Marriage is Work

IMG_4493Dear Readers,

When I hesitated to write this blog, I knew how important it was to actually write it.

Our church has been doing a series on “How to be Married” and all the ways in which we communicate and deal with conflict and confrontation.

Guess what? I am not as good at this marriage thing as I once thought. That is a pride swallowing thing to admit but it’s true.

I am writing this with my husband’s permission- See, as much as my blog is about my life, this post is about our marriage and understanding that it’s not perfect. I think it is easy to view it that way or have that be the goal or have others think we are.

 

This picture sure makes us look perfect, but I assure you, we are not.

But we are not, we both lose our tempers and don’t always say the right thing and often say the wrong thing.

As it turns out, I am not the best listener when it comes to listening to my husband. I consider myself to be a very good listener and excellent communicator so this stings and required I look at that and figure out why I do it, but more importantly stop doing it.

Way easier said than done, I can tell you.

On his side, he has a habit of saying “always” and “never” which doesn’t focus on the specific situation at hand, therefore making it harder to uncover what’s really making him mad. He is working on this, now that we have both identified pain points.

Something interesting has happened for us.

After having a few “up-tempo” discussions, things are starting to get better and while not “perfect” (never the goal) things are definitely moving in the right direction and we are communicating better than we were before and that is saying something.

I think this progress is owing to the fact that my husband and I love each other very much and work hard at our marriage and it is work. I will say it again, Marriage is work.

I find this method to be very helpful for important communication- Married or not- Check it out-

 

So, in summary, nobody’s relationship is perfect and in the war against comparison, I implore you not to strive to “appear” perfect, trust me, no one is. And if they tell you they are, I promise they are lying.

Think About It.

 

Comparison is the thief of joy

comp

Dear Readers,

I am on a crusade to stop judgment and comparison.

Join me, won’t you?

It’s easy, all we have to do is stop judging ourselves and each other. Okay, it’s not easy but it is simple. Right now, I am working REALLY hard on the first part, but it came as a BIG surprise to me this week, that the second part is pretty hard as well.

If you are anything like me, you don’t MEAN to judge people, you are a good and kind person, (most of the time) you help people when they ask for it, you might even give cash when you have it to a homeless person and you aren’t an evil person, but it’s hard NOT to compare because when you think about how babies occur in the universe, it’s “how big was he/she when born?” “boy or girl” “tall or short” “fat or thin”- Is she crawling yet? “Is she walking yet?” I was thinking about all this when I set out to write this post today..

Stop comparing. Stop it, just stop. It’s a big goal and sometimes feels impossible but it’s not. I view it as vital and as a way to help my fellow mom or dad enjoy their child and not compare them to one another.

It’s instantaneous and insiduous. The second that you find yourself in a conversation with another parent who does “parenting” differently than you do, e.g. “bedtime, that seems a little “early/late” you start to feel it, it creeps up your spine and starts to trickle in to your brain and you start to wonder.. Well should I do/think/worry about our daughter because…. this other person just told me about what they do. No. If you take nothing else away from this post at least take this statement. Your child was born with an embedded timeline, they will do things on that timeline, so try not to compare or worry when you find out your child is not crawling yet, but the same aged child down the block is doing it and has been for a few days, relax, your child will get there.

Now don’t get me wrong, conversations about what you do and don’t do  as a parent or even as a wife and mother can be great, cleansing even.. just don’t let the conversation turn into a comparison marathon.

Today is great example, I got some advice from another mother about teething, I can’t wait to try what they suggested to try to help our little girl. Just a week or so, I would have avoided that conversation because I wouldn’t want to admit I need help and this is hard. But today, a simple question, “how is your day going?” led to, “I am actually pretty tired because this morning at 3am Vivienne woke up wailing because she is in pain or having a nightmare or we don’t know what, just not happy and not consolable. We are spoiled rotten because typically she sleeps through the night, but last night this was not the case.”

The other person asking was a mother and sympathized and said, I remember those days, tough on mom and baby- here’s what I do, try it and good luck. I sighed and said, “thank you”.. see it was that simple no judgment, no comparison, one mother helping another out. I instantly felt better, and not judged.

You don’t have to be a Mom or Dad to feel this by the way, I post a I do every Friday where I say, what my High Friday is.. and I always have a least one person say, ”
I can’t compete with that… and then I explain.. no comparison here, tell us what you are grateful or or excited about. I think we could stand to do that more every day and that’s exactly what I am working toward.

What can you do to help me in my crusade to STOP THE COMPARING?

Think About It…….

 

 

 

Connect or Contact?

connectioninfographicDear Readers,

In the fast-paced, ultra connected world we live in, it can be really hard to slow down and actually connect with another person. (mental note to self: Tweet that)

I was actually having coffee with a dear friend of mine tonight and we were both talking about how difficult and yet how easy it is to reach out and connect with someone you care about and take the time to grow the friendship and keep the contact current.

