Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Bestie Finds: Maxin' and Relaxin'

Bestie Finds Self Care

Super pumped for this edition of Bestie Finds, my friends!  For one thing, just looking at those colorful pics makes my heart happy. And also, each of today's picks are designed to help you relax, and/or make life easier, which I'm all about.  If you follow me on Instagram, some of these beauties might look you may already be aware of my love of journals (ok, and Limoncello), and bubble baths made easier by that glorious bath caddy. it Mother's Day yet?  ;)

Glass tea mug - This double walled glass mug keeps your tea hot longer than your regular cup and saucer.  Perfect for those chilly spring mornings and evenings we're having in my neck of the woods!
"When life gives you lemons" journal - ..."Make Limoncello."  Pretty sure this is how the original slogan was meant to go.  Regardless, this Kate Spade journal can hold all your best ideas for slogans, or you know, whatever else you like to write about.  

"You make the world a better place" succulent & planter - I love everything about this.  Succulents are so fun as decor and I'm thinking this little baby might make the perfect Teacher Appreciation gift...or a gift for a Bestie who truly inspires you!

"Do more of what makes you happy" journal - I think this is great fact I even wrote a post about it a while back.  So naturally, I love a journal that imparts a bit of wisdom...and also, it's so pretty!

Swoon-worthy bathtub caddy - I can hold your soap, your book, and your wine.  What's not to love?  This caddy is sure to be a welcome addition to your next bath and is the epitome of #treatyoself.  

"Life is better with friends" wall art - It's hard to argue with this super sweet wall art featuring a flock of flamingos, especially on a site that celebrates all things friendship.  Liven up your place or your Bestie's with this bright beauty.

Stitch Fix Personal Styling Service - Last but not least, I have to share one of my fave ways to treat myself with you. I love being able to say "I'm going on a girls weekend and need some clothes for that" or "I need a dress for Easter" and based on my personal preferences, BA-BOOM, they are delivered to my doorstep!  If you're looking for an easy and fun way to update your wardrobe, look no further!

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!

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

What God Thinks of You (and why it matters)

As a therapist, I sometimes get to talk to people about their faith or spiritual beliefs.  I don't open that door until a client does, and I don't disclose my beliefs unless explicitly asked (which happens a lot less than you might think!).  But lately I have found myself sitting across from an increasing number of people who could benefit from hearing this sentence:  God loves you.  

Even as I type it, it sounds cliche and a bit trite...which is frustrating because it has been a powerful truth in my life.  Yet somehow along the way, it became a quip well-meaning people often throw at one another when they were having a bad day or a stressful season of life.  So I don't mean it that way. 

Maybe a better way to say it is:  You are unconditionally loved by the God who sees your hurt and hurts with you.  You haven't been forgotten.  You are beloved, on your best and worst days.  Your performance doesn't change His love for you.  He looks at you and sees beauty.  His heart is so tender toward you.  He has a plan for your future that is for your good.  Don't give up.  Don't despair.  He has overcome the world.  He looks at you and He is pleased with what He sees, whether or not you feel like He is.    

I obviously don't say things like this unless my client has expressly requested Christian counseling.  But I'll be a therapist, sometimes my words do fail me.  When someone shares an extremely difficult childhood with me, when they share unspeakable grief after losing a loved one, when they tell me they have contemplated hurting themselves, when they can hardly get the words out discussing a past they are ashamed of, when they are paralyzed by anxiety and nothing has helped so far...all these things leave me with less to say, less wisdom to offer than I would like.  

I'm writing this because it's important for people to know that therapists are mere humans who don't have it all together themselves, whose lives sometimes also look messy, and who don't always know the right thing to say.  Often the best gift we can give to a client is our full presence in their pain.  I am honored my clients allow me into that sacred part of their lives.  

I think most people have contemplated God...whether or not He exists, whether or not He is good, whether or not they believe in Him.  Those are all wonderful, important things to consider.  

But a part of me wonders what would happen if people spent just as much time contemplating what God actually thinks about them.  If they read and studied, and got their questions answered, and realized that what God thinks about them is, simply:  He loves them.  

Why does it matter what God thinks of us?  Why does it matter that He loves us?  Well, when you have experienced trauma, when you feel like hurting yourself, when you feel like no one gets you, or your anxiety is through the roof, I think it begins to matter.  As a therapist, I could look at a client and say, "You got this.  Keep going.  You are beautiful and amazing.  Your performance, good, or bad, doesn't define you.  This, too, shall pass."

But to me, that sounds even more trite than "God loves you." Because who am I to say that to them?  I am an imperfect human, doing the best I can to encourage them and give them hope in a difficult time. Yet God looks at them as a loving Father does and has the power to actually change their circumstances.  And whether or not He chooses to, He loves them.  I care about my clients, and wish them the absolute best.  But there's a huge difference between that and the unconditional love of God.  

