Photo by Jessi Nichols Photography
When I was in nursing school, we learned about something called Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. (I included a picture of this so it will make more sense). At the time all I heard was blah blah blahhhh. But now, the older I get and the more I am living in the real world, I have figured out he was definitely on to something. It is like the old food pyramid, how things that we need most of all are at the bottom, like food, water and sleep. We need those things to survive. If we lost every single other thing in our lives, those are the things that we would search for above all else. Next is being safe. Then is the friends and family section where it puts having meaningful relationships and feeling like we belong right after the bare essential things that keep us alive. That to me is huge and also makes so much sense. At the top, if we are lucky enough to have everything else covered, we are able to reach our full potential, reach for our dreams and be who we want and strive to be.
So here are some of the big things that truly matter in my life.
It is important to me that I have a relationship with God. It is who I am. My faith guides the way I act, the way I deal with stress and grief, it is who I am and how I grew up. It is how I will raise my family and where I am going after this life is over. I want people to be able to tell that I am a Christian without me having to tell them. I want positive, hope filled life to pour out of me. I want to make people feel loved and important, because they are. I want to encourage and lift people up. I want people to feel like they can talk to me without being judged. And even thought I want all of these things, I know I fail at them daily. But being a child of God isn’t about being perfect, it’s actually acknowledging that we aren’t perfect and that we need Him.
I am going to try and keep this short, because I could write a book about these people. My family. My husband who lives with me every day, he might deserve an award for the patience he has with the things he listens to me talk about. The random things I talk him into doing, and the crazy big ideas about things I would like to do in life. I told him the other morning that I want to go skydiving for my 25th birthday that is in August. He just stared at me, didn’t blink, hung his head and took a deep breath. Like “oh geez, okay”. Bless how much comfort he gives me with all of my emotions, how he supports my dreams, and tolerates my in depth conversations I NEED to have when he is trapped in the car with me.
My mom and dad will never know how much they mean to me. I live within walking distance of them, and they still hug me like they haven’t seen me in months every time I walk in the door. Then they walk me out to my car and wave bye as I drive down the driveway to make the long 2 minute journey to my house. They are my biggest fans and greatest encouragers. They have been by my side through every part of my life and have truly been the best parents I could have ever asked for. They drove me and 9 of my friends all the way to Miami for a cruise and they spent the week in Florida on a little vacation of their own… I mean who does that. Who is selfless and patient enough to drive 11 hours to and from Miami with ten 25 year old girls?? My momma and daddy. Because us being safe and saving money was important enough for them to do something so unimaginable to so many.
My nephews seriously make my heart so happy whenever they are around. I will listen to them tell 20 minute stories about goats because they want me to. I will go to every ball game and school play that I possibly can to avoid the hurt look on their face when they see me next and ask me where I was. The hugs and slobbery kisses, the laughs and snuggles. They make me feel so wonderful about myself because to a 5 and 8 year old, I am seriously the coolest friend they have. We can go places by ourselves! And have sleepovers, and drink sparking grape juice straight from the bottle! I can’t imagine how much I will love my own children one day because those two boys make me feel like my heart might explode.
**I had to add that my two cats really matter to me. If you don’t know how obsessed I am about them, just look at my Instagram. They are my favorite part of being at home and I talk to them like they are humans.
Oh my friends. I love nothing more than spending time with my friends. It doesn’t matter if we are eating at Olive Garden (my favorite!) or at the beach or sitting on my front porch. People who are in your life because they chose to be, those are the ones you hold on to. The ones who invite you places and make time for you. The ones who put their phone down and listen when you talk. The ones who are happy for you when you do something amazing and ask more questions so that they can be equally as excited as you are. The ones who cry with you because they can tell you are hurting so bad. The ones who tell you everything; good, bad and ugly. The ones who send a text and say “can you pray for me”. These people are important to me. There are times in my life where I have had a lot of these types of people and then there have been times when I had only a few. But I am learning that it isn’t about how many friends I have. It is truly about the quality of those good solid friends that make me the happiest.
Of course my job is going to be on this list. My nursing job is important because it is my purpose. The thing I truly believe I was put on this earth to do. The job that lets me live life the way I do. It gives my life meaning to be a part of daily miracles. The NICU has put life in perspective in a way I never could have imagined. It has brought me close to so many like minded people and allowed me to grow and learn. I love my job and look so forward to spending many more years there. Also my photography “job”. My hobby and my happy place. It is important to me because I feel like it was a part of me that was missing. I remember talking to a photographer when I first got started and he asked me what I wanted to get out of it. And I told him that I just needed a way to “get it all out”. And he immediately understood. I think for some people this comes from running or working out, painting or sewing, doing yardwork, etc. It’s like there was some kind of energy inside of me that I couldn’t figure out how to use until I started taking pictures. And the longer I do it, the more I know that this is exactly what I looking for. Photography was the top of my pyramid.
Of course, at different times in life, certain things will be more important than others and take the focus away from other things. But for now, I sit in awe of the beautiful life I have and I am thankful. Now I told you I was going to be a real person. The real thing in all of this is these are the things I am thankful for and the things I choose to focus on. Life isn’t perfect. I don’t have a home church that I attend regularly, even though I would love to find one. Me and my husband are SO different, and in some ways that makes it all work, but it also makes living life together a challenge. My parents are perfect. That’s just the way it is. Friends come and go, some are forever and others are for seasons. And my job is stressful and I work with at least 20 other women every shift… you only imagine the problems that can come with that situation. And the photography world is surprisingly cut throat and SUPER competitive. I have found people I can talk with that we help each other and encourage each other, but there are also people who only want to be better than you and compare work and clients and prices. And I am like “woah, this is my happy place. No thank you with all of that”. So I really think the things that are most important to you will come with good and bad. That is life sadly. But is also makes me beyond thankful for those true friendships and happy times. You just have to shift the way you look at things and choose what and who you are going to put your energy into.
I am sure that the pyramid was never intended to be used for the purpose that I use it for… But I use it when I pray. Before I ask for God to intervene in my life in any way, I thank Him for the things that I already have day to day that make the problem I am having even possible. Example : Rough day at work? Thank you Lord, for giving me a job that is meaningful and allows me to pay my bills every month. Thank you for my health, the food you provide daily and the home I get to go to. Thank you for my friends and family that make me feel loved and supported. Thank you for my husband that is always there to listen to me. Thank you for keeping me safe… And then I present the problem. I don’t know, it works for me and has really kept me grounded and reasonable when hard times come. Because even though something might not be going exactly the way I want it to, I still have SO SO many things to be thankful for and that are important to me.
I hope this will help you to think about what really matters in your life. To count your many blessings before getting down about the few things that aren’t exactly going your way. And to put your time and energy into people and activities that are good for you. That bring joy and value into your life. You are blessed and nothing and no one should make you feel like you aren’t. God worked and is working hard on you. Acknowledge that and focus on what really matters.