Monday, August 21, 2017

Bestie Finds: Books That Make You Better

Bestie Finds:  Books That Make You Better

It feels like forever since I've given you some Bestie finds, so I'm happy to be sharing some self care fun with you!  Today's picks are awesome books and journals I found on Amazon...and one sweet lil' printable from my Etsy shop! A little shameless self promotion never hurt anyone, right?  ;)

But seriously, the printable is one of my faves because it forces me (and my clients!) to focus on the positive.  It's so easy to get bogged down with what isn't going well, but that does nothing to improve our mood.  I'm also a huge fan of the moleskine journal because I want to get back into bullet's an easy way for me to be creative and it's fun! And if you need a laugh, like right now, "All My Friends Are Dead" will deliver.  It pokes fun at the inevitable in life, while making you appreciate that even on your worst day, you're no worse off than, say...a dinosaur with no living friends or a sock whose friends have all gone missing.  

What's your fave Bestie Find here?  Let us know in the comments!

Things That Made Me Happy printable

Finish This Book creative experience 

I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to .  All opinions expressed are my own and I never recommend a product unless I truly love it!

Saturday, August 19, 2017

15 Delicious Treats Made with Matcha

Hello, hello, my Besties!  Long time no see!  This summer has been a whirlwind...full of everything good.  But our family has been packing so much goodness into just a few months and I've been prioritizing that over stressing about regular blogging.  That said, I miss it!  So happy to be back today with a new "body" post!

I'm sure by now, most of you are well aware of matcha, the green tea/superfood that has been seen just about everywhere.  Matcha is a type of green tea (also known as kenko tea) that has TEN TIMES the nutritional value and antioxidants as one cup of regular green tea.  Mind blown, right?

In addition to giving you amazing antioxidants in each serving, matcha is an energy booster, a mind relaxer, improver of weight loss, booster of immunity, and is being researched for its ability to fight and prevent diseases like cancer and high cholesterol!  Again, MIND BLOWN.

So, the way I see it, you can guzzle tons of matcha tea for all these health benefits, or you can add matcha to some delicious treats and mix it up a bit.  Both will give you amazing health benefits, but there's just something about the idea of matcha ice cream, cookies, and smoothies that speaks to me.  

If you, like me, are ready to branch out and taste all the amazingness that matcha has to offer, then check out this list of 15 delicious matcha treats!  Which one are you most excited to try?


Saturday, July 29, 2017

Why I Love Young Life Camp

Happy Saturday, my Besties!  I don't have much time to write, as I'm headed off to lead a cabin of 14 high school girls for a week full of fun, adventure, and amazing conversations.  I just know I'm not going to be posting much in the next few days, and the reason why is too good not to share.  So forgive any typos as I manically tell you three reasons why I love Young Life camp (this will be my 11th time as a leader and my 13th time in total at camp!).  

For those of you who don't know what Young Life is, you can find out more here.  For me, Young Life was life changing back in high school and instrumental in me making my faith my own.  I'm forever grateful...I guess that's why they haven't been able to get rid of me.  I also met my husband in high school and first told him I had a crush on him at a Young Life camp in Virginia.  The rest, as they say, is history.  I guess you could say Young Life changed my life in more ways than one!  

But this trip...this one I'm about to leave on (in just under 2 hours!) is going to be my last.  At least, for the foreseeable future.  My husband and I have been leading in the same high school for 9 years and this trip will be our finale, as we hope to start the foster care process in early 2018.  I guess that's why I wanted to process through some things before we leave.

There are a zillion reasons to love Young Life, and specifically Young Life camp.  But here are the three that have got me thinking just what an incredible privilege it is to be taking these young ladies to camp for a week.

I'm a better person there.  When I'm at camp, and specifically when I'm hanging out with high school girls, I am just the most alive I can be.  Guys, they are so FUN!  They laugh, they play, they confide, they share, they are so INTERESTING.  And for some reason, they like me!  They tell me their stuff.  I get to be with them and hear their lives and sit with them when things are going well and when they're not.  It's an honor I do not take lightly.  I get to do crazy things with them at camp, like obstacle courses and dance parties and flash mobs and family style dinners and GOSH. It's a blast.  I love who I am at Young Life camp.  I know I'm not alone when I say I wish I could bottle it up and bring it home and be that person 100% of the time.  The freedom I feel there is exactly the freedom I felt there as a high school camper way back when.  It's the freedom you experience when you look around and think, "This.  This is how life was meant to be lived."

Trust comes so easily to me at Young Life camp.  For some reason, I find it way easier to trust that things are working out the way they are supposed to at camp.  Even when things go wrong or bad things happen (yes, they's not a utopia, but it's pretty darn close!), I find myself able to have a quiet peace that, again, I wish was my first response to life as it happens the other 51 weeks of the year.  Perhaps it's the beautiful setting, or maybe the lack of cell phone service.  But probably, it's that I just feel so close to God there because He has given me a front row seat to witness miracles for a week.  

