The Mind Spiral

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I’ve started a weekly showcase of the book on Insta. Quotes, reviews, favorite lines … look for it every Wednesday! If you don’t follow me on there, go ahead and find me at @lcmckinley.

Today’s post I felt extra strong about so I wanted to put it up here as well. The quote above is from the chapter in my book titled, The Blame Game. In this chapter, I talk about the downward spiral your mind can take when something goes wrong in your marriage. It’s so easy to assign every personal flaw or insecurity to what landed you in this mess.

However, that is not a healthy place for your mind to stay. Keep your mind fixed on what will help you today, in the exact place you’re in right now. Remind yourself of five things you love about who you are. Play those thoughts on repeat. Make those thoughts be the ones that take up all the space. Or memorize a favorite quote or bible verse. Repeat it again and again, partner it with some deep breaths, calming scenery, and work at it until you feel better. You guys, it’s not easy. It takes practice and discipline, but it will be so worth it. Start the habits today. There’s no better time to start healing your mind.

Motherhood (part five)

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This last post in the motherhood series sums up an epiphany I had earlier this week. If you’ve followed my blog for awhile, I am sure you’ve heard me call my daughter the brightest of all silver lining. I dedicated my book to it, I write about it in parenting articles, and I remind myself of it when the blending gets hard. So, I write to the mamas out there who can relate. The ones who went through the hell of betrayal and heartbreak. 

If you’re in a painful place right now, will you give credit to that marriage you’re not all that proud of for giving you this beautiful child? When that’s all you got, you have to bask in it. Your brightest silver lining. I wrote this in my book and I will scream it from the mountaintops, I would go through it all again and then some if it meant I got my daughter out of it. She’s the biggest blessing in my prayers thanking God for what I went through. If it weren’t for that union, you wouldn’t have your baby. And repeat. 

What I hadn’t thought about until earlier this week was if my divorce hadn’t happened, I wouldn’t have my sweet baby boy. Disclaimer: I am also well aware that if it weren’t for my divorce I wouldn’t be married to the saintly dreamboat I now call my husband. I don’t discount this for a split second, it’s just we are on the topic of babies. So, it dawned on me this sweet baby boy would not exist in the world if it weren’t for me coming out of that painful divorce and starting all over. Life is just so darn crazy when you take a step back and look at how all of the pieces fit together. 

And there it is … “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Our babies have God’s good written all over them. They may be the sole light that came from all of your pain. Keep that bright light in the forefront of your mind. Especially this weekend as we celebrate the gift of motherhood. Do something extra special to celebrate the fact that you are rocking this mama gig. Your babies will learn a strength from you that wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for all of the crazy you’ve gone through. 

I am praying that all of the mamas out there are celebrated real good this weekend and that God blesses you with peace above all else. ❤

Motherhood (part four)

IMG_0449I hope you’ve been enjoying all of the mama goodness this week on the blog. As you know, lately, I have been preaching Rachel Hollis pretty hard. I read her latest book, Girl, Wash Your Face, and it changed my life in so many ways. I often meditate on her words about motherhood. I know it’s not just me that feels the constant judgement/guilt about how to be a good mom. Parenting styles, family dynamics, working moms, stay at home moms … not to mention all of the little intricacies that make up this little human you’re trying to raise. It’s all VERY overwhelming if you let it be. I remind myself of a few truths when I struggle in mommyland.

The first one came from a grandma I met at the park when I was past due with my son, just waiting to become a mom of two, desperate to take in any wisdom she had from her years as a mother. She told me, “You can’t take all the blame and you can’t take all the credit.” Our best efforts sometimes fail because, well, our kids aren’t robots. We could train, redirect, punish, praise, and repeat until we are blue in the face, but even with our greatest efforts, our kids will still have a big ol meltdown in the middle of Target. Fact. And even if we teach them manners all day, at every meal, around every table, they will do things that make Emily Post turn over in her grave. And then, there’s that other evidence. The good stuff. When your years of hard work align perfectly with their behavior and you take a big sigh of pride. When you just want to give yourself a big pat on the back (or pour yourself a big glass of bubbly) for the fact that your kids are finally getting it. Praise Jesus.

To top off the wins and losses are the qualities that make up these kiddos in the first place. Their personality and natural talents/interests, are they strong-willed or more compliant, full of energy or mellow … And the list goes on. All of these pieces together are what make the world and this next generation so rad. We are in a time as mamas where we are free to encourage and parent our babies based on who they are as individuals. This also plays into how we shape and parent our kids. It’s a big job we have, no doubt. Just do me a solid and go easy on yourself. Remember the blame and credit balance the next time a meltdown happens or they do something awesome.

