The Four Agreements

When I was approached with the idea of becoming an Amazon affiliate and incorporating products into my writing, I wasn’t thrilled. I hate selling things and trying to pretend that I’m not. But I figured, if I was going to do it, I might as well sling the shit that’s changed my life. And if I make a buck off it, sweet. So beware, if you click the link and buy this sweet ass book, I’ll make like ten cents. (Thanks, bro!) But you’ll end up getting much  more out the deal because this book is amazing. Truly.

The Four Agreements

The Four Agreements, by Don Miguel Ruiz, was recommended to me to a few friends I met in an online yoga community (shout out to the Yoga With Adriene kula). And these friends did not disappoint.

My first read through of the book (yes, I’ve read it more than once) was rough. There were a few thoughts I couldn’t quite wrap my head around. But the main ideas came through and those, THOSE I could really get behind.

The whole idea is that we all have a framework through which we view life, through which we live our lives. That framework is built as we grow up, through parenting, family life, social experiences, etc. It’s important that we take a step back and analyze that framework and question whether or not it’s something that we want to guide our thoughts and lives. What is serving us in a positive way? What leads us in the wrong direction? How can we re-frame our outlook to create a healthier life?

It is along these lines that the author suggests four main ideas to help guide you to a more positive life and healthier relationships – with yourself and others.

Be Impeccable With Your Word

The first thing the author suggests is to be impeccable with your word. He stresses the power that our words hold, which I’ve experienced to be so true. Negative and critical words in the workplace or at home can be so detrimental. And our inner voice, our own inner critic, can be just as harmful. Being mindful of our words can create a huge shift in our lives.

Don’t Take Anything Personally

This was a hard one for me but is also one that has had the greatest impact. Understanding that other people’s actions and attitudes reflect more about themselves that it does about me, has helped me to stay true to myself and not be affected by the words and actions of those around me. It has freed me to stay in my lane, so to speak, and not become entangled in other’s negativity.

Don’t Make Assumptions

Once I began paying attention to this, I was blow away at how many assumptions I was making on a regular basis. I assumed other people just knew how I felt or why I felt that way. I assumed they had all the information they needed in a given situation. I realized that I needed to communicate more on my end and also ask questions if I didn’t have enough information, too. This has been a game changer in my relationships!

Always Do Your Best

At first, I didn’t like this one. I’m hard enough on myself as it is. But the author encourages us to realize that our best will look different from day to day. If we’re sick, he suggests, our best will look different that when we’re healthy. When we’re tired, stressed, etc. – all these things play into what our best might look like. I began to just take it moment by moment, asking myself what my best looked like at the time and striving for that, not being hard on myself when it wasn’t as good as what I thought it should be or what I assumed (hello!) was what others think it should be.

I have these four things written down all over the place – on a sticky note at my desk, on a note in my phone, scribbled in the notebook I keep by my bed. They are great reminders that keep me focused and help me to realign with what matters in life.

If you’re looking for a quick read that’s packed full of wisdom, this is the book for you. And hey, if you don’t like it, you won’t have wasted much time on it. You can read it in a day (or if you’re like me, keep it around to re-read it!). If you do get it, or already have it, let me know what you think! How have these ideas helped or challenged you?

She Wears Her Fear On Her Sleeve

Short and sweet. Get inspired. 

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My fear is that everything I write will suck. Every word will be tragically and obviously awful. And the more I try, the more I write, the equally mediocre it will be. And I hear all the voices. I see all the judgments. That this passion, this dream, this so called talent I’ve held buried underneath was just an over inflated sense of greatness. Ego.

And I will have to sit in my embarrassment and admit that this day I’ve been holding out for, my big break, is just a big joke- because I was never any good. I was never bound for this life. To be a writer.

It will be awful. I will be awful. And I will have put it on display for everyone to see.

What do I do with all that fear? The years and decades of pressure I’ve allowed to build up inside like a trash compactor, shoving my desire and creativity down into a tiny mass – what do I do with all that?

Toss it aside. Throw caution to the wind. “Be brave!” They cheer from the sidelines, as if they aren’t all anxiously awaiting my dramatic crash and burn because, honestly, success is boring to watch if you aren’t the recipient.

