6 Beauty Secrets I Would Share With My Younger Self

Girl with Green Face Masque

There’s nothing like another birthday to make you think of your mortality. The wrinkles, the stiff joints, the gray hair, the progressive lenses, the middle of the night trips to the bathroom. Sigh. The body deteriorates just as the heart of a person really wakes up! How is that fair? What I wouldn’t do to have my 29-year-old body and 44-year-old heart and mind! Sure would make getting up off the floor unassisted possible a lot easier.

Birthday cake, candles and balloonsThe good news is with age comes a confidence most 29-year-olds don’t have. And I really wouldn’t trade that. Except for the floor thing. Age also brings wisdom. We know that from all the fairy tales and wag-the-finger-at-you lectures we hear as children. But it really is true. So, as I consider my 44-year-old self, I evaluate how I’m aging. What does the mirror of my life tell me? What have I done well and what should I have done better? What would I beat into that 29-year-old head, if I had the chance to do it again?

1. Wash your face. Every night. When it comes to complexion, I drew the short straw. My preteen, teenage, early adult, and even middle adult years have been fraught with acne. I used every medication and product on the market to try to manage the scourge.

Woman Washing Her FaceAnd all those years I read articles that said, wash your face every morning and night…every night that you don’t wash your makeup off adds another 100 years to your face…take care of your skin and it will take care of you…blah, blah, blah. But most nights after I rallied the energy to brush my teeth and change into my jammies, I was too tired to wash my face. Seriously?!

Several years ago, I decided to believe the hype and give the practice a try. Goodbye makeup, grime and smog! And what do you know? Washing your face every night REALLY DOES HELP. My skin is clearer, blemish free and brighter, most days. What I wish I knew believed back then…

2. Moisturize. In my mid-twenties, I chose some extreme medical treatments for my acne that kept my body from producing any oil. So, for the first time in my life, I had a need to use moisturizer on my face. Use it?!? I bathed in it. Drank it. Slept in a vat full of it.

For someone with radically oily skin, this was heresy. The LAST thing I ever thought I would need was moisturizer! I then learned that whether you have oily, normal or dry skin, if you don’t get enough moisture in your beauty routine, your body will produce more. Pore clogging here we come! So, even after I finished my acne treatment, I used moisturizer. And every day since then. Almost 20 years now. I can attest to the fact that skin that is moisturized, doesn’t wrinkle like skin that isn’t. Score!

3. Sunscreen up. I’m not a vampire. Or a ghost – contrary to my scary white legs! I do go out in the sun. I even show some skin. But try as I might, I don’t tan. I learned that many years and many more terrible sunburns ago. And years of watching my sweet Daddy be tortured treated every three months at the dermatologist for skin cancers have proven that the sun is not the friend we once believed him to be. Well, not to our skin, at least.

Girl in the sunBeyond the fatal effects of sun damage, the sun also ages us. I’ve seen many a high school beauty, who applied Crisco before her sun-bathing afternoon, become a woman who looked twice her 35 years. #maybeiexaggeratealittle The first place a woman begins to show age is her décolletage. And then her hands. And her face. And the back of her neck. And her arms. And… What woman wants to look older than she is? #notmema’am

Pretty Painted Toes4. Take care of your feet. I’ve never been a shoe horse, but I love pretty feet. Taking care of our feet isn’t just about keeping ’em pretty, though. I don’t pretend to understand all the laws of physics, but I do know that between gravity and pounds per square inch of some kind of force jibber-jabber, our feet take a lot of stress just transporting our little bodies every day.

When we cram them into shoes that don’t fit, pointy toes, or heels that could kill, day in and day out, we are restructuring our little friends. And not in a Fortune 500 kind of way. Between bunions, hammer toes, dislocated ankles and a myriad of other maladies, our feet are really cruisin’ for a bruisin’. So, take care of those guys. Choose leather that gives and conforms to your feet, check your size yearly (feet do grow as we age), wear shoes that actually support those ankles and save the stilettos for the special occasions.

