embrace it, and make it beautiful.

My husband and I were talking the other night and the conversation got a bit rough. We were discussing how and why him asking me to do something different or make a small improvement would send me into a tailspin of self-doubt and feeling like a failure. We’re talking little things here ladies like “can we please make sure all the dishes get rinsed before they get put in the dirty sink so that they don’t attract flies?” Totally reasonable request right? Well my logical brain totally agrees with you. However my emotional brain hijacks the conversation and turns it into “You know you’re a really crappy homemaker right? I can’t believe you can’t figure out how to keep flies out of our kitchen. this house is so disgusting? What do you seriously do all day? Did anything get done?” Yeah. Not exactly what he was saying. In fact not even close. I still haven’t identified exactly why my brain goes there. I know part of it is traumas I have suffered in my adult life, but I also recognize that this has been a problem for me since I was young, for example me refusing to try to be an artist.

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This is why my word of the year is Enough. I am enough. Where I am in my journey is enough. What I have accomplished is enough. Despite my “failures” I am still enough. This year I want to focus on recognizing where I am in the journey and appreciating it. Looking back and recognizing my progression. Looking forward with excitement for what I can become instead of dread at what I haven’t achieved. Enough doesn’t mean I’ve settled or no longer try to progress. It simply means being ok with where I am while continuing to move forward in this grand adventure.

The perfectionist me wanted to make a beautiful hand drawn graphic for this post. I’m still a newbie to pointed pen calligraphy and definitely haven’t achieved that level of “perfection” that I tend to expect from myself. As I sat practicing all my letters trying to create the perfect image I realized the irony of what I was doing. Here I am talking about being happy with where I am, yet hating how my letters just weren’t forming the way I wanted. So here’s my first celebration of living my word. Instead of a beautiful graphic you get to see my practice pad. I am celebrating where I am, and looking forward to what I can achieve as I practice some more.

Do you have a word of the year? Please share it in the comments below. I’d love to hear what you’re focusing on. Then come join our community on Facebook to get in on the discussion of how we can support each other in fulfilling our intentions this year.

The Muchness Mama | Slay the jabberwock | Rediscover wonderland | self care | self love

Self-Care is NOT Selfish!

self care is not selfish | self love | put on your own oxygen mask | take care of yourself | self care for mom | self love quotes | self care quotes

“You have to put your own oxygen mask on first” How often have you heard that phrase? I know I’ve heard it every time I fly. I’ve also heard it thrown around a lot in reference to motherhood and wifehood. What does it really mean?

Often as women we find ourselves putting everyone else first. We serve, serve, serve, until we are totally burned out. Now don’t get me wrong, selfless service is a VERY good thing, but even the best things in unhealthy amounts can be damaging. So how do you determine when you need to back off, say no, and practice some self care?

I’ll let you know when I figure it out! Seriously though here’s the difference in my mind. Self-care is putting your NEEDS above other people’s WANTS. Selfish is putting your WANTS above other people’s NEEDS.

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Usually determining this is pretty easy. I NEED to eat breakfast. My kid WANTS me to play with them. The hard part comes in when you and another person have conflicting needs. I NEED sleep. My baby NEEDS to be fed in the middle of the night. Now I have to figure out how we can both get what we need. Sometimes determining if something is a need or a want can be difficult too. We all want time off to just relax and rejuvenate. At a certain point this becomes a need. Once the need has been met it once again becomes a want. It is especially difficult in marriage to balance this seesaw between things that can at any time be a want or a need for either spouse.

5 Simple Steps to Becoming Muchier

If you read my first post you’ll already know all about muchness, if you haven’t check it out here. Are you ready to transform yourself into a “much more muchier” version of yourself? Of course the journey looks different for every person, but here are a few tips to get you started on creating your own path.

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Recognize What You Have Lost

For a long time I knew I wasn’t happy, but it took me a while to figure out why. It was so easy to blame things on my circumstances and relationships. It was much harder to look inward and take responsibility for my own happiness in life. Fact is I’ve been through some pretty hard stuff, and life is still hard. Wallowing in self pity is EXTREMELY tempting at times. How could I regain my happiness DESPITE my trials, instead of getting lost in the thinking that life had to be perfect first? I started looking back on my childhood and asked what about me has changed? What things am I doing differently? What things did I love that I have now given up? What talents have I buried instead of growing? Identifying what exactly it was about me that had changed, and whether those changes were good or bad was the first step in becoming muchier.

