Friday, December 12, 2014

The Year of Jubilee

Hello Readers!!!

We have a big announcement to make...

Brittany from My Brittany Story Blog


Elise from Things About Life, Self Improvement and Beyond

Are teaming up to bring to you....


New years is right around the corner, with another chance for us to start over.  Some of you may already be contemplating your new year's resolutions...we have some ideas for you if you're stumped. ;D

In Leviticus chapter 25, it speaks about a year of Jubilee. Every seventh year, the people would rest from their labors, and dedicate an ENTIRE YEAR to the Lord! Can you believe that!?!?!? Woah bro.

How impressive! How inspiring! So Inspiring, that we decided that this coming year, we want to have a year of Jubilee! We want to dedicate this coming year to the Lord. In this day and age, we can't exactly quit our jobs and live at our parents and mooch for a year, but there are so many other things that we can do to make this year consecrated to the Lord!

One year. 2015. Dedicated to God. Nuff said.

There are seriously so many things that we can do to better ourselves, cleanse our lives, and help those around us. All of which brings ourselves, and/or someone else closer to God. We propose that anyone who wants to participate, takes part in the year of Jubilee with us!

We invite anyone to participate. We ask anyone who is inspired by this post-to share it! Spread the word! The more people to experience a year dedicated to the Lord, the better! We hope that at least ONE of you is inspired, and gets involved in the year of Jubilee with us. We know that anyone who truly participates whole heartedly, and with true dedication to their own year of Jubilee, will experience possibly the most impactful year of their life.

Here are just some ideas for participation in a year of Jubilee:

volunteer work (once a week/month)

no t.v./cut back on t.v.

no movies/only inspirational movies

journal writing daily

scripture reading daily

only spiritual/inspirational books

give up a bad habit

pray daily

go to church weekly

go to the temple weekly

one act of kindness/service a day

give up/cut back on social media :O

less make-up

no more "dieting" if you are already healthy (a.k.a stop obsessing over your body for a year!)

tell yourself something that you love about yourself every day

write down something you are grateful for every day

no more yelling when you are mad

no more gossip

no more judging others

smile at a stranger every day

no more road rage

give up your addiction

study a new "topic" in the scriptures every week/month

set weekly goals to improve yourself/your relationship with God

Spend a solid hour in nature every day/week

Thank God for something new every day

Have a picture of God/Christ/whatever you believe in-where you can see it every day

Pray MORE than once/twice a day

make your prayers more PERSONAL

visit family once a week/month/whatever is possible for you

stop spending so much money on objects that don't help you grow spiritually

fast weekly/monthly with a purpose

listen to Christian sermons/general conference weekly/daily

spend more time with a certain person who needs your friendship

We invite all bloggers to participate in this project with us and to blog about it through out the year! We will be posting "prompts" for every month, that will unite us, and inspire our readers about our experiences as we live an entire year dedicated to the Lord (or self cleansing). We will be using the hashtag: #yearofjubilee2015 with every post.

Starting January 1st, 2015

Let's do this thinnnngggg!!!!!

This post is not sponsored, affiliated with, or supported by any church or organization. All of it's content are completely unrelated to any particular church, religious practices or traditions, and does not in any way reflect specific beliefs and/or practices by any particular religion or organization. This post was written by and published by the bloggers stated, and do not claim to represent the beliefs or practices by any religion. The bloggers stated in this post claim full responsibility for the literature, organization, and production of this project and all opinions and statements contained therein are their own.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Liebster Award

The Rules of the Award
Acknowledge the blog who nominated you and display the award
Answer the 11 questions given to you from the blogger
Give 11 facts about yourself
Nominate 11 blogs you think are deserving of the award (less than 200 followers)
Let the bloggers know you have nominated them
Give them 11 questions to answer
Questions I was asked:

1. What is your favorite girl/boy name and why?
I'd say it, but someone might steal it! It will be my first son's name...So instead I'll go with my second favorite name which is Michael. Every Michael I've ever met/known/read about/played a character on TV/or was a hero in a book was basically the coolest ever...(lucky for me, it is a family name too and will be my son's middle name:)
2. How did you meet your significant other?
SUPER long story, but to summarize we met through friends when I was fifteen and he was nineteen. We reconnected when I was 21 and he was 25, stayed friends for nine months, then drifted into romanticism.
3. What is the story of your first kiss ever?
On the lips? It was a boy named Dallas. haha, if he ever reads this I'm sorry. But I thought it was super adorable. We stood on his porch late at night and we had planned it all out because neither of us had kissed someone. Then I walked across his driveway back to my house, next door LOL
4. What is ONE THING you wish you would have known as a teenager?
Maturity isn't always fun, but it always makes you the better person.
5. What is your favorite thing about yourself?
My air of confidence or my sense of humor...can't decide.
6. What is one of the most valuable lessons you have learned in your life so far?
You can't trust anyone.
7. ONE piece of marriage/relationship advice?
You're always part of the "problem", because you're officially part of the team. Always play like a team player. You can both want to score, but you'll shoot for the basket a different way. That's okay. Never try to change your partner, because losing your identity in a relationship is not healthy and will ruin a solid companionship. Be individuals that love each other, support each other, and are always willing to say they're sorry even when you don't think you've made an error.
8. Why are you blogging?
Because I like to write.
9. What is ONE thing you want to do before you die?
Go to Africa.
10. What blogs do you like the most and why?

Monday, October 13, 2014

Be Part of a Cause: World Food Day

The people who know me the best know of a phrase I use frequently.

"There are starving children in Africa."