5. Stand up straight. God made you who you are. On purpose. Short, tall or in-between. How many times have you seen someone who slouches, rolls their shoulders forward or stands sway backed and thought, Does she feel okay?… She doesn’t seem very confident… She must want to be alone… Our posture not only affects everything in our body – circulation, digestion, skeletal alignment, muscle strain, breathing – but also, the image we present to others. So, roll those shoulders back, pull in your belly, hold your chin up and get your head on straight. The Lord made you in HIS image. Show the world His glory!

Smiling Woman6. Smile. A woman whose smile is open and whose expression is glad has a kind of beauty no matter what she wears. ~ Anne Roiphe

Beyond any natural symmetry or anything you may put on to become more beautiful, the power of a smile to draw another to you is unparalleled. So, increase the real estate of that beautiful face and smile! At friends. Strangers. The new boss. The man on the corner.

Become the woman others are drawn to simply because you invite them in with your kindness. Let the heart you have for good show in your face. Forget about the aching joints, the wrinkles around your eyes and the next laser hair appointment and smile. Tell people you care. Show those you love how excited you are to be with them! Share the joy of the Lord with the world. That’s the power of a smile.

Everyone wants to be attractive. Whatever your style, whatever your definition of beauty, we all want it. There is something in us that wants to be seen as valuable. And our culture tells us that what is on the outside determines that value. However, our Heavenly Father has created us in His image. He delights in us. We are his children. And He has made each of us unique. Like none other. The beauty of Him in our hearts is what draws us to each other.

When we love as He first loved us, we are forever changed, as is the world around us. Therein lies our value. Click To Tweet

When we love as He first loved us, we are forever changed, as is the world around us. Therein lies our value. And we are His temple. As a city on a hillside, we are to let our light shine. Be the vessel of the ONE who attracts the world to Himself. Care for your body as if caring for the Lord, knowing that the real value is in the heart beneath. There is no greater beauty.

Girl Spreading Her Arms to the Sea

What does beauty mean to you? What is one of your favorite secrets? Do you have a favorite product or routine that makes you feel more beautiful?

Redeeming Love

Redeeming Love (Sisters, Oregon: Multnomah Publishers, Inc., 1997)

Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers is one of the number one books for women. Ever. And men, in my opinion. Although I read and loved this book when it first came out and have been recommending it ever since, I decided to pull it out and read it again. I can honestly say that if I could have stayed awake all night and day, I would have read it without ceasing. Rivers capacity for storytelling is unrivaled. The story of Angel and Michael Hosea is one of the most compelling, profound, tender and beautiful stories I have ever read. I was on the edge of my seat the whole read, and I knew how it would end.

I find myself amazed by not only, Rivers’ beautiful portrayal of the retelling of the book of Hosea, but even more, by the beauty of the story itself. In the book of Hosea, the Lord uses the story of the prophet, Hosea, and the prostitute, Gomer, to illustrate His neverending, far-reaching and sacrificing love for us, His people. Hosea is told by God to marry Gomer. She leaves him over and over again. And he continues to pursue and bring her home.

The same is true in Redeeming Love.  When Michael Hosea, a farmer who loves the Lord, is told by God that Angel is who he is to marry, he sets about the seemingly insurmountable task of courting, marrying and redeeming her, the prostitute, who despises and mistrusts all men. When she is almost killed by her boss, Michael rescues her the only way he can, by giving the Madam money to let Angel go. When Angel asks him how much he paid for her, his answer is, “Everything I had.” So does our Heavenly Father rescue us. As Michael and Angel learn what it means to love each other, they both come face to face with overwhelming understanding of what redemption means. And WHO brings it.

If you read one book this year, this is the one.

