Who Is Your Tribe?

Who are your people? Who do you surround yourself with? Are these people lifting you up, encouraging you?

Your tribe is important. Who you spend time with, who you allow into take up space in your life is critical to where you are headed. If you have goals and dreams, you better have light-givers, encouragers, destiny-builders in your circle. There has to be someone in your world who believes in all you are capable of, someone who sees all the potential inside you.You have a choice. The people in your life will either build you up or tear you down. You can’t force them to do either; what you do have control of is who you allow in.

(photo cred Facebook.com)

Let’s choose our tribes carefully. I’m trying to surround myself with people who pray, love, and bring light into my life and into the lives of everyone around them. People who challenge me to be better, who are challenging themselves as well. I love friends who make me think deeply, laugh uncontrollably, strive greatly. I’m also trying to be that for them. 

Who is with you? 

Who is not? 

To reach your God-given destiny, you need your people to be on your team. Look around: if you’re successful are they clapping? If you fail are they offering a hand up? If the answer is no to either, maybe it’s time to re-evaluate who is in your tribe-

­čĺŚÔŁĄ´ŞĆ­čĺŚ

┬ęCopyright Meredith Shafer 2016. Swing by Instagram and Twitter to say hi!

#mytribe #mypeople #support #friendship #makeorbreak #success #successbuilders #tribe #friends

Finally!

I’m doing my happy dance friends! I finally got my manuscript for my second book, Mad Cow: A PTSD Love Story, to the publisher!! I feel so free…and then I remember I still have four kids and I’m supposed to be working on my third book lol­čśŐ

I still love this life though, y’all. I feel like I am doing what I was meant to do all along and even though it’s hard and there are many weeks I get run over by my Traveling Circus, I’m so grateful to be in this place.

I have had a busy and awesome week. Date night with my handsome Mr. Wonderful- 

 (Photo cred random stranger who used my phone to take our pic at dinner!)

We took our Bigs to the #TobyMac concert–it was the best show! Capital Kings, Hollyn, Building 429, and more great bands were there. We partied like rock stars! 

 (photo cred Meredith Shafer 2016)

I also got to go to our first ever Writer’s Club lunch–I’m so blessed to have these ladies to hold me accountable! 

 (photo cred another random stranger who generously agreed to take our pic)

Mr. Wonderful continued being wonderful 

 (photo cred Meredith Shafer 2016­čĺŚ)

And finally, I capped off the weekend by speaking at a ladies retreat. I was so blessed to be with the beautiful ladies of Lost Creek! Thank you to all of my new friends for opening your doors and hearts to me!!! 

 (photo cred Diann Rudd)  (Photo cred Meredith Shafer 2016-don’t ask, what happens at the retreat stays at the retreat!)

I am enjoying a bit of quiet after church while everyone is either playing outside on this gorgeous day or napping. Hope y’all have a blessed, well-spent Sunday as well!­čĺŚÔŁĄ´ŞĆ­čĺŚ

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Deadlines

 (Photo cred BuzzFeed)
Deadlines are usually mushy concepts to me. Mr. Wonderful says I get in this creative Time Warp thing and it’s rare that I emerge from it at the precise time I’m supposed to.
My second book is “supposedly” arriving at the publisher in about two weeks…probably….

Never in my life have I found so many other things that needed to be done as when I’m on a deadline: cleaning the ceiling fan, clearing out the lint trap for the dryer, organizing the office, filing. 

FILING PEOPLE!!!

I may need an intervention. 

 (Photo cred someecards.com)

┬ęCopyright Meredith Shafer 2015. Swing by Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest to say hi! 

Monday Madness

By 8:03 a.m. today I lost my mind and frankly, my will to do anything. Everyone at my house was off their game. 

Everyone.

The twelve year old left everything everywhere as if the magic cleaning fairy would be arriving soon to clean up after him. 

 (Photo cred thefunnybeaver.com)

The eight year old woke up late, moved slow, worked my last nerve with talk back and outbursts. I also found out why I keep getting a bill from the school cafeteria: despite making and taking his lunch every day, he was getting a tray instead of eating his lunch. So I do indeed owe the school $16.47.

The Little Sister of the bunch spilled her milk, threw a fit, spilled more milk. I still hadn’t lost it yet though. I was still slogging through getting the oldest two out on the bus at two different times and then getting the two littles ready while the baby was spilling yet more milk and the dog was drinking out of the toilet and I had so much work to get done today and it was time to cautiously wake up Mr. Wonderful (cautiously because he has the PTSD, we have a process) when I realized: 

This is my life. For realsies. 

