Bust Out of The Winter Blues

Winter is coming, the temperatures are dropping and so is the amount of daylight we receive each day. When I was a kid, my dad would come home from work into our Upstate New York living room, stomping the snow off his boots and taking off his layers of added warmth, and would say, “I feel like a Mole; I leave when its dark and I get home when its dark.” As a child this just produced giggles- thinking of my dad as a Mole 🙂  As an adult, I realize that this is the reality of many people. 😦

There are a lot of studies showing what produces the winter blues and the SAD effect in a percentage of the population. As a psychology-research-counselor person, I really enjoy them. But for the purpose of sharing tips on how to break out of the blues- probably not necessary to get into all of them 🙂 Please be sure to read the bottom of this blog though to discover a bit about the differences between the blues and depression! It could save a life-seriously. One is like having a small cut on your leg that needs some cleaning and a band-aid. The other is like having your limb hanging off and trying to convince yourself that it’s fine. BIG DIFFERENCE.

These tips are for the Blues Only. Here are some ways to shake out of that cabin-fever feeling:

  1. Sunlight! Get out during the brightest part of the day- for AT LEAST 10 minutes with bare skin so you can absorb that amazing Vitamin D! Good mood food!
  2. Exercise. 35 minutes/day for 5 days a week is recommended but just do what you can! If you can walk for 10 minutes at lunch, do it! Walk to the mail box, park farther away at the grocery store or coffee shop, etc. Endorphins come from exercise and those are feeeeel gooooooood chemicals for your brain! More Good Mood Food!
  3. Remember that you’re not really hibernating. This is my hardest one in the winter because it is waaaaaay too easy to cozy up with some tasty snacks and Christmas movies! However, too many simple carbs and too much sugar does not necessarily do a body – or a brain – good. Bummer, I know.  :/
  4. Happy music! This has been shown to uplift your mood and light up some feel good portions of your brain! My current favorite is “Grace Got You” by MercyMe. Check it out and tell me if you can keep your toe from tapping!
  5. Hydration! It is so common to overlook this in the winter because we don’t feel as thirsty. (And cocoa tastes better than water, amIright?!) But we must remember to nourish our body to keep the energy flowing! (And hello… winter dry skin? Water can help that too!)
  6. Plan a trip! Pick a fun destination and get to planning a fun time for you and your family- or just you! Whatever 😉 The point is to have something fun to look forward to! When you finish one, plan your next adventure!
  7. Herbal it up! Get yourself some Happy Teas that have organic ingredients like St. John’s Wort, Lemon Balm, Lemon Myrtle, etc. Make sure they are  the beneficial parts of the plant in there 😉
  8. Essential Oils! Gaaahhhh, such an overused word right now and you know what? It drives me crazy! All these crappy oil companies coming out of these unknown dingy underground tunnels, with greasy long hair and dirty chipped fingernails, putrid breath and holding out a bottle of “oil” from the sewage system and people are actually reaching for it. SMH. I can’t even. Get some good oils that aren’t so dang cheap and shady so they can actually help uplift your mood! Citrus oils, Lavender, and my BFF Frank are always good choices to soothe the soul!
  9. HELP OTHERS! I love this one. Probably because I “get my kicks” from helping others. You know what’s cool though? This is truly the pay-it-forward effect because not only does the giver receive feel good chemicals for doing the kind deed, but the people that witnessed it get a chemical boost too! Good deeds = Good moods 🙂
  10. Don’t be Scrollin’! Say what?! Yeah you heard me. Only get on social media for short, purposeful moments of time. Why? Well here’s the long and short of it- you get on social media, you post something. You know your cats the cutest, so it’s going to be a hit. You get a bunch of “likes” and tons of “hearts”. Woo, feel good chemical rush! Just like Pavlov’s dogs, we go back because we want the rush (the brain treat) again! But when you posted that awesome pic of your new haircut, barely anyone commented or “liked” it. Instant downer. Instead of feel good chemicals, how about feelings of insecurity, anxiety, etc.? Oh and let’s not forget that little comparison game that people like to play on social media. JUST. DON’T. You’re comparing someone’s highlight reel against your lowest moments. Yeah, that’s an idea for the trash can. There is a direct correlation between time on social media and depression. Interesting, isn’t it? … you gotta save yourself and look up and out at the rest of the world . There’s some really cool stuff out there. 🙂

Okay, I could go on but it is almost 1am and I need to go get my butt on tv in the morning so I should probably jump in bed! Say you’ll join me and give me a dopamine rush for the show, would ya? 😉 In all seriousness, knowing that you all like the show is the entire reason why I do it. I mean, it’s hard to stay in hibernation season when you get pulled in front of the camera! LOL!

**Notes on the Winter Blues vs. Depression: You NEED to be sure you are only experiencing the blah’s of weather changes and NOT something more serious, such as Seasonal Affective Disorder or any other type of depression/mental struggle. A big indicator for the blah’s is that you may feel down and a bit lethargic as the weather changes, but it DOES NOT STOP YOU from enjoying life. On the other hand, if you are becoming uninterested in things that you previously enjoyed, are breaking off planned appointments and get-togethers with friends, etc., and are experiencing feelings of hopelessness, despair, frequent periods of crying or anger, deep sadness that won’t go away, increase or decrease of sleep, appetite, etc. than it may be more than the winter doldrums. In these cases, I highly recommend a counselor. There are very high success rates of overcoming and handling feelings of depression by seeing a counselor. If you need a counselor, I have an office in the Roanoke, VA area (you can find my info on psychologytoday.com). If you are out of the area, you can use that same site to find someone nearby that is suited to what you need. Please keep in mind that if you are experiencing feelings of wanting to hurt yourself, someone else, are feeling unable to take care of yourself and/or those you are responsible for, contact 911 right away. Do not pass go, do not collect $100.00. Make the call.

Whether it’s the blues, depression, or any other feelings that just feel overwhelming, please know that it CAN get better. There is help. Just call up a licensed counselor and get in the office for your appointment ASAP.