Eight Things to Do When You Are Feeling Blue

Young Girl on Bridge Feeling Blue

Have you ever had those times in your life when you were overcome with extreme thinking? You know, when it seemed like everything was going wrong and nothing was going well? That’s been my struggle for the past couple of weeks.

The reality is that things are fine. And not fine in the I’m just saying fine because I don’t want to talk about it way. But really ok. Sure, I’m busy. And of course, I have more to do than could ever get done. But life is actually really going well. How’s that for a well written sentence?

Then, why am I struggling with feeling so down and what can I do to cheer up? I talk to clients about this very issue all. the. time. And yet, I often have to have a session with myself to really make a difference in my own mood. Let me share some ways I conquer the blues.

The first step is to recognize that what you are experiencing is extreme or fatalistic thinking. Ask yourself, “is it really true that nothing is going well/everything is going wrong”? It’s true that very bad things happen and tragedies strike and surviving those things deserves another post. But, most of the time it’s the little things that pile up and feel overwhelming to our everyday lives.

The best way to refute this thinking is to recognize the good things that are happening in our lives. Make a list of what you are grateful for. Start small and you will see how the list grows. When we feel overwhelmed, our brain can go into fight/flight/freeze mode which results in the primal instinct to protect ourselves. And usually in non-productive, lonely ways. What we need to do is reactivate our frontal lobe so we can begin to think clearly again. Sometimes just forcing ourself to focus on a list of gratitudes will do just that.

Now, ask yourself what is going on to cause you to think so tragically? When I was a little girl, my mother used to say, “Erin, you are overtired. It’s time to go to bed/take a nap.” I always hated that. And as a child, I didn’t really believe her. However, when I was in my 20’s I was visiting my mom and must have been having a particularly emotional time. I remember her saying, “Baby, I think you are overtired. Why don’t you take a little nap. I’m sure you will feel better when you wake up.” And I did. That was the first time I recognized what sleep deprivation does to me.

When you find yourself struggling with feeling like the sky is falling, think about what is happening in your life that feels so overwhelming. Are you anxious? Sad? Tired? Under pressure at work? What about hungry? Could your hormones be out of whack? Do you feel a cold coming on? Maybe it’s the gray, gloomy weather that’s been plaguing you for weeks on end? Spend some time getting to the root of the matter. Your thinking is a response to something deeper happening in your life.

Once you have recognized that your thinking is extreme and not reality and, then, identified what is causing that sense of overwhelming, you are ready to climb out of the pit. Here are some ways to start the journey.

1. Listen to your favorite music. When I was in college, I found an instrumental cd (yes, those did exist back then) that I found to be very soothing. It became my go-to for relaxation. So much so, that my roommate and, now my sisters, know that if the Comfort cd is on, tread lightly. The magical part is how quickly the world turns right side up when the music starts. As David tells us in the Psalms, music is a balm to the soul. So, whether you need a calm and peaceful interlude or something that pumps you up and energizes you, play the tunes!

2. Phone a friend. You don’t have to be a millionaire to know how much a friend is worth. The new social technologies that are designed to keep us more connected often do just the opposite. When was the last time you picked up the phone, dialed and actually spoke to your friend? Are you continuously reminded, like I am, of how wonderful the experience is and marvel at why you don’t do it more often? When you feel down, call someone you know loves you. Share your struggles and invite them to do the same. This is where real connection happens. And so much of our blue moods are connected to feeling lonely in our big world.

3. Take a little nap. More and more research is proving how sleep, and it’s lack, affects our bodies and brains. Power naps of 20-40 minutes are often all we need to feel recharged and ready to tackle the tough stuff. That being said, its also important that we get enough sleep at night. Gone is the myth that adults can survive on less sleep. What’s true is that adults need 8-9 hours of uninterrupted sleep a night in order to function as we are designed. Experts recommend having a consistent sleeping and waking time so that our bodies are optimally regulated. It’s all about those circadian rhythms, you know.

