Hardships Are Like Knots In A Rope

I was at my ropes end. I held the rope in my hand contemplated tieing one last knot at the end and ending it all. I had been through so much over the last few years. All the struggles all the heartache, all the problems I didn’t know if I could take any more. I didn’t see a way out of the hole, I felt, I had dug myself into.

It was a scary and solemn feeling to realize I had dug myself into a hole with my choices, and now I had made my very own rope to hang myself.

I felt knots in my stomach as I held the rope in my hands. “throw the rope” I heard a small whisper say. “Throw the rope” I threw the end of the rope.

It’s amazing how we can look at our problems and see failures, struggles, weights while those problems may really be lessons, growth, stairs.

“hardships from the past help you succeed in the future” ~Phillip Emeagwali

Every single time I was thrown a monkey wrench or stumbled, I felt knots in the pit of my stomach saying my situation was never going to get better. I would take that knot and build a rope. You know that feeling you get when there is a failure, that tightness in your stomach? Yeah, that feeling doesn’t actually dissipate and go away, it transforms into a rope. By rope, I don’t mean a physical rope, but a thought process, a course of action. We all are building ropes every single day. Our thought process determines our course of actions and our course of actions determines our fate.

When you get that knot in your stomach and start the beginning of your rope, pay attention to the feelings that come. Are the feelings hope and strength or are they hopeless and defeat. The difference determines the type of rope you are starting.

If you find yourself feeling hopeless and defeated, allow yourself space and time to feel those feelings. Really listening and analyzing those feelings. Letting your emotions be free without judgment. If you feel you need to cry, cry. If you feel you need to scream, scream. Allow yourself to release. Once you have provided yourself with space and time to release the emotions that come along with hopelessness and defeat, process and analyze them. Processing and analyzing isn’t judgment.

Judging is comparing a situation to a standard based on biases developed socially. An example would be, I am so stupid I should have known better not to quit my job to become an artist. What was I thinking? An artist doesn’t make any money, they struggle and now all I will ever be is a struggling artist.

Processing and analyzing a situation is looking at the circumstances, observing, and finding explanations for those observations. An example would be, I am sad because I thought quitting my job and pursuing my passion would be fun and make me so happy. But, now I am broke and struggling to pay my bills. This is a new venture for and I knew it was going to take courage and strength. I think I am really scared right now. Judging is usually consumed with an opinion that usually encompasses the outside. Processing is usually consumed with an understanding that encompasses the inside.

By paying attention to the knots, you can determine what type of rope you are constructing. When you are able to process your hardships and challenges, they become knots that lead you higher and higher. You begin to put together knots that are used for climbing. Hardships and struggles can propel us to our destiny when they are used correctly.

In what seemed like my darkest hour of despair, became my moment of freedom. As I climbed each knot, I reflected on that moment in time and how it lead me to this exact moment and I felt a sense of gratefulness. I thanked it for the courage and lift it provided me. I climbed higher and higher using each knot. Finally, there was sunshine, warmth against my face. I was free! While I knew I was not free from ever experiencing another hardship, I knew I was free from bondage. I knew at that moment nothing and everything could stop me from living my best life, the difference between the two was my choice. The ending of my story was mine to write.

What is an unskilled job? Is there really such a thing?

Is there really such a thing as an unskilled job? Are there jobs out there that require zero skills?

I would argue no. Every single job requires so form of skill, knowledge, and training.

When people start categorizing jobs and calling certain jobs unskilled, I believe this is another way we divide, judge, and make ourselves believe we are better than.

Can a low paying job provide someone with the lifestyle of their choice?

I say absolutely, depending on what the lifestyle of their choice is, the amount of debt they have, and their use of the money they earn. Let’s be honest, people spend their money on what they want or at least what they think they want. So, the amount of money a person makes doesn’t always dictate the lifestyle they live. You can take two people and put them in the same job and their lifestyles will look completely different.

Let’s go back to the idea of unskilled jobs. What classifies a skill? Is being a cook at a fast food restaurant a skill? Is being a cook at a 5-star restaurant a skill? Are they both chefs or is one a cook and one a chef? If you answered no to one and yes to other or defined them differently, ask yourself what makes one different from the other?

