How to Be the Star of Your Own Show by monthtomilestones.com

How to Be the Star of Your Own Show

Do you find yourself watching other people?

I don’t mean casually checking out a soul here or there.

Do you social media stalk, or celebrity-watch, or keep tabs on the big wigs in your community?

Or do you live through your children, maybe? You weren’t popular so you want to make sure your daughter is. Or you push your son to play sports or go out for student government.

Do you weasel your way into mom groups you want to be a part of? Insert yourself into places you weren’t exactly invited but just know you need to be?

Maybe you’re done raising children, and the pressures of trying to be super mom and make them super children are over.

Or maybe you’ve never had children and it’s just been you.

Do you find yourself obsessively watching every reality show on the planet, wishing you had a Kardashian or Kathy Hilton-crazy life?

These are telling questions, but the most important is this:

At the end of the day, was the day itself the kind of day you have always hoped for?

I know every day won’t be perfect, but still.

Are you living a consistently content life?

I have to tell you the truth: I had not been.

For years, past trauma left me sleep-walking through life.

I would try to move forward, but something from my past would catch a hold of my brain and become a hamster wheel of negative self-talk that I couldn’t move past.

I would drink to distract, eat to comfort, binge-watch YouTube to escape.

And all those actions did was leave me feeling more distraught and anxious.

I’d jump back on the hamster wheel with a whole new conversation of negative self-talk.

Did anyone else believe 2020 was going to be the visionary year of change?

I know I did. I remember writing in my 2019 journal about all the many ways this new decade would bring out a new me.

It brought out a new me, alright. A me who was more insecure, less content, and angrier than ever.

But those feelings actually had started long before 2020.

After the birth of my fourth child in 2010, I turned 30.

I realized that I’d lost all my twenties to child-rearing, which I did not regret at all, but that I still wasn’t any closer to feeling content with my life.

Getting married so young, every year was an act of trying to survive, and in the midst of raising small children, just trying to keep your sanity felt like success.

But now here I was, thirty, and I felt no closer to getting anywhere that anyone would deem “successful.”

The only thing I ever knew how to do was work with children or teach, and so, once again, before long, I jumped back into a profession I really didn’t even like all that much.

Because it was all I knew.

We do that, don’t we? We choose comfort, and often times, it’s not even comfortable.

The kind of comfort that’s based on laziness really isn’t comfortable at all.

Because that kind of safety is based on fear. It’s rooted in remaining with what we know rather than taking a leap of faith to what we could be.

Thus began a cycle for me: return to teaching, go back to my old ways, hate my life, want to make a change, take a new teaching job, hate it, go back to my old ways, hate my life, want to make a change…

A vicious cycle that left me in a new city (thought it would make me happy), in an old house (I wanted a project), and with about twenty pounds more weight and a serious self-condemnation problem due to my struggles with alcohol…

Which I was drinking in order to not feel all of the above.

It’s a real smack-my-head kind of thing. From the outside, one might look at my life and say, How could she not see what she was doing?

But I was so not focused on my own life that I missed what I was doing to myself.

I was busy focused on other people, and I was jealous that I couldn’t make my own life better.

What I thought was going to be the year that I had my greatest success- 2020- ended up being one of the quietest years of my life.

With no one doing anything because of the pandemic, I was able to take a giant step back and reassess where I was going and why.

When 2021 hit, I’d built up such a restful resistance, I like to call it, that when all hell broke loose: job issues, Covid, death, suicide, children leaving home– I was able to survive.

In other words, if the worst thing ever had not happened, I would have crumbled when my life changed so drastically, so fast.

What occurred instead was that I had an epiphany. I was destroying myself, and it was on me, and only me to change.

It was time to be the star of my own show.

And what I learned about starring in my own life is what I hope will help you change yours:

To star in your own show you have to take your eyes off of other people.

You can’t look outside before you look inside. I had to get to the heart and soul of why I’d been living the same cycle of misery for years on end.

It started with reframing my past.

One day, every member of my family left the house. I grabbed a candle, turned on some music and sat.

I began to recall many moments from my past that were hurtful and had left open wounds.

I sat outside of myself in each memory, really trying to understand what was happening in each moment, and putting myself in my own shoes or the shoes of the person who hurt me, and attempting to assess each scenario in a new light.

Then, I pictured what my “perfect” life would look like (understanding, of course, that no life is perfect).

When I was done, I wrote down that new life. I taped it inside the back cover of my journal, and I read it daily.

Every time I would speak, I would think about what I was going to say: was it going to help or hurt me? Hang or harbor others?

Every time I would eat, I would ask if there was a reason behind my eating. Am I hungry? Angry? Tired? Lonely?

I began cleaning my house daily, a huge step for me, since I thought cleaning was pointless. Everything had been pointless up to that point.

I committed to lifting weights just 15 minutes a day, 4 times a week.

I started walking my dogs and listening to good Ted Talks on the journey.

I stopped drinking alcohol altogether.

And I now take a Sunday drive, every single Sunday, where I sing, pray, cry and listen to God’s voice inside me.

If you’re going to be the star of your show, everyone else must become a costar, a guest, or an audience member.

And that’s okay. They’re busy starring in their own show, as they should be.

In fact, they’re so busy, they probably haven’t even bothered to check out your new season.

No one is watching us nearly as much as we think they are.

And this is comforting, really. Because it allows us to deep dive into the wide waters of discovering who we are.

Some people will quit you midseason- that’s okay.