Think about it, when was the last time you thought, I really miss ________, and called them rather than send them a text or post on their Facebook wall? That is a nice gesture, but it’s passive, and I think we can do better, in fact I think we should do better.

An interesting point about our discussion tonight, It was a post on facebook that led her to know about a friend being in her neck of the woods, and so she reached out and said, hey, since you are nearby, let’s get together. So the use of social media connection, helped a contact happen. The same thing with a few other friends who are in different time zones, a few are internationally based. It’s worth it though, because we are BOTH making the time.

I am not saying social media or even text messages are bad, I am saying they pale in comparison to a good old fashioned phone call. When was the last time you actually picked up the phone and called someone? I know a text is easier and much more convenient, and in fact, I texted to set up the coffee tonight,  and it took some back and forth to find a good time that worked for both of us, but we did. I think this is a good example of a symbiotic relationship of phone, social media connection and Voila! Contact!

I know that we can’t all drop what we are doing to have coffee every night, no kids would be raised, or work would get done, but is there a friendship you are neglecting or maybe need to nurture, who you keep cancelling on but keep rescheduling? Think about the friendship and make a determination, is it there a season, a reason, or a lifetime. Then take some action.

Think about it!

 

Don’t cry over spilled Pepsi…

Dear Readers,

35 weeks ago I became a mother.

It’s exciting and difficult in equal parts. It’s an adventure to be sure and I learn something new about myself every day.

I have made some observations about some things that have changed about me and would like to share them with you, if you will allow me. Thanks!

1. Everything takes longer with a kiddo in tow. Trust me, if you say you will be 30 minutes bank on it being an hour.

2. I no longer “knee-jerk” apologize when accidents happen. Take Saturday, when dining my 8 month old daughter dumped an ice cold Pepsi on my lunch companion and a little on me.

I laughed, and it didn’t even occur to me to apologize, since it was an accident but it did occur to me that 8 months ago I would have knee jerk apologized, this time I just laughed and cleaned it up.

3. I don’t hang around if I am not having a good time. I am not rude about it, but I don’t stay.

4. My child is not following anyone’s timeline but her own. It’s a good reminder as we wait for her to crawl and talk. Especially when I proudly shared the news that my child rolled from her back to her stomach. The comment back was, “That’s late isn’t it?” said with a slight look of concern. I shot back, “That’s one way to look at it”- Of course, I thought of an even more biting response later, but that isn’t what I want. I want us to stop judging and making “well-meaning” remarks and just let parents revel in the milestones when they happen.

5. You truly stop worrying about that petty stuff that used to concern you and that you obssessed about and find yourself focusing on the things that really matter, like when my daughter smiles at me or making my husband laugh.

6. Our house is not organized but I don’t care. It’s clean and baby-proofed so when Vivienne does start to crawl and walk it will be without fear. Yes, I would like it to be shiny but that isn’t the season we are in at the moment.

What big takeaways do you have about a new role or relationship in your life. These are my takeaways, what are yours?

Think About It….

 

thevoicevivienne

 

 

Emotional hiccups

imagejfmincDear Readers,

A friend of mine coined this term for things that upset us and make us feel like our world is ending, but really if we just hold on and WAIT, things do get better.

My therapist calls it cognitive dissonance. My pastor calls it extrapolation and in layman’s terms, it sounds like this, tell me if this is familiar.

You are low on money one day.

You say and think to yourself, we don’t have enough money.

You then say- We will NEVER have enough money.

Before you know it, you are in the throes of so much emotion and you have yourself convinced of this false statement and now you have emotional hiccups.

You start saying to yourself that this is true and there is no way out.

Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, you let yourself believe what in a moment of difficulty, you decided was TRUE.

What’s the remedy?

If you find yourself spinning out of control emotionally, take a breath and refute the story you are telling yourself with truth.

1. We have enough money to pay bills.

2. We are spending less money and saving money right now.

3. This is not for always, this is for a short amount of time (a season if you will) and it is going to be worth it.

Keep telling yourself the truth, ask others around you to help you reinforce reality and breathe, this too shall pass.

Think about it.

 

Rejected but not Dejected

Dear Readers,

Well I sincerely wish I could tell you I got a red card and am going to Los Angeles but sadly, I can not.

I wanted to say thank you to all of those hoping and praying for me and sending all the vibes and encouraging words my way. Some of you have never heard me sing, and were so super supportive and pulling for me. That meant a lot! Thank you!

Here is the song I sang (no cameras in the room) so this YouTube I took from the set of my show will have to do…

It was a fun experience, and hey, it’s another high-stakes audition (for NBC producers) to add to my list of auditions. The more you audition, the better you get, (so they say).