Nat geo recently posted a story on their instagram that struck home to me. It was in regards to national food day, and told of a woman from Ethiopia. Her and her daughter hadn't eaten in days. They only had some tea to share with the man who told the story. You should read it! They also shared a story about the production of pork, and how Americans dispose of 40% of what they purchase. That is so sad when there are 1 billion starving people in the world. My feelings on this topic are as follows...

The other day I was at dinner with my family in Sizzler and I was flabbergasted at the spectacle. So much food. Buffets of food. All you can eat. And you want to know what I thought about? I thought about my daughter, Atley, emaciated and dying from malnutrition. I don't care how dramatic that sounds to you. It is a genuine concern of mine. I find some of your concerns dramatic and useless, so please give me the same courtesy of listening.

I don't know what it would be like to survive on a half a cup of rice a week. Do you?

Do you even care?

There are STARVING people in the world. Google images if you need proof. If you don't like to think about it, and prefer not to educate yourself on it, then at least find a cause to be passionate about...instead of just living your life all about you. There's a reason our world is going down the crap shoot. And it's because of ignorant humans who don't care or don't want to care about those who are suffering.

Here's a confession. I've been accused of having an eating disorder before, and, aside from some experimental bouts every girl goes through in high school, I've never suffered a text book eating disorder. I can see why people assume this though, because I'm a small person and I take pride in being in shape. But I eat clean so I can enjoy a pan of brownies on the weekend. True story. Do you see my bones? Are my teeth rotting and brown? Is my hair falling out? No. Not even close. And I'm not in denial, you can see pictures of my body under my health and fitness tab to back it up. My cellulite alone will prove I am eating all the essential nutrients I need, in addition to some I don't! The reason why some people think I struggle with a body image is because I'm extremely particular about what I put in my mouth. For some reason, they take time out of their life to be concerned with what and how I eat. There's a couple reasons why I am the way I am. First, I love fitness. I believe my body is a temple. (Get your giggles out now) but really, I take divine care of it. I always try to be in pristine health. That includes diet and exercise. Ice cream and fast food has never been ideal nutrition. The second reason is I can't stand the idea of eating stuff that starving children cant. I cannot waste food!! I would rather pass up a meal than throw half of it away. This is a motto I have lived by for as long as I can remember. Ever since I became passionate about this feed the hungry cause I have had a real sensitivity to gluttony and food waste. I even get a little miffed by people who don't drink tap water...because they think it tastes funny. I want ship them to a country where there is no running water. Period.

Americans have by far the greatest freedoms of any nation. We are the richest and the most well-fed, well-educated and most fortunate, in all the world. And yet, we have so much complaint, so much food waste, so much waste in general.

For me, the sensitivity is heightened around food. I CANNOT STAND the idea of wasted food. IT LITERALLY eats at my skin. It makes my insides churn. I wish there was some way I could pack up each scrap of food and ship it to Africa. Sadly, the food would never make it to these beautiful starving children. Do you know why? You should study a little about the continent and their authority figures and maybe educate yourself on world issues. If I had the means for travel, I would fly to Africa and volunteer in orphanages, and I would give them everything I own. Again, sadly, it isn't even safe to travel there right now. This breaks my heart. There are countries with innocent people who are suffering and dying and we can't do much about it.

Here's what I can do. I do the best I can in every day life not to waste. Next to food, I try not to waste any object, material, electronic, item of clothing, or tool that I may be able to use or change into something else. My dad taught me that anything broken can be fixed, and if not it can be used to fix something else. I learned not to waste at a young age and to never take for granted all of the things I have. The more I learn about third world countries, the more passionate I become about waste management. Not only does it save me money, but it makes me feel better that I am not throwing away something a hungry child would fight for.

There's a reason gluttony is one of the 7 deadly sins. I truly think it destroys something in the soul that keeps humans humble and thankful. I try so very hard not to be a glutton over anything (although I come close when it comes to shoes) and I definitely shove my face with as much food as I can anytime I have a meal. I see the faces of these little children every time I go to restaurants, or amusement parks, or fairs, or anywhere you can find large quantities of food. I wish there was a way our country could do more about the starving communities in the world, that way we as people could be more involved. I understand there are politics, which is why I do my part here in my small hometown. It is a cause I will always be a part of.

I encourage you to find a cause and give to it this week. Oh, and lick your plate clean 😊

Friday, October 10, 2014

How do you make people feel?

