Each of Us Is Extraordinary, All of Us Are Ordinary

Sunday, December 17, 2017


This podcast is in response to an email I received from a listener who was frustrated that all my guests on the show are too "extraordinary."  While thoughts swirled about me, I interviewed Melinda Peterson from Melinda Joy Writes to chat about how she has been writing a novel for ten years; but then we magically had a beautiful discussion on seeing the extraordinary within ourselves.

Listen in to hear our conversation on this topic, my own expanded thoughts, my response to this email, as well as a highlight from one my "extraordinary-ordinary" friends--Brittney Hanks from Homegrown Traditions--who has encountered some tough failures as she and her husband navigate running a small business together.

Excerpt from Melinda's email, following our interview (it's amazing!!):

Since our interview, I have thought a lot about our discussion regarding what it means to be extraordinary, and the difficulty we have seeing it in ourselves.

Let me paint a quick picture.

When I was a young girl, maybe ten or eleven, my sweet grandmother sent me a bunch of cassette tapes of church music by a specific group that has long since fallen out of people's memories.  Included in that set of tapes was a recording of a church fireside put on by a man named Don Black entitled "There Are No Nobodies." It was a great talk.  It was full of great stories, it made me laugh, and it taught me some really great principles.  The truth is, I would listen to it every single night for the better part of a year before I fell asleep.  I desperately clung to the message that there truly were no nobodies because if there was anyone who felt absolutely worthless and unnoticed and insignificant, it was me.  Don Black taught me that God did not see me as insignificant or worthless.  God saw me as His child, extremely ordinary, but worth something, and capable of greatness. 

I believe that God spent quality time creating each one of us, and that He does bury treasures inside of us.  But the quality of our treasures cannot be measured by social media. The treasures within us are small and simple and grand in their ordinariness.  Is writing a book or starting a business extraordinary?  Perhaps. But I can tell you for certain that those things are not the most extraordinary things that I do.  In fact, they pale in comparison. Do you want the real list? The list that is really making a difference?

Every morning I get up and spend time with God.  I let Him know I am His for the day and He quietly and gently wraps me in the arms of His love and goodness and grace. From there, the day gets really exciting. It starts with a request for chocolate milk from my two year old and a nursing session with my one year old. It quickly escalates to wiping bottoms, making lunches, preparing breakfast, finding clothes and shoes, getting backpacks ready, scripture study, family prayer and a reminder of our values. As the kids get on the bus, I remind them to be honorable.  They listen.  From there, it's reading books, and playing with toys, doing dishes, and sweeping floors, raking leaves, and more bum wiping -- always so much bum wiping. Soon the kids are home from school and it's after school snacks, homework, chores, piano and playing with the neighborhood kids.  It's making dinner, witching hour activities, and welcoming my husband home from work. Finally, it's family time. We eat and talk and laugh and then it's time for baths and clean up and sweeping floors again.  It's music and dancing and holding kids accountable.  Then there are the books.  So many books.  But also the kisses and hugs and so many "I love you's" and "thank you's" and "I'm so glad you're mine's."  I fall to my knees absolutely exhausted, often overwhelmed, but always so, so grateful.  Always grateful.

We don't really have what one would call an Instagram-worthy life.  Our couch is thirty years old, my husband and I haven't been on a fancy getaway since our honeymoon, and all that we own is mismatched and worn. We use pliers to turn the knob of our dryer, and a baby blanket for the curtain in our master bedroom. Each month we barely scrape by, but we live in great abundance.  We have everything we need and so much more.

If you visit my Instagram accounts, you will see that my following is small and seemingly insignificant.  I go days without posting, and will never stay on top of the almighty algorithm.  Instagram is not my extraordinary, and neither is my manuscript.

My extraordinary is calling my grandparents whenever I think of it, visiting with a friend on bedrest, and watching how high my son can climb his tree.  It is making recipes out of the Harry Potter cookbook with my nine year old, and singing Silent Night to my two year old every night of the year.  It's holding my baby before his chub melts into toddlerhood, and holding my husband's hand as I fall asleep.  It is texting with my best friends and cheering them on in their victories and crying with them in their losses.  It is remembering names and the things people tell me and forgiving people who have hurt me. It is my mom and dad, my brothers and sisters, my nieces and nephews.  It is the people.  It is always the people.

