time for you

It has been freeing to hit pause and realize that I don't have to be tap dancing to prove that I'm OK.  

One of the very best things I've done for myself in the last year is to take time.

I don't know about you, but I often feel like I need to know the next step and be halfway to it before the step I'm on is over. You know? As if there's not even time to enjoy this moment because I have to be really prepared for the one that's coming next. 

But I'm trying really hard to let that go. 

I can't let it go when the weekend is approaching. I want to know the plans. All of them. What are we eating? Where are we going? Will I have to wear pants?

Same is true for vacation or holidays or anything to do with our kids.

But like I said, I'm working on it.

 

There is one place I've learned to step back, and that's when I feel the need to know the ending.

It is endlessly cool to be surrounded by great storytellers these days. Almost anyone can be a writer if they choose. Social platforms and finger keyboards have allowed us to express ourselves in record time. And I love to know what everyone is doing. I love to know when people arrive at a conclusion or have a life-changing epiphany. I love it because it makes it feel possible for me. Like maybe I can conquer my demons and figure out all my stuff too. 

What I don't love, however, is feeling like I have to keep up. Like in order to be doing things right, I've got to always have beans to spill. Like I've got to be having epiphanies (and sharing them!) on the regular. Like everything ought to end up tied in a pretty red bow. 

In believing we always have to have a good ending, we're missing out on some of the best parts. 

Rushing from one conclusion to the next might feel like keeping up, but I've realized it means leaving ourselves behind.

And anyway, I somehow got tired of doing it. A lifetime of power planning will do that to you, I guess. 

So instead of always starting and saying and sharing, I decided to get quiet instead. I decided to use the time I'd save by not shouting to really think about the woman I wanted to be. 

And I'm well on my way to finding her. 

Because I'm giving myself the time.

No pressure, no conclusions, no need to tell everyone what I'm pondering.

I can't tell you the peace I've found in doing this for myself. It has been freeing to hit pause and realize that I don't have to be tap dancing to prove that I'm OK.  

The jazz squares can wait, y'all. Our hearts cannot. 

It was in this time of quiet that I learned a lot about myself. I chose me a lot of the time. I stayed home instead of going out of obligation. I said how I felt (sometimes [it's a work in progress]), I wrote and I sat and I took lots of naps. I worked really hard to plow through my stuff because something deep down told me I needed it. And I know now that more than needing it, I deserved it.

And I truly believe that you do too.

So I'm back to starting projects again. And I'm back to really believing in them. 

This revamped website and renewed love of the blog is not a have to. This is a want to.

This is all because I've found something that can help you love yourself more. And you deserve to have that.

Tomorrow we'll release something that Jessica and I have been working on since October. It feels amazing to finally be stepping back, blowing off the sawdust one more time, and running our hands over something we're so proud of.

Our hope is that it will help you find your quiet.

That you might steal away some time just for you.

That you would find yourself and love her tirelessly.

That you will find ways to use your story that set your heart on fire.

Because we believe that you deserve all that and more.

You deserve the time.

 

Yes, you've got responsibilities and feel short on time. Yes, you've got to keep your job and honor your commitments. But what you don't have to do is sacrifice yourself in the process. You don't have to give up on your needs or back down or feel too scared to take the next step.

And you most certainly don't have to extinguish that little flicker within.

We made you something for the quiet little corners of your heart because you deserve the time.

 

We're eager for you to sit and think. To write. To scribble. To draw and doodle and dream. We are ready for you to invest the time in knowing the woman you are.

I can't wait to show you what we've got, guys.

I am really so very proud of it. 


Rachel LeBeau
the best little shrub on the side of the hill

There will be people who used their fingers to scrape up whatever was left in the rubble and turned it into something beautiful.

best little shrub | heart

The only "real" job I've had was as a teacher. And a lot of times, I looked around and wondered if that was really enough. It wasn't fancy or entrepreneurial or revered. I wondered if my work mattered. I know now that for sure, it did. And I'm sure because I know now that each of us has a thing. Some of us even get multiple things but there's always something - some way we can help, some work we can dirty our hands with. There is always something we can do.

My students' schedules read Language Arts but what I loved to teach was social justice. Every book I assigned, every story we read, every time I asked them to write, the focus was on ways we could learn to love other people. And in the process, ways we could learn to love ourselves.