AND when we are in the REM stage of sleep, our brains take everything we have learned and experienced that day and move it from short term to long term memory. Without enough REM cycles, we aren’t able to remember most of what we do and see long term. Remember what a struggle college was? Too bad we didn’t know most of this then!

Crying Child4. Have a good cry.

“Crying is good. It lets the boo-hoos out.”                                                   ~ Sandy the male nanny, FRIENDS

There’s something magical about crying. The Lord gave us tears so that we could express those overwhelming emotions, as well as, to show our compassion for others. Having a good cry does a body good. So, take a hot shower and cry away. Or lean on the shoulder of a friend who knows how to simply sit and weather the storm with you. Then, take some deep breaths and see if things look brighter.

There will be times in our lives when we can’t seem to stop crying. This is an indication of something deeper and a need to rally the troops. Finding a good counselor who can help you discover the deep pain that is oozing out of every pore will be a saving grace.

Laughing Child5. Laugh! Laughing produces all those feel good chemicals in our bodies we call endorphins. And when we are sad, sometimes we just need a good laugh. If you know me, you know that half of the sentences that come out of my mouth were stolen from FRIENDS. It’s my favorite show. I play it in the background of my life, for company. And when I’m feeling down, I put on an episode. It makes me laugh. And it encourages me. As I watch THE friends love and support each other, I am reminded of people who do that for me. And I learn how to do it for others. Another show I love is The Big Bang Theory. It’s hysterical. And all about community.

“If we couldn’t laugh, we would all go insane.” ~ Mark Twain

So, go find a funny show, or You Tube channel, or crazy friend and spend some time laughing. It really does turn a frown upside down! LOL! Check out this article for more information on the amazing benefits of laughing, http://www.helpguide.org/articles/emotional-health/laughter-is-the-best-medicine.htm

6. Pray. As a Christian, I believe two things about prayer and how it relates to the overwhelming times in our lives. The first is that the Lord promises to never leave us. “As I was with Moses, I will never leave you or forsake you.” Joshua 1:5 He is always there for those who believe in and call on Him. Especially when things are hard. Even if I can’t sense His presence, I cling to this promise. And it brings me peace.

But the second thing I believe about prayer is the power it has over darkness. The scriptures are clear about the reality of spiritual warfare. When we are seeking Him and striving to love others well, so that they may know Him, Satan gets his feathers ruffled. And he comes after us with a vengeance. See, he doesn’t want us to love the Lord or other people. He wants to diminish the army of the Lord. So, he brings doubt and fear and confusion and anxiety and a load of other hard things into our lives to weaken our grasp on the hand of our Heavenly Father.

But the truth is that he has been defeated. “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore, put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes you may be able to stand your ground…” Ephesians 6:12-13 We have the power to send him running when we call on Jesus to intervene on our behalf. And the Holy Spirit brings us the comfort we need in times of trial. These things happen when we pray.

I find the following verse brings me strength and peace when I am at war with the world of my life.
“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

7. Move your body. When I was teaching a class one summer, I had a new first grader who didn’t speak much English. He came to class one day singing, “I like to move it, move it!” Cracked me up! I had no idea it was from a popular movie, but I’ve never forgotten that. Moving our body has a direct impact on our emotions. It’s all about those amazing endorphins again! Whether we choose to go for a run, do yoga, bounce the ball or dance around, when we move our body we are powering it up against fatigue and despair. The next time you are feeling down, pop in the ear buds, turn on your favorite music and go for a walk around the block. Twenty minutes is enough to recharge you and make you feel ready to move ahead.

8. Don’t eat. What? Lemme ‘splain. This isn’t one of those times to disregard a truly hungry tummy or legitimately low blood sugar. This is to all of those people who, like me, give food power. I eat my feelings. I’ve struggled with it all of my life, I think. And it’s not good. I do it when I’ve bypassed every other step I’ve written in this post. It’s a way to feed the monster. But it never works. So, if this is you, when you are struggling, go back to the top and start at the beginning. We have too many food and body issues in our culture to perpetuate. Let’s agree to get to the deeper issues and use better ways to combat all those icky feelings. Deal?