Ah, and so I make tea. I read a new book. I rant and whine on social media. I binge watch the latest season of, well, so many shows. I nap and I eat and I nap one more time – for good measure. Anything, ANYTHING, to avoid actually writing.

I am horrible at follow through. I don’t have really good self-discipline. I am the queen of setting lofty goals in a moment of emotional elation and then immediately sweeping them under the rug at the first light of dawn. My brain is very quick to reel in my heart and it is a constant battle inside.

I have started so many stories and books and creative projects. They sit, unfinished, uninspired. Eventually they get tossed away in a cleaning frenzy for fear that anyone see what a mess I’ve made.

Truth is, I don’t know where to go from here. I don’t even know how to end this article – if that’s what this is. Just write, they say. And so I do. I do that. I write. Words and streams of consciousness that even I can barely understand and so I don’t expect much of anyone to care or read or to be touched or inspired on any level.

(Though secretly I hope they are. And I hope that their great uncle’s best friend’s brother is an editor who owes them a huge favor and they cash it in on my behalf because I’m just that fucking great.)

7 Ways To Be Healthier Every Day 

I’ve never been very good at taking care of my body. It probably stems from a lifetime of low self-esteem and poor body image. But in my quest to find true happiness, I realized that it’s so much more than a feeling (cue Boston). Happiness is a balance of all parts – mind and body.

Talking about taking care of our physical bodies isn’t always an easy or popular topic, but it’s necessary if we ever want to experience true happiness and genuine contentment. When our mental health and our physical health are both in alignment, we can live more abundant, full lives.

7 Ways To Be healthier ever day
I am certainly not a doctor and this is most definitely not a medical journal, but these are things that I have tried to incorporate into my daily life that have improved my physical health and changed the way I view my body. Everyone is different, so take what works for you and toss the rest. Explore ways to help you feel better!

Move Your Body!

We all know that exercise is necessary for physical health. The key is finding something you enjoy, something to get your heart rate up and make you sweat a little. Walking, running, cycling are all good options. Yoga has been a total game changer for me. Whatever it is, get out there and do it. Move that body!

Get Enough Sleep

It’s important to let your body rest. Allow yourself adequate time to get quality sleep so that your body can slow down and recover. If you find it hard to get to sleep at night, try creating an evening routine so your mind will begin to shift into sleep mode; stretch or do yoga, turn the electronics off, read a book, etc. Try doing these things and getting to bed at the same time each night.

Get Outside

Fresh air can do wonders for your mind and your body. Getting fresh oxygen into your lungs can be a real game changer. It also doesn’t hurt to soak up some extra vitamin D. Try to get outside a little bit each day, even if it’s for a quick stroll around the block. You’d be amazed at how much energy it generates.

Stay Hydrated

I used to hate water. I had to force myself to down a glass or fill it with flavored powders. But the more I tend to my physical body and explore ways of getting healthier, the more I find myself craving water. Most people don’t understand how great our bodies are designed to feel and function. Water is a huge part of that. Try to carry a water bottle with you at all times to remind yourself to stay hydrated. Water is also another great energy booster!

Listen To Your Body

There are a million health articles on the internet telling you what to eat and what exercise regimen to follow. I can’t tell you how many workout programs and diets I’ve tried in my life. Some were effective, some weren’t, and the one thing I learned from them all is how different everyone is. What works for me might not work for you, and vice versa. The key is to listen to your body. If something isn’t working for you, keep trying other things until you find something that does work for your body and makes you feel good. One size does not fit all in the health department.

Look In The Mirror

Stand in front of the mirror and listen to what your thoughts sound like. Are they negative? Critical? Is it hard to stand in front of the mirror at all? Taking care of our bodies has to come from a place of self-love or it will never last. We need to shift our mindset to one of appreciation for our bodies and not punishment for what it does or doesn’t look like. There has been a disconnect for me personally between my mind and my body when it comes to physical health. Balancing those out has completely shifted the way I view myself and my health. If you want it to last, the connection has to be made. It’s a hard one, for sure. But it makes all the difference.

Think Before You Eat (or Drink)

Paleo. Vegan. Vegetarian. South Beach Diet. Mediterranean Diet. I could go on and on and on. I have read so much about so many different ways to eat and not eat, that it makes my head spin. I again came to the conclusion that everyone is different and that what works for you might not work for me – and more importantly, that it’s okay! The one thing I started doing to help me find what works for me, is to think before I eat (or drink) anything. I ask myself this one simple question; is this going to nourish my body and help me feel good? That’s not to say I pass on birthday cake or never have brownies and ice cream (hey, balance in all things, right?) but as a general rule, I try to at least ask myself that question first.

