Friday, September 30, 2016

Last Day Of Blog-Tember | My Advice.

It's our last day of Bailey's Blog-Tember Challenge! Congrats to all of us! I'm sad it's ending. I look forward every September to this writing challenge. I meet so many wonderful fellow bloggers who are so encouraging and inspiring. But this prompt is especially fun so let's get to it! 

Today's Prompt:  Picture this, you've been stopped on the street by the photographer of Humans of New York, and he asks, "What advice would you give to a large group of people?" Share a picture of yourself along with the advice. 

External Self (how I would like you to see me)                                           Internal Self (what I don't want you to see)

I'm going to give some advice that I need to hear on a regular basis. Here it is:

Don't judge or compare your inside with someone's outside. 

In other words, we are so quick to compare ourselves to others highlight reel. We see all those airbrushed, edited, face-tuned photos and wonder what is wrong with us. We see others work-full time, raise children and manage to volunteer and immediately we begin to turn on ourselves and berate ourselves for not doing it all. We shrink when we compare. We determine our inner worth based off of everyone else's outer appearance, accomplishments or achievements. 

We intuitively know this is not true but we FEEL that it is. 

For so many years I would look at others as a barometer to remind myself that I can and SHOULD be doing all of these things. I would constantly criticize myself and wonder why am I so tired after work? How come they can work full time and have energy? How come they have the stamina for pinterest parties and baking from scratch? How on earth do they keep up with manicures and hair trims and eye-brow waxing and shaving when I can barely manage keeping up with my laundry and showering?! How do they manage the strength to lead a bible-study, lead a workshop and volunteer with the homeless?

And then there are deeper and more harsher comparisons. I bet they've never struggled with anxiety. I bet they've never felt so scared. They probably have a 4.0 GPA without even trying. They've probably never felt insecure. They're so much stronger. They don't know what it's like to suffer or lose someone they love. They've probably never been really tempted to lie, steal and cheat. Their friends are always there for them. Their toes are always painted and they've never struggled with addictions. And they own a home and have published 5 books and they are only 25.

But here's the truth;

We all have a bit of a mess inside. 

You know why I know?

Because we're human. 

And yet we are still so beautiful, special, competent, courageous, capable and worthy even if we are a hot mess. 

Today I smile a little when someone presents me with a perfect image because I know that's not the whole truth. It's not the entire story of who they are. I know that we only put out what we think the world will accept. I know that we are scared and so we don't show our most authentic selves. 

So when I come across someone who is working so SO hard to cover up the real version of her/himself I have a little more compassion. They are not fooling anyone but I understand the need to hide behind perfection. It often feels safer from a harsh and critical world. 

If being a therapist has taught me anything it's that we are all seeking similar things; love, belonging and connection. And that no one has the whole "life thing" down perfectly. In the past four years I have seen a lot of different clients and let me tell you something, you would never know from just looking at some of them that they are struggling. And even some of my closest friends, you would never know. Because they appear smart, successful, competent and are all gorgeous (in my humble opinion #friendbrag) and they are all of those things AND they struggle just like everyone else. 

No one actually skips or prances through life without feeling lost, alone, confused or scared at some point or another. It just doesn't happen. 

So next time you're tempted to compare your inner world with someone else's outer world remind yourself that you don't know the whole story behind that person's highlight reel. But you know your story and I bet there are moments of happiness, pain, love, confusion and strength scattered throughout your precious story. Own that story and hold your head high. You are a gem.

 Or you can always just look back up at my pictures to have a good laugh because what we see externally isn't always what is going on internally (aka inside I am fuzzy, sweating, nervous and terrified of my exam AND I am still capable, competent and courageous) 

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Blog-Tember day 29 | Top Five Blogs

Better late than never right?! I'm just minutes before midnight but I'm going to make it! I can't wait for my licensure exam to be over so I can go back and read all of the last couple prompts from all my blogging friends out there! 

Today's Prompt: Your Fab Five. Share Your Favorite Bloggers:

Her blog is fantastic. I've read both her books, Carry on Warrior and Love Warrior and they are both amazing. She is such a courageous truth teller. She reminds me that rock bottom is not the worst thing to experience and that we are not alone. 

I love Rosie's blog! She writes about books, home organization, cooking, her sweet hubby and sweet baby, Jade. She battles so much chronic pain and still manages to be so generous and kind to those around her. She is a gem and the sweetest soul. I always feel right at home when I visit her blog. 

Rachel's blog always makes me think! She writes about theology, gender roles,feminism, politics and other controversial subjects in the faith community. I love her ability to think outside the box and challenge ways of thinking that are harmful. 

 Krysti is my fellow book lover, feminist, investigator and friend. She writes about her thoughts on life, faith and passion. She writes with wit, sass and integrity (all things that I adore). 