I read this quote today, and I'm sorry I couldn't get the picture to upload, but it went like this.
"How you make other people feel about themselves says a lot about you."
This inspired my blog post today. It will be short and sweet.
If you died and your family was in charge of your grave stone, what would it say? What about if your friends were in charge of the message? What about your enemies? Because really, putting family and loved ones aside, I want to know--and I really want you to think about this- - what would a cashier at the grocery store say about you? Or your banker? Your neighbor?  Your coworker? That one girl you had a fight with? That one boy who hurt you?
I want you to think of someone you've had a conflict with and imagine what they would say, right now, if they were to give a speech at your funeral.
Here is what I think, and you can take it for what it's worth. What people would say about you when you're gone should matter a whole lot more than what they say about you today. This goes to prove that how you make people feel says more about you than how they make you feel. Make sense?
Here is an example.
I know a person who claims to be a loving compassionate person, and yet I have only ever had extremely negative encounters with them. I feel negative around them. I feel a sense of hatred emanating out from them. This person engages in a lot of negative activity, like gossiping and lying and stealing. Therefore, I don't feel good when I'm around them. I start to feed off their habits and lose a part of me. I stoop to their level and mimic their poor behavior. What would I say about this person when they are gone? I'd probably say that if they were the only Christian I had ever met, I would want nothing to do with Christianity. That is how they made me feel.
I am in constant fear of human err. We all make mistakes every day, but when I discovered that my influence on people can be either positive or negative, I have made an effort to right wrongs and set straight bent feelings with anyone I encounter.
Sometimes this means giving people second chances even if they don't deserve it. Sometimes it is letting them win. It is being the bad guy in their eyes, but being the bigger person in everyone else's. It is not defending rumors about yourself. It is letting people take advantage of you. It is losing friends because you don't have room for their negative conduct in your life anymore. It is being alone.
But it is being happy.
When I talk to happy people and ask them how they achieved such a peace of mind, they tell me these things..the steps they much of it is trying to make other people happy. I used to find this so strange. How can making other people feel good about themselves make me feel good? Well, it does. And I would have nothing but happy things to say about these people after they are gone.
That is my goal.
I know I've hurt people. I let people down. I say unorthodox comments. I forget people's birthdays. I don't show up to parties. I miss calls. And I'll be the first to admit I have a bad tendency of talking about myself. But I can honestly say there is not a single person I haven't tried to find restitution with when a conflict has taken place. And that is on either end. I am confrontational, and life is too short for me to feel misery or feel like I've inflicted pain on someone. Someone taught me that communication is key to human relationships. Here's what I've learned. I will ALWAYS try to talk it out. Even if that only consists of an, "I'm sorry." And we never speak again. It says a lot about a person who wants to apologize and move on. I always envied that characteristic and have been adopting it ever since. There will be people I never want to see again, but I will not let them have power over my feelings, nor do I want to send negative feelings their way. I've stopped worrying so much about receiving compliments as I have about giving them. I don't fret so much about loyalty as I do about being loyal. I care more about being friendly than having on and on.
These are the lessons I've learned from happy people and wish we could all implement them a little better every day.
What will that say about me? I don't know.
What would it say about you?

Saturday, October 4, 2014

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Thursday, October 2, 2014

The Real Meaning of Kindness

The reason why this topic struck me so hard is because I have been guilty of it in the past. I have never wanted to work on something more than my own ability to be kind to people. Because I continually mess up, it is an ongoing practice, but I've honestly always admired people that were just nice down to their bones. Even more than people who are beautiful or rich. I want to be that genuine human being, and not in a GENUINELY INGENUINE kind of way, and yes that is a thing. For example, a "yes" man is a genuinely ingenuine person...they say anything you want to hear, any time you want to hear it. It sounds really cool at first, until you realize that nothing coming out of their mouth is ever genuine, because it is unrealistic to be a "yes" man. How can this kind of person be trusted, when they simply just agree with the person they are currently communicating with? I don't really know, but I'll move on from that before I stoop into the habit of having unkind thoughts about them 
I'll start this post with a quote from a movie that goes like this:
"You said everyone deserves a fair break...but you meant only people who were like you."
I see this, time and time again.
Sometimes, it is me.
Sometimes it is happening to me.
I have met people who are super friendly and loyal and devoted to their family and friends. They have an amazing rapport as being such compassionate, tender souls who would do anything for their loved ones. This is where it gets tricky. Because, in my experience, these people find it extremely difficult to extend that kindness to anyone else, in particular people who are different than them. Judgment becomes a factor again, and while I'm trying my best to talk about this without sounding judgmental, it is hard when I want to point out this common character flaw.
Like I said, I've been there, which is how I can so easily pinpoint it now. Typically, it is women who most likely fall into this category of two-faced wolf in sheep's clothing. And I say that because in general Men are just more forgiving, carefree creatures, but that doesn't mean they are exempt.
What is it that people find so hard about befriending people who are SO different from them? Is it fear? Is it lack of commonality? Is it a worry that opinions can cause a rift? Because they can, when forced on one another, but in true kindness that would never happen. Do you find it easy to help out a sibling or close friend in time of need, but that neighbor who is struggling can fend for themself because you feel uncomfortable with the way they live their life? Are you loyal to your family, because of course you love them, unconditionally, they are family! ! But turn around and deprive a stranger of that loyalty because you don't know them, and from their exterior you gauge they are not worthy of such loyalty?
As a Christian, I believe it is of utmost importance to be kind to those in NEED of it. NOT to those it is easiest to be kind to.
I think that is true Christianity.
Being nice shouldn't be easy. Not really.
We all have family we would die for. We would go to the end of the world to make them happy. Is that really kindness?  I mean, think deep about that. What is more kind? Helping your friend fix their flat tire, or stopping to help the woman and crying child on the side of the freeway fix her tire?
All people need love and forgiveness and equal tolerance, no matter race, color, gender, etc.
If you have a tendency to judge people based on looks, tattoos, piercings, history, or maybe out of jealousy, there is a good chance you are withholding your kindness from them.
The bible says, The whole need no physician.
I love this quote because it reiterates where we should be directing a large portion of our charitable energy.
Yes, we should be nice to everyone, family and friends alike, but what I've learned this far in life is that kindness really empowers the soul when you offer it to those you find it most difficult to be kind to.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