Back to my girl, Rachel, I want to leave you with a few of her words as an internal pep talk for this mama life:

“You can’t fail at a job you were created to do.”

“The intention to do well will see them through. I will do my best and I will trust my best is what God intended for these babies.”

“Being a perfect mom is a myth – but being a petty great mom, most of the time, is actually possible.”

Repeat these truths over and over until your heart and mind really, and I mean really, believe them.  ❤

Motherhood (part three)

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This is one of my all time favorite pieces on having a daughter. I laugh every time I read it and in light of our motherhood series, I had to share it with you! If you have a little girl, (hopefully) every part of this poem will make you smile. My favorite line has to be the Hollister scene because it just screams something that would happen in my future.

A Mother’s Prayer for Her Daughter

by Tina Fey

“First, Lord: No tattoos. May neither Chinese symbol for truth nor Winnie-the-Pooh holding the FSU logo stain her tender haunches.

May she be Beautiful but not Damaged, for it’s the Damage that draws the creepy soccer coach’s eye, not the Beauty.

When the Crystal Meth is offered, may she remember the parents who cut her grapes in half And stick with Beer.

Guide her, protect her when crossing the street, stepping onto boats, swimming in the ocean, swimming in pools, walking near pools, standing on the subway platform, crossing 86th Street, stepping off of boats, using mall restrooms, getting on and off escalators, driving on country roads while arguing, leaning on large windows, walking in parking lots, riding Ferris wheels, roller-coasters, log flumes, or anything called “Hell Drop,” “Tower of Torture,” or “The Death Spiral Rock ‘N Zero G Roll featuring Aerosmith,” and standing on any kind of balcony ever, anywhere, at any age.

Lead her away from Acting but not all the way to Finance. Something where she can make her own hours but still feel intellectually fulfilled and get outside sometimes And not have to wear high heels. What would that be, Lord? Architecture? Midwifery? Golf course design? I’m asking You, because if I knew, I’d be doing it, Youdammit.

May she play the Drums to the fiery rhythm of her Own Heart with the sinewy strength of her Own Arms, so she need Not Lie With Drummers.

Grant her a Rough Patch from twelve to seventeen. Let her draw horses and be interested in Barbies for much too long, For childhood is short – a Tiger Flower blooming Magenta for one day – And adulthood is long and dry-humping in cars will wait.

O Lord, break the Internet forever, that she may be spared the misspelled invective of her peers And the online marketing campaign for Rape Hostel V: Girls Just Wanna Get Stabbed.

And when she one day turns on me and calls me a Bitch in front of Hollister, Give me the strength, Lord, to yank her directly into a cab in front of her friends, For I will not have that Shit. I will not have it.

And should she choose to be a Mother one day, be my eyes, Lord, that I may see her, lying on a blanket on the floor at 4:50 A.M., all-at-once exhausted, bored, and in love with the little creature whose poop is leaking up its back. “My mother did this for me once,” she will realize as she cleans feces off her baby’s neck. “My mother did this for me.” And the delayed gratitude will wash over her as it does each generation and she will make a Mental Note to call me. And she will forget. But I’ll know, because I peeped it with Your God eyes.

Amen.”

Hope that gave you a laugh and all of you mamas are planning something special for this upcoming weekend. My prayers are with you! ❤

 

Motherhood (part two)

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The next piece in our motherhood series comes from a writer who shares the straight up truth that being a mom is HARD. She wrote this post for a mom blog in Waco, and her words wring in all sorts of wisdom, especially in the fresh mommy stage I’m currently in. I say, fresh because I had a six-year break from the newborn life. And while now, three months in, I will brag all day every day about this perfect boy I have who sleeps and is happy every hour of the day, I must say that the first weeks were brutal (and in a very unexpected way).

I thought to myself, I’ve done this before. What could possibly be so hard? Those damn emotions, that’s what. The swings were REAL and out of my control. I found myself upset for no good reason, most days. I am thankful that time has passed and I feel more and more back to my normal level-headed self. But, even so, is it all still really hard? Absolutely. Balancing my time and attention with this sweet three-month nugget and my energetic and fiery six-year-old is just hard. And, to be clear, I don’t mean to label my daughter in a negative context. The very things that make my daughter so freaking amazing are the same things that make her a challenge to parent at times. That’s just the fact of the matter. Now, back to the amazing article, I am sharing with you this morning: This Stage of Life? It’s Hard.

