Category: My Life Lately (page 1 of 9)

Celebrating Every Milestone

You guys, this is the 100th post I’ve written for this blog!

Ok, that’s a little bit of a lie. Because of the way I had things scheduled, this is actually post number 101. Tomato, tomahto.

I have to say, I was astounded when I realized how many posts I have written for this site, mainly because I’m always worried about running out of ideas. I mean, there’s only so many topics out there. However, there seems to be an infinite amount of ways to look at those topics and enough facets to each of them that I can come up with enough material, which is pretty cool.

I originally had something else planned for this spot, but I couldn’t bring myself to let this milestone pass without a little fan-fare.

 

celebrate small victories, milestones

 

I am a firm believer that we have to take a moment to celebrate each milestone we pass, even if it seems insignificant. It doesn’t have to be a big blow-out. Even a moment of quiet appreciation and recognition will do. What matters is recognizing our achievements so that we are motivated to keep working towards the larger goal. After all, success isn’t really about achieving one big moment; it’s a parade of small moments that add up to something great at the end.

This doesn’t apply only to our biggest goals and dreams, either. Anything we set out to do deserves the same amount of respect and acknowledgement. We absolutely have to be our own cheerleaders, especially for accomplishments that really only matter to us.

It’s so easy to let the small victories pass us by without a second thought. What’s one pound lost or one drawer decluttered? What’s one day of getting enough water? Heck, for those of us suffering from anxiety or depression, just getting out of bed in the morning can be a huge win, even though it seems like a given to others. Keeping your cool while your kids are acting like drunken monkeys? That’s definitely a win.

Think about all the small victories you achieve every day. I can guarantee you that you totally rocked it at something in the last 24 hours. Go ahead and congratulate yourself, you magnificent being!

 

celebrate milestone small victories quote

 

I recommend adding these mini-celebrations to your daily self-care routine. Not sure what you can do to mark these occasions? Here’s 15 ideas to get you started:

  1. Simply tell yourself, “good job!”
  2. Do a little happy dance.
  3. Have a piece of chocolate (or whatever your favorite treat is).
  4. Enjoy an adult beverage.
  5. Treat yourself to an at-home spa day with a long bath, facemask, and whatever else makes you feel pampered.
  6. Make your favorite meal.
  7. Reach over your shoulder and give yourself a pat on the back.
  8. Give yourself permission to do nothing for an hour.
  9. Rewatch a favorite movie.
  10. Allow yourself to take a nap. (Seriously, is napping not the ultimate reward?)
  11. Write about it in your journal..
  12. Call your mom or your best friend and brag a little.
  13. Buy yourself a small gift.
  14. Burn a candle and reflect on your progress.
  15. Say a prayer of gratitude that everything aligned just right and allowed you to do the thing.

Of course, you can always send yourself flowers, order a cake, or throw a huge party if you want, that’s on you. The idea is to keep the rewards proportional to the size of the achievement.

I’m sure you can come up with even more awesome ideas that aren’t on this list and I would love to hear them. Drop me a line in the comments below and let us know what your favorite rewards are or tell us about a recent win!

 

 

 

Happy New Year! Welcoming 2018

I remember the excitement I felt when I first decided to start a blog. I spent weeks researching everything that went into it and coming up with a name, agonizing over getting my image just right. I tasked my brother with designing a logo and helping me set up a self-hosted site. I distinctly remember feeling like I was doing something monumentally important, and having him by my side was awesome. Every bit of time that wasn’t spent taking care of my daughter was spent creating the first bits of content. The exhilaration of crossing each item off my to-do list was intoxicating.

After three years, I shut down that blog and started this one. I launched this site on New Year’s Day 2016 with many of the same feelings.

I can’t help but smile as the memories play out in my mind. Both of these moments marked huge changes in my life and have made deep impacts on my psyche. I can’t believe I have been at this for so long, and as I look back on my journey I am astounded by the progress I’ve made.

I look forward to the coming year with much the same anticipation as I felt when I started both my blogs. So much has happened in the last year, and the promise of a clean slate is uniquely satisfying.

There are so many things I hope to accomplish this year, but the truth is, I’m not in any rush. I’ve come to respect the fact that things unfold in their own time. All any of us can do is keep putting one foot in front of the other and have faith that we will wind up where we’re meant to be. After all, life is perfectly imperfect: it’s never going to conform to our timelines. Goals are a wonderful thing to have, rigid deadlines are not.

