Why Dreaming Big and Feeling Content Are Not Mutually Exclusive

dreaming big

I distinctly remember a moment last summer that puts everything into perspective for me. I had just gotten back from a week’s vacation, and instead of swimming in the lake with Finn and David and the rest of my family, I was sitting in a meeting room – one without any windows – listening to everyone else’s to-do list for the week, trying my best to look interested. (I don’t think I pulled that off very well.)

I went back to my desk and tried my hardest to hold back the tears that would inevitably come. I had just come back from vacation! Shouldn’t I feel refreshed and recharged?

I got scolded later that day for not being a team player. Because everyone else had been working the previous week, I should feel grateful to them. I understood the point, but it didn’t matter. It’s not that I didn’t feel grateful, it’s that I felt nothing. I wanted to care more, but I didn’t. And that made me feel worse!

That day at my office was the lowest I had ever been. I blame some of it on pregnancy, but most of it was based on the feeling of wanting more! More time with my family, more purpose in my work, more flexibility.

I had never felt more misunderstood and more alone. I had a great job, I was well-respected there, I made good money… and I didn’t want any of it. Do you know how guilty that made me feel? I often thought about how I should lower my expectations, how people who don’t dream big are happier because they are content with what they have.

It took me almost a year to really understand that “dreaming big” and “being content” are not mutually exclusive. In fact, I would argue that without one, the other is impossible.

A year later, I am working my butt off to start a business, while simultaneously taking care of a six month old. I also have my three year old home with me one or two days a week, and my poor husband gets whatever is left of me. I work early in the morning and late at night. I have had to step outside my comfort zone on a daily basis. Sometimes I don’t shower, I go days without talking to adults besides David, and I spend more time thinking about what I’m doing rather than doing it!

And it’s in this mess that I’ve found true contentment.

I have big dreams – bigger dreams than I talk about on here or Instagram or even with my closest friends and family. But because I allow myself to dream, and most importantly to work towards those dreams, I have found contentment in my life.

It’s quite simple, really. When you remove negativity and you take control of your time, the days seem less hectic. You start to think about where you are going to be six months or a year from now. You start thinking of the little things you can do today that will get you there. You stop resenting the people around you and you find beauty in the little things. You take better care of your body, you pay attention to your finances, you start happening to your life rather than just letting life happen to you. You become content with the person you are.

I don’t suggest that everyone go quit their job in order to become content, but I do recommend allowing yourself to dream. A year ago, I was dreaming of being a business owner, spending time with my babies, and really going after something that I had thought about for years. Now, that’s my reality. That day in the office really shined a light on how little I was doing to make my life what I wanted.

Today, I’m dreaming big about my future and feeling content about my present. What is it in your life that’s going to get you feeling the same way?

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It’s Okay To Admit It’s Hard

The last thing I want to portray on this blog or in any aspect of my life is that I have a perfect life. I don’t! I get stressed out, I lose sleep over silly things, David and I argue, my kids drive me nuts, and I have more student loan debt than I care to admit. Guess that just makes me …. normal.

We’re in this era where a snapshot can seem to define your life. Social media can cause you to feel like you aren’t keeping up or that someone on the internet has a better life than you. And it’s not surprising that folks are suffering with depression and anxiety at higher rates than ever before. 

Initially, this post was going to be about motherhood. About how as a mom, it’s okay to admit that you’re having a tough season, or that you don’t necessarily enjoy the parenting thing. That’s how I felt in the months following Finn’s birth. It was a shock to my system. My life as I knew it was over. And it was hard.

I learned to love my new role over time. However, I still have moments where I want the freedom and the silence and the sleep. I am taking Reese to business meetings, because that’s just my reality. And as thankful as I am that people are happy to accept that she comes everywhere with me, I also wish she didn’t have to come everywhere with me.

I love my life today, and I wouldn’t want it to be any other way, but sometimes it’s just hard. Some days, I wish for bedtime more often than I care to admit. Some days, I scroll aimlessly through my phone instead of paying attention to my kids. Some days, I lose my patience and get upset with Finn over things he doesn’t understand. Some days, I just want to have time with my husband and forget about everything else. Because it’s hard.

