Seeing The Person Behind Your Perception

Lies, Live, Love

Personally, it’s no secret that we all struggle with judging people based on minimal facts, and mostly appearance.

It’s easy for us to put people in our own self-constructed boxes so that we could interpret and understand them, and the world around us, in “black and white.”

It wasn’t until I was an undergraduate student, studying Interpersonal Communication, at Meredith College for me to realize what I was doing (and that was 5 years ago, geez)!!

You know…I grew up a certain way. I knew the world through the eyes of my parents for the first few years of my life, and interpreted the world as I experienced it.

Growing up, as we try to understand the world we live in, we take what people say about others to heart. It’s a “survival method.” We don’t want to instinctively put ourselves in harms way so we listen to others words as truth to protect and ready ourselves for the future.

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This is also where the media comes in whether it be social media, television, movies, books, news media, etc. We grow up watching, and reading, content and absorbing what is being presented to us in order to understand the world.

In time, we inherently believe it to be true, and it eventually becomes an instinctive judgment of the people we meet.

New people are pre-judged by what we have learned so far in our life. It’s sad to think that way, but is also helps us understand how far we still have to go in each of our own societies.

Questions we should be asking:

  1. How are all people presented in the content that is consumed by a majority of the public?
  2. What roles are they playing, and how are they interpreted based on our societies standards?
  3. In each of these roles, how are they economically presented?
  4. What is currently unbalanced in the media we consume today? Are there roles that are continuously given to certain sexes, races or identities?

Each of these questions are starter questions we should be asking ourselves as we consume content so we can recognize where our perceptions of the world come from.

We need to know the basis of our perceptions so we can see the person that exists behind our perception.

Understand this….if we are never introduced to new people, or experiences, we end up getting trapped in our own worlds, our own interpretations, and continue to put people in our self-constructed boxes without seeing them for who they truly are.

People are beautiful, and there is always something we can learn from each individual that we meet.

Photo by Omar Lopez on Unsplash

And let me tell you something…I notice myself accidentally making a judgment on someone all the time: someone I have never even met, someone I have never sat down with to hear their story, someone I pass by on the street, someone I see in the store, someone I drive by on the road, etc.

I don’t ever want to be the person who never grows past my own perceptions. I want to understand people. I want to love them for who they are, and everything that makes them, them.

I know who I am, and I would want other people to take the time to get to know me.

What about you? Wouldn’t you feel the same way?

I hope, from now on, you take the time to realize where your perceptions may be rooted, and work past them so that you can see the real person that exists behind them.

Love,

Jennie Laureen

Success is not defined by your career.

Lies, Live

I have always been someone motivated and driven by my career results. I love the idea of working. I’m a bit of a workaholic, and I love it. 

Nothing wrong with being a working woman. I’m very passionate about what I do.

However, there are times when my career doesn’t always go the way that I plan it to. Which isn’t a bad thing. We should always look for the learning opportunity where we are currently planted. 

But, that doesn’t mean I don’t get frustrated by my career outcomes. 

three women sitting beside table

Photo by Tim Gouw on Unsplash

Success was once always defined by how well I performed at my job (or at school when that was applicable). If I was excelling and getting good remarks from my managers then I knew I was successful. Or, if I was handed a big project because there was so much trust for me to handle it, then I knew I was successful. Or, if I was consistently making A+ grades in all of my classes, then I knew I was successful. 

But what about the times when life kicks you? When you realize that you aren’t performing at 1000% all the time. Let’s face it….you can’t run at 1000% 100% of the time. It’s exhausting and burn-out happens.

I’m not saying you should be lazy at your job – always give your full effort and attention – but what happens when we define our success in the moments where we can’t give 1000% because…..

  • You are facing a family tragedy. 
  • You are struggling financially to pay your mortgage. 
  • Your credit card bill keeps rising instead of shrinking 
  • You just found out some terrible medical news. 
  • You start doubting your ability to be a good wife (or husband). 
  • Your kids aren’t living the life you taught them and are instead running away from it. 
  • You doubt your ability to lead because of what everyone is telling you. You let them inside your head. 
  • You are facing depression that you cannot pinpoint, and think it shouldn’t be this way. 
  • Your manager isn’t giving you the opportunities you deserve to show your 1000% dedication. 
  • etc etc etc…. and more.

