Letting Love Rule

** Today's post is part of Liv Lane's blogging course, How to Build a Blog You Truly Love.  It's a 6-week course and this week we were asked to write a brave post...a post that challenges us to step out of our comfort zone and share something brave! To see all the participants brave posts, click here! Enjoy! **

Whenever I'm asked, "What do you love, Renee? What lights you up? What are you most passionate about?" I answer with kids…family…music…and then…my mind goes blank.

I think to myself, “Why is the question SO hard to answer!!” when I know deep down there are so many more things I could answer with but my mind just can't seem to go there.

It's like my heart knows there's more love in me, but my mind just won't let me go there.

So I continue to struggle with the answers to these questions, which always makes me sad and unhappy.

When I listen to my daughter, she has no problem saying out loud what she loves.  She pretty much spends 95% of her day focused on what she loves.

The more I realized this…the more I saw it other kids.  And the more I remembered why I loved being around kids so much while I was teaching in the classroom as an elementary school teacher.

Kids are so very connected to themselves.  They know EXACTLY what they love and they do anything they can to make sure they’re living their life doing all things they LOVE!

When they can't do what they love or have what they love, they go into full meltdown mode.

Then they get older and things begin to change.  They begin to learn all the external rules and ways of the world.

How to behave…how to read…how to write…how to multiply…how to take a test…how to graduate…how to eat only certain foods…how to exercise…how to dress…how to study, graduate, get a job, marry and start a family and buy a house.

More outside messages fill their minds, which, then, when they get to be my age, in their 30s, they’re super disconnected with themselves and can’t even remember all the things they loved about life when they were little.  Well, this is what happened to me anyway.

Yes, we need rules, but it's when they consume the majority of our life and we lose touch with what our heart truly loves about life is when things get ugly.

For me, things began to change when I was in 8th grade and I began to focus more on how to eat healthy foods.

Any new health food information that came out in the media, on Oprah, on the Internet, in health and fitness magazines and in nutrition books…I was on it!

My main reason…I didn't want to get fat.  Then the more I read and learned about food…the more I didn't want to be unhealthy.

I wanted to be thin and live a long and healthy life…so I filled my head with all the new information that came out on foods that were GOOD for me and then I made sure to ONLY consume those good foods and stay as far away as possible from the bad ones.

I went from skim milk to soy milk to almond milk to rice milk to coconut milk and to now, where I’m staying…whole milk.

I did the margarine, I can’t believe it’s not butter, Pam spray, smart balance, to where I’m at right now and staying with… real butter!

I ate so many colorful fruits and veggies because you can’t get any more GOOD than that.

I followed the non-fat, no sugar, no cholesterol phase.

Then decided that when I ate out I’d only eat vegetarian foods…even though I never fully decided I was vegetarian.

I did the green smoothies, coconut water, raw foods, raw chocolate, natural sugars, brown rice, quinoa and any other healthy, wholesome grain too.

I’ve pretty much lived my entire life focused on the rules of healthy food living (and if I was still doing this, I'd so be on the gluten-free/paleo craze, too!).

During college, I decided to major in Journalism because my mom always told me I was going to be writer growing up, so I thought hey, she's right, I can write, so why not major in it, since I still wasn't really even sure what I wanted to major in and I needed to pick a major so I could graduate.

After graduating, I had some interviews in the Journalism world and hated it.

I visited my friends elementary classroom that she taught and I thought, hey, I love kids, I’ll be a teacher and I can teach them to write, too (which still to this day, I can say I did enjoy teaching writing to my 2nd graders).

After two years in the public elementary school system, I knew the politics and I don’t mix.  Loved the kids, but not the rules of the education system.

Since I was still pretty engrossed in nutrition, I ended up finding the Institute for Integrative Nutrition while trying to figure out how to get out of the teaching profession.

I applied and traveled to NYC for a year in 2007 and received my Holistic Health Coaching certification in 2008.

I was ready to teach others how to eat wholesome foods, have more energy and live a better life.

Little did I know what was about to happen next.

I became pregnant with my daughter in late 2008 and to this day, I always say, she’s the reason why I now think with my heart and not my mind.

She IS the reason that I now know how to live my life by how I FEEL, rather than how I think. Because, when I look back on my journey, I chose everything in my life by what my mind thought...not my heart.

Making heart based decisions is a learning process and I still struggle with letting my heart guide me in everything I choose to do in my life.

When I was pregnant with my daughter, I connected with my camera in the most profound way….with my heart.

Taking pictures of things that I loved…like the beautiful blue spring sky and the new light green blossoming trees, my heart was filled with joy.

Because of this, I was motivated from deep within my core to learn how to take better photos and to keep filling myself up with everything photography because I knew it was a deep inner passion of mine that I finally connected with on a much deeper level than I could ever imagine.

Just like how I felt when my met my hubs in college…I was motivated from deep within to make sure to keep him in my life.

When my daughter was born and I held her teeny-tiny cuteness for the first time, my insides were filled with the most profound love her than I had ever felt before.

A love that is hard to explain in words.

The more I spent with my daughter the more I picked up camera.

I didn’t want to miss out on any of her amazing developments and when I had my camera in hand, it brought me outta of the worries in my head (like, not thinking I'm parenting the right way so I fill my head with how to parent books) and brought me into the present moment to just BE with her.