 (Photo cred curiano)

Confession: I’ve been a fraud. Faking it with optimism and gratitude til I make it but never really making it up that hill. Working three jobs to make ends meet. Raising four kids, sometimes by myself. Caregiving for Mr. Wonderful. Waiting for someone else to come and claim the life they lost because this can’t be mine.

A few short years ago I had a working husband who was able to help a lot with our busy household. I only had three kids and two jobs. There was no VA battle, no PTSD, no ADHD, no running around constantly like a crazy woman. I only had to run around like a crazy woman sometimes back then.

I’m so tired of pushing and straining and striving to try to make changes and have nothing budge. I’m exhausted from not seeing more progress to spur me on. I’m tired of being tired and worried and unable to sleep or find time for working out or finding joy in time spent with my kids instead of hauling them from point A to point B just hoping I get them there on time.

I’m sick of fighting the VA to get my soldier the care and benefits he deserves. I’m afraid I don’t have any fight left and the battle’s not done yet. 

I’m weary today. And overwhelmed. And claustrophobic by the walls of responsibility closing in. I’m ready for the spring of my life and it feels like the winter winds have just begun.

The one thing I have going for me right now is that in my hardest moments of realness and raw honesty God meets me where I am. He comes to me with comfort, hope and peace, somehow knowing that this Monday, when I’m on the edge of losing my mind and my hope I need his steadying hand more than ever. He changes me from the inside out, even while He upholds me. 

I find great comfort in knowing that the orchestrator of the chaos of the universe cares about each hair on my head, on each worry and heartbreak and tear and breath of little ol’ me.

I remind myself that things can’t be too bad if I am loved, both by God and by my tribe. That I have a life that some others would trade me for in an instant. That as hard as things are today, today is only temporary. 

 (photo cred Instapray.com)

And the God of my today is the God of my yesterday and tomorrow. He will see me through. He has gone before me, walks beside me and is behind me.

I just have to get out of the way of myself, surrender to his scandalous grace, and remember it’s not over yet.

He’s not finished with me. 

┬ęCopyright Meredith Shafer 2016. Swing by Instagram and Twitter to say hi!

Anchoring

This weekend was a good one, despite the fact that school starts tomorrow and no one is back in our routine. Pretty sure tomorrow’s going to be more interesting than usual… 

 (photo cred Meet the Best You)

But this weekend I have had renewal! I have been writing and more importantly, making time for writing. I put it back in my schedule, on my radar. It feels good to be doing that again.

I got to go to church with my family–which is a huge deal. A year ago my husband couldn’t leave the house some days because of PTSD and one of its most delightful side effects: agoraphobia. Every Sunday that we all get to leave the house together and go to church as a family is special to me. This is part of how I keep my sanity and refill my tank, so to speak.

This is a big deal.

And my boys are back from their dad’s, I got to be artsy fartsy and make some curtains, and I found a new coffee shop to do some writing in.

Even though we’re all out of sorts about getting back to the grind tomorrow and I about lost my mind when I saw someone had decorated my wall with marker in multiple areas, this was a good weekend. Even when I ate too much candy in anticipation of the twenty-one day fast from sugar I started today. Even despite looking around my disaster of a house and deciding that instead of cleaning it I was going to binge-watch some Netflix in the Oasis with Mr. Wonderful.

 It’s not a perfect life I’m living. It’s messy and crazed and about the only thing that’s consistent is chaos. But when I stop and look around at the scandalous grace I am afforded every day, I can’t help but offer some to those around me. Which makes life feel a lot better than I’m sure we look on paper.  (photo cred instapray.com)

This weekend anchored me. Grounded me and got me thinking about how I want 2016 to go for us. And though it might go completely differently than I hope or plan for, I am anchoring myself to my faith and my family. I’m being grateful for what’s going right. I’m breathing and hoping and being ridiculously optimistic. 

I’m savoring this season of joy, for however long I get it. 

 (photo cred Meredith Shafer 2015)

Sweet (20)16 here we go!

┬ęCopyright Meredith Shafer 2015. Swing by Instagram and Twitter to say hi!

Slow Down

It’s crunch time–for gifts, Christmas parties, work events, relatives stopping in, cooking, cleaning, end-of-year reports. The hustle and bustle of the holiday season can overcome and overwhelm if we’re not careful.

Take a minute today:

For yourself.

For a loved one.

For a spouse or friend or child. 