Make this Fall and Winter the best yet 🙂 Come along with me, the best is yet to be…

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Kettle Corn

My friend has cancer. Not just any cancer but Stage 4 breast cancer that has spread throughout her entire body. And not just any friend. She is my soul sister, my mama hen, my bff. She is the kind of friend you always feel comfortable with no matter what.

She has been fighting stage 4 cancer for almost 17 years- can you even believe it?! This woman is a fierce warrior. The doctors have recently finished trying the last strand of chemo that they can give her. They are out of options. What awful words. Unacceptable.

I know she is in pain. Not because she tells me-she has never ONCE in all our years of friendship complained to me about having to go through all of this. She amazes me. I know she is in pain because of tumor markers, doctors appointments, how much hair she has, the way she may walk/her gait, her level of energy and how much she is able to move about.

In life, most of us have a small circle of people that we are truly close to and within that circle, there are one or maybe two people that we consider our soul sisters (or misters). It is that person you meet and you know almost instantly that you both are kindred spirits. You click. You gel. You understand each other without even having to speak. You just “get it”.  This is my friend. You don’t get many of these in life, so when you find it, don’t let go for all the money in the world.

My friend does not ask for anything. She is a giver to the extreme. Her heart is so kind and her thoughtfulness in a selfish world is such a breath of cool, fresh mountain air. So when she asked me a question about getting her some kettle corn if I came across some at any Fall events, you know I was going to do whatever it took to be sure she had that treat.

We all have this desire to want to fix or make things better for those we love. I can’t fix this. I can’t make it better. But girl, you want kettle corn? I’ll move mountains!

Today we went to an event where there was kettle corn.

We decide to get it on the way out so we don’t smoosh it while apple picking. As we are heading out of the orchard, we see that the vendors are beginning to shut down. My hubby knows this vendor though so he says, don’t worry, he pops extra.

We get over there and my husband says hello and asks him if he has any kettle corn. The kind elderly man standing by his copper kettle says that he sold completely out. Internally, my heart dropped. This one thing. This one simple thing. And I want to do it so badly for her. To say, “here, I helped!” (in some tiny way). But in that way I hope that maybe, just maybe, that it will be a balm to her tired and beautiful soul.

Just as my heart is moving down the elevator from my chest to my gut, a girl shows up and says “Here you can have my bag; I haven’t even opened it.” I could have cried. I asked her a couple times if she was sure and she confirmed that she was certain. She didn’t know the story. She didn’t know why we wanted kettle corn. She simply came by and gave us hers.

I am so excited about this bag. I placed it safely in the front seat of my blue mom van. I gave the kids a different snack so they wouldn’t be eyeballing “The Precious”. And home we went, where that bag now sits on my kitchen table until it goes over to my friend’s house tomorrow where I will excitedly present the bag of kettle corn and tell her that I know without a doubt that God saved this bag just for her.

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The Signs Are Unclear (to say the least)

I am pretty sure I talked in my sleep last night- and by talked, I mean urgent yelling. I had a dream that I was on my way to the airport. I kept trying to tell Google the address so I could get the directions, as I knew I was drawing closer to my exit but I wasn’t sure which one it was. Every time Google would repeat back to me what I said, “OK, find the airport…” it would be full of fuzzy background noise like a radio station that isn’t tuned and it would give me the address to someplace with a similar name but in the wrong state.

Since GPS was letting me down, I knew I had to figure this one out on my own. I was almost certain that last time I drove to this airport, there was a sign off the interstate indicating which exit to get off for the airport. Well surprise, it wasn’t there anymore. All the signs seemed to be in the wrong places.

I ended up having to turn around in some busy parking lot and backtrack when I figured out that the signs were nowhere to be found. I go up this hill and there it is- finally I find the airport. It is a hot mess. People everywhere, all with somewhere to be. The airlines are in alphabetical order- easy enough, right? Yes, if they were in a straight line. But instead they sort of zig-zagged throughout the parking lot.

I don’t even know which plane I’m on or where I’m going at first but as I’m running through the zig-zagged airline portals, it comes back to me that I am looking for United Airlines and I am heading to Hawaii- no wait, San Francisco. Yes, that’s where I am going. San Francisco. (Though I have no idea why I am going there and I am pretty sure I would prefer Hawaii…) I do know, however, that I have 30 minutes before my flight boards. For some reason my parents are suddenly at my vehicle (well hello there, how did you sneak up on me again? 🙂 )  when I arrive to the airport and as I take off into a run to find the airline, my parents are supposed to be getting things settled with the car and bringing me my luggage.

So there I am at United’s counter, and the lady is trying to sell me this one-way ticket that is way over my price range. I’m racking my brain thinking, didn’t I already buy one- a round-trip one?! Finally she finds my ticket and I am paying to stow my bag. As I am leaving the Kiosk, my father comes up with a smaller version of my purple Liz Claiborne suitcase that could easily be stored on the plane. Thinking that he must have put it all in an easier-to-manage bag for me, I feel filled with good feelings of the cozy sort that someone is taking care of me, and I run back to the counter and tell the lady that I won’t be needing to stow my bag after all. She says no problem and begins typing on her computer to get things switched. I unzip the bag and find all my husband’s dirty clothes and shoes in my bag. Dang it, dad. Didn’t you even look?? It seemed like such an easy task- just bring me my suitcase. Sending my dad back again to the vehicle with those instructions, I head toward my gate.

Remembering I still need my bag as I arrive to the gate and the airline attendant begins boarding call, I run to the escalator and look down to see if my dad is there with my luggage. I  know I can’t go down there or I will have to re-go through TSA and there is no time. I see my dad and I yell to him. He is waving a turquoise cooking pan that looks like a Rachel Ray. Though a nice cooking utensil, it is NOT my suitcase! At this point, the frustration builds to explosive emotions and I begin yelling that the pan is NOT my suitcase and I have to board NOW!

I am pretty sure I yelled this into the real world because my kids are suddenly waking me up in real life and asking me if it is time to get up. My voice fells a little hoarse. I feel exhausted. Tired. My body feels like lead. And I’m irritated.