My husband...my daughter…my camera…our military lifestyle...changed me.

I became so much more aware of how I let all the externals of the world guide my life for so long that I didn't know how to trust intuition anymore, or if at all.

I was choosing to spend the majority of my life focused on how to eat right and exercise to lose weight.  Which, in the end was leaving me to feel depressed, worried and fearful because I wasn’t losing weight like I wished and I didn’t want to consume anything that was going to create toxins in my body.

I was choosing to let the rule of go to school, pick a major, graduate, get a job, get married, buy a house and start a family run my life.  Which, in the end, made me feel like crap…like I was messed up because I couldn’t get it together like everyone else.  I mean, come on, by your 30s you should have a set and secure job, especially when you have 2 college degrees, right?

But see, here’s the way I see it...which, before I explain, has taken me a LONG time to get to this place, because I’ve felt so down on myself for quite some time about this… is that I’ve been put on this path so I could reconnect to who I am really am so I could only pursue things that truly align with what I love.

The more I focused on the outside of myself, the more I lost connection to what I truly love and the more I let fear guide my life.

I lost connection to the FEELING of what it's like to truly love life.

But, now, when I pick up my camera to capture all those things that bring me joy, make me smile, light me up, make me feel alive, fill my insides with warm, happy tingles, I become more and more connected to all things in life that I love.

My camera helps me to get my head out of my external-rules, external-to-dos, and helps me focus on what truly matters to me in my life.

It helps me to FOCUS on LOVE!

Like here...

My husband setting up scenes in the house with our daughter's toys before she wakes up, to my husband and daughter dancing to the music during our lunch down in the city and everyone piled on top of him on the floor. LOVE!!

To the food I love to eat...from a ME TIME morning breakfast to some amazing breakfast granola and beef rice bowl that tasted SO delicious in my mouth to a night on the town with my husband for date night - all of these are foods that I truly LOVE. If I don't LOVE them, I don't eat them! :)

To a yummy hurricane that my husband I shared and a music festival out in the beautiful sunshine that also consisted of dancing in the street of New Orleans. LOVE!!

To sunsets...no matter where I am, my backyard, in the car driving or at the beach...I LOVE them, to going on a walk with my kiddos in the stroller and my daughter waving at my shadow to the way the sun shines beautiful light on the tree's showing which illuminates different shades of green on its leaves. LOVE!!!

To the place setting of our Christmas Eve meal, our GO GATOR alumni colors shining brightly on the New Orleans superdome for a football game we went to...to my daughter falling in love with school buses and the outside atmosphere of a restaurant we ate it. LOVE!!!

To when I chase my daughter and catch her because it's her favorite thing in the world for us to do together right now. LOVE!!!!

To these quotes I saw in the bathroom at the funeral home where the service for my 90-year-old grandfather was held, which helped me to focus more on the love my grandparents shared with others and with me instead of so much on their death and not seeing them again. LOVE!!!

And lastly, being able to watch my two kiddos love for each other grow more and more each day and how grateful I am that I was able to give them sibling love...something I've always wished for myself.  LOVE!!!

It's these moments that I love.

Moments I would have missed if I was continuing to let external rules guide my life instead the 'what I love' rules.

I want more than anything to live life like my daughter…like all kids…spending 95% of my day focused on love.

I want my inner-kid to come out and play again so she can help show me all the things that fill my heart up with love.

And because of that, I’ve decided to blog more about how I’m using my camera to help me slow down, connect within so I can focus on all the  love life has to offer.  

I’m allowing myself to let go of the food rules and I’m eating what my true inner heart wants.  If I don’t love what I’m eating, I don’t eat it.  I only eat what tastes delicious to ME!  Not what a book or any outside source says…ME!  And, I mean, it has to melt in mouth with delicious flavor or I pass it up.  That's my love food rule! :)

This isn’t easy.  It’s a constant mind/heart battle.  My heart will say, yes,I want the bagel and cream cheese but my mind always butt’s in and says, oh, you should have peanut butter on that bagel instead of the cream cheese so it won’t spike your blood sugar levels as quickly because of the protein in the peanut butter.

I’m letting go of the how I should be living my career life rules, too.  I’m allowing myself to be guided by my inner most passions now and I’m starting to making decisions based on those feelings.  Again, super hard to do when I just want to run back to my teaching job because it’s secure, even though it’s not a job that aligns with my inner most heart values.

Mostly, I’m just trying to let go of any rule that pulls me away from who I truly am and what I love.

If I don’t love it…I don’t want it in my life.

If I'm not filled with happy tingles or moved to joyful tears or not filled with happy chills, then it's not the right path.

Because life is good and there’s SO much to love about it!

I’m also choosing to focus on love with my camera because as a mother, I want to be a model to my children on how to stay connected to their intuition and make decisions only based on what their true, inner most desires and passions tell them.

I want them to always stay connected to their inner love FEELING when it comes to eating food and living life.

Because it’s this guide…this love guide…that we’re all born with and that we all need to stay connected to…because in the end…love is always right, so why not spend 95% of our days focused on it!

So, I'm taking a stand and sharing it here with you that I'm finally letting love rule my life, and with my camera in hand, of course! :)

Until next time..

Life IS what you love...SAVOR it up!