14 Facts of Life from My 40’s

As I approach my birthday next week and my mid-forties, I finally feel like I have a little bit of wisdom to share. So, here are 14 facts of life that I’ve learned in my 40’s.

  1. Having a loving, happy marriage is hard. Not having a loving, happy marriage is harder.
  2. Getting a good night’s sleep can make all the difference.
  3. An eyebrow tweezer doubles as the perfect tool for plucking out short, gray hair, especially the ones that stick out on the top of your head.
  4. You’ll never be as young as you are today, so don’t feel old.
  5. Your emotional health is as important as your physical health, so pay attention to what your emotions are telling you.
  6. It’s perfectly okay to take a mental health day once in a while.
  7. Show grace to people, especially those who aren’t gracious. They need it the most.
  8. It’s better to not buy 5 things on sale that you don’t really want and use that money to buy 1 thing at full price that you do want.
  9. Make an effort to get together with your friends regularly (even if you only have energy to put on sweatpants). You’ll be glad you did.
  10. The best gift you can offer someone is a listening ear.
  11. Treat your kids the way you wish your parents had treated you.
  12. Foster creativity in your life. Paint, draw, write, cook, dance, sing, knit … etc.! Your heart will thank you for it.
  13. Sometimes it’s hard to have faith. But not having faith is even harder.
  14. There has never been, nor will there ever be, anyone just like you. You are important to someone and you are needed in this world.

What insights have you learned about life? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

6 Life Lessons from 2018

Life is funny, isn’t it? For much of my life, I was eager for time to move faster (especially during the hour before the munchkins’ bedtime), but now I’m finding it slipping through my fingers like grains of sand. This year seemed to have flown by in a few blinks of an eye—one minute I was enjoying the warm days of summer; the next thing I knew, it was time to turn on the heater. Even though we’ve had our tree up for a few weeks already, I’m amazed that it’s Christmas again. I wonder if each and every year from now on will pass by just as quickly? And what will be the results of those 365 days, year after year? 

Yup, I’m feeling a bit sentimental and nostalgic and whatever other emotions one feels during mid-life. Maybe even a bit philosophical. But the one thing I wish I felt less of was anxious. Frazzled. Rushed. I long to feel the freedom and spontaneity of my youth. To feel invincible and hopeful. To believe I had all the time in the world to do all the things I wanted to do. To joyfully experience that funny and beautiful thing called life.

After 43 years on this earth, I think it’s safe to say I’ve learned at least 43 lessons about life. Some of them—okay, who am I kidding!—most of them (especially the ones about parenting) have been hard to swallow. Still many are being ingrained into that thick skull of mine. I wish I were less stubborn and more flexible to learning, but the upside is that life likes to present the same lessons to me, over and over again, so I get plenty of practice changing my perspective and attitude. What joy, right? Ha! 😉

Fortunately, writing really helps me process these life lessons, which is the reason why I started this blog in the first place—to rethink everything I thought I knew about being a perfect person, wife, mom, etc. Unfortunately, I’ve been so busy making up stories this past year that I’ve put blogging and processing on the back burner. Which is why I thought it’d be good to write down the life lessons I learned in 2018. Here they are in no particular order, except that one that my tired brain is cranking out. 🙂

  1. Everything takes work. Marriage takes work; parenting takes work; my relationship with God takes work; writing and selling books takes work; friendships take work; housework and chores take A LOT of work. I’ve come to see that work mean putting in the effort and time, but most of all, the intention. When you have the desire and motivation to push you, what seems like work becomes less laborious and more a way of being, of living.  
  2. Balance is key. You have to take care of yourself, so you can take care of those around you and do everything that life requires of you. Downtime is essential (here’s a great podcast about why) and a non-negotiable.
  3. Run your own race. The only person you need to compete with is yourself. Get wrapped up in your own progress and growth. 
  4. Give yourself credit. Don’t shortchange yourself. Celebrate your accomplishments, including the everyday ones (especially cooking and laundry!). Doing the same thing day in and day out is a lot harder than people think.
  5. The little things add up. Doing the same things on a daily basis, as mundane as they may be, builds character in the long run. I love how Romans 5:3-4 puts it: “we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” I know suffering seems like a big word, but I like to think that living in this imperfect, fallen world is an experience in suffering. It’s not always easy to love people, to stay positive, to find joy in work, or to have faith in God. But when we put one foot in front of the other, open our eyes and engage our hearts, we start to have more purpose in doing, being, and believing. Life becomes sweeter and more fulfilling as we persevere and learn and grow.
  6. Soak in all. the. moments. Take time to appreciate the ordinary because these moments will one day be the fodder of nostalgic conversations. Make memories, and make them well.