Getting up, my focus turns to the kids and getting them ready for school, though in the back of my mind, I am feeling pretty dazed and feel like I need to go back to sleep since that entire dream felt like pure stress, extreme pressure and nonstop running.

The signs are all so unclear. The road signs are not in the right places. The Kiosks are in some semblance of order but not really. Everyone around me is doing something but seemingly having trouble getting it right. I am getting through by the skin of my teeth but I don’t have what I need.

In my rational, awake mind, I know I can’t blame anyone for me not having my suitcase or being late to the airport or even the airport’s crazy set-up. It is my life to live and if my father brings me my husband’s dirty work clothing and then a cooking pot as luggage and the airport is set up in cartoon proportions, I should have planned for that… right? I should have just brought my bag with me instead of trying to save time, right? I should have planned for missing signs and crazy airports… right? But… can you ever really plan for some of these things?

But on the other hand of that same statement is the insinuation that you can only trust yourself to get it right and that somehow there is a way to get things “perfect.” And we all know that’s a farce because none of us get it right all the time. And if we think we do, then we are wrong a whole lot more than we realize. Thinking only we can get it right is like having mud all over our face and thinking that we look amazing. The only person we are fooling is ourselves.

What a dream. Missing signs. Stress. Oddness. Unplanned craziness. People who let you down. Letting yourself down. Maybe I made the flight or maybe I didn’t. I don’t think the flight was ever the point. The process was.

Life is unpredictable. Sometimes stressful. Definitely crazy. Sometimes the path we are on makes complete sense and we are filled with such clarity. And sometimes we can’t find any signs, we can’t find the road, everything is zig-zagged, out of place and we don’t feel like we have what we need for the journey ahead of us.

Sometimes the path will be smooth and it will feel like we are gliding- maybe even gracefully waltzing, through life.

Other times we will be at an airport with a pan and no plan. I think it’s fairly easy to see which path I am on right now. 🙂

I suppose I could always find the courage to put that pan on my head (without being mad at those around me for “getting it wrong”) and waltz my way onto the plane, where I will fly into the unknown with grace and humor. It would be way more fun than grumbling and being stressed. And it looks like I’m going for a ride either way…

🙂

Path splits two directions, fork in the road

 

I don’t want to be a product of the “Me” generation

This thought has been nipping at my heels for awhile now. There are so many things that we think are “needs” when NEWS FLASH, they aren’t. Almost all of us in America live better than the Pharaoh’s did in ancient Egypt… let that sink in.

We think having to pass on a Starbucks means we’re paupers. Most of us have debt up the wazoo because we “needed” something. And of course I understand that there are true emergencies that can also put us in debt and in those instances, I am grateful that we can “charge it”.

I think of my Great Grandmother. She was born in 1911. She lived through the Great Depression. She worked day and night, saving every penny she could and never complained when she was exhausted with not much to show for it- that was just life. She always told me, “have a penny, save a penny.” But do I ever save a penny? Not really. I justify everything, thinking, well of course I “need” this… but do I?

My Great Grandmother worked so hard to provide for her family. She saved enough money to pay for multiple weddings and funerals in cash, as well as owned her home. She never drove, never had a license. She walked everywhere. She lived in a small little pink home with plastic all over the furniture and photographs. She preserved everything to make it last. She had a tiny stove. In fact, her whole house looked like a Barbie doll playhouse compared to what we live in today. She didn’t live beyond her means. In fact, she lived under them so that she could save for emergencies. She called it her “rainy day fund”. She didn’t have a closet overflowing with clothes or shoes and she didn’t waste anything. She, her husband and children did not go out to the movies or bowling for fun; they played cards at their small kitchen table and her kids read books from the library. My Great Grandmother even made her own card holders out of plastic food lids and a fastener in the center. She was the ultimate DIYer!

My husband’s Grandfather and Grandmother also lived in a humble home. Grandfather went to work and labored every day of the work week. Grandmother stayed home and took care of family and the house. There were no HGTV remodels. In fact, she didn’t even drive. It wasn’t because she was disempowered; it was because they were living within their means! They had one car and Grandfather took it to work. On the weekends, he would take his wife out to go peruse the town but they never got spend-happy. Grandfather and Grandmother saved all their lives and when retirement came, they decided to use ALL of their savings to build a big family home to grow old in with their only daughter and her family.

We live in that very home today. What a legacy to leave! There is so much to learn from the hardworking generations of the past. They weren’t frivolous. They didn’t have shoes to match every style and outfit and they didn’t order pizzas and buy subscriptions to Amazon Prime (guilty!) or Netflix.

I’m not saying any of this is wrong or right. What I am saying is that for me and my family, I want to go back to the basics. And it is going to be so stinking hard! I LOVE Starbucks! And Italian Restaurants! And Halo Cookie Dough ice cream! And movies! And going out on the town! And chocolate truffles! And Torrid!! And cute shoes! And ALL THE CLOTHES!  And books!!! Man do I love books! The list goes on and on because I LOVE BEING COMFORTABLE!! I love yum and fun!  I am always drawn toward glitz and glam and I DREAM of an HGTV home (the “after” not the “before” 🙂 ).

I think of organizations like World Help, Compassion International and the D. Gary Young Foundation, all with countless ways we can help those who TRULY “have not” . I am assured by trustworthy friends that have been onsite at all of these organizations and mission fields, that these are legitimate and 100% of all donations go straight to the people in need. If we don’t feed the starving and get people out of sex slavery, who will?

How often do we think beyond ourselves? And for how long? It’s sad, isn’t it? Most of the world still doesn’t have CLEAN DRINKING WATER (that’s right- they have muddy holes filled with animal poo and disease and they GET THEIR WATER from there because there are no other options. They try to “boil” it first but there are not many resources for them to have that “luxury”).

Yet here in America, people on government assistance have access to all the food, clean water, baby supplies, healthcare, help with electric bills and yes, even cell phones. We could split hairs and talk about what we think is working and what isn’t, but the point is, there is help from our country!