You may change the script- that’s okay.

The ratings might go down for awhile- that is really okay!

Just don’t give up on yourself.

If you’re one of those who have read this and thought: Starring in your own show is so narcissistic, I’d ask you to reconsider.

We have far too many martyrs out there in the world, women who have sacrificed their whole lives being miserable so that others could be happy.

We have far too many women who were never told they could, so they didn’t.

Women who were never given the green light to create their own projects or to write their own narrative.

Women who gave up.

We need more women who are audaciously authentic, consistently content and who practice restful resistance.

@monthtomilestones.com

Those are the stars who shine the brightest.

And they make the world a better place.

In what ways are you wanting to be the star of your own show in the coming year? What changes do you hope to make? I’d love to hear from you.

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how to move forward

For the Love of the Game

We took a trip this weekend to watch a minor league baseball team.

Biloxi Shuckers
No Better Place to Be

We have a family friend playing, a sweet boy who is living out his dream, a dream that my thirteen-year-old son also has hidden in his heart.

Many boys and girls dream of the one day when they will…

Play ball.

Dance professionally.

Run a company.

Write a book.

What dreams did you dream when you were young?

I thought about my own childhood dreams on the way home today. The five hour drive left me with plenty of time to reminisce on days gone by.

There was the street we passed that reminded me of the weekend I stayed there at fourteen, just a year or so older than my son is now.

Barely knowing the young woman who owned the house, a friend and I spent that weekend with her getting drunk and kissing older boys, making decisions that someone as young as I was should not have been allowed to make.

There were times that choices like that were placed on my shoulders, and, not understanding future consequences, I will admit to making the wrong decision almost every time.

Where does blame get placed when there’s nowhere for it to go?

Does responsibility disappear with forgiveness?

Can bad choices eventually be seen as God’s Providence?

Does God’s Providence erase horrific hurt?

I don’t know.

I’ve found myself saying I don’t know a lot lately.

I don’t know the answer to your question about Creation.

I don’t know the reason why things happen the way they do.

I don’t know what I think about certainty when it comes to a mysterious God.

I don’t know.

I don’t.

What I’m seeing is that the I don’t knows of life drive many to say, “I don’t believe.”

They give up on any kind of something because their answers turn up nothing.

That kind of despair is not only disheartening, it’s terrifying.

Where there is disillusionment, there is trouble…right?

Except…

What if there’s not?

What if it’s not only okay, but completely normal, to question God?

What if He’s big enough to handle my human concern?

What if He’s already built within the framework of humanity, the capacity to seek and find?

And when finding doesn’t come easily, to lie in wait–and, even with that discomfort–to be okay? Content, even?

What if He really is love? What if He really is joy and peace and blessing and all those many things we so desperately need Him to be?

Track with me here, but what if our faith-walk was like the baseball game I watched last night?

Seven innings, some slow, some flying. Some confusing and some perfectly clear.

Some innings filled with monotony, and some filled with action.

The fans are cheering and jeering. The players are succeeding and failing.

The umpires, ruling the game, make some good calls and some bad ones. They are human, after all.

But the overall game is sweet. There is joy in the journey from first inning to seven.

And in the end, the players are okay. Some are battered and bruised, some have lost that particular game.

But deep down, they’re all winning because they have a love for the game.

What matters more than anything in those hours they play is that they all work together. If one stumbles, the others lift that one up. No one takes too much credit, even if in one particular game, some do more work than others.

They love each other because they love the game.

Milwaukee Brewers Double-A team Biloxi Shuckers ready to embark on 55-game  road trip
espn.com

The last few days I’ve been listening to “The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill,” a podcast by Christianity Today.

For me, it’s one more link to the chain I’ve been wrapping around my heart when it comes to blocking out Evangelical Christianity.

I’ve known the fruit is rotten on the dying tree for some time, but I haven’t been able to fully understand why I thought that or what was causing me to all of a sudden speak out about it.

As I’ve said in a previous post, when I saw the January 6 insurrection on the Capitol, I saw every belief I’d known was wrong my whole life crumble before my eyes.

It was then that I realized it was time to stand up and speak up for what I knew to be true about my Creator.

He’s either loves what He created or not. It doesn’t go both ways.

He either forgives fully on the cross or He doesn’t forgive at all. It doesn’t go both ways.

He’s either a Creator or a Destroyer. But I’ve never known a Perfect Creator find a need to Destroy what He’s created. There’s something about that belief that all of us know inherently just can’t be right.

At some point in humanity, the “He gets to do what He wants” answer stopped working. We either had to start coming up with excuses about God, or we had to start questioning why we thought what we thought about Him in the first place.

My own questioning grew deeper as I began to teach medieval history. I’ll share more about that at a later date.

Father, I am seeking: I am hesitant and uncertain, but will you, O God, watch over each step of mine and guide me. - Saint Augustine
azquote

But suffice it to say, my faith blew up. And much like the people at Mars Hill, my deconversion from Evangelicalism was swift and slow, all at the same time.

Like a baseball game, my faith journey has had highs and lows. I’ve both screamed at God and begged Him to choose me. I’ve thought of myself as a Vessel of Truth and a Vessel of Wrath. I’ve hated myself and loved myself.

I’ve hit home runs and struck out.

The best action I’ve ever taken in my life was to stay in the game. To change some positions (my thoughts about God and who He is), to give up some things that were holding me back (drinking, judging, and distracting), and to commit to finishing.

It’s a privilege we have to be able to choose to love the game.