I do want to point something out though. As I was standing in line, one of the handlers addressed the crowd for what had to be the 200th time that day, and said, “Thank you for being here, we don’t have a show without you. We understand you are a person and you are not cattle so we won’t treat you like that. We want to get you in and out of here, unlike American Idol where it’s a 14-16 hour day, we want to get you out of here in 2-3 hours. You are here because you believe you are ‘The Voice’ or you believe you are talented enough to come out and take your shot. We appreciate you, get yourself ready and show the judges what you are made of, have some fun and show off your best.”

It was really encouraging, and this was my fourth time auditioning and no one had ever said anything like that before. In the past, it was quite literally a cattle call… just line after line, and for hours on end. That was not the case this year. We got there at 12 and left a little after 4, which was way better than I was thinking it was going to be.

As I approached the audition room, I started to get revved up, excited and the adrenaline was pumping, I took off my running shoes and put on my sexy shoes that I had packed in my bag. I was first in line so did a few lip trills and ran my “la be da me ni po tu’s” as I waited. I did my power posing and pictured a red card in my hand and saw it in my mind and did a few jumps to get my energy up and ready.

The door opened and we were ushered in to the room with 5 chairs on each side of the room. The producer was a wiry guy with lots of tattoos and he was sitting at a little table with a laptop on it and stacks and stacks of audition passes and he said,

“Welcome, thank you for being here and pursuing a dream. I want to start by saying thank you to the parents who are supporting their kids and their dreams. Secondly, I want to tell you that there are a ton of people who audition for us and don’t get on the show but still have very successful music careers, and a yes is very easy to hear, but no is harder to hear and a lot more common. So, when I call your name give me the very best 45 seconds you got. You can sing any part of the song you want, it can be the beginning and the middle or the end, but you only get 45 seconds.  You will stop you or I will stop you when my stopwatch says 45 seconds and hopefully we will move you to the next round. After you all sing, I will tell you the results. I want to tell you too, that what you are doing takes guts, most people are afraid to pursue their dreams, that’s not you, because here you are, so, best of luck, and let’s start.”

I was about 7th to sing (lucky number 7?) and I am proud of how I sang. I am not happy with one of the notes, but I did what I did and in the moment that is all you CAN do.

No one in the room advanced, and when he told us that, this is what he said,

“As you may remember from watching the show, sometimes you will see a coach hovering their hand right over the button but they don’t press and it was like that here today.  I heard a lot of good things, but no one was consistent enough to move forward but I thank you all for coming in and come back, you might have missed it by one note.”

So I got a big fat no, but I am not that upset for a few reasons. It was the most encouraging “no” I think I ever got. I was so happy that the producer took the time to build people up in that way, since obviously they don’t have to do that.

They were doing auditions since 7am that morning, and if you do the math 10 people per audition session, he had to say that at least 100 times before I ever stepped foot in his audition room. It was incredible that he said it with such gusto and sincerity.

And you know what, I am not discouraged, I prepared and and did all I could do to show them the best that I have to offer and I am not what they are looking for this season.

Truly I am unsure if I will try again, since I have no idea what my life will bring in the next few years. I truly feel that any “NO” you get usually makes way for a “new opportunity” or a yes on something you don’t yet know about e.g. last January when I auditioned in the cold and windy Minute Maid outdoor stadium. I didn’t know it but I was pregnant so you could say the timing on that worked out really well. I also know that I have a great deal of pride in going after my dream, and I can proudly say yes to anyone who asks, “Jennifer, you are a great singer. Have you ever auditioned for ‘The Voice’?” Especially my daughter, as it’s become pretty important to think of her and the example I am setting. I want her to be bold and strong and one of the ways I can help her achieve that is being that way myself.

I know that this is a flight of fancy. I mean really, doing the math, the odds are pretty astronomical but that doesn’t mean it couldn’t have just as easily gone my way.  I might have missed it by one note like the NBC producer said. Again, how cool is it that I have auditioned for NBC four times? A lot of people would view that as “You have also been rejected by them 4 times”, but I don’t see it that way. In fact, while I was contemplating this post, I was already compiling a list of the artists I know how to sing well so I can keep developing my playlist of songs and be ready for the next singing opportunity.

But back to you, dear reader. What crazy, bold, out there thing have you been saying you need to do… but just haven’t done yet? Is it writing a book? Freelancing? Starting your own business? Learning a new language? Run a marathon? Go figure out what you need to do (researching is a good place to begin) to start and then actually START. Make small steps to begin and then build that momentum and go get it done!

You got this, I am 100% behind you and on your team, cheering you on.

I KNOW YOU CAN DO IT!

Think About It.

