Family,  Lifestyle,  Marriage,  Reflection

What Defines You?

This post started out as sort of a depressing thought I was having at the end of my husbands long work weekend. For those of who who don’t know my hubby is a LEO. And for those of you who may live under rocks, they, like doctors, firefighters, nurses, etc. work ridiculously stupid long hours. The way his weeks are specifically set up are work M, T, F, S, S and then the next week it switches. He works 12’s, though anyone who works as a LEO or knows one, knows its often well over that due to late calls, extra training days, or working extra jobs to help make ends meet.

Anyways, I was thinking about how tired I was, and how lonely I was. I was thinking about my situation and how being a LEO family is really a LIFESTYLE. Not going to lie, it is freaking hard some days. Especially now, being a stay at home working mom of an 18 month old (let’s throw in being pregnant on top of that). It’s easy to jump on the pity train, the tired train, the complaining train, the lonely train, what have you. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that though it is a lifestyle, it’s not a definition. I had a hard time wrestling in my mind on how to distinguish the two, but I just kept thinking that it is a job, it’s not something that defines WHO the Schulman’s are, because if one day that piece of the puzzle is taken out of the equation for any reason, what would happen? Would we be so lost because we are missing what previously defined us as people or do we simply need to adjust lifestyles? Which coincidentally could be made easier by the fact that WHO we are never changed?

Yes, his work dictates a lot of how our life is lived, but it does not DEFINE who we are or who I am. It does not define our family, and in reality does not define who my husband is either.

I want to make myself very clear, this is in no way downplaying the admiration and pride I have for what my husband does. It is actually part of how much I support him in his job and in life in general that these thoughts come from. It takes a very special person to do his job, especially in recent times… but it takes an even greater person to do it at the level of professionalism, passion, and integrity that he and his colleagues perform their duties. Our community is blessed.

Anyways, I realized that leaning on things to define who you are as a person, or as a family unit, that in reality are only temporary in this life, could be dangerous. What defines you is something that NEVER changes. It’s what drives you to perform well at work, at home, in school, in your spiritual life, etc. It’s that something no one can take away.


So entered the words – respect, morals, integrity, spirituality, honesty, compassion, gratitude, love…. CHARACTER. Words just kept popping into my head. Duh, there it is, I thought.

Your character is who you are. But, I knew that already. Why was I thinking about it like it was some great epiphany? Because, i’ve never been married. I’ve never been a mom. I’ve never been a wife to a LEO. I’ve never been a pregnant lady staying at home with a 18 month old spit-fire of a daughter while pursuing a career from my home office. I haven’t done any of this before.

One of my favorite authors, Matthew Kelly said, “Everyday we make choices. Many can seem inconsequential, but one builds upon another and in the end our choices define who we become. Little choices matter because they become the foundation for bigger decisions. But sometimes it only takes one decision to change the direction of your life for better or for worse. We are not the victims of our bad decisions; we are the authors of our bad decisions.”

It all connected right then for me. I have never lived this life before… I don’t have a crystal ball… I don’t know what tomorrow will bring. BUT, I do know a couple of things: 1. we are a product of our decisions; and, 2. the grass grows where we water it.

Realizing that grass suffers and eventually dies should you choose to NOT water it… What aspects of my life do I want to “water”? Are there areas in my life that I have been giving TOO much time to?

“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired, and success achieved.” – HELEN KELLER (1880-1968) 

So as I stepped back down off the pity train, I realized that though our lifestyle may not be of the norm and may be extremely difficult at times, I realized that my focus first and foremost should be on what DEFINES me, and what DEFINES my family – our daily decisions and how we choose to nurture and grow our character.

I am incredibly grateful for the times in life where God stops me in my tracks and almost literally says, “Stop. Be quiet. Listen.” In those moments I am able to disconnect with the current stresses of life, assess where I am and where my family is, double check our current path, identify what things need to be adjusted, and move on. I always feel a renewed sense of peace and confidence afterwards that keeps me moving on.

xo – J



Just your average southern girl! Girl mama and wife to the love of my life <3

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