I won’t take that privilege lightly. I won’t fake my beliefs, stop asking questions, or refuse to love the earth and all that is in it.

I won’t give up believing.

Like the players on the field, I have important people watching.

And they need to see that it’s okay to not have all the answers…

And to still love the game just the same.

Have you listened to The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill? If so, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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Bible verse from 1 peter 4:8 monthtomilestones.com

What Else, but Love?

“…the greatest of these is love…” 1st Corinthians 13:13

One of my favorite things to do in the morning is to grab my coffee and computer, my Bible and my journal, and watch the sunrise from the second-story deck of my split-level home.

My backyard is full of trees, and the birds and crickets begin their early-morning singing promptly at 5 am.

The sun these days doesn’t rise until 6:15 or so, and in the meantime, I light my citronella candles (to keep those pesky mosquitos away), and I talk to my Creator as I watch my dogs stalk the neighbors’ yard (because to them, my neighbors–some of the nicest people you’ll meet–are the enemy).

The sun rises perfectly every morning, just to the left of my line of vision, through a small clearing in the trees.

In the winter, when the leaves are dead and the trees are bare, I can see the sun more clearly, and it shines more brightly.

But in the summer, I pay less attention to the sun because the rays throw such a brilliance on the greenery around me, I’m stunned by the beauty of my yard and less focused on the sun itself.

This morning it occurred to me that my walk with God is a lot like the sun rising.

When times are good, I seem to be more focused on what I have, what’s going well and what I want more of. I still see God, but I’m not as connected to Him as I am to the gifts He’s giving me.

But when times are bad, when my life feels dead, I see Him more clearly. Even in times when it seems like I’ve lost His vision or I can’t hear Him, my focus on finding Him is larger than my focus on what I have.

The strange thing is, the same sun is there, “rising” or “setting” to us, though in its fixed position, we only call it that. We’re the ones moving, not the sun.

Native American quote on nature- by monthtomilestones.com

In the same way, I don’t believe God hides. The Creator is always there, always in His fixed position, though we move. We lose our focus, or we gain new insight, we change our mind, or we decide maybe we were okay all along.

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about my views on love. How we love, who we love, what love even means.

I believe God is love. Love is creating. Love is remaining. Love is choosing.

One of the biggest objections I have to taking the Bible literally is the idea some people hold that God has created an entire group of people as “vessels of wrath,” which in most of Christianity means people he ordained to burn in hell forever.

I’m sorry, but what man would willingly choose to put his trust or faith in a God who creates human beings just to burn them for eternity?

We should really sit with that. I don’t think Christians give enough thought to their beliefs about an eternal hell.

For example, there’s a statistic somewhere that says something to the effect of, 62% of Americans believe in a literal eternal hell, but only 1% believes they’re going there.

So basically, people who believe in hell, believe it was created for someone else.

Convenient, huh?

And among those people, many of them profess to be Christian.

So here’s what I don’t get: If we call ourselves Christ-followers, then it would flow that our greatest act would be to follow Jesus.

And if Jesus’ greatest commandment was: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind, and Love your neighbor as yourself” (which he called equal–in other words, you can’t have one without the other), then…

Are we really following the commandment of God? I mean, if we are to love our neighbor as ourselves, and we truly believe there will be people burning in hell for all eternity…

Then, shouldn’t we be dropping every single thing on earth to make sure this doesn’t happen?

But we don’t.

And I have a theory as to why:

Deep down, none of us really believes in a literal hell.

We want to. It would certainly make sense that the bad people would go to hell and the good people to heaven, right?

Or, when speaking Christianese, those that God chose will go to Heaven, but those that God rejected would go to hell…

Or, those that put their faith in Christ would share in his glory while entire people groups who don’t know Christ will burn for eternity…

It’s easy to surface-level believe those things, right?

But it’s quite another to really sit in that belief and picture it in your mind.

Human beings…burning…for eternity.

Where’s the love in that?

Believe what you will. But as for me and my household, we’re going to choose love.

The love that redeems all, conquers all, renews all.

The love that finds the Jewish man on the side of the road, and, even being the bad Samaritan, cares for him, carries him, and pays his debts.

The love that bashes in temples, tears down cathedrals and hangs dead things like sin on a cross.

The love that comes back and says, “I choose you.” Forever.

As I sat and watched my sun rise this morning, I thought, “I could be totally wrong about this, but I’m willing to take my chance on redeeming love.”

I’m willing to love those that certain Christian groups tell me not to.

I’m willing to love those that certain Christian groups support, even when I don’t.

I’m willing to love those who look different, talk different and believe different.

I’m willing to love when I’m tired of loving and don’t really want to love again.

I’m willing to love when I don’t understand, when I need to sit down, when I need to speak.

Before the sun peeked through the trees, I said to God, “I know this house won’t be here someday.”

Because they all fall.

“I know I won’t be here one day.”

Because we all die.

“I know that America might not exist one day.”

Because kingdoms crumble.

“I know that I will be a faded memory to someone, someday.”

Because we forget.

So let me go; let my house go, my people go, my country go, knowing that I left behind a legacy of love.

For love covers over a multitude of sins. (1 Peter 4:8)

How are your views on Christianity and the love of God changing? I’d love to hear from you.

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Bible verse from 1 peter 4:8 monthtomilestones.com

How to Overcome the Bad Habit Your Brain Loves

How to Overcome the Bad Habit Your Brain Loves

I am enjoying sobriety in a way I never have before.

