I’m really glad we have such a wide variety of emojis to choose from when words won’t suffice.

Because there sure are an array of emotions to feel.

Lately I haven’t felt like the most positive person in the world, and I really don’t like to be negative. I don’t try to view everything in a Pollyanna way, but I generally try to find good things about the situations I face.

But sometimes it’s way more difficult than I’d like.

If you ever need to feel better, call my sister. Best.pep.talks.ever.

It all started because of a guy (of course). It’s no secret in my life that this area has always been a struggle for me, and it continues to be so. And I don’t like that. I’m not trying to pull the “feel sorry for me” card here, but the guys I’m interested in usually don’t return my feelings. That’s just reality. I thought this one might be different, but now I’m not so sure. I’ve been feeling more and more jilted lately, and it’s given me a really pessimistic attitude. Why doesn’t he like me?

Then there’s the whole not feeling smart thing. A lot of people at my work are smart. Like really smart. And sometimes they make me feel really stupid. By no means are they intentionally doing this, but I just don’t understand some of the things they are saying. I haven’t mastered the jargon or concepts of everything in the financial services world yet, and it’s frustrating. I’m used to feeling intelligent, and I just don’t sometimes. This has also caused me to have a sour attitude. Why can’t I be smarter?

And then there’s running. This has been a really big mental battle for me lately. I had a sprained MCL earlier this year and basically didn’t run for all of January. Since I started running again, it’s been an up-and-down training journey. Some days my knee bothers me still, and I have to hit the elliptical or do something else. Other days it’s just fine. But I haven’t been able to train at the level I’d like, and I recently ran a race that proved that I am nowhere near where I want to be. Plus, I was in the hospital last week, so I don’t think that helped the situation much, either. I had a really bad attitude after the race and said what I usually say after a disappointing race: “I’m retiring.” (It never actually happens, though.) Why can’t I be faster?

I’ve always been my biggest critic, and it’s been worse than usual lately, and I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that sometimes I just don’t feel like I’m enough. I know this isn’t true because I know I have a God who loves me more than any person ever can, and that’s really all I need, but it’s easier to say that than make it an evident truth in my life. I’m usually a pretty confident person, so I hate the thoughts of I’m not pretty enough, I’m not smart enough, or I’m not fast enough—fill in the blanks with any adjective.

But enough is enough.

I always taught my students to be sure of who they are and to do everything in life confidentlyand that should include feeling like you’re enough. If a guy doesn’t like me, that’s fine. If I don’t master every subject ever, it’s alright. If I don’t win every single time I step on the starting line, the world will not come to an abrupt end.

Because I’m still loved, and I can still love. And love is enough.

We are all going to have times in our lives when things are difficult and cause us to be harder on ourselves than we should. And that’s OK. But the important thing is not to let those struggles keep us down. There are so many reasons to celebrate and enjoy what’s around us rather than focus on those things that cause our hearts to hurt a little or a lot.

You are valued. You are loved. And you matter.

And that’s true forever and alwaysjust like the unicorn emoji.

Please don’t cheat in Candy Land

You can learn a lot about life from Candy Land and unicorn puzzles.

Especially when both don’t go the way you planned.

I spent Saturday night babysitting (I know—I’m a party animal), which means it was an evening of adventures galore. Not only did we watch the “Hugglemas” episode of Henry HuggleMonster, but we also played Candy Land and Elefun AND completed a unicorn puzzle. Please try to contain your envy.

I need to discuss two things that happened Saturday night: cheating and realizing some puzzles can’t be finished the way you want.

I understand that some people let their kids win at everything (actually, I don’t fully understand because I think kids need to learn how to lose), so I know not everyone agrees with me on my opinions of playing board games with kids. However, I definitely don’t believe they should be allowed to cheat. The kids I babysat Saturday are beyond sweet and adorable, but they don’t seem to care about the rules of Candy Land. In fact, the little girl won the entire game in less than three minutes. I never even got to move my little game piece and attempt to find King Kandy.

Candy Land unicorn puzzle
Two ingredients to an epic Saturday night

Candy Land is by no means a long game, but I do know that it typically lasts longer than three minutes, and kids are supposed to follow the directions and improve their counting skills. They are also supposed to learn how to play fairly, and I’m sure they learn color identification a little better, too. Plus, it’s just a fun little escape into some whimsical world with the Candy Cane Forest and Gum Drop Mountain. But part of the whole fun is the adventure—the experience of going through each step, sometimes going forward and sometimes going backward. You don’t get to pick your cards but, instead, simply have to adapt to whatever you’re dealt.

I think sometimes we try to cheat our way through the Candy Land of life. It seems so much simpler to get to whatever Candy Castle we’re trying to reach without having to worry about dealing with Queen Frostine or any setbacks we’re given. Rather than play the game fairly, we simply choose whatever cards look good and get to our destinations as fast as we can. There’s not a lot of room for learning and growth in that strategy. Truthfully, I’m not a huge fan of boardgames, but I think Candy Land does have some value in teaching kids about real life concepts—I think it can teach those same things to many adults, too.

After the less-than-three-minute Candy Land game, we spent a few minutes playing Elefun. This game, however, didn’t last very long. Thanks to my height advantage over the wee ones, I dominated. It’s sometimes more difficult to catch butterflies in your net when you’re closer to the ground. This meant it was time for the unicorn puzzle.