Enjoy and be encouraged that we are all in this same mommy boat. If you think this stage is hard, then you must be doing all the things right!

 

Motherhood (part one)

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Today marks the start of my motherhood series! This week’s articles will be all about those mamas out there! My first post was one I wrote TWO years ago. You’ve heard me say this before, but, oh man, SO MUCH can happen in two years! This post was written from a time of me reflecting as a single mom and all of the losses that went along with that season.

May of 2016, I wrote:
The photo above is one of my all-time favorite pictures of my daughter and I. She’s about six months old and at the time, I felt like I had my dream life. My little family was beautiful, full of so much love and joy. My husband treated me like I was the best thing that had ever happened to him. He adored me as a wife and mother of his daughter. If someone had told me the events of the year that followed this picture, I would have laughed in their face. A double life, the destruction of an affair, my husband moving out, a single mom to a fresh one-year-old … Actually, had someone even told me ONE of these things was to happen, I would have bet them all the money in the world that they were wrong. Well, it’s a good thing I didn’t make that bet.

My first Mother’s Day was one for the books. What every new mom’s first Mother’s Day should look like. Relaxation and pampering to the max. Didn’t change one diaper all weekend, went on a shopping spree, drank coffee in bed, ate deliciously planned meals with paired wine and cocktails, flowers, cards, you name it … the works. A lot can happen in a year. The next Mother’s Day my husband took me out to brunch where we sipped mimosas and ate some amazing food with our darling daughter. Sounds pretty standard, right? Well, this celebratory brunch was actually his first attempt at coming back to our marriage and family after he had been in an 8-month affair. There were flowers, coupons, and promises galore. Having him come back to our family was a nice Mother’s Day gift in a twisted sort of way. However, it was very short-lived.

The following two Mother’s Days were spent with my mom, aunts, and friends celebrating the sweet gift of motherhood. Celebrating the gift that God gave me this amazing daughter to nurture and raise. And as much as I did feel loved, supported, and thankful, I was still husband-less on this day, which stung. Last year, our divorce had just been finalized and I was greeted with a card, champagne, and flowers from my baby daddy. Of course, it was thoughtful that he appreciated how I was raising our daughter and wanted to acknowledge me. I am not dumbing down this gesture, but it’s still a loss. It was not a celebration planned by my husband. We did not wake up on this special morning, all together under one roof. I had my daughter all day, on my own.

Loss. Even though I felt loved and celebrated, there was loss. This was not how I pictured this stage of life. And that’s just plain hard. It’s hard to see all of your mommy friends with one more baby on the way, spoiled by their husbands on this heartfelt day and you are now divorced at square one. Mother’s Day is meant to celebrate motherhood. The ups, the downs, the beauty, the mess, the joy and the tears. Sadly, for single moms, it can feel like just another day. If you’re a single mommy of little ones, I encourage you to create the perfect day for yourself. And if that means hiring a babysitter, THAT. IS. OKAY. This is one of those days, full of triggers that have the potential of letting you down all over again. We need to do what we can to minimize this. For our own well-being. We look out for the well-being of our little ones all day, every day. Look out for #1 on Mother’s Day this year. Don’t dread the day that you don’t have a husband to spoil you, spoil yourself instead! Spend time surrounded by your mom, loved ones, fellow single moms, dear friends … whoever will bring YOU joy on this day. Give yourself the gift of whatever will help the day be a happy one! I will be praying that your triggers are few and that your cards/flowers/gifts/cocktails are many.

Comeback Time

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Happy Saturday, friends! My best friend passed this podcast along and I wanted to share it with all of you. I encourage you to grab some coffee (or wine), go outside, and give this a listen! The episode, How Do You Turn a Setback Into a Comeback, is from Oprah’s SuperSoul Conversations. On this episode, she talks to Tim Storey, author, motivational speaker and ordained minister, about how to transform a setback into a comeback.

I think we can all relate to the feeling of wondering if you’ll ever come back from certain setbacks, divorce being one of them. This podcast gives you encouragement and practical tips for not letting your setbacks define you, but rather transform you.