There is a reason why it has taken me ten years to write a novel.  Perhaps the bravest thing I am doing right now in this season of little fingers and toes is putting other's needs before my own dreams and raising children in a world that is screaming that our worth is defined by our appearances and accomplishments.

I am all for dreaming and accomplishing.  I am inspired and blessed by so many people who put themselves out there all while doing the things that I described above.  There are some truly extraordinary things being done by people who are in the thick of life. I am grateful for them - for their words and their art, their music and their products, their posts and their expertise. I cheer them on.

I truly believe that we all have so many gifts and that we are meant to use them to add meaning and beauty and goodness to the world. But I also believe that small and simple and seemingly insignificant is also just as powerful and needed as noticeable and grand.  So, if there were one more thing that I could tell your listeners, it would be that sometimes the bravest things we do are the things that go unnoticed.  Let your extraordinary be small and simple and seemingly insignificant.  Because there are no nobodies.  Because we all matter. Because we all have gifts. All of our gifts and all of us matter.  If we could all just see that -- if we could all just see each other's stories and everybody's potential, and truly be glad for it -- if we could cheer each other on and build each other up, it would make a profound difference in the world.

Embrace your goodness and your gifts, and go out and do small and simple and extraordinary things with them.  Because we all need your gifts, your small and simple, your you -- your extraordinary.
Melinda!

Hanks Family
Listen to this episode below, or on iTunesSoundcloudStitcherPocketcastsGoogleplay, or search for "About Progress" wherever you get your podcasts.  If you like the show, please subscribe!!


Show Notes
Melinda's website, Instagram, and children-centered Instagram
Homegrown Traditions website and Instagram
Recent interview with Dr. Jennifer Finlayson-Fife: "Get Over Yourself"
Jennifer Finlayson-Fife's website and Holiday DEAL!
Jennifer's past interviews with About Progress on perfectionism and goodness (doing things for the right reasons)
Monica's Facebook and Instagram
Monat Natural, Anti-Aging Hair Care: Contact Monica to learn more, OR research via her Monat Instagram and website
Related: Monica's views on Sponsorship and WHY she's partnering with Monat
Fabletics! Get 2 leggings for $24 when you become a VIP member (they're the besssssst!) (Affiliate link)
Free Audiobook through Audible(Affiliate link)
Contact Monica
More Podcasts from About Progress
Song Credit: "Sweet Promise" and "Tonight" by Nicolai Heidlas

Tiffany Webster: Discovering Greater Strength by Embracing the Broken

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

“It is that moment of complete 100% surrender that we step into that power we never had before.”

Tiffany Webster knows a thing or two about surrender.  As a lifelong perfectionist, life had a way of showing up and forcing her to slow down, and slow down hard: infertility, chronic illness, brain surgery, and poor mental health.  That's just some of what Tiffany faced that helped her see she had to learn how to give in, look outward, and reach up--and in the process of doing that, she found greater strength than she ever knew possible.

You might recognize Tiffany from her viral talk on perfectionism given at the Hope Works conference: "The Perfect Lie."  Tiffany has recently released the most beautiful book--Embracing the Broken--that goes into great depth with what brought her to her lowest lows, the lessons she learned about the lies of perfectionism, and how we can rise above it.

In this interview, we talk about this as well as how Tiffany deals with the messiness of progress, how we can stop wearing masks with each other, and what's on the other side of embracing the broken in your own life.


You can listen to this podcast below, or on iTunesSoundcloudStitcherPocketcastsGoogleplay, or search for "About Progress" wherever you get your podcasts.  If you like the show, please subscribe!!