During previous breaks from drinking, I always counted the days until I could end my self-imposed exile from alcohol and enjoy an afternoon glass of wine again.

I would tell myself that the new me would be different. I would stop at one glass (magically!), and I would skip days in between drinking.

It’s funny that I never noticed the correlation between alcohol and anxiety.

Never did I stop to think that the rules I was setting in regards to my drinking was a major warning sign that my self-control was haywire.

No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t stop drinking. I wanted to, but I didn’t want to.

I needed alcohol, but I knew I didn’t need it.

I craved the way it made me feel, but I despised it the next morning.

It wasn’t until a binger that ended my drinking for good (I’ll tell you in a moment why I’m holding onto that truth), that woke me up to the conflict in my life surrounding alcohol and my ability to control myself when drinking it.

I’d long known that I was drinking as an escape. I’d figured it out during one of the worst periods of my life, when I was using my nightly wine sessions as a way to forget all the pain of the day.

My job was awful, my marriage was crumbling and I was in a full-blown midlife crisis.

I was unhealthy and I was unhappy.

But I didn’t know how to change.

The truth was, all of my problems with alcohol were hidden in my problems with change.

It wasn’t the drinking of the alcohol that was bothering me. It was the shame I felt because I couldn’t stop.

I couldn’t change the things in my life that were bothering me.

But the reason I couldn’t change was because my thinking was all wrong.

Because I’d been raised in a traumatic environment, my thinking had become based on survival.

Survival mode is the lowest from of thinking, as Mel Robbins calls it, thinking from the “lizard brain.”

Baseline, lizard brain thinking is when your brain flies on autopilot and seeks comfort as a means to survive.

Changing your life is anything but comfortable.

So my brain was protecting me by doing the thing it did best: making decisions for me based on comfort.

But the comfort was bringing me anxiety, which was creating conflict in my brain.

The conflict was a signal that I needed to heal; but because I also suffered from something called Black/White Thinking, I didn’t know how to heal. Healing felt too hard because black/white thinking is all or nothing thinking.

And all or nothing is impossible. Humans aren’t made for perfection. We learn from failure and mistakes.

I woke up the morning after my binge with a realization that I could remain in conflict with myself and probably die, or I could live with a few years of discomfort if that’s what it took to change my habits.

Slowly but surely, month after month, I began my change.

It started with replacing my morning social media scroll, which made me feel worthless, with a Bible study and a 15 minute dumbbell workout. I still allow myself 15 minutes on social media, and I make time for pinning goodies on Pinterest, which my creative brain loves. But I no longer stay stuck in the frozen zone.

I also replaced my afternoon-that-went-into-the-evening wine session with a cup of aloe vera juice in a beautiful glass. I get just as much pleasure but zero anxiety because I know I’m making a better choice.

Finally, I write my concerns down before I sleep. Nothing about my life has changed all that much. I’m still not crazy about my job, I’ve settled with the understanding that my marriage is never going to be a Hallmark movie, and I’m constantly working on my weight.

But when I write those cares down and release them to God (you’re free to call Him whatever you’d like), I go to sleep in relative peace, knowing they’re out of my control and I’ve done all I could that day.

Forgiveness has also become the biggest change–and the best gift–I’ve given both myself and others. Nothing soothes the soul like truly letting go of the past.

And over time, my brain has formed new habits. I’ve retrained my pathways to find new things I love.

I’m not perfect, and I never will be.

But I’m content, and that’s good enough for me.

How have you replaced bad habits with good? What do you still struggle to change? I’d love to hear from you.

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*Visit the MonMil Goods store to rock sobriety in style! And be on the look out for our Month to Milestone bracelet, coming soon.

How to become more positive
When it comes to aging, stop looking at social media and start looking at real people.

Ladies, When It Comes to Aging, Don’t Believe What You See (the morning after J-Lo)

Jennifer Lopez is all over my news feed today, and I’m guessing it’s because she made quite the impression last night at the MTV Video Music Awards.

Jennifer Lopez Made a Surprise 2021 VMAs Appearance
Getty Images

I’d like to note something:

  1. Who over the age of 35 is still watching the VMA’s? And among that group, is Madonna really still relevant? I question this as she’d popped up on my feed, as well, wearing this:
Madonna VMAs 2021 Appearance: Old
MTV Screenshot

I’m not dissing anyone who enjoys a good award show, even one as campy as the VMAs.

But here is what I will diss, because I just don’t get it, and I continue to be baffled by it daily:

Why does the world celebrate when a woman doesn’t “age?”

No, seriously. Think about it. Why does it make the news if J-lo looks hot in a dress or if Madonna can pull off a skin tight, diamond-studded brassier and panty set?

Why are we proud of them, as evidenced by the news coverage?

Do the women who write these articles realize the message it sends out to the rest of the world?

I’ll never forget when J-lo and Shakira danced in the Super Bowl.

I personally had no problem with it. I was not among those calling it tasteless and trashy.

I thought it was fun.

But what I did find tasteless were the comparisons made to Blanche on Golden Girls, such as this one:

Mean tweet about Jlo being better than Blanche Devereaux just because she looks younger due to new anti-aging techniques
tastlelessmeme

Why are women no longer allowed to age?

And furthermore, if we’re going to celebrate the fact that these ladies still look young-ish, can we also celebrate the men and women–and social media apps–who make them appear that way?