What life lessons did you learn in 2018? I’d love to hear them and learn from you. Thank you for following me on my recovering perfectionist journey this past year. I so appreciate your support. 🙂 Till next time, I hope you have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Celebrating Book Kisses and Birthday Wishes

As much of a perfectionist that I am (or try to be), there are often times when I just can’t keep all my plates spinning at once. Which means something’s gotta give … and recently, it’s been this blog. So, I do apologize for not blogging more regularly! I’ve realized I only have so much brain power and emotional reserves to write from, and unfortunately, every ounce of my mental clarity and creativity is being used for writing fiction. It’s been a whirlwind of typing and editing for the past month as I’ve been working hard to crank out some “to-market” stories.

What exactly are “to-market” stories? Well, there are books that authors write for the love of it, because the characters in our heads won’t let us live in peace until they’re down on paper. And then there are the books we need to write to make an income that helps supplement our “for love” books.

So, it was with a cautious, yet optimistic outlook that I decided to write a clean/sweet billionaire series (which are selling like hot cakes these days!). Here’s a sneak peek at my three novelettes releasing this month …

Before I wrote that series, I wrote a sweet small-town Christmas story. Holding Onto Love in Romance, which is the sequel to Chasing Romance, releases this week. I’m really happy I wrote this book, even though I likely got some new gray hair trying to write the ending!

Before I wrote that book though, I revamped the very first series that I ever wrote. The Taking Chances on Love series has brand new covers and the stories have also been edited. It had been my desire for a very long time to polish up these three novellas to reflect my growth as an author since I wrote them 3-4 years ago. I finally got around to doing it, and I’m so glad I did.

And now I’m working on book 3 in The Spark Brothers series, which is Colin and Candy’s story.

As you can imagine, there have been a lot of book kisses to celebrate lately, which is pretty normal and fun for a romance author. 🙂 But I’m also taking time out to celebrate this weekend because both hubby and I turn a year older. For the record, he’s 2 years and 3 days older than me. 😉

I’m looking forward to celebrating because the older I get, the more I realize what a privilege and blessing it is to have another birthday. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t like aging and all the aches and pains that go along with it. However, I do appreciate being able to age. The (sad) truth is that not everyone gets to see 43, so I’m not taking this number for granted. Another (sad) truth is that I’ll never be as young as I am right now, so I’m going to hold on tightly to what I have and be grateful. 🙂 My birthday wish this year is to live well, laugh often, and love much.

What was/is your birthday wish this year?

Confessions of a Non-Stereotypical Asian

So here’s a joke you may or may not have heard of … A pediatrician, an obstetrician, and a scientist walk into an Asian restaurant …

To meet a romance author (me!).

Actually, to be honest, they were already seated and I was the one walking in (because hello, Asian time!). 😉

As soon as I sat down that evening, Sesame Street’s song, “One of These Things is Not Like the Other” began playing in my mind. I glanced at the faces of my friends, all of whom I’ve known since junior high, and immediately started thinking … They have real full-time jobs. They went to school for years and years to earn their Ph.D.’s in order to have these well-established careers. They actually have a title that you can check off on forms that’s more fancy than Mr. or Mrs.

And there was lil ‘ol me, a stay at home mom, with my lil ‘ol Masters degree working in a profession totally unrelated to said degree, who just wants to make enough money to support my boba tea addiction.