Show Notes
Tiffany's BOOK, website, Instagram, and Facebook
Recent interview with Dr. Jennifer Finlayson-Fife: "Get Over Yourself"
Jennifer Finlayson-Fife's website and Holiday DEAL!
Jennifer's past interviews with About Progress on perfectionism and goodness (doing things for the right reasons)
Monica's Facebook and Instagram
Monat Natural, Anti-Aging Hair Care: Contact Monica to learn more, OR research via her Monat Instagram and website
Related: Monica's views on Sponsorship and WHY she's partnering with Monat
Fabletics! Get 2 leggings for $24 when you become a VIP member (they're the besssssst!) (Affiliate link)
Free Audiobook through Audible(Affiliate link)
Contact Monica
More Podcasts from About Progress
Song Credit: "Sweet Promise" and "Tonight" by Nicolai Heidlas

Tamarynn Bennett: Racing Toward What Matters Most

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

"Comparison is evil . . . Any time you look at someone else's strengths that might be your weaknesses, you'll always come up short."

10 years ago, Tamarynn Bennett was 25 years old and had barely run more than a few miles at a time.  So, she reasonably thought she would be a "one and done" with a marathon she signed up for.  But after accidentally qualifying for Boston (!), she found herself drawn to the challenge and the thrill of racing.

Like most athletes, Tamarynn has had her fair share of set backs and disappointments.  From taking a full six years off of doing triathlons so she could focus on her family, to facing adrenal fatigue and injuries, to not being able to do races she had trained so hard for, Tamarynn has seen it all.  Her persistence is admirable, but it's also reachable; Tamarynn likes to make it clear--she is ordinary and credits achieving these big goals just one step at a time and holding strong to the bigger picture.

Tamarynn also discusses the personal trials her family has faced, and how they have both challenged and strengthened her commitment to what really matters.  A big piece of that puzzle?  Avoiding the trap of comparison and instead embracing the little progress we make each time we try, and then try again.

Some recent good news since our interview was recorded: Tamarynn was not only able to finish the Chicago marathon she was nervous about completing due to an injury, but she also completed her first official Ironman!!!!  Tamarynn described it as "magical."  Congrats!!!

You can listen to this podcast below, or on iTunesSoundcloudStitcherPocketcastsGoogleplay, or search for "About Progress" wherever you get your podcasts.  If you like the show, please subscribe!!




Show Notes:
Tamarynn's Instagram
Last week's interview with Lisa Funk
Lisa's new book, The Guide to Mindful Lettering
Recent interview with Dr. Jennifer Finlayson-Fife: "Get Over Yourself"
Jennifer Finlayson-Fife's website and Holiday DEAL!
Jennifer's past interviews with About Progress on perfectionism and goodness (doing things for the right reasons)
Monica's Facebook and Instagram
Monat Natural, Anti-Aging Hair Care: Contact Monica to learn more, OR research via her Monat Instagram and website
Related: Monica's views on Sponsorship and WHY she's partnering with Monat
Fabletics! Get 2 leggings for $24 when you become a VIP member (they're the besssssst!) (Affiliate link)
Free Audiobook through Audible(Affiliate link)
Contact Monica
More Podcasts from About Progress
Song Credit: "Sweet Promise" and "Tonight" by Nicolai Heidlas

State of the Podcast Address

Tuesday, December 5, 2017


Friends, family, About Progress community!  We passed our year anniversary of this podcast dream of mine becoming a reality.  And what a year it's been!

In this short--and unedited--episode, I share about what I've learned the past year, what have been our stats and most popular episodes, the challenges I am currently facing with the podcast, and where I see it headed.

Thank you for being here and for coming back!!!

You can listen to this podcast below, or on iTunesSoundcloudStitcherPocketcastsGoogleplay, or search for "About Progress" wherever you get your podcasts.  If you like the show, please subscribe!!

Lisa Funk: Developing Our Creativity, and Using it as a Tool to Fight Depression

Wednesday, November 29, 2017


"I meet a ton of people who say, ‘Oh I can’t do that, I'm not creative . . .'  Maybe they will never find that painting or drawing fulfills them, but they ARE creative in the way that they solve problems, or put things together, or organize . . . We can think about creativity differently in that we are created to create.” 

