leave a legacy

Simplify September: How to Live Like It's Summer All Year Long

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It's only the second day of school, and I can already feel the chaos that comes along with the last few months of the year creeping in. I can smell the pumpkin spice and see my calendar filling up with field trips and meetings and holiday parties. My mind is racing with questions like whether I filled out that form or when I should sign up to volunteer and what to make for dinner, or the bake sale, or the hundredth day of school celebration.  I can see it on other people's faces too; and I hear it in their voices when we talk about going "back to school" and stepping into "a busier season." 

Oh summer, where art thou????

In summer, whether in reality or perception, things seem to slow down. We stay up later. We go on vacation. We linger over dinner al fresco. Then we reach the end of August; and whether you have school age kids or not--but especially if you do have children--something shifts. Something in us becomes busier, more schedule oriented and, honestly, more stressed out as we approach the end of the calendar year. 

But what if it didn't have to be this way? What if the start of school simply meant a different schedule, not necessarily a more hectic one? What if the dawn of fall and the end of the calendar year meant having a few more months to do the things we love and more reasons to spend time with our loved ones? 

At the start of summer, I set three goals:

1.) Slow down

2.) Spend time with people I love

3.) Love others well

I loved how those three things centered my focus and my days these past three months, so much so that I intend to keep them as guidelines for my life for the rest of the year. And I've devised a plan to keep myself accountable those goals and help all of you live a less chaotic life for the remainder of 2018...or at least the month of September. 

I'm calling it the "Simplify September" project (#simplifySeptember for those of you who want to follow along on Instagram). Starting September 1st, I'll be doing the following:

  • Posting weekly challenges that help you simplify your time, possessions, relationships and mind
  • Sharing a calendar of 30 things (one for each day) that you can do to live more intentionally
  • Creating a This is Thirty Four Facebook Group where you can go to find encouragement and chat with others about how you're focusing on calm over chaos in September and for the rest of 2018

If you're like me, however, you hear about a challenge like Simplify September, and you want to GET STARTED RIGHT NOW. Good news! You can...on Monday! 

Part of Simplify September will be creating a capsule wardrobe for the month. If there's one thing my Year Without Clothes has taught me, it's that when we simplify our wardrobes--and the amount of time we spend thinking about our wardrobes--it frees us up to do SO MANY OTHER THINGS. Since capsule wardrobes actually take a bit of pre-planning, I'm created a post for Monday, August 20th that explains what pieces I'm putting in my Simplify September Capsule Wardrobe, why I chose them and where you can find those items if you want to create a similar capsule wardrobe. 

I hope you'll join me in the Simplify September Project--not because I want more blog traffic or Instagram followers or Facebook friends, but because I truly believe that life is too short to be lived in a constant state of chaos. Let's take back our time, stress less about things that don't matter and create more space for the things that do. Let's Simplify September together. 

 

12 Ways To Live Intentionally Today

In 2008, I started a blog called The Style Geek where I wrote about the intersection of fashion and technology----years before Instagram and Pinterest launched and well before the term "brand influencer" was in our common vernacular. Women like Emily Schuman of Cupcakes and Cashmere and Joy Cho of Oh Joy started blogging around the same time. They, along with so many others who hopped on the blogging bandwagon back them are now millionaires..and I'm, well, not. 

So what happened? Why did Emily and Joy succeed and I didn't?

First, they didn't give up. They consistently produced quality content, even when it felt hard or they weren't motivated. I, on the other hand, was often too tired from working a full time job and binge watched "How I Met Your Mother" on Netflix instead of pursuing my dream of being a successful author. 

Second, they remained confident in themselves. I'm sure they had days, weeks or even months of self-doubt, but they didn't let temporary discouragement or anxiety influence the course of their lives. I spent a lot of time looking at what THEY were doing, told myself "I could never be like them" and threw in the towel. 

Third, they managed the "everyday chaos" of life (their minds, schedules, relationships, money, etc) so that they could focus on what mattered most and reach their goals. Ten years ago, I was still getting control of the basics of life: managing my anxiety, learning how to be a good friend and wife and figuring out how to spend my time and money. Launching a blog and pursuing my dreams was pretty far down on my to-do list and seemed like something only people with money, intelligence or some sort of magic could do.