Yup. You can tell who’s the non-stereotypical Asian here. 😉

I wasn’t comparing myself with my friends because they think less of me—they are all very down-to-earth gals. I was comparing myself to them because I’ve been conditioned to believe all my life that Asians are supposed to be high-achieving, hard-working smarty pants in school who later on become high-achieving, hard-working adults in the working world.

But I’ve never been “one of those Asians”. Sure, I’m high-achieving and hard-working, but I’ve always been below the Asian standard for nerdiness. I only took one AP/Honors class in high school because anyone and everyone could get in (and I only passed, thanks to the help of some brilliant friends). I got accepted into UC Berkeley, but only for the extension program because I didn’t have the transcript or the SAT scores I needed to officially get in. I have never even taken a Calculus class (I dropped out the first week when I saw the syllabus!).

How’s that for being non-conforming? 😉

Instead, I ventured into the counseling field for a couple of years, even though many Asians shy away from anything having to do with mental health, and am now an author who often times feels like the “token Asian” among my author friends.

It’s taken me a few good years to feel more like a “real” author, someone who actually knows what she’s doing and has a job that is more than a hobby. And because I’m still a true Asian at my core (high-achieving and hard-working!), I want to do well as an author. I want to show people—Asians and non-Asians—that people who look like me and are from a similar background and upbringing can be successful without a Ph.D. behind their name. I’d like to pave the way for and inspire other Asians who don’t excel at math or science to do what they’re good at and what they love. I hope to see more Asians take a chance on being creative and to know it’s okay to not be a doctor, lawyer or engineer. Asians can hold a variety of other professions as writers, directors, actors, artists, and dancers—and much more!

It always makes my heart happy to see people being creative, but it makes my Asian heart happy to see other Asians breaking out of the mold to be creative. Which is why I HAD to go support the movie, Crazy Rich Asians, on opening day. I even dragged an Asian friend to go with me. 😉 We are neither crazy nor rich, but we are Asians who express ourselves creatively, and we both truly enjoyed the film. I for one was blown away by the beauty of it all—from the soundtrack (which features Chinese covers of English songs) and the amazing set designs to the gorgeous costumes and jewelry. I also felt a bit nostalgic as I recognized some of the Chinese songs from the movie as ones my parents used to listen to when I was a kid.

The movie truly made my heart–both the creative part and the Asian part—happy, thankful, and proud. Happy because I love a good rom-com and the movie was well-done with just enough conflict, angst, drama, and laughs. Thankful because the older I get, the more I appreciate being Asian and all the craziness that comes with the culture. And proud because even though it’s hard to feel validated—by your family, other people, but most of all, yourself—as someone who is Asian and creative, this movie is living proof that it’s possible.

So, this is definitely a plug from me to go see the movie! If you’re Asian, and even if you’re not, Crazy Rich Asians is good entertainment. You won’t regret it!

In the meantime, enjoy this song from the soundtrack, Katherine Ho’s (no relation, haha) Chinese cover of Coldplay’s “Yellow”.

How does your cultural background influence your creativity?

4 Keys to a Sustainable Lifestyle

I’m going into my fourth year as an author, and while it’s not a full-time job (I’m still employed as a chauffeur, referee, and chef by day, haha!) it requires a lot more of me than I expected. Or, it could be that I tend to go “all-in” when I sign up to do something. If you didn’t know, us perfectionists have a hard time slacking off. 😉 So it shouldn’t have come as a surprise that I got very sick a few months ago during the month of November. Somehow (I say this sarcastically because no one was at fault besides me) I found myself with 3 book releases in the span of 2 weeks. On top of that, I had some extra family stuff to attend to, and I wasn’t sleeping much. Then … come to find out just last week … I had forgotten to pay a very big and important bill that month. Ouch! Realizing I had dropped the ball like that and then having to tell hubby about it—you can bet I’m not doing that ever again.

Can we say, lesson learned? Not only did I learn I have to write everything down these days (or else I’ll forget about it), I also learned the way I was living was not sustainable. I was barely getting by and my body knew it. Unfortunately, it took going to the extreme side of busyness for me to see this. But now that I know what is “too much” for me, I have a better sense of what is “just right”. And what helps me stay sane and healthy is holding onto these four keys to a sustainable lifestyle.