They both require a person to know how to do some form of cooking. You have to know how to use an oven, grill, fryer, utensil and other items. Knowledge and skill. They both require a person to be able to follow a sequence of steps. You have to be trained to know how to follow recipes and create masterpieces of food. Some would say a big mac is a work of art. There was a time when people marveled at the big mac.

One may have required formal training, but ultimately they both require some form of training and skill set. Everyone cannot cook. So, why do people look down on one and not the other? Is it the pay structure, the title, the business? Or, have we simply been programmed to find ways to make ourselves feel better and appear better than the next person? Have we been conditioned to think certain things make something better?

I imagine there was a time when being a blue-collar worker was considered hard and unpleasant work. People in those industries were sold a lie that they weren’t good enough, didn’t have enough, and weren’t living the dream because they weren’t smart enough. Most blue collar workers never wanted their children to be a blue-collar worker and no white-collar worker would ever allow their child to do the work of a blue-collar worker or worse the help. This was beneath them. Are you seeing the pattern?

Slowly, steadily and surely these jobs became frowned upon. They were considered a means to job. Work this job as a means to get to a better job. The pay structure increased, but not by much and minimum wage “unskilled” jobs continued to be frowned on.

What if these less desirable jobs paid more? Would that make them more desirable?

I believe we can learn and grow from every single job. With every job, comes the opportunity to learn a new skill, gain experience and knowledge. If we teach our kids to value people and the work they do no matter what it is that small change could result in big change.

For me, I see this work thing like a beehive, every single bee is important the job they are doing is crucial to the function of the hive. Every single bee is considered valuable. Worker bees have skills that are important to the hive as well. Because of this, I treat the janitor cleaning the doctor office with the same respect and value as the doctor. While their skills are different, they are both important to the function and health of the clinic.

Ultimately, I want my kids to do what makes them feel alive as long as it doesn’t cause harm to them or anyone else. I want them to live their passion and if that passion is cleaning toilets, then clean toilets and clean them well! I want them to live out their purpose and leave the world in a better place than it was before they lived out their purpose. I want them to know their value in whatever they choose to do is higher than a dollar amount. I want to teach them to be smart with their spending, budgeting, and debt so they are able to live out their purpose without being enslaved to the money. When money isn’t the motivating factor, you are more likely to find and live your purpose.

What do you guys think? Is there such a thing as an unskilled job? Are some skills more important than others? Does pay determine the value of a job? Let me know what you think.

 

Pain, Pain Go Away…

“Ouch, shit! I think I just freaking cut myself. I can’t see the back of my thigh” Turns around in the shower. “Oouch!! Yep! I cut my freaking thigh. How did I do that? I am acting like I have never shaved before. Yep, there goes the blood. Crap!”

This was the exact dialogue I had with myself in the shower the other day as I cut myself while shaving. It wasn’t an actual cut but a graze that hurt like hell, and I bled. I got out of the shower and asked my husband to bandage me up. Shortly after being bandage and going on about my day, I quickly forgot all about the pain I experienced earlier.

The wound was out of sight out of mind. I wasn’t beating myself up anymore, in fact, I forgot all about the band-aid until my husband asked me how long I planned on keeping it on. This short incident made me think about how we handle physical pain in comparison to mental pain.

Physical pain can be forgotten about with a band-aid and distraction. Mental pain almost never can be forgotten.

With mental pain, we carry it with us like a trophy. We talk about it every chance we get. We remind the person who caused it over and over. We use it as a crutch.

Think about it for a moment. What mental pain are you carrying around with you right now as you read this? It could be an argument you had with someone. Something your significant other said that you didn’t like. Something that happened in your childhood.   This thing, may have caused you real emotional pain, but what purpose is it serving right now in your life? When we hurt ourselves (like stub our toe) we don’t spend the next 20 years mad about stubbing our toe. You don’t walk by the corner of your bed saying “You stupid piece of crap, you remember that time you made me stub my toe in 2009.”  So why do we do this to people in our lives or even ourselves? Often times, people will remind the people in their lives of that one time. They carry the pain that person caused with them like a medal. They are quick to pull off the band-aid and be like you see this, you did this.

Carrying mental pain in your life prevents healing and growth. You can never truly heal and grow when you are cultivating a wound.