 

new years goals, 2018, positive quote

 

That said, I’d like to take a moment to look at last year’s goals and share my progress with you, as well as take a look at the things I would love to see happen in 2018.

Let’s start with the goals I outlined at the beginning of 2017 (and followed up on in my half-year review in June.)

1. Post more often and with less fear; get better at social media.

I’d say I more or less hit the mark on this one! I haven’t always hit my goal of having two blog posts per week, but I posted way more often than the previous year! I’ve also opened up a lot more and shared more of my personal thoughts and experiences, which isn’t always easy to do. I still have a ways to go on the social media side, but I have made a point to have at least one post per day on all of my accounts, even if it’s something prescheduled. I’d say I definitely gotten better with this, so I’ll call it a win and make a plan to get even better at it in the coming year…

2. Release 2 more books in my “Instruments of Life” series.

This one obviously didn’t get completely met. I did get halfway there with the release of “Snared”, but a case of writer’s block, plus general life happenings pushed back the next book quite a bit. Still, I’m proud that I got at least one book out in the last 12 months and am looking forward to finishing the next one.

3. Work on being more mindful and present.

This is obviously something that one works on for a lifetime, but I feel like I made a lot of progress in this area over the last year. That’s not to say there haven’t been a few set-backs, but I have definitely made a point of really experiencing life. I must say, ditching the cell-phone helped immensely!

4. Create a better routine for my family, and carve out more one on one time with each member. 

Another win! Our routine has evolved quite a bit, and it has definitely been for the better. I have also been more proactive about making sure I get one on one time with my daughter, as well as one on one time with my husband, everyday, even if it’s only a few minutes before bed.

5. Take better care of my mind and body.

I’m not going to lie, there were a couple months there where this goal completely fell away. However, I managed to get right back up and refocus on some serious self-care. Of course, the pregnancy has helped me make my physical health a priority as well. This has definitely been a win for me!

6. Get finances under control.

We have definitely made some huge strides here! We finally paid off our car, made some headway in developing my husband’s business, and outlined some new goals for my career as we’ve continued to chip away at some debt. I’ve also implemented some strategies to cut down on household expenses, such as better meal planning and prepping, and making most of our cleaning products at home. I am insanely proud of how far we’ve come here and can’t wait to share some of the tips we’ve learned with you!

7. Take my music to the next level.

While I haven’t suddenly blossomed into some sort of virtuoso, I have definitely gained some new skills over the past year. Aside from developing some new skills, I’ve also increased my confidence in this area ten-fold.  Definitely another win!

 

new years goals, success quote

 

Overall, 2017 was a year of clearing away the things that were no longer serving me and finding new ways of being. There has been a lot of reflection as I have worked to refine my path.

I look forward to taking this new knowledge with me as we enter 2018. With the new baby coming, I know better than to push myself too hard in the next 12 months, so I am keeping my goals simple.

Things I would like to see happen this year:

  1. Release one more book from my series, as well as one non-fiction book.
  2. Enhance my painting and music skills.
  3. Laugh more.
  4. Grow my following on the blog and my social media accounts.
  5. Continue making progress in taking care of my mind and body.
  6. Adjust to life as a mom of 2.

I think that last one is probably the most important!

I am so excited for the next chapter of my life and I cannot wait to see what lessons and accomplishments are around the corner I look forward to sharing the next phase of my journey with you all, and I hope my story helps at least one person in some way as I continue to document it here.

Now, it’s your turn. What have you accomplished in the last year? What are your New Year’s goals? Let us know in the comments below!

 

 

The Best Thing About Winter

Cozy sweaters, warm jammies, fuzzy socks. Hot cocoa and hearty soups. Holidays and family traditions. When you stop to look, winter is full of wonderful little treats. Simple pleasures that are all too easy to overlook as we focus our attention on complaining about how damn cold it is. All of these things are great, but none of them compare to what I truly love about this season.

What I love most is how things slow down.

Sure, there’s a little bit of a hustle around the holidays. There’s gifts to buy, crafts to make, about 800 events to attend as you try to see everyone you hold dear. But, that’s only small part of the season.

Winter signifies the end of the year. The days are shorter, the garden no longer shows signs of life. Much like our friends in the animal kingdom, the cold forces us into a sort of hibernation. We shift our focus to staying safe and warm, spending most of our time indoors.