For Lisa Funk, lettering (also know as calligraphy) isn't just about creating beautiful text--it's about purposefully living a life she loves.  Lisa found that by honing her craft and mastering inspirational messages, she was able to better face her inner mental health battles.  Lettering changed Lisa's life!  Once she started sharing her gift, she was surprised how people didn't just want to know where they could buy her artwork, they wanted to learn how to do it themselves.  That's how Lisa became an accidental businesswoman, and one steeped in the goal in improving lives, one letter at a time.

Lisa discusses how creativity is innate in all of us and how learning to work hard to develop our gifts can change us as people.  She shares more in depth about how her own struggles with depression and more have taught her the importance of self-care and mindfulness, and that an essential piece of facing our demons is growing our gifts.  Finally, Lisa teaches us how we can find our own intentions in life and live them more purposefully.


Lisa's new book, The Guide to Mindful Lettering, combines instruction on brush lettering as well as how to approach learning this craft in a mindful, meaningful way.  On top of the instruction are 50 affirmations to "trace, ponder, and apply."   Lisa's hope is that this book, "can be the creative outlet so many women are looking for and at the same time help them to live an intentional life they love!"  You can find The Guide to Mindful Lettering here

You can listen to this podcast below, or on iTunesSoundcloudStitcherPocketcastsGoogleplay, or search for "About Progress" wherever you get your podcasts.  If you like the show, please subscribe!!



Show Notes:
Lisa's website, Instagram, and Facebook
Lisa's new book, The Guide to Mindful Lettering
Last week's interview with Dr. Jennifer Finlayson-Fife: "Get Over Yourself"
Jennifer's website and Holiday DEAL!
Jennifer's past interviews with About Progress on perfectionism and goodness (doing things for the right reasons)
Monica's Facebook and Instagram
Monat Natural, Anti-Aging Hair Care: Contact Monica to learn more, OR research via her Monat Instagram and website
Related: Monica's views on Sponsorship and WHY she's partnering with Monat
Fabletics! Get 2 leggings for $24 when you become a VIP member (they're the besssssst!) (Affiliate link)
Free Audiobook through Audible(Affiliate link)
Contact Monica
More Podcasts from About Progress
Song Credit: "Sweet Promise" and "Tonight" by Nicolai Heidlas

Dr. Jennifer Finlayson-Fife: "Get Over Yourself" || When Perfectionism Undermines Your Development, Relationships, and Peace of Mind

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

"Those that are most able to deal with their flaws are most willing to be seen as human . . . [This requires] real moral courage, and that’s the kind of courage that sets us free."

Dr. Jennifer Finlayson-Fife was so kind to return for our third interview together!  Our first breaks down perfectionism, while our second discusses making decisions based on approval-seeking vs. real goodness.

Have you ever heard the saying, "I am my own worst enemy?" If you've thought or said that about yourself, then this episode is for you.  (And if you haven't, then this episode is also for you.)

Jennifer discusses how all of us carry the innate tendency to mask our own humanity--our flaws--from those we love, work with, and even ourselves.  Doing so actually inhibits our growth, creates tension in our relationships, and leads to inner turmoil.  The only way to get over all that is to get over ourselves.

Jennifer teaches how to do just that by facing our own flaws with compassion and true moral courage.  She also helps us see what we get out of doing so: a life filled with challenges, certainly; but also a whole lot more love, fulfillment, and freedom.  


More on Jennifer:
Jennifer Finlayson-Fife grew up in Burlington, Vermont as one of eight children.  She studied Psychology and Women's Studies at Brigham Young University, and went on to receive her Masters and PhD in Counseling Psychology from Boston College.  She has a private practice  in Chicago, IL where she works primarily with LDS couples on relational and sexual issues. She is a frequent guest on LDS-themed podcasts, and has written articles for LDS-themed magazines and blogs on the subjects of sexuality and modesty as well as mental health and faith.  She is married to John Finlayson-Fife and has three wonderful children.

You can listen to this podcast below, or on iTunesSoundcloudStitcherPocketcastsGoogleplay, or search for "About Progress" wherever you get your podcasts.  If you like the show, please subscribe!!