Did you know that most countries do not have those resources available for its people? Babies starve to death and die of preventable diseases while we scroll Facebook. That’s hard to hear, isn’t it? I sponsor a little boy who is 7 years old in Haiti named Dawens. He sent me a letter the other day talking about his home. It is made of blocks and has a piece of metal over the top. He is one of the blessed ones who gets food and education to get himself out of poverty because he has a sponsor in America helping him. He has hope and no price could ever be put on that.

We have all changed the channel when the “bleeding heart” commercials come on, asking people to sponsor a child and they show a hungry face with a bloated belly. We tell ourselves it’s a fraud or that we just don’t have the money (while sitting on furniture in a house with a roof and a remote in our hands). We tell ourselves whatever it takes to avoid feeling uncomfortable.

I am challenging myself as much as I am challenging you. What are your true needs? And what could we put aside to help others? Don’t fool yourself into thinking that life is all about you and your family and your comfort and your fun times. It’s not.

Don’t live inside the box of delusion or denial.

There is a world out there that needs us and if we won’t help, who will?

I don’t want to be a product of the “Me” generation. I want to be a product of selflessness. I want to forfeit my comforts to help others. I want to stop convincing myself that my needs are greater than your needs. I want to discontinue the story I tell myself that I don’t have enough money to ________ (fill in the blank) and that someone else will have to help those in need because I have too much _____________ (fill in the blank) to take care of. I don’t think I could ever be Mother Teresa. But I could say “no” to a few more luxuries to save the life of one more child in need.

You will leave this world one day. And you will find out that these few years on earth were supposed to be for much more than “building your Kingdom.” What short-sighted thinking we all fall for. “Just live for today”…. “Get yours”… “It’s all about me”… “I deserve”….

Yeah, whatever. Look beyond yourself. You may find that you feel a whole lot better when you’re not stuck on yourself. I know I do. We will never do this “perfectly”. But we can make progress everyday toward helping others in whatever way we can and making someone’s day a little brighter, simply by putting ourselves aside and thinking of others.

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Cancer… I Can’t Stop Thinking About It

All these people with cancer- friends, family… it’s breaking my heart on a most personal level and I know it is breaking yours too. We all know someone… I don’t know if it is 100% avoidable with all the radiation floating throughout our world and the hidden ingredients in our food and products. Labeling lies, false advertising, even the healthiest shoppers can unknowingly fall into some junk because of it.  “Organic” used to mean something important. Unfortunately, that word means less and less to me everyday. Companies interested in making money, not making a pure, healthy product, saw that they could charge more for the label and if you’ll follow this through to DC, you will find lobbyists and changes in what “organic” now means.

So many things in our food and in our products are linked to cancer and it’s still being sold and purchased liked candy in our stores (speaking of candy… huge linkage). Why? 1. We don’t know what we don’t know.

2. Affordability; yeah, we may know that the $20 bottle of shampoo is the best for us and will keep us the healthiest, but sometimes that price just isn’t feasible. But I promise you, we don’t “look smart” like one cheap shampoo company boasts, when we settle. No one looks smart when they settle for less than what’s best for them and their family. And lastly is:

3. We know and we JUST. DON’T. CARE. This one is the hardest for me to see, personally. We bury our heads in the sand because it is temporarily easier but the long term effects of that decision can be catastrophic. It’s the last one that breaks my heart the most.

If we don’t know, we can learn; if we don’t have the income, we can still find ways to live as healthily and affordably as possible. But if we don’t care? If we choose to ignore it because it is easier in the moment…. (or tastes better)….well, there is nothing that can be done for that person, except to keep loving them and hope for the best.

I get it. The junk in food makes the food taste way better. It does. That’s why companies use it- to sell more cheaply and get more sales. I get it. There is no tasty, healthy replacement for some of the foods we have grown to love because they don’t come from any natural source. These companies aren’t playing fair. 

It’s a lot of work to figure out what is and isn’t good for you, all the way down to your toothpaste and toenail polish. I get it. I do. “Ain’t nobody got time for that!”

And then another question comes to mind, “How do we know who is lying to us and who isn’t?” I totally see where the confusion lies. Advertisements and amazingly cute packaging consume us from all corners and it’s hard to believe that the list of ingredients doesn’t have to list the actual ingredients, right? I know. From someone who truly wants to believe the best in everyone, it is hard to hear about what is really happening because WHO WOULD DO THAT TO SOMEONE?! How do they sleep at night? Girlfriend, I have no idea. But I do know that there are thousands of chemicals in our food and toiletries that do not have to be listed on the “Ingredients” list in America.

This past week was an extremely hard week for me. And during this week, I fell off my farm-fresh, sunshiney. non-GMO wagon. And it tasted pretty good. I mean, I had one of those PB Squared Snickers… and some of those sugar-laden organic treats and… you know what? They all tasted pretty DANG amazing. But you know what else? I am paying for it with my health at this very moment. 

It started as a headache yesterday that just would not go away, no matter what I tried. Then overnight, it turned into a migraine that woke me out of my sleep. Then throughout the day, it hurt so bad I had to stay hidden in the dark with my eyes closed, etc. NOTHING would knock it out. And I still have it but it’s back to a just a bad headache again (thankfully). And you know what? Suddenly those unhealthy things that I chose taste like dust in comparison of how I have been feeling for almost 48 hours. My mood was way worse this week too. Tie together the up’s and down’s of sugar crashes and harmful chemicals that my body isn’t used to anymore, and it made for one crappy mood on top of an already difficult week.

The more detoxed you become from toxins, the quicker your body responds when they re-enter your system. Because it is foreign to our bodies and they actually don’t know how to process it. Because it’s not something natural that our body was created to recognize. Most of us don’t even realize how crappy we actually feel because we have accepted it as our normal. But what if it isn’t?

