Choosing joy over anger isn’t easy—but it’s oh-so worth it

When you choose to be joyful, you attract joy like a magnet. 

Choosing joy over anger isn’t easy—but it’s oh-so worth it

I typically don’t read many Facebook status updates—and I especially don’t read them multiple times—but this particular one stopped me cold. It was an observation shared by my friend Nicki Salcedo. Whether penning a novel, an op-ed piece or a Facebook status update, Nicki’s words never fail to provide enlightenment and introspection.


This was Nicki’s informal, yet powerful observation:

“Nighttime soccer practice. I see a family I know. They have back-to- back practices for their girls. That amounts to three hours of soccer on a Tuesday night.

Me: “Wow, you guys have a long night.”

Dad: “Yeah, but I’ve got to head over and cut my son’s hair. He has cancer. He’s in the hospital. I’m going to Northside.”

It is 7:30 pm at night. We live across town from that hospital. The dad leaves. He calls his daughter the best nickname when she plays. He admits he doesn’t know much about soccer, but he’s learning.

I think about all these angry parents. Angry people. For what? They have everything and want more.

The quiet ones simply enjoy seeing their kids kick a ball.”

It was no mystery why I read Nicki’s observation three times.

Nor was it any mystery why her words made me cry.

I was that angry person.

I know because my husband had the courage to tell me. Something along the lines of: You walk around the house looking angry all the time. Your face is always set in a scowl.

He’d said it before–probably a bit more subtly the first or second time–but I always shrugged it off. After all, my husband didn’t know what my life was like. He had no idea the amount of tasks and responsibilities I managed, handled and completed. The fact that he didn’t angered me even more.

Getting ready for my children’s sports practices and events really brought out the monster in me. As I prepared the necessary items, navigated traffic and unfamiliar roads and set up chairs and coolers, my scowl was securely in place. I could manufacture a smile when someone outside the family approached us. My husband had once mentioned I saved my smiles for the outside world. That one hurt, but it didn’t change my approach. Perpetually Irritated By Life had become my jam.

I remember sitting in my pop-up chair at my daughter Avery’s mini-kicker soccer practice one Sunday afternoon. It was too hot for September, it was too disorganized for little kids, it was too expensive for what we were getting... Why are we even here? I grumbled to myself.

In stark contrast to me was Avery’s beautiful and vibrant young soccer coach guiding my child with positive words and a loving tone. I saw the way my stop-and-smell-the-roses child gravitated toward Coach Lindsey whose smile was brighter than the sun they played beneath.

I didn’t know Lindsey well, but I could tell just by watching her that it would take a lot to ruffle her feathers. Some people are just joyful like that.

Other people aren’t.

Other people choose to become that way.

While watching the beautiful connection happening between a joyful little girl and a joyful young woman, I felt something stir inside me. That day, noticing their mutual joy was better than watching the clock, the score or the many annoyances going around me.

On the final practice of the season, Coach Lindsey walked up to me with her business card. “I don’t usually do this, but if you ever need a babysitter for your precious girls, I would love to babysit. I just adore Avery, and I bet Natalie is just as delightful,” she said.

I felt myself tear up. Our family was still fairly new to the area and we had no family nearby. I had yet to find a babysitter I felt I could trust. But with my husband traveling most of the week, I was often exhausted. Lindsey’s offer felt providential. I accepted with gratitude.

Lindsey quickly became our go-to sitter, never failing to show up with an abundance of joy. When she stepped into our house, the environment lightened, brightened and lifted. That’s what joyful people do.

When I returned from my evening outings, Lindsey and I would often stand on the porch and she would tell me all the little details she noticed about my girls. She couldn’t believe the way Avery could sing and play the ukulele. She couldn’t get over her delightful disposition. With my older daughter Natalie, she was amazed at the thoughtful questions she asked at bedtime and the care and concern she had for adult issues like poverty, homelessness and war.

Under the porch light, I’d soak up every good and precious thing Lindsey noticed about my children–the beautiful details I failed to see in my perpetually irritated state.

I needed a new goal. I realized one night as Lindsey drove away.

Because when you base your happiness on tasks being completed, notes being in pitch, plans running accordingly and hairs being in place, you’re just setting yourself up for disappointment.

I wanted my goal to be joy: Did I see it? Did I grasp it? Did I exude it? Did I personify it? Did I spread it?

Only love today.”

“See flowers not weeds.”

“A little more time can be a miraculous thing.”

“Happiness beats perfection.”

“Have my loved ones heard me laugh today?”

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I created several positive mantras I could recite in my mind, post on my walls, and write on my hand. I practiced them over and over, especially prior to situations when my irritable monster typically came out.

Throughout the past five years, these mantras have loosened my tightly wound inner fiber, softened my heart and altered my perspective, but I am a work in progress. My Type-A, task-driven, highly-efficient self still has her moments. Just this weekend, as I became lost on my way to a swim meet, I felt rage bubbling up inside me. Unexpectedly, a new mantra popped into my head:

“Why so angry? I have everything and want more.”

They were Nicki’s words and they helped me breathe. I turned and smiled at my little girl who is not so little anymore and said, “We’ll, get there, baby. Thanks for being patient with me.”