  • Can we celebrate the plastic surgeon who’s pumping them full of botox and fillers? Who’s nipping and tucking away at parts of their body?
  • Can we celebrate the makeup artist who knows how to make this wrinkle disappear in that light?
  • Can we celebrate the clothing designers who design hundreds of thousands of dollars worth the clothing specifically for their body shape?
  • Can we celebrate the Instagram and tiktok filters that change the very faces and bodies of these celebrities?

One thing I hope we won’t celebrate is how stupid we are to keep celebrating this.

Did women really come this far to continue to be held down by such ridiculous standards as looking younger than you really are?

Is this really the mountain we plan to die on?

If so, let me go ahead and trek down the side of that thing. Because I refuse.

Let me grow old gracefully, world.

Let me wash my face, and wear my makeup, and get up every day and get dressed in a decent manner.

Let me eat good food and walk my dog and maybe lift the occasional dumbbell.

But if I’m going to fret about whether or not I look more like J-lo or Blanche Devereaux, then you know I have given up on life.

Because there is one direction we’re all going, and that is to Oldsville. And whether J-lo gets there now or later, she’s still getting there the same way I am.

And I’m not going to waste my time in denial about the simple truth that one day we will all die.

We’re living in a day where we have convinced ourselves that the world can be perfect and we can live forever.

Sorry, friends, that’s just not the case.

So fret about it if you want, I’m going to eat my breakfast, walk my dog, hop in the shower and put on my drugstore makeup…

while I watch a little Golden Girls before work.

What do you think the worst message being sent to young girls and women is today? How are you fighting it? I’d love to hear from you.

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When it comes to aging, stop looking at social media and start looking at real people.
a picture of the bible verse 1 corinthians

Who Are You Twenty Years After September 11?

I bet that if you close your eyes, you can picture exactly where you were when you heard about 9/11.

My husband was at the field house of our college having his shoulder looked at. A baseball player, he’d gotten used to these daily massages for his pitching arm, and he would sit at the field house and watch the news while the doctor checked on him.

I was at the bank, opening our first joint checking account. We’d just gotten back from our honeymoon, a quick trip after a small wedding the Saturday before.

Our son was two and a half months old, still just a little pea in a stroller beside me, my foot rocking the wheels back and forth as he enjoyed his morning nap inside the bank.

My cell phone rang as I was about to sign what felt like my twentieth document.

Hey, babe, tell the bank lady to turn on the news. There’s been a terrible accident at the Twin Towers in NYC. A plane flew into…

And then, Oh my gosh, oh no. This wasn’t an accident. We’re being attacked.

He’d just witnessed the second tower getting hit.

The three of us, my husband, me and our newborn son, had just moved to a new city to attend the state college where he would play baseball.

We felt incredibly alone, the three of us, in a new place, not having a clue whether that little town would be next and what else was going to happen.

We sat glued to the television. Everyone did. It was talked about endlessly over the next few months, as we cleaned the remnants of what once was and sent our men and women off to fight a never-ending war, a war that, for all intents and purposes, has been happening not since September 11, but since extreme forms of religions first came at odds with the rest of the known world.

I don’t know that we can win a war fought so deeply based on feelings. I don’t know that anyone has ever had the power to change another person’s mind.

But I’ve changed. In twenty years, I’ve changed a whole lot.

In the Last Twenty Years:

I’ve given birth to three more children, and they’ve changed my heart, my life and my body in unimaginable ways.

I’ve lost special people and animals, like my favorite grandmother and my first dog.

I’ve made some awful mistakes, said some harsh words, almost destroyed sacred gifts, and had to ask for mountains of forgiveness.

I’ve been a great and a terrible friend.

I’ve left home and found home.

I’ve discovered that who I was is not who I am meant to be.

I’ve allowed dreams to die, and birthed new ones.

I’ve sent two babies into the world, and I’ve held loosely the two I still have at home.

I’ve stayed married longer than my parents. And I’m happy.

The most important way I’ve changed in twenty years, however, has nothing to do with me, and everything to do with the One who made me:

In Twenty Years, I’ve learned that at the core of every human being is a longing to be loved, valued and accepted.

And in loving my neighbor, I am fighting every evil act imaginable.

Because love conquers all.

Where were you twenty years ago today? How have you changed and what have you learned? I’d love to hear from you.

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a picture of the bible verse 1 corinthians
Where were you that day?

a quote by George R R Martin by monthtomilestones.com

Why You Really Miss Your Childhood

When I was a little girl, we lived in a small, white, two-story house on a quiet street.

Our immediate neighbors were older, but down the street lived children to play with, a creek to ride our bikes through, and all the popsicles in outside freezers you could find on a sunny day.

We spent spring through fall running the streets together. Rarely were friends allowed inside houses.

In the winter we were too busy celebrating Halloween, then Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Valentine’s Day (which, in elementary school, was a huge deal) to worry about the bike riding.

Before long, it would be spring break, then Easter, and we’d be back to playing outside.

We knew two days by heart: when school started and when it ended.

My childhood wasn’t full of rainbows and unicorns. I endured a childhood that included alcoholism, abuse and divorce.

After my parents split up, there were nights I wasn’t sure where my food was coming from and days I didn’t know how I was getting to school without my own two feet (and our town was definitely not a walking town).

I think it was then, around fifteen or so, that I started to long for the simpler days of childhood.

The days where I could come home from school, make a snack, head upstairs to do homework while watching The Brady Bunch, and never wonder about what was going to happen to my family next.

Nights where TGIF was my biggest concern and I wasn’t worrying about my mom’s new boyfriend or how we were going to pay the light bill this month.

