Thursday, December 27, 2018

Devotions, Coloring, and Books to Grow From

I am working on compiling my book list for 2019.  I have some books that I just never got to last year and one that I read, but have decided to read again along with using the journal that goes with it.  I had a list of books I wanted to work through, but I never gave myself the time to sit and read.  This time, I am going to set aside time to read.  Instead of saying I am going to read a book a month, I am going to set aside time several days a week to just sit and read.

And yes, I am putting it on my calendar planner.  I usually use my for appointments and birthdays, but this year I am going to set it up differently and actually use it.  But I will save that for another post.  For now, I am adding in reading time.

The pictures show what is on my book list.  From devotions to start my day out, to mandala and coloring books to use during my creative sessions, to journals and books.  Can you sense a theme though in my titles?  Lots on creativeness, some on parenting and being a mom, and some to grow in my faith with.

I am excited to dive in, see where the books take me, and dig in deeper.

I have yet to decide on what order I am going to go in for the books.  But I do know I will be starting with "Be Your Finest Artist" by Joanne Miller & Dorsey McHugh.  This one I read a few years back when I first got it.  This time around, I ordered the journal that goes with it and plan on working through both together.

Incidentally, a few other books on my list got onto my list because when I ordered the journal, Joanne was out of town and it wouldn't ship for a couple of weeks.  I said no problem and to my surprise I was gifted "Creating a Haven of Peace" and "The  Empowered Artist".  Which led to a discussion with my mother in law, and she is loaning me the other creative themed books.

My list got built further after Christmas and was gifted with a blessing of other books.

Through the recommendation of friends, family, add ons to books I have read,  even winning one my reading list and direction is coming together.

So, what is on your reading list for 2019?  I would love to hear what is on your list and also if you have any recommendations please share!

Friday, December 21, 2018

It's Okay to Break, It's Okay to Cry

Here we are, 4 days away from Christmas.  And oddly enough, my most recent post was about the magic of Christmas.  Maybe not oddly, maybe more ironic, but a few days to prior to today were not my finest.

After what seems like months of dealing with same negative behaviors that seem like no matter what don't feel like they are going away, I was done and ready to throw in the towel.

As a parent we set expectations and boundaries, we love our kids beyond words.  But the constant loud volume, yelling at each other, not listening the first time (or second, or third, or, well you get it), lack of interest in helping, lack of interest in being kind to one another, and the list goes on left me worn and weary.

Well, needless to say, I have not, was not much in the holiday mood.  Not quite bah humbug, but not too far from it if things didn't change.

A few days ago, it changed.  I hit my own low, my own just done with it, my own breaking point.  I was done, done with those behaviors, not feeling the magic of the season, and ready to throw up the white flag.

Yes, I know.  God doesn't give us more than we can handle.  And he gave me these two boys, put me on this path that I am on.  But I was feeling a bit broken.  So much so, the tears just came flowing.

After the umpteenth fit from my youngest, my oldest picking on his brother all morning for yet again another day, being kicked twice during a diaper change, I ended up on the floor.  My youngest snuggling in, and the tears just flowing down my face.  The tears stopped long enough until I went to bed, and I shed some more.  And the next day, some more again.

But then I began to feel a shift.  A shift in me, my attitude, my perspective, a weight lifted.

It was like I needed that moment.  That moment to break, to let it out, and let it go.

Nothing in life is perfect.  There are moments that are perfect, only in the sense that had the pieces not falling together the way we did and we noticed it wouldn't have happened.  Sometimes we have it all together and sometimes it all falls apart.

I needed that moment.  That moment to let the tears flow.  I don't always like to admit it, but though it may seem like it from the outside, I don't always have it all together.  And when the same thing, same negative thing, keeps happening it has a tendency to grate on me.  It wears me down, tears me apart, and I want to throw in the towel.

But I am me.  I am a wife, a mom, and so much more.  And just like my kids, I try to be in control of too much sometimes, even if it isn't something I can truly control.  Then we all butt heads, and we start pushing past the boundaries.

Until we just need to unload.  I unloaded through tears.  My oldest asked me if I was okay, and I flat out said no.  That is where I left it, that is where he left it.  Nothing more was said.

Now today, and well yesterday.  Things began to feel better.  They began to run more smoothly.  They began to change.

I am now feeling more in the Christmas spirit.  I am now beginning to see the magic of the season.  I am now more at ease.

I don't know what or why it all happened the way it did.  I don't know if the behaviors are fixed or how long this change with last.

I do know that it was what was needed  It was unexpected.  And it is the season I, we, are in.

I am trying to raise great kiddos who are respectful, helpful, loving, kind, gracious, and content.  Ones who let their personality shine through, use their strengths and gifts, know and understand their weaknesses.  Beyond that, I am trying to raise great adults.  So that one day, they will do these things on their own and be able to guide others.

Some days are easier than others.  But that is life.  We work through it.  We come out stronger on the other side.  We come out with more wisdom.

If you are not feeling the magic of the season, I get it.  But take a moment to look into why.  Sort it out, let it go, and find a calm that can carry you.

Being a parent is and has been the hardest job I have had by far.

It is okay for your kids to see you, your emotions, and realize it is okay to not be okay.  Because in the long run, they will learn the most from watching.

These next few days, I am going to try to see the magic of Christmas the way a child does.  Then, I hope and pray it is something I can continue to carry through the months ahead.  Because at the end of the day, there is still so much to be grateful for and so much glory in our lives.  We just need to ask to see it or help seeing it every now and then.

Today, today I am grateful for the grace of God, the love of family and friends, and the release that comes from letting tears flow.

I may not have it all together sometimes, but I have what I need surrounding me each day.

May you find the peace, the calm, the joy in the days to come.  May you see these days in a way that uplifts you in a way you never have before.  May you find space and presence in the moments in your day.  And may you truly see the magic, even if only through tears.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Believe in the Magic of Christmas


There is something truly magical about this time of year.  For those of you who know me well, I have been choosing a word a month since about February.  I use this word to guide me through the month.  I also pick a word for the year or theme, and even do some word brainstorming for the season.  I have found a great sense of peace, reminding, transformation, and joy out of going through the process of picking a word and having it around the house.

This month, my word is magic.

Why?  Because there is so much more to this season, this month, this time leading up to the holiday if you believe....believe in the magic of Christmas.

I know, in the hustle and bustle of the month, as an adult, it can get hard to sometimes see the magic.  Sometimes it's hard to slow down.  But usually when we slow down, when we pause, we become present.  We become more aware, and not only can we see the magic, but we can feel it too.

All to often as we get older, we loose sight of that.  Having kids or being around kids can bring that back.  I love watching this time of year through my kids' eyes.

You can really see the joy, the peace, the hope, the light in the season if you take a look around you, listen, and let yourself be in the moment.

The beauty of this magic is that it doesn't have to go away after Christmas has wrapped up.  It doesn't have to go away as we get older.

We can carry this magic throughout our lives, year after year.