Go somewhere peaceful and take in these life-giving words. Enjoy your weekend! ❤

 

Family Guilt

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Any This is Us fans out there? I am talking about the kind that excitedly looks forward to Tuesday evening only to sob their way through the entire hour. I was crying extra ugly during the Season 2 finale. If you don’t follow the show, first, I recommend binge-watching the entire thing pronto. Second, bare with me and do your best to read between the lines to connect with the point I am trying to make here.

Before I go any further, I am well aware that I am comparing real life to an NBC drama. However, one of the reasons the writing of this storyline is so genius is its relatability. So even though I am comparing real-life events to that of fictional characters, I still feel strongly about connecting our stories to theirs.

As a fellow daddy’s girl, I can completely relate to Kate and the closeness she feels to her father. Now, I am fortunate enough to have my father still living, but that flashback scene to when Kate was young talking to Jack about the guy she’ll marry had me all weepy … “The guy that gets to marry you, Katie-Girl, he is one lucky guy,” 

Now, fast forward to Kate and Toby happily married and then a year in Toby deciding to up and leave. How disappointing would that be for not only Kate (of course, Kate), but her entire close-knit family. They gave Kate fully to this man, trusting with 100% of their being that this man was going to care for their dear sister/daughter. Almost like it is partially their responsibility for who she ends up with. We’ve all had friends who have dated douchebags and we’ve felt like it was our place to speak up before god forbid it goes any further. Now, magnify that feeling times a billion and that’s how a father feels about their daughter. I imagine entrusting them to someone in marriage is an unreal experience.

If you’re close to your family and you’ve been through a divorce, you know that it affects evvvvvvveryone. Each family member goes through the divorce with you. And it’s easy to take other family member’s pain on yourself. I remember thinking, I can’t believe I am putting my parents through this. I felt so much guilt for so long that I caused my family this pain.

Even though I was the victim of our divorce and did all that I could to stay married, I still felt like it was my fault that my parents and family had to go through this. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Everyone in my close circle was concerned for me, not blaming me. In hindsight, I put a lot of extra stress on myself, feeling guilty for what I had put my own family through. I know it’s natural to place blame on yourself at some point, but while the load is already heavy, let’s do what we can to make it lighter, not add to it. If you’re in this same boat I was in, remember your family cares about you and are devastated for what you are going through. Think that guilt out of your mind and focus on what will help you grieve today. Let your family experience their pain the way that helps them. Don’t take on the extra losses when you have so many as is. Your family will get through these painful times and come out stronger.

As always, please write in with any specific questions that may have come to mind from reading this article. My prayers are with you!

Dating Q&A

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First off, thank you to all of you who wrote me in response to my dating after divorce post! I was excited to do a Q&A with what you were all interested in knowing. I’ve said this before, but I do feel like I shy away from talking about the stage of dating and remarriage out of sensitivity for my readers who are still in a place of grieving and healing. However, I do want to share the amazing hope I have lived through in starting over after all of the pain.

I picked the top three questions I saw the most from those of you who wrote in and gave my best response. This is what I did and what helped me. As with everything divorce related, there is no real perfect answer for every situation, so keep that in mind when you’re reading my responses.

Question One: How soon did you start dating after your divorce? When were you ready? The legal process of our divorce took a year and a half. Not because there was some dramatic court battle, but because we went the budget-friendly route with mediators and in my opinion, they just took their time. But I digress, in addition to this year and a half of the legal process was a year prior of an on and (mostly) off time of separation and “working” on the marriage. So, that put us at two and a half years of the craziness before the divorce was legally final. My own personal conviction about this matter was that I was not going down any dating road until I got that official D notice. Call me crazy, but, I am a firm believer in it’s not over until it’s over. Aside from that belief, I had a lot to sift through on my own. I needed to heal. I needed to get back to myself. I needed my confidence and worth back before I even entertained letting someone else in. In hindsight, I am SO thankful for that long stretch. Was it easy? Absolutely not. But that time is why when I met my now husband I was ready to dive in without the crazy baggage weighing me down. I met my now husband three months after my divorce was final. And because I stayed so obnoxiously single through the two years prior I was whole and ready for a new relationship. There is no magic answer for this. Wait until things are really over and wait until you are back to the person you are proud to share with someone else. And surely don’t settle for meh dating. Wait until someone quality comes along and then take the dating plunge.