I’m just a normal person, guys. (In case you thought anything different! LOL!) I LOVE the taste of Reese’s (now switched for Justin’s brand) and I had to do A LOT of research to figure out why on God’s green earth  I would pay that much FOR A BOTTLE OF SHAMPOO!! All I am is somebody who- because I was getting sick from everyday products- took my head out of the sand and figured out what was happening. And now that I know, it would be nothing short of wrong to not tell you too. …Even though I keep kind of wondering if some major company is going to come by and pop my tires! LOL! (Which, granted, would seem far-fetched if this little fish in a big pond hadn’t already received a 6-page letter from a huge company trying to dish me an [ineffective] rebuttal).

Ok. Well. I have already written a ton today and I know most of us don’t enjoy reading huge blogs and just skim for the “good stuff”. 🙂 I will share in my next post and also in  my class this Saturday the most affordable and doable ways to make better choices in the land of things so tasty, they kill. So next time you eat something and think, “This is to die for”, ask yourself… is it really?

DUN DUN DUNNNNNN……. (but seriously)

 

Patiently Waiting…

Are you good at waiting? … I will admit… I’m a work in progress. 🙂 On a good day, I’m a trooper. 2 hour line for a rollercoaster? No problem, I’m here all day. 1 hour delay in Pennsylvania? (it’s always Pennsylvania…) Still, not a problem when I’ve got my trusty, rusty good mood cap on.

But change to the bigger stuff… yes, yes, I know, you’ve read or heard of the book “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff (and it’s all small stuff).” It’s a fantastic book- I’ve read it too. Actually, I listened to it on CD (before Audible, people!) because I wasn’t patient enough to sit down and read it! Just tell me what I need to know and I’ll be on my way, buddy… 

Under what I consider the perfect circumstances, meaning people are waiting the way I think they should wait, no one is rude, everyone is fun to talk to, the weather is beautiful, I’m not tired, hungry, thirsty, in a hurry or in pain… when I have everything I need to wait comfortably, I’m a trooper. (That’s probably what I should have said in the first paragraph… 🙂 )

But give me someone running their mouth, CUTTING THE LINE, or taking what I think should be mine and Houston, we have a problem. Especially the latter. AmIRight?! 

So how do we remain (or go back to) patience in a world that is so high paced and instantaneous? I mean, my kids think that boxed mac & cheese takes “too long” to cook and will be like, “Ah mom, don’t you have something you can microwave for us?”  (They are 4 and 6!) Seriously?…

Now that I’ve admitted to being a work-in-progress, I will tell you how I work on making progress:

  1. Let it go. Yes, you know that book that irritates me because it is so RIGHT? …yeah, he’s on to something. Don’t’ sweat the small stuff. And it’s all small stuff. So let it go. If you feel inspired, sing the song from Frozen while you release the stress 🙂
  2. Relax. We don’t take enough time to do that, do we? Especially not true relaxation. Sometimes we binge-watch Netflix and think we are relaxing but if we end the experience going to bed and feeling stressed, we didn’t relax.
  3. Shut it off. Huh? Yup, this is mandatory from time to time. You have to give yourself a day to be Amish (that’s what I call it anyway 🙂 ). Turn off your phone, your Apple watch, your fitbit, the TV, laptop, tablet, radio, etc. All of it. The only things you can keep on is your electricity/heat/AC. 🙂 The serenity that will come having a day of social media silence, of being disconnected, will actually help you RECONNECT- to yourself, your family and to what really matters. (And I don’t know how to break it to you, but the new heels your acquaintance wore out on her date night out, WHEN YOU KNOW she just told you yesterday that she sprained her ankle and now she’s in 3 inch stiletto heels!! really doesn’t… matter. Nope. It doesn’t.
  4. Which brings me to my next point: Avoid the drama. I get it. It is easy to get sucked into the vortex of ranting and raving to your girlfriend about that girl and her “sprained ankle”. But what’s the point? Something I always ask myself is, at what cost? What cost am I paying to do this (whatever it is!)? Am I shelling out precious commodities like peace of mind and trading it in for frustration? If so, it’s not worth the purchase.
  5. Decide what matters. Not everything in  your life gets to be a big deal, an urgency or an emergency. Sorry. In fact, if you constantly live in that state, it can cause physical health issues as well as mental health issues. You have to pick a few top values (I suggest 3) and live by those. Then weigh your decisions (including how you are going to respond to what happens) based on those values. I think you will find that it is in the best interest of your core values to “Keep Calm and Carry On”. 🙂waiting

 

From a Counselor’s Desk: The Secret to Motivating Yourself

This is how my husband won my heart. He traveled from Virginia (where we met) to Massachusetts where I was running a camp for the summer to see me – a 15+ hour drive. This was in 2008 when the economy was doing a plummet. He paid huge prices at the gas pump, tolls, housing, etc. And since the camp was in the middle of nowhere, he ended up staying at a campground- yes, camping so he could stay near where I was because there were no hotels!!! He had creative dates planned and though it was July and 100 degrees, that goof (<3)  wore the sweatshirt with the camp logo on it that I bought him all the way home But he got what he wanted – me! We were married 6 weeks later and will soon be celebrating year 10 of marriage.
Moral of the story? If you want it, you will do what it takes.

What is something in your life that feels impossible but you really, really desire?blog pic

I am practically positive that if I asked my husband right now what gave him the motivation to drive all the way to see me, when I left Virginia as his friend, he would tell me that he wanted that kiss LOL. But how was that motivation strong enough? As a counselor who loves CBT and Motivational Therapy, I am going to offer a few quick ways to motivate yourself to pursue your dreams.

