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“You Are the Average of the Five People You Spend the Most Time With.” Who Are Your Five?

A week and a half ago my friend and mentor Cliff Ravenscraft reached out to me and invited me to attend his workshop titled “Creating an Online Business Around Your Podcast.” I told him I had checked out the sales page but that it wasn’t in our budget. However, after further discussion with Cliff and my husband, I decided to make the investment.

As I figured it would be, the workshop was jam-packed with amazing information and Cliff’s presentation of that information was outstanding. The workshop was hosted in the Next Level Studio in Cliff’s home (“The Home That Podcasting Built”). Cliff and his family were so welcoming and hospitable. In addition to a great day and a half of content, the networking and relationships built were invaluable.

After the workshop I asked my friend Heather if I could swing by her house to say hi, as she lives just a few minutes away from Cliff. We sat on her back patio, and she asked some questions about the workshop. I answered enthusiastically, still on a high from it all.

Then Heather said, “I bet it was nice to get away and have some adult interaction.” I paused, then said, “Yeah, that was pretty nice.”

It hadn’t occurred to me until then. Sure, the workshop and relationships were awesome. But what I think refreshed me most was getting some time away to be in the presence of other adults—especially like-minded entrepreneurs who all have the same goal in mind: to build a responsible online business.

I didn’t realize how badly I needed it. The life of an entrepreneur can be incredibly isolating, especially in the early stages.

In the workshop, Cliff talked about Jim Rohn’s belief, “you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” Cliff asked us to write down the five people we spend the most time with (outside of immediate family). It could be face-to-face interaction or interaction via phone, text, social media, etc.

I began to write down my five, starting with my church family and another close friend. I then realized that other than that, most of my in-person interactions are with my kids and husband. I have close friends, but I’m not intentionally getting together with them in person or picking up the phone to call them.

Cliff then asked us to take some time in the days coming up to write down the five people we want to intentionally spend the most time with moving forward. Who are the people I want to intentionally allow to influence the way I think through direct interaction?

I realized that in order to write my list and put it into action, I am going to be making some major commitments. I’ll be committing to investing in myself by committing to spending time with and investing in others.

But how in the world am I going to do that?? I’m a full time mom building an online business on the side. I don’t have time for intentional friendships!

That’s the issue though. I historically have not made (keyword “made,” not “found”) the time to be intentional about friendships. I was very academically focused in school. I got married my senior year of college, started graduate school a year later, and went straight into a job from my grad school internship. I worked full time until I had Margaret, then gradually moved down to part time, then resigned after my maternity leave with Charles. No matter which of these stages I was in, I struggled with being intentional about friendships.

After last weekend, I decided: No more. No more playing the “I’m a tired/busy mom” card. No more neglecting the amazing friendships staring me in the face because they’re just so much work. No more excuses. No more.

Is it going to be easy? Maybe not. Is it going to be worth it? Absolutely.

Jesus wants us to live in community. After all, he spent a good deal of time with his twelve best buds. It seems to have served Him quite well.

Take some time this week to do the following exercise:

First, write down the 5 people you spend the most time with.

Second, write down the 5 people you want to spend the most time with.

Third, set a plan into action that will help you grow your relationships with those people.

It may seem like a lot of work and time that you don’t have to invest. I get that. But if you make this a priority, you’ll be amazed at the way your world changes.

Are you spending time with people who are lifting you up? Are you intentional about being around positive people who have your best interests at heart? What can you do to deepen those relationships?

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Toss the Phone and Get in On the Action!

This week’s post is short and sweet. I’m presenting a challenge to you.

Go ONE WEEK without taking pictures or videos of your children.

Now, for some of us, this is no big deal. Whatever.

For others of us, it’s unthinkable! They’re so darn cute! I have to capture these moments!

Last fall, I challenged myself to do just this. One week. No photos or videos of my kids. Man, was it difficult! There were so many adorable photo ops. Between my birthday, my friend’s daughter’s birthday, my daughter just playing around being silly, and my son, well, being an adorable 3 month old, I had a hard time keeping the phone tucked away.

In those moments, I thought, Awww, I’d love to capture this!

But then the moments passed. And I didn’t care anymore. Just like that. It’s kind of like that candy bar screaming your name in the checkout aisle. By the time you’re at your car, you’ve forgotten about it.

So what’s the big deal? Why put the camera away for a week?

Here’s the thing: While we’re busy capturing and sharing memories, were missing out on being a part of those memories.

Do we want to view our children’s lives through a lens? Or do we want to be part of the action?

Do we want our children to feel like they’re being evaluated by their ability to produce picture-worthy moments? Or do we want them to feel loved and feel connected to us?

How much time are we wasting looking to see who has commented on our latest post of our adorable kid or how many likes it’s gotten? (Guilty).

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not anti-pictures. I love pictures. But I think we’ve gotten way too obsessed with taking them, sharing them, liking them, commenting on them, and so on.

You may find yourself thinking, But they’re never going to be this small again! I don’t want to forget this moment!

Let me ask you this: What’s more important, remembering what has passed or enjoying what is right now?

So again, my challenge to you: Go ONE week without taking any pictures/video of your kids. I think you’ll be surprised and quite pleased by the results. This is an awesome experiment as we head into summer. It just might give you that little nudge to jump in on the action instead of watching and documenting it from the sidelines.