It’s these small moments that seem to appear like mountains that frustrate our career. And the fact is – it WILL happen. At some point in our lives, one of the scenarios above (or others), will happen in our life.

sleeping woman in train at daytime

Photo by Abbie Bernet on Unsplash

Then we ask the question…am I successful? Turns out, in those moments, we typically say no.

Because our focus has shifted, but our attitude has not. 

Basically, we are kicking our selves while we are already down on the ground. We are allowing ourselves to live a rollercoaster ride. When our career is successful then we are successful, but when our career isn’t successful then we are failures. 

But, there is something we must know. Our attention, in these life moments, will shift from career-mode to survival-mode. Work will still be important to us, but in those moments we are trying to make it through.

Because of this, you may, at times, be distracted at work from these moments. You can’t tell me for those 8 -to 12 hours (shout out to the nurses) that you never once think about what’s going on at home or in your life.

(And this is where I tell managers to allow some grace to their staff who go through these life moments). 

It’s a season. But, in this season we need to REDEFINE success. Especially for us workaholics. 

I cannot allow my definition of success to come from my career. Some of it – sure – but not all of it. I don’t want to stay on that rollercoaster forever.

So, I’ve started making a list of things that I’ve accomplished that are outside of my career/school achievements. And, to be honest, life got a lot brighter because of it. 

Some of the items on my list include: 

  • I call my parents every day because I don’t live in the same town as them. I am proud of the relationship I have with them. I don’t ever want to get so caught up in life that I forget my rock – my family. One day they will pass away – I don’t want to regret “not pouring into” that relationship for the sake of my career focus. 
  • I have been dating a wonderful and amazing man for over 8 years and we are about to get married. We have built a beautiful platform for open communication for both the good and bad discussions that I feel like we can lean on for a healthy stable marriage. 
  • I ate well today. I had a full serving of vegetables and lean meats, and some fiber for fullness. I feel good today. 
  • I was able to sleep ALL through the night and get the rest I needed to feel recharged. 
  • I got to do the yoga I wanted to do in order to stretch out my muscles. My body deserved it. 
  • I wrote on my blog today. My outlet for my love of writing. 
  • I got to spend time with my close and personal friends last week and have a thousand laughs – my belly is full of happiness. 

It’s these smaller, more human-like, accomplishments that we should shift our attitude towards. Our focus has shifted from career to life, but our attitude still defines success in a career even when our focus isn’t there anymore. We have to shift both. 

three women sitting by the table having coffee and smiling

Photo by CoWomen on Unsplash

And even if our career is going well for us how can we ever forget the life accomplishments that we face? 

We don’t live for our careers. It is a large part of our life and should gain our full attention and effort, but I can no longer base HOW I am doing in life FROM my career. There is much more to it than that.

40 hours (the typical work-week) out of 168 hours (a full week) is about 24% of our weekly schedule. 24% of our time is given to our career.

How can we forget about the other 76%? 

Yes, I know that out of that 168 hours roughly 33% is sleeping, but getting a good night’s rest IS an accomplishment because it has to do with our health. And, there is still 43% that still matters. Almost half.

I want you to evaluate your life and measure what matters to you. Make a list. Then detail how you would define success in those areas. 

It’s time we stop putting all of our “success” in our careers and start measuring the other 76%. 

This to do 1. Own today printed frame beside teal headset

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Dear Beautiful Bride, you do not have to follow all those pesky wedding rules.

Jennie's Snippets, Lies, Live

Let me guess…you are about to get MARRIED? Congratulations! Before I dive in let me first start with this – aren’t you tired of people asking you when the big day is, especially if you are freshly engaged?

LAWD, I can’t tell you how many times people asked Bruce and I. My first response (in my head) was always “dude…I don’t know…I just found out I was getting married! So, I definitely don’t have a date yet.” LOL, It always made me giggle!

