Is Your Cup Of Joe Turning You Into An Average Joe?

FeaturedIs Your Cup Of Joe Turning You Into An Average Joe?

I love a good coffee mug. Not only does it need to be large enough to accommodate my daily intake (which happens several times a day) and have a nice comfy handle for endurance coffee clutching…but it’s also a major “perk” (pun intended) if it makes me smile or laugh.

The darker the better too—which goes for both my coffee and the humor.

The most recent gem I found? An all black mug with the following white text: “Good morning, I see the assassins have failed.” I left it behind on the store shelf, but dang if I didn’t cackle all the way out the door.

There is one mug in my collection, however, that has a semi-permanent place on my desk. It’s somewhat unexpected, unapologetic and, well, uninspiring. 

The message? “Today I’m going to give it my some.”

I laughed when I first saw it. And I loved it, mostly because it was the total opposite of all those annoyingly over-the-top motivational posters hanging up in offices across corporate America. You know, the ones that say “Excellence” with a photo of a bald eagle or “Make It Happen” with a man standing on the summit of a mountain.

Ick. Just the thought of one makes my productivity suffer. 

Not this mug. I sincerely appreciated its snarky nature. When everyone else is shooting for the moon and ready to crush some serious goals, I’m over here with my mug just saying with a chuckle, “Yeah, I’m not gonna give it my all today…maybe just a solid 47 percent.”

Maybe that’s because in part it accurately reflected my season of life—a stay-at-home, work-from-home mom with two kids under five trying to keep everyone fed, clean, laundered, and entertained. Even on my best days, giving it my “all” seemed an impossible feat, so why not just shoot for “some” so I too can have the satisfaction of feeling accomplished? 

It’s pretty much right on par with why I also prefer the medium level of Sudoku. Semi-challenging yet winnable. There’s no time in my life for multi-day expert level gaming—especially when as moms of “littles” we’re already playing Russian Roulette every time we attempt to take an adult bathroom break, knowing full well the odds are stacked against us. 

Crises inevitably and almost always hit while our pants are down. But I digress.

So what does this all mean? Does loving this coffee mug mean that I’m a champion of the under-achiever? That I’ve lowered my standards? That there’s just no more room for excellence in my life when average will do?

No, no it does not. I can assure you (as can my spouse and kids), that my expectations and standards are still well nigh into the rafters.

No, I love it because it makes me laugh. And because humor is almost always based on a bit of truth. And because the truth is sometimes raw—and in those raw moments—we need to give ourselves grace when we simply don’t have it all to give. Or when giving it our all still only gets us to “average.”

It’s in those moments that we need to laugh. Take a breath. Then shoot for better days ahead. God doesn’t expect us to be perfect. Babe Ruth didn’t always hit home runs. We give it our all—and if that means we give all the “some” that’s in our tank—then so be it.

Celebrate the wins. Dust off the losses. And drink to the “Average Joe” moments that earned you that coveted participation trophy. 

I’m raising my mug to you, friend. Now get out there and go give ‘em some.

#checkforfries #giveityoursome #averagecupofjoe #mugsandmayhem

Love Is A Five-Letter Word

Love Is A Five-Letter Word

Dear friends…recently I discovered something amazing about the word: love. It has five letters.

No, that is not a mistake and no, I did not miscount—although I confess mathematics and I have been at odds for most of my life. No, this extraordinary epiphany about love came to me during the most ordinary of tasks. 

I had just finished picking up a few items at the grocery store and was pulling out of the parking lot when I received a text from my mother-in-law who was visiting us.

“The kids want more of these,” she texted along with a picture of some pretzel chips. 

“Ugh,” I muttered to myself. Not only had I already left the store, but this particular brand of pretzel chips was only available at a different store.

“This is so inconvenient,” I thought. “But,” I said, “I love them so I’ll do it. I’ll get the pretzels.” (Side note: the “other” store was literally a 20 second drive across the street, so inconvenience is a rather broad interpretation here).

But then a second, more profound thought hit me. “Sarah, you’ve missed the mark. It’s not really love if you’re considering your feelings in this equation.”

Wait, what? I consider myself to be a kind person. I am a generous person. I live to encourage others. I feel as if I love well. And to a certain degree, I do. But the truth is love is not just about being kind or compassionate. To love in the fullest sense of the word is to do so unconditionally—and that means removing any self-interest from the equation. It’s not about me. At all. It’s 100 percent about the person I am loving.

Love means focusing on the “other.” O-T-H-E-R. Five powerful letters.

That means if I’m complaining while acting in love toward someone—it’s not love. If I’m engaged in self-pity, it’s not love. If I’m thinking about how it’s inconveniencing me, even in the slightest, it’s not love.