We read about a young man with craniofacial abnormality, a girl who'd been raped and couldn't bring herself to tell, an elephant trainer abused by the caste system in India. We read about the Soviet takeover of Afghanistan and the Holocaust and the rise of hip-hop and civil disobedience and a girl who came from nothing and a boy who moved to the US from China and never felt that he fit. We spent four months taking in everything we could about the Civil Rights Movement. We studied religions of the world so we could be more tolerant and wrote about what we'd do if we could somehow change the world.

I wanted them to know.

I wanted them to KNOW.

To know that yes there will be adversity. That nothing has been given without a fight. That there will be maltreatment and fear and terror and awful, awful days. But for every one of those, there will be people who survived. There will be people who used their fingers to scrape up whatever was left in the rubble and turned it into something beautiful. That they can be part of the change.

I wanted them to know.

I doubt I can describe my favorite thing to teach.

That's a lie. It was Civil Rights.

But still.

Every single story made a difference. Everything they wrote left a mark.

I believed that they were changed in some way after seeing all that - after realizing that they weren't the only ones who felt forgotten and out of control. That other people had been there too. And they'd still turned into flowers out of all that dirt.

The idea is that you can secure your freedom. That you can work for it. March for it. Fight for it. That we control what we do with our heartbreak.

That if we believe we are worth it, we can ask for more.

One of my very favorite pieces to teach was Your Life’s Blueprint, a speech that Martin Luther King Jr delivered to Barratt Jr High School in 1967.

He told the students they should have,

"A deep belief in your own dignity, your own worth, and your own somebodiness.Don’t allow anybody to make you feel that you’re nobody. Always feel that you count. Always feel that you have worth and that your life has ultimate significance.”

I’d read those words aloud and survey the room to find somber faces. Sometimes tiny tears would round the corners of their eyes because it hurts to hear someone say something that really ought to be true.

I knew that it was a struggle for them to believe it. To know that they were somebody. And with Dr. King’s help, I was aiming to remind them.

He went on to say,

If it falls your lot to be a street sweeper, sweep streets like Michelangelo painted pictures, sweep streets like Beethoven composed music, sweep streets like Leontyne Price sings before the Metropolitan Opera. Sweep streets like Shakespeare wrote poetry. Sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will have to pause and say: Here lived a great street sweeper who swept his job well.

If you can’t be a pine at the top of the hill, be a shrub in the valley. Be the best little shrub on the side of the hill.

By this point, I was always the one with tears in my eyes.

Be a bush if you can’t be a tree. If you can’t be a highway, be a trail. If you can’t be a sun, be a star. For it isn’t by size that you win or fail. Be the best of whatever you are.

OK?

Be the best of whatever you are. Even if you fear it's not enough.

By this point, their eyes were always down. Because it meant something. Because in that moment, they knew. Or at the very least, they hoped.

They believed for a minute that maybe it was OK not to have been born to the best parents or in the best place. That maybe it was fine not to know as much as everybody else in class. That maybe they didn’t have to get good grades or have lots of friends or even have to smell good to be worthwhile. That just maybe he was talking to kids just like them. And that things could be alright.

For a minute, they wondered if they could really make mistakes and get in trouble and carry a mountain of hurt on their backs and still be somebody.

Still, you’re somebody.

Maybe you’re the best little shrub on the side of the hill.

And maybe, just as you are, that’s enough.

It’s reflecting on times like these that make me miss the classroom so much it hurts. I miss the opportunity to remind those broken hearts how much they mattered. I miss the chance to tell them that no matter how hard it’s been or how hard it gets or how often they feel they’ve missed the mark, they are capable of greatness. And they are enough all on their own.

I miss it terribly.

And yet, there’s a little smile on my face because I realize I can still say it whenever I want to.

So listen up:

You’re really important.

There’s something that you’re here to do.

You know it and I know it.

Maybe you don’t know what the thing is. That’s OK.

Keep looking. You'll find it.

Maybe when you’re watching a commercial or browsing Pinterest or walking down the street, you feel a little heart tug.

Follow it. Learn more. Do the thing that makes you flutter.

You don’t have to be the best.

For reals. You seriously don’t.

You don’t have to be the smartest or the prettiest or have the best eyebrows.

You don't have to be widely accepted or even tolerated to do something that matters.

I’m willing to bet you can still do big stuff without those things.

Maybe you’ll write a song. Maybe you won’t.

Maybe you’ll write a book. Maybe you won’t.

Maybe you’ll write a letter or an Instagram post or a post-it-note. That will be enough.

You don’t have to do it big for it to count.

And you certainly don’t have to stay quiet.

Be the shrub on the side of the hill and shine brightly.