And that’s okay that people ask – they are excited FOR you! I mean, it is a natural question to ask when you get engaged. So, just smile and respond, and enjoy the fact that for only 12 months (more or less) people are curious about your wedding! I mean…it only happens once…right? (or we hope it does).

groom beside bride holding bouquet flowers

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

Right now, I am a bride myself. And I have learned A LOT. A lot more about myself than anything. You know, my whole life I pictured planning this extravagant wedding (like in the movies), and as soon as I got engaged I quickly discovered that I don’t care about those things.

You see, I am marrying the love of my life. I am a sentimental person. I want things to hold true and lasting value. So, when I do things for the wedding it has NOTHING to do with what other brides typically do. I don’t care about the colors, or the cake, or the music, or even the dang traditions.

This is me and Bruce at our favorite downtown Raleigh coffee shop!
  1. I care that my dad walks me down the aisle (because I wasn’t sure at one point in my life that he would be there for it).
  2. I care that I wear my grandmother’s wedding ring because I always pictured her at my wedding. I NEVER thought she would die before I got married so it’s important that she is there with me somehow.
  3. I care that I wear my mother’s dress (that I have tried on so many times before because it’s beautiful and I want to showcase my mom somehow.
  4. I care that both of my sisters were my “maid of honor” because they have been my rock and consistent friend, when others failed to pull through, my entire life.
  5. I care that I see my handsome (and quite sexy) man at the other end of the aisle because we have spent 8 amazing years together and this is to celebrate US – not to please everyone with an opinion.
  6. I care that my bridesmaids feel beautiful on my wedding day so they got to pick whatever dress they wanted (same color and length because Bruce likes things to go together).
  7. I care that I write my vows and say them to him because he means too much to me to repeat some vows someone else wrote (which BTW isn’t a bad thing – it’s just not my style).

My thing to ask you as you prepare for this big day is – what do you care about?

person tying white ribbon on blonde-haired woman

Photo by Sweet Ice Cream Photography on Unsplash

You see, Bruce and I play off each other’s strengths. I LOVE managing my finances. So, the budget for the wedding is my job. Everything else? Well, that’s him. Haha. I am not the least bit creative. I am better at making sure someone else’s dream can come true based on their financial situation. So, Bruce did all of this:

  1. Picked the colors
  2. Picked the decor
  3. Picked out the food
  4. Had a huge hand in picking the venue.
  5. Picked out the outfits.
  6. Picked out the bridesmaids dresses – yep. I was SO scared I was going to get the color wrong that I couldn’t dress shop without him. (phew).

He did those things because he cares about those things! He is “stylistic.” So, that was his job!

white flower lot
Basically, our wedding scheme.
Photo by mariana acevedo on Unsplash

You want to know what we don’t care about?

  1. We don’t care whether we have the wedding in the church or somewhere else. The church is the PEOPLE – not a building. So, we have our ceremony/reception in the same place, and it’s not a church. Plus, it makes it easier on everyone! Does anyone else hate driving to the reception site after the ceremony, or is it just me?
  2. We don’t care about the cake. And we still haven’t figured that part out yet because we don’t want cake. We don’t like sweets so we are kind of lost on that part.
  3. We don’t care about having a D.J. So, we are going to plug in a phone and have a BLAST!!
  4. We don’t care about “save the dates” because it’s such a waste of paper. We are only doing invitations.
  5. And for me – I DON’T care about a veil and will not be wearing one no matter how many people try to pressure me into one ❤

Your wedding should be about you and your husband. No one else. It took me a little while at the beginning, but I finally got it down.

Another one of us. Gosh, isn’t he cute?

One last piece of advise before I go because it became a problem – people inviting themselves.

We have a lot of people who automatically assume they are invited because we have a history with them. But, we have to consider our budget and our venue space. There are so many people that we WISH we could invite, but can’t. Therefore, we are going to have to say no to many many people. Not because we don’t love them or don’t want them there, but we care about our financial future and don’t wish to break the bank trying to please everyone. Our families (which are pretty big) and immediate friends are the only ones invited.

So, enjoy your wedding, break some traditions, and make it something truly yours! ❤

Love,

Jennie Laureen

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When you aren’t where you thought you would be.

Lead, Lies

Complete honesty? I have really struggled with the concept of where I currently am. And this includes everything: my career, my body, my health, my finances, and even my blog.