  1. Believe you can. It ALL starts in the mind, my friend. It is said that motivation is like a shower, you need to do it daily. It is also an “inside job”- no one can do it for you.
  2. Envision it. This does not have to be some weird type of yoga-meets-meditation kind of thing lol. It can literally be you, on the elliptical or folding laundry, picturing in detail what it would be like to have the thing you desire. Use your imagination! Engage all 5 senses when you’re in there! How would it feel when you have it? What would you be wearing the day you receive this thing? Who would be with you when it happened? How do you see it coming together? Where are you when it happens? What does it look like there? What are you smelling? What are your emotions when this happens? What would you say to people? What would they say to you? How would your significant other, children, friends, family, pets, career, home life, etc. be affected by this change? What would your closest friends say about this change? How would life be different from here on out? …you get the picture… spread out this dream on the canvas of your mind. Paint it, photograph it, write it, sing it- whatever works for you!
  3. Vision Boards. In today’s day and age, this could simply be a Pinterest board that puts pictures to your dreams. For example, I could make a Pinterest board called, “Jo’s Trip to Hawaii” and then post in there pictures of the ocean, waterfalls, the landscapes, hula dancing, hiking trails, people sitting on the beach drinking a cold lemonade, etc. Then whenever you need some extra inspiration to keep earning the money to get there, open up that board and envision yourself on the beaches of Hawaii!
  4. DECIDE. Yup. It’s that simple. Make the decision that you are going to go after it. No matter what. Then, don’t provide yourself any other options. When there is a tough day, don’t start thinking about and romanticizing the idea of quitting. NO. You made that decision for a reason, so those types of thoughts are NOT ALLOWED. Change the channel of your mind and get to envisioning your dream and opening up that Pinterest board!
  5. Write. Yes. Write your dream down. Then write your goals. When you are finished with that, write the steps you plan to take in order to reach this goal. Because a dream without action is just a wish. And we are not wishing- we are pursuing.
  6. Try, try again. It is very rare to succeed the first time you try something. In fact, it is so unheard of that people listen to these Unicorn Life Stories in awe. So maybe we’re not a unicorn. So what? Why not be like Thomas Edison who has over 1,000 patents that belong to him and had at least that many attempts to create the light bulb? This was no easy feat. He didn’t wake up one morning, walk out the door to the lab and go home that evening with his light bulb. Some things things don’t come easy. And because of that we can more fully appreciate them- because we know all our hard work and sacrifice involved! Our founding fathers of America had to leave their family for YEARS AT A TIME, missing out on seeing their children grow and snuggling their wives at night for their dream of freedom. Imagine if they stopped. Imagine if they were like, ah man, I thought when I got here I would be a unicorn but since I’m not… I’m staying home.
  7. JUST DO IT. 🙂 (I probably have to write that this is a Nike slogan, since I’m sure they patented those 3 words. 🙂 ) If you would like a free pdf showing you an easy and effective way to use aromatherapy for goal setting and motivation, simply send quick text to (540) 765-7881 that says “goals pdf” ❤ Bobbie-jo

Is Summer Threatening Your Sanity? 5 Tips for a Serene Summer- Without Stressing Your Wallet!

We are officially into week 3 of summer vacation at the Hurt Household and my LEAST FAVORITE thing to hear my very blessed children say is, “I’m bored.” Did you know that if you make over $20,000 a year, you are in the top 10 income earners IN THE WORLD? And if you make over $30,000 a year, YOU ARE A TOP 5% INCOME EARNER IN THE WORLD?! So when it comes to things to do, hearing “I’m bored” gives this mommy one of those famous head spin, eye popping, mom moments. Because the fact is, there is PLENTY to do but sometimes our creativity falls in a rut. Let’s see if I can help you out 🙂  I have compiled my top 5 favorite idea to keep the kiddos busy and having fun, while YOU are still able to get stuff done!

  1. Let your kids help with the chores. I mean hey, they actually think we’re having fun doing them, so why not use this as a way to teach them good work ethics and responsibility? The chores they participate in with you is going to be something decided based on your individual child’s ability. For instance, my 4 year old likes to water the plants and feed the pets. And he likes to get the water himself. (Yes, typically that means I am mopping water off the floor 🙂 But when I weigh out what this is teaching him vs. my extra work, I view it as invaluable. My 4 year old likes to fold blankets (I think because there aren’t as many of those 🙂 ) and my 6 year old likes to fold all the washcloths and towels while I fold the other laundry. Sometimes we put on music (since they still think my music choices are cool)  and I also give the kids my ears to let them chatter away while we fold 🙂  (And if you’re wondering if those folded towels and blankets look good? Nope! But that’s why we have linen closets- put them in and shut the door!) 🙂
  2. Create incentives. Perhaps when they finish helping you fold the laundry then you all get to go swimming or run through the hose- whatever they love to do with you!
  3. Go to the library. (What is this lady talking about? It’s not 1992 anymore.) Yup, I totally get that. However, this resource is actually a GEM. Libraries aren’t just books anymore like when I was a kid (and it was still my favorite place to go!). Now they have places for kids to play with new and different toys, computer learning games that are somehow exotic to your child since it is different from what they have at home, new movies that they can rent AND books. It’s a kid paradise! Some of them even have playgrounds outside and coffee/snack shops inside. Man, we mommies are living the life! 🙂
  4. Take something ordinary and make it funHow?? Ok, so I know if you are following my blog, you are either already super creative or you would like to add more creativity into your life. How do I know this? Because I’m the DIY Diva- we make stuff- really cool and creative stuff. And I also know that you are smart. How do I know that? Because you took a minute to actually look into what today’s foods and products are doing to our bodies, our DNA (future generations), our families and our environment. So yeah, you are smart and creative. Pat yourself on  the back 🙂 As an example of taking something ordinary and making it fun, one of the things my boys love is when we go for a walk and we look for “fossils” and other cool finds (animal tracks, weird bugs, broken trees, different leaves, cool flowers, etc.). Tailor it to what your kids like! When I was a kid, I would watch the TV show Wishbone (anyone else???) and my sister and I would go outside with a notebook and a pen, pretending to solve mysteries- like the case of the missing cat (and we didn’t have a cat LOL). When you engage your imagination with the kids, anything is fun. The other day in the pool, the kids were having one of their “mama duck” days where they trail me around. So I made up a game. I was “Queen Stinky” and if they came over to my side they would become stinky! LOL! So my oldest went to the other side and was “Prince Smell Good” and I wasn’t allowed to bring my stinky self over there. My youngest decided to join the stinkies and was “Stinky Jr.” Ahhh serenity… I got to sit on float and relax a bit while my youngest was trying to sneak into the Clean Castle and every once in awhile I would pretend to try and sneak in too. The kids had a blast. I wore a smaller round Nemo float as my “crown” and grabbed a fun noodle as my “scepter” 🙂
  5. I know you have heard this before but our kids don’t want our presents as much as they want our PRESENCE. So how do we do that when us moms are all so busy? Whether we work solely from the home or from home and office, moms are swamped. So here’s how we do it: We create precious space. For instance, my kids knew that mommy was going to be in that pool, playing with them, but after the few hours in the pool, mommy was going to read a chapter of her book in the living room while they played a game on their own. I established this beforehand so it wasn’t a surprise when we came inside and they were totally good with it because they just had mommy all to themselves for the past 2 hours. Sometimes I will tell them that mommy has to do work until ______ time. But after that, we will ______. And then I write the time down so they can check it whenever they forget. 🙂 Of course they can come to me at any point because I work where they play, but they know to let mommy do her thing because after that they are going to do something super cool and awesome with mommy 🙂 PS. This won’t work with ages 0-3. At those ages, we are pretty much their person and they need us 24/7. To create a breather during those ages, get a coffee (through the drive through!) on your way home and go the long way when they are napping or relaxing in the car 🙂 And when they fall asleep on your lap when lounging on the recliner, try to leave something you enjoy nearby that you can do with one hand (I found the Kindle to be invaluable at the point, as turning pages was near impossible! Of course, it IS inevitable that the moment your child falls asleep, you will have to pee. Every time. 🙂 ) Also, forget about the laundry at those ages. Wash. Dry. Divide it up in baskets by person, unfolded, and call it a day. 😉  Even a mommy can only do so much and as the country song says, “You gotta know when to hold ’em [and] know when to fold ’em.” 🙂