Show Notes:
Jennifer's website and Holiday DEAL!
Jennifer's Facebook 
Jennifer's past interviews with About Progress on perfectionism and goodness (doing things for the right reasons)
Monica's Facebook and Instagram
Monat Natural, Anti-Aging Hair Care: Contact Monica to learn more, OR research via her Monat Instagram and website
Related: Monica's views on Sponsorship and WHY she's partnering with Monat
Fabletics! Get 2 leggings for $24 when you become a VIP member (they're the besssssst!) (Affiliate link)
Free Audiobook through Audible(Affiliate link)
Contact Monica
More Podcasts from About Progress
Song Credit: "Sweet Promise" and "Tonight" by Nicolai Heidlas

How I Don't Let My Food Issues Ruin Thanksgiving (Or any other holiday feast...)

Thursday, November 16, 2017

10+ years ago, Thanksgiving would send me into the fetal position.  Too much food, too many people and eyes, too much temptation, and, most of all, way too much fear.

There were a few years that I'd have to lock myself into the bathroom mid-feast just to hyperventilate, it was that overwhelming for me.

But now?  Now, Thanksgiving (and Christmas, and New Year's, and any other feasty celebration for that matter), is just like any other Sunday dinner.  I don't worry about it ahead of time, I don't stew much the day of, and if any issues come up for me I'm able to work through them.  In short, I actually LOOK FORWARD to our holiday feasts.

If you haven't had food issues (i.e., stress eating, emotional eating, fear of food, bonafide eating disorders, etc.), than you can't understand how miraculous this transformation has been for me.

Photographer: Baley Marie Photo
Aside from years of building up my Intuitive Eating skills and thought-patterns, here are eight ways I approach the holiday meals so I'm empowered to make good choices and made free to be present--both with the food and the ones I love.  Each tip starts with a phrase I tell myself, and I explain each one:

1) "It's just food."  If my heart is racing, I "mess up," or I can tell my thinking it getting out of my control, I just remind myself that it's all just food.  It's not there to hurt me.  

2) "Savor it."  Grandma's fudge might only come once a year, so instead of avoiding it like the plaque or completely bingeing on it, I grab a piece, sit down, and savor each sensation.

3) "You can always have it later."  Related to the above, if my instinct is to want more, more, more--either out of guilt or deprivation--I remind myself that I can in fact always have more later.  Either when my tummy is a little less full, or even months down the road.  Grandma might make the fudge only once a year, but that doesn't mean I can't get her recipe and make it myself whenever the heck I want to.  There is no "last supper" mentality needed here!

4) "Who is this about?"  I remind myself that the holidays are meant to enjoy my loved ones.  So instead of getting trapped by my thoughts and habits with food, I try to recenter back to what matters more than that and get busy talking.

5) "It's just a normal day." I don't go crazy with hours of working out, eihter/both before the feast or after.  I do exercise--I do set myself up for success in eating a reasonable meal in the morning and trying to hold out until then big feast.  I think ahead of time of what foods/desserts I actually love and want to ensure I have room for, and which ones I'd rather not take part in. But I don't carry such high stakes on the actual meal that I'm trying to do penance for it either beforehand or the rest of the day.

6) "What do you want out of today?"  Do I want to eat my heart out?  Do I want to talk the day away?  Do I want to completely savor that apple pie when I'm all alone after all the family has left and the kids are in bed (my personal favorite way to eat dessert)?  Having that in mind helps me recenter when I need to.

7) "Breathe."  It's easy to do.  You can in fact leave and do it in private in the bathroom if your anxiousness is reigning.  Or you can do it between bites.  Just take those deep breaths and remind yourself of your other phrases..

8) "It will get easier." Perhaps this is your first year into a new relationship with food.  Then it will be more heightened--don't chastise yourself if you don't navigate it all successfully.  Give yourself patience and remind yourself that these new thought patterns and habits WILL get easier; they'll become like second-nature.

Here are two podcast episodes I did on Intuitive Eating, for more help: Here and Here.
 
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