Identify What You Need

Ask yourself the hard question “what can I change now to be more true to myself and find peace, and even joy, in the midst of the chaos that is life?” Not what can you change about your circumstances or what do you wish others would change about themselves. Be brutally honest, what do you need/want to change about YOU? Maybe you need to speak up for yourself more. Maybe you need to pursue a talent or passion that you once had. Maybe you need to leave an abusive situation. Maybe you need to work more hours, or less. Only you know what exactly it is that you need. Ask yourself is there anything that I used to love as a kid that I no longer do? Are there any specific character traits I had as a child that I wish I hadn’t lost? Is there any knowledge that I wish I had pursued? What did I want to be when I grew up and do I still want that?

Find a Great Mentor and Support System

Change is hard for anyone, but when you are suffering from a lost of muchness you may find that your ability to change yourself has been completely eradicated. It is crucial to surround yourself with people who can support you and push you to keep going. Find someone who will ask the hard questions and not let you make excuses. You need someone who is going to give you a swift kick to the rear when needed, and not let you make excuses for yourself. Use mental health professionals, friends, online groups, life coaches, or any other resource you can. The more support you have the better.

Define Your Purpose

I believe that everyone needs to have a purpose in life. True joy is found in having and working towards a goal that really means something to you personally. I’m not talking about a goal that has a finish point, like making 15 sales or taking 10 photographs a day. I’m talking about a deep and never ending purpose that motivates you throughout your entire life. When you have a purpose you may find that so many little things in life just don’t seem to matter as much as they used to. Just as every person is unique so are our life purposes. What really helped me refine my purpose was creating a manifesto. This was something I did as a part of Christine’s Blogging Brilliantly class. She had me write down hundreds of statements in different forms and answering different questions. I then cut out all of those statements onto wordstrips and sorted them to decide what were my top thoughts and ideas that had to be included. My manifesto is below and you can read Christine’s manifesto here.

What is my purpose? I celebrate the nobility in motherhood through writing, fashion, and art as I care for my own large family. This isn’t just a one time achieve it and I’m done goal. This is a purpose that can and does drive me in everything I do.

Take Action

This is by far the hardest part of this entire process. It’s easy to know we need a change and dream about a change. It’s also very easy to come up with a million reasons why we can’t do it. It’s scary, it’s hard, and sometimes it looks near impossible. I clearly remember a phone call with Christine where she suggested I stop trying to be a full time photographer and focus on my blogging instead. WHAT?!?! You are telling me to give up on my dream? I wanted to fight back, I wanted to resist, but deep down I knew she was right. As she talked to me she had been able to hear the passion in my voice for motherhood and my large family. Caring for them was stopping me from making my business a real success. Trying to get such a time intensive a business up and running was stopping me from being the mother I wanted to be. As we talked about the possibility of focusing on the things I could do from home it all clicked into place. That didn’t make it any easier to take action even though I knew it was the right action to take. It was very hard to give up that dream of being a full time birth and family photographer. Knowing and embracing my life purpose allowed me to refocus and accept that maybe that will happen at a later season in my life. I still fear that no one will want to read what I have to write. There are days where I look at my art supplies and the thought of creating something from my heart and having it rejected is terrifying. As I become “much more…muchier” it is getting easier and easier.

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You Can Find Your Muchness

Muchness isn’t something disappears never to be seen again. It is something that we can work at and build upon every day. It is knowing that we have a purpose and that we are creating the path that will help us fulfill it. It is taking responsibility for yourself and your happiness. It is the process of shedding the pressure of living up to someone else’s standards and instead creating our own measuring posts.

Muchness is where the true happiness and joy in life are found, no matter what may be going on around you.

If you’ like to chat with me and other amazing women who are taking this journey of self-discovery come join our community on Facebook!

What is Muchness, and Where did it Go?

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A few years ago I watched Tim Burton’s “Alice in Wonderland” and absolutely loved it. As I watched, however, it took a lot to fight back the tears. It was like watching a fantastical version of my own life. Precocious imaginative child grows up to become a mere shadow of her real self. She has completely forgotten who she was. While doing her best to please everyone around her and live up to societal expectations she loses her muchness and now believes “I don’t slay, I couldn’t even if I wanted to.”

I’m not sure when exactly everything changed for me. When I stopped being the real me and started being what I thought everyone wanted from me. The result was, however, that I was a pretty empty shell of a person. My mouth smiled, but it rarely spread to my eyes. I would answer the question “how are you ?” with “Great!”, then feel sick inside because I knew it was a lie. I had a hard time sleeping, even though I was perpetually exhausted. I spent my days cooking, cleaning, booger wiping, diaper changing, and doing everything else to take care of my family. No matter how hard I worked I felt like a failure because I never got my to do list done. I often did nothing other than the necessities to keep my kids alive. Why bother busting your butt to achieve perfection when you are just going to fail anyway? I was a total mombie!