    beach beautiful bridge carribean
    Photo by Nextvoyage on Pexels.com

The Early Bird Gets The Worm…

Or in this case the better deal! I slashed ticket prices for our Beauty DIY class on May 19th, 2pm-4pm for a few weeks but the early bird tickets end TONIGHT!! After that the tickets will go back to regular price, so please save yourself 10 bucks and get your ticket NOW! There are only a few left as I limited the class size due to the interactive fun and so that I can give you personalized attention without being pulled in so many different directions 🙂 Looking forward to seeing you, DYIng, and making our faces shine like the stars we are, using items that are natural and safe for our bodies!! We don’t need to compromise our health for Beauty 💜

Link Below 🙂 You’re not going to want to miss this! 😉

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/natural-beauty-diy-tickets-45633526105?aff=es2

 

What You Need to Know About The Natural World

 

My family jokingly calls me “Bill Nye the Science Guy” for good reason- I can appreciate some good research and more importantly, scientific evidence that leads to RESULTS. I love results! I love working in my “lab” and making all sorts of natural goodness and therefore I go by Bill, Bill Nye. 😉

Today as I am doing some CEU’s (continuing education units) for my state licenses, I am doing one called, “Herbal Medication: An Evidence-Based Review.” (Don’t shut me off yet- this is important- I promise!). I want to knock out these units, but it was more important for me to stop and talk to you guys for a minute. So do me a favor and just read it, ok? 🙂

The article discusses some extremely important things you need to know if you live, or want to live, a natural, “crunchy”, “granola”-ish lifestyle. It talks about what makes one natural health product different from another.  (Keep reading!) Here is why this is important: If you don’t know the quality of your product, you have no real way of knowing what you are taking into your body and/or how it may effect you based on what is or isn’t in the product!

So what’s your point, Bobbie-jo? Well my point is, if you are living naturally to avoid toxicity, you can’t just pick up something from a health store shop and think it is good for you just because it is there. It CAN hurt you.

Here is what the article says:
“The concentration of active ingredients in HMs [Herbal Medications], however, is affected by numerous factors, including [9,24,25,26]:

The correct identification of the botanical source
The presence of contaminants or substitution of the intended source for other plants of lower cost with potential toxicologic consequences
Growing conditions, including temperature, geography and time of harvest, and possible contamination with micro-organisms, heavy metals, pesticides, or prescription drugs
Collection of the appropriate plant part (e.g., leaves versus root)
Preparation of specimens (e.g., drying, grinding)
Laboratory processing (e.g., solvent used for extraction of active ingredients)
Storage
Formulation of the final product (e.g., liquid versus solid pill)
These processes vary considerably among manufacturers and influence product quality and concentration of active ingredients in the final product.”

Do you see how serious this is?? Especially if Joe Smohe from Idaho is making your products in his mom’s basement – and he could be!!!

Allow me to summarize in bold font: IF YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT YOU’RE USING AND FROM WHOM YOU ARE USING IT, YOU ARE PLAYING WITH FIRE.

To quote again from the article, “Toxicity may also occur as the result of adulteration in the composition of HMs. This may occur by contamination with toxic plants or molds due to improper selection or storage. Toxicity may also occur as the result of adulteration in the composition of HMs [Herbal Medications]. This may occur by contamination with toxic plants or molds due to improper selection or storage. Adulterations of the intended product may occur either accidentally or deliberately when unscrupulous suppliers replace the intended plant for a cheaper one.” (Emphasis added by me).

To summarize: Manufacturers are coming out of the wood work right now to capitalize on this natural living “trend” (and for many it is a trend). Such manufacturers are interested in making money, not making you healthy. They are treating your life like pocket change.  It is proven that many suppliers are doing this, so what I say, I say with love. You better hope to God that your product was put together by scientists and doctors in a legitimate lab; scientists and doctors with medical degrees, pharmaceutical and physiological training and integrity, who keep all their practices and procedures out in the open for the public to be aware of. You better hope your company tests and retests their product and then sends it to multiple 3rd party testers to verify the purity of their product. Don’t take their word for it on a FB ad or fancy wording on the back of the bottle- go to the source.

Oh Bobbie-jo, isn’t that extreme? … Well, I don’t know; how much do you like your life?