Leanna's beautiful words and stories inspire me. She has written Found Art, Breathing Room and Brazen; of which I have read and loved. 

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Blog-Tember Day 28 | Top Five

Today's Prompt: The Top 5 Pictures That Illustrate Your Year So Far!

Lots and lots of studying for my licensure exam. Seven months of studying and only 7 days left!

Getting our first puppy! I can't believe it's only been since March that we welcomed our amazing and fuzzy little guy into our home. We are crazy about him. 

Lots and lots of travel this year to visit both our families, weddings, bachelorette parties and work related travel (including Disney World, Minnesota and Lost Canyon Camp!) 

Big life events for so many of my good friends including being a bridesmaid in a wedding and becoming a godmother to the sweetest baby girl! (As of yesterday)

Last but not least my amazing and fierce mother-in-law was diagnosed with uterine cancer this year shortly after Mother's Day. It was a very scary time for everyone. She's been through surgery and radiation and so many ups and downs. But this month she was declared cancer free and we are so very grateful!!!

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Blog-Tember Day 27 | Laughing and Crying

I am becoming painfully slow at getting my prompts out in a timely manner as my state exam looms closer and closer. Only 6 days left! Today was my final mock exam and for the rest of the week I'll be reviewing and studying all the material. I can't wait for it to be done! Naturally it was good to think about the last time I laughed.

Today's Prompt: Something that made you laugh or cry recently. It could be a video, a picture, a post, a memory, anything that moved you. 

I love humor and comedy so much. These two videos made Scott and I laugh so much. No matter what your views are politically I'm sure you'll find a couple things pretty humorous about the videos below. :)




I really struggle to cry at appropriate moments you guys. I've never been the type to cry through a wedding or a chick flick or during a graduation. I don't cry in hospitals or at baby showers or at anniversaries. Sometimes I really wish the tears would just form. I couldn't even cry when Scott proposed! I become emotionally constipated for some reason during big major life events.

This isn't to say I don't cry! I totally do. It's just during times when I feel deeply and intensely and my feelings get stuck inside of me.

I also am known to laugh when it's very VERY serious. Sometimes I'll laugh so hard I'll cry. And usually I'm glad I look like I'm crying because it's very embarrassing to be laughing so hard during a church service or a business meeting.

What has made you laugh and cry recently?

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Blog-Tember Day 25 | A Brazen Book Review*

Okay I skipped yesterday mainly because I couldn't think of anything I've re-created to be quite honest. That either means I've been studying too much or what I do re-create ends up being less-than-pinterest-worthy. This past summer I tried this DIY coffee scrub and it looked awesome in theory but was awful in execution. (Little tiny brown crumbs ALL over my body and hair after I showered.) So no, I wasn't going to refer you to such an experience! 

Today's Prompt: Review Something! A place, a book, a service, a product. Anything at all!

I've read SO many good books this year but wanted to share one book (really one chapter with you. I really loved called Brazen, the Courage To Find The You That's Been Hiding by Leeana Tankersley. The book is about shame and freedom and what keeps our nose to the ground and what helps us breathe deeper. I wrote it a couple months ago and wanted to share this as my book review my personal thoughts on one chapter. :)


Sometimes I get a little “buzzy” as I like to call it. I don’t mean the buzz from a glass of wine or even the buzz from a cup of coffee. I mean the brain buzz. And generally my buzzy buzzard self emerges when I’m feeling vulnerable, a little on edge and well…holding my breath. 

Scott left this past week for his grandfather’s memorial service in Colorado. Since I had never met his grandfather, I stayed back with Lenny our puppy. The first night I awoke around 1:30 am from horrible nightmares so the second night alone I had to do something before bed to calm myself. (other than the obvious: have Lenny sleep in the bed with me). 

I decided to read the next chapter in the book I’m currently reading right now called Brazen by Leeana Tankersley. I spoke briefly about it in my last blog  but it’s all about finding our true selves, living without shame, reclaiming our voice and living from a place of worthiness and becoming. She talked about how she has this desire to be creative and expressive but often is feels frivolous. This feeling stunts the creative process and rather than exploration emerging, one can end up feeling paralyzed. 

What stood out most to me was her list towards the end of the chapter of things she loves, “the frivolous things." This list was a privilege to read as it can be almost embarrassing to admit what we like. It feels silly or immature or superficial. Reading her list opened up this little crack of light inside of me, encouraging me to explore what it might be shining on. 

So that night before bed, with a police search helicopter above my apartment, all my doors locked and dead bolted and locked again, and with little Lenny curled up in a fuzzy ball next to me, I began my own list. The list of what I love. I wrote it in my journal and laid it by my nightstand and slept soundly. 

I woke up the next morning and felt a little silly because that worked. My nerves were calmed because I spent some time thinking about what I loved before I drifted off to sleep. It was such a free and un-filtered list. 