But, Tanyell, this person or that situation really hurt me? Understandable. Let’s talk about the healing process when you were hurt. How did you handle it at that moment? What things did you do to reduce the pain and begin to nurture the wound? When we experience physical pain, we immediately tend to the wound. We apply pressure to prevent further bleeding, we apply ointments and creams to prevent scarring or burning, we apply alcohol or peroxide to prevent infection, we apply bandages to ensure it heals properly. We do all these things so we don’t have to worry about a scar or this physical pain coming back to hunt us.

When we experience mental pain, we will sweep it under the rug. Hold in our emotions. Let the person get away with insulting us or saying something hurtful. We will hold in our thoughts or bite our tounges. We will process it over and over. We replay the moment and think about all the shoulda, woulda, coulda. We slap a band-aid on a huge wound and hope that it heals, only for the band-aid to fall off and we find ourselves furious with the scar left behind. Every time we see the person or experience a trigger we are reminded of the scar and seeing the scar pisses us off and then we address the issue sometimes passive-aggressively and other times head-on. But it’s too late.

But, Tanyell, isn’t it better to get things off our chest no matter when it is? Sure. I am not saying we shouldn’t sit down and address a person or situation that may have caused us pain in the past. However, we must understand we can never get that exact moment back. We must understand all the person can do is apologize (if they are willing) and once they have or haven’t we must be willing to move on. We can’t continue to bring up the situation over and over. This unhealthy cycle keeps us stuck.

Reliving hurtful moments propels us back to those times (it’s like a time machine) we are unable to see the blessings right in front us. We are unable to fully and completely enjoy the person today. The person today isn’t the same person who hurt you.

But Tanyell they are! Well, now we are talking about a whole new situation. If you continue to stub your toe on the same bed every single day, over and over, eventually you are going to get rid of that bed or make some necessary changes to prevent stubbing your toe. If a person continues to hurt you over and over, you need to remove that person from your life or make some necessary changes to prevent that person from hurting you.

Reminding a person who is continuously hurting you, about a time they hurt you 5 years ago serves zero purpose in your life. It isn’t beneficial.

Ok, so what do I do then? I am glad you asked! The best thing to do with mental pain is to face it head on when we experience it. The same way we do with physical pain. We must be willing to address the situation and give it the attention and nourishment it needs right then. We then have to make sure we apply the proper bandages to prevent pain and reduce any scarring. This may look like setting boundaries, changing dialogues, expressing expectations, and/or seeking counsel or coaching. Once we have taken the appropriate steps, if we experience this pain, again and again, we may need to remove the person or ourselves. Taking these steps helps ensure we heal properly and quickly. If we find ourselves triggered by something, we must assess what is causing this trigger and why. Sometimes triggers are healthy reminders and other times triggers are time machines. A healthy trigger might be you walk into a hotel room and see a bed in a corner (the same way your bed was when you would always stub your toe) and all of sudden you feel anxious or nervous. This is a trigger reminding you that you need to be careful because beds positioned this way may stub your toe. It’s a reminder a warning. An unhealthy trigger is every single time you walk into any room with any bed you find yourself frustrated and irritated. These triggers aren’t beneficial. They cause us to worry about things we don’t need to worry about. They cause anxiety and take away from enjoying the present moment.

When we experience mental or emotional pain face it head on and then let it go. Once you have nourished it and addressed it, move on from it. You may never forget it or forget what happened, but you must move on from it and let it go. Never forgetting doesn’t mean reliving it, it simply means you remember what happened and you know not to let the same thing happened again. I remember cutting myself in the shower and remember what I did to do it, I know not to do that again. However, I am not triggered by the shower or the razor. I addressed it and moved on.

Scarring from emotional pain isn’t the result of the action made, but the result of  action not taken.

 

Doggy Paddle Like You Mean it.

Last week I had a few business meetings I  needed to attend, however, I woke up one morning feeling inadequate and unprepared for them. I found myself feeling like I had no idea what I was doing. I recognized this wasn’t an uncommon feeling for me, there have been many times I have felt a sense of inadequacy. I was about to have meetings with people who were far more knowledgable about business than I was. They were going to eat me alive.