Tell everyone your name. Greet them with a hello and a warm smile. Stand up. Speak out. Let the world know why you’re here.

I know, I know. Times get hard and platitudes don't count for much.

So take the time you need.

Cry. Sleep too much. Wallow and eat bad food.

March and cry and resist and cry and write and call and cry again. Then eat more bad food.

Your gifts aren't going anywhere. That thing you're meant to do is yours. Your voice and your hands and your feet are yours. So if you have to sit it aside for a while just to take care, then do it.

You're enough then too.

You needn’t be the fanciest or the most prestigious.

Followers and friend counts and retweets don’t count for much.

Be the best little shrub you can be.

Because it’s enough.

You are important. And from wherever you are, you can do something.

You’re enough, little shrub.

You really truly are.

how i got content with real life

No one was going to save me from grumbling about things that didn't matter that much. It was up to me. I could resent and hate it, or make a way to be happy.

content with real life | Heart

Contentment is hard to come by.

Especially as a woman. And especially as a woman with a smart phone.

We are ALWAYS looking at people who seem to have it all together.

And believe me, I get it.

I was never content to live in Wyoming.

I felt trapped here. Like the roads could close at any minute and I'd be stuck with nothing but cold toes and a Walmart. And to be fair, the roads do close a LOT. Like in the winter, you've got to really be committed to leave town because it's entirely possible you could get stuck for a night or two. You realllllly gotta want it. And when you live in a town with no Target, you want it pretty often.

But for real. My family is far away. It's freezing 3/4 of the time. We don't have Chipotle. Henry needs access to the kind of medical care we don't have here. Just going to the airport takes two hours. I could go on...

But anyway, I lived here about 9 or so years feeling resentful. Like there had to be something better somewhere.

If only my husband would move. If only Laramie could not be the worst and get a freaking chicken place. If only we didn't have to buy stuff on Amazon every day. (Actually, I like that one quite a bit)

So I grumbled. For YEARS. I was mad for being "stuck" here. I was not content with this life.

But a few years ago I read something that stopped me pretty quickly:

"If you are placing your happiness in the hands of anyone but you, you will ALWAYS be disappointed." So I got to thinking. Maybe instead of it being Chad's fault or Laramie's fault or Chick Fil A's fault, maybe I was the reason everything sucked so much. Maybe it was on me to turn it around.

So I started looking with new eyes. What is great about this place? We don't have to worry about crime hardly ever. There's no traffic. I know how to get everywhere. No google maps needed. Chad's incredible family is here. I love our elementary school. There's nothing better than a college town. Getting to go out of town shopping is a huge thrill since it's rare. We probably save money because we don't go out or shop a ton. I could easily foster my homebody tendencies. It's easy to meet people.

No one cares about the nicest brands or having fancy stuff. So I don't have to either

I trust that our kids are safe.

It takes Chad all of five minutes to come home from work.

People smile at each other.

No one is in a big hurry.

See what I'm saying? Lots of good stuff. And no, I certainly did not love my life overnight when I started this practice. But. The thing is that no one was going to fix this for me. No one was going to rescue me or start building chain stores in a town of 30,000 people. No one was going to save me from grumbling about things that didn't matter that much. It was up to me. I could resent and hate it, or make a way to be happy.

I could get content on purpose. So I took it a step further. What kinds of things do I love? How can I do more of those things?

I started doing projects around the house

I founded a wedding planning firm

I learned to make cream cheese frosting

I sat outside with the sun on my face and tricked myself into believing 45 degrees was warm

I learned to love cooking (and made friends with my Crockpot) (and learned to like hot soups)

I dropped off and picked my girls up from school every single day and smiled at their sweet brown heads bouncing toward me

I hosted girls' nights

I read books

I started recording a slew of nonsense TV shows to watch in my free time

I cleaned whenever I felt like cleaning and learned that I LOVE relaxing in a clean house

I planned dinner parties

I sold my business

I started a magazine

I burned new candles the very day I bought them

I avoided the laundry

I made at least one dessert a week

 

None of those things are specific to where I live, but they are specific to me loving my life --- to me filling my days with things I enjoy and can look forward to, no matter where I am.  No matter how cold it is or who is sick or how many new jeans I don't have in the closet.

And you know what else?

I got real about my problems. I took a hard look in the mirror and realized it wasn't anyone else's fault that I felt the way I did. That was my choice. The circumstances of my life were often out of my control, but the way I chose to move forward wasn't.

I'd still feel small no matter where we lived unless I worked at it.