I see the magic of Christmas
  • in the eyes of my children
  • catching snowflakes on our tongues
  • looking at twinkle lights
  • advent devotionals
  • lighting candles
  • learning the Christmas story
  • finding special gifts to share with others
  • sharing our own gifts and talents with others
  • a simple smile
  • snuggles
  • hot chocolate or coffee or tea
There is so much out there where we can see the magic.

Where do you see the magic?  If you are having a hard time believing in the magic of Christmas, what can you set aside, what can you change that will open your eyes and heart to it?

Christmas, believing, magic are not just something that is in the month of December.  Let's try carrying it on in to the new year, the next seasons.

I hope you can find a way to see the magic, to believe in it, to feel it, hear it, and share it.

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 13, 2018

LifeScore ~ Where are you struggling, frustrated, having success, transforming?

I enjoy reading.  I mostly read nonfiction, but will read the occasional fiction book if I find the topic of interest or it's a good read recommended by a friend. 

As I am compiling my book list for next year, I still touch base with some of my favorite Authors throughout the year.  Usually, when it's an author I like, I will follow them on facebook to follow along with their blog, resources, etc. that go beyond the book.

Some of my favorite authors you might ask?  Jill Savage, Andy Andrews, Joanne Miller.  My hubby has read a lot from Dan Miller, as well as done a podcast episode with him.  So I have learned a little here and there about him, but personally have yet to read one of his books.  However, I do follow him on facebook because his wealth of knowledge can be a helpful resource.

Recently Dan Miller shared a link to Michael Hyatt's LifeScore Assessment.  It is a free assessment that looks at the domains of: circle of being, circle of relating, and circle of doing.  Within each domain there are focused area questions on: spiritual, intellectual, emotional, physical, marital, parental, social, vocational, avocational, financial.  You can select one, a few of the areas that relate to you (i.e. if you aren't married, don't click on the marital one or if you don't have kids yet, don't click on that one)

Once you answer all the questions it gives you an overall life score, as well as a score in each focus area.  Then you can look at where are struggling, frustrated, success or transforming.

I selected all the areas and after going through it to be very interesting and worth taking.  While most areas fell in the success range, there were a few areas in the frustration range and one area of transformation.  The last two, the frustration and transformation are two areas where I am going to dig in deeper to learn more about.  To see why they fell there, where my thoughts are on it, and if there is anything I need to do and can change, also, where I need to adjust my perspectives and priorities.

Sure, most of us will not be 100%  in the success range for all the areas, especially not all the time, and that is okay.  Why?  Because our lives are about balance and priorities.  Where we focus our attention the most is where we have the most success typically.  Likewise, where we put our priorities makes a different as well to where it falls on the scale. 

We all have different strengths and gifts we can share, as well as weaknesses.  But our strength and gifts can be used to help fill in the void of another's weakness, likewise, the strengths and gifts of other's can be used to fill the void of our weaknesses or help us begin a transformation process.

If you are in a frustration or struggling phase, is it because it is the season you are in?  Or could it be because that focus area falls into a weakness for you?  Or even an area that is of little interest to you?

If you are in a transformation phase, can you see that focus area transforming?  How is it?  Why?  Is it transforming into a success, or a struggle, or frustration?  What can you do to turn it into a success?

If you are in a success phase, can you see how you got there?  What makes it a success?  How can you keep it there?

Are any of these focus areas ones where you can change your perspective?  Grow and change? Something that you might be able to let go of?  Something you need additional guidance on?

It's okay to keep dreaming, keep growing, to keep changing.  As the year comes to an end, take a moment to think on the past year (or further back if wanted or needed) to reflect.  Take a moment to think about the year to come and dream, looking for ways to use your strengths, your talents, your gifts, coming to terms with your weaknesses and seeing where you are needing to or ready to transform.

Start putting into place now those things that will help you grow, to change where needed, to let go where you can , to transform.  See where this will take you.

Below I will include a link to the LifeScore Assessment.  I encourage you take a moment and answer the questions.  See where it will lead you.  If you take it, share your findings below if you feel comfortable or what your thoughts are about it all or what your take away is going to be from it.

In the meantime, you do you.  Use your strengths, use your gifts, let yourself transform.

Michael Hyatt's LifeScore Assessment

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

An Acrostic Poem ~ On Hope

Have healing through the
Openness of the season
Providing a sense of peace, happiness, and gratitude
Exciting you through each day, finding energy and ease enter in

Friday, December 7, 2018

A Loving Kindness Message ~ On Hope

May you find healing
May you find openness
May you find peace and presence
May you find excitement and energy

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Holidays, Christmas Time, & Facing Battles While Finding True Meaning

 The other day I talked about facing battles and what is your armor.  Today, I am going to continue with the theme of battles.

The idea came to me recently while listening to a friend, who is a podcaster and blog writer.  She was talking about battles as well and how to face them during this holiday season.

Like she said, and so have I, we all face battles.  Every day, all day, throughout the year.  Seemingly, the time between Thanksgiving and the end of the year there seem to be more battles we face.

Add in holidays, season shifts, extra time with family, gift giving, traditions, the shoulds we pile on ourselves, expectations, and those battles seem to multiply.

Sometimes we push so hard to make this time of year "perfect" but the reality is sometimes less than what we were expecting.  We get caught up in the shoulds, the traditions, the things that have worked in the past, our own expectations, change, and so on.  And when we push and push, the battles increase.

What is this time of year truly meant to be?

I know, holiday times can bring grief, frustration, anger, anxiety, fear, worry, guilt.  They can be tough.

But they can also be and feel different.  It starts with you.  Your attitude, your perspective.  That will carry through to the others around you, your spouse if you are married, kids if you have them, your family, your friends.

Do you really need to face every single battle in front of you?  Are there some things you can let go of and avoid the battle altogether?  Are there things you can change or stop this year to bring more calm to this time of year?  Are there things you can do or change to bring more peace and joy?  Are there things you can do to slow down instead of getting caught up in all the hustle of the season?

Where can you truly push?  And yet, where can you pull back?

If some aspect of this all is important to you, then by all means, push and battle for it.  But also, stop and think, do I really need to?

Because if you don't need to, then maybe let it go.

In a way, yes you do need to face each battle placed in front of you.  But you also need to pause for a moment and really think about whether or not this battle is one that you can let go of.

Take what is most important and make decisions.  Use those decisions to guide you through your battles.

Where can you ask for extra help?  Where can you just let it go?

What would truly make this time of year filled with calm? Joy?

Take this time to work your way through it all.  Then, as the holidays pass by and we begin a new year, you can take this concept along with you.

Pause, name it, look at it, decide.

Fight for what you can, when you can, where you can.  But let the rest go.

Remember, is this something that will truly matter in 5 minutes? At the end of the day? Next week?  Next month? Next year?

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

We All Face Battles ~ What is Your Armor?

What battles are you facing?

Are they small or big?

What do you face daily?

What does your armor look like?

Sometimes our battles are small and sometimes they are big.  Sometimes they last a moment, sometimes longer.  Sometimes once, sometimes daily.  At some point, maybe more than once, we will all face a big battle.  All these little battles you are facing are God's way of preparing you for your big ones.