How to become confident...& why it matters

There is a huge misconception about what it means to be confident.
Because I'm a woman, this is going to be from a female perspective, but bear in mind it goes both ways.
When you hear someone say they are confident, what immediately comes to mind? That's what I thought. You judged them. This image of a girl sitting in her bathroom sink, wearing nothing but a tiara as she puckers her lips and bats her eyelashes came to mind.
Here's the problem. This is your insecurity, not their confidence being an issue. I can promise you one thing. Any woman that is confident doesn't have the time to stand in front of a mirror and bat her eyes. Sit on that one for a sec.
Did hoards of sexy selfies come to mind? Yep, those women are seeking approval. There's nothing wrong with this, Heck I've done it too. So, from a girl whose been there, I can say this honestly. The need for acceptance and compliments demonstrates a lack of self confidence. The scale varies from woman to woman, but yes, it is there.
Now, I may not be the MOST confident woman in the world, but I've definitely axed my biggest insecurities as of late. Let me first tell you how, then why it was important, and finally the benefits of this newfound quality. Before I got married, I got into the best shape of my life. I was lookin reaaaaaaaal fine, tightly toned, my smallest size, rocking a bikini everywhere. However, during this time I tended to be more of the selfie taker. I fished for compliments more. Even if I felt like I was having a good hair day, I needed others to tell me it too. I spent so much time basing my mood off of what others thought about me, that I was dying by their rejection. Okay, that was dramatic, but you get the picture. It took me a while, but incrementally I started to change the way I saw myself. If people weren't going to notice my hair, or my cute little bum, with me shoving it in their face, then it really served no purpose shoving it in their face. And, the only person I really care to look good for is my husband. Granted, I'm a girl, and lookin cute in a room full of girls is still a temptation for me, I don't let it control me.
The big change took place when I got pregnant. Hot body went to hell. And I gave birth to the most beautiful creature ever. (She's really a tyrant, but shh. Don't tell her) my recovery was so dang difficult that I was laid out for 3 weeks and not allowed to exercise for 8. I am not a complainer, especially about pain. If I say I am hurting, I am in God awful pain!! Its amazing how long (ten years) you can work on your muscle and how quickly (two months) it can all disappear.
Anyway, with so much on my plate as a new Mom, and a working mom, I had so little time for grooming regimens. Seriously. We are talking once a week hair washing, once a month shaving, No makeup, hair in puke dread locks, clothes stained with puke, and just puke everywhere. It was awesome. And rejuvenating. I've never worried less about my appearance, and yet I've never felt so in control of myself.
This is very important for women to realize, and I wish there was a way for them to realize it sooner. To be frank, girls don't get all primped to catch a guy's attention. No. They get dazzled to be prettier than all the other girls. It's the truth! Why? Because we are in a cycle of self-conscious smack downs. We are insecure as a female race.
It is okay to have a few flaws. That is normal. Part of being confident is being okay with these flaws. This is where we go back to the beginning when I asked you what you thought about people who say, "I'm just confident." The real meaning behind this is as follows:
A confident person knows what they have and what they don't.
A confident person knows what they can do and what they can't.
A confident person is happy regardless.
Here is my example.
I know I have a petite body. (I was born that way. Haters gonna wish I will someday blow up into a size 15. That will never happen. Sorry.)
I do not have long, lithe legs. ( I am five feet tall.)
I know I can sing okay, write okay, play the piano, hit a volleyball, sketch, do hair, and dance. (I'm very artistic~ good genes I guess)
I cannot add, do anything that has to do with chemistry, slalom waterski, play any sport that involves swinging at a projectile orb, or sleep good at night.
That's just a few, but the point is in regard to these things, I live a fairly happy life. I am a confident person. Do I stare at myself 24/7 and think, Dayemgurl!
Do I wallow in pity because I have cellulite?
Maybe sometimes.
No, I get up and do some yoga and understand I will never be 6 feet tall...and I will ALWAYS have to work on my figure because of my metabolism. (Squat=muscle=strength =power! )
Am I Mariah Carey? Not even close. But I can carry a tune alright. 
For the life of me, I cannot golf. I'm the world's worst golfer. That I can officially brag about. Where's my trophy?
What I'm getting at is it is okay to know yourself. This is a content, confident person. This is what we should all strive to be. A woman who knows herself inside and out, and only compares herself to who she was yesterday. You find more inner peace, and struggle less with the competition of facing your peers. You will be more happy.

This is why it is SO important to find an inner confidence, not at all the same thing as being perfect, because be true with yourself. How unhappy are people that are obsessed with their negative attributes?  Or obsessed with other people's? Which is a huge flaw in and of itself. When you find an inner peace, a self-assurity, you live a more fulfilling life. You will not only be more patient and happy with yourself, but with other people and their shortcomings. It is a cycle of success.

This is NOT to be confused with self-absorbed or conceited behavior. A self-absorbed person is more than likely depressed and has low self-esteem. If you don't know what conceited means, look it up in the dictionary. It might be next to taking too many selfies  jk. But really. There is nothing wrong with being confident, and no it does not mean you are automatically stuck up. In fact the two RARELY cross paths. Ponder that. Happy people don't need approval.

The most confident people I admire aren't necessarily the world's version of beautiful or skinny or talented, but to me they embody absolute peace of mind and self satisfaction. They may gain a few pounds here or there, or cry because someone honked at them on the road, but all in all they lead a life of joy. Ever since I realized this, I've strived so very hard to be it. Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of things that drive me crazy about myself at times. Totally normal. Some are physical, some are mental. To be blunt, the majority of mine are not physical. ..What matters is I don't let them pilot my happy plane.

You'd be surprised how many clients sit in my chair at the salon with a picture of Jennifer Aniston in their hand and say, "I wanna look just like her."