Lives change at Young Life camp.  Plain and simple, people walk away different after Young Life camp.  Different, in the best way possible.  Every single year that I have brought kids home from camp, parents say things like "Wow, Jody won't stop talking about camp!  She said it really was the best week of her life!"  and "Mark helped me with the dishes last night!" and "I can't put my finger on it, but something amazing happened to my kid when they were at camp!"  No joke.  Lives really do change.  Campers, leaders, everrrryone.  Because for a week, people are so loved, so blissfully cared for, so immersed in freedom, so challenged to grow that they can't help but change for the better afterwards.  

This may all sound super cray to you if you aren't familiar with Young Life, but at the risk of that, I just had to share my thoughts.  Because it's not easy for me to leave my kiddos for the week, it's not easy to sleep on a bed on the floor in a room of 14 young ladies (I mean, I love them, but duuuude, they stay up late!).  It's not easy to do these things, but it is a privilege.  It's so much more than worth it.  I'm so excited for what is about to happen for me and these girls that I just couldn't keep it to myself.  

If you're a pray-er, would you mind remembering us in your prayers this week?  I'd be so grateful.  

And thanks for listening to a little piece of my heart.  You guys are the best.  Love you lots and see you soon...when I am recovered from a week of no sleep! ;)

Monday, July 24, 2017

3 Self Care Lessons I Learned From Marmee March

Marmee March is, without a doubt, my favorite literary character of all time.  And not only that, but I kind of want to be her.  She is full of kindness, goodness, wisdom, and grace.  She is loving, just, and sweet.  I doubt she ever had a #momfail.  Well, actually she admitted to Jo that her temper needed some work back when she had four extremely little women running around the house (and who amongst us can say otherwise?) So add humility to her list of honorable traits.  Like Mary Poppins, Marmee is, in my opinion, practically perfect in every way.  

I'm currently re-reading Little Women for, like, the 5th time and I just never get tired of it.  I love the character development, the emphasis on the March family's bond, and how the relatability of the book has stood the test of time.  But most of all, I love Marmee.  God bless her.

Upon my current reading, I'm noticing yet again the sage wisdom Marmee offers, but also how she was wise beyond her years when it came to self care.  If you will allow me to be just a bit liberal with Louisa May Alcott's beloved text, I would like to share three self care lessons straight from the immortal Marmee March.

Lesson 1:  Be grateful.  

Once upon a time there were four girls, who had enough to eat, and drink, and wear, a good many comforts and pleasures, kind friends and parents, who loved them dearly, and yet they were not contented.  (Here the listeners stole sly looks at one another, and began to sew diligently).  

These girls were anxious to be good, and made many excellent resolutions, but they did not keep them very well, and were constantly saying "If we only had this," or "If we could only do that," quite forgetting how much they already had, and how many pleasant things they actually could do; so they asked an old woman what spell they could use to make them happy, and she said, "When you feel discontented, think over your blessings and be grateful."  (Here Jo looked up quickly, as if to speak, but changed her mind, seeing that the story was not done yet.)

Being sensible girls, they decided to try her advice, and soon were surprised to see how well off they were.  One discovered that money couldn't keep shame and sorrow out of rich people's houses, another that though she was poor, she was a great deal happier with her youth, health, and good spirits, then a certain fretful, feeble old lady, who couldn't enjoy her comforts; a third that, disagreeable as it was to help get dinner, it was harder still to go begging for it.  And the fourth, that even carnelian rings were not so valuable as good behavior.  So they agreed to stop complaining, to enjoy the blessings they already possessed, and try to deserve them, lest they should be taken away entirely, instead of increased; and I believe they were never disappointed, or sorry that they took the old woman's advice.  

I mean...come on.  Does it get any better than that?  If you've been following me for any length of time, you know I'm a big fan of gratitude.  Everything gets better when we count our blessings.  It's impossible to be anxious or depressed and thankful at the same time.  Rather than complaining about what we don't have, let's fix our eyes on what we do have.  And remember, money has never, in the history of the world, EVER bought anyone true joy.  

Lesson 2:  Use your time wisely

Have regular hours for work and play; make each day both useful and pleasant, and prove that you understand the worth of time.  Then youth will bring few regrets, and life will become a beautiful success.

The worth of time.  Wow.  Most of us live our daily lives unaware of the worth of time, that life is fleeting and tomorrow is not guaranteed.  It's important to do what we have to do, but ALSO TO MAKE TIME FOR SELF CARE.  We are not too busy for taking care of ourselves.  It's not selfish.  It's what will reduce our regrets and make our lives a beautiful success.  Marmee said so.  So schedule in some self care today, ya hear?