There are tons of other ways to respond when we feel like we are sliding down into the pit of despair. I’d love to know what the things are that work for you! Who is the encouraging person in your life who listens and loves you well? Is there something on this list you love? Or something you’ve never tried that is intriguing? Am I the only one who forgets to do the good things I know to do when I feel this way?

The Three C’s of Cruising

Erin and Colleen Onboard

My sister and I just took our first cruise ever! I’ve traveled all over the world and never had the desire to go on a cruise until a few years ago. Then, two things happened: 1. More and more of my friends started recommending them and 2. I got a taste for the Caribbean. Who knows what I mean?!

Colleen and Dan Miller

Colleen is officially a Dan Miller fan!

So, when my coach, Dan Miller, announced his bi-annual cruise for our 48 Days Network, I twisted my sister’s arm and signed us up. Let me just say – it was one of the best trips of my life! I’m sure it didn’t hurt that we started on one of the top cruising lines or that we cruised with a wonderful, like-minded group, or that we visited beautiful tropical places. (I know, my diamond shoes are too tight and my wallet’s too small for my fifties. It’s a tough life!)

As much fun as we had on this new adventure, there are three things that really stuck out to me.


The last night of the cruise, we enjoyed our evening entertainment. And as a recap of the week, our cruise director (cue “The Love Boat” music), said the following, “There are over 4000 people on this boat, representing more than 70 countries, and look at how we can all get along so well.” How is that possible? Our world certainly doesn’t lend itself to the same successes.

You see, what I experienced over and over again, from guests and crew alike, could best be described as consideration. The respect and kindness afforded the guests by the crew was like none other. They truly exemplified the picture of what it means to serve others. And not in a you’re better than me kind of way. But in a we want to make your vacation and time in our home as enjoyable as possible way. The message was, we will treat you well, exhibit a cheerful attitude and express our pleasure of having you aboard. The quintessential hosts.

And all those vacationers from around the globe? We found, time after time, that happiness to be on vacation, enjoying the luxury of the seas makes people friendly and gracious and patient. I mean, that’s got to be the only explanation for why someone will actually make eye contact and speak to you in an elevator, right?!?

That mutual consideration and respect made our time together a wonderful, unparallelled experience.

Erin and Colleen with Bukhari and Dejan

Bukhari is from Indonesia and Dejan is from Serbia and both were so wonderful to us in the Dining Room


What does courage have to do with cruising? Have you heard of the Titanic? Anyone who is willing to get on a ship and travel through the depths of the ocean, without a shred of land in sight HAS to be brave, especially after seeing the movie!

Colleen, Anette and Erin

Our new friend, Anette. We ended up on the same Zipline Excursion!

All kidding aside, I think there is a lot to be said of courage on this trip. One example is found in my new friend, Anette. She has been listening to Dan’s podcasts for a while now, which is a rather ordinary thing to do. What makes Anette extraordinary is that she got on a plane in her native Denmark and embarked with a group of 74 American and 2 German strangers for a week at sea. Her willingness to step way out of her comfort zone inspires me to not let fear keep me from doing the things I desire.

What about the 76 other people who are becoming the masters of their own destinies? Many in our group are coaches. Several are writers. Lots of speakers. Business owners. Bloggers. Entrepreneurs. Highly successful human beings. All are looking for new ways to share their message and pursue their passions. It is inevitable that spending time in their company will inspire the seeker to believe Winston Churchill’s words, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” For, each of those who are experiencing success has stories of failure along the way. The difference is they didn’t give up.


In my work with kids, I teach that a choice is a commitment. The moment we choose to do or not do something is the decision point. We can never take it back. Take the drunk teenager who chooses to get behind the wheel of a car and kills someone when they lose control. A tragic choice forever etched in their hearts and minds.