Fabulous. May I suggest a plastic surgeon?
I tear off the portion of the picture below the bust, cover Jen's face with a thumb, and say, "This is what I can do for you today, minus the windblown still shot affect. Is that ok? "
I try so very hard to make people feel good about themselves, while straddling the fence of helping them also be happy with who they are.

In conclusion, I'd just like to forewarn you. Unhappy people really don't like happy people. It sucks. So when you acquire this new and beloved self confidence, beware of the hidden demon in all of your jealous friends. I've seen the ugly green face of an envious woman many, many times, and that is not to brag. Girls don't envy my voice, (I repeat, I am no Mariah Carey) but they envy my ability to fearlessly get on a stage and sing. They don't envy my looks. They envy the fact that I go out in a pony tail and makeup free face...and don't get treated any differently!~sometimes even hit on~ I don't have a gym membership. Pregnancy also gave birth to varicose veins. I have horrible sun scarring. I'm way too vain about my teeth to barf up all my food. I joke about needing botox. ..never had it. Weightloss supplements freak me out. I haven't colored my hair in over a year. (I'd like an applause for that)  And I'm working on being meek and humble, which always pisses someone off. They be like, "oh, so you think you're so naturally beautiful, you don't need make up? !" Wait...what the?

Bottom line: people are lame. Just joking. Sort of. I'm lame too, for saying that. But really the lame thing is how lame people are about happy people.

 I am a confident person and people with low self esteem tend to find that irksome. I want women to know that they should not be afraid of their talents, or their lack thereof. They should also not be afraid of losing friendships because of the happiness find.
Sidenote: miserable people are toxic. Back away slowly...
It's kinda silly and backwards, how we as a society punish the successful and proud and merry. When in reality, it is just because they have what we don't. I can say that from my heart, because I have come to terms with the fact that the only time I really harbored a bad feeling towards someone was when I was jealous deep down. You'll realize that too, one day, when you find your inner confidence 
Women, be happy with who you are. God has graced you with many abilities. Magnify those and forget trying to be someone you're not.
"No amount of physical change can cover up insecurity."
By Brittany Shannon

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Love Languages: How do you speak love?

I've written an article on love languages once before, where I specifically discussed Gift Giving (which is mine). Today I'd like to talk more about Words.
For those of you who have read the book on the Five Love Languages, you already know what they are. For those that haven't, I'll briefly tell you the Five categories:
*gift giving
Most people are a combination of several, however, there is usually one that means the most to you. To figure how how you show love, think about your favorite way to receive it. Normally you have a tendency to do one of the Five on a regular basis when trying to show love. This is because it is your love language. You speak gifts or touch or service. In addition, you expect this kind of language to be spoken to you. It is your favorite way to feel love. Mine happens to be gift giving, which you can read in more detail on my previous post. Today, let's talk about words.
For someone who speaks words as a love language, you actually speak words of love. You need to be told you are loved, or told you look beautiful, or told thank you when you've done something nice. This means you are typically very vocal when expressing love to others.
Now, this goes for everyone and every love language. When you make an effort to speak and that effort is rejected, it is enormously painful. It is much more painful for someone to be rejected by their own love language, than by any of the other four. For example, when I wrote about my love for gift giving, I mentioned how hurt I am by people who want a gift receipt to exchange the purchase. You may think this is stupid, but that is because gift giving is not your love language. If it is words, then you are probably devastated if someone was to yell at you, "You're so ugly and I hate you!" Negative words hurt a word-love-language-user like ungrateful gift recipients hurt me.
So. You don't feel loved by your spouse if they aren't actively verbalizing their affection for you. The same goes for someone who speaks touch. If they aren't being snuggled, or kissed, or making love to their partner, they suddenly feel like the love is lost between them.
This is why it is so HUGE to discover and discuss your love language at the beginning of your relationship. You will spend less time hurt and disappointed if you can communicate to your partner, how you speak and feel love. Because there are negative repercussions if you don't.
Now, I am not a words gal. I do appreciate a compliment now and then, but it is not my number one. Therefore, I'm not super hurt by name calling and lack of "I love yous" going on. (This doesn't mean I condone it)  but say I was to fight with my husband and he called me a big fat jerk, or said I was mean and he hated me and didn't trust me. Well, that would be rude and I would get over it. But to someone who speaks words for a love language, these kinds of things are irrevocably painful. You may think you are just spouting off in the heat of the moment, but you are causing someone grief that you can't take back. To you it may seem stupid, but that's because it isn't your love language. If you speak touch, and you are never hugged or kissed, you would not feel loved by the person you wanted it from, and a lack of touch would cause you immense misery. If you're like me, and you speak gifts, you feel the most loved when someone gives you something thoughtful.(that's right, it can be free) and you are the most hurt when ignored on birthdays or when a gift you give goes unwanted. If you speak time, and your partner is never around, maybe they are in the military, then you feel devastated and lonely.
Remember these languages go for all relationships, not just husband and wife. Parents, family members and friends all need to learn these five skills to improve their relationships. Seriously, it is a genius concept and will say you mounds of suffering.
Try to figure out your love language today, and talk to those you love about theirs. Happy Wednesday!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Let Your Actions Speak Louder Than Their Words