You know how lists can be rather rigid? Like if it’s a list about your hobbies, you need to have a couple of exercise hobbies or people will think you’re lazy and if you have a cooking list, you need some healthy choices or people will wonder about your nutrition, and if you have a list about favorite books, for heaven’s sake include some intellectual research based books! 

But this list was mine. I felt no pressure to include a fictitious love of dumb bells or Shakespeare or apples. Still I was a little weirded out that I kept coming back to the list the next few days, adding things here and there and smiling to myself when I thought of my frivolous list. 

My list became a place of exhale and I couldn’t even understand why. 

Why on earth would thoughts of fancy coffee, and pink nail polish, Washi tape and cucumber water help me sleep?! After all the definition of frivolous is not very dignified. It means silly, trifling, empty, worthless, of little weight or importance…” 

Leeana writes: “It’s our worst fear to be unworthy of serious attention. Until one day we realize how exhausting it is to strive so relentlessly. We hear God’s whisper: ‘Leeana, what if you stopped trying to be so worthy? What if you stopped focusing on your relevance? What if you stopped trying to secure your own meaningfulness?”

This really struck me as it feels like my entire decade of my 20’s was spent in some ways hustling to be taken seriously, to do something meaningful, to be worthy of serious attention. The 20’s can be a tumultuous decade in so many ways, graduating college, entering a career, figuring out relationships, wondering who is behind and who is ahead. I went straight from my bachelors into graduate school and I longed to be taken seriously. I wanted to be seen as academic but felt like my snide and humorous remarks were the best I had to offer. As a women, I felt like I was seen as just a "dumb blonde" who was fun but not intellectual. It felt like I couldn’t be frivolous and deep. I couldn’t do something meaningful and then do something entirely ridiculous. 

Of course this kind of black and white thinking would make anyone a little on edge and anxious having to perform so much. 

Leeana talks about “getting lost in the garden” God has given us. That we can “go to the studio of our soul” to create, explore, play, and be silly. This is a garden where I am loved as I am and don’t have to produce or create for an outcome. This garden of colors and resources and beauty that is mine to play with. 

In this garden you can, Run toward what you love with unapologetic abandon." 

I’m an oldest child so being taken seriously comes with the territory. I was responsible, conscientious and deep. But I was also creative but didn’t realize it. I was also witty but didn’t know that either. Growing up my family was thrifty and amazing at saving so going out to eat was novel and renting a movie and having popcorn was like the celebration of the century (okay I exaggerate but you underestimate my love of popcorn). 

Naturally I grew up to be a very good saver but unfortunately had a nasty guilt complex every time I bought something I didn’t necessarily need, but just wanted. But here’s the thing I can be both a good saver and also buy something I like, something frivolous. I can be both witty and watch silly sitcoms and be a deep thinker. I can be creative and still love browsing Target for things that are already created. Enjoying things doesn’t make me a superficial person. It makes me a human who is alive with a vibrant heart beat. 

 We get to love what we love you guys. We don’t have to justify or downplay our stunning souls. Our souls are deep and wide. It has plenty of room for ALL the good stuff. The deep serious stuff and the frivolous fun stuff.

Maybe there's something you love but have inwardly rejected because it feels too meaningless and trivial. Maybe you can relate to wanting to be taken seriously and so have pretended part of your soul isn't there. But what's the worst that could happen if you risked making this list? Maybe you'll even sleep better. 

So here is my list of the frivolous things that I actually and unashamedly very much enjoy. You know I want to know what's on yours!

Heather's Frivolous List:

Essie nail polish
Gilmore Girls
Fancy wrapping paper
A novel with a cheesy happy ending
The smell of lavender
Sharpie fine point pens
Mud masks
Dusk in the summer
Fancy matches
Buying more than one bottle of wine at a time
Soft blankets
Hair ties and headbands*
Cucumber Water
Washi tape
The smell of new clothes
Scott’s homemade macaroni and cheese 
Cold brew lattes

*Aka my thoughts about a specific chapter in a book. 
**It’s the weirdest thing but buying hair stuff induces a weird sense of guilt in me like I should wrap my hair in braids with the yarn lying around my house (there is no yarn) Yesterday I bought headbands and all I could think was “this is so naughty, I am so bad, I am buying a pack of headbands for 5.99 to keep my bangs out of my face…how could you?!! How dare you?! Hence my need to write this blog.  

Friday, September 23, 2016

Blog-Tember Day 23 | Family Recipe

Today's Prompt: A Family Recipe. 

So I don't cook or bake a lot. But when I get up the courage and energy to do so it's often to make cookies. (and by often I mean twice a year). Thankfully I am blecky (blessed + lucky) enough to be surrounded by a husband, family (my mom, grandmas )and friends who genuinely enjoy it.