Henry would be sick whether we lived next to Children's or not. And it is my privilege to take him to doctor's who know what to do.

If I didn't change, I'd always be chasing perfect.

Nothing would be different if I believed no one would have compassion for me.

It wasn't up to anyone else to fix it. There was no one else to blame. These were MY days. And I was ruining them without evening realizing.

So I got real. I invested in a coach and a counselor and started choosing to believe that I had a purpose. And I dreamed.

And did stuff I'd always wanted. Without waiting for the perfect time.

It was in this town of 30,000 people that I launched two successful businesses. It was in this town I gained the courage to speak publicly and share my story with other women. It was in this town that I rode in the backseat toward home with three fresh new babies beside me. It is in this town that we make memories our kids will have forever - including stuffing our faces at a grassy tailgate party with DirecTV and seeing their cousins and grandparents at least twice a week. It is in this town that I've become the woman I am today. It is here that I've learned to love my life.

None of this was ever about the place I lived. It was about choosing. It was about believing I deserved to be happy no matter where and no matter what.

And I am proud of the work I've done to make that happen. It was work. But now it comes more naturally. I instinctively do things I feel like doing. I instinctively love my days more than I used to.

The perfect day isn't going to come. It might happen someday but not because I'm waiting or planning for it. So all I can do is decide to get content with what I have. I have a small-town life. I have three kids and a husband who works hard for us. I have a kitchen where I can try new things. And of course, I always have Amazon Prime.

There's no sense in waiting for someday because someday might not ever arrive.

This might be all there ever is. And it's our job to make sure it's good enough.

We don't know the twists and turns ahead. And we don't get to undo what's happened already. What we do get are the days in between. The days right now. And we get to decide that we'll fill them up with good stuff if it's the last thing we do. Because we deserve that.

We deserve to go to bed tired and smiling and content.

We deserve to dream big dreams and make them happen no matter the circumstances. We deserve to love the real life we have.

And doing that requires a choice.

So are you ready? Ready to stop holding your breath or looking around the corner? Ready to say yes to the dreams in your heart and the life that's waiting outside your head? It's time.

Let's do it together.

love you, try thisRachel LeBeau
before you quit, ask this

Though the ability to walk away from something bad is inherently good, I know I miss out on opportunities to grow.

don't quit yet

I'm a quitter, y'all.

I hate that it's true but it is. Things get hard and I throw in the towel. Like fast. And though I do think the ability to walk away from something that isn't right is a good one, I'm well aware that I miss out on opportunities to grow because the stretching feels too hard. This is an especially hard in the world of entrepreneurship because there's no one there to make me do anything. If I don't feel like doing something, then it just doesn't get done.

Whoa.

If I don't feel like doing something, it doesn't get done.

Not the best way to proceed.

If you, too, start stutter stepping when the going gets tough, join me in asking this question:

Am I quitting because this is wrong for me, or am I quitting because it's hard for me?

Now this might seem simple to a person who's used to persevering, but to the rest of us, it can be staggering.

I'm not skinny yet. Quit.

We'll never save money. Quit.

She has more followers. Quit.

No one is noticing my work. Quit.

You make me so mad. Quit.

I'll never be good. Quit.

We are consumed with doing things right. We want results. We want acknowledgement. We want to feel vindicated. We want to believe that our toil and our struggle are proving to be worthwhile. We want a confirmation that hard work is worth it.

(And we want it now.)

But there's that pesky old saying: nothing good comes easily. And I'll be danged if it isn't true. Let's think about it. Baby: holy hard work. Marriage(i.e. two people working to love and do what's right every single day): holy hard work. Building a house, losing weight, making a pie from scratch, growing a thriving business, leaving a legacy... each of them happen in a series of small moments that collect and multiply and then finally, after doing the work and forgetting about the accolades for days and weeks and years on end, you look back and realize: it worked. To make a great change, you've got to work so long and so hard that it's no longer something you consciously strive for, but rather, a part of who you've become.

That's the key to overnight success, y'all --- working your entire life for what you want.

Now before you quietly start sneaking backwards out the door and think that waiting your whole life for something just doesn't seem worth it, let's think about it this way:

what happens if we never make the change?

What happens if we stay exactly as we are right now, always afraid to take the risk and put in the work?

What does the future look like for you if you never try anything new? If you never stand up for yourself? Never decide that your health and your happiness are worth 30 daily minutes of misery? What if you never decide that you are worth more? What if you never forge a new friendship? Never stick out the hard parts and know what it's like to truly be loved? What if you never put your heart out on the line?