If I had known then what I know now, I might be farther along in my career than I am today. Emily and Joy weren't richer (at the time), smarter or more magical than me. They just kept going, remained confident and controlled their chaos a little better. And yet, I'm grateful for my journey--for the struggles and the self-doubt and even for the fact that I shuttered The Style Geek after a few months--because all of it brought me to today. To thirty four years old. To this blog and this post. 

My goal with (re)launching This Is Thirty Four is to create a space on the Internet where women can come to find encouragement and practical tips for how to find freedom from the "everyday chaos" of life, so that they can live more intentionally and spend time on what truly matters. To be honest, I'm still a work in progress myself. Most of what I write on here is just me, preaching to my own heart. By God's grace, I'm growing in new ways every day, and if something I write on here can make another woman's life a little easier, then I'll consider this whole thing a success. 

Now about those practical tips I just mentioned...

Since this blog is called This Is Thirty Four and since I'll be talking primarily about how to manage our minds, relationships, time and possessions, I created a list--a manifesto, if you will--of 34 things you can do RIGHT NOW to start living more intentionally in the aforementioned areas of life. I've listed 12 of my ideas for intentionality below, and you can join my newsletter list below to get the full list! The Monthly 34 email goes out on the 30th of every month, so you'll get this month's edition delivered to your inbox tonight! 

For now, here are 12 ways to start living more intentionally TODAY: 

Intentional minds:

  1. Start your day off centered- Meditate, pray or read your Bible. Then, write down three things that would make today great and three things you are thankful for. 
  2. Listen more than you watch- Queue up podcasts about topics you enjoy (I'm always sharing my favorites in my Instagram stories), and listen to those instead of watching TV. I quit watching TV (with the exception of a Monday night Bachelorette viewing party with friends and the occasional Netflix comedy special) earlier this year. I cannot believe how little I miss it or how much I've grown from listening to podcasts instead. 
  3. Realize that people think about you far less than you THINK they are thinking about you. That conversation you keep dwelling on or that thing you had stuck in your teeth or that time you ran into your boss while you were wearing a bikini at the beach. No one is thinking about it more than you are. Stop wasting mental energy on something that's not really that important after all. 

Intentional relationships: 

  1. Make a list of people who are important to you, but who you haven't talked to in a while then text them just to let them know you're thinking about them. I guarantee it will make their day! 
  2. Don't mix phones with food. If you're eating a meal with someone, put down the phone and engage in conversation with them instead. 
  3. Let your "yes" be "yes." If you told someone you would be there, be there. Keep your commitments to others and they'll keep showing up for you. 

Intentional time: 

  1. Put down your phone- Full disclosure: This is something I'm still working on. I'm TRYING to designate specific times of day to check social media and texts and then put my phone down the rest of the day. I think I'll be a lot more productive, and I know I'll be more present with my friends and family. 
  2. Prioritize your day- At the end of each day, take a look at the next day's schedule and to-do list and decide what MUST get done first and what can't be put off one more day. 
  3. Share a calendar with your significant other- Seeing what each of you has going on during the week helps avoid surprises--and conflict. If you haven't already listened, Rachel and Dave Hollis just did an entire RISE Together podcast on how to plan with your spouse

Intentional possessions: 

  1. Control what comes in- One of the main benefits of going A Year Without Clothes is that there's not a lot of new stuff coming into my house these days, and thus, it seems a little less cluttered. Be aware of the ways new "stuff" creeps into your home. It comes in through shopping and through things like party or wedding favors, hand-me-downs, artwork from preschool, mail, etc. When you figure out the source of the clutter, you can stop it before it starts. 
  2. Clean your kitchen every night- I know it sounds painful, and at 10 p.m. when you just want to go to bed and the dishes have piled up in the sink, it FEELS painful. But starting your day off with a clean kitchen will help you better manage the state of your entire household throughout the rest of the day. 
  3. Realize you need far less of everything than you think you do. 

If you like these suggestions and want more of them, don't forget to sign up for The Monthly 34 Newsletter. And, if you've got a tip of trick for living more intentionally, leave it in the comments below! 