If you are familiar with the stories of the bible, the one of David and Goliath is one that I am guessing you can recall easily.  It's about David, a small young Shepard, taking on Goliath a giant 9 foot tall warrior of many battles, and David winning.

That is the short version of the story. 

I read awhile back from author Andy Andrews, we are either coming out of crisis or headed that way.

When we are in crisis, we are in a storm, doing battle.  When we are headed out, we have finished the battle, are beginning to step out and move forward.  Once we level out and hit even ground, while the ground is solid, things are starting to turn the other way.  But in time, we will be headed back to battle once again.

Like I said, we face small battles often.  Those small ones shape us, train us, prepare us for when the Goliath type battles come.

I face battles every day.  As a mom, or a parent, you know how quickly you can ruin something with a three year old when you give them the wrong cup color, food choice, tell them it's time to clean up, and so on.  As parents we face battles daily.  While it is just the season we are in as our kids begin to test the boundaries, we are facing something every day.

Sure, those are small ones.  But I have faced bigger battles.  And while my bigger battles may not be as big as yours or the same, I face them just as much as you do. 

Three of my biggest battles?  Facing miscarriage and the path that put me on, postpartum depression and anxiety.

Remember the story about David and Goliath?  How is it that David was able to succeed?  His battle plan and armor were way different than Goliath's.  Goliath's reputation superseded him.  Goliath was a warrior, a fighter, armed with spear and sword, champion of many battles.  David was a Shepard, warrior only in the sense he was brave to fight off bear and lion from his flock to keep them safe.

Where was each of their hearts on that day?  Where is your heart today?

One rock, one simple rock took Goliath down.  At least on the surface.  Deeper down, it was Goliath's lack of true armor, lack of battle plan, lack of preparedness, and attitude.  David went in with his heart filled with God.  God's armor, God's plan, God's guidance.  David fought Goliath and won because David had been faithful.

Being faithful in all times.  All times.  In battle, leading up to battle, just coming out of battle, on solid ground.  All times, being faithful.

Can you say that about yourself?  Are you always faithful, no matter the circumstance?  Do you take God with wherever you go?  Do you wear an armor of your own or do you put on God's armor?

We aren't promised that we won't face battles.  But we won't face a battle we can't handle.  And we can handle those battles, even the Goliath sized ones, if we keep God on our side, put on God's armor, faithfully fill our hearts daily.

It is not always going to be easy.  But we can surely lighten the load if we trust and lean on God.

God's armor gives you a belt of truth, breastplate of righteousness,  feet fitted with the gospel of peace, a shield of faith, a helmet of salvation, and a sword of the holy spirit of the word of God.

I am not sure where your faith lies.  But I do know, we all face battles.  We all will continue to face battles throughout our lives.  Where do you place your heart, your attitude, your armor in these times?

You are not alone in fighting your battles. 

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Happy Thanksgiving

May your day be filled with peace, blessings, and those that mean the most to you. 

If you are in a rough season right now, take a moment to pause and look for one blessing, one thing to be grateful for right now.

Take time to rest, be present, make memories, get some fresh air, and to be quiet.

After today, take this with you tomorrow, the next days, weeks, months, years.

*Photo credit: Google search images, AAA Newsroom*

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Gratitude ~ Acrostic Poem

Give the day a chance to 
Really open your eyes to the world
Around you, to the moments in front of you
Take it all in
Invite in the joy and peace
Trust in what is
Unveiling itself to you
Dare to find the blessing, 
Even if you are amidst a stormy season

A Loving Kindness Message ~ On Gratitude

Take a moment. Close your eyes.  Breathe deeply.  Let it out.  Tell yourself... 

~May you find peace and blessing in the moment you are in~
~May you find grace and gratitude in the storms you are facing~
~May you be wild and free in love and growth~
~May you see and feel the blessing of a grateful heart~
~May you be filled with gratitude each day you face~

Homeschooling ~ Awesome App Idea

Part of our curriculum this year is a focus on reading, sight words, and phonics.  While I used to teach the reading part of the curriculum in my classroom to Pre-Kindergartners when I find a good app to assist along the way, I will turn to that for guidance.

Well, I have found two great apps.  One is called Alphabet Aquarium, the other is Reading Eggs/Mathseeds.

I found Alphabet Aquarium when my oldest was about 2 1/2.  He has a love of learning and questioning, so this app was a great introduction to letters.  I didn't use it a lot, but when I did he loved it.  He was a bit jealous of baby brother and me nursing, so it provided for a distraction free time while I nursed and he would still be doing something educational.

Now, brother is 3 and wants to be like his older brother who is doing reading and math lessons.  So, he has gotten into Alphabet Aquarium.  He too loves it.  I wish I could find a similar concept for number learning as well.

Alphabet Aquarium has 5 activities to do with each letter.  First you match the letter, then you build the letter, next you make an animal that starts with the letter, and the last two are matching activities where you match a picture of an object that starts with the letter to the outline.  It is a great blend of activities to use when you are just getting into letter recognition.  Oh, and the letters are all upper case letters.

My oldest uses Reading Eggs and Mathseeds.  Both go together usually when you buy the subscription.  But they both go through all the necessary components to reading and math through fun, interactive, repetition, and practice activities.  Each map reveals the next level to build upon the foundation that begun in map 1. 

I know, I know, but it's technology and don't you understand the issues that go with using it?

Yes, yes I do.  And I will say, we limit the amount of time they get used and how long each time.  My youngest will do a few letters a couple times a week.  My oldest gets to do one Reading Egg lesson and one Mathseeds lesson each week.  Occasionally he will do two lessons.  But if he is doing stuff on the ipad, he doesn't get any T.V. that day.  When it comes down to it, they are each maybe on it for an hour a week max.

If they are going to be using technology, they are going to be learning from it.

At this point, my oldest has been using Reading Eggs and Mathseeds on Mondays and Fridays since the start of the school year in September.  Before that he would use it on and off, but not consistently.  He is currently reading at Kindergarten age (which is a Kindergartner), has 17 of 200 sight words, and has 94 of 237 phonic skills.  Not bad for 8 weeks in and once a week for Reading Eggs.

What apps have you found to be helpful for your home school?

Anyone know a good number app for a 3 year old to work on number recognition, counting, and creating the number?

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Time Change ~ Switching into Savoring the Slow

As we enter into the fifth day of daylight savings time ending, I am left wondering.  Why is it such a tough thing to work through?  And why do we still even have it?

Throughout the year we are faced with moments where we can slow down, busy moments, moments where we wish we could slow down, and moments where we wouldn't mind having a fuller schedule.

Is it one of those, the grass is greener on the other side?  Or, at least greener until you are standing in it, surrounded?

We have usually kept our schedule of activities, adventures, things to do pretty flexible and open.  Sure, some weeks are packed from Sunday to Saturday with outings, but than we dial it back and hang closer to home for a bit.

What is keeping you from savoring slow and slowing down, more often?

As I sat there, just a few days into the daylight savings time ending (despite the extra hour, I dislike the idea of daylight savings) I am looking at the week ahead, knowing that last week we were home a lot and this week we have a full week.