You’d think that I would delay growing up in an attempt to reclaim those innocent days of youth.

But I did the opposite. I married at twenty, and had four children before thirty.

I’m no psychologist, but I think there’s something behind starting a family so young.

People nowadays are too selfish to do it. We want to “find ourselves” or “live our life.”

When you start a family young, you’re either running towards someone or running away from something.

I was definitely running away.

I thought that having a new family could magically fix my issues.

Being a good mother would somehow make me forget that I hadn’t had that great of an experience with my own.

Having a husband would make me forget about the days I hated my father for his control and his madness.

Of course, no healing happened.

In fact, children opened wounds I didn’t know existed.

I celebrated twenty years of marriage yesterday.

My husband and I are proud, no doubt.

Married young, one child going into the marriage, one not far behind.

No money, no direction, no jobs.

Yet, we stuck it out. Through peaks and valleys, we woke up and chose to try again, day by day, for two decades.

We’re not special, and we’re certainly not alone. Many couples have fought harder and stayed together longer.

We’re also no better than anyone else. A couple choosing to end a marriage doesn’t deserve shame or judgment. They deserve empathy and community.

When people ask my husband and me how we did it, we both answer with one word:

Childhood.

His was wonderful and ideal. Mine, while not as surreal, also left me with a few good memories I cherish.

And maybe that’s what I really miss, after all.

It’s not so much that my childhood was perfect. It wasn’t.

It’s not the TV shows, the bike rides, the kids in the neighborhood, the holidays.

No, it’s remembering what I once had that no longer exists.

My family. What we were. What we’ll never be again.

It’s not the childhood I miss.

It’s the innocence that resided within it.

What do you miss about childhood? What’s changed in your life since you’ve gotten older? I’d love to hear from you.

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a quote by George R R Martin by monthtomilestones.com
a colorful display with fight the need to please

What Happens in Your Relationships When You Begin to Tell the Truth

How many among us have what one of Oprah Winfrey’s most prolific guests, Gary Zukav, coined The Disease to Please?

Many of us are born with a personality built to cater to others. We’re nurturers, listeners, and maybe also a tad on the indecisive side, and so naturally, we tend to go with the flow.

Others of us were raised around people who demanded our obedience. We walked on eggshells and constantly tried to do whatever it took to make them happy.

Maybe you’re a little of both. A little timid, you also were born to a mother or father, or both, who needed you to be their “yes man.”

As you grew older, you transferred that need to please to other situations. You never went against the grain in school. You did whatever your boss told you to do without questioning. You allowed your spouse to walk all over you.

What happens when we’re eaten up with a need to please is that we begin to lie to ourselves.

Have you ever found yourself in a scenario like these?

  • Your husband wants the house on the corner, but you know the house down the hill would be more suitable for the children, and, let’s face it, you’re around them more, anyway. But you give in to your husband’s wants because you don’t care to argue.
  • Your boss needs you to work a weekend. You’d planned a huge day at the zoo for your children, and, technically, it’s nowhere in your contract to give up a needed rest on a weekend. But you give in to your boss’s wants because you’re too afraid to say no.
  • A friend asks you to go on a girls trip that will cost a good twenty-five hundo. You don’t have anywhere near that amount to blow, but your best friend has always gotten her way where you’re concerned. (In fact, everyone has always gotten their way where you’re concerned. You seem to attract these people.) So you give in and now you can’t pay the light bill. And honestly? You didn’t even have a good time!

Over time, this “Disease to Please” begins to eat at our soul.

We find ourselves questioning every answer, judgment and decision we make.

We no longer trust our own heart.

I was raised in a home with a very controlling father.

His story is his to tell, and honestly, I’m not really sure what made him the way he was.

But I remember my mother cowering in corners after standing up for herself, and I recall vividly many instances where she, my brother and I were forced to make decisions we did not want to make, since my dad was “the man of the house.”

Eventually, his controlling nature and lack of genuine love destroyed our family (for the record, my mother was no saint).

And unbeknownst to me, I carried this eggshell-walking into every other relationship I had.

If you had told me that’s what I was doing, I wouldn’t have believed you. I thought myself to be an authentic, independent girl.

But really, I became whoever I needed to be to please whoever I was around.

Does that sound familiar? What about this?

  • Do you act one way around one group of people and another way around the next?
  • Do you change your beliefs and opinions to match those around you?
  • Do you refuse to speak out against injustice or wrongdoing because you’re afraid to rock the boat?
  • Do you choose to dress differently than you’d like or live contrary to what you want because you’re terrified of what others will think?

I lived that way for so many years. I was so afraid to be who I really was because who I really was felt like “too much” for some people to handle.

So I sank further down into the depths of depression. I ate to distract. I drank to numb.

And I was miserable.

Then, 2020-2021 hit. These years have been like a giant bomb dropping on my life.

So much has remained the same about my life. My job didn’t change, I didn’t get a divorce, or run away from my children or responsibilities.

And yet, I am a completely different person. I stopped letting people I didn’t even care about walk all over me. I started telling my husband the truth about what I wanted and needed.

I began to love my kids for exactly who they are and allowed them to grow where they are.

I no longer told my boss yes when I wanted to say no.

I now speak up about political and social issues that I used to flip flop on because I was scared of disappointing my father. (And my Father. But that’s story for another day.)

I’m not completely out of my “Disease to Please” mode. I still feel that urge to dance around my desires and to walk on eggshells to please some people.