 

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I wasting my life away trying so hard to make everyone around myself happy. Now don’t get me wrong, there is great value in serving others and some of the greatest joy in life is found in service, but I wasn’t doing it the right way. I was so focused on what others wanted, not what they needed, and they all wanted different things. I would never be pretty enough, good enough, talented enough. My house would never be clean enough, or children as well-behaved as they should.  Pleasing everyone is just impossible and the more I tried the more of my muchness I lost. I completely lost sight of the importance of self-cer in my life.

Just like Alice I was lost in a world where everyone told me who I should be, and who I was. What I should be doing, and what I shouldn’t. This left me feeling empty, drained, and completely inadequate. One day, just like Alice, I finally woke up. “This is my dream…I make the path!”

I choose who I am. I choose what I value. I have a choice, and I can slay my Jabberwock. I can’t really tell you the story of the moment when everything turned around. It’s not just my story to tell. I can tell you it was with the help of one kind compassionate friend who told me “Whatever you decide I will support you 100%”.  I was set free. I was empowered to make a choice that was best for ME and follow it through knowing that if I fell it was ok. Someone was there to catch me and help me learn how to fly.

It was time for me to stop making excuses and start making changes. I was no longer willing to be a passive observer in my own life. As I started living my life with more intention and thoughtfulness things have begun to fall into place. I have been blessed to meet people and have experiences that I never imagined possible. I have learned so much about myself and who I am. I have a voice again. The precocious child who knows who she is and what she wants in life is back! I’m back. I have my muchness. I know who I am.

I am not ashamed or embarrassed by others negative thoughts on large families. I hold my head high when other women tell me that I am damaging their feminist movement by choosing to stay home. I ignore those who tell me that I am somehow hurting my kids by homeschooling them, or worse hurting the rest of the world by not having my kids in public school. I create the art that I love, without guilt for spending time on it or fear that others won’t like it. I am open and honest about my needs and desires with my spouse. I’ve put more appropriate limits on my children and taught them to be more independent. I bought new clothes for myself, at retail instead of from the thrift store, and they have the fun colors and patterns that I love. I get up, dress up, and show up for my life every day (well almost every day, every girl needs a day to veg out in their pajamas with netflix every now and again) I’m even planning to dye my hair crazy colors as I always dreamed, but was afraid was inappropriate.

And now I am ready to carry what I’ve found forward and use it to bless YOU!

If you are struggling to find your muchness don’t give up. You can do it. You are a wonderfully unique individual and the world needs your beauty! Just jump, because if you do you just may fly and if you don’t, well then pick up the pieces and move forward with your head high. Failure is nothing more than the quickest path to success.

It’s your life. YOU make the path.

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5 Easy Steps to Reclaiming Your Muchness

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My last post was about my feelings as I lost and then reclaimed my muchness. Today’s post is all about how I got my muchness back. Each person has a unique journey ahead of them, but here are a few simple steps anyone can take to help them create their own new path.

5 Easy Steps to Reclaim Your Muchness | Smithsquad.com | Alice in Wonderland quote | Mad Hatter | Finding your life's purpose

Recognize What You Have Lost

I knew I wasn’t happy, but it took me a while to figure out that it was because I had changed. It was so easy to blame things on my circumstances and relationships. It was much harder to look inward and take responsibility for my own happiness in life. Instead of saying if only I had more money, if only I had a better relationship with my spouse, if only I didn’t have an ex, if only… I started looking back on my childhood and asked myself what about me has changed? What things am I doing differently? What things did I love that I have now given up? What talents have I buried instead of growing? Identifying what exactly it was about me that had changed, and whether those changes were good or bad led me to then ask myself. What can I change?

Identify What You Need

As you look at the changes that you’ve made for the worse you can identify what you need to change about yourself to find more fulfillment in life. Maybe you need to speak up for yourself more. Maybe you need to pursue a talent or passion that you once had. Maybe you need to leave an abusive situation. Maybe you need to work more hours, or less. Only you know what exactly it is that you need. Ask yourself is there anything that I used to love as a kid that I no longer do? Are there any specific character traits I had as a child that I wish I hadn’t lost? Is there any knowledge that I wish I had pursued? What did I want to be when I grew up and do I still want that?