Remember what’s important right now–not whether your house is magazine spread ready or all the lights on the tree work or if the Elf forgot to move again or of all of your shopping is done. 

Breathe. Relax. Enjoy. Celebrate.

Does anything else really matter? Blessings friends, I pray you find rest, peace and hope along your way today! 

 (photo cred Money Saving Mom)

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Easy Like Sunday Morning

I was sick the first part of this weekend so I feel like I need another day–anyone else need one as well?!?

I’m just now feeling up to tackling my weekend projects, like laundry and a few work things and refinishing an old desk. Not sure it’s as realistic goal to get all those done today…especially since church, lunch and grocery shopping will take up my morning.  (Photo cred etsy.com)

So I’m drinking coffee to try and get a handle on today. I’ll let you know how that goes.(Photo cred Sweatpantsandcoffee.com)

While I’m waiting for my coffee to kick in, here’s my gratitude list for the day: 

-a beautiful roof over my head

-plenty of food (well, after I go grocery shopping)

-a good job that has the flexibility to let me be here for my family

-plenty of coffee (I ran out yesterday and it was a difficult morning to say the least, so I’m super grateful that Mr. Wonderful picked some up when I wasn’t feeling well.)

-naps, Christmas movies, and pajamas all day (pretty much yesterday)

-healthy kids

-a sweet husband who is doing the best he can every day to get better

Have a blessed, well-spent and refreshing Sunday y’all! (Photo cred myblog.com)
┬ęCopyright Meredith Shafer 2015. Swing by Instagram and Twitter to say hello!

Art Therapy

Lately I’ve been procrastinating. I know, you’re like, this again? But yeah. I can’t help it. I have a book deadline I’m racing towards and it seems I avoid writing by fulfilling a deep need to organize.

Everything.

I told my Mr. Wonderful I was nesting. He said, and I quote, “You better not be, we fixed that!” Probably because the last time I was nesting I was expecting a baby and since hubs has retired all the soldiers (ie, got a vasectomy), in his mind, there shouldn’t be a reason to nest.

But there is.

Creativity for me is therapy. Making things beautiful, repurposing them, breathing new life into old spaces or places is soul-strengthening for me. And for too long I have had to be in survival mode just to make sure my family was functioning.

But now we are in more stable territory. Now we are laughing and finding joy in the everyday. Now we seem to have a handle on some things–notice I didn’t say all things–and it feels like I have some room to breathe. To create. To do life in full color.

This last week a new friend of ours was put in the ICU. His wife trains our service dog, he is former military with PTSD as well. We just went to their wedding about three weeks ago so it was shocking that he got so sick so fast.

And to see someone with tubes and plugs and liquids draining in and out is about more than anyone can take. I feel the pain of the family–he’s much, much too young. It’s the holidays. They just want this husband-son-father-friend to be ok. That’s what we’ve all been on our knees about.  

 (Photo credit lifehack.com)

Every time I come home from the hospital I paint something. Or organize something. I can’t seem to sit still very long because my house is calling me to make it a home. Finally. After a year and a half I guess it’s about time.

And every project big or small that I complete brings me such joy. I am amazed that the one who made the most beautiful sunrises and rainbows and red birds and starry nights created me to create. I am in awe when I think about this even just a little bit.

He knew that to combat the hurt and pain and hard days and sleepless night I would need to be an artist. I would need to be a musician and a writer and a photographer so that I wouldn’t be overwhelmed by all the ugliness this world has to offer. 

 (photo credit roadtrippers.com)

What a gift.

What beauty are you putting in this world today? Don’t let your inner censor or critic convince you not to do it. The world needs more beautiful, and it’s up to you to do your part. 

 (photo credit leeanngtaylor.com)

Even if you don’t have training. Or think you know what you’re doing. Or don’t think you’re very good. Contribute whatever gorgeousness you feel compelled to create–we will all be better for it.

┬ęCopyright Meredith Shafer 2015. Swing by Instagram and Twitter to say hi!

Wild Hair Weekend

I’ve been on a tear lately. 

In the last four years of our lives we’ve had two (more) babies, moved three times, gotten sober, received a PTSD and TBI diagnosis, gotten medically retired from the military, begun ADHD testing and occupational/speech therapy, began learning trombone and gotten a book published. 

Needless to say, because of all of the aforementioned crazy, things are a mess.

I’m not just talking dirt. I’m talking clutter, chaos, scootching things under things so I don’t have to look at them, dingy windows and souls, broken toys and hearts. There have been ruined clothes and dreams. Messy fingers, faces, rooms and lives.  