This is my "go-to" cookies recipe from my mom and her sisters. Whenever I go home or visit my aunts they make these chocolate-chip cookies. I've tried to like other cookies but nothing beats these. I have such nostalgic memories of big rain and thunderstorms growing up and my mom baking these cookies. She would let my sisters and I each have a spoon full of cookie dough and I would savor it's richness so much. Sometimes I wake up in the morning and crave these. (this is weird because I really don't crave desert in the morning).

Anyway before I got married my mom gave me a special family cook book full of traditions and recipes from the kitchen of all our friends and families. My mom included her sister's favorites recipes, my grandma Moot's holiday fruit cake, my grandma J's carmel popcorn and my mother-in-law's tostadas. Even though I don't spending time creating food in the kitchen much,  I am in love with this cook book rich with meaning and memories. And thankfully the recipes are pretty simple because my mom knows me well :)

Chocolate-Chip Cookies


1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
2 1/2 cups oatmeal (blend first)
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
24 oz bag of chocolate-chips*
8 oz Hershey bar


Mix all ingredients and add bag of chocolate chips and grated Hershey bar.
Place on ungreased cookie sheet 2 inches apart. (golf ball size)
Bake @ 375 for 6 minutes.

And there you have it! Amazing cookies for days! This recipe makes about 112 cookies so be sure to share with friends.

What's your favorite family recipe?

*No chocolate-chips were harmed in the production of this blog but some were eaten. 

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Blog-Temper Day 22 | Hello Fall!

I am a bit late to getting this posted! Today I had to take a 4 hours timed mock exam as I continue the steep climb to being a licensed therapist. It was mind-numbing and terribly long. I felt completely brain dead and deprived of any intellectual ability (even a blog as cheery as this!) So I took my pup to the beach for some fresh air and now I feel renewed and ready to form sentences again. :)

Every year I look forward to this prompt! I love talking about fall! Seasons as in my blood as a midwest girl but living in San Diego has made me keen on observing even the smallest changes in the weather. I am sad that next week we are schedule for 90 degree weather. #ugh. But it won't stop me from celebrating this season. 

Today's Prompt: Fall Favorites. Share your must-haves for the season. 

Fall greeting cards, chocolate-chip pumpkin muffins, crunchy leaves
Leggings, scarves, boots, fireplaces.
Empty beaches, rainy days, pumpkin spice everything.
Savory soups, Thanksgiving, Hallmark movies.
Apple cider, being warm and cozy, grinning pumpkins.
My birthday, anticipation of holidays, new planners.
Fall scented candles, celebrating with friends, more popcorn. 

What about fall is your favorite?

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Blog-Tember Day 21 | Ice-Cream I Love You.

If you were a flavor of ice-cream what would you be and why?

Oh ice-cream, you smooth, soft, sugary, super cold dream. You help us get through the hottest summers and help us endure the longest days. You greet us in sunny afternoons and on the cozy couch at the end of the day. You're icy and tasty and always inclusive. The whole world pines after you no matter what time of day. 

My top three favorite flavors of ice cream are:
  1. Gold Medal Ribbon
  2. Cookie Dough
  3. Chocolate 
My top three favorite toppings are:
  1. Cookie Dough
  2. Peanut Butter Cups
  3. Mini M&M's
As you can see I clearly have a thing for chocolate! So I think if I had to choose to be a flavor I would be chocolate-chip cookie dough with a homemade waffle cone because that just makes it even more yummy! I would like to think I'm sweet, sassy and sincere. Chocolate Chip Cook Dough ice cream  very sweet, surprises you by more cookie dough than you had originally thought was inside, and is exactly what it claims to be; yummy. 

Scott and I have a local ice-cream shop called Mariposa which is less than a block from our apartment (yes LESS than). You can only imagine the amount of discipline it takes to not empty our "out to eat" budget quite quickly by going to get ice-cream weekly/daily/hourly. It's a true Mom and Pop shop with old fashioned homemade ice-cream.  And it is SO good. 

Now I'm hungry for ice cream! Off to read about what flavors you would be! 

Blog-tember Day 20 | 20 Things I Wish More People Knew

Hello friends and happy Tuesday! I am taking a break from all the studying and lecture listening to write this blog. I'm so excited to read all of your blogs today. I'm sure I'll learn a thing or two :)

Today's Prompt: Something(s) you wish more people knew or believed:

Embracing our authentic story and all the parts we like and don't like is incredibly brave.

Being different is not bad.

God is not a gender. God isn't a Dutch male. And "He" doesn't just live inside an evangelical church.

Advocating for LGBTQ rights does NOT threaten heterosexual marriages. 

 I'm NOT a therapist 24/7. This is my job, not my lifestyle. It is really hard when people need you to always be the wise, perfectly neutral, objective and empathetic friend. Sometimes I just want to say, "that was a dumb decision" and it be okay every once in awhile.

Safe people respect your boundaries and your "no".