DREAM BIG…. Why not?

athedreamboardvoice.jpg

On Saturday at approximately 3pm, I will take my fourth “at bat” for Team Adam Levine on NBC’s television competition “The Voice”. Talk about shooting for the fences… Pretty exciting right?

In non-baseball terms, I am going to stand in line for many hours (historically 5)  and sing my story for a producer from NBC and hope to high heaven that this time, I AM in fact, what the producers are looking for this season. When/if that happens, they may ask me to sing a “back up” song. When/if  I make it past that round, I get a “red” card which means I was “called back” in two days and then I have to sing 2-3 current songs two days later, When/if I make it past that round, that’s when I get the chance to fly to Los Angeles and sing on national television.

As you might be able to tell from this progression, as long shots go, this one is very long.

Yes, it’s a VERY long shot, AND I am still going to take it because who is to say, that I am not exactly what they are looking for THIS season.

Beyond watching the show since 2011, and DREAMING about being on the show, what can one do to prepare for such a potentially life-changing audition? Well, in a word, practice.

So back to the list, if you were doing “the math” that’s five songs to get “performance ready”. I have read at least 20 articles about artists who auditioned and did and didn’t make it and artists who chose not to go to Los Angeles though they were chosen for one reason or another.  I have read tons of blogs about what people who have auditioned and made it past the blinds have done.. but at the end of the day, the only thing I can be responsible for is what I do to prepare. So I teamed up with my truly awesome vocal coach and we prepped, and prepped and I feel ready. This time, I didn’t just prepare the one song, I prepared all five and they are ready to go. It’s scary to even type that, because what if.. what if…. The very act of preparing FIVE songs, not just the one or even two means I am letting myself walk out in belief that this MIGHT actually happen!

First things first, I updated my DREAM board (Thank you SUSIE!) with a picture of me singing for the coaches on the “Voice” with special attention to “Adam Levine” – A long time aficionado of Maroon Five, I have favored him as my coach from the inception of the show, and I continually nod my head in agreement with what he says as he coaches his current team, often remarking to my husband, “That’s my coach, right there!” It’s heady stuff to think about it, and I realize it’s a VERY VERY long shot but that doesn’t stop me from doing it. Here’s the thing about the dream board you see, almost everything on it, has come to fruition in the years since I created it. (special thanks to Ryan Avery who says “DREAM BIG” and this is advice I take to heart)

Music is very, very, very important to me and my family. I sing to my daughter all the time, sometimes in English, sometimes in French. Let’s face it, there would be no daughter without my supportive and talented husband.
It is because I love to sing that I even met him.

So to say music important to the Haston family is a strong understatement

The very first time I ever did karaoke, it reawakened in me the desire for performing, which had lain dormant for many years. I started going to karaoke and singing. I was in a few plays but nothing musical, my strength is 80’s hits and something you might hear on Broadway, as well as some current artists but mostly I trend towards standards by people like Bette Midler and her ilk, so you know.. no pressure.

With help of a talented music coach, I branched out and learned how to sing several different genres including opera.

I got my first singing part with Gilbert and Sullivan Society of Austin’s production of  “H.M.S. Pinafore” in the Summer of  2006. I was asked to be in the chorus and loved it, It was hard work and extremely rewarding and I added opera to the genres of songs I sing.

I kept singing and then my husband, then fiance (we were planning the wedding) we heard about this show, “The Voice” that was going to be on tv, we said that’s cool, it should be fun to watch. As we heard more about it, and watched the first season, one of the commercials talked about auditions and we both got excited and decided to audition in August 2011 (right after our wedding) and I made the mistake that time of singing a song but changing the phrasing and it did not go well for me. The second time I auditioned was in Austin, in July 2013, and I met some awesome people in line (she is actually auditioning again too!) – The third time I auditioned, I drove to Houston to stand in line with over 9,000 people in cold and blustery (did I mention it was outside?) and I sang “Maybe this Time” from Cabaret, (gotta love the irony!) – I posted on the blog about that one and then when they sent out the email saying that auditions were in Austin again, I got excited all over again and reached out to some of my other very talented friends to ask if they were auditioning too. I know what you are thinking.. why? would you tell other people and thus lower your chances to get picked? Here’s my thoughts on that, If I am meant to get picked for this season that won’t stop anyone else I tell about who subsequently auditions from getting picked.

Remember, dear readers, my mission in life is to inspire one person at a time.. What if my telling them gets them to go audition and they make it? How awesome would that be?
Of course I hope I make it.. you don’t work this hard or prepare this much to just do it “for fun”.

Why am I telling you all this? Well, maybe just maybe, so it will inspire you to shoot for the moon and go for something that seems big and scary. What do you have to lose?

I guess the better question is, what do you have to gain?

Think About It…