  1. Sleep enough. I hate to admit it when my hubby’s right, but he’s right about me needing more sleep. I used to stay up until 2AM to work, even though I knew I’d need to be up around 7AM to get the kids ready for school. Now, I make myself turn in at midnight, so I wake up feeling more energetic. More energy also means a less grumpy mama, which my kiddos really appreciate. 😉
  2. Let God in. The older I get, the more I realize letting God into my daily life isn’t about seeming more spiritual or feeling better about myself, it’s simply about survival. Life is hard, and being human is hard. Bible verses I used to skim through when I was younger make so much sense now and bring me peace and comfort in this crazy world.
  3. Ask for help. Eeks. Another thing that perfectionists don’t like to do is ask for help. Why would they when they have everything under control—or so they like to think. 😉 But asking for help is part of being human. And it’s good to give others a chance to love on you.
  4. Admit your limits. You don’t have to do everything. In fact, there’s no way you can do everything. And you’re not supposed to do everything. Even God took a day off. And Jesus rested. If you have any doubts, repeat these last two sentences again. 😉

This is not a comprehensive list by any means, but a practical way to start making some changes toward a more balanced lifestyle. I also highly recommend the following list of 10 Guideposts for Wholehearted Living. I recently stumbled across it online, and I loved it so much, I got it printed as a poster at Costco. I’m going to hang it up in our bedroom where I can see it every day. (You can click on the image if you’d like to print your own, too!)

Image courtesy of https://leoniedawson.com

The guideposts are a good reminder that we were made to be so much more than workaholics. We are meant to be authentic, compassionate, resilient, joyful, grateful, creative, and calm. So let’s let go of the things that suck us dry and cultivate the things that give us life. 🙂

I know I shared this song before, but it’s something that gives me life. And this particular performance brought me to tears. Here’s Keala Settle singing, “This Is Me”, from The Greatest Showman.

What things do you need to let go and what things do you need to cultivate in your life?

Thoughts on Turning 21 (x2)

It’s November, which means it’s the best month to have a birthday. Any other November babies out there agree? 🙂

I’ll admit I hated turning 40. Thirty didn’t seem so bad (I was also too busy and hormonal being pregnant with my first munchkin at the time to care), but 40 just sounded old. (No offense to anyone over 40!). Now, 2 years later though, 40 doesn’t seem so bad. To be honest, 50 doesn’t seem as scary as it used to be either. The thing is, I’ve finally gotten okay with aging. Not so much with the white hair, wrinkles, and memory loss(!), but other than that, I don’t mind adding another candle to the birthday cake. Because the reality is, aging is a blessing and a privilege. To be able to experience one more year of life is HUGE. It means I get to spend time with the people I love and I get to do a lot of amazing things that I love. It doesn’t mean that each day is perfect or even “new” (’cause dishes, cooking, and laundry get old real quick, let me tell ya!), but over the course of days, weeks, and months, I get better. Better at trying, better at loving, and better at living. My physical body may be sagging and lagging, but my heart feels lighter and stronger and fuller. I’m reminded of these verses:

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)

Yup. Age is just a number. Peace, joy, and love are timeless. In Jesus, we have the hope of eternal life. There’s so much to look forward to that outweighs all the human stuff that bogs us down today.

I hope you’ll celebrate each moment you have and each breath you are given. I know I will be as I blow out all 42 candles on my birthday cake (haha, just kidding; I think that might be a fire hazard!).

Here’s a video I’ve been grooving to (does using the word groove show my age? LOL), Kurt Hugo Schneider’s Evolution of Boy Band’s Mashup. It’s fun to see how many songs you know, which may or may not have something to do with your age. 😉

How do you feel about growing older?

Life Lessons from a Wannabe Strawberry Plant

Remember my post a few weeks back (you can read it HERE) about how munchkin #2 waited 72 (I repeat, 72!) days for her strawberry plant to sprout? Here’s part 2 of this epic saga. Saga is the correct term because it means “a long story of heroic achievement”.