The saying, Actions Speak Louder than Words has taken on new meaning for me as I've gotten older. I'm no longer as concerned with my actions speaking louder than the words coming out of my mouth, as I am with them speaking louder than the words other people say about me.
I take it I'm not the only person who feels like they are frequently bad-mouthed. Not that it's an every day occurrence, because that actually just might prove something. I mean, where there's smoke there's fire, right? No, I mean there's that one moment annually where a person you know well says something so hurtful or slanderous and it really breaks you. For me, it tends to come in cycles and is regularly communicated through the same source. I don't know why. I don't know what it is. But I have learned there are some people you will never please. I've also learned if someone is always talking negatively about others to you, then they are talking negatively about you to others.
I've always tried to be a stand up gal. Amidst my normal human error, I have tried to reconcile with people I may have wronged, cultivate relationships that were feeling in need of nurturing. When I meet someone new, I always go up and introduce myself and shake their hand. When I really want to establish a friendship, I make an effort to call the person and spend time with them, even if it is just a quick lunch. Now that my life is crazy busy and I have zero spare time to exert on social life, lest I detract from my obligatory duties as a wife and mother, those calls have turned into texts where I just let the person know I'm thinking of them. This has not come naturally to me. In fact, it may surprise those that know me now to hear that I spent the first 20 years of my life quite guarded and blunt. I didn't care to make "friends" or smile at strangers. This is in part because I'm incredibly independent. I'm happy being alone. I don't need people. And part because I lacked basic social skills. I was inept. I can be nice, but not friendly. There is a difference. Being nice is driving you a can of gas in the middle of the night because you ran out and needed assistance. The latter is offering kind words, gestures, and service before the need presents itself. These things I've learned from the great examples in my life. Family members and a few fabulous friends: Manda, if you ever read this, you are one of those unconditional people who have taught me so much about friendship. And my wifey, you know who you are, even though I don't get to see you often, your loyalty and heart resonates deep with anyone you meet. Patti, for teaching me structure and professionalism in the workforce. My mom for making it okay to laugh at yourself. My dad for charity. I could go on and on...but for the sake of anonymity I'll keep it brief.
I can distinctly remember the occasions in my life where stabbing words have been repeated about me. The wounds are still there. I'm not sure if it has been my failure as a girl, or their failure as a messenger. But these comments have made me wonder about my demeanor when seen through the eyes of others. I've reevaluated my conduct and attitude to try and improve it on a day to day basis so that my actions can speak louder than words. And not my words, but theirs.
While I may let my sensitivity weakness allow the offensive character of others to impact my mood too often, I attempt to use these small deprectiations as tools for self-discovery. Its just one more way for me to recheck myself and see if there's anything that needs fine tuning. 
Just to give a quick example, during the period of time I was married (the first time) and the proceeding year and a half, I acted in a manner that was not suited for a responsible, mature woman. I threw punches. I screamed in public. I was going through a tremendous amount of pain and didn't know how to cope with it. My actions spoke louder than any expressed words, therefore, those talltales of me being considered half-crazy-woman-banshee were sorta true. As a result, I had a tattered reputation and frazzled friendships. I've mended those I could, and the rest has been left to fate. I can only improve myself from here on out and hope word can get back to anyone who watched me fall apart so gracefully (sarcasm) that I'm a changed human.
So, long story short, whenever I've encountered an untrue rumor about myself, or even a partially true rumor, I do my best to counteract it with positive and influencing actions. Of course, I will make mistakes and say something stupid every now and then. But then, every now and then I'm trying to make up for it. 
It amazes me how receptive certain people are to this. Personally, I think it's the wiser generation that openly forgive and accept human error, and it's the foolish and ignorant that don't. I'm hoping to become the first, because let's be real, we have all been the second of the two and it doesn't lead anywhere productive. If you're surrounded by the foolish, those that constantly reflect negativity or gossip or bear falsehoods, I challenge you to eliminate them from your network and instead replace them with people who are going to uplift and encourage you to be a better person. Even if you don't see many commonalities, just the fact that you both are realists, with love and tolerant attributes, will be a solid basis for a relationship. Some of the best friends I've ever made were my polar opposite. But we were honest and true to each other. Those are the kinds you want to feed and water. 
You want the people you are friends with to never believe a bad word said about you. Remind yourself often, if others could write your gravestone, what would it say?
The good thing is every day is a new beginning, with a clean slate, and an endless horizon. 

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Getting Fit After Having A Baby

I just wanted to share with all the women out there my journey to getting healthy after having my baby. I've known too many people who slipped into their skinny jeans a month after delivering, and then LOST weight by breast feeding. I did not experience this. Nor did I face any genetic miracle. No, the size and weight I'm at now is due to 5 months of strict WORK!

The first few pictures are at 2 months postpartum. At the time, I wasn't too focused on losing weight because I was struggling with milk production. But after a few weeks of not feeling myself, and not losing a pound by nursing, I decided to start a very disciplined diet. I also incorporated mild exercise. No heavy cardio. The combination helped me get back into my jeans and tone up a little in a moderate and realistic pace. The last pictures are at 5 months postpartum. 

There is so much pressure for women to look like a million bucks after birth, but the truth is every body is different. I am not blessed to have a figure I don't have to work for, which at this point I am thankful for. I appreciate my health so much more because I have to work so very hard for it.

Girls, women, don't stress too much if your body does strange things after you have a baby. Heck, mine still has fat pockets in the strangest places and I'm pretty sure I could stretch my stomach to China....but I FEEL good again. I feel confident again. I can be proud of where I'm at and love the body I'm in as much as the one I created.

Please share your success stories and weight loss journeys so we may empower other women. Getting slim and fit should be a personal process. Never compare your fitness routine or diet to someone else's, unless it is in a healthy competitive form. Your diet and work outs will need to be individualized for your specific body and metabolism. Remember, there is no need to have anxiety about your body and losing weight right after delivery a beautiful baby. Focus and be happy, it will all come with some dedication, time, and effort.