But every day, I’m growing. I’m learning to tell the truth about who I am and what I want.

I consider myself lucky. My truth isn’t something that will shake the foundations of life around me.

For some of us, the truth about who we are is something we battle every single day.

Telling your family you’re attracted to the same sex.

Deciding you no longer believe in the God of your youth.

Choosing to move halfway across the world so that you can heal far away from those who hurt you.

Learning that you aren’t the person your spouse married and it might be time to move on.

These are tough, heart-crucifying situations.

But being who God created you to be is what you were put on this Earth to do.

And I believe that the more truth-tellers we grow, the more beautiful this world will be.

Because nothing is more satisfying than a heart at peace with itself.

Do you struggle with a “Disease to Please”? How are you working through it? I’d love to hear from you.

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a list of how to lose weight slowly

Why You Should Lose Weight Slowly

To be fat in the 1980s was a big deal.

I remember many days when my brother, slightly bigger than the rest of the kids his age (but not at all big compared to many kids today), would come home from school exhausted after enduring hours on end of bullying over his weight.

Diet after diet, my parents tried their hardest to help him lose. But no matter what they did, no matter what he did, my brother could not shed the weight.

He most likely eats for a totally different reason now, probably more to emotionally squash the pain than to nourish his body.

But unlike the 1980s, today there are millions of us just like him.

It’s no secret that our waistlines have grown. A lot.

And while we could sit here and discuss all day the reasons behind that and the people we could blame, the truth is, the entire world plays a part in our problems with obesity.

  • Technology, a good thing, caused us to be more sedentary, a bad thing.
  • Fast food, a tasty thing, introduced us to easy access to large portion sizes, a bad thing.
  • New science in the food industry, a good thing, brought us highly palatable, processed food, a bad thing.
  • And most importantly, our brain, a good thing, seeks at any cost to comfort and protect us from difficulty, a bad thing.

It’s almost as if we humans have lost all ability to control ourselves.

I had the type of childhood where you ate what was given to you without complaint or you didn’t eat at all.

Rarely didn’t we go out to eat; we simply didn’t have the money.

My mom gave us cereal for breakfast, a small snack, sandwich and chips for lunch, an afterschool snack, and dinner.

I never went without food and really don’t even remember complaining, except on nights when we had something I didn’t really like, which really wasn’t often.

In the summer, we would purchase a huge tub of ice cream, and we could have a small cup after supper.

And like most Southern families, we barbecued on Sunday and had all the fixings.

But I specifically remember only getting candy on four occasions a year: Easter, Halloween, Christmas, and when I’d saved up enough cash to walk to the gas station with my best friend, Jana, to buy Laffy Taffys and York Peppermint Patties.

Nowadays, kids have candy at their disposal 24/7, not to mention multiple snacks per day and all the fast food and eating out they could want.

Highly palatable, easily processed food has become so affordable, we don’t realize it’s also become highly detrimental to our health.

We’re also unaware of the additives being placed inside the products we buy that are growing our addictions to these foods. Our brains are quite literally changing like drug addicts’ brains in order to crave more of this highly palatable food, so that even if we want to pass it up, we simply can’t pass it up.

Around the age of fourteen, I began to use food and alcohol to distract myself from problems at home.

It started innocently enough. I would come home from dance class starving, but once again, I’d be left alone to fend for myself after my mother took a night job, my brother moved to my grandparents’ and my dad moved to another city.

I would ask friends to bring me food: fast food, little debbies, potato chips. We would watch TV and eat, eat, eat.

For years, I was able to mask the issues I had with food. (Alcohol, not so much. Most people were pretty aware I had a problem with that, even when it seemed like “normal teenage” drinking.)

I would eat whatever food had been cooked, then get in my car, go to a fast food restaurant, and eat again.

I never gained weight. Not even a little. Call it good genes, a high metabolism, or sheer luck, but I remained a 0-4 for a pretty good while.

Then, after the birth of my fourth child at 30, in 2010, a move to a new city in 2012, and a hysterectomy in 2014, my weight gain jumped drastically.

I didn’t feel like I was doing anything differently, yet, the scale was moving up faster than I could step on and off of it.

I began to yo-yo diet, and I would enter periods of deep depression and anxiety over my weight gain.

No woman likes to feel ugly. And I felt very ugly and alone.

What I eventually realized (after years of this back and forth madness) was that I had tied my value into my looks.

I’d long used my looks to get me what I wanted, and now that this part of my life was over, I felt worthless.

So, I made a decision, and it changed my life.

I decided that I would start to find value in my value alone.

Sounds strange, right? But it’s true. You’re valuable simply because you exist.

We all are.

And when I started to tell myself that, eventually, I believed it.

A funny thing happened, too. I found myself believing it about other people as well.

Whereas I used to judge others pretty harshly (while being an excellent lawyer for myself), once I started seeing my own value, I began to see their value, too.

This practice of valuing my existence created a gratitude in my soul that has completely taken my mind off of my weight.

Still, I’d like to be healthy. So lately, I’ve been focusing on staying sober, getting regular checkups, lifting heavier weights a couple of times a week, walking my dogs, and eating healthier seventy-five percent of the time.

The most important new focus I have is on my relationships. Good relationships equal healthier people.

I’m losing weight extremely slowly, but from the research I’ve read, that’s a good thing.

You see, losing weight too fast can throw your metabolism for a loop.

That whole brain-trying-to-protect-you thing will go into overdrive.