So thanks to a green-thumbed friend of mine who saw a photo of C’s plant on my Instagram, we learned the strawberry plant was in fact not a strawberry plant, but more likely a dandelion. When I broke the news to C, her whole body slumped as she wailed, “I’ve been growing a WEED?!”

Poor C. My disappointment was only a smidgeon of the shock and despair she was feeling. In that moment she wanted to give up. She was ready to hand over her bright green shoot of long, spiky leaves and have me take care of it. And quite honestly, I didn’t blame her.

I took a deep breath and racked my brain, trying hard to come up with something redeemable about the situation. I rubbed her back and said, “Sometimes things don’t work out the way we expect them to. You didn’t grow a strawberry plant, but you did grow something! You did a great job watering and taking care of it every day for so long. Now you know what it takes to grow a plant.”

Her answer? “I’m growing a weed!”

Yup. Such is life, my dear. 😛

I wish things were different. I wish one strawberry seed had made it so C could have something to show for her hard work and patience (because to an 8 year old, 72 days is like an eternity!). But in the midst of all our disappointment, I appreciated the life lesson this wannabe strawberry plant reminded me of: Things doesn’t always turn out the way we expect, but that doesn’t mean these experiences were for naught. The disappointments we face, the unexpected detours and U-turns we make, the epic failures we go through—they are what make us strong and resilient and persistent. Nope, they’re not fun or pleasant, but they build something precious and desirable: they build character. And the hard times are what make success and victory sweet.

This experience taught C so much, and I can see how her perspective has changed. Just this past weekend we decided to start a small garden in the backyard. C jumped at the idea and we all went to the store to buy seeds to plant. While C was browsing, she turned to the back of the seed packets to look for the number of days it would take before the vegetable could be harvested. Several times she remarked, “52 days? 66 days? That’s so fast!” I had to keep myself from laughing at her reaction. This was the same girl who had moaned and groaned for 72 days while she waited for her strawberry/dandelion plant to grow. But now? She’s become a pro at waiting. 🙂

So, I want to say thank you to the random dandelion seed who flew into our house and found the perfect place to land. You may be a weed, but you’re a wonderful weed. Thanks for the life lessons you taught my munchkin. But whatever you do, please don’t spread your seeds into our backyard. 😉

Here’s a picture of C’s weed. Next to it is some lettuce she’s growing, too (which is super easy to do; go here for instructions)!

Here’s an oldie but goodie, Wilson Phillips’ song “Hold On”, that talks about holding on through the hard times.

How have disappointments and failures shaped you?

The Art of Waiting

When I walked into the kitchen this morning, I was met with some enthusiastic shouts of, “Sprout! Sprout! Sprout!” I turned to C with a curious look and repeated, “Sprout?” It took me a few seconds, but then I realized what she was referring to … her strawberry plant had FINALLY sprouted!!!

Here’s the sprout in all its glory!

Now, in case you don’t appreciate the magnitude of this news, let me tell you what it took for this little sprout to grow. According to the directions that came with the plant, it takes anywhere from 2 to 3 months for it to sprout. That equates to 60 to 90 days of watering, “sunning” and … waiting. That last part was definitely the hardest part of this journey for C. Every single morning she would wake up, go downstairs and check her plant. Then she’d record what day it was on her chalkboard. Day 1 turned into Day 15, then Day 33, then Day 58. When she reached Day 60, she exclaimed, “It’s been 2 months! Why isn’t it growing?” And I started to see the glimmer of hope in her brown eyes flicker. I continued to encourage and remind her that the instructions said 2 to 3 months (all the while, half-hoping and half-doubting that we’d see any results).

All hope was lost about two weeks ago when C was tossing a ball around the house and accidentally knocked the whole pot over! She called me for help—her voice low and flat—and showed me the damage. Most of the soil remained in a clump on the floor, but some of it had been scattered into pieces and had to be vacuumed up (RIP strawberry seeds!). I tried to keep my tone hopeful as I swept up the pieces and put them back into the pot. “Let’s wait and see!”