So, I would posit that it does matter what God thinks of you.  It matters that He loves you.  It matters that He won't ever change His mind about you.  Not ever.  

Since I don't have as much opportunity to say it in my practice, I would like to say it here, in my own little corner of the internet. Whether things are going great for you, or whether you are hurting tremendously, whether you are celebrating a huge victory or putting the pieces back together after a crippling defeat, whether you have everything you could ever want, or you are desperately wondering if there's more to life than this...God loves you.  

Monday, March 20, 2017

Ultimate Lunch Meal Prep Roundup

Welcome to another week, my friends!  This week is going to be a super busy one for me as I'm going out of town for a much needed sister weekend on Thursday.  I'm beyond pumped about having some precious time with my sis (and my aunts, too!) but I have about a million things to do before I leave to make sure my family can function without mama for a few days.  **Shout out to my hubs and Grammy and Granddad for making it possible to get away for a bit!**

So I'm basically running around like a chicken with my head cut off this week, with the Bangles' "Manic Monday" playing in my head. It's times like these when my good intentions for healthy eating and taking care of myself kinda fly out the window.  I'm working on making it as easy as possible for myself to eat clean most of the time; I'm definitely finding it's much more doable when I've planned ahead.  

Today I'm sharing a roundup of TONS of lunch meal prep options for my busy Besties out there who share this struggle!  The idea of meal prep is cooking once for the week, and portioning out your lunch for the entire week.  It totally takes the guess-work out lunch. It also saves money by preventing you from eating out.  It also ensures you will be eating healthy for at least one meal of the day.  I like to refer to it as the trifecta of meal prep motivation.  

Without further ado, enjoy these easy and delish meal prep combos...and feel free to share any others you've been enjoying lately!


Friday, March 17, 2017

How to Manage Your Moods

Happy St. Patrick's Day, Besties!  I hope you are all donning shades of green and celebrating with your loved ones!  This girl is SUPER Irish, and SUPER proud of it, so may I just say Erin Go Bragh ("Ireland Forever" in Gaelic, in case some of my Besties aren't as hardcore about St. Patrick's Day as I)!

Today we're tackling the topic of managing our moods.  For the sake of this post, I'm going to stick with some basic principles - ways to increase our awareness of what we are experiencing and feeling.  The goal is to gain better control of our emotions, allowing us to decide what to do with them, rather than being controlled by them.  

First, it's important to be specific about exactly what you are thinking, feeling, and experiencing.  Most of the time, it's not enough to say "I'm feeling depressed" or "I am anxious about this." It's not specific enough.  That doesn't tell you how depressed or anxious you are feeling, nor does it allow you to compare how you are feeling today with yesterday or last week.  Using a tool such as a depression scale or an anxiety inventory can be very helpful.  These measures aren't meant as tools for you to self-diagnose; rather they clue you into the symptoms therapists commonly assess for.  I repeat: DIAGNOSING IS BEST LEFT TO PROFESSIONALS. However, these scales can give you an idea as to whether what you are experiencing is within a normal range or if it would be wise to see a therapist to get some additional support.  Also, doing an inventory every so often gives you an idea of how you are progressing over time. 

It is also important to test your thinking.  Taking the time to really understand why you are feeling a certain way is truly half the battle to feeling something different.  Whenever you have a strong mood (anger, sadness, guilt, anxiety, etc.), you can use a thought record to process through what made you feel that way as well as your underlying beliefs which may have contributed to that emotion.   Thought records are used by therapists all the time to help their clients gain insight into their moods, thoughts, and behaviors. You can find a printable thought record here and read more about how they can be helpful here.  

Once you have a better understanding of what you are feeling and why, you will want to take action to cope in healthier ways.  What is the problem you are trying to change?  Is it a mood, a repeated behavior pattern, a difficult relationship?  Write down a goal you would like to work toward related to what you want to change.  Then write down some simple actions you can take to make progress toward that goal.  If you get stuck, think of what advice you would give a friend who had the same goal.  Or ask your therapist or a Bestie to help you.  It is also helpful to try coping ahead by thinking of obstacles that could hinder your progress toward your goal.  Answer the question:  If ________ happens, I will cope by _______________.  

Finally, HAVE SOME FUN.  For the love.  If you want to feel something different, you have to do something different.  What makes you happy?  What makes you laugh?  What do you love to do?  Make a list and then do something on that list.  One thing I tell my clients to do is write something fun they like to do on each index card in a whole deck.  When they find themselves struggling to cope or if they are simply having a bad day, I tell them to shuffle up the deck and choose a card.  Then do whatever is on that card.  You are the author of that deck, therefore you should be perfectly willing to do whatever that card says.  Keep those cards handy and you will always be able to change your mood lickety split.  