Notice how you feel more connected with your kids. So refreshing, right? From there you can decide how you’ll find a happy medium between tossing the phone and filling every gigabyte of storage with pictures and video.

Next week, come back and share you experience in the comment section below. I’d love to see how it went!

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Connect Before You Correct: The Incredible Power of Physical Touch

If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my first three and a half years as a mama is the incredible power of physical touch. In particular, physical touch as it relates to the “connect before you correct” approach to children’s behavior.

Our bodies are powerful tools when it comes to communicating our feelings.

Children are prone to hitting, scratching, flailing, shaking, biting, pulling hair/clothes/jewelry, etc. when they’re upset.

We might then react by hitting, spanking, shaking, or pushing our kids away. Putting them in time out. Sending them to another room. Cutting off our affection because they need to understand the gravity of their actions. To learn their lesson.

I want to take a look at a different approach: Connect before you correct. A huge part of this approach is the use of gentle, soothing physical touch.

Physical touch pulls us out of the intensity of the moment. It brings us together to connect and calm our emotions before addressing whatever the issue is.

Scenario:

Margaret starts throwing a tantrum because she doesn’t want the food I’m giving her for lunch. She’s refusing to get in her chair and insisting I give her something else.

I pick her up, hold her, and hug her for a few seconds. I don’t say anything about what I want her to do. I simply hold her for as long as it takes for her to clam her body.

Once she stops flailing I then explain to her, “This is the food we have made, so you need to eat it today. Would you like it in the green bowl or the orange bowl? (Providing options gives children ownership). Orange? Okay. Would you like me to put you in your chair or would you like to climb in? Climb in? Okay.” Margaret then willingly climbs in her chair and eats her beans, rice, and vegetables. She even says it’s “Yum yum yummy in my tum tum tummy.” (Daniel Tiger, anyone?) 😃

Jeremy and I have been using this approach for a year or so and it works wonderfully. I would say 9 times out of 10 it works to help Margaret calm down so we can handle the situation without out of control tantrums and drama.

Side note: Like most things with our kids, this approach is much more difficult when they’re tired. We must make sure our children are getting adequate sleep between nighttime and naps. Lack of sufficient sleep is one of the biggest contributors misbehavior in children.

Connecting before correcting helps us tune into and release some of the negative emotions we’re feeling. This can prevent us from reacting irrationally to our children’s misbehavior. It also helps keep their emotions from getting out of control.

Simply holding each other can calm down both parent and child. Sometimes it’s as much for our emotional benefit as it is for theirs.

Connecting before correcting helps us be mindful of what we’re feeling and help our children and ourselves deescalate.

So what’s next?

We acknowledge and validate our children’s feelings before we do anything else. As an example, while rubbing our child’s back we may say, “I know you want to play now. I do too. There are so many fun things to do. First, it’s time to go potty.” This way, our children first and foremost feel heard, understood, and cared for. From there, we can move forward with seeking a resolution.

If you tend to jump straight to time-outs, removing privileges, yelling, threatening, spanking, etc., I encourage you to try something different this week. Connect before you correct. It may be a hug, rubbing your child’s back, or even placing a hand on his back or arm. It’s going to be challenging, and it’s going to take a crazy amount of patience on Mom and Dad’s part.

Notice what it does to how you’re feeling. Notice how your child reacts to it. It may be awkward at first, especially if it’s something new and different. It may not work the first time. Or the second time. Or the tenth time. And it won’t work every time. But I strongly believe that if you continue this approach, you’ll begin to see an amazing change in your child’s behavior. This has the potential to radically improve the atmosphere in your home. I’ll even dare to say that it could alter the course of your child’s emotional development and ultimately, her life.

So give it a shot! Then, come back and share your experience in the comment section below!

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Whatever You’re Doing, Mama, Be Fully Present. You’re Right Where You Need to Be.

As mamas, we have so many demands on our time, pulling us in so many different directions. Many of us have a hard time focusing on what we’re doing and being fully present. If we’re at work, we’re thinking about everything we have to do when we get home. When we’re with the kids, we’re thinking about what we’re going to make for dinner and how badly the house needs to be cleaned. When we’re cleaning the house or working on a project, we feel like we should be spending time with our kids.

When our minds are constantly running and going through all the things we think we *should* be doing, we’re going to face problems.

  • Whatever we’re doing, we’re not doing well.
  • When we’re distracted, we’re going to spend more time on any given task, leaving less time for the other things we’re thinking out.
  • We’re not fully present with our loved ones.
    • When my daughter wants my attention and I’m on my phone or the computer, she’ll come up and swat my phone away or push my laptop screen down. She recognizes that I’m present but absent.

When you’re with your kids, remind yourself of the impact that time together has on them now, and the deposits you’re making towards their future. You are investing in them, and it will benefit them for years to come. No time spent fully present with your kids is ever wasted.

Don’t feel guilty for leaving tasks left unfinished. Keep your to-do list to a minimum—the bare essentials—on any given day. Know when you’re going to complete those tasks and be committed to that. This will allow you to be fully present when you’re with your loved ones. When you’re fully present in the time you do spend with your kids, you can cut down on the guilt you may feel when you’re away from your kids because that time with them is quality time.

This week, make it a point to be fully present in whatever you’re doing—working, cleaning, spending time with your spouse, playing with your kids…whatever it may be. Take note of how this impacts your time with your loved ones. Then, come back and share your experience in a comment below!

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