This construct of commitment rang true for me on our cruise in several ways. In typical risk-taking fashion, Colleen and I decided to pull the trigger and invest in some exciting excursions.

Exhibit A: Zip-lining through the trees of the Puerto Rican tropical rainforest. It’s hard to miss the reality of commitment when you are strapped to a cable 75 feet above the forest floor and getting ready to step off into thin air. Even though I never was able to master the hand break, it was such a thrill to soar through the trees! What a payoff.

Philipsburg, St. Maarten

Who has time to take pictures when they are trying to not drown?

Exhibit B: Snorkeling in the oceans of St. Maarten. Now, many of you will scoff at the thought that snorkeling takes commitment. I am a strong swimmer, but the thought of fish touching me or the counter-intuitive idea of breathing with my face in the water was quite daunting.

What if I suck in water instead of air? What if I can’t get away from a sea creature that I don’t want to be friends with? What if I become so enamored with the sea that I unknowingly swim off and the boat leaves me? I don’t want to be shark bait. (I really regret watching Open Water.)

So, with mixed feelings of excitement and trepidation, I made an impulsive commitment to a young client that I would suit up and at least try. I knew that sharing my own fears and committing to face them could empower him to do the same. ‘Cause he’s a kid who doesn’t really know who he is and gives up before he even tries. Sounds like a lot of us, right?

In the end, it was my promise and the accountability it held, that gave me the courage to stick with the plan. Surprisingly, it was really easy to get used to breathing with the snorkel apparatus – except for that time the guide used me as the beginning of the buffet line and I sucked in water through my nose. It did take me a while to realize that the real snorkelers DON’T swim with their arms in front of them. #dork  And the coolest part – fish are great swimmers. They know how to avoid touching the seal-ish looking creature between them and dinner. Who knew?!

What a ride that little cruise was. So much so, that I might have put down a deposit on the next one.

I have been blessed with lessons learned in some of the most unexpected places. What are yours? Where do you see courage or commitment or consideration play out in your life? Who are the people who have inspired you to try something new?

Here’s a little lagniappe for your viewing pleasure.

Alligator crazy

Not sure Paul is courageous, but he is definitely committed! Gator Boys in action.


Eat That Frog!

Eat That Frog! (San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler Publishers; 2nd Edition, 2007)

If you are looking for a way to be more productive and increase your success, this is a fabulous how-to! Brian Tracy does a fabulous job of taking the tried and true techniques that successful people follow and making them easy to understand and implement. I listened to Tracy read his book on Audible.com and was so inspired I’ve added the paper version to my library, with plans to share with everyone I know. The subtitle, 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time, should be a hint as to the value Tracy can add to your busy life. So, go ahead and EAT THAT FROG!

Worst Question Ever??

“Why aren’t you married?” WORST. QUESTION. EVER.

Woman with Question MarksI truly believe that most people who ask that question mean it as a compliment. As in, “You are such a great person. I can’t imagine why you wouldn’t be married.” Unfortunately, what the unsuspecting recipient (who often feels like they were just doused with ice water) hears is something like this, “Wow, if you were really a valuable person with something to offer, you would be married. There must be something really wrong with you.” Thus begins the message that marriage, not personhood, equals value. And, therefore, one of the biggest struggles that single women, in particular, face in American culture.

How does anyone even answer a question like that? Uhhh, I haven’t met the right guy? I chew with my mouth open? I’m completely codependent? The last guy I tried to get to marry me hasn’t been seen in a year? The problem is that most single women who want to be married don’t have any idea why they aren’t. And most people who ask that question haven’t earned the right to start the conversation – enter complete stranger.

What’s true is that many, if not most, women want to be in a loving, committed, healthy relationship. Who wouldn’t? So what stops them? Why aren’t beautiful, kind, talented women married? The reasons are as numerous as they are varied. The better question to focus on is are those same women living the life for which they are designed? Do they believe they have a purpose to fulfill? Have they embraced their story? Or have they bought into the myth that their life doesn’t begin or add value until she becomes we?