I hope you find these suggestions helpful.  Feel free to let me know if you have any questions!  Your Self Care Bestie is here for you. Have a great weekend!!

Thursday, March 16, 2017

20 Questions That Lead to Deeper Connection

By now I think it's pretty clear how much I heart writing about ways to have deeper connection with our friends and family. An important part of self care is cultivating and maintaining healthy relationships.  If we find ourselves happily and deeply connected to the people we spend most of our time with, we will find ourselves generally happier.  We will have more peace, we will form secure attachments, and we will definitely have a lot more fun.  

But connection can be difficult.  It takes work, it requires us giving more of ourselves away, it means we have to be vulnerable. Today I'm giving you a tool that you will hopefully find helpful to connect with your loved ones on a deeper level.  These questions go way beyond "how was your day?"  or "tell me the best and worst thing that happened to you today."  There's nothing wrong with those questions, but we can learn so much more about someone by asking questions that communicate our desire to really get to know someone...and allow them to know us in return.  

You can plan a quiet dinner with your spouse, or a rowdy night with your Besties and ask these questions.  You can get to know your parents, co-workers, or anyone better simply by asking away. And spoiler alert:  people want to be known.  So choose the right setting and the right question, and this won't be as uncomfortable as you fear it will...that's a Bestie promise.  

1.  What is the best compliment you have ever received?
2.  What is the most important thing in your life?
3.  How would you describe the purpose of your life?
4.  What are you most afraid of?
5.  What is the most beautiful thing you have ever seen?
6.  What have you been spending a lot of time thinking about lately?
7.  When did you feel the most scared in your life?
8.  What is something you are struggling with right now?
9.  What advice would you give to your children, or future generations?
10.  If you could have a conversation with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be and why? 
11.  Name something you feel is expected of you that stresses you out.
12.  When was a time you felt embarrassed?
13.  Who are the people in your life you trust the most?
14.  How would you describe your proudest moment?
15.  What is your love language? 
16.  What is something you do very well?
17.  In what ways has fear of failure held you back from doing something?
18.  What is your biggest pet peeve?
19.  Who has been the biggest influence on your life?
20.  When have you exhibited resiliency in your life?

I don't know about you, but I'm thinking about all the people I now want to have these conversations with.  Who are you excited to get to know better?  Do you have any questions you would add to the list?

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Bestie Finds: Where the Heart Is

Bestie Finds: March

Besties, I'm gonna be real with you...I've been literally homebound for going on two straight days now.  We had a little visitor named Winter Storm Stella yesterday and we are just now shoveling out. Thankfully, it wasn't as bad as was predicted, but Stella was bad enough to close schools for two days.  #thanksgirl 

I actually love being at home with my boys, especially if we can be cozied up with delicious food, hot tea, and a good book.  And maybe also a glass of red.  Just sayin.  In the spirit of home-based self care, today's Bestie Finds are sweet little things that can make those precious hours at home more fun.

Gold Dot Tea Pot & Cup Combo - Tea for two?  More like tea for one.  I'm the only tea drinker in my house, so this sweet lil pot is perfect just for mama. Love the pretty gold polka dots too!

Le Creuset Enameled Dutch Oven - What's better than a home cooked meal?  A home cooked meal that you can cook in one pot.  This lil baby is IT. I like to refer to it as cooking with big girl pots, because Le Creuset is definitely an investment, but one you will use forEVER.  

Busy Week Ahead Planner & Clipboard - I've been eyeing this little baby for weeks.  It's such a fun way to plan your week and it's only $20!  All the heart eyes for this sweet thang.

Besties Photo Holder - I have written about the benefits of displaying photos of your #squad and they are many!  Why not print one of you and your Besties that makes you grin and brighten up your day every time you see it? 

Rose Gold BFF Trinket Dish - Another sweet way to decorate your abode, but this makes an even sweeter gift for one or all of your Besties.  Bonus:  it's perfect for holding jewelry or small office supplies.  

Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Caramels - Need I go on?  I'm such a sucker for caramel anything, so add a lil dark chocolate with a hint of sea salt and I'm in full on Treat Yo Self mode.  Much like my tea, I may not be willing to share these babies! ;)

"Present Over Perfect" - You might be tired of hearing about Shauna Niequist's book by now, especially if you follow me on Facebook, but I can't recommend it highly enough.  One of my fave quotes:  "You were only meant, created, commanded to be who you are, weird and wonderful, imperfect and                                           messy and lovely."  

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!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

10 Ways to Grow in Wisdom Every Day

Wisdom is something we can never have too much of.  Having wisdom helps us make better decisions, perceive people and situations correctly, and live according to our values.  Increasing intelligence is wonderful, but I'd rather hang out with a wise person than an intelligent person any day (not that the two are mutually exclusive, of course). 