And wait we did. It got to the point where C decided to invest in a new succulent plant and transferred her ownership of the strawberry plant to hubby this week. She did still care about it though because she’d whisper to me, “Bob (short for Baba) didn’t water the plant today!” 😉 But all her hard work during the previous days and weeks and months had been worth something because after 72 days, it sprouted. 🙂

AT LAST!!

I told her, “Yay! I’m so proud of you! You persevered!” Her eyes lit up as she took the pot in her hands and gazed at the little green shoot. It was a defining moment in her life, folks. 🙂 And I mean that in a serious way.

Waiting has always been hard for C. She’s just wired differently from my other munckin (who shall not be mentioned on my blog anymore at his request, hehe), and it’s part of her nature to want results NOW. (Hmm, I wonder who she got that from—not me, cough cough!). So when she had first decided to grow this plant, I was very hesitant. All these thoughts ran through my mind: What if it never grows? What if she gives up after a few weeks? What if she’s terribly disappointed? Okay, so I was hesitant and doubtful. But as a parent, I’ve learned that you need to let kids experience struggle because it’s during the hard times that they learn the most. They learn about how the world works (you can’t always have immediate gratification) and they learn about how they themselves work and how they can change and adapt and grow to be more well-rounded people.

For C, she needed (and still needs) to learn the art of waiting. To be honest, we can all benefit from this lesson. Nobody likes to wait. Whether it’s waiting in line at the store, or waiting for your child to outgrow his tantrums, or waiting for the next job promotion, or waiting to find your spouse … there’s a whole lot of waiting going on in life. To master the art of waiting, however, requires 2 parts: hoping and doing. To hope without doing anything, well, you might as well forget seeing any results. C could have hoped all she wanted that her plant would grow, but without watering it daily, it would never have had a chance. And to do without hoping would be a pointless effort as well because it’s the hoping that inspires you to keep going; as in C’s case, her hope in the plant’s growth kept her watering it every single day. So, Hoping + Doing = The Art of Waiting

I admit this world gets me down a lot (especially when I read the news), but I also have hope that something better will come, that this life is not the end. I think this hope must have been what Jesus’s followers were feeling and hanging onto thousands of years ago when all seemed lost on that dark day when He hung on the cross. They really had the ultimate test of waiting it out as they held on to the hope that something would happen, that change would come in three days. And boy, they were not disappointed! When they heard and saw that Jesus had come back to life, that He had defeated death, that must have been an amazing morning. A hopeful morning. An it-doesn’t-get-better-than-this morning. 🙂

I hope you and yours have that kind of a morning this Easter as we reflect and celebrate the significance of Jesus’s death and resurrection in our lives. And may we also come to believe that good things—growth, change and results—do come to those who wait. 😉 Have a Good Friday and Happy Easter!

What have you gone through to help you master the art of waiting?

When Adulting Is Hard

Hubby and I had a brief moment to chat this morning. Usually our conversations are light and breezy—and mostly about the kids—but today it was a bit heavier and profound. I think the older we get, the more of these latter talks pop up from time to time because, as I’m sure you know, adulting is hard.

What is adulting anyway? It’s not even a real word (I don’t think) since that red line keeps showing up under it as I type. But it’s a real condition or stage, however you want to call it. And with each passing year, it seems like this thing called adulting gets harder and harder to manage. Life becomes more complicated and responsibilities add up, and you face things you were never prepared for.

Adulting includes the big stuff like watching a dear friend struggle for her last breaths in a hospital bed; not knowing how to help a family member fight mental illness; attending four funerals in a year; and losing a baby to miscarriage.

Adulting also includes the everyday stuff of taking care of your family even though you are bone-tired; figuring out how to support friends going through crises; working hard to pay the bills; and juggling the care of your young children as well as your aging parents.

Adulting is a lot of things, but the one thing it isn’t is easy. This morning when I was sharing my frustrations with hubby, he said just what I needed to hear: The most important thing in life is honoring God. Through whatever we go through—the ups and downs—we can’t lose sight of the reason why we’re running this long and windy race. And even though we may not understand why things happen the way they do or how to make sense of disappointment or pain, the one thing we can hold onto is the fact that we’re not alone. God is with us through it all.