Lesson 3:  Take your troubles to God

My child, the troubles and temptations of your life are beginning, and may be many; but you can overcome and outlive them all if you learn to feel the strength and tenderness of your Heavenly Father as you do that of your earthly one. the more you love and trust Him, and the less you depend on human power and wisdom.  His love and care never tire or change, can never be taken from you, but may become the source of lifelong peace, happiness, and strength.  Believe this heartily, and go to God with all your little cares, and hopes, and sins, and sorrows, as freely and confidingly as you come to your Mother.

Mic drop.  I want to steal these words and put them in a card for my boys.  If I could give them one piece of wisdom, it would be this.  Exactly this.  God loves you and is always there for you. Depend on Him and not your own strength.  Trust His plan for your life and know that He is always working for your good.  This has been true for me, even when I couldn't see it, since I was 10 years old.  

Whether you believe it or not, God loves you, my Besties.  And  there is no love like His.    

Friday, July 21, 2017

The One Tradition Every Family Needs To Start

I recognize that every family is different.  I realize that families are made up of people with many different schedules, interests, and personalities.  However, our family has benefitted so incredibly much from one tradition that I feel it is my duty as your Self Care Bestie to pass it on to you.  Also, healthy relationships are such an important part of self care that I would be remiss not to post about family stuff from time to time. So what is this life-changing, relationship-changing, family-changing tradition?

Family time.  

You may have heard of it.  You may even already do a version of family time in your home.  Whether you're new to the concept of family time or you've been enjoying it regularly for a while, I've got some helpful pointers to make the most of this precious family tradition.  

Family time, for those of you who may not be familiar, is essentially like a family meeting once a week where every member of the household gathers together and focuses just on each other.  I prefer the name "family time" to "family meeting," because growing up, when we had family meetings it meant only one of two things:  we were in BIG trouble, or we were moving.  

Family time is basically a weekly gathering of the entire family with a focus on loving each other well and enjoying each other's company.  The one hard and fast rule of family time (in my opinion) is that it occurs regularly.  We have definitely had weeks where we forgot or had other plans, but for the most part, we have consistently been having weekly family time for over 3 years.  And it has paid dividends!  Let me count the ways.

In our family time, my husband, two boys and I gather around the living room and start by going around and saying something we are thankful for or appreciate about each person in the family.  I am chuckling as I write this, thinking back to when my youngest son was one and couldn't yet husband or I would raise our voice to an munchkin-like pitch and say something like, "Mom, thank you for playing peek-a-boo with me" or "Daddy, thank you for carrying me on your shoulders."

Sound corny?  Yeah, I know.  But here's the cool thing.  Our sons don't remember a time when we didn't have family time.  Which means, since before they can remember, they were having a structured time for us to speak to them about their worth to us as individuals, and to the family.  We get to tell them the things we are proud of, the ways we are seeing them grow and learn, and share aspects of their budding personalities that thrill us. This has been especially life-giving after a week when, perhaps, their behavior was less than thrilling.  Or, for my husband and I, it helps us reconnect after a week when we have felt "off."  Note:  Family time isn't the only time we speak loving words to each other; we try to do that as often as possible.  Family time simply assures us that it will happen for everyone, at least once a week.

After we share our appreciation for each other, we have a treat together because:  a) YOLO and b) treat yoself and c) if they are eating Skittles maybe the kids will want to keep doing this until they are 18.  What?  Positive reinforcement is a thing.

After the treat, my husband usually reads a little of the kids' Bible storybook to them because we want to share our faith with our boys, but we also want them to be able to ask questions and form their own opinions about God and life, etc.  We also do it because the boys love it and look forward to it.  Depending on the ages and beliefs of your family, you could read anything else together that is encouraging, uplifting, or interesting. 

Finally, we end family time by doing something fun together.  It is usually a living room dance party, in which each boy still wants to be held and asks us to "do the dip dance!"  We put on Motown or oldies of some sort (because they are not yet aware that songs other than the Trolls soundtrack exist and we must remedy this as soon as possible).  Then, we get dowwwwwn. We flip and twirl and laugh and then I eventually have to sit down for a minute because mama's not as young as she once was.

It's the best 25 minutes of our week.  

25 minutes...5 minutes less than a half hour.  Yes, your family does have time for this.  One parent may travel a lot, or the kids may be busy with various maybe yours is a twice a month family time and it lasts an hour.  You can do whatever you need to in order to make it fit the needs of your family.  If you should happen to hate dancing, you could play a game or go for a walk instead.  But I highly recommend the dancing.  Just sayin.