And yet, I feel a sense of loss of motivation, energy, and just wanting to hunker down at home more.  The lack of sun, the colder weather, the snow already flying makes me feel it even more.

I go through moments where I try to intentionally slow down, but it is usually some outside aspect or when I truly listen to my body that I make the shift.  However, it is usually only a short period of time.

Here we are, closing in on the end of another year.  I look back and often wonder, where did it all go and wonder why we didn't get certain things done or why did it go so fast or how are we already to November.

It seems as if time speeds up from the day after Halloween until like the middle of January.  We get caught up in the hustle and bustle of holidays and season change.

But what would it look like if we instead, slowed it down and kept it slow?  Refocus, reset, rest, revive

What if we changed our perspective, from how much can we get done, load the calendar, that we have to be a part of the hustle and bustle to more of a let's be in the moment, listen to ourselves to the others around us, and be okay with having some empty time slots?

What if we let this switch carry us through beyond the new year?

It has become common place to respond to the question, how are things going? with a busy, crazy, good or great.  But why?  Why don't we respond with an okay, alright?  And why do we feel guilt for not packing the schedule tight?  It is almost like a badge of honor, the more stuff we have going on the better things are, the better we look, etc.

So with this time change, as we head into the holiday season, let's change our perspective.  Let's slow things down, be present, set up space for things to not be filled to the brim.  Let's instead fill ourselves, loved ones around us with presence and moments.

But beyond that, let's keep it going.  Let's keep this slower pace going in the year to come.  Allowing for the ebb and flow of those sometimes extra busy weeks or moments, but still coming back to a slower point.

What would you do if you slowed down?  How would you fill yourself, your family, your friends?  How would you let go of the to do lists and just be present?

Let's make space and time for the things we truly want to fill our time slots.

*Photo credit: Encouragement at a Glance from KTIS*

Friday, November 2, 2018

Season of Gratitude

As we get closer to Thanksgiving, we tend to show our gratitude more and more.  Letting ourselves focus throughout November, we create a one a day post of what we are grateful until the end of the month or even a photo a day challenge of what we are grateful for or even find a creative project that we do daily with the theme of gratitude.  Sometimes, we wait until Thanksgiving to unload, around the table, the things we are grateful for.

But what about the rest of the weeks, months...the rest of the year?  Shouldn't we be thinking and sharing about our gratitude more often, even daily?

I have worked on gratitude as a daily practice on and off over the years.  I would write a list of things I was grateful for each night, or write a sentence, or even try to use November to focus on gratitude.  Through it all, I found that when I was consistent I felt uplifted and energized.  However, I also found that when the daily life came into play, it was usually the first thing I would skip.

I recently went through a 7 day Gratitude is my Superpower course with Shawn Fink leading the course.  After going through it and with the start of November, it got me thinking.

Am I grateful, like truly grateful?  Yes, I am.  But do I always talk about it, or write about it, or ask what others are grateful for?, not really.  Do I share about it, think about, recognize it every day?  Honestly, no.

I know I have a lot to be grateful for.  But I also know I could do better acknowledging it.  Even if I don't write about it each day, at least say it out loud or in my head before bed.  Beyond that, I could think on it and acknowledge throughout the day, in the moment sort of thing

You see, in order to cultivate a heart of gratitude one must practice gratitude daily.  For each of us, this may look a little different, but it is something we each can do.

Even in the hardest of hard, those storms we weather, we can still find something grateful.  Yes, it is hard to see sometimes, but there is something there if we focus for a moment, not on the storm, but on gratitude. 

But in those moments opposite the storms, we can show our gratitude as well.

Where it gets lost most often is in those moments in between.  Where everything seems to be just going alright, nothing big happening in either direction...kind of like an even keel.  That is when we tend to let our gratitude fade away.

No matter where we are at, no matter the season, no matter the time of year we can find one thing each day to be grateful for.

So why wait until the first of November, or until Thanksgiving Day?  Why not start now a gratitude practice that you can continue beyond November?

Yes, go ahead and do the creative gratitude projects throughout the year that match up with seasons or holidays or the month.  But just add them into your daily gratitude practice.  So when the season or the holiday or the month ends, your gratitude practice continues.

How do you create a daily gratitude practice?  Keep it simple, keep it visible, keep trying, and start where you are.  Remember, there are going to be days that you miss, but keep coming back to it.  Just like anything new, it takes time and practice to form consistency.

Find a journal.  Find something for you to write in that you like, the feels right to you, that allows you the space you need.  I have a few of those one a day sentence books where you write one happy thing or thought to remember or one thing you are grateful for.  They are great, also an easy way to get started.  For me though, I have found I need more space to write, so I choose journals or notebooks.  Even your phone can be a great place.  I don't know of any apps specifically for gratitude practice, but last night I pulled up a new memo and type a quick list of a few things I was grateful for.

Set up a space to have your journal, even a few pens ready to go.  Make it in your line of sight throughout the day.  It will serve as a reminder to take a pause (even if it's a short one) to jot down a few things.  I have mine on my coffee table and even got gel pens (haven't used them in over 15 years) to go with it, making it more fun and colorful.

Remember, gratitude practice can be done any time, anywhere.  While waiting at a stoplight, out on a walk, during a meal.  When you start opening up your eyes, your heart, your mind you begin to see a different perspective around you and can find joy, gratitude in the little things throughout the day, even amidst the chaos and busy.

You can write a list, you can write a sentence, you can take a picture.  Do it in a way that works for you.  I am finding that I enjoy giving a little more detail.  While at times, a list is what I have time for.  You can even write on a question a day if that is what fits your flow.

Awhile back I found a new perspective on daily gratitude practice.  It came from Dave Ramsey.  His idea was to answer the following questions: Today I am most grateful for..., Today I am most thankful for..., I found delight in/when..., I loved when...

Since finishing the 7 Day Gratitude is my Superpower course I have found a reset in my daily gratitude practice.  It isn't put away in a basket under the coffee table.  I have my journal out and pens ready.  I try to take a pause in the afternoon to write instead of waiting until the kids go to bed.  While sometimes that is when it happens, after they go to bed, I have also found that by the end of the day I am just ready to unwind and it gets lost.  I combine the ideas from both Dave Ramsey and Shawn Fink.  I use the questions Dave suggested and then go into detail the way Shawn suggested.

This is how it works best for me, for now.  Is it possible that it will change?  Of course.  As everything changes, so too will this.  But I am planning on keeping it going in some form, even if I am on a trip (which is usually when I would set it aside completely, then take a bit to come back to it).

Do you have a daily gratitude practice?  Share yours below in the comments. 

Have you thought about starting one?  What is getting in your way of starting?

Have to tried to keep one, but somehow it seems to get set aside more often than not?  What trips you up along the way?

Setting up a strong foundation of gratitude can carry over into every area of your life, as well as those around you.  I encourage you to go beyond November, beyond Thanksgiving to grow and continue your gratitude each day, throughout the day, in your own way.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Checking In

I have been a bit absent in my writing and posting this month.  As it seems with the change of seasons, I found myself in some seasonal changes and adjusting.