If you’ve heard my testimony, then you know I talk about being in the ocean during this time of my life. I often feel like there are moments I am floating, relaxing and enjoying the beautiful scenery, then there are moments when I am swimming for my life trying not to drown. But what about those in-between moments?

I am doggy paddling.

What I have learned while being in the ocean is I am not a professional swimmer. I don’t know how to do any professional strokes, all I know how to do is doggy paddle.

If you were to swim by me in the ocean, on the top it would appear like I am perfectly fine, coasting along, but underneath the water you would see my legs kicking and kicking and my arms wailing, a complete struggle to stay afloat.

After attending my first meeting, I realized everyone in the ocean is doing the exact same, we are all simply doggy paddling trying to stay afloat.

The thing about living life beyond the walls and in the ocean is we don’t really know how to do it. None of us have been taught how to live a life free of conformity, free of boundaries, free of other people opinions. Most of us are trying to figure this thing called life out. We are all trying to learn how to become professional swimmers in the ocean. While it may appear that others around you have it all together, chances are they are doggy paddling too.

The difference between one persons doggy paddle and the next is the confidence they paddle with. Some people understand that doggy paddling is just as effective as swimming. It may take them a little bit longer, but they are making strides and movement through life just like the person doing butterfly strokes. Some people realize if they are going to doggy paddle, they have to paddle with a certain kind of effort. They have to paddle like they mean it, like they really want to get there. If you want something in life you feel totally unqualified for, you have to walk into like you want it and deserve it. You can’t go in feeling unqualified and unworthy. You see, most people feed off your vibes and energy. When they see you in the ocean, they aren’t looking at your strokes as much as they are looking at your energy and vibes. Someone can watch a person and not know anything about their lack of knowledge or skill level, but if what they are doing seems effortless, passionate, beautiful, and they bring a type of energy that makes them feel just as excited then what they are doing no longer matters, the person is  sucked into the energy force.

If I was capable of walking into my meetings with a level of confidence and excitement then people wouldn’t focus on the fact I was doggy paddling, in fact many time they wouldn’t even know I was doggy paddling. They would be focused on how quickly and efficiently I was moving and how great my energy was while doing it.

It’s all about the energy and vibes. I am less likely to jump into the water with someone who seems panicked, scared, and unsure even if they are a professional swimmer. However, if someone seems completely at ease, happy, confident, and have a positive vibe and energy I am more likely to jump into the water without even asking if they know anything about swimming.

I realized just because I am doggy paddling now doesn’t mean I will still be doggy paddling in a year. Every single person has a starting point. There will come a time when I would be able to back stroke through some parts of the ocean and then have to doggy paddle through other parts. The same way I am able to float. The key is to do it like I mean it, whole heartedly.

After realizing this reality, I decided to doggy paddle like I meant it. If I was going to doggy paddle anyway, I might as well doggy paddle with pride. I decided I would add some simple strokes to my doggy paddle.  Practice would eventually make perfect. I no longer was going to feel embarrassed or less than because I was doggy paddling. For the remainder of the week I doggy paddled into every meeting like a professional swimmer!

I doggy paddled into my meetings with confidence and energy. I held my head high above the water while my legs kicked and paddled and with all their might. And if my head happen to dip for a second under water, I would keep my eyes open and look around noticing everyone else doggy paddling too! We were all equals. All trying to get to our island of happiness.

Now that you have broke down the walls and jumped into the ocean of the unknown, doggy paddle with a purpose, doggy paddle to your island, doggy paddle like you mean it! And when you run into others who seem like more competent swimmers, remember everyone is and/or has doggy paddled. So be kind, give them a boost, show them a stroke or two that you have learned along the way, and speak life into them so they are able to continue their journey along the ocean with the same type of confidence.

Follow the Cart

Ikea is one of the best shopping places ever! If you’ve never been to one, may I suggest you make this happen. We love Ikea, but we don’t love their carts Ikea carts are designed to roll front, backwards, and side to side. This on first sight may seem awesome because you simply pull the cart along with you whichever way you go. What we quickly learned and based off our people watching, what others learned, is this is not the case.