Like I said, this post was supposed to be just about motherhood, but I realized as I started writing it that this notion of admitting that things can be difficult goes way beyond parenthood.

Breakups are hard. Like the worst.

Job hunting can be soul sucking. And the rejection is the worst feeling in the world.

Marriage is hard. Spoiler alert – love doesn’t conquer all. Communication does. And sometimes, you can both suck at communicating.

Paying bills is hard. And stressful. And getting old really fast.

The moral of the story is life is hard. And messy. And heartbreaking. And full of struggle. And if you can’t admit that, I promise things are only going to be harder and much lonelier.

The good thing is that all of these difficult seasons have an end to them. It’s not always going to be hard. And when you get past these seasons, you come out with a fresh perspective, and a little bit stronger. And the best part? Having hard times make you appreciate the good times even more!

So, just in case you are struggling with something and sitting there thinking “gosh, this is hard” just remember that it’s okay to feel that way. Give yourself a little grace. Sooner than you realize, things will be less difficult!

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What’s Your Enneagram Type?

If you know me, then you know I love a good personality test. I find the results so interesting, and usually spot-on. I took the Enneagram test a while back and recently re-took it to see if my original results were validated.

Spoiler alert – they were.

What’s an Enneagram?

If you’ve never heard of the Enneagram, it’s essentially a personality test that puts you into one of nine categories based on how you relate to yourself and the world around you:

  1. The Reformer – the rational, idealistic type
  2. The Helper – the caring, interpersonal type
  3. The Achiever – the success-oriented, pragmatic type
  4. The Individualist – the sensitive, withdrawn type
  5. The Investigator – the intense, cerebral type
  6. The Loyalist – the committed, security-oriented type
  7. The Enthusiast – the busy, fun-loving type
  8. The Challenger – the power, dominating type
  9. The Peacemaker – the easy-going, self-effacing type

When you take the test, you are given an Enneagram type – your main type – and then a secondary result, which is called your wing. This dials into your personality even more.

Like any personality test, I think it’s important to note that the explanation can become an easy excuse to validate some of your shortcomings or a way to explain away why you are the way you are. Instead, you should use these results to understand how you work, be aware of what you are good at and what you may struggle with, and also be aware of the other types so you know others strengths and weaknesses as well.

It’s also important to understand the difference between how each type perceives themselves and how others perceive them. For example, an 8 type may come across loud and overbearing to some, but to themselves they may think they are coming across as confident or decisive.

What’s My Type?

The very fact that I love personality tests should give away my Enneagram number.

Any last minute guesses?

I’m a 4 – the individualist.

Do I agree with this? Absolutely.

From The Enneagram Institute:

Fours are self-aware, sensitive, and reserved. They are emotionally honest, creative, and personal, but can also be moody and self-conscious… At their Best: inspired and highly creative, they are able to renew themselves and transform their experiences.

A four’s basic fear is that they have no identity or personal significance and our basic desire is to find that significance. At our worst, a four can become depressed and melancholy.

Basically, a four sees themselves as unique and different, something I can relate to! The older I get, the more introverted I become, and the more in touch with my emotions I feel. I keep this blog, I write in journals, I listen to music and watch movies just to get all the feels. I can certainly be moody, but when I’m at my best, I am creative and passionate. I am very self-reflective and overly self-aware, almost to a fault, but at the end of the day just wish to live a life full of meaning.

“The Aristocrat”

Technically, my Enneagram is a 4w3 – a four with a three wing. These two types tend to conflict with one another. Four’s are introverted and self-aware while three’s are extroverted and lack self-awareness! However, both ultimately relate to one’s self-esteem. Fours with a three wing are competitive and want to make something of themselves, but usually fear success and possible humiliation.

I can absolutely relate with being “The Aristocrat”. It’s not that I’ve never felt confident, but when I do, I quickly second guess myself. After reading more about this, it certainly validates my feelings about myself, but more than that, it makes me realize that the fact that I’m questioning myself doesn’t have to do with a lack of confidence, but rather an overflow of self-awareness.