Find a Great Mentor and Support System

Change is hard for anyone. When you are suffering from a lost of muchness you often find that your gumption for making change has been completely eradicated. This is when it is crucial to surround yourself with those who can lift you up and keep you going. Find someone who will ask the hard questions and not let you make excuses. Sure a good rant to a supportive friend is great and necessary, but you also need someone who is going to give you a swift kick to the rear when needed. Use mental health professionals, friends, online groups, life coaches, or any other resource you can. The more support you have the better.

My first steps into discovering who I am were prodded along by Jeff Jochum. He is the king of the question why? Dig deeper, why do you want/feel/need that? He can be quite aggravating at times, but that’s exactly what I needed at that point. Someone who didn’t put up with any excuses and made me ask myself the hard questions. At that point I knew I needed to make changes, but I was still afraid. I continued to build up my support base with an AMAZING church leader, a few close supportive friends, and a weekly women’s support group at church. About a year after working with Jeff I had the opportunity to attend a class at the CreativeLive studio with Julia Kelleher called The Creative Newborn Studio. At the beginning of the class she gave each of us some clay and told us to just create something. It didn’t matter what it was just create. It was such a freeing experience. I was right back in childhood and having a blast. I was proud of my cute little creations. As her class continued the focus on being artistic really opened up a desire I had stuffed down for far too long. I wanted to create. I needed to create. I was then given an amazing opportunity work with Christine Tremoulet in her Blogging Brilliantly course. I thought I was in for a great course on using blogging to help build my business. What I got was so much more. She really focused on making your brand YOU and that meant that I had to find me. She has been an amazingly supportive mentor and cheerleader and still pushes me to keep digging deeper and doing better. She is also the one who helped me create a clearly defined purpose for my life.

Define Your Purpose

I believe that everyone needs to have a purpose in life. That is where the true joy is found, in having and working towards a good and deep purpose. I’m not talking about a specific goal like making 100,000 a year or creating 100 art pieces. I’m talking about a deep and never ending purpose that motivates you throughout your entire life. When you have a purpose and you are working it suddenly so many little things in life just don’t seem to matter as much. Just as every person is unique so are our life purposes. What really helped me refine my purpose was creating a manifesto. This was something I did as a part of Christine’s Blogging Brilliantly class. She had me write down hundreds of statements in different forms and answering different questions. I then cut out all of those statements onto wordstrips and sorted them to decide what were my top thoughts and ideas that had to be included. My manifesto is below and you can read Christine’s manifesto here.

What is my purpose? I celebrate the nobility in motherhood through writing, photography, and art as I care for my own large family. This isn’t just a one time achieve it and I’m done goal. This is a purpose that can and does drive me in everything I do.

My manifesto| SmithSquad.com| I Believe in the nobility of motherhood
Creating a series of I Believe statements can help you to identify your purpose in life.

Take Action

This is usually the hardest part of the entire process. It’s easy to know we need a change adn dream about a change. It’s also very easy to come up with a million reasons why we can’t do it. It’s scary, it’s hard, and sometimes it looks near impossible. This is, once again, where an amazing support system comes into play. I clearly remember the conference call with Christine where she suggested I back away form being a full time photographer and focus on my blog. As she talked to me she had been able to hear the passion in my voice for motherhood. She could feel my frustration that the needs of my large family, which are very important to me, were hampering my ability to make my business a real success. As we talked about the possibility of focusing on the things I could do from home, blogging adn art, and keeping photography and a fun hobby rather than a business it all clicked into place. That didn’t make it any easier to take action, however, even though I knew it was the right action to take. It was very hard to give up that dream of being a full time birth and family photographer. Because I know and embrace my life’s purpose, however, I am able to refocus and accept that maybe that will happen at a later season in my life. I still fear that no one will want to read what I have to write. There are days when I suffer from some major imposter syndrome as I write. There are sometimes days on end where I look at my art supplies and just walk away because the thought of creating something from my heart and having it rejected is terrifying. As I become “much more…muchier” it becomes easier and easier.

 

You Can Find Your Muchness

Muchness isn’t something that we lose and never get back. It is somethign that we can strive to achieve and build upon every day. It is knowing that we have a divine purpose and that we are creating the path that will help us fulfill it. It is taking responsibility for yourself and your happiness. It is the process of shedding the pressure of living up to someone else’s standards and instead creating our own ideals.

Muchness is where the true happiness and joy in life are found.

Have you lost your muchness? Will you commit here and now to seek it out? Have you reclaimed your muchness? Have you found your purpose in life? What is it?