10 Things I’ve Learned: Julie
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Today’s contributor to the 10 Things series is someone whom I’ve never officially met in person, but was introduced to in the coolest way — through the comment section on this blog!
That’s right. Over the past year or so, I had begun to notice that some girl named Julie kept leaving these thoughtful, encouraging comments on the site, especially on the posts about being single. She seemed like the sort of friend I would love to grab a cup of coffee and chat it up with about life and faith and dreams and such. So I clicked through on one of her comments, and found out that (surprise!) she was actually a blogger herself at Girl On The Move!
If you have a few minutes, you should totally stop by and visit her blog, where she shares all about living life as a grand adventure “on the move”. Whether that means traveling to all of the ballparks across the country, or creating yummy meal plans each week, or running, or traveling, or tasting cupcakes, or soaking up the sun in SoCal, or retiring from teaching to pursue a dream job at age 30, or trying to cross off the cool things on her bucket list, Julie is one of those people who simply lives her life with intention. And even more, it seems like she does that with a lot of joy, a lot of faith, a lot of authenticity, and a lot of cool friends and family by her side.
I’m hoping that someday we’ll have the chance to meet the old-fashioned way. But until then, I thank the ol’ world wide web and the comment section on this very blog for introducing me virtually to this friend who has turned out to be a very real blessing in my life. Without further ado, here are Julie’s 10 things!
1. Do something really scary at least once in your life.
When I was 22 I moved from California to Philadelphia to pursue my dream of being a teacher. Here’s the thing, I knew exactly ZERO people in Philadelphia. I moved to the 5th largest city in America and I didn’t know a single person! What was I thinking?!? I had signed a one-year lease on an apartment I had never seen. I didn’t actually have the job I thought I had. The day my dad drove away was the scariest day of my life. And you know what? It was also the best day of my life. Because it was on that day that I realized I am brave and strong. By the time I left Philadelphia seven years later, I had bought my own house, found an amazing group of friends, earned a Master’s degree, and so much more. If I hadn’t done something really scary, like move 3,000 miles from home, I don’t think I would have discovered how brave and strong I am. I saw a great quote on Pinterest that says, “The magic happens outside of your comfort zone,” and I think that is so true! When you do scary things, amazing things happen! And now it take a lot to scare me, because if I know even one person, I figure I am better off than the day I arrived in Philadelphia!
2. Send handwritten thank you notes.
Saying, “Thank you” is one of the first things that we teach young children and yet as we grow older I think we often forget to say thank you. I love getting real mail and so I think that instead of sending someone a quick text or email to say thank you, we should all be sending handwritten thank you notes. I keep my house stocked with fun stationary and stamps and whenever I receive gifts, attend a dinner party, stay at someone’s home, or someone goes out of their way to do something thoughtful, I send them a handwritten thank you note. I rarely write a novel, but I think it is important to let someone know that what they did is noticed and appreciated.
3. Having a positive attitude begins with having an attitude of gratitude.
I have found that when I am in a bad mood, it is often because I am not taking the time to be grateful for all the things I have. Some days it seems like the only thing I can be thankful for is that I am still alive, but when I choose to focus on that, it becomes more difficult to remember why I was feeling down. Last fall our pastor challenged us to find something that we were thankful for every day, and so for twelve weeks I posted a picture a day on Instagram capturing what I was thankful for that day. And let me tell you, some days it was really difficult! But on those more challenging days I found that because I was sooo focused on trying to find that one positive thing to post on Instagram, I had less time and energy to focus on the negative. Now I keep a thankfulness jar on my desk and anytime something happens that I am thankful for, I write it down on a slip of paper and add it to the jar. Then when those bad days come, because they will come, I sit down and read through everything in the jar to remind myself that I have so much to be thankful for in my life.
4. Don’t try and be someone else, be YOU.
Growing up I struggled with feeling confident about my gifts, abilities, and passions because I didn’t think they were very cool. I love cooking, hosting, traveling, sports, family, crafting, learning and reading and I can remember times when I wouldn’t tell people all of those things because I was afraid of what they would think of me. Now I have learned to embrace each of those things as an important part of what makes me me. Some people might think it’s odd that I enjoy reading as much as I do, but that’s okay, because it makes me happy so I’m going to embrace the fact that I am a reader…and the same goes for all of my other hobbies, passions, and gifts!
5. Sometimes you just need to turn up the music and dance!
I truly believe that dancing and singing (at the top of your lungs is best) in your kitchen is good for the soul! There’s just something about getting your groove on that turns frowns into smiles, and helps you forget why you were in a bad mood when you turned the music on. And this doesn’t just apply while you are cooking (although a whisk makes a great microphone!), using your mop handle to put on your best Beyonce performance makes it a lot to easier to mop the house on a Saturday morning!
6. Comparing yourself to others robs you of joy.
This has taken me a long time to learn, and if I’m really honest, I don’t always remember this lesson as well as I would like! What I know to be true is that when I spend time and energy focusing on how other people have what I want to have, I’m taking time and energy away from not only celebrating what I have, but from soaking up the experiences of my own life. I have also found that because most people try to put their best face forward in public, I am often comparing my inner struggles with their outer accomplishments. And that’s like comparing apples and oranges! My neighbor might appear to have the life I want because I love her house, but maybe on the inside it’s not a life I would want at all.
7. Dream big.
If you’ve spent any time at all on Pinterest, then I’m sure you’ve seen the Norman Vincent Peale quote, “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.” While I’m not sure if the science behind that is fully accurate, I think the sentiment is very true! I am a firm believer in dreaming big because I think if you dream small things, your life will be filled with small things. For me personally, I dream of writing books about visiting all 30 baseball fields in America and visiting cupcakeries all across the country. I dream of traveling to quite a list of amazing places (you should see the Bucket List on my blog!). I dream of getting married and having a house full of kids. I dream of having someone to clean my house and I dream of being able to host my family for an annual vacation. But here’s the catch, I don’t think it’s enough to just dream big., I think you need to chase those big dreams. I can almost guarantee that you won’t reach all of them, and in fact you might fail miserably on some of them. But I also know that if you chase those big dreams some of them will happen, and I want to be there to see you reach those crazy big dreams!
8. It’s okay if your dreams and plans change.
I decided when I was five what I wanted to be when I grew up. I came home every day from kindergarten and taught my little sister what I had learned that day in school. It was during those lessons that I decided I would be a teacher when I grew up. I earned my Bachelor’s degree in teaching, got my first teaching job when I was 22, and then when on to get my Master’s in Education. I had fulfilled my dream of being a teacher and yet as I got to my late 20’s I realized that maybe my plans were changing. I was fortunate enough to be able to retire before I turned 30, and while I will probably always still be a teacher at heart, I know that I’m doing exactly what I’m supposed to be doing right now and it’s okay if that looks different than I thought it would look.
Find a cause that you are passionate about and instead of just donating your money, volunteer your time. For me, that means working with an organization called Young Life and volunteering in different ways at church. For others that might mean helping out with a local Girl Scout troop, volunteering hours at a local pet shelter, or tutoring kids at a community center. Wherever you choose to volunteer your time is fine, but do it somewhere! And if you have a family, volunteer together as a family. I have found that when you give up some of your time to serve others it helps you appreciate what you have, gives you a better understanding of how others live, and just leaves you in a better mood than when you started your volunteer time.
10. There’s a lot I don’t know.
I wish I could say I learned this when I was 15, but the truth is I think I only truly learned this one recently! For every life lesson that I learn, I realize that there are probably another twenty-seven that I still need to learn!