I have these goals that I LOVE to set, and in my head, I’m like “I am so going to accomplish this.” I have this mentality that whatever I put my mind too will always work out. If I try hard enough and work long enough I will always be successful.

Yeah…I kind of laughed too when I wrote that.

But, the problem isn’t that I’m not competent enough or not working hard enough or working long enough. The problem is that I’m chasing after something that I was never meant to chase after. It’s not my “now calling.”

woman in white elbow-sleeved shirt standing near white train in subway

Just recently I started to figure this out. You’d think I would have sorted this already after following Jesus for like 9 years! (almost double digits!! I could cryyyyy).

Back to the point.

I have been chasing after things that were meant for me in a previous season, and not meant to follow me into my new season.

Let me explain. When I start something I am fully committed. I rarely ever let it go unless I am forced to. Which means my responsibilities pile on top of each other.

I don’t like to let anyone down.

But, let’s be serious. If I really take a deep look at the “why I don’t let go” then my honest answer would be to meet the expectations of those whose opinions matter to me.

Go ahead…shake your head and sigh. I did too when I got to the core of it all. I get it.

And you want to know what made me breathe a sigh of relief? To understand that it’s okay that I am not where I thought I would be?

An open and honest conversation with my fiance.

flat lay photography of man and woman holding hands together

Here is the story. I labeled myself as the breadwinner of our family. I was going to be the main provider, with health insurance, good benefits, and be an amazing wife who could love and care for our children (which I don’t have yet).

So, a long time ago (like 2 years into dating – we are now going on year 9) I thought “okay, I need to get this life-thing right, make no mistakes, and get this adult thing down now so I am better prepared for when I become a grown woman who supports her family. Like I said, I make commitments, and that includes my relationships. (TBH – Bruce is the best decision I have EVER made).

So, I set goals. I said to myself:

  1. My credit score is going to be excellent before I am 23.
  2. I am going to have a dedicated budget that manages all my finances before I graduate undergrad so I can manage our budget.
  3. I am going to get my master’s so I can make more money so I can support our family.
  4. I am going to be debt free before I get married so I don’t burden our cash flow.
  5. I am going to pray every single day because that’s what a good wife would do.
  6. I am going to get super fit so I can be healthy so I can be an example for my kids of how we should care for our bodies (kids that I still don’t have).
  7. I am going to start my/our retirement fund so we can retire early without feeling like we can’t.

And the list can literally go on for hours.

In some places of that list, I am preparing so far into the future that I am rushing the present. I can’t even enjoy my smallest wins today because I’m stuck in the thought pattern of “I’m not where I thought I would be. “

I’m being too harsh to MYSELF. Like, for real?! I suck at congratulating myself because nothing is ever enough. I always try to find faults so I can say “I could have done better.”

So, I had a panic attack. My instinct? I have to call Bruce. I told Bruce (my fiance, if you didn’t catch it) how I was feeling. I told him, “I felt like I was a failure. I really wanted to quit school because I was tired, I wanted to quit my job and do something else because I wasn’t completely happy, I wasn’t giving enough to my eTeam and my eGroup because I’m so wrapped up with work and school, and would rather do church instead of work and school, etc. etc.” And, he asked me why I was feeling that way. I was honest.

Because I need to support us. I can’t drop these things or do something else because I have to support our family.

I had set the expectation, without actually talking to Bruce about it, that I was going to provide us with this comfortable lifestyle that successful adults have because it’s my responsibility to provide.

And all he had to tell me was this, paraphrased here, “yeah, you make a lot more than me, but I don’t care what you make. You don’t have to make that much. Even if you were working at a coffee shop with me I would be happy because I’m spending my life with you; not that you’re making enough for us both. We do this together.”

I know it sounds simple, but his words struck a chord in me. I think God purposely put him in my life at a young age because God knows me very very very well. That I would do this. At this point in my life.

The thing is, there is no goal in life that I should be striving to achieve. For the record, goals are GOOD. I am not saying “ditch the goals.” I’m saying, there is no goal in life that I should be striving for in order to gain the approval of even the most important people in my life. Plus, marriage is an “us” thing – not an “I thing.”

woman making face while holding her brown hair

So…my calling?