Diets don't work but self-love does. (95% of diets don't work).  Weight loss industries make 60 billion dollars in the U.S. so they actually make money off of it not working for us. They need repeat costumers to pay their mortgage! Our idea of what beautiful is has been entirely manipulated by culture. But it doesn't have to be this way. We don't all have to be tall, thin and white to beautiful. Once again, different is good. Every skin color is beautiful. Every body shape and size is worth respecting and loving.

Candles, coffee and cute puppies DO make everything better.

Just because it's working or successful doesn't mean it's God's will. Doing something you hate doesn't make you more holy.

Feminism is the radical notion that women are people.

Gilmore Girls RULES. (although most people already know this)

There is no shame in asking for help and seeing a therapist.

Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental disorder. Speaking up and advocating for your family and friends who struggle is very important. It's not just a phase, a diet or "they just don't have an appetite" situation.

It doesn't need to be perfect in order to experience joy or happiness. And #newsflash everyone has a little bit of mess.

Comparison is a life sucker and a poop head.  "Creativity, which is the expression of our originality, helps us stay mindful that what we bring to the world is completely original and cannot be compared." -Brene Brown

Good sleep and good food can change your life. #mymomwasright

The "sensitive ones" are just paying attention.

No one knows what you want or need unless you communicate it.

Having anxiety doesn't mean you "just don't trust God enough". It might mean you are genetically pre-disposed to anxiety or you live in a stressful environment. It could be nurture or nature. Your system could be overly flooded with norephinephrine or cortisol but it's not about you not trusting, believing or praying enough.  To simplify anxiety (when 40 million  adults in the U.S. have clinical anxiety) it is to invalidate all of it's complexities

It's okay (and essential) to treat yo self. :)

Monday, September 19, 2016

Blog-tember Day 18 | My Favorite Blogs

Today's Prompt: A list of your favorite blog posts that you've written.

What a great prompt! It was fun to go back and look at some of my older blogs (and #gasp; notice my messy grammar and #help; I need a new blog design!). Anyhooo below are 5 of my top favorite blogs. Some are funny and silly (and you'll notice that I adore lists) and some are more serious and address things I'm really passionate about.

I hope they inspire you or at least make you smile!

What are your favorite topics to write about?

What Feminism Looks Like To Me.

10 Reasons Not To Give Up Caffeine.

5 Harmful Messages Purity Culture Taught Me.

True Health Versus The Latest Fad Diet.

20 Signs That You Are Indeed Growing Up.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Blog-Tember Day 18 | The Soap That Simplifies My Life

Hi friends!

I am back from a day-off of blogging. I missed the vlog challenge entirely! I drove up to spend the day yesterday with  one of my good friends up in San Clemente (known as the "Spanish village by the sea" in Orange County). She is moving to New Zealand in less than 2 weeks so I'm so glad I had hte chance to spend a whole day with her catching up.  We visited a cultural center/museum, tried out a new coffee shop, walked along the pier, got a tasty lunch complete with sweet potato fries and celebratory drinks and walked along the beach. We also talked for 8 hours straight so I didn't get a chance to do my vlog :) But here's vlog from last year's Blog-Tember Challenge just in case you're interested! I'm excited to catch up on your blogs and listen to your vlogs!

Today's Prompt: One product that simplifies your life.

Dr. Bronner's Soap simplifies my life! My husband first introduced me to it back when we were dating. He had the peppermint soap and couldn't stop raving about how it can be used as shampoo and body wash and lasts forever! I was won over (as I am with most things) by the smell. I had started using essential oils around that time and all of Dr. Bronner's products smelled so good to me.  They are ethically sourced and use only organic ingredients. They also pursue fair trade around the world which I think is a plus. (but let's be honest, I use Bath & Body Works candles so I'm not claiming that I pursue all organic things by any stretch of the imagination)

I fell in love with Dr. Bronner's Hemp Lavender Pure-Castile Soap a couple years ago and have been using it every since. It smells amazing. And it simplifies my life because it can be used as shampoo, body-wash, face-wash and to shave. When I go on trips, I just bring a travel size of this and call it good! It's amazing how versatile it is. It can also be used to do laundry or bathe your pets (and I have washed Leonard with it on one occasion just for kicks)

Looking forward to reading about what helps simplify your life!

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Blog-Tember Day 16 | My Top 9 Self-Care Practices

Today's Prompt: How you de-stress/take care of yourself?

I absolutely love this prompt! If you know me you know how much I advocate for self-care. It's something I'm always assessing for in my clients. I think everyone can benefit from it but I do believe that the more chronic stress you're under (and especially if you've experienced trauma) the more necessary it is. I do not think self-care is a luxury only the wealthy and privileged should experience; I think everyone needs to learn how to self-soothe and care for one's heart, mind and body in times of great stress.