***Updated 7/30/18 @ 9:00 PM***

I had high hopes of creating a beautiful PDF entitled "34 Ways To Live Intentionally RIGHT NOW" and send it out to everyone who subscribes to my email list. At 9 PM, after working on said PDF for two hours and then realizing I didn't actually know how to include it in my newsletter, I decided to pivot. I'm listing the additional 22 ways to live intentionally below. If you're still reading this post and you aren't subscribed to my newsletter, you win. If you are subscribed to my newsletter, I'm sorry; and I hope you know that I mean it when I say that "perfect is the enemy of the good." 

22 More Ways To Live Intentionally RIGHT NOW

1.) Plan your week- Every Sunday, sit down and look at what's coming up on your schedule and your to-do list. Mark down when you want to accomplish what and where you need be when. 

2.) Identify your time sucks- Determine the things that take more of your time than they should and figure out a way to stop doing those things. 

3.) Stop multi-tasking- Focus on one thing at a time. I guarantee that whatever you're doing will get done so much faster than if you were multi-tasking while doing it.

4.) Learn to say "no"- It's the most powerful word in your vocabulary when it comes to protecting your time. 

5.) Schedule seasonal purges- Especially of toys and clothes. (Pro tip: You can make a decent amount of money by selling toys your kids no longer play with right around late October or November. Market them as Christmas presents. People will go nuts. 

6.) Hang wash and line dry your (nicer) clothes. It's a pain, but they will last longer. 

7.) Focus on quality- It's better to buy one pair of shoes that cost more but lasted longer than six pairs of shoes that only last a week. 

8.) Read before bed- Get out your Kindle...or a headlamp..and read a book before bed. You'll go to be happier than if you spent the night looking up other people's Instagram profiles. 

9.) Text people back ASAP- I am so guilty of not texting people back in a timely manner. In fact, I can think of one person I owe a text to right now. BUT, I'm working on it. Bottom line: Texting people back within a reasonable amount of time, shows them that you truly care about them.

10.) Identify your people- You can't be friends with everyone; and you definitely can't develop quality friendships with lots of people. Figure out the people who matter most to you. Put them first. Spend most of your time with them, and cultivate those relationships. 

11.) Try to "out-give" the other person- This is especially helpful if you're in a long term relationship. Do more for them than they do for you, and don't keep score. 

12.) Keep learning- Never stop. If you think you know everything you need to know, you're wrong. 

13.) Workout- Do something active every day, if possible. This is probably the best tip I can give for mental health. 

14.) Eat healthy- Cut the alcohol and processed food. Add in the veggies, proteins, fibers and fats. Read Body Love by Kelly LeVeque for more.  

15.) Go to sleep- Everything looks better and less overwhelming after a good night's sleep. 

16.) Stop listening to music that makes you feel something you don't want to feel- Maybe music doesn't affect you the way it affects me, in which case, this recommendation is not for you. But if the songs you listen to put you back in a relationship you don't need to be focusing on or a season of your life you'd rather forget, then STOP LISTENING TO IT. 

17.) Realize that you have a choice- You control your mood, what goes into your mouth and what comes out of it. You choose what your day is going to look like and who you are going to spend it with. You get to choose your life. 

18.) Unfollow people who make you feel bad about your life. Social media can be a great place, and it can be a terrible one. If someone is causing you to feel insecure or insignificant, then UNFOLLOW THEM and don't think twice. 

19.) Know yourself- Make a list of your core values as a person. Start with three to five, if you need a number. Then structure your schedule and your life around those values. 

20.) Stay organized. 

21.) Surround yourself with people who push you to be a better person. 

22.) Know that one mistake doesn't define your day or your week...or who you are. 

Nice Girl Uprising: An Interview With Marriage & Family Therapist Jennifer Padilla-Burger

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Can I be honest? I don’t enjoy the process of making new friends. I find the initial phases of friendship to be an awkward dance of “Does she like me?” and “Should I text her?” and “What can we talk about?” There are too many similarities to dating, and I have always been more of a long-term relationship girl.

When I met up with Jennifer-Padilla Burger last week to talk about our new projects, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Jen and I had met through mutual friends on a few other occasions, but she was very much an acquaintance. Still, I had a suspicion that getting to know her would be different than making other new friends, and I was right.