Question Two: When did you know he was “the one”? Call me cynical, but I don’t believe in “the one” idea. When we started dating I was not guarded to the point where I would back away in an unhealthy way, but I was hyperaware. I observed his character. Was there anything shady about him? How did he react when he was angry? Was his faith real? Did he have a temper? How did he treat strangers? What did his friendships look like? How was he with his family? I was ready for the red flags. As months went on and I didn’t see the red flags I was looking for, I started thinking about the amazing qualities he did have and how they would pan out in a marriage. I kept my mind and heart in that place … this man has the qualities of those I would want in a husband As things organically progressed it became more and more clear that we were both in it for marriage. There was no real aha moment, but a lot of careful time and consideration. We dated for eleven intentional months before getting engaged. Then, six months later we were married. If nothing else, don’t settle. My husband is the most amazing man. He puts our love first, puts our family first, and ALWAYS thinks I am the hottest girl in the room. My best advice for if you’re in the dating game is keep your eyes wide open for the red flags and just observe the heck out of his character. Remove the rose-colored glasses for good and take it all one day at a time.

Question Three: What reservations did you have about getting remarried? And what triggers from the past have spilled into your new marriage? I did not have any reservations about getting remarried because through our dating relationship I became fully confident in the man I was marrying. I was cautious in getting to know him and by the time marriage was on the table, there were no reservations. Sadly, in the back of my mind, I did think, “anything can happen.” I didn’t go into my first marriage ever in a million years thinking it would end the way it did. But it did. So, why was this one different? Well, again, that goes back to careful observations of character and being hyperaware of any red flags in sight. As time has gone on, I don’t think this way anymore. I don’t have the doubts of anything could happen. Time and natural progression have helped this.

For me, in the beginning, the hardest part was the idea of having another wedding. I know that sounds SUPER shallow. I already had a big ol wedding and my pride was like, “Nope!” to another one. Well, thank the good Lord, I got over that. How selfish to not celebrate this union and love. Annnnnd my husband had not been married before. So, I was going to rob him of this celebration because of my dumb pride. I am SO thankful I got over that. Our wedding was the best! And there was so much to celebrate I could cry just thinking about it.

The less fun parts of remarriage are the triggers that come from the past. They will happen from time to time because of what you’ve gone through. However, the right man will just reassure the heck out of whatever the trigger brings to surface. And then it’s your job to trust in this new love as different from the last one. Give yourself that gift. There’s no reason to let your past ruin your future. Talk yourself out of those dark places and find the guy who will reassure you till he’s blue in the face.

Again, thank YOU for writing in with your questions. I did get some questions about when I brought my daughter into the mix. I will address this, but there was so much to say, I wanted it to be an entirely separate post. I pray my answers were helpful to you and if you’d like any further answers, please don’t hesitate to ask! I love sharing my story in hopes of helping yours.

My Latest Obsession

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If you’ve talked to me either via social media or real life during the past month, it is very likely that I have brought up, Girl, Wash Your Face. To say that I am obsessed with it would be an understatement considering you can find me relistening (yay Audible) to my favorite chapters on the daily.

In short, this book helps us counteract the lies we believe about ourselves. Each chapter is a different lie that the author, Rachel Hollis, has at one point believed about herself, the story behind it, and then what she did to help it. I related to every. single. lie. she voiced in the book. Every single one. What this tells me is we are all so connected in ways we don’t even realize and that really is beautiful. And with that connection comes the responsibility of sharing our souls and our secrets. Sharing how we worked our butts off to come out on top. How we conquered what has been weighing us down for years. Rachel did this. She shared her dark times, she shared her triumphs, and she shared the powerful truth that we are the only ones in charge of the outcome.

Divorce teaches you this if you let it. You have zero control of circumstances, other people’s choices, or how life pans out. What you DO have control over is how you handle it, how you grow, and the strength you gain in the meantime. We are in charge of this. And as Rachel discusses in her book, we are in charge of combatting all of those damn lies that come our way. Divorce will attack you with every lie in the book. You were a bad wife, you are not worthy, you failed your marriage (and your kids), you are not attractive, you won’t find love again … and they go on. Rachel has not been through a divorce personally, but she does talk about trauma and experiencing something hard (which, hello, is the D word). She gives life-giving advice on how to get through the ruts and how to get the lies out of your head.

Motherhood, self-worth, sex, following BIG dreams, body image, marital issues, judgment, hard work, mental illness, therapy, adoption … she goes to ALL OF THE PLACES. And she does it in a beautifully raw fashion that makes you fired up to conquer it all! I wholeheartedly want all of you to read this goodness. I know it will change your life. And I know that sounds dramatic, but it’s the honest truth. It will change your life for the better. Who doesn’t want that? ❤