The carts are actually cumbersome and easily become a nuisance. You find yourself trying to force the cart to go the way you want it to go, all while the wheels are turning and rolling in every direction. You’re going left and the cart is going backward and right. If you make this highly suggested visit to Ikea or on your next visit to Ikea, take a moment to watch those around you struggling, I mean strolling around with their carts. You will see many of them complaining and discussing their dislike for the carts, you will see them trying to forcefully correct the direction of the cart, but then you will see some people happily following along. Sounds familiar? Sounds like life?

Some people follow the cart rather than trying to force the cart to follow them. 

I never noticed this until one of our recent visits to Ikea. We were waiting for one of our purchases to arrive at the pickup station along with a couple of other people. Our items arrived at the same time as another person items. My husband got our cart of items and the guy got his cart of items. I watched as my husband struggled to get the buggy to go the way he wanted it to go while the guy strolled by us letting his buggy go whichever way it choose. He walked by with ease, confidence, and a type of control that isn’t quite control. It was almost as if he maintained control of the cart by releasing control. Allowing the cart to do what it was designed to do, but still staying in control. It was eye opening.

What this moment taught me was that Ikea carts are much like life. We walk into many moments of life with excitement knowing that the situation can go anyway. There is a feeling of freedom, believing we will have a stronger grasp on control in the situation. However, once in the moment we begin to feel frustrated, irritated, worried, concerned, upset, stressed, angry, and/or depressed when we realize the situation is trying to go one way when we want it to go another way.

What if, we followed the moment? What if we allowed the moment to swing right while we held on with a since of confidence knowing the situation wasn’t going to swing so far right that we would lose control. Allowing the moment to go right, with a faith in the design of the moment. A faith that the creator of this moment knew exactly how to design the situation to go exactly the way it needed to go.

Follow the moment and allow things to unfold the way they are designed to unfold all while holding on with faith and confidence in yourself and the maker.

The guy following the cart in front of us wasn’t pushing the cart, but more so guiding it. He held on with ease as the cart turned in circles. For him, he knew without a doubt the cart wouldn’t get out of hand, he trusted the design and he trusted himself.

To push something in life that wasn’t designed to be pushed can cause friction and frustration. 

When you are presented with free flowing moments in life, the idea is to allow that moment to, well, flow free. If we take a moment that was meant to be free flowing, and  try to push it in the direction we want it to go, the moment is no longer free flowing. You are literally going against the grain. These moments become so frustrating and put a strain on our peace and happiness. So, how do you know when you are forcing a free flowing moment? Do things seem difficult, virtually impossible, does it seem like no matter how hard you push or pull you’re getting nowhere and in fact it gets harder. Does it seem like you are making zero progress? All these feelings are tall tell signs that you are trying to control a free a flowing situation.

When you let go of control and follow the situation, you will quickly see a drastic change in the feeling. The important thing in this is faith and trust. Because the situation will feel like it is going to go out of control if you don’t steer it, you have to have trust and faith. In the beginning it will feel uncomfortable almost unnatural. You will feel like you need to do something or should be doing more. It will feel like things are getting out of control.

HOLD ON

Soon you will start to feel a sense of ease, things will flow more naturally. You will be guiding the situation, but not controlling it which will allow things to flow more freely. This allows more opportunities to present itself.

The guy who followed his cart, got to his destination a lot faster and a lot happier.

When you follow and guide you arrive at your destination a lot faster and with fewer bumps and bruises. You are happier and less frustrated. You are able to see all the beauty in each moment presented because you aren’t tied up with pushing and pulling.

The goal with each moment is to let it be, let it flow, gently guiding the wheel and trusting you will end up exactly where you are suppose to!

 

Live Dangerously

I have talked a lot about the purpose of life. My belief is and continues to be the purpose of life is to “live”. But what exactly does that mean? I have given examples with trees and other metaphors, but somehow this idea is still a hard one to grasp.

I was recently journaling in my “The Circle Maker  Prayer Journal”, ( I recommend this book to everyone, no matter your religious beliefs) and the quote for the day was

“stop living as though the purpose of life is to arrive safely to death”

How profound this? I had to really pause in that moment and allow this quote to sink into my spirit. You’ve read my post on stop waiting and start living, where I talk about the idea of dying and how we are all going to do it. Is the purpose to arrive at that moment safely? Is the goal of living to arrive on your death bed and say, “whew! Thank goodness I got here with no broken bones, no horror stories, no exotic memories, I got here safe and sound!” Will this safe arrival to the one place many of us fear make the arrival easier and better? I’m going to go out on a limb and say probably not.