Chatting with Jen felt like talking with someone I’ve known for years. (If you listen to Jen’s Chai Talk podcast, you’ll know exactly what I mean.) She is incredibly relatable, down to earth and kind. SO SO kind. Another great thing about Jen? She’s a licensed therapist, so pretty much everything she says is insightful and wise.

In this interview, Jen talks about change (this month's theme on This is Thirty Four), the power of saying NO, and what it means to be a NICE GIRL. I needed to hear so much of what she had to say, and I know you'll love it too! 

Jenn Prentice (JP): Hi Jen! Thanks for doing this interview. Can you take a second and tell everyone about yourself?

Jennifer Padilla-Burger (JPB): My name is Jennifer Padilla-Burger and I am a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in Arroyo Grande, California.  I grew up in Mount Shasta, CA which is a small mountain town in the Northern part of the state.  I belong to an amazing tribe which includes my husband, two children, family, and friends that feel like family.  I am blessed to get to do work that I absolutely love.  I am passionate about connecting with people to explore their story, voice, and dreams.  In my free time I’m creating, reading, practicing yoga, or spending time with my family.

JP: We met through mutual friends a while ago, but we’ve really connected over our new writing (and for you, also podcasting) projects. What is your new project, Nice Girl Uprising, all about? 

JPB: Nice Girl Uprising is a movement designed in the spirit of connection, collaboration, and opening up discussions about things we are aching to talk about. I grew up wanting to please others.  I was often concerned about what other people would think and I wanted to be perfect.  Through life experience, yoga, and The Daring Way™ (a highly experiential methodology based on the research of Dr. Brené Brown, Ph.D., LMSW) I began to peel my layers off and live as a wholehearted person. 

JP: Wholehearted. That’s a term that gets thrown around a lot, but what does it really mean?

JPB: To me, living wholeheartedly, is about embracing our dark and our light, our joy and our sorrow, our successes and our failures.  I am choosing to bring my whole self to the room instead of trying to minimize or abandon parts of myself.  Through Nice Girl Uprising, I am hoping to spark discussion about what’s going on, where we’re headed, and what we want.  With soft hearts and open minds I hope that we can unite in supporting each other in living a life that is kind, fierce, and brave.

JP: Supporting each other through kindness, fierceness and bravery…I think the tension between those three things is a struggle for a lot of women. What are some of the big issues you see women struggling with? 

JPB: The major issue that I see women struggling with today is self-care.  Self-care can seem weird or selfish to women who are accustomed to putting themselves last.  When we continually put ourselves last on our list, we FEEL it.  It tends to show itself through irritability, discontent, and can sometimes progress towards anxiety and depression.  Along with the resistance to self-care, I see women struggling to use their voices and to say “no”.  Part of my work with women is supporting them in using empowering language, to say what they mean, and to choose how and with whom they spend their time.  I am a major advocate for self-care, self-love, and self-forgiveness.  When we are in alignment with ourselves we can give our love and attention to the people that we care about.  It’s in this space of empowerment that we can better discern how to share our energy, time, and love. 

JP: You talk a lot about the importance of saying NO. I tend to be the type of person who says "yes" to a lot of stuff and then regrets it later. Why is it important to learn how to say "no"? 

JPB: For women, I think that “yes” originates from a desire to connect, live in harmony, and formulate positive relationships with others.  When I say “yes” it’s often easier than saying “no”.  My “yes” often means “I like you”, “I don’t want you to be mad at me”, “I should be helpful/generous/dedicated”.  However, the warning call is when I begin to dread my “yes” and drag myself to the event with an irritated, annoyed, closed-off internal state.  That’s not how I want to live my life.  It has been important for me to learn to say “no” so that I can give my energy and attention to what really matters to me.  A “no” to one thing means a big “yes” to my family, my time, and my energy.  I believe that I can shine brightest when I am able to focus on the people and things that make my life meaningful.  Though saying “no” is uncomfortable, that discomfort is brief and frees me up to design my own life.

JP: “Saying no –while uncomfortable at times—frees us up to design our own lives.” I think that’s a message a lot of women NEED to hear. I know I need to hear it. So, what is one tip for saying NO without being mean?