I decided, sort of by choice, to just let whatever scheduled posts I had go out and see where that would end.  I am looking back now and see that there has not been a lot this month and here we are headed into the evening of the second to last day of the month.

I have been working behind the scenes, or should I say, in real life.

But through it all, I have realized how much I miss putting my fingers to the keys, opening up, and seeing where it all goes.

I am grateful to have this time to write, to take you along on my journey, to grow, to learn, to be.

Thank you to all who follow along.  Thank you to all who check in and see what is new.  Thank you for reading.  Thank you for staying by, even when I don't post as often.

As we head into November, and some busy, some crazy weeks ahead, please continue to join me on this journey.

I have lots to write about, to share, to invite in.  So where you are in your journey, maybe we will find some type of understanding, connection, inspiration, motivation.  Hoping, dreaming, being.

Until the next post, may you find the grounding you need.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Belong ~ An Acrostic Poem

Believe in becoming the you you were meant to be, creating strong branches

Embrace the path before you, knowing the pain of feeling empty, but the healing of being enough

Letting your light truly shining through, lightening your load by letting go, releasing what is holding you back

Opening the doors ahead, daring to dream, finding your tribe

Nourishing your mind, body, soul

Grounding your roots, growing your sturdy branches, giving grace with a focus on gratitude

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

A Loving Kindness Message ~ On Belonging

Take a moment. Close your eyes.  Breathe deeply.  Let it out.  Tell yourself... 

~May you find comfort where your heart takes you~
~May you find connection, even through a simple smile while out and about~
May you find your grounding spot, grow your roots, let your branches grow free & strong~
~May you know that you have a place to be truly you, a place of belonging~

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Finding Balance in Life ~ Especially in Marriage

Finding the balance between you, your marriage, and your kids can sometimes be a tough thing.  But when you stop to think about it, having a solid marriage is something that your kids need just as much as anything else.  They also need to you be you.  They also need to see you be a parent.

Is it possible to do all three?  Yes!  But, no they may not happen equally every day of the week.  Sometimes the balance shifts focus into one area heavily due to the time of season you are in.  Maybe you have a big work project that needs a little extra focus, but once done, things will even out.  Or maybe you have put your marriage on the back burner for far too long so finding the balance again is tough.  Or maybe a kiddo is sick.  The list goes on  for why our focus shifts the balance.

But the balance doesn't have to stay in one area forever.  It can and will shift around.  But want to know something interesting I have found?  If you make sure to include time for yourself, to dream, to create, to do your hobbies it is easier to put a good amount of focus on your marriage.  And vice verse.  If you make sure to invest in your marriage, the other pieces will find a balance point.

It is kind of interesting how investing into your marriage can greatly effect all the other areas of your life.  You put good in, you will get good out.  That is a phrase we use a lot with our kids. 

Beyond it all, communication is definitely needed.  Just talk, talk about it all.  Your dreams, your hopes, the mistakes, the hard stuff, the day...all of it.  Talk about it all.

Set up a good marriage foundation.  Then when you add kids, it will still be there for you to come back to, for your kids to learn from.  But don't forget to keep investing in your marriage through the years.  Let it grow, let it build.

What do you do to keep investing in your marriage?  What do you do to keep it off the back burner, always simmering on low?

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Peaceful ~ Acrostic Poem

Plant yourself in fertile soil
Even in the midst of chaos, storms, drought
Allowing yourself to grow, accepting what you can control and letting go of what you can't
Cultivating the richness, the balance, the calm: carving out the time to
Ensure that the calm can wash over you
Fulfilling you in all ways, in all areas ~ mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually: Finding grounding in the moments
Utilizing your bounty, beauty around you, your strength, your courage: Uplifting you
Letting you see calm, feel calm: Letting go where needing: Letting light in, loving yourself and those around you through all the twists and turns on this journey

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Setting Up For Our Homeschool Year ~ Schedules and Curriculum

I used to be a teacher.  My classroom was filled with 20 four and five year olds.  We would work through the morning with a focus on reading, art, writing, math, science, circle time, and story time.

In all the years I taught, I was given the curriculum, given the calendar, given the order in which it would all go.  Told how long the kids got to have "free play", how much outside time they got (which was still structured teacher led), how long they had to sit for each activity.

On the flip side, through it all I learned how I would want my classroom to flow like if I had the freedom to have more say in how the schedule and curriculum looked.  Despite the attempts of telling parents there is a balance between teacher directed and child lead in the classroom, there really wasn't.  Literally everything was scheduled, if it wasn't teacher lead it was teacher influenced.  For example, sure we could have the block area open, but we told the kids which ones they could use for that time and suggested what to make.  No real free, open play...not even outside.  And looking back, it was a lot of sitting for the kids too.

While I had my own classroom, I tried to make as much room for free play and learning through play as often as I could because in the end, that is what the kids really needed and learned the most from.  I tried to plan and schedule, then let the flow of the day lead.  So if reading books was taking longer because the kids were enjoying them or the discussion was going well, I kept reading and adjusted things later in the day as needed.  When areas were open, I just let the kids use their imagination and play.  If circle time the kids were getting antsy, we would take a break and get moving. 

While most of those sound like the right thing to do, I was really going against what the schedule and curriculum said or allowed for.  I was risking getting in trouble from the director.  But even before having kids of my own, I knew that while yes a schedule is needed because it creates consistency and routines for kids, they need time to just play and be kids.

So when we decided to home school, I knew what direction I didn't want to go.  I also knew that I could really tap into my kids likes and dislikes, to build our day and the curriculum.

For the first time ever since becoming a teacher I bought a lesson plan book.  I found it in the dollar section at Target and thought, it's $3 pick it up and maybe I will use it to help put a plan down on paper.  I am using it.  For two reasons, one to help guide us through the year and the other is to keep a running record of what we are working on for records.

After assessing I laid out our plan of what we need to focus our curriculum on.  No, I didn't buy a bunch of curriculum.  But I do have a few things. 

I have a Alphabet Letter Curriculum that is filled with different letter and math activities with each letter.  Right now, I am using the letter color page for my youngest and the fun poem on how to write the letter with my oldest.  We are using Reading Eggs to guide through learning to read and sight words and Mathseeds for the number side of things.  We are also using Growth Mindset for Kids.

The rest of the curriculum has been found online for free.  So while my oldest has a focus on letters and numbers, my youngest is starting to learn his as well.

Each day we do calendar and weather, as well as we have a thought of the day card that also pairs with the letter of the week.  This week our letter is A and the thought of the day, which we use for the whole week, is always be kind.  There is also a sight word posted near the calendar to help learn specific sight words.

So here is what our week looks like:

Mondays are our reading focus day as well as the growth mindset activity.

Tuesdays are our getting together with other home school kiddos at playgrounds

Wednesday is our swim lessons day and outside for as long as we can, mixed in with art

Thursday is bible study fellowship

Friday is our math focus day

We head to the library, have time to just play, art whenever the mood strikes, and plenty of other adventures and exploring around the city.