If you’re interested with this kind of stuff, I suggest taking the quiz and reading more about your type at The Enneagram Institute. You can also find free Enneagram quizzes across the internet.

Leave a comment below and let me know what type you are and if you agree with it! Why or why not?

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The Real Reason I Quit My Job

photos by naomi johnson

Gosh. Are you getting sick of me talking about why I quit my job yet? I know, it’s not that big, radical thing. Except that, in my life, it is.

You see, I once defined success as some definite. That one day, I would reach a successful position in a successful company and bring home a successful-person’s salary and blah blah blah.

Been there. Did that.

The story starts in 2014 when I got laid off from the worst job I ever had and ultimately started back at zero. That summer I lived at home with my parents and worked for my dad. I applied to every job I could find on the internet. I started this blog that year, too. My self-esteem took a hit. Looking back now, I realize getting laid off was a blessing in disguise, but then it felt like the biggest gut punch of my life. I had zero confidence in the workplace and never thought for a million years that I would be successful.

But then I got a new job with a great salary and in my desired location. In four and a half years, I built something out of nothing, and thoroughly enjoyed the work.

Because of that job my self-esteem crept back. I started feeling confident again and a little voice that had always been there got louder and louder. “Hey, Erica. Are you gonna start this business or are you gonna wait around and let other people control how success is defined?”

Okay, maybe the voice didn’t say that, but it did start asking more questions!

I always had this entrepreneurial itch. I wanted to build something that was just mine and use my skills to help other businesses thrive. It wasn’t some distant dream either. My dad is an entrepreneur as are several of my aunts and uncles. I knew I could do it, and when the timing was right, I jumped.

You see, I was always supposed to be doing this! I was always meant to own Scout Creative and blog and brainstorm new crazy ideas each day and make them a reality! I just needed a little confidence boost, and when I felt like my wounds had healed, I quit my job.

It’s funny, because my life has come full circle. Back in 2014 when I was laid off, I was in the exact situation I’m in today! No steady paycheck, no employer. The difference is this time I’m in complete control and feel more successful than I did at my previous job! I think the universe was trying to nudge me back then, but I just wasn’t ready yet.

Life is all about perspective!

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Reese at Six Months Old

six months old

It’s officially been half a year since we welcomed Reese into our family, and I can’t really remember a time before her. She is developing quite the personality and it’s the sweetest! I love watching her grow each day, and I’m shocked at how fast the first six months flew by with her! I cannot believe she is six months old!

Physical Growth

Unofficially, Reese is about 14 pounds. She has her six month checkup on Friday so we will know more then! She is so close to sitting up, but still doesn’t have great balance. She has mastered the roll quite well, but still surprises herself that she gets into that position.

Reese did have her first cold and ear infection in the past month, which was absolutely heartbreaking! But she got through it and is back to her normal self.

Brain Growth

Reese loves to chit chat and has finally gotten over her stranger danger. Thank goodness! She loves her brother and smiles at him constantly. Reese definitely has her favorite toys at this point, and she usually knows how to get what she wants.

Sleeping

Somehow I was blessed with great sleepers. Reese goes down at 6:30pm each night, I dream feed her around 10pm and she sleeps until 4am, nurses, and goes back down until 6:30am. She usually gets about 2-3 naps in each day, depending on how long they are. The best part about her sleep? She rarely fights a nap. She usually doesn’t make a peep! However, when she does fight a nap, she fights it harddd!

Eating

Reese doesn’t want to be left out. She may refuse a bottle, but that’s about the only thing she won’t put in her mouth! She’s had crackers, bread, applesauce, green beans, and more! She’s a great eater! It’s funny how interested she is and how well she eats.

Things I don’t want to forget

  • The staccato-ed “ah” she makes when she’s talking to us!
  • The goofiest smile she gets when we get her from her crib. She usually shakes back and forth with excitement, too.
  • Our mornings together, before her brother wakes up. She usually catches David’s eye and can’t look away. She’s smitten, but then again, so is he!
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