I was reminded of a song by Rich Mullins, “Hold Me Jesus”. I had the chance to see him in concert in college, and hearing him sing live was such a moving experience. You could tell from his lyrics that his relationship with God was honest, raw and sincere. He hadn’t figured everything out yet about life, but it was okay. He just wanted Jesus to hold him through it all.

Well, sometimes my life
Just don’t make sense at all
When the mountains look so big
And my faith just seems so small

CHORUS:
So hold me Jesus, ’cause I’m shaking like a leaf
You have been King of my glory
Won’t You be my Prince of Peace

And I wake up in the night and feel the dark
It’s so hot inside my soul
I swear there must be blisters on my heart

Surrender don’t come natural to me
I’d rather fight You for something
I don’t really want
Than to take what You give that I need
And I’ve beat my head against so many walls
Now I’m falling down, I’m falling on my knees

And this Salvation Army band
Is playing this hymn
And Your grace rings out so deep
It makes my resistance seem so thin

I hope that whatever you’re going through right now, you’ll keep your head up and your heart open. Even when adulting gets hard—and it often does—God’s grace is big and deep and full enough to see us through. Let’s remember to hold onto Jesus as He holds onto us.

What’s the hardest part of adulting for you?

The Benefits of Crying

When the munchkins were younger, there was a lot of crying in our house. Actually, there was a lot of crying outside the house and in the car, too. Let’s just say that if we had collected all those tears they shed (as well as the ones I shed during their tantrums and meltdowns!), we could’ve helped out our drought-stricken state of California. 😉 Thankfully, we’ve had a lot of rain in the past weeks to fill up those reservoirs and the kids are able to process their emotions a little more calmly these days.

I personally have a hard time staying calm when E or C gets upset, but hubby has the patience of a saint. Not only will he look at their red, open-mouthed faces with adoration, he’ll also tell them, “It’s okay, just cry!”

Just cry?! (Does that include me, too? LOL!)

But if there’s anything I’ve learned over the years as a parent, it’s that one, kids cry a lot, and two, crying can be helpful.

Having been raised by my strict, no-funny-business grandma, however, I learned not to cry. I learned it was safer to stuff my emotions inside rather than show them. Which is why I struggle so much when the kids need to cry. And I use the word need because sometimes we just need to cry.

If you Google “benefits of crying”, you’ll find countless articles (here’s one) touting the physical and emotional benefits of tears. Crying releases toxins, helps you deal with stress, and makes you more mindful of your emotions and experiences. Moreover, shedding tears in front of people you feel safe with helps build your connection with them. So it’s a good thing to cry by yourself and with others! Crazy idea, huh?

But boy, does it feel good to turn on the waterworks once in a while, especially if you tend to be more of an uptight and anxious person (if you are, welcome! you’re in good company here). 😉 The thing with crying though is that if you don’t allow yourself to do it regularly, you can get out of practice. And no amount of sheer willpower can force the tears to fall (unless maybe you’re an actor). What do you do then? Watch a sad movie or TV show or read a sad story or listen to a sad song. I stumbled upon this solution recently when I started watching NBC’s This Is Us. If you haven’t heard of this show, you need to check it out. I guarantee you will shed a few (or more) tears each and every episode. Just make sure you don’t watch it right before you have to pick up the kiddos from school—I learned this lesson the hard way! 😉 This show is now my regular “therapy session” where I tell myself, “It’s okay, just cry!”

Because it is so okay to cry. Crying is good for our body, mind and soul. So give it a go sometime soon. And take comfort in the fact that your tears do not go unnoticed. As it says in Psalm 56:8,

You keep track of all my sorrows.
You have collected all my tears in your bottle.
You have recorded each one in your book.

This song gets me every time. Steven Curtis Chapman’s “Heaven is the Face” is a song about the passing of his daughter, but it also speaks of our hope in God to one day be with Him in a place where we’ll no longer have a need to cry.

What were you taught about crying? What do you believe about it now?