“…if I’m complaining while acting in love toward someone—it’s not love. If I’m engaged in self-pity, it’s not love. If I’m thinking about how it’s inconveniencing me, even in the slightest, it’s not love.”

Sarah Nguyen @checkforfries

But here’s the kicker. When we do love fully and unconditionally, without regard for self and full regard for the other…something amazing happens. We reap the full benefits of that love.

Last year my sister traveled to Charleston, S.C. to undergo a major surgery and I came to help her for a few days post-recovery. I was in one of the top foodie cities in the nation. The weather was incredible. There was beauty everywhere you looked. But for the majority of my stay, I was either in a hospital room or the house we had rented. My sole focus the entire time was on the care and wellbeing of my sister. 

I don’t say that boastfully. I was just genuinely happy to help her in any way I could. When I returned home though, something changed. For the first time in months—maybe even a year or two—I felt fully alive. I can’t explain it except to say that the funk of self-pity and depression I had been in was no more. My spirit was full of joy, love and contentment. 

I was at a loss for why I felt the way I did. I kept telling myself that maybe it was the change in environment, the amazing food, or just spending quality time with family that helped break me out of my rut. Regardless, I seriously felt like I was Poppy the Troll and glowing from the inside out. Everyone around me, especially my husband, noticed the change.

What I didn’t know then however, I do now. It was love. The demonstration of pure unconditional love. That was the game-changer. 

Love = Other.

Unfortunately, I can’t take the credit for this discovery. While it was a new revelation for me, this whole love “other” concept has been in the works for some 2,000 years when Jesus left his crew with these parting words before his death:

Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other” (John 13:34).

Yeah, I’m one of those late to the party kind of gals. But hey…I showed up and I learned something.

Now, I’d be crazy to think I can remain in a constant state of unconditional love euphoria. I’m human and that comes with the full gamut of emotions. I’m not perfect and I will never love others perfectly. But I can—to the best of my ability—be intentional about how I love others by keeping the focus on them and not myself.

It’s a daily choice, and sometimes even a moment-by-moment one. Loving well is not always convenient. I won’t always “feel” like doing it. But it will always and forever be the best decision when I do choose to do it and do it well.

#LoveOneAnother

Control Is An Illusion

Control Is An Illusion

I have a guru…and his name is Marc. To be fair, Marc didn’t asked to be my guru. I simply took the liberty of labeling him that after he wrapped up one of the most amazing 90-minute massages I’ve had to date.

Somewhere between the foot reflexology and working out the knots in my right calf, Marc hit me with an eerily on-point truth about myself. Continue reading “Control Is An Illusion”

Recipe For Success

Recipe For Success

Ever heard of liquid aminos?

I was trying out a new recipe the other day that called for this ingredient—something so foreign to me that I had to Google what is was and where to find it in a grocery store.

Turns out it’s just a fancy way of saying: soy sauce alternative.

When I texted my husband that it was going to be in his beef and broccoli dinner that evening I received a lovely “vomiting” emoticon back as a response. (For the record, my husband is Asian, so he is somewhat of an authority on all things soy, rice, and sriracha). But even he hadn’t tried this before, so I kindly texted back not to knock it before he tried it.

Truth be told though, I was nervous too. Last time I used a seasoning alternative it did not go well. But we were in for a pleasant surprise, because this time it did go well.

That got me thinking though about the nature of recipes. They never start out perfect, do they? By the time they get to the consumers, they have been tested umpteen times because there have been umpteen failures. It is only through the mistakes, trials, and errors that a recipe finally emerges as perfected and good.

What a great metaphor for our lives. We never hit perfect on the first try. We make mistakes, we fail, and we figure out how to do things better. It’s easy to forget that when all we see is a “perfect recipe” in front of us. We don’t always see the blood, sweat, and tears that went in to creating it.

Maybe you are in that place right now. The place of blood, sweat and tears. The place of mistake after mistake after mistake. Don’t be discouraged if you’re failing right now at something. Just remember that it’s all part of the process of creating something beautiful. Something you can be proud of.

Keep pushing, keep trying, keep reaching toward your hopes and dreams. Your recipe for success WILL come.

Liquid aminos and all.

Want To Accomplish More? Stop Multitasking

Want To Accomplish More? Stop Multitasking

For over a year now, I’ve kept a daily planner on my desk. There it sat, in all its beautiful unopened glory. Blank pages staring back at me. Waiting for me to get my act together.

Ironically, my ongoing excuse—however legitimate it may have been—was that I didn’t have time to open the planner and make my life more efficient. I was too busy running around like a headless chicken to stop and make sense of it all. Continue reading “Want To Accomplish More? Stop Multitasking”