Friday, August 29, 2014

My Volunteer Work: Addiction Recovery Program

I've mentioned it before, but I thought I'd go into a little more detail a out my volunteer work as a facilitator for the Addiction Recovery Program. The ARP is ran by LDS family services, although it is not specific to the LDS religion. It is a 12 step program where you can go to meetings and receive love and support for addictions and families of addicts.
I got my badge a month ago, but I've been going to the meetings a long time. Actually, my introduction to ARP began in 2008. It is strange, because I didn't know at the time that the meetings I was attending were in fact ARP meetings. Again, I've mentioned my previous marriage before, so I'll be brief, but I would attend the Addiction meeting for spouses while my spouse was in the other meeting for men addicted to pornography. I was 19 at the time and as broken as can be. I sat in the back, snot running, squeaking noises sobbing. I didn't read, I didn't share, I didn't participate. I was so hurt and in pain I didn't even realize what the program was all about. I only went a handful of times. Fast forward to 2014, and I decided I wanted to do volunteer work. I've always wanted to be a part of something huge...and life changing. When my parents got involved, I decided this was right for me. I only have to sacrifice an hour or two a week which will be easy as a new mom, and I'll get to meet all these new wonderful people who are trying to be better. I went through all 12 steps (12 weeks)  to finish my training and voila, I am an official facilitator.
I wanted to share how much I love being a part of the ARP program, and why I think it is so good for EVERYONE. This will probably take several long blog posts because I have so much to say about it! I've learned so much about myself, so much about gratitude, and seeing others in the struggles they face has made me appreciate life so much more. I have had a ton of experience with addicts, which I can talk about in future posts, but this experience in ARP is unlike any other. These people truly want to change. Some of them even have. There are people from all walks of life, All demographics, and all ages. Some are battling current addictions and some have been in recovery a long time. But the amazing thing is they all showed up for their ARP meeting. Hearing their stories really puts things into perspective. I can't believe there is so much love and camaraderie where I didn't know it could exist. I genuinely Believe every human being can benefit from the 12 steps, regardless of whether or not they have a physical addiction. In fact, the 12 steps are currently helping me face anxiety and depression issues. It is such a magnificent program, I just thought I'd spread the word a little ☺
Next time, I'll share some personal experiences. In the meantime, if you struggle with an addiction, physical or mental, ARP is totally worth a shot. I promise. They are global and free. Don't be afraid to check them out.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Losing Baby Weight, Not Your Mind

If you've read my other posts, you know I recently had a baby. She's almost five months old and the joy of my life. I went into my pregnancy blissfully happy, and enjoyed every stage of it until about the last three weeks. I was working 50 hour weeks until my due date, and I went into labor that night. She was born the next day. It was all such a wonderful experience. I gained a healthy 37lbs, exercised my whole pregnancy, and was feeling pretty confident I would bounce right back into my tightly muscled, size zero body.

This was not the case.
(Read my post 50 hilarious truths about motherhood for further details)

You know, I talked to many family and friends who had had babies, and asked their experiences in hopes of motivating myself. For the most part, I compared myself to them. The women who lost their baby weight in 4 weeks, and THEN SOME, led me to believe I could be like them. This set me up for failure.

6 weeks postpartum, I had shed 17lbs of the baby weight, but I was retaining these strange pockets of fat I'd never had before. Because of my rough delivery, I wasn't allowed to exercise until my 8 week mark. My body went to mush. Once proud of my 14% body fat, I was now entirely covered in cellulite. Even on my calves and tell me how that is possible! It was such a disappointment.

I picked up my fitness routine, doing only mild cardio since I faced another challenge of producing breast milk. But I kicked up my weight training and expected to see some results. Interestingly, I lost more weight, but it was muscle tone. My arms and legs, and even tummy area, are still floppy. No matter what. Yoga, Pilates, Boflex...Nope. I have too much progesterone.

What I'm getting at is women should not ever compare their bodies to someone else's. There will be that one girl you know who drops her baby weight and even a few extra pounds, just from breastfeeding in those first few weeks, but it is important to understand that these women are the exception, not the rule.

I took it so hard when my body didn't bounce back. And sure, 5 months into my Postpartdum I am back in my regular jeans, but my body in no way looks the way it did pre-baby. My hips are bigger, my boobs are saggier, and my tummy ripples when I sit. Oh, and I have varicose veins. This is normal and we should be able to talk about it.

I hope any woman reading this can feel support and know that it is completely normal to take a healthy period of time losing baby weight. In addition, we should all be aware of the changes our bodies undergo during and after pregnancy. I mean, we just grew a human! Inside of us! And that was the easy part. When we gave birth to them, our bodies performed a miracle.

Don't be like me. I lost my mind instead of losing baby weight. I beat myself up over it. I felt insecure. I would look at pictures of me on my honeymoon, my toned legs and six pack abs, but the truth is it is unrealistic to expect that so soon. Be jealous for like 5 seconds of those girls who got skinny in a jiff, and then move on. Honestly, they are probably jealous of you for something you aren't aware of. You must take into consideration your genetics. Every pregnancy is different and every Postpartdum is individualized. My genes told me I was going to be dimply and fluffy, and that it would probably take me 9 months to get off what it took me 9 months to gain.

When I accepted this, I began to look at myself in a much more gentle light. I felt beautiful again. And I appreciated my baby more. I am so lucky to even be the size that I am. Its okay if I require harder exercise to be fit again, because hard work never hurt anybody!

Love the body you're in as much as the one you created!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

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Saturday, August 2, 2014

The Happy Challenge

How happy are you...really?