The puzzle was one of my favorite parts of the night. We all had to work together, and there was true determination in both kids to put all of the pieces in place. I’m not going to lie—I got really into this one. I can’t explain my frustration when we got all of the pieces in the right spots and then discovered that we were missing a piece. In that moment, it hit me: this is why I’m still single.

And I don’t mean because I was putting a unicorn puzzle together on a Saturday night.

There’s been more than one time in my life in which I’ve been interested in guys who have never returned my feelings, and things haven’t worked out the way I wanted them to. At the time, I’ve always been frustrated, but I was always looking at things with tunnel vision rather than puzzle vision. For things to truly be meant to be, all of the pieces have to be there to complete the puzzle. If even one piece is missing, you won’t get the beautiful picture that you’re trying to create.

I need to try to remind myself more often that I can’t skip ahead to Candy Castle, and I can’t force puzzles to happen when all of the pieces aren’t really there. I want to experience the adventures along the way, and I want to have my complete unicorn picture.

Even if it means watching a few episodes of Henry HuggleMonster as I go.

Unicorns, distractions and Target winning again

It can be easy to get distracted by fascinations that draw you away.

Especially when you’re at Target.

There’s just something about Target that creates this entirely different universe of greatness. It’s difficult to explain—you have to experience it. It’s really challenging to go in there and get just one thing. I might even venture to say it’s impossible.

There have even been multiple occasions when I’ve gone into Target with one thing on my list, left with more than one thing, and completely forgotten the original thing I needed to get. I know my ladies out there feel me on this one. There are just too many distractions putting thoughts in your mind of, “I need this” or “I’m sure I’ll find use for this somehow” or “That’s too cute not to buy” or anything else along those lines.

It’s delightful torture.

I was a victim to this on Saturday. All I needed was contact solution. That’s it. I could have (and probably should have) just gone to a normal grocery store. But I didn’t. Target was summoning me. That stinkin’ red target shouldn’t be on the outside of the building—it should be on all of our backs. Target hits the bullseye every.single.time.

Obviously a necessity

I went inside and immediately was drawn to the Dollar Spot: a place where everything is $1, but you can easily end up spending about $32 there in a mere matter of seconds. After I found some stickers I know I’ll use and some neon mechanical pencils that I never will (I don’t remember the last time I even used a pencil), I moseyed on over to the clothing area. I mean, I had a Target gift card, so I might as well get some new work clothes, right? Last time I checked, fun shorts and a shirt with a frocket with unicorns on it weren’t part of the corporate dress code, but those items somehow wound up in my cart. I did find a skirt that I actually can wear to work, so I declared it as productivity and made my way to the grocery area.

I would like to point out that I passed by the shoes section and didn’t let myself stop. I saw some boots that I really, really wanted to take a second look at, but I stayed strong. See, Target doesn’t own me completely.

I got some Birthday Cake Teddy Grahams (everyone needs to try these) and an avocado and then went and got in line to check out. Right before it was my turn, it hit me: I forgot contact solution. I was completely out, and I knew it wouldn’t be a good idea to sleep in my contacts. But I really didn’t want to get out of line and have to walk all the way over to the health/beauty/whatever-it-is section to get it. The one thing I really needed to get there, and I didn’t even get it. After at least 40-something seconds of useless debating in my head, I opted to stop at Kroger on the way home to get the solution. After all, Kroger has self-checkout.

I think my actions and my mindset at Target are similar to those of many of us in our daily lives. We let things constantly distract us from what our main objectives should be, and then we end up straying so far that we neglect them entirely or simply give up on them. But, the problem with those distractions is that they usually aren’t as good for us as we imagined. Sure, I really like the new clothes I got, but they weren’t going to be able to take care of my contacts while I slept.

When I was a freshman in high school, I had a project due that our teacher had given us weeks to work on. I started a little before midnight on the night before the day it was due. Throughout the weeks we had to work on it, I had let distractions veer me away from the assignment—whether it was basketball, watching SportsCenter or a Mavs game, hanging out with my friends, talking on AIM (obviously a critical priority), or a number of other things. I’m not saying those things are bad, but at the end of the day, they didn’t accomplish the one thing that had a deadline: my assignment. I ended up completing it, but I hadn’t made it a priority, just like I hadn’t made my contact solution a priority. Instead, I had let it slip deeper and deeper into the back of my mind until it became an afterthought. A checkout thought.

I think a lot of us do this with more important things than solution or school projects: relationships, our time, our sleep and a variety of other things that are truly important to us. But what if we didn’t let ourselves get Target Shopping Syndrome with things that matter? What if, instead, we let our priorities stay at the top of our lists? I’ve been trying to focus on this more—well, other than my obvious slip when I was actually shopping at Target—by saying “no” to things I don’t need to spend my time doing, by not overcommitting myself, by being intentional about not wasting time with frivolous concerns, by being intentional about getting more sleep, and (most crucial) by being intentional about making sure I make time for the people who are most important to me in life.

And life has been so much more peaceful and a lot less chaotic.

We can’t always escape Target Shopping Syndrome. Distractions happen, and that’s how life works sometimes. But we can be more aware of what we’re truly focusing on and place more effort on not letting distractions get in the way of what we were originally going after in the first place.

Plus, if you’re constantly looking at other things you don’t have, you might miss something wonderful right in front of you.