Physical health and happiness is a continuous journey for me. These are a few things I’ve picked up along the way and I’m sure there will be many more as I continue on. But everything comes back to a place of self-love; are you taking care of yourself because you love yourself? How can you begin the process of shifting your perspective? What’s one thing you can do today to take care of your body with a self-love approach? Be kind to yourself, my friends.

31 Self-Care Activities

Taking time for self-care is vital to our well being; making it a habit – a regular practice – can be a total game changer. There are certain self-care activities that I try to work into my every day routine, like drinking warm lemon water in the morning and fitting in a yoga session each day. But on the weekend or the occasional free time, I like to incorporate something extra.

Below is my go-to list of self-care activities. I keep it handy so that in those moments of free time, I can reference it and find something that works. Whether you have five minutes or an entire weekend, you’re sure to find something on this list.

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  1. Gentle Yoga – this Intro to Yin Yoga video is amazing!
  2. Read a new book.
  3. Watch your favorite TV shows.
  4. Go to the local coffee shop.
  5. Bake something – try a new recipe or an old favorite!
  6. Meditate.
  7. Turn your phone off for 1 hour.
  8. Take a long, hot shower.
  9. Paint your nails or go get a pedicure!
  10. Deep condition your hair.
  11. Dance around the house to your favorite upbeat music.
  12. Go for a leisurely walk.
  13. Watch a funny movie or stand up comedy show.
  14. Make a smoothie (green power smoothies are my fave!)
  15. Go to the lake or beach.
  16. Watch the sunset.
  17. Write in your journal.
  18. Read something inspiring.
  19. Take a nap.
  20. Go for a drive.
  21. Eat at your favorite restaurant or get your favorite take-out.
  22. Stay in your pajamas all day.
  23. Have some warm tea (Chamomile is very calming!)
  24. Write a gratitude list.
  25. Make breakfast for dinner!
  26. Play cards.
  27. Write down 5 things you like about yourself.
  28. Eat chocolate.
  29. Listen to a funny or inspiring pod cast.
  30. Buy an adult coloring book & colored pencils.
  31. Write an empowering quote on a sticky note & put it on your mirror.

 

These are my 31 go-to self-care activities. Do you have any that aren’t on this list? Share in the comments below!

Looking for even more self-care resources? Check out my resource page here.

15 Self-Care Ways to Transition Into the New Year

It’s that time of year when everyone is talking about New Year’s resolutions, setting goals, and turning things around. Personally, it can be a bit overwhelming. I tend to either over do it – with unrealistic goals and fifteen different spreadsheets with 150 steps to accomplish each goal – or I throw my hands in the air and completely give up.

So I got to thinking… there has to be a better way. How can I bring a self-care approach to the new year? How can I truly set myself up for a healthy and happy new year that addresses not just my physical body but also my mind and spirit?

Below are 15 ideas I think will help us transition into the new year mindfully. Check them out and find what works for you. As always, take what you like and toss what you don’t. We’re all different. We’re all tending to different needs. We all deserve to develop a self-care plan that works for us.

Reflect.

Take some time to journal. Write about all the things that went really well in the past year and all the things you’d like to improve in the upcoming year. Writing can be very therapeutic and this journal is for you, so be as honest and as silly as you’d like.

Celebrate!

Take all the positive things you wrote down – the things that went really well in the past year – and celebrate them! Treat yourself to a night out (or a night in!). Do something nice for yourself to celebrate the good.

Let It Go.

All the negativity you’ve built up in the last year, anything you wrote down that didn’t work out so well, the things that tripped you up in the last year – let them go. Tear those pages out of the journal and trash them. Clear the screen. We’re starting fresh.

Declutter.

In the spirit of starting fresh, declutter your house. Go through your closet, dresser, office, cabinets. Are there things you haven’t used all year? Box them up and donate them or have a year-end garage sale with friends and neighbors. If you need a little more inspiration, check out my blog post about how Decluttering Your Life.

Clean the Kitchen.