Ignoring our needs has some pretty serious side effects such as sleep exhaustion, dehydration, malnutrition along with high levels of cortisol in the brain. Cortisol is considered the stress hormone. Unfortunately too much of it can cause all kinds of problems from lowering our immune systems, causing anxiety and depression. When the levels become bumped up, the adrenal glands become exhausted and we are at risk for Adrenal Fatigue among many other not-so-fun health problems.

I know that in a lot of cultures and communities it's considered selfish, indulgent and lazy to practice self-care but let me tell you something IT IS THE OPPOSITE. 

Practicing self-care is one the most generous things you can do for your family, friends and world. 

Rather than engaging in life from a self-depleted place you can bring your energized self because you've taken care of you. And if this isn't enough for you to consider and you like science and research, I'll let you know that mental health professionals recommend taking at least 20 minutes a day to incorporate some type of self-care. Since I'm a Marriage and Family Therapist, I am also considered a mental health professional (heheheh) and I would say if you've never done self-care start with 20 minutes but make your goal 30 minutes to 1 hour every day.  There are 24 hours in a day and we can certainly "sacrifice" an  hour to re-charge our batteries.

Okay enough about that! I need to talk about my 9 ways I take care of myself.

Flowers just help. If I go wildflower picking I can breathe in fresh air and nature while exploring all the colors flowers have to offer. If I'm not near where wildflowers roam #hellourbanjungle I head to Trader Joes. For me, just having a vase of flowers in my house brightens my space.

Yes, I merged two self-care practices together but honestly yoga really helped me implement deep breathing into my every day life. If I'm feeling stressed or having lots of body pain I try to pick up a Gentle Yoga Class down the street at our local yoga studio. If I don't want to pay for it, I head on over to Yoga with Adriene and do one of the free videos she offers. She is so funny and knowledgeable.

Since getting our puppy, Lenny I cannot imagine life without him. I remember fondly the days where I would go up to complete strangers in our neighborhood just to pet their dogs. I dog-sat all my friend's fuzzy friends as well. Now I'm so glad I have a funny little Lenny waiting for me whenever I get home. There is something so calming about watching him curl up in a ball, breathe deeply and fall fast asleep.

When I get my hands moving my stress level immediately goes down. Repetitive motions like knitting can actually decrease anxiety according to research. I don't knit but I do paint, color, create homemade cards and I LOVE washi tape. I love going to Target and finding a new colorful washi tape to create something fun with.

Going out into nature is the big exhale for me. I grew up in the Midwest on 30 acres of land so getting outside into space is so innate for me. I love feeling the texture of leaves and feeling the breeze. I like the smell of the earth after a big rain. I love going to the beach when it's empty, cool and cloudy. I get so excited to watch the sunset with Scott and Lenny on the bay. I feel free when I sit in front of a Minnesota lake and watch it's serene glassy mirror look back at me. I love roaming and hiking through the woods in Yosemite where I feel completely infused with all the magic the forest holds. This summer I spent so much time in nature, and it filled me in a way that is really indescribable. As Emerson says, "Look deep in nature and then you will understand everything better". I may go my whole day unaware of God's presence but when I step into fresh air and inhale nature I am suddenly made aware. (Genesis 28:16 makes me think of this)

I am a light kind of girl and by that I mean bring me all the candles and night lights and moons and stars and twinkly things. Lighting candles is a way I self-soothe my stress. Right now I have a little pumpkin sitting happily on my bookshelf. It only took one little battery and now I have a cozy Jack-o-Lantern grinning at me. I love finding soft mood lighting and holiday themed night lights. I adore paper lanterns. lamp posts and white lights wrapped around palm trees.

This year I picked up a gold polka-dot planner that I'm frankly quite obsessed with. #thanksamazonprime Planners help me schedule in self-care time. Sometimes when it's so busy and chaotic it's overwhelming to squeeze one more thing BUT I know that this one thing will help me manage the busy and chaos so much better. I schedule deep tissue massages or just block out an hour to get a pedicure or head to Target to browse. I schedule my girl time+ friend time+ date nights because in the midst of too much to do and chronic hustle I want to make sure I'm making time for what really matters; my people.

I mean you knew this was coming right?! Books are my happy place. Reading has been shown to lower your heart rate and reduce muscle tension! The act of visualization something else (especially when it's positive) can really benefit the whole person. I don't read horror books or dark depressing books because I don't think it would help me in the self-care category. I like reading self-help, marriage and family therapy, humor, children's literature, memoirs, and cheesy Christian fiction. #likereallycheesy

I know I know...the research does not bode well for me when it comes to de-stressing and caffeine. However it is part of my morning rhythm  that I savor so much. Read more about why not to give up your beloved coffee here.

That's all! What do you guys do for self-care? Can't wait to hear!

