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My daughter teaches me something new every day. Her courage inspires and fuels me. She's my brave girl and will try things on the playground I would never have attempted. One day she was trying to jump on these tires that are spaced far apart. She got to the last one with the largest distance to cover and hesitated. She'd been thinking about trying this jump all afternoon but was afraid she wouldn't make it. She said, "Mom film this!" As she started moving her feet gauging the distance, she leaped and slammed her face into the tire.

I stood there waiting for her reaction. She jumped up looked around at the people watching and said, "I’m ok." But the adrenaline wore off and I could see the pain on her face. She ran to me hurt and embarrassed.

I had a choice, I could say you’re ok, it wasn't that bad. I could try to make her stop crying and take her mind off of it by going down the slide or offering her a snack or ice cream. I could feel the judgment in the stares of the other parents. I just let my five-year-old do something dangerous.

My other option was to stay right where we were and talk to her. Let her cry and feel all the feels in my arms. People were staring, and I let them stare. I said to her "It seems like that really hurt. You were trying hard to jump from one tire to another and you fell. Your face is red. Is your eye ok?" "Yes," she said.

When she calmed down I told her that I used to be scared to try anything I wasn't absolutely sure I could do. I would never have tried to jump from those tires because I was afraid of getting hurt. I didn't like trying new things because I was afraid I would fail. But since I never tried I never knew what I was capable of.

I also said to her, "You are brave. You wanted to jump from one tire to the next and you tried hard. Your legs might not be long enough to make that jump right now. But I want to encourage you to keep trying and not give up because you will do it one day."

Before I finished talking, she jumped up and ran to the tire to try one more time even though I could see the pain on her face. She didn’t make the jump. But I told her she was brave to try it again after falling and that I knew one day she would make it.

My heart hurts when my kids fall. I want to protect them, I want to keep them from the pain. But I can’t. I won’t always be there to catch them or help them navigate tricky situations.

I have to let them fall. And I have to let her cry and know that it’s ok to show emotion. It’s ok to be weak, it’s ok to fail, we are all there at one time or another. It’s apart of the life process and it’s important not to ignore it but embrace it.

"When we fall, we learn. When we fail, we grow. When we finally succeed, we flourish." - Carrie Usmar

Quote from building emotional resilience in your daughter

On January 1, 2017 I sat on my recliner with my newborn baby staring into his eyes. I wanted to cherish every minute because those newborn days go quickly. I got dressed and I put on my red lipstick, something I rarely do. I that day and I looked in the mirror and said, "I love you, just the way you are." started with those long nights up feeding a newborn and the weird feeling after pregnancy where your body is no longer pregnant but you don't feel like yourself and holding that newborn all I could, because I knew the time would be short.

I didn’t let fear defeat me.

I got to know the voices in my head and am able to discern the truth vs. the lies.

I celebrated eight years of marriage with my husband.

I learned to be happy and support others. I stopped comparing myself and feeling jealous. I stopped yearning for what they had. I stopped trying to fit in. I stopped asking myself what would they think?

I learned to listen to God and be who he wants me to be. To use the gift of photography and writing he gave me and share what he wants me to share.

I learned to love being a stay at home mom a little bit more. I’ve been grateful for being a SAHM as long as I can remember but some days are hard and lonely. It’s hard not to want more. It’s hard to feel like I matter. But I worked this year to remember I matter, to find joy in the monotonous tasks, and to know I am enough the way I am. Nothing will change that.

I am stronger than I thought. The decision to homeschool was not an easy one but I’m happy we are trying it. As crazy as it gets, I cherish the extra time with my daughter.

I learned to stop focusing on who my children will be someday but see them now just as they are right now.

In 2018, I won’t focus on all the ways I don’t measure up. I’m starting the year looking in the mirror again and saying I love you. You are beautiful. You are worthy. You matter.

- I will dance like a fool just a little bit more.

- I’ll embrace who I am, not who I'm supposed to be.

- I’ll continue to monitor my thoughts.