I know it’s hard to get rid of excess sugar and unhealthy food during the holidays, but now is the time to do it. Out of site, out of mind. Set yourself up for success by clearing out all the junk food and stocking up on all the goodness; fruits, veggies, etc.

Create Mindful Goals.

Choose the top three most important things you’d like to accomplish this year and make a plan to focus on them – goals, new years resolutions, intentions, whatever you want to call them. By choosing just a few, it allows you to focus on the things that are really valuable to you (and also avoid becoming overwhelmed by too many goals!)

Use the Buddy System.

Find someone to join you in your goals. Are you joining the gym this year? Find a workout buddy. Want to read more books? Find a reading partner and schedule monthly trips to the library. Everything is more fun with friends AND you are way  more likely to stick with it if you don’t go it alone.

Come Up With A Plan.

Write down some how-to’s for each goal. Find a good planner, journal or notebook to track your progress. Schedule times to check-in and evaluate how you’re doing on your goals throughout the year. Adjust as necessary.

Keep An Open Mind.

Life happens! Have your goals, clarify your priorities, work hard… but be flexible and keep an open mind. Things might not always go the way you envision them – work around it, work with it. Allow life to flow as you work towards your goals.

Make Yourself A Priority.

Consider ways to integrate Self-Care into your daily routines. Taking care of yourself allows you to be your best self, to nurture others around you better, and to be more fulfilled in life. You can read about the value of Self-Care here and find some resources here.

Decide What Is NOT Important.

Just like choosing your top three priorities so you know what’s important, you need to know what you’re NOT going to focus on, too.  This will help you say no to things that will distract you, hinder your progress, or muddy the waters. Clarity is important.

Love Yo’ Self.

Know that you are good just as you are. With so much emphasis on getting in shape and having the perfect body, it’s vital to create a sense of self acceptance. I have always struggled with this. For a little inspiration, you can read my story here.

Make It Fun!

No matter what your goals are, find ways to make it fun. Remember to celebrate small accomplishments along the way, be silly, and laugh (maybe even at yourself). Life is too short to not enjoy the journey.

Take A Time Out.

The holidays are fun and exciting but also busy and hectic. This can create a lot of stress that you don’t want to carry into the new year. Carve out some time when you can be quite, calm, and still. Find something relaxing and allow yourself to unwind.

Adopt A Positive Mindset.

No matter what gets thrown at you in the next year, train yourself to see the good. Squint if you have to. But find it, see it and celebrate it. Everything is better when you can see the good.

So there you have it – my self-care plan to transition into a happy, healthy new year. Hopefully this will inspire you to create your own plan; take some of these ideas and make them your own! Create a life that feels good, that is nurturing, and gratifying.

Let me know how things work for you and what you’re doing to move into the new year!

How to Pull Yourself Out of a Bad Mood

We’ve all been there. You wake up on the wrong side of the bed. Things aren’t going well for you. Or maybe they are and then someone does something or says something negative that sends you in a tailspin.

Whatever the reason, bad moods happen. And when they do, it can be hard to snap out of it. So how can we move ourselves in a more positive direction? These are five tools I’ve used to  help pull myself out of a bad mood. Give one or two a try, see what works for you.

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Work Out

When I have trouble shaking off negativity, one of the most effective ways I have found to remedy that is to work out. It doesn’t matter what you do; run, walk, go to the gym, yoga. Just get your body moving and sweat it out. One of my favorites is this Yoga with Adriene video Yoga For When You’re In A Bad Mood. It’s easy, it’s free, and it definitely helps boost your mood!

Talk It Out

Talk to a friend, talk to yourself, or write it all down in a journal. When we allow things to stay locked inside, it festers and grows and only makes things worse. Sometimes expressing the frustration and grumpiness is all we need. I’ve been known to have full on conversations with myself in my car as I’m driving home from work.

Laugh

I love to laugh! And one of the quickest ways to break down barriers is to laugh. It’s hard to stay mad or uptight when you have a smile on your face. Humor can lighten the mood, help us to lighten up about ourselves, and reminds us to not take everything so seriously. A good stand up comedy show or a favorite funny movie is always a great go-to trick for bad moods!