As we bunker down, we are afforded ample time to reflect on our lives and plan for the year ahead.  We are filled with the need to rest and recharge so that we can take on these new goals.

Personally, I love this quiet time. Nights snuggled on the couch with my family or curled up with a good book. A nice, quiet respite.

I will be taking advantage of this time and taking a short break from blogging to squeeze in some peaceful moments before the holiday madness ensues. I will be back after the New Year begins with some fresh new posts and insights.

I hope you all have a marvelously wonderful holiday season and that you find some time to enjoy the beautiful quiet this season has to offer. May your days be filled with light and love!

 

happy holidays, best thing about winter, christmas

 

Building A Self-Care Routine: How I Pulled Myself Out A Rut

Self-improvement is kind of my jam.

From the time I hit about middle-school, I have voraciously read any self-help books I could get my hands on and even pursued 3 concurrent Bachelor’s Degrees in Psychology, Sociology, and Human Services. The frailties and possibilities of the human mind will never cease to amaze me.

As time went on, I found myself reading more and more about ways to further improve my life, and I imagine it’s a journey I will be on until I take my last breath.

Of course, every now and then, I find myself in a funk. No matter how good we have it, life will always throw us a few curveballs and provide opportunities to strengthen the skills we pick up along the way. If I’m being perfectly honest, the hormonal cocktail that has accompanied this pregnancy sparked one of those funks for me. Suddenly, I found myself questioning my goals and dealing with some issues that I had thought were already resolved.  After taking some time to wallow in the bog of bad feelings, I decided it was time to use this low-point as a reset button of sorts.

I quickly realized that the routine I had settled into was neither productive nor healthy. I had all but abandoned all of my self-care strategies and had pretty much stopped pursuing my goals. I was no longer living, just existing.

I decided to start pulling myself out of this rut by completely overhauling my routine, and I have to say, it has had an amazing impact. Before we dive into the particulars, I want to caution you against trying to follow anyone else’s routines to a “T”. We all have our own unique strengths as well as our own limitations, and our schedules and lifestyles are not identical. As such, it is much more practical to look at a wide variety of things that have worked for others and create your own plan based around what resonates most with you. This will likely take some trial and error, and there will be times you fall away from your intended plans. The important thing is to recognize the missteps and take action to correct them. Just keep on keepin’ on!

Identifying An Unhealthy Routine:

Before you can start making changes, you have to know what needs to be changed. This means taking a good long look at how you’re spending your time and energy and figuring out where the problems lie.

For me, it started with my mornings. I’d wake up at 5, make my husband’s coffee, then turn on the TV and park myself in front of whatever show I was currently binge-watching. I’d sit there, half-watching the tube, as I scrolled through Facebook or Twitter. I’d read a ton of articles and the subsequent comments, soaking in the arguments and formulating opinions. I’d wait forever to eat, constantly telling myself I’d get to it after I finished looking at this post…and then I’d click another link. Then my daughter would wake up and I’d realize that I’d wasted 3 or more hours and scramble to get in gear. Nothing was getting done, and it chipped at my confidence and left me agitated.

The rest of the day was spent trying to catch up and worrying about whether or not I would, in fact, catch up. Clearly, changing my morning routine was the first step.

 

insanity quote self care routine

 

Creating A Positive Start To The Day:

It should come as no surprise that how we start our day can affect its entire trajectory. If you start with stress, you’ll likely end with stress. Why not start with a positive outlook?

The first step I took was replacing the mindless TV watching with Ted Talks.  I know a lot of people prefer to start their mornings with quiet meditation, but that just didn’t work for me. However, listening to inspiring messages and learning something new before any negative self-talk could set in created a positive tone for the day.  I use this time to eat some breakfast as well.

Next, I scroll through Pinterest and look at inspirational quotes and positive messages while I let my brain wake up and my food digest. I follow this with looking over my running gratitude list and adding new items. Then I take a moment to look over the day’s to-do list and figure out how I want my day to flow.

With my intentions set for the day, I do a very simple workout (about 15 minutes) and hit the shower. This here is a big one: I use the shower time to focus on washing away negativity and starting the day with a clean slate. I then launch into some body-positivity exercises as I get ready for the day, which I will share in a future post.

By the time I’m dressed for the day, I’ve only spent an hour  or so preparing my mind and body for the day ahead, versus the 3+ hours I was spending on nothing before. From there, I get to work, which for me means sitting down to write. And the best part is? I’m actually motivated and happy to be doing it!