It's going to be hard. Freaking for sure it is. You are going to want to quit. You're going to get mad and sad and mutter under your breath that you knew this was a bad idea while you shuffle around in your two-day-old jammie pants shoving stale frozen pizza into your mouth. But it's going to be worth it. Whether or not you see results in a day or two.

You're  not waiting your whole life. You're working your whole life.

What's something you've been wanting to do? What's the purpose behind what you're already doing now? What is your life's mission? Truly think - who do you want to be and how do you want to be her?

I want to be a good partner and wife.

I want to be the kind of mother that makes my children look fondly on their childhood and remember how obvious it was that they were loved.

I want to be a part of the changemakers that bring women to a place in the world where they feel strong and safe and capable of having any kind of life they wish.

I want to feel good about myself --- about my body, my health, my ability to handle the tough things and to roll laughing with the good.

I want to stop worrying about what I should do and learn to enjoy every little thing

None of those things have to be specifically mastered - there's not a right way or wrong way to do any of them (except for maybe lowering my gummy bear consumption...I'm pretty sure that's scientific). And I love those kinds of goals because there's no failing unless I quit.

Unless I quit...

I get scared, you guys. I get scared that I'm expending energy into things that will never reap the rewards I'm hoping for.

What if I eat all this stinking kale and still hate how I look in a bathing suit?

What if I stay up all night writing and no one ever reads it?

What if I love you more than you'll ever love me?

There are plenty of what-ifs to be asked. More than I'd like to allow consideration for, in fact. But the thing is, none of my life goals hinge on those what-ifs. Being a mom whose love is loud or a woman who fights for other women does not depend on whether or not I get skinny or get my heart broken or fall down in the process. I still want those things. I want them regardless of what happens.

Which means it's not time to quit yet.

If something is hurting you, if something you're doing is negatively impacting your health or your safety, then throw in the towel, baby. Consider this your permission to stop dragging the bad stuff along with you. But if you're ready to run from something that gets you where you want to go, just because it's hard and you're tired, I urge you to keep pushing. Because nothing worth having should be derailed by a little hardship.

So yeah, my instinct is to quit. It is to drop my stuff and run before anything bad happens to me or before I waste too much heart space on something that doesn't pan out. But doing that doesn't bring relief. Quitting things---letting them fall at my feet---doesn't make me feel like I want to feel. Quitting doesn't get me closer to the life I want to live.

It's in the hard stuff, that something even better waits. It is at the junction of quitting and pressing on that we find the people we want to be.

I don't want to work out. I really really really don't want to eat a vegetable. Like not even one. I don't want to play Barbies. I don't want to sing songs or set bedtimes or sit at a computer when the sun is shining. I don't want to risk getting hurt or failing or losing something I set my heart to having. I don't want someone to tell me no. But without those risks or those things I don't feel like doing, I'm not the girl I want to be. This won't be the life I want to live.

No one said it would be easy. But they did say that that nothing happens overnight.

They said that hard work reaps rewards, even if it's not the kind we first envisioned.

So, friend, if you're ready to give up because it's hard, hold my hand and take a second look. Because it might just be that the hard gets us to the place we're hoping to go.

Let's stick something out together.

try thisRachel LeBeau
more than your dream

Sometimes you can’t sleep because the dreams feel too big for closed eyes.

more than your dream

I know your wheels are always turning. I see your piles of notebooks and underlined stories with notes in the margin. I see the trail of scraps and notes and one-day big ideas. I know that sometimes you can’t sleep because the dreams feel too big for closed eyes.

It happens a lot—the dreaming. You see something that catches your breath. The wind blows just right and a song touches you in a place you didn’t know existed and all of a sudden, your heart’s fluttering. You get excited. Nervous. Excited again. Scared that maybe it’s not worth it to throw your heart into another dream. But then, against your better judgement and the well-meaning cautioners who’ve weathered your storms, you’re leaping. You’re putting your heart on the line and you’re dreaming. You’re making something beautiful.

Then you push publish. It hurts to breathe so you don’t for a few minutes at a time. Your thumb hovers over the delete button and you toggle back and forth between ‘refresh’ and ‘close’. You’re paralyzed and sick and feeling all-of-a-sudden downtrodden because you love this thing and you want everyone to love it too. And you’ve put so much heart into it, and it seems like if they don’t love what you’ve done, in a way they also don’t love you.

You’re afraid that they won’t love you.

read more of this big dreamer post at The Rising Tide Society