 Now that we feel more structurally sound I feel capable of tackling all of those messes I haven’t had time to work on. Now that we don’t feel like any mildly rushing wind will blow us over, I feel ready. It’s amazing what a shored-up foundation will do for a person.

As the caretaker of the bunch, even though organization is not my gift, I am trying. At first I was completely overwhelmed by the sheer amount of additional stuff I really needed to tackle. I have a lot of daily things that have to happen to get work done and children fed and clothed and bills paid and doctors visited. 

Why on earth would I take on more?

This is the question Mr. Wonderful posed to me just this weekend. He couldn’t figure out why I was hustling and bustling about the house. And as y’all probably know, once you begin a project it somehow creates three additional projects. The cycle is exhausting so I admit, I see his point.

But in taking on our master bedroom closet, I had a little closet epiphany: bit by bit, these Wild Hair Weekends as Mr. Wonderful calls them (the ones where I get in a frenzy to get something accomplished) are really just my way of taking my life back.

Over the last four years, I have been undone and unsettled. 

Understandably.

More life change has happened during that time than any other time put together. So I keep reminding myself that the messes that are all around me are pretty normal and I have to tackle them one at a time. Easy does it. Bit by bit. 

 (photo credit femaleentreprenuersassociation.com)

It’s taken a while to get this through to my stubborn self: you mean I can’t be Wonder Woman and just make it work out right now? One snap of my silver bracelets and evil is vanquished? 

 (photo credit wonderwomanfans.tumblr.com)

I wish.

This is why the Wild Hair Weekends exist. Not just to put our family back in order but to get my soul back in order too. To give myself breathing space and sweep out the cobwebs, both literal and figurative. To lessen the clutter and free myself of the baggage.

The struggle is real, but it will be so worth it. 

At least that’s what I’m telling myself….  (Photo credit Meredith Shafer)–My latest project, a desk for my office. I’ll post pics when I’m done.

┬ęCopyright Meredith Shafer 2015. Swing by Instagram and Twitter to say hi!

Running Just as Fast as I Can

If you know me, you understand I’m using my title ironically. I don’t run. Unless something scary is chasing me.

 (Photo credit Thug Life shirts)

But it feels like with all the pieces of my world swirling around I am running to catch up. I choose to believe that even though it feels like things are falling apart some days, they are really just falling into place.

I just need to figure out how to stop running.

It’s hard, because when I take a look at my life, I’m not sure what I can drop or remove or take away. I feel as if we’ve already culled all extraneous things, people and events: I can’t cut much more or I’ll be slicing bone.

I’m not built for speed. I’m built for yoga or weight training or walking but never for speed. So where does that leave those of us who are running to catch up, mostly due to life circumstances?

I don’t have the answers, but I do have a handful of ideas that I’ll be trying to implement. For instance, if I’m going to do all the caregiving I do–both for my four munchkins and for my disabled vet hubby–I need to make sure I’m taking care of me. For me this means getting exercise, reading for fun, talking to girlfriends and finding a space in my head and my house for some peace and quiet.

 (photo credit 3amdad.tumblr.com)

And finding time to drink copious amounts of coffee.

 (photo credit mrcoffee.com)

I also need to have a weekly Date Night with the man I caregive for so that we remain connected as lovers and friends. Otherwise it’s more like I’m nurse and he’s patient, which he wouldn’t mind at certain times if you get my drift, but in real every day life that’s hard on a relationship.

Spending quality time with each of my kiddos is also in my priority list. Not just in a hurry-up-get-ready-for-school-eat-your-breakfast sort of way, but really spending time talking with and listening to each kid’s heart. With lots of kids in the house I’m still trying to find my way through this.

 (Photo credit lifelovelauren.com)

Getting organized is also in my master plan to rule the world. Or at least my life. We’ve had some obstacles here between all the kids, a couple of moves, trying to survive 2013, publishing a book, getting creative enough to write another, and all the mountains of paperwork required by the VA for retirement and disability and caregiving. Have I mentioned that each department within the VA can’t see the paperwork we already submitted to another department? Just means an avalanche of papers are threatening to take over my life.

So while I’m theoretically running to catch up with my life and my loves, I’m reminding myself that giving myself a break and counting my blessings are a necessary part of this process. For my survival.

And my sanity.

 (photo credit Instagram)

┬ęCopyright Meredith Shafer 2015. Swing by Instagram and Twitter to say hi!