JPB: When I was doing research for Nice Girl Uprising, I found that women didn’t want to seem mean so they avoided saying “no”.  Of course, we don’t want to be the mean girl!  We’re not wired for it.  I designed a video on my website that offers a 5-step process to saying no without being mean.  The first step in this video is using a mantra which is just a word or short phrase to help us stay focused and grounded.  One of my favorite mantras is, “Shoulders back; Heart forward.”  This mantra reminds me to stand strong in my power with my feet rooted firmly on the ground while allowing my heart to lead so that I can communicate in a way that is kind.  This mantra encompasses what Nice Girl Uprising stands for:  women that are soft and strong, kind and fierce, gentle and brave.  We can say “no” in a way that honors our integrity and keeps us in connection with the person that we’re saying “no” to.

JP: This month on This is Thirty Four we're talking about CHANGE. One thing I'm trying to change is my default response to stress and discontentment. Usually, my response is to go shopping. So, because I am an all or nothing person, I’m taking drastic measures and not buying clothes or shoes for an entire year. What would you say to someone, like me, who wants to make a big change in their life? 

JPB: Oooohhh, how exciting!  I can’t wait to follow your journey with this new commitment.  I think you touched on something that is important to talk about in our culture:  numbing.  We all numb to take the edge off of our emotions.  For some of us that might be scrolling through social media, drinking wine, or buying stuff that we don’t need.  We do these things to avoid acknowledging our true feelings.  When we make the brave choice to live in a new way, I think it’s critical to understand our “why”. 

For me, lasting change usually happens when I strive towards how I want to feel versus an end goal.   For example, if someone wants to lose weight it would be important to connect with how they want to feel (free, empowered, strong) rather than the number on the scale.  Jenn, I’m guessing that you made this choice to feel lighter, freer, and more present to your life?  How do those feelings show up in your body?  What activities support those feelings?  When we’re choosing to live according to how we want to feel, our commitments stay in line with our whole outlook on life.  Living in this way can transform goals into lifestyle.  Big changes become part of your path instead of an endless climb.  When we can feel it, we can become it.

 JP: For me, not buying clothes (or shoes) for a year is also an effort to be more intentional in the way I’m spending my money and where I’m focusing my mental energy. I think materialism can take up more mental real estate than we give it credit for. When you and I hung out last week, we talked about the importance of being intentional in the way we live our lives. What's one area of your life that you're trying to be more intentional with and how are you going about doing that?

JPB: I am trying to be more intentional about spending quality time with my kids.  Being an entrepreneur, I make my own working hours, which is great, but I sometimes don’t have a closing time.  Lately, I’ve noticed my desire to “complete just one more thing” which turns into an hour if I’m not careful.  When I am with my kids after school now, I shut down my electronics and play baseball with my son or create art with my daughter.  I figure there will always be time to work later, but they will only be this small for a blink in time.  When I slow down and play with them I am reminded of my “why”.  Seriously, they are the coolest kids!  They refresh me and move me from my head to my heart in a matter of minutes.

JP: You have a daughter. What are you hoping to teach her about what it means to be a NICE GIRL? 

JPB: My daughter is six years old and I think she has been teaching me more than I have been teaching her!  When she was three-years old she was getting ready for bed and she said, “I love my mom, I love my dad, I love my brother, and I love myself.”  I practically did a double take because we often don’t give ourselves permission to openly express love for ourselves as adults.  As her mama, we are always talking about empathy, self-care, and generosity (both in our actions and in our assumptions of others).  When a conflict happens with her peers, I encourage her to stick up for herself but we also talk about what her friend could have been feeling in the moment.  I remind her that her voice and her relationships are equally important.  She can say how she feels in a way that keeps her connected to her friends that she loves and that love her.  My girl is so wise, nurturing, strong, and funny.  I’m seriously considering having her as a guest on the Chai Talk Podcast!  She has so much to offer the world. 

JP: Last question. It’s the one I ask everyone I interview: At the end of your life, what type of legacy are you hoping to leave? 