 

win the morning win the day positivity self care

 

Carrying That Feeling With You:

Over the course of the day, there are going to be moments that challenge the positive mindset you’ve created. One of the best tools I’ve found is taking a minute to focus on your senses and ground yourself in reality, and then making a conscious decision not to let whatever the stressor is get to you. Train yourself to correct negative thoughts by replacing them with positives. Pull up your mental gratitude list. Take a look at your Pinterest board full of positive quotes. Be firm in your intention to have a good day.

Another important aspect to carrying this positivity with you is to know your limits and avoid overbooking your day. This one has always been a bit of a challenge for me. It’s easy to overestimate what you can realistically do in a day, and even easier to drive yourself into burnout striving to achieve it all right now. Set smaller, more achievable goals and trust that the baby steps will lead you to desired results in due time. Think about what really needs to be done and don’t stress about what you can’t get to today.

 

don't stress, relax, all i can do is all i can do, rethink your schedule

 

Take breaks when you need to. Switch things up if you’re zoning out and not bringing your A game to a task. Find a way to make it enjoyable if it’s something you can’t avoid. Do what you have to do, but don’t let it drag you down!

Schedule time for fun:

Do something that is just for you every day.

EVERY DAY, GUYS!

I don’t care if it’s quietly eating a candy bar or blasting your favorite song in the car on your way home from work. Read a book at lunch, play a game on your phone while you wait for your potatoes to boil. Do something that makes you smile!

It’s easy to tell yourself you don’t have time, but 5 minutes is all it takes. If you can find more time, take it. Take a class, call a friend, play a game with your spouse, watch your favorite guilty pleasure movies, paint something even if you’re not good at it.  Play is so important!

You absolutely have to make your own pleasure a priority. No one else is going to do it for you, and feeling like you are living only to meet the needs of others will do nothing but make you feel drained and resentful. Life’s stressful enough without adding to it by denying the need for simple enjoyment.

End On A Positive Note:

I cannot stress this enough: set an end time for your day.

This is something I stumbled upon when my daughter was about 2 years old. I was working on something, be it housework or blog posts or a myriad of other projects, from the time I woke up until the time I forced myself to go to bed. I was constantly stressed and couldn’t figure out why. After all, I was making all sorts of progress, I should have been happy!

I decided then that after 7 o’clock I was done. No housework. No replying to emails. No work, period. I still adhere to this guideline, and it’s been a lifesaver.

I also make sure we have dinner as a family at the table every night. It’s a time for us to come together and discuss our day, and allows me to reflect on how grateful I am that we are all in this together. The rest of the evening is spent on hobbies or relaxing, sometimes together, sometimes separately. I try to keep my focus on enjoying our time and being more loving, forgiving, and understanding instead of letting the stress of the day affect my family. This requires some gentle reminders to myself, as we all faulter in these goals from time to time, and some days I miss the mark completely. It’s then that we have a chance to own our mistakes, apologize, and start over.

Before bed, I make my to-do list for the next day. I then take some time to reflect on the past 24 hours. I congratulate myself on the things I accomplished, even if it’s been a “bad” day and the only thing I did was get out of bed. I go over the highlight reel of the day in my head, looking for the tiny moments of joy as well as any big moments: my daughter said something cute, I heard this song, I ate this delicious thing, I survived the grocery store. I think about what I have to be grateful for and what I want to carry over to the next day. All in all, this takes about 10 minutes as I wait for sleep to come, but it makes a huge impact. If I fall asleep before I make it to that point, I simply move it to the morning.

 

evening routine self care

 

Accept “Bad” Days:

Sometimes life gets in the way and we don’t stick to our routines for one reason or another. When this happens we have two choices: we can feel bad, dwell on our “failure” and give up. or we can shrug it off and jump back in. You don’t even have to wait for tomorrow to start over, just start where you are as if you haven’t missed a step.

Of course doing all of these things every day is “ideal” but honestly, “most” days is good enough! Allow yourself some wiggle room. Plan for lazy days, sick days, fun days, or anything else that could throw you off and just keep rolling.

 

comeback after bad days, self care routine

 

Whatever you do, remember that this is a journey. Some of these tips may work for you, some may not. Just keep striving to be the best, healthiest you you can be and things will be fine.

Now it’s your turn. What do you do for self-care? What goes into building your routines? Tell us about it in the comments below!

 

 

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