Not to set expectations on myself for the approval of someone else, even if they didn’t know I was seeking their approval. Sometimes, we don’t know until we are honest about it and have open conversations.

What season am I in?

Well, in my previous season, I was meant to do really well in school. That was my focus that God asked me to do. It was a blessing from him that I needed to manage. In this season? It’s no longer my focus. I’m in school, yes, but I can’t expect myself to perform at the same level this season as my last season when I have other focuses in my “now calling” like my eGroup and my eTeam at church. Does that mean I flunk school? Nope.

It just means that I do my best, and don’t kill myself striving for a goal (like an A) that I can’t keep up with. I need to focus on my “now calling” (or better yet, responsibilities that God has asked me to manage).

For me:

  1. Getting married. We have a wedding to plan and pay for. That is my current focus.
  2. Caring for my eGroup. We are now multiplying into two teams. It’s time to focus on that growth.
  3. Caring for my eTeam. We are a team full of teenagers. They are like my kids, and they deserve my attention.
  4. Finish the Masters. Not BE THE BEST, just finish the race.

And in all of that, I needed to let go of responsibilities that I shouldn’t carry into this season or put on my plate that’s meant for a later season like “trying to get debt free” or “planning for retirement.” Those things will come, or come again, but for now, I need to balance and focus what I’m supposed to manage today.

woman holding mirror

I can only carry a certain amount of weight. If I try to do it all I WILL fail and then really put on the “I am NOT where I’m supposed to be” pout.

The fact is, I AM where I am supposed to be because I am still chasing after Jesus.

In the cheesiest way possible – it’s God’s perfect timing. Not mine.

As women, we really need to learn when to give ourselves a break, celebrate where we are today, and love ourselves for where God put us and where he is taking us. Understand that where I am at today is okay, and the dream I have for the future will come to pass as long as I have my trust and motivation in the right place.

Celebrate TODAY so I don’t miss the present chasing the future.

Sure, I want a new job. I will look when the wedding is over. I don’t need that added pressure. I have been rushing the wedding process that I prayed for because I’m looking for the promise AFTER the wedding. But, what about the promise of GETTING MARRIED. I’m missing it. I need to love where I am or I’m going to MISS the blessing IN FRONT OF ME.

Sure, I want to quit school. That ends this April. I can’t rush to the celebration because I’m tired of waiting or working. The reward of our labor comes in due time.

Remember this in Proverbs 16:9 “In his heart, a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.”

Love,

Jennie Laureen

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2019 Will Disappoint You If You Don’t Prepare For It.

Lies, Live

2018. The year of great struggle. Crazy enough – I felt the exact same way
in 2017. And if I am honest, I felt the same way in 2016, 2015, 2014, etc. I
couldn’t wait for the year to end because the New Year would be a fresh start.

However, many seem to think that celebrating the beginning of a new year will change everything for them. That their life will somehow drastically alter into the dream life they have always imagined.

And every year, hundreds of thousands of people are disappointed at some point within the first few months of the new season.

This isn’t because of failed “New Year Resolutions.” That is only a portion of the problem. 

When people go into the New Year they don’t prepare for the change that is needed to start off a new season on the correct foot.

It’s so much fun celebrating with our friends and family – watching the ball drop and experiencing a parade of fireworks and music. Then we go to sleep waking up to the same world we left in the year prior.

We can create as many New Year Resolutions as we would like, but if we don’t fuel our desire to achieve the changes we wish to see then we will be among the thousands who become disappointed.

Before the close of the year we need to say goodbye to bad relationships
that hold us back and discourage us from doing better and moving forward.

Before the close of the year we need to practice how we think and create
positive thoughts that alter our outlook. The world isn’t going to change – we need to change how we see the world.

Before the close of the year we need to clean out the clutter that exists in
our life: at home, at work, in relationships, with family, etc. Get rid of what you don’t need, apologize and forgive, and drop habits that control you (which take time).

Do you really want to start another New Year prepped for disappointment, or do you really want to see what the New Year has for you?

It’s up to you.

Love,

Jennie Laureen

Photo by Zoe Ra on Unsplash