Avery flashed me her joyful smile. Thank God, she didn’t have to brace herself for curse words, squealing tires and angry tears. This was a better way.

My friends, my scowling days are a period of my life that I’d rather not speak of, but I felt compelled to talk about it today. I’ve noticed there are a lot of angry people–not just on soccer fields and baseball diamonds, but also in parking lots, subways, checkout lines, churches and arenas. There are angry people waiting for elevators, walking down corridors, posting on social media and standing behind podiums. Perhaps there’s an angry person living in your house, inhabiting your body. Quick to anger is becoming our jam.

I’d like to gently point out there’s a better way.

Because things look a lot different when you lose the scowl.

Because things look a lot different when you notice there’s a human being taking in those angry words.

Because things look a lot different when you hold your current annoyance against the fragility of life.

Perhaps a new goal is in order.

Choosing to be joyful so you attract joy like a magnet.

Choosing to be joyful so it shows on your face and in your words.

Choosing to be joyful because that’s where the real living’s at.

I’ve heard from a reliable source there’s nothing that’ll ease your troubles like watching a happy child kick a ball on a crisp autumn evening.

I think that sounds about right.

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    The HATCH Mama collection is everything your pregnant body needs right now

    Their oil is the only thing that stopped my belly from itching as it grew bigger.

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    Let me start by saying I'm not a fan of moisturizing. I hate being wet and sticky and after applying product to my body, I have to stand around awkwardly until I'm fully air-dried—a practice that is not compatible with having three kids under the age of 3. However, as someone who has carried three children in her body, I also know how much your belly needs hydration as the baby grows.

    This was especially true with my second pregnancy. My belly popped way sooner (a thing that happens with subsequent pregnancies) and on top of that, I was carrying twins, which meant I became super pregnant super fast. My belly was itching constantly from the skin stretching (I checked with my doctor to make sure I didn't have Cholestasis) and there was no scratching in the world that could ease my discomfort. My doula recommended the HATCH Mama belly oil and changed my life. The oil is nourishing—but more important to me, quick-drying—so I could apply it all over my planet-sized twin belly and get dressed immediately after without having my clothes ruined nor stuck to my body. Because of how much I loved the oil, I tested other products, and let me tell you, they're all equally amazing.

    Curious about the HATCH Mama collection? All of their products are non-toxic and mama-safe, designed to help pregnant people overcome the challenges unique to pregnancy. As their website claims, "from stretch marks to thinning hair, to sleepless nights, we're helping you tackle every prenatal and postnatal beauty issue head-on so you can continue to feel like the best version of you." I'm here for all of this. For the entire Hatch Beauty collection click here.


    Here are my favorite products from HATCH Mama:


    Belly oil

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    Intensely hydrating + fantastic at reducing the appearance of stretch marks and scars, this will be your favorite through pregnancy + beyond.

    $58

    Belly mask

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    Not only does it help to minimize the appearance of stretch masks + scars during pregnancy + postpartum, but there is a little non-toxic wink (and that's to you, mama.)

    $42

    Nipple + lip ointment 

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    Calming + soothing, this magic sauce is lanolin-free & made of tropical butters and super fruits. I'm not lying when I say you will not want to stop using this, even way after birth.

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    A very rock and roll way to honor your bump. And non-toxic + plant-based at that!

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    This article was originally published in March 2021. It has been updated.

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    Motherly created the flexible online birth class moms need

    The Motherly Birth Class is completely online, which means you can take the class at your own pace.

    Taking a birth class is a pregnancy milestone. Whether you've been excited to take a birth class for a long time or have just recently decided that you wanted to take one, sitting down for that first lesson feels big—spoiler alert, this is really happening! But finding time for a birth class isn't as easy as it would seem.

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    All this to say that we get how busy you are—and how hard that might make it to fit in a birth class.

    And that's why we created The Motherly Birth Class. The Motherly Birth Class is completely online, which means you can take the class at your own pace.


    Think you'll want to watch each lesson a few times over? Great!

    Due date's next week and you need the option to take a birth class very quickly? No problem!

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    Taught by Certified Nurse-Midwife Diana Spalding (who also wrote "The Motherly Guide to Becoming Mama"), this class is broken into 12 lessons—and you get to control how and when you watch them. We'll teach you about what your (amazing) body is up to in labor, how to decide when it's time to head to the hospital or birth center (or when to call your home birth midwife), what your options are for coping with pain and so much more.

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    Pregnancy is wonderful—but it's a lot. You deserve a birth class that works for you and empowers you to have your best birth. Because vaginal or Cesarean, unmedicated or medication, birth is incredible. And you are the star of it all.

    You've got this.

    Sign up for The Motherly Birth Class today!

    The Motherly Birth Class

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    Take our completely digital birth class from the comfort of your living room. We'll help you have your best birth—because you deserve it.

    $79

    We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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    14 toys that will keep your kids entertained inside *and* outside

    They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

    Keeping kids entertained is a battle for all seasons. When it's warm and sunny, the options seem endless. Get them outside and get them moving. When it's cold or rainy, it gets a little tricker.