Meditate

Often times when we are mad or angry or in a bad mood, the last thing we want is to be still or to be quiet. The thoughts are raging around in our head, our emotions are all over the place, and we have tons of energy just rushing around. It can feel pretty out of control. But if we just slow down, pause, remember to breathe, we can find a peace and calm that will help ease us out of that negative space. It doesn’t have to be a huge ordeal. Just sit quietly for five minutes and listen to the sound of your breath.

Do Something New

Break out of your routine and try something new; go somewhere different, learn a new craft, experience something out of the ordinary. Doing something that will break out of your current surroundings and get your mind off the current situation is a great way to bust out of a bad mood. Instead of dwelling on what’s wrong, we can let it go for a bit and turn our attention to something else.

These are just five ways I’ve learned to snap myself out of a bad mood. For other self-care and wellness ideas and resources, check out the Resources page. Let me know what works best for you. What are your go-to tricks for beating a bad mood? 

 

7 Ways To Be Happy Right Where You Are 

7 Ways To Be Happy Right Where You Are 

For the longest time, I believed that I would be happy once I had certain things. I thought having more money, getting a better job or getting married would be my golden ticket to happiness. I quickly came to realize that those things only brought with them a new set of issues. It was disheartening, to say the least.

I was complaining to someone one day about my job (the better job I had gotten) and they looked at me and said, “Well then quit.” I thought that was unfair and said, “I don’t want to quit.” To which they responded, “Then what do you want?”

I thought for a moment and said, “I just want to be happy.”

“Then figure out how to be happy.” 

That response changed the way I thought about happiness forever. That doesn’t mean I don’t have goals or that there aren’t bigger and greater things I want for myself. There certainly are. But in the process of finding or accomplishing those things, I want to be happy.

7 Ways To Be Happy
On my journey to figure out how to be happy right now, right where I’m at, I discovered that it’s actually pretty simple. Often times it is, as they say, in the little things. It does take conscious action though. These things might seem minuscule, or even kind of silly, but they work.

The next time you find yourself searching for happiness, give one of these things a try (or do all of them – find what works for you).

Smile.

The easiest thing you can do to instantly move toward happiness is to put a smile on your face. Don’t feel like smiling? Fake it till you make it, baby. The more you do it, the more your brain will believe it. Or better yet, find something to smile about!

Laugh!

Laughing is one of my favorite things. It helps me to let go of the stressful things I tend to hold on to and it reminds me not to take life (or myself) too seriously. When I need a good laugh I watch a funny movie or I find a stand up comedy show on YouTube. There’s also tons of funny memes and jokes online that get me cracking up every time.

Listen to Upbeat Music.

If you really want to make yourself laugh, put on some happy music and dance like crazy. I have actually done this alone in the kitchen before and felt completely silly until I busted up laughing and couldn’t help but smile. Music is infectious. Turn it up and let loose!

Do Something Nice for Yourself.

Life is hard! Cut yourself a break and treat yo’ self! Seriously though, if you’re anything like me, you are hard on yourself day in and day out to do more and be better. Balance it out with a little self-love. Go get coffee with a friend or ice cream to eat by yourself in front of the TV. I won’t judge.

Meditate.

Before you stop reading and think this is all getting too hippie-dippie, hear me out. Meditation is simply clearing your mind and allowing yourself to be still – to do absolutely nothing. When is the last time you just sat still for five minutes? It takes a little practice, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll wonder why you’ve never done it before.

Set Goals.

I know I just said to cut yourself a break, so what’s up with goal setting? I’m not talking about major, life altering goals here. Just the opposite, actually. Find something you’ve always wanted to do, something you’ve wanted to learn or explore and create a goal to get it done. Having a small project can help you focus more on things you enjoy and less on things that stress you out.

Resist the Urge to Compare.

Comparison is a happiness killer. It is so easy to go down the road of self-pitty, comparing yourself to everyone who has what you want or who has it easier than you. One way I have found to turn my thoughts away from that is to keep a gratitude journal. Whenever you find yourself obsessing about everything you don’t have, start to think about all the good things in your life. This might be hard at first. But once you begin to see the good, it just keeps on coming. Write them down so the next time you’re struggling, you can refer to your list and be reminded.

These are all tools that I use to find happiness right where I am, even when I’m not under the best of circumstances. What about you? What’s your go-to happiness trick? What can you start doing to create more happiness in your life? Take the time and put in the work because happiness is right in front of you; you just have to look for it.