Blog-Tember Day 15 | My Crazy Adventure

Hello friends! We are half-way through our Blog-tember Challenge! It has been so good for me to make a practice of writing every day. I have so appreciated all your sweet comments and getting to know y'all.

Today's Prompt: What is the craziest adventure you've ever been on?

There are a number of adventures I have been on. I haven't been on too many "crazy" ones though. (I'm not sure how you define crazy but my mind  goes to getting a drunk tattoo or quitting your job and running off to Mexico and living in hut by the beach) Don't get me wrong I have certainly done some crazy things but they are fairly embarrassing and we can wait to tell those for "most embarrassing moment" prompts. :)

One of my craziest adventures was traveling to Morocco when I was 23 years old. I had never traveled that far before. I was fresh off a painful break-up and really needed some space between me and that relationship. I went with two pastors from my church to visit some of the under-ground churches. I didn't have anyone close to my age on my team and wasn't even able to sit with the people I did know on the long plan ride over!

My first night in my own hotel room by myself in Casablanca was pretty un-nerving. I didn't know the language, was not used to the food and barely understood what was happening. #jetlag Every night I was startled awake by the call to prayer.

But over the course of the next 10 days I came to love the Moroccan Tajine Chicken, the potatoes and carrots and the thick stew. I savored the sweet tea I had every morning. I relished staying in the riads every night which is like a traditional Moroccan house or palace. I admired the believers dedicated faith despite so much opposition.

I got to ride my first camel in Morocco. I had my first experience with using a toilet that was actually just a hole in the ground. I saw my the first mosque, Hassan Mosque. It the largest mosque in Casablanca and the 13th largest in the world. I saw the Mediterranean sea for the first time as well.

I met a girl close to my age on the trip who was from France and we did stuck to each other like glue. We stayed up too late talking, loved shopping around the medinas and borrowed each other's clothes.  The medinas were at the center of the city (imagine like a large outdoor farmers market or craft fair). It  has many narrow streets that were maze-like and super easy to get lost in.

We even scheduled an appointment at the hotel for a traditional Hammam complete with a massage and scrub. I certainly didn't know what to expect as we timidly entered the steam room together. There stood a large and robust woman with a scrub in one hand and black soap in the other. She coached us to come in and had one of us lay on this bench against the wall. I #clearly had my friend go first so I could observe. The robust woman began grabbing at my friends' clothes and we immediately knew she was instructing her to take them off. All of them.  I was wide eyed at this point as the woman spoke in Arabic and dumped a massive bucket of hot water on my friend's head and began scrubbing her down with such intense vigor I felt she was trying to shave her skin off. It was all quite the shock and I probably could have just told this story for my crazy adventure. I'm sure the robust elderly woman had a good laugh when she was done with us. Here I was imagining a spa-like experience complete with candles, a massage bed and soothing music. Instead I encountered nudity, boiling hot water all over my body and a sponge that felt like a steel wool scrub you use to get tough stains off of pots. But it was certainly an adventure and I'm so grateful all the experiences I had in Morocco.

Alright! Off to read about all of your adventures! 

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Blog-Tember Day 13 | My Current Mood: Fall

Today's Prompt: Make a mood board! Are you brainstorming a room re-do, a wardrobe capsule or already planning for the holidays? Show us your ideas!

You guys. It cannot be said enough. I love fall. Everyone is grieving the loss of summer while I have been anticipating the end of summer since the beginning. (that sounds terrible!) We don't have air-conditioning in our little apartment and I don't enjoy being sweaty so I eagerly anticipate fall. But besides that fall brings me so many happy memories of pumpkin patches, apple picking, the smell of pumpkin spice, leaves crunching and cozy candles burning.

This year I am planning a little fall gathering. I've always wanted to do a "favorite things" party where all the guests bring a favorite something and you have a gift exchange. Of course, my life was too busy (and the thought of hosting and trying to make my place look immaculate was enough for me to lose immediate motivation) But forget that! If I wait my whole life for a perfect house and for things to "slow down" I'll never have my beloved party. Scott told me the other day, "Babe, you've been talking about this party for three years, you just need to do it!" He even brought me home the cutest pumpkin the other day so I'm pretty sure he's trying to keep me accountable. lol.

After hosting and planning my good friend's baby shower in which close to 50 guests were invited you could say I gained a little bit of confidence. So I picked a date and tried to keep it simple. No seven course dinner, just drinks and appetizers. I bought a fall sweater for Lenny and I bought some cute napkins and plates. Everyone is to bring a "fall favorite" for under 7 dollars for the gift exchange.

So my mood board is some things I've picked up and have loved while party planning!

From Left To Right:

Paper Straws: Amazon
Hello Fall Napkins: Target
Fall into Autumn Barnwood Sign: Kirklands
Vanilla Pumpkin Marshmallow Candle: Bath and Body Works
Orange Washi Tape: Target (I actually got some with little pumpkins on them, they're under "harvest embellishments")

Can't wait to see your ideas and mood boards! 