If you think the FDA is doing this checking for you in the natural field, you’re wrong. If you think most of these companies out there are doing it for you, you’re wrong. When shady suppliers pop up, all sorts of toxicity has been found – lots of heavy metals, mold, synthetic products AND SYNTHETIC DRUGS have been found and proven (by real studies- not snoops.com hahahah).

What I say, I truly say with love and care for everyone. I want to help people live their best lives possible, to empower people and to speak the truth with love into people’s lives.

I have researched many different herbal/wellness/natural companies. There is only one I trust. I trust them so much that I modified my career for the time being so that I can help you all. I have made my business natural living so that I can show you a way to avoid, to the best of our ability, the pitfalls of this “microwave it and make it fast and cheap!” society we live in. And do I get paid to help? Absolutely. I have to!  Just like in the counseling office, or teachers in the classroom, or police officers out protecting people. We have to eat to live and our families need a roof over their heads. Just like you get paid to do your job. There is no shame in providing for your family through a service or product you wholeheartedly believe in. Please don’t run blindly into the natural world. A lot of companies are dimming their lights so that you can’t immediately see what they are doing.

 “These examples illustrate the need for an increased public and professional awareness, the implementation of appropriate quality control and exhaustive testing of supplies, adherence by the manufacturers to good manufacturing practices, and selection of products manufactured by reputable companies.” (Bold emphasis was added by me- the rest is from the article 🙂 )

 

Not sharing the truth when I can- to me would be like seeing someone getting hurt and not rushing over to help. Just wrong.

Below are the hundreds of resources used by the article I referenced 😉

 

RESOURCES
MedWatch: The FDA Safety Information and Adverse Event Reporting Program
http://www.fda.gov/Safety/MedWatch
1-888-INFO-FDA
MedEffect Canada: Adverse Reaction and Medical Device Problem Reporting
http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/dhp-mps/medeff/report-declaration/index-eng.php
1-866-234-2345
Natural Medicines Watch: Adverse Event Reporting Form
https://naturaldatabase.therapeuticresearch.com/nd/adverseevent.aspx
1-209-472-2244
Complete for Credit

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Never Wasted

I wish I had gotten a picture, but I was so captivated by the magnitude of the intricacies of life and the Creator of it all that I just watched.

This tiny little bird with blue jean colored feathers, alert black eyes and a crisp little fo-hawk landed about 3 feet away from me. At first it grabbed my attention because we don’t tend to have brave little visitors near our house due to our dog and cat, so a little birdy being so close was actually a rare sight to behold.

Then I noticed where the bird hand landed – on a pile of Hattie’s dog hair that I had groomed and brushed away in the busy fashion that is my life.

The bird landed, looked around- for safety precautions I imagine, and then began pecking at the soft hair tufts. As soon as he had what he could carry in his beak, he swiftly flew away, off to make its nest.

So what amazed me about this seemingly every day scenario? Well, I had a week. I mean, quite THE WEEK. Or maybe month. Months? Something like that 🙂 During this time, I have been reminding myself of Romans 8:28, that all things work to the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose. I have been telling myself and my husband to get on our dancing shoes, because something GOOD is around the next corner- it has to be!

So when I saw that beautiful, tiny bird land and grab up some discarded treasure to use to build its castle in the sky, I was reminded with astounding clarity that God does not waste anything. He will take all the muck and the mess of our life – all of the, “how is this even happening?!” and “Oh, not again!!” moments and turn them into something good- beautiful even.  He won’t waste an opportunity to turn things around for you. Wouldn’t you do the same for your child? I know I would be chomping at the bit for the chance to go make things right, to help, to instill justice, to protect my children and to bless them beyond what they can even imagine.

So maybe even now, at this very time, God is picking up the tufts and saying, “We can use this.” Maybe it will be to build my castle in the sky, too. 😊💜

I don’t have all the answers. I never will. I will always have a pile of “why’s” on this earth. My heart yearns for kindness, for people to think of others and beyond themselves and what they want, sometimes my heart yearns for a break from all the trials and sadness and “why’s” here. But as C.S. Lewis said, we yearn for more because we were made for more.

….

Well, though I’m signing off from tonight’s ponderings, I’m sure the bird will come back – after all, we have the best hair fluff in town – all organic and totally DIY 🙂

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Rainy Monday Mama Thoughts

 

Over the past 5 or so years of being mostly home with the kids and working mostly from home, I took them all sorts of fun places: parks, beaches, picnics, bike riding, walks, to play with friends and more. Then Daddy and I also went on many vacations with the kid’s where the destinations when we arrived were always about what would be fun for the kids. In fact one hot summer, I spent an entire day at Dollywood Amusement Park, holding my youngest ALL DAY- it was a loooong, sweaty day of looking for the shady spots for me and the baby while daddy took our oldest on the kiddy rides (my youngest had a very hard time in loud, crowded places as a baby and would SCREAM unless I was holding him, so I held him for many years straight- until I found a natural alternative that helped him – now he is a social butterfly and non-stop talker! NON-STOP! lol 😊!)

So today, my oldest found a pressed coin from one of our trips to Amish Country that had a horse and buggy on it. I asked him if he remembered going on those rides, as it has been a year or 2 since we have been that way. I tell him about how when he was younger, he LOVED buggy rides and we would look for them wherever we traveled so that he could enjoy them… He doesn’t remember.

*Mom rant thoughts!* But, but, but…all that time! All that effort! All the money! The physical stress of holding my little one 24/7 in my arms so we could go and do all those things!

Now ask him if he remembers the time mommy threw out an old, broken toy that no one ever played with and the memory is as crisp as an Autumn apple! LOL!

I read a book several years ago by Dr. Kevin Leman, a psychologist, that basically says, tell me your first 3 childhood memories and I will tell you about your life.

You see, the memories WE hold onto and HOW we view those memories shapes how we see the world… And being a counselor mommy, I think about these things. And I am always wondering which memory we are creating that he will remember for the long term, though I know that every moment we have with our babies shapes them into the people they will become- whether they remember or not 💜

Just a few thoughts from my rainy Monday…

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