My guess is many of us will think about all the chances we should’ve taken and how we would’ve taken those chances had we known this was the ultimate outcome (as if we don’t already know this). No one really wants to play it safe. When we play games, we take chances and go out on the limb, because we want to win and we think it’s just a game so I’m going to go for it. Sometimes we win, sometimes we lose, but no matter the outcome at the end of the game we have a story to tell and memories to share. We learn valuable lessons for the next time we play the game and we go into the game more confident than the last time.

Isn’t life a game?

NO?

Who told you it wasn’t?

When you think back on this great philosopher that told you life isn’t a game and we need to take life seriously and proceed with caution, how was their life?

All the greats I know, played life as though it was a game, a game to be mastered and won. Many of these greats lost the game of life several times, but in the end they won. I can assure you they didn’t arrive at death safely. They had stories and war wounds to prove it. Us, too afraid to live folks, marvel in their stories and think how can we live freely like them? The question I ask is, what are you afraid to lose? Me, I am afraid of dying and never had lived. I am afraid of dying with regrets. I am afraid of dying while still living.

I am afraid of dying while still living

Many people play it safe in fear of loss and death. I don’t or can’t do that because I might lose my job, I don’t want to do that because I might die, I don’t want to go because I might die, I can’t buy that because I might lose my car. The script is different, but the plot is the same. The ultimate goal is to safely walk through life. It is only when we are faced with loss or death that we throw caution to the wind and truly begin to play the game of life. It is in these moments that we truly begin to live. The  problem with this narrative is it’s still fear driven. Fear prevents us from living while also making us live. Isn’t that amazing how one single emotion can determine the path we choose in life?  What would happen if we removed fear? It is even possible? Do we ultimately need fear to live?

Yes! We need fear to live! Fear is what drove many of the greats to be great. Fear is ultimately what forced me to jump ship. Fear is what motivate us to do the unthinkable and move into the unknown. Fear is what drives us to change.

Fear; freeing  emotions, abandoning reason.

When there is fear present we tend to either allow our emotions free or we free ourselves of emotion. If you are a person that holds onto emotions and do not allow your emotions to be known, when fear is present you may allow your emotions to flow. You may say I love you to a person you never allowed yourself to say I love you too. You may express the feelings of concern or worry. You may allow yourself to say all the things you wanted to say before but didn’t. If you are a person that is always thinking about your emotions and assessing a situation, when fear is present you may free yourself of these thoughts and emotions. If you were always worried about something or someone, when fear is present you throw those worries to the side and move pass whatever is driving the fear. Fear causes freedom.

With this freedom, there is an abandonment of reason. When you are faced with fear, you somehow no longer wrestle with reason, you simply react to move pass the situation that is causing fear. When fear is present, you somehow are no longer scared or afraid. You don’t have time to think about what if.  There is no time to reason in a “life or death” situation. If you ever been in a fearful situation, then you know the feeling of abandoning reason. We often find ourselves saying “I can’t believe I did that” It’s as though we would have never done whatever that was if fear wasn’t present. Unlike being scared fear causes action. Being scared causes you to be paralyzed. Scared is a state of being, while fear is a motivator. When you are scared you are thinking, analyzing, reasoning. When you are fearful you are doing, reacting, letting go of reason. Again there is freedom in fear.

Scared=paralyzed 

Fear=action

So, how do you live in constant F.E.A.R? Ask yourself what emotion am I holding on to or hiding?  What negotiations and reasoning conversations am I having with myself? What am I scared of? Once you begin to ask yourself these core questions, you will begin to feel the fear emerge. Don’t run from it, that is scared rearing it’s ugly head trying to confuse you. Feel that fear and ask yourself what is my biggest fear? Once you allow yourself to feel the fear, you will without thought begin to take actions. Fear is jarring. One action will arise more fear and more fear will arise more action. All these tiny little actions will cause you to live! But not only live, but live in the present and live the life you want and deserve.

Remember being scared is being paralyzed, having fear is having action.

 

What’s The Name?

It’s a boy!! What a good-looking guy he is! What’s his name?