JPB: I am hoping that people will remember me for how I showed up in my relationships.  I would want to be remembered for being a dedicated wife, a loving mother, a dependable family member, and a loyal friend.  I am hoping to leave a legacy that inspires people to be brave in their lives.  I don’t mean big dramatic bravery, but small acts of bravery that happen when you show up as you are, try new things, and say what you mean.  I hope that my legacy inspires people to be fierce with their time, energy, and schedule.  Doing what we love creates space for more love and that’s worth being fierce about.  Lastly, and most importantly, I hope that I leave a legacy of kindness.  In a harsh world, it’s refreshing to show up with a kind heart.  The connection that kindness breeds will be the very thing that changes the world.

A Year Without Clothes

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Question: Do you guys ever do something and then immediately think “Oh sh*t! What did I just do?” Or maybe, a better question is: How OFTEN do you have that feeling? I had an “OH Sh*t” moment yesterday when I announced to the world (or the three people who were watching me on Instagram Live) that I would not be buying clothes for an entire year. NO CLOTHES FOR A YEAR? What am I thinking?

However, in keeping with the theme of last week’s Instagram Live, I am going to make my “yes be yes” and stick by my word. NO BUYING CLOTHES (OR SHOES) FOR A WHOLE YEAR.

If you didn’t watch my Tuesday Truth on Instagram Live yesterday, you’re probably wondering why I’m torturing myself this way. The answer is simple: Over the past few years, I have become far too consumed with material possessions—specifically what’s in my closet—and turned to shopping as a stress reliever or general pick me up when I’m having a bad day.

It’s not that I can’t afford the things I purchase. The problem is that I’m not being a good steward of the money God has blessed me with AND the reason I’m buying that item in the first place is seriously flawed.

I’ve been toying with the idea of doing something this drastic for a while now, and last night I heard a sermon by J.D. Greaer at The Summit Church. The whole sermon is worth a listen, but the line that struck me the most was:

“The joy of the Lord is not only our strength, but our contentment in the mundane.”
-J.D. Greaer

You know when you’re sitting in church and you feel God tugging on your heart to confess a sin or make a change or do something outside of your comfort zone? Hearing J.D’s words was like a message straight from Heaven; and all I can say is “Ok God. I hear you, and I’m willing to listen.”

What now?

So, I made the announcement. NO BUYING CLOTHES OR SHOES FOR A FULL YEAR. (Perhaps the repetition and use of all caps will help the reality of the words sink in.) In order to hold myself accountable and prove to myself—and all of you, but mostly myself—that this can be done, I will be doing the following:

1.)  Posting a weekly outfit round-up and an update on my fight to stay the course every Friday on social media.

2.)  Posting monthly reflections on the NO CLOTHES journey on the blog.  

3.)  Creating monthly challenges that each of you can participate in with me, even if you don’t want to go all in and abstain from buying for a year. (Think: No Target for a month; ridding your inbox of promotional emails; and unfollowing fashion bloggers or other folks who feed your discontentment on social media)

4.)  Curating my Pinterest boards to provide outfit inspiration for pieces that I already have in my closet. You can follow my Summer Style Inspiration board.

5.)  Praying and memorizing scripture. (1 Timothy 6:6 might be a good place to start)

Honestly, I’m expecting God to move in my heart and my life in big ways over the next year. J.D said one more thing worth mentioning in his sermon this Sunday:

“God is not upset at you because you want to be happy. He is upset FOR you because you choose to be happy in things besides HIM.”

I’m tired of chasing after lesser things, and I’m ready to shift my focus from temporary happiness to lasting joy.

Making Meaning in the Chaos

This month's theme on This is Thirty Four is CHANGE. Today, I'm talking about how unwanted change (read: the impending death of a loved one) and sitting at a table with eight men I'd never met caused me to make a few changes on this website. 

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In a few weeks, maybe days, my husband’s 88-year-old grandmother will leave this world and enter the gates of Heaven and into the arms of Jesus.

Kay Prentice is a strong woman who eloped at 18 with her high school sweetheart, Waller. She and Waller have been married for 70 years. He still calls her “baby” and tells her she’s beautiful. She still beams every time he gets close to her.

Their relationship survived war, financial hardship, long years of hard work (she owned a flower shop and he was a captain in the Oakland Police Department) and numerous illnesses. Together, they raised two boys—one became a lawyer and one an architect. Those boys had boys of their own and those boys (my husband and his cousins) now have boys of their own.