Add in science, geography, history throughout each month and the planning all falls into place.

The library fills the gaps, especially for learning about history and geography.

We have put together a nature bag so that we can capture moments for our time spent out and about in nature as we have such a vast amount of possibilities for exploring.  There is a home school on the go bag, so I can put in any work we need to accomplish in the day and take it with us.

A few other items we got for supplies:
  • I bought a magnetic calendar and weather set up
  • Kid writing lined notebooks to create an ABC Journal and Math Journal
  • Flashcards
I have various other items we have gathered over the past year and a half to set up for homeschooling.  I have yet to decide when and where, or how those will be incorporated.  But for now, we have some letter boards, dry erase dice, puzzles that can help guide us in our learning.

As we start this journey, we are also learning the flow that works the best.  So, for now, this is what works.  Both kids are enjoying learning, asking for me, and show enthusiasm.  It provides enough variety, while getting in the things we need to, as well as utilizing the things the kids enjoy doing.  Because we can learn through all areas of life, where ever we are, no matter how old we are.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Emergence ~ Acrostic Poem

Each and everyday

Meet the day

Easing in

Ready for the richness that it will provide

Give grace, ground yourself, & grow

Enlightened, full of energy

Nourished for what comes next

Come, celebrate, and cherish this new found

Emerging, to bloom right now, right where you are, in this moment

Friday, September 21, 2018

Setting Up For Homeschool Year

If you have been reading my blog for awhile now, you know that we are going to home school for our kids' education.

I know, some of you may think I am crazy for going this route, but we took a lot of time and thought about the direction we wanted to head for education, where education in our society is headed, our options around us, and what would truly be the best fit for our kids.

My oldest, Kindergarten age, is curious, creative, loves the outdoors.  He asks about a million questions a day and loves art.  Anytime he can spend outside is even better.  Those things aren't available in schools, and the curiosity, creativity, and questions would get squashed out of him like a bug on a windshield the first week of school.  We want him to flourish.  We want him to learn where ever he is.  We want him to develop a life long love for learning, while keeping the bits of personality that make him him.  Homeschooling, or as I like to call it sometimes road schooling, allows us to do this.

We may not have to officially report to the district until the school year he is 7, which will be in two years, yet we are still setting up the foundations and basics to grow his learning.

We are gearing up for the school year, though the reality of it is that we school all year long.  Because we take it where we go, it is always a part of our day.

Here is what our year looks like:

I will wrap assessments this week to see where we need to focus our efforts on the most while building off of the stuff he already understands.  I have done a lot of research and have found that he has a pretty good handle on most of the Kindergarten things.  So the stuff he knows, we will move forward on to the next level and see where it leads.  This will lead a majority of learning time.

I am going to add in calendar and weather time each day, as well as some character development stuff.

We will be continuing to build connections, explore, learn, grow.

Our schedule is almost set up, stay tuned and look back to see what our plan looks like even more detailed.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Welcome Fall ~ Change is in the Air

Happy Fall Y'all!

As I sit here and dwell on this change of season, I am sipping on some pumpkin spice coffee, letting it warm me and listening to my heart. 

It has been raining all week, big storms here and there, and cooler weather is beginning to settle in.  The weekend was hot, humid, and definitely a last hurrah for Summer.  Today, the first day of Fall, it is raining and storming, but it definitely is looking and feeling more like Fall.

It is a time of transition and time of change.  It's also a time of preparing, a time of gathering in the abundance, a time of letting go.

It surely has been a transition week, not just the weather, but I can feel it in me and the happenings around me.  I have taken some time this week to do some digging in and setting my focus for the season.  Opening up, doing some simple clarity card work, and seeing where this season will lead.

I have been one to take dragonflies, butterflies and the like as symbols, a deeper connection.  Dragonflies are my baby girl dropping in to say hi, or it's okay, or it's going to be alright, or you got this.  Seeing them makes me pause, even if just to linger for a few seconds more.  Butterflies, since about a year ago, have become another big one for me.  They represent change for me.  Whether it is a change I know about it or not, they are a heads up that either I need to change something or to be ready for a change.

Let me share two dragonfly stories with you that happened recently, one has a butterfly in it as well.

Back in the end of August I cracked a tooth.  My first thought was, I am only 36 and I cracked a tooth.  But then I thought on it, I was the one who tried to eat the cookie filled with m&ms and chocolate chips too soon after I took it out of the fridge.  Oops...I still need to work on patience sometimes, or waiting until truly the kids won't know.  Either way, I was left with a cracked tooth.  From the time I got the temporary until I got the permanent, it was on my mind that what if this wasn't going to be enough of a fix.  The day I went to get the permanent, I was sitting in the chair waiting and looking out the window.  For a brief moment I watched a dragonfly hover nearby before it took off on the wind.  I knew then, that things would be okay.  And yes, I do pray, and yes I added this all to prayers as well.

Now, just at the beginning of this week I came to a stop light.  While I waited I watch a dragonfly pass by the front of my car.  As I watched it fly by, a butterfly flew near it in the other direction.  Okay, I thought...Change is in the air, but it is going to alright.  At that point I didn't have any clue as to what that change could be. 

But looking back now, here is what I came up with.  A reminder that life is precious, to slow down, to breathe, to take care of our bodies, to take care of our relationships, to be open, to trust, to let go.

On the way home after that experience, I was driving and without warning a car from three lanes over came shifting lanes towards me quickly.  I had really nowhere to go, couldn't speed up, couldn't slow down. After the driver realized what was going on (mind you I have a mini van, this was a car can't be missed), quickly moved over to their own lane and exited the direction the freeway took.  As for me, I had begun to slow and pull off onto what little shoulder there was.  I paused for a moment, looked around, and drove the rest of the way home (luckily I wasn't far), probably holding my breath and tense the whole time.  I got home, paused, but just couldn't shake the feeling I had.  I had groceries to unload, and had to help get the kids ready for nap.  Hubby came out and took one look at me and asked what happened.  We took a moment to just settle me and then glanced at the car, noticing just how close that car had come.  I am missing some paint and there are scratches.  Yup, that was close, too close.  But I can look back on it with a different perspective.  It's going to be alright.

I have had two unexpected doctor appointments this week.  One with my doctor, and one for a mammogram/ultrasound.  I couldn't quite shake that something wasn't quite right in a certain spot.  The doctor agreed, something off, but what.  My mammogram and ultrasound both came back normal.  So what next?  I have this tubular spot that doesn't feel right, but also hurts sometimes.  I am waiting to hear back from the doctor which way to head.  Lots of praying, lots of patience, and still some waiting.  But at least for now, I can rest on the it isn't anything abnormal and all looks good.

Like I said, life is about change and transition.  That is where we are at, where I am at.  There is always some amount of uncertainty.  But there is also something to just being open to the change. 

Sometimes, it is an easy, happy time.  Sometimes it is hard, brings sadness or grief.  Either way, it can be scary.

My hubby started a business and it is to a point where big decisions need to be made on it.  But it involves change, uncertainty, and a whole lot of trust and letting go.  Does this scare us?  Most definitely.  Have we answered all the decisions?  Not yet, but we are working through them.