Why should we seek to grow in wisdom?  Aside from the obvious, if we seek to grow wiser, we acknowledge that we have more to learn; we view ourselves with humility and recognize that we don't have it all figured out...and we probably never will.  Wisdom is something we should pursue not because we will eventually have enough, but because the pursuit of it continually reveals more of what we need...deeper understanding of ourselves, our purpose, and our world.  

Here are ten ways you can grow in wisdom a bit every day. 

1.  Do more of what you love every day.  Tuning in to your authentic self and trusting your intuition is wise.  We may not always be right or have all the right answers, but we know what we like and what we don't.  Who do you love?  Spend time with those people.  What do you love to do?  Do some of that as often as possible.  What are your favorite foods and drinks?  Eat and drink them more often.  Stop trying to be someone else and LIVE your beautiful life.  Your likes and dislikes are there for a reason...DO YOU, Besties!

2.  Choose joy.  A few years ago, I read a book with this title by Kay Warren.  It totally changed my perspective on the ups and downs of life.  Warren states that "joy is the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of my life, the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be alright, and the determined choice to praise God in every situation."  SO much of that resonated with me, and recognizing that we do have a choice in how we respond to our circumstances is a powerful truth, regardless of your spiritual beliefs.  

3.  Accept the unpredictability of life.  I wrote about this in a post on non-attachment.  Most of us wake up every day with an assumption about how our day will go.  We make our plans, fill our agendas, and go about our to-do lists.  But how many times have those plans flown out the window when our child becomes sick, a loved one unexpectedly needs us, or an exciting offer comes our way?  Life and people are dynamic; they change in the blink of an eye.  The sooner we learn to loosely hold our plans, the more peace and wisdom we will have.

4.  Stop comparing.  When you find yourself comparing your life, your body, your bank account, your personality, your kids, your abilities, your ______________ to someone else, stop.  Comparison is so, so unhealthy.  Mostly because we do not have the ability to compare ourselves accurately.  You may have heard the saying, "if everyone in the world put all of their problems in a big pile, chances are you would be perfectly willing to take your own problems back and go on your way, rather than trade problems with anyone else." We see such a small glimpse of what others are actually going through, and who they truly are.  It's not fair to us or to them to compare. 

5.  Express all the love and appreciation you can.  I'm a big believer in making our regrets few.  We grow in wisdom when we realize each moment we have with our loved ones is a gift.  Let's be mindful of telling the people we hold dear how very dear they are to us, each and every day.  If you love someone, tell them.  If someone has helped you, thank them.  Show and tell all the love you can, while you can.  This is something we will never, ever regret.

6.  Celebrate your uniqueness.  We are made unique for a reason. Everyone is different.  Everyone is a little quirky. Seriously, everyone.  Me.  You.  The Pope.  Our parents.  Your favorite movie star.  Your Spouse.  For sure all of our kids.  EVERYONE.  So why do we spend so much of our lives trying not to be?  Trying to hide our weirdness, our us-ness from others?  Recognizing what makes you different and celebrating it is absolutely wisdom.  Loving yourself is wisdom.  

7.  Understand that trials help us grow.  My husband and I were recently asked the question, "what causes maturity and growth in a person?"  He very wisely answered:  "hard times."  As much as we hate them, and experiencing trials is painful, we are wise to recognize our opportunities to grow from them.  In the midst of dark times, how have you seen yourself grow in the past?  Who are you now that you wouldn't have been had you not gone through something trying?  We obviously won't be happy about it when we experience deep loss or difficulty, but we can look for an opportunity to grow from it.

8.  Know that your feelings are not facts.  I also discussed this here.  Practice noticing when you are engaging in black and white thinking, jumping to conclusions, catastrophizing, and other cognitive distortions.  Every human being does it at some point, but the more we are aware of our thought patterns, the wiser we become.  When we are distressed with repeated, troubling thoughts, we must test them to see whether or not they are reliable.  

9.  Read.  I know life is busy, but we grow in wisdom (and intelligence, actually) by reading.  We tell our kids to read every day...turns out it's also good for adults. ;)  Make a list of topics that interest you, or books and blogs you want to read and keep it handy.  Utilize your library.  Use your downtime well.  If you find yourself with unexpected free time, put it to good use and read something rather than mindlessly perusing the internet or (cough cough) social media.  

10.  Listen.  Pay attention to what others are saying.  Your family, your friends, the people you meet in the places you go.  We grow in wisdom when we intentionally listen to people and give them our full attention.  Our relationships improve, we read people better, and we are more present with those we love.  People are constantly teaching us about themselves, but we will never learn more about them if we are the ones doing all the talking.  

Let me know if you have anything to add, and as with anything else, take what works for you and leave the rest.  A big part of wisdom again, is trusting your instincts.  Here's to increasing our wisdom today, and every day!

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!


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