She is the matriarch in a family of men who run to greet her with a kiss when she comes in the door and who stand at the end of the driveway waving goodbye as she leaves.

Her impending death is not a surprise to anyone, and my husband’s family will emerge from the fire that is grief more bonded to one another than ever. I can say that with confidence because in addition to leaving behind her doting husband and family, Kay leaves an even greater legacy: She LOVED WELL and taught those around her how to do the same.

Success to Significance

Last Thursday, I was at an event full of local business leaders, sitting at a table with nine older men. The speaker posed this question: “What would it take for you to go from success to significance?” He asked everyone to share their thoughts with the people at their table.

Other than my husband, I didn’t know any of the men I was sitting with; but lately, something in me says “SPEAK UP” when I’m out of my comfort zone—especially around men. I am tired of letting them dominate the conversation. (#sorrynotsorry) So, I went first:

“For me, success to significance would mean being more intentional about the way I interact with my husband, my boys and my friends. I want to love them well and leave a legacy of love behind me. Significance would also mean extending my influence among my students and in the online community I’m building so that I can help others learn to live with intention and leave their own legacy.”

BOOM. MIC DROP.

I know I’m biased, but I saw the faces of the men around the table, and (minus my husband) they were clearly not expecting me to give that answer. As I listened to their answers, which were mostly all the same (focus less on their careers and more on their wives and kids), I realized that women have known for years what a lot of men are only starting to figure out:

IMPACTING THE LIVES OF THOSE AROUND US IN A SIGNIFICANT, POSITIVE WAY IS FAR MORE FULFILLING THAN ANY WORLDLY SUCCESS COULD EVER BE.

That’s what my husband’s grandmother has known and modeled for the past 88 years, and that’s why I started This is Thirty Four. I believe you and I are created to make an impact on those around us; and I want to create a space for us to figure out what that looks like in each of our lives…TOGETHER.

What now?

It’s been over two months since This is Thirty Four officially launched. Every day, I feel a bit more clarity on the type of content that I want to produce here. Today, I’m ready to put a stake in the ground and further crystalize what This is Thirty Four is all about.

Here’s a preview:

At This is Thirty Four, we (I chose this pronoun because I’m dragging all of you along with me) are MAKING MEANING IN THE CHAOS.

Life is busy. Every day, hundreds of things clamor for our attention and threaten to distract us from what is really important. If we don’t know what’s most important to us—what type of legacy we want to leave—then we can’t prioritize our lives around those things. If we aren’t intentional about our thoughts, choices and actions, then society or someone else will tell us how to think, what to choose and when to act.

When I look at the last 34 years of my life, I see that the more chaotic seasons stemmed from an imbalance in one of these four areas:

Myself—my emotions, my spiritual walk, my health

Relationships- my marriage, my parenting, my friendships

Possessions – my finances, my focus on material things

Time- my over commitment and lack of margin in my schedule

If all, or even one, of these four areas of our lives are out of whack, we CANNOT live intentionally and the legacy we may end up leaving could be one of little consequence.  

So, what type of content can you expect to see on This is Thirty Four in the future?

More of the same…with a bit more focus on the four aforementioned categories.

I’ll still have a monthly theme, but those themes and the related posts will (mostly) fall into the self, relationships, possessions and/or time categories.

I’ll still be conducting interviews with awesome women who are doing amazing things related to the monthly theme or one of the those topics. Why? Because I am not an expert on, well, anything. By God’s grace, I’ve figured out how to do a few things well, and I’ll certainly be sharing some of that advice on here; but I also heavily rely on the advice of others to guide me along the journey that is life.

Finally, what do I need from you, the This is Thirty Four community? I NEED YOUR INPUT! What topics do YOU want to see more about on the blog? What are some of the things you struggle with related to self, relationships, possessions and time? Who do you look to for advice in those areas? Who would you like to hear from in a blog interview? (Bonus points if that person is not a mega star and I can actually get in touch with them.)

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: We’re all in this thing called life together. It’s better if we lean on and learn from one another along the way. Thanks for sharing in my journey and sharing your journey with me. 

XX,

Jenn

 

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