We have our home school plan and schedule set up.  It's still new to us, but it is exciting.  Giving us some new adventures to try out, but also take our learning on the go.

Fall is my favorite time of year.  It is about change, letting go, starting to prepare.  It's about learning and growing.  It's about reflecting and digging in deep.  It's about trusting and yet still dreaming.

What changes are you facing right now?

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

A Loving Kindess Message ~ On Emerging

Take a moment. Close your eyes.  Breathe deeply.  Let it out.  Tell yourself... 

~May you allow yourself to take up space, to be seen, to be heard~
~May you have strong roots that ground you~
~May you let yourself plant your feet firmly, grow, & emerge from within~
~May you let yourself - inside and out- radiate~
~May you let your blossom emerge as you emerge, filling the space around you~

Saturday, September 15, 2018

No Make Up Challenge ~ What Came of it?

Beside the fact that I am terrible at taking selfie pictures, for which I am sorry, I wanted to share my thoughts and experience on going without makeup. 

So almost 2 months ago I gave myself the challenge to go with no make up.  I started July 19.

On that day I woke up, put my make up away in our linen closet and closed the door.  I will admit, I did use an under eye dark circle roller thing for a few days after, but then decided to be done with that as well.

The hardest part of it all was giving up the under eye roller.  I had been using different eye creams and the roller to help but nothing ever seemed to be an effective, long term solution.

Before giving up makeup, I felt I needed it, all the time, everywhere I went.  I would start with day eye cream, primer, then do the under eye roller, bb cream foundation or just full coverage foundation depending on the time of year, and then powder.  At one point I was using the green face stick to cover up red spots on my face.  On special occasions add in eye liner, eye shadow, lip liner, lipstick, mascara, occasionally blush, and occasionally lip gloss.

I know, it sounds like a lot for some and not enough for others.  I wanted to simplify my routine for both the morning and bedtime.

I have even given up the two different eye creams that I was using depending on time of day and the apple cider vinegar toner I made.

So, if you add in the washing of my face, the toner, eye cream, and then make up it was a lot going on my face to start the day.  Then I had to clean it off at the end of the day.  So wash, toner, and eye cream again.

Lots of steps, lots of time, and for what?  Did I really needed the make up?  Thinking on it, no I didn't really.  For me it was a layer I could put on.  That layer represented different things at different times.  But once I grew my confidence and decided to challenge myself to go without did I finally, truly see the beauty that I had actually hidden underneath.

I found an amazing face product that helped me to switch out almost of all of my morning and bedtime routine.  It is called Joyome.  It is two different all natural serums, one for day and one for night.  I have been using one pump of each, every day, and have seen positive changes in my facial complexion, scar reduction, lines disappearing, softer texture, and my favorite no more dark circles under my eyes.  I have even gotten a little red from the sun a couple of times because I was out too long without my hat or sunscreen on and it has helped to get rid of that quickly.  The changes may be slow, but they are happening and they will only improve with use and time.

By adding this in, it gave me more confidence to be brave and go without makeup because it got rid of my dark circles within just a couple of days.  No amount of anything I had used before worked.   I now just wash my face with water in the morning and put the day serum on.  Then at night I wash my face with a homemade, all natural, clay based bar and then put on the night serum.
By giving up my daily make up routine, I have simplified my routines, begun to save money, and actually have better looking skin now then I did before.  Even better, it gave me the boost in confidence I needed to see that I don't need that extra layer on and don't need to hide behind it.  It is almost as if a load has been lifted allowing me to be more vibrant and truer to myself.

Sometimes it is the smallest step, the smallest thing that sets up as a catalyst and brings perspective changes, a shift in grounding, and growth.

This all started one day when I looked in the mirror, like really looked, and noticed that make up or not, I look no different.  I made the comment to my hubby that maybe I don't really need to wear makeup.  He never commented when I did, never commented when I didn't.  To him, it was all the same look.  And in reality, he preferred the look without, the natural look.

So between my observations, his honest comment, I decided to let go of the layers I added on.  Lay them down, let myself shine anyways.

What layer or even layers do you need to shed?

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Fall, Back to School, & Setting Up Our School

Fall is around the corner, school has started, and we are gearing up to set up our home school year.

I am finishing up assessments this week and will be building our home school lesson plan shortly.  I am excited to tell you more about our plan once it is completely set up.

But for now, we are going to focus on building on the skills that the kids already have, moving forward where we can, focusing on the spots that need a little more work and time, adding in more focused character development, building connections and making friends, utilizing the abundant resources we have nearby to grow our learning and adventures, adding in more creative time, adding in more outside time, and fostering a lifelong love for learning.

One of the resources that I have found very helpful in planning is the book called "Homeschooling Through the Years".  It gives a great break down of the basic skills and information that a child typically learns each year of school.  This book is helping me assess where we are at and where we need to focus, but also giving me ideas of which direction to head in for the skills already mastered. 

You may be wondering why we didn't start after the Labor Day Holiday like most other kids.  Partially because we do our learning all year long, we don't have a specific "first day" like most.  Also, because we don't have to officially report and test until the school year our kids turn 7, we have some time.  But we did set September 5 as our "first day" of school.

This week we are figuring out a new rhythm and routine as new activities have begun because of the start of the school year.  So we are mixing these activities in with our focused learning times, as well as just learning on the go where ever we are.

In the coming weeks I will post more about our plan, how things are going, the resources we use, the activities that we love, and more.

Welcome Fall and welcome back to school!

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

A Loving Kindness Meditation ~ On Finding Calm

Take a moment. Close your eyes.  Breathe deeply.  Let it out.  Tell yourself... 

~May calm wash over you even in the midst of chaos~
~May you find calm inside and out~
~May you be filled with calm mentally, psychically, emotionally, spiritually~
~May calm be your grounding to carry you through~

Friday, September 7, 2018

Health, Diet, & Fitness ~ Results & Successes, More Than the Number on the Scale

Did you know, fat and muscle weigh the same?  One pound of fat or a pound of muscle, either way it is a pound.  However, they don't look the same in your body.

So you may loose weight for awhile, but hit a plateau.  During that time, you may begin toning up in areas.  So, while you may not be loosing pounds, but you are loosing inches.  Sometimes they happen at the same time, loosing pounds and loosing inches.  But sometimes, it is only one of them.

Some of it depends on what your workout routine is.  Is it just cardio or HIIT?  Is there only toning?  Do you mix both?

Do you remember to warm up and to stretch?  Include a variety in your week?

It also changes based on how, when, what you eat and drink.

When you are making changes in your health and diet, you have to remember this...successes are not all scale victories.  Successes go beyond the number on the scale.

While sure, it is nice to see that number go down.  It can be equally as frustrating, stressful if that number doesn't go down or even goes up.  Our bodies fluctuate so much from day that just based off what we eat and drink.

The results you are seeking may not occur overnight.  They may take time, longer than you may hope for.  But staying persistent, changing things up when needed.  Are there going to be things that trip you up along the way?  Most definitely.  If change was easy, we wouldn't dig our heels in so much.