So the slower the better.

It may takes years to get where I’d like to be, and you know what? That’s okay.

Because as I always say, it’s not about the destination, it’s the journey that’s makes the living good.

In what ways have you learned to change or maintain your weight? What other unhealthy areas of your life are you working to clean? I’d love to hear from you.

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a list of how to lose weight slowly
A list of ways to heal trauma

Are We Hyper Trauma Focused?

I’ve been reading with some chagrin the events that are spiraling out of control all around us.

There’s Afghanistan, but there’s also natural disaster, such as hurricanes and forest fires.

We’ve got a future economic crisis on our hands if we don’t see manufacturing, importing and exporting go back to normal soon.

And then, of course, there’s the dreaded C word. And I don’t mean cancer.

What do you do when life seems to be falling apart around you?

The sad thing is, so many of us know all about life falling apart.

Because before there was anything catastrophic going on in the world, we were dealing with implosions of our personal lives.

Maybe it was a divorce, either yours or your parents’.

Maybe you lost your job, your home, your children.

A relationship ended or you dealt with a debilitating health crisis.

Or, like me, this has been a year filled with struggling through the painful loss of a loved one’s suicide.

The weird thing about personal pain is just that: it feels very personal.

As much as you want someone to relate to you, you feel like you’re alone.

No one could possibly understand what you’re going through.

When my parents divorced, I was only twelve years old.

I hadn’t yet even figured out who I was, let alone understood anything about marriage.

I didn’t get that two people who meet at a bar at eighteen and get pregnant, probably don’t have the best of chances at staying married without a whole lot of work.

I couldn’t possibly know that the work it takes to stay married sometimes costs a pretty hefty price, and often needs at least some sort of understanding of what a good marriage looks like in the first place.

My parents’ parents had terrible marriages, as did their parents before them. How were they supposed to magically know how to make a marriage work?

But to a child going through a divorce, none of that matters.

Children don’t want their parents to be people. They want their parents to be perfect.

They want safe and secure lifestyle, even at the cost of their parents’ happiness.

Selfishness is not a child’s fault; they’re born that way.

It takes maturity to realize how difficult adulthood actually is.

But no matter how much you grow and forgive people who hurt you, sometimes the trauma is still there.

Trauma is a buzzword these days.

We’re hearing and seeing it everywhere.

Apparently, everything causes trauma now. At least, that’s how it seems.

And it also feels like everything humans do in response to anything that happens in life is called a “trauma-response.”

Now, I don’t discount that we all probably had some things in childhood that weren’t perfect.

But goodness, you’d think every one of us was raised by wolves.

I’m not so sure I’m buying into this whole, “heal your trauma” 24/7/365 sound machine.

Especially when there’s some kind of program, mentor or life coach you need to purchase from in order to achieve success.

Call me crazy, but I’m a little wary of following a person’s life plan simply based on a ten-second Instagram reel.

And, hear me out, here, I’m starting to wonder if maybe we’re all just a little too hyper-focused on trauma lately.

I mean, let’s be honest, focusing on your painful past causes you to constantly be looking inward, at yourself.

You become blind to other people’s pain when you’re in pain, but I would also say you become blind to it when you’re focused on old pain.

And I think we can become so obsessed with past trauma, that we miss that there are people hurting all around us.

I personally believe that one of the biggest ways to heal a painful past is to pay kindness forward.

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Jesus said that. Many other spiritual leaders practiced it before and after him. ‘

We call it The Golden Rule, and it’s golden for a reason:

  1. Helping others can help you live longer. And don’t we all want a nice, long life?
  2. Giving spreads. One act of kindness carries over to another act of kindness.
  3. Helping others brings joy. A look of happiness on another’s face brings a smile to yours.
  4. Helping others can help with physical pain. Taking your mind off of the trauma that causes clear physical pain, such as headaches, nausea and joint ache happens when we reach out to others.
  5. Helping others leads our children to helping others. Parents who help raise children who are more likely to help.
  6. Helping others makes us feels like we matter. There is purpose in our pain. We can use it for good if we allow.

We are living in a world where, all around us, people are hurting.

There are many of them, the women and children in Afghanistan, for instance, who are helpless.

Have we become so focused on our own trauma that we are ignoring the cries for help from those around us?

I hope not.

Now, more than ever, we need a collective call to action.

We need to put away our own pain for a period of time to do something bigger and greater for our world.

Research ways you can help the various crises going on around you. Pick one or two and focus on making a difference.

Even if it’s not financially, you can help raise funds, minister to those in need, pray for those who are hurting.

You can make a difference.

We can make a difference.

But we must work together.

There used to be a time in the world where this was a no-brainer.

People weren’t so focused on their own hurts, habits and hang-ups.

There was a time when we recognized that life was simply messy, that good and bad things happened, the rain fell on the just and the unjust, and one day, like it or not, our time would come to pass on.

We seem to have a bit more trouble accepting those truths nowadays.

It’s like we all want to live in some perfect utopia, with perfect minds, bodies, homes and families.

We want a perfect world.

We think that hyper-focusing on “fixing” will make that perfect world possible.

A perfect world is not possible. We must realize that at some point and move on.

But we can be good. We can be decent and loving and forgiving people.

It’s time we focus on what we can be instead of what we wish we could be.

It’s time to move from the vision of a perfect world to a vision of a loving world, instead.

How have you become hyper-focused on self? What did you do to heal your trauma and move on? I’d love to hear from you.

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A list of ways to heal trauma