As a therapist, I don't like to tell people what to do.  In fact, I'm usually staunchly against it.  That way, if I ever do tell someone what to do in a given situation, hopefully it carries a bit more weight.  So this isn't me telling you what to do.  Consider this my strong recommendation that you start family time soon.  Like this week.  Or yesterday.  You will never regret pouring into your family this way.  Only good things can come of this.  

Before we know it, the little ones will have flown the coop, and we will let them fly, having given them a sense of security and significance that will adequately prepare them for establishing a happy family of their own someday.

So, yeah...I've got 25 minutes a week.  How about you?

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

15 Songs for Soul Searchers

I love music.  Hearing a certain song can suddenly take us back to a different time and place, remind us of someone we love, and completely change our mood.  Other songs can bring questions to our mind about life, love, God and what's next.  Still others can help us answer those questions.  In short, I'm not sure there's much that the right song at the right moment can't do.  

I've put together a list of songs that I absolutely love because they have done all of the above for me at some point or another.  I get goosebumps every time I hear "Bring Him Home" from Les Miserables, partly because I'm obsessed with musical theater but also because it so perfectly expresses every parent's prayer for a child to be spared any harm or hardship.  I get tears in my eyes when I hear "Sympathy" by the Goo Goo Dolls reminds me of some spiritual discussions I had with a good friend who passed away suddenly.  And "One Sweet World" by Dave Matthews Band is one of my favorite songs of all time because it's about loving this beautiful world we live in and enjoying every minute of the time we have here.  

If you are so inclined, I invite you to put these songs into your Spotify when you're feeling lost, enlightened, prayerful, or joyful. In the words of Victor Hugo, "Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent."

1.  What a Wonderful World - Louie Armstrong
2.  Bring Him Home - Les Miserables 
3.  Beautiful Things - Gungor
4.  Doubting Thomas - Nickel Creek
5.  I'm Not Who I Was - Brandon Heath
6.  Lean on Me - Bill Withers
7.  Stand by Me - Ben E. King
8.  One Sweet World - Dave Matthews Band
9.  High Tide or Low Tide - Jack Johnson & Ben Harper
10.  Box of Rain - The Grateful Dead
11.  In My Life - The Beatles
12.  Everybody Hurts - R.E.M.
13.  I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For - U2
14.  Talk - Coldplay
15.  Sympathy - Goo Goo Dolls 

What are your favorite songs that speak to your soul?

Monday, July 17, 2017

Confessions of a Recovering People Pleaser

Looking for everyone's approval is something I have spent a lot of my life doing.  The better half of it, I would say.  Even when it appeared to everyone else that I didn't care what they thought, that I would say or do anything to make someone laugh regardless of how ridiculous it made me was still me caring what people thought of me. Because it was all fun and games until the joke fell flat or I took it too far.  Then it was defeat, crippling self-consciousness, and anxiety.  

"Keep everybody happy at all costs" was the manifesto of my early years.  I went through school a model student, a good friend, and the girl who could make people laugh (usually). I tried to be "good" at home, too, but often that proved a bit more difficult.  #sorryparents

While I was busy not rocking the boat, I was focusing all my energy on other people.  I wanted nothing more than to make others happy; it was my whole identity.  I wanted everyone to be happy.  All the time.  And if I could make someone happy, then I was happy.  But if I couldn't?  Well...then I was devastated.  

Combined with my iron will to please others, I also happen to be extremely sensitive.  I feel things very deeply, including the emotions of others.  It definitely has its pros and cons.  Being perceptive and empathetic are part of what make me a great therapist.  On the flip side, there are also times when my emotions and deep feels have gotten the better of me, to say the least.  #sorryhubby

As I've grown up, I've come face to face with how completely unhealthy it is to base my worth as a human on whether or not the people around me are having a good day.  It's also completely impossible to ever feel like you are achieving your  purpose when your purpose is the tidal chart of someone else's moods.  

Friends, people pleasing is not a purpose.  I've discovered this truth in my own life, and I have sat with countless clients on their own quest to discover it.  Many of them began where I did, in full-on people pleasing mode, mistaking it for the end all, be all goal of their life.  But they, like me, are discovering more every day what a purpose really is:  the reason for which something is created.  We are also discovering what it is not:  something that depends on the fickle hearts of humans.

A purpose has to be constant - something that doesn't shift, bend, or move.  It must be more than human moods and mindsets. Looking for everyone's approval is a major distraction from finding out the real reasons we're here. 

Being a people pleaser is the surest way I know to burn out, stress out, and die out.  I'd rather live my life with passion and real purpose.  No more distractions.  Life's too short for those.  

"If our lives are filled with purpose, we won't be distracted looking for everyone's approval." - Bob Goff

****If your struggles as a people pleaser are taking too much joy from your life, please feel free to email me.  I would love to walk you through the process of breaking free from that trap in a few focused FaceTime, Skype, or telephone sessions.


design + development by kiki and co. creative