This is usually the course of conversation after giving birth to a baby. One of the first questions you’re typically asked as a mom is what’s the name. This question is asked so leisurely and carefree. As a mother, we have probably spent the last 10 months (if not years)  pondering over a name for our baby. Rightfully so, I mean this will, more than likely, be their introduction to the world for the rest of their life. A name is important.

You would think with all the weight and judgement that comes with a name, we would get more time and less pressure about naming our babies.

I personally think you should have time to get to know your little bundle before slapping a name on them. We need to see them, hold them, watch them and then we can attach a name to the person. I have luckily been able to do this with all of my kids except 1 and 1/2. The 1/2 child we named at the hospital (out of force) and then 6 months later legally changed her name.

While some of our kids names do not have a significant definition meaning, they each have personal and spiritual meaning to us. I won’t bore you with the naming process of all of my children, but I want to share our latest.

Let me introduce you to Eleven Ellis!

I know, I know eleven is a number not a name, right?  Says who? Who is the person that came up with what defines a name of a person vs object, thing or number. How did we all decide this was ok and we would go along with it? Why is hard for us to challenge social norms?

I must admit I initially was thrown off when my husband suggested the name Eleven. He and my kids are currently obsessed with Stranger Things. I personally have never seen a single episode, but they love it. My husband had taken on special liking to the character dubbed Eleven in the movie. So when we found out we were having another baby (what would be our 11th child on earth) He quickly and excitedly said we should name the baby Eleven! We can call them Elle or El for short. I laughed thinking he was joking, but quickly realized he was serious. So for 10 months we lovingly and me jokingly called the baby Eleven. We had no idea the sex of the baby, but kinda was leaning towards girl. Imagine our surprise when our daughter said it’s a boy!

Could we really and would we really name our baby boy Eleven simply because my husband loves a t.v show and this would be baby number “11”? That wasn’t enough for me. I needed to do more research, I needed to spend time with this guy. So, that’s exactly what we did. For the next 6 days I researched eleven and other names. I paid attention to my feelings and emotions. I watched him and his mannerisms. I thought about what I wanted for his future and what kind of person I hoped he would grow to be. As we did this soul name searching process, we realized he was our 7th biological child together. He was our 7/11!! (we even tossed up the name Seven Eleven)

While researching Eleven we realized the number 11 has some significant meanings:

1. it’s an angel number representing spiritual awakening and enlightenment. It tells us to connect to our higher selves and life purpose. Number 11 is usually called the messenger or teacher. This was so powerful for me! I believe each one of my children were brought into my life for a purpose and to teach me something. Many of their names represent this. This child came during a time of testimony for me. A time where I was and still am going through some major life changes. I was feeling like there is no way I can have another child right now. Number 11 is a message from my angel saying watch my thoughts and remain positive to manifest my prayers! Wow! I felt like Eleven was sent to me as a representation to continue to strive to live my life purpose, to remain positive throughout the adversity, to continue to trust. He is breaking a cycle of constant doubt and familiarity.

2. Eleven’s (the very few) are inspirational, humanitarians, they care deeply about others and their family. They are giving and have strong intuition. They can be deep thinkers and hard workers. When they set their mind to something they do it! Traits I would love for my child to have.

3. We are not religious people by any stretch, however, I do consider myself to very spiritual, philosophical, and a believer in the universe, energy, and power. I believe in omens and messages. With that being said, Jesus had 12 disciples and when Judah betrayed him the remainder disciples were often called the 11. This screamed message to me. See, Eleven is technically our 12th child. We loss our 5th child. During that time, we felt betrayed by God, The Universe, and any other spiritual form. We felt empty and helpless. We were confused and lost. There were so many different emotions. I gave birth to him in December, I was due in April. In May we found out we were pregnant again and with another boy! We went through so many changes of ups and downs. What we realized was, had we not loss LJ there would be no Major and probably Eleven. The course of our lives would have been different without this “betrayal.” We had to loose 1 in order to manifest our life purpose. “The Eleven” will represent this.

So, you see for us, eleven is more than just a number, it’s symbolic, it’s the representation and name of our newest bundle of blessing! While some people will only be able to associate eleven with a number, we hope others will embrace and come to love it as a name!

Our Eleven is more than just a number, he is our SUN, our Ellis!