Two Women Having CoffeeThere’s got to be a better way to communicate truth to each other. What if the next time we wanted to share value we said something like this – Your kindness really touches me. I’m so inspired by your courage. When I see how you pursue your passion it makes me want to grab onto your star and ride along. You have so much to offer others. I see how you are using your gifts to honor others. Wouldn’t that feel better? To give and receive?

What words do you use to encourage others well? What’s the kindest way someone has recognized your worth? When did you discover your abundant value?

My Annoying Little Habit

Sitting squished into the middle seat on a completely full flight certainly has a way of making you think about how you interact with your world – in a knee to knee, elbow to elbow kind of way. As I seek to live in a way that offers kindness and consideration to those around me, I have to ask myself, “how do I impact others?” The middle seat brings that home.

I’ve been flying for years, across the country and around the world. I’ve had a few rough flights and a couple of rough landings, but never a recurring issue with airsickness. Until about 11 years ago. I was flying to Italy, via Canada, for an exciting summer study abroad adventure. Something went wrong in my little body on that trip. Air Canada took me on two particularly rough trips that summer.

I never lost my cookies, but I broke out in a cold sweat that left me wondering if I would survive the flight. Since then, I’ve experienced the same phenomenon on multiple other occasions. And developed a new and pervasive fear of flying. Not the fear that we wouldn’t make our destination, but that I would expire in midair from a dramatic loss of fluids. Extreme thinking, I know.

As a mental health professional, I also know how powerful my brain is and how I bring some of these physiological responses on myself. Nonetheless, I find myself taking measures to find that zen state before and during my flights. Those who know me, already know I’m kinda type A. More than kinda. But add the fear of throwing up to that personality quirk and you border on OCD.

Which brings me to the question I ask: “How do I impact people?” Well, I would certainly impact them if I lost my lunch six inches from their face. I do what I can to avoid that. But, how do impact them in a more ordinary, daily kind of way?

Stepping GumToday, it’s about my annoying little habit (ALH). See, I pop my gum. I don’t smack, or chew with my mouth open, or leave it under tables or  drop it on the sidewalk (have you SEEN all those nasty black spots on the ground?!?) or worse, the ruin of someone’s new leather soles. That would be tacky. Nope, I just pop it. And only on the right side of my mouth. Can’t even produce a pop on the left.

I don’t know when I started doing this. I certainly remember my father’s limit when I was a little girl, “Erin, if you can’t chew like a lady, you need to get rid of the gum.” And his more subtle reminders, “Good gum?” I was actively taught how to chew gum with grace. Is there really such a thing?

So, why on earth would I let myself pop it? It’s all about a little thing called self soothing. We all do it. It’s one way that I calm my nerves, regulate my fight, flight or freeze responses, activate my prefrontal cortex, soothe. Sounds good, right? Legitimate. Necessary. Sounds like some really smart reasons as to why I should be allowed to inflict this ALH on society at large, yeah?

This is where I have to ask myself The Question: “how do I impact people?” And better yet, “how do I WANT to impact people?” I do not want to be the annoying woman who pops her gum. Or, the woman who thinks only of herself. Or, the woman who thinks she’s better than everyone else and deserves to have her own way. Or, the woman who doesn’t love others well. Nope, I strive to always love others. To show the world the author of Love. To live as Jesus did. Man, do I fall short. Way, way, way short. Thank goodness for redemption. But it’s still my goal.

Consequently, when I find myself absentmindedly popping my gum, or staring at the woman talking loudly on her phone, or taking out my driving frustrations on the road, I remind myself that I DO impact people. And challenge myself to love them well. Even when that means finding another way to calm my nerves on a turbulent flight. It usually works.

How are you mindful of your annoying little habits? What helps you love others well?