    So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of the best toys for toddlers and kids that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, many are Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

    From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these indoor outdoor toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.


    Secret Agent play set

    Plan-Toys-Secret-agent-play-set

    This set has everything your little secret agent needs to solve whatever case they might encounter: an ID badge, finger scanner, walkie-talkie handset, L-shaped scale and coloring comic (a printable file is also available for online download) along with a handy belt to carry it all along. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.

    $40

    Mini golf set

    Plan Toys mini golf set

    Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.

    $40

    Stepping Stones

    Stepping-stones

    Kiddos can jump, stretch, climb and balance with these non-slip stepping stones. The 20-piece set can be arranged in countless configurations to create obstacle courses, games or whatever they can dream up.

    $99.99

    Wooden doll stroller

    Janod wooden doll stroller

    Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.

    $120

    Sand play set

    Plan Toys sand set

    Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.

    $30

    Sensory play set

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    Filled with sand or water, this compact-sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.

    $19.95

    Vintage scooter balance bike

    Janod retro scooter balance bike

    Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.

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    Foam pogo stick

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    Designed for ages 3 and up, My First Flybar offers kiddos who are too young for a pogo stick a frustration-free way to get their jump on. The wide foam base and stretchy bungee cord "stick" is sturdy enough to withstand indoor and outdoor use and makes a super fun addition to driveway obstacle courses and backyard races. Full disclosure—it squeaks when they bounce, but don't let that be a deterrent. One clever reviewer noted that with a pair of needle-nose pliers, you can surgically remove that sucker without damaging the base.

    $16.99

    Dumptruck 

    green-toys-dump-truck

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    Hopper ball

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    Pull-along ducks

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    Rocking chair seesaw

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    Baby forest fox ride-on

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    $79.99

    Meadow ring toss game

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    Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.

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    When you ask any two mamas to share their experience with breastfeeding, you are bound to get very unique answers. That's because while the act of breastfeeding is both wonderful and natural, it also comes with a learning curve for both mothers and babies.

    In some cases, breastfeeding won't be the right path for everyone. But with the right tools, resources and social support systems, we can make progress toward the American Academy of Pediatrics' recommendation to continue breastfeeding through the first year of a child's life. After all, breastfeeding helps nourish infants, protects them against illnesses, develops their immune systems and more. Not to mention that mothers who breastfeed experience reduced risk for breast and ovarian cancer, type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure.

    With National Breastfeeding Awareness Month this month, it's a great time for mamas (and expectant mamas!) to gather the supplies that will support their feeding journey—whether it looks like exclusively breastfeeding, pumping or combo-feeding.

    Customflow™ Double Electric Breast Pump

    Designed for regular use, this double electric breast pump allows mamas to customize the cycle and vacuum settings that work for them. The 100% SoftShape™ silicone shields on this pump form-fit to a wide range of breast shapes and sizes—which means more comfortable, more efficient pumping. And every pump comes with two complete Dr. Brown's Options+ bottles, giving you everything you need to go from pumping to feeding.

    $159.99

    Dr. Brown’s™ Breast Milk Collection Bottles

    There's no need to cry over spilled milk—because it won't happen with these storage bottles! Make the pump-to-feeding transition simpler with Dr. Brown's Milk Collection Bottles. The bottles adapt to Dr. Brown's electric pumps to easily fill, seal and transport, and they work with Dr. Brown's bottle and nipple parts when your baby's ready to eat. (Meaning no risky pouring from one bottle to another. 🙌)

    $9.99

    Breast Milk Storage Bags

    With an extra-durable design and double zip seal, your breast milk will stay fresh and safe in the fridge or freezer until it's needed. Plus, the bags are easy to freeze flat and then store for up to six months, so your baby can continue drinking breast milk long after you are done nursing.

    $9.99

    Silicone One-Piece Breast Pump with Options+™ Bottle & Bag

    Here's something they don't tell you about breastfeeding ahead of time: While feeding your baby on one side, the other breast may "let down" milk, too. With this one-piece Silicone Breast Pump, you don't have to let those precious drops go to waste. The flexible design makes pouring the milk into a bottle stress-free.

    $14.99

    Dr. Brown’s® Manual Breast Pump

    No outlet in sight? No worries! With this powerful-yet-gentle Manual Breast Pump, you can get relief from engorgement, sneak in some quick midnight pumping or perform a full pumping session without any electricity needed. With Dr. Brown's 100% silicone SoftShape™ Shield, the hand-operated pump is as comfortable as it is easy to use. Complete with Dr. Brown's® Options+™ Anti-Colic Wide-Neck Bottle, a storage travel cap and cleaning brush, consider this the breastfeeding essential for any mama who has places to go.

    $29.99

    Options+™ Anti-Colic Baby Bottle

    With the soft silicone nipple and natural flow design of these bottles, your baby can easily switch between breast and bottle. Clinically proven to reduce colic thanks to the vent, your baby can enjoy a happy tummy after feeding sessions—without as much spit-up, burping or gas! By mimicking the flow and feel of the breast, these bottles help support your breastfeeding experience.

    $7.99

    This post is sponsored by Dr. Brown's. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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