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Blog-Tember Day 12 | Life Swap or Not

Happy Tuesday friends! I hope your week if off to a great start! The weather is cloudy and cool today in San Diego making me so excited to pull out some warmer clothes. There is still time to join Blog-Tember 2016. Join us!!!

Today's Prompt: If you could switch lives with someone for a day, who would it be and why?

I thought long and hard about this one. I contemplated between wanting to be my favorite authors (Brene Brown, Glennon Doyle Melton, Shauna Niequist) because I would love to have a career of writing and publishing books.

I then contemplated being one of my most looked up to therapists, Rebecca. She started her own practice called, Potentia; dedicated to those recovering from eating disorders and the whole spectrum of trauma. Her team is very collaborative and includes a nutritionist, a yoga instructor and workshops dedicated to shame resilience and redefining failure. She has two kids and owns her own home. She's passionate, intelligent, determined and empathetic and she practices what she preaches.

I thought about trying out being President for a day to increase my empathy for what a truly difficult job it is. I would live in the White House and have someone clean for me while I changed a couple policies that day.

Maybe I would be Laurene Powell Jobs whose net worth is 14.4 billion so I could spend as much money as I want when I go shopping. I could buy my whole family plane tickets to come visit me and I could travel anywhere I wanted whenever I wanted.

But nothing really stuck*. The truth is I would want to be myself for the day. I don't say this because my life is perfect and shiny and glistening. I say that because I know enough to know that no one's life really is. No matter how successful or wealthy or prestigious your life is; there's still a human underneath whose "glistening" is really sweat, whose "shine" is really grease and whose "perfection" is only perception.

I might live in a small apartment and not own a home. I might not have kids yet. And my career might be extremely daunting all of the time. But still, at the end of the day, I choose me to be.

I may have gone through some intense loss, I may have experienced things I wish I could stuff in a closet and throw out the key, I may have wondered why my brain seems so predisposed to anxiety, but still I choose me.

With me, at least I know my mess. I am very acquainted with it at this point. I know how it ticks. I'm not afraid of my mess anymore.

And I've also experienced great recovery, launching freedom, and authentic grinning. I have not been made rich by inheritance or by my career. But I've been made rich by my husband, Scotty and his love for me. I've been made wealthy by having Lenny as my sweet puppy. I've been given friends and family who pursue me, fight for me, stand by me and advocate for me and this has given me wings.

I always feared that if I got quiet enough, really looked inside of myself I'd find someone small and terrified and fragile. In order to avoid such a conclusion of myself I stayed busy, lived in chaos, numbed myself with an eating disorder, and pursued external things to prove I was okay. I pursued a higher education, being thin, rocky romantic relationships, and tried to outrun my anxiety.

But eventually I stopped running. I bent over after my marathon and strained for air, to breathe again. I was shaky and sweaty but I finally dared to look inside of me. At first it was just a quick glance. 

Instead of running, I kept coming back to look at her, at me, the person inside of me who was there all along. I started looking at her longer and longer. 

What I found was surprising. Once I got quiet and listened and everything external that claimed my worthiness was stripped away, I saw the real me.

And she was strong.

She was a fighter.

She was passionate and engaged and intuitive.

She was a warrior.

And oh my goodness she was not small.

The world maybe told her to be small and thin and little but she was not.

And the world may have told her to live in terror and panic but she was done with that.

I soon realized all my external stuff (my productivity, my anorexia, my anxiety, my busy chaos) did not keep me safe. It didn't have to keep me safe because I had a warrior inside.

I listened and I waited and I got quiet and there I was. There I realized God was not outside of me, something I had to search and hustle and bustle for. God was within me. The Spirit of God dwelled within me. I was grounded and anchored internally, not externally as I had thought I must strive to be.

If you're reading this and thinking Well, if you knew me you would know that on the inside I am not strong. I only appear strong.

I completely resonate with that feeling. I was convinced for so long that my mess made me weak. 

I have something to tell you; you have a heroine waiting to be discovered inside. She isn't out there, in the next self-help book, or bible study or podcast. She doesn't live in that country or work that job over there. She lives inside of YOU. Spend some time with her. Turn off all the lights, turn off the distraction, light those candles and listen to your insides, even if just for 5 minutes. It might be painful but trust me you can handle hearing from her. She needs to be heard.

"Deep in their roots, all flowers keep the light", Theordore Roethke wrote. That's the truth. Deep inside each of us is divine light.

Inside of me is the Light so for today I choose to be me.

* Okay if I really had to choose who to swap with for one day I would choose my puppy, Lenny. Lenny your life is easy and awesome and all you have to do is eat, poop, sleep and play with your toys and jump on your parents and sneak food off the table.  I know you hate bath time but seriously bubbles and someone massaging your head constantly? I choose your life.