- I’ll use my voice, talk about the hard things and love the people that don’t agree.

- I will fight for me. I will say No when I need to. I won’t let fear drive me.

- I will smile.

- I’ll continue to honor my gifts.

- I’ll remember the gift of life and health and enjoy each day like it’s my last.

In 2018, I hope you look in the mirror and tell yourself you are worthy. I hope you remind yourself that you matter and that your love brings joy to others. I hope you embrace who you are, not who you are supposed to be.

Wishing you the happiest 2018 my friends!

My 2018 inspiration for you. Dance it out my friends.

How to survive and thrive in the new year

My Perfect Christmas goes something like this…

• Advent tree. I need a small toy to give each kid with a bible verse attached every day. • Get an elf. Make it do elf things every single night before Christmas. • Bake cookies from scratch and decorate. • Make a gingerbread house. • Cut down a Christmas tree at a tree farm. • Everyone decorates the tree with Christmas music on and hot cocoa. • Fireplace mantle must be decked • Simple Christmas wreath on the door. Lights outside, candles in windows on and a spotlight on the house. • Go see the nutcracker, or a Christmas carol • Christmas parties • Go to a tree lighting somewhere nearby. • Go see santa, buy really expensive picture, bonus points if you go on the polar express. • Get your Christmas card photo taken. Order the card and mail it to people you don’t talk to anymore. • Buy gifts. They can’t be regular gifts like socks, robes, sweaters and whatever else. They have to be thoughtful gifts. Handmade preferred. • Don’t get the kids too many toys or they will be spoiled. Stick to the rule of four. • Make sure to find and volunteer to help out with various holiday outreach events. Soup kitchens, or collecting food or clothes for donation centers. • Wrap all the gifts with varying wrapping paper. But of similar colors and bows so that it looks nice under the tree. • Buy or make small gifts for everyone, teachers, mailman, extracurricular teachers, secretaries ect. • Cook the BEST meal on Christmas.

My Actual Christmas

• Cut down the tree. • Kids decorated the tree. • Made a paper chain. • Made a gingerbread house. • Saw the nutcracker. • Saw Christmas lights around the neighborhood. • Saw Santa. • Got our Christmas card photo taken, but never ordered the cards.

I could continue to go on about all we didn’t get done this year but I will spare you all of those details. That’s not how I want to remember this Christmas. I don’t want to tally up all the ways I've fallen short. I don't want to write about how I am stressed, overwhelmed, feeling not enough because I am. I always am. Every day. I talk badly to myself, feel shame, then tell my mind to shut up and stop hurting me and it’s a cycle. Some days are worse than others.

If I focus on all that we didn’t do this year, I am missing what we have done. I am missing those moments of joy that are happening right before my eyes. I am missing time being present with family. I forget about the other traditions we've made, the ones that aren’t on the list. I end up wanting to forget this Christmas and not even celebrate. I consider sleeping the day away hoping no one will notice. I am the Grinch and I steal the joy from others, when I complain about the wrapping, or the elf, or the santa line, or the lack of ideas for gifts, or the car that cut me off in the parking lot, or the food I have to prepare.

I don’t want to do that. This could be my last Christmas ever. I surrender. I’ll stop trying to control it now. I’ll stop listening to the should’s and ought to’s. I’ll stop trying to escape it by watching tv and going on my phone.

I’ll be grateful. I’ll appreciate the love of my family and friends. I’ll enjoy the time with my kids and the look on their faces as they experience the magic of Santa. I will savor those unforgettable moments of joy as the kids watched the dancers in the nutcracker and the incredible Christmas light display rocking to the tune of The Party Rock Anthem by LMFAO.

I did my best this year and my best is good enough.

I hope this holiday season is truly special for you. Remember that you are worthy and you did your best. Don’t let your mind tell you otherwise. Smile at strangers, be extra giving, admit your shortcomings, be quick to apologize, and forgive. Give your family an extra squeeze this year, because you can.

Wishing you all a very Happy Christmas.

The Usmars 2017

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