When you start this journey I encourage you to find a way to keep track, like written track of your results. 

When I started this journey I got a simple spiral notebook.  I would record my results daily at first, then weekly, then before and after a certain round of workout challenge, now it is not very often.  I would make sure to record my results at the same time during.

So here is what I would record:
  • Date
  • Weight
  • Measurements
    • Chest
    • Upper belly (just above the belly button)
    • Middle belly (at the belly button)
    • Under belly, but not hips (I had a saggy belly so I would measure under there)
    • Hips
    • Legs: Left and Right: Upper Thigh, Middle Thigh, Just above the knee, calf
    • Arms: Left and Right: Upper (almost near pit), Middle of Upper Arm, Just above elbow, and wrist (yes, you can loose inches in your wrists. I didn't know it until it happened to me)
  • Pictures
    • I did lots of different views, both with arms up and at my sides
      • Face the camera, Left Side, Right Side, and Back
I will admit, I hated taking pictures.  Still kind of do.  But when I didn't see scale differences, I saw differences in pictures.

The thing I found was that the more areas I documented on, the more I could see differences, even if only very small.

Now, at this point, I haven't recorded much lately or done pictures.  I have come to a point where I am okay with where I am at and know where I want to head.  So every now and then I take a look at measurements and take pictures. 

However, I have been stepping on the scale daily for about 2 months.  I go in spurts where I use it daily and then I put it away in the closet for awhile. I have mixed feelings about the scale and whether or not to step on it daily.  I have heard it keeps you more accountable if you step on it at the same time daily.  But for me, I, in the past, would get a little obsessive over the number shown.  I hate to admit that, but it is true.  I would get too focused on it and then when changes wouldn't happen it affected me negatively, thus adding in more stress.

The only reason I have been using it again lately is because I am seeing where things are leading now that I am off birth control.  I have been watching more closely to see if not only my weight would begin to go down again, but also make sure my blood pressure returned to my normal.  Because all is well in both areas, I am going to go back to using it less.  Just for check ins as I get close to my mini goals to see where I am at.

Before we get in too much farther and talk about results and successes, take a moment to set some goals.  I know, you may not be a goal oriented person.  But setting a few overall goals will help guide you and keep you going.  Then, take each goal you write and break it down in to a mini goal or several mini goals depending on how far out your end goal is.  Be realistic and set intentions.  This will help guide you as you move forward, but also get you over those hard spots or plateaus.  Use the mini goals as check in points along your journey.  Also, be okay with adjust them as you go along.

Now, for the results, the successes.  There will hopefully be many along this journey.  And remember, they are not all just about the number on the scale. I will share where I have seen results and successes.

For me I have seen results in:
  • inches lost and weight loss
  • improved gut health and regularity
  • clothing size changes ~ be careful with this though. I am not sure if it is the same for men's clothing as it is women's. but I have found much discrepancy over time in sizing.  One store I may be one size, but a whole different one in another store.  Or even within the same store and same article of clothing. And it depends on the piece of clothing.  I have stuff that is XS, but still big on me, but other stuff is a size medium.  Shirts too, mostly medium, but some small or large.  Tank tops are so varying as well.  Add in skirts or dresses.  I can confidently say I am down in sizes for clothing.  But I can't give an accurate size number.
  • the look and feel of my skin
  • focus ability and energy
  • sleep length and quality
  • strength and flexibility, as well as posture
I am sure I have missed some others that you may have seen in yourself.  Share your results and areas of successes below. 

When you reach a goal, even if it takes longer than anticipated, treat yourself to a reward if you want to.  You can set up reward ideas for each goal if you choose.  It gives you motivation to keep you going.

I hope you take the time to look beyond the number on the scale.  There are, more often than not, other good results to be seen on this journey.  Sometimes you just have to look for them or be open to them.

*Photo credit: found on google search from LiveHealthy Blog

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Doors, Windows, Books ~ Change is Hard

Closed doors, blocked paths.

We all face them.  At one point or another, we find them in our way.  It could be permanently or could just be a season.  Sometimes we are facing them every day.  Sometimes we go stretches where they become a distant memory.

Sometimes we problem solve our way through and think nothing of it.

But what if the door is closed and locked? What is the reason?  Maybe there is a reason for this blocked path, but we need to give it time to show or maybe we were never meant to know.

Have you, in you life, ever found your path blocked, a door suddenly closed, or even closed and locked?

You have heard the quote I am guessing, "when one door closes another opens" or "sometimes its a window" or "your life is like an empty book, page by page it gets filled, your life book gets written"

Well, what happens when you get to the end of chapter?  Or when that door you so wanted to open, hasn't opened yet?

Not a literal door, but when was the last time a door was closed for you?  You faced a transition, even if you didn't feel ready for it.

Life is about change, transitions.  These things cause us to grow.  Sometimes there is pain in this growth, sometimes not.  But there is always something to take away from it.  Even something good.

Though you may not see it right away, it will show up... if you let it.

We don't always know where this path is headed and no, we can't always control it.  But we can still hope, we can still dream, we can trust.

The start of a new year is always a transition time.  But so is the transition from August to September.

The season is beginning to change, as we slowly shift from Summer to Fall.  The weather is cooling down, the leaves are getting ready shine in a different way.  I love Spring and Fall for this reason, because leaves shine differently in Spring as we get further out of Winter and then again in Fall as they change colors and slowly twirl to the ground.

Kids are heading off to school.  Schedules are changing and filling up with different activities, sports, and so on.

The daylight is getting shorter as the sun rises later and sets sooner.

Our internal side begins to feel this shift as well.

In a way, this is a door closing.  But these doors are usually more easily navigable.  They are a known part of life.  But they do cause us to slow down and change pace.  Which is a good thing every now and then.

But even bigger doors can slow us too, if not flat out stop us.  Those bigger life changes, those losses, the unexpected change.

And what if that so called next door doesn't open soon?  Or ever?

Often, when the change happens we are left with two options.  To grow with it, through it.  Or to dig our heels in and not move.

Which do you choose?

Whichever quote you go with, whichever way you look at, change is hard.  It is even harder when it comes out of nowhere. 

I will admit, I am not always graceful while navigating these sometimes.  I feel lost, sometimes ask a thousand questions, dig my heels in, try to linger a tad longer, go over the top trying to create a permanent memory. 

I wish I handled it better.  But I am learning to face, to push, to keep dreaming.

To let go, to trust.

With time, I warm up to the change.  Sometimes quicker, other times I still feel I need more time (but I don't always have it).

Whatever life decides to throw your way, you have what it takes to face it.  And when you feel you don't, you will always have that one person that can help you navigate until you find your footing again.

So while there may be door closed right now, you can still dream, you can still hope, you can still trust.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

A Loving Kindness Meditation ~ On Knowledge & Trust

Take a moment. Close your eyes.  Breathe deeply.  Let it out.  Tell yourself... 

~You have the knowledge & 
wisdom to take the necessary steps forward~ 
~You can trust this~