There is some truth to, "fake it till you make it". I won't deny the effects of a positive attitude. But just for a moment, I want you to dig deep and ask yourself the question: how happy am I?

So you have post it notes around your house with tons of quotes about inspiration and enthusiasm and excellence and you grab your Starbucks and head to work feelin jazzy. Every single one of your Facebook updates reminds the world of your perfect life, with your perfect husband/wife, and your perfect kittens (or children). You're smiling in every one of your pictures. You are the life of the party at social gatherings. Your family and friends come to you about their struggles...because you've, "got it together"  and they need your advice.

Maybe this is really you.

But it probably isn't.

Happiness goes SO much deeper than any outward appearance. It even goes deeper than just trying to be happy.  Consider this: there is no path to happiness. Happiness is the path.

You can force a smile on those extra grumpy days, or bury your stresses with coping mechanisms such as food, drink, shopping, sports, or vacations. Sometimes this is a necessary~ but temporary~ fix. Everyone needs a break. A little pick me up. However, the truth is nothing will ever make you happy if you don't solve the underlying issue. And nine times out of ten, the harder you try to cover up any pain or insecurity you are facing, the more you will exploit it. Those people that are superlative in their happiness for all the world to see, ALL OF THE TIME, are usually the most miserable.

Now, it is good and absolutely acceptable to have things, possessions, that make you feel happy. But they are just things. They should be an additional BOOST to your residing joy in life, not what determines it. Travelling and going on vacation should be a huge stress relief, providing you with a brief mental escape from the hustle and bustle of the rat race, but if you can't handle day to day anxieties without having a panic attack, isn't something out of balance? We are all hamsters in the wheel. We all face predicaments and obstacles and hardships. No one is exempt, whether you think they are or not. This is part of the facade. The people you think live flawless lives do not. And if someone has never faced the torture of heartbreak, trust me, they will. Maybe you faced it first, but no one escapes life unscathed. They will fall, hard, and it will be crippling, whether they try to hide it or not.

*'Never compare your worst inside to someone else's best outside.*'

Why do people feel the need to put on a fake front? This is an interesting aspect of society we will never really know. Everything is a competition, a success or a failure, based on what those around you do. Weight, physical appearance, finances, these are all major issues where humans feel constantly unqualified, less than equal, insecure, hopeless, and dejected. It is within these issues we see the largest fraud. People have a hard time letting the world see them as weak or vulnerable, which is ironic because everyone is. Even your hero. Great leaders don't become great leaders by inexperience. Part of a confident bearing is accepting all flaw and errors made, while trying to work towards a better you. And that better you should NEVER EVER be measured against someone else's. I mean, that is just ludicrous.

Hate to break it to you, but anxiety and depression are two of the most commonly misdiagnosed disorders. (Feel free to get as angry about that as you please) I can genuinely back that up with medical proof from a medical professional that I know and trust and think is smarter than anyone else in the healthcare industry if you want, but this isn't a medical post. The truth is we as a human race have become so adapted to a victim society, and there is so much we do to cover up and smash and hide and dope our personal problems, we are kind of forgetting how we are actually supposed to handle them. This makes us perpetually unhappy. You can make your own judgements, as you have the freedom to do, but I believe and most psychological reports will confirm that no amount of pill, beverage, purchase, or surgical procedure will mask a private pain. Basically, it will not make you happy. Ever. And you will be pumping prescription pills into your body, damaging your liver, going under the knife for plastic surgery time and time again, or shelling out cash and damaging your bank account, all without ever finding a lasting solution. Its a crutch. A cop out.

Real depression and real anxiety are TOTALLY different than getting flashes of saddness, feelings of overwhelming stress, fluctuating heart rhythms, and the desire to always sleep. News flash: EVERYONE feels that way all the time.

I don't think anyone looks in the mirror and thinks they are the prettiest person on the planet. But there is no one mold for beauty, despite what Hollywood may say. Surgery may make you look like someone else's version of pretty, but it won't heal your heart. Take a good long hard look at your self, what you want to fix, and why, before making irreversible decisions.  (think about the medieval time period, where none of these, "solutions" were available....and ask yourself how they managed. Obviously, there was still love, and so much passion. Those people valued life, truly. What changed?)

It is the easy route to turn to shopping, or vacationing, or medication. Because reevaluating your life and exposing your hurts is excruciating, sometimes embarrassing, and it means you have to be a big grown up and deal with issues without codependency.

Now, if you have the financial means to buy luxury things, and this means without depriving your family of essentials or going into debt, by all means rent that yacht in Ibiza for a week and drink Don Perigon. More power to you.

Going back to my question. How happy are you? You don't have to admit to me your darkest fears, or your self esteem trials, although admitting them to yourself is always the first step in recovery. A good indicator of harboring ill feelings would be to ask yourself a series of questions like, Am I irritable often? Do I target these irritable notions towards other people? Do I bring people down, either verbally or with thoughts?  Am I jealous by nature? Do I envy others' successes? Do I talk about other people's failures, more than my own? Do I spread untrue remarks? Do I make more complaints than compliments a day? If others got to pick what my grave stone would say, would I want to read it? How often do I blame others for my feelings? Do you often feel an overpowering sense of panic or that your life is out of control?

I want to pose a challenge that may help you discover your true level of contentment. It will pertain to male and female, any age, and any race. You can take it or leave it.

1. If you had to pack a small carry on bag of belongings and leave, abandoning everything you ever owned, what would you take? I want you to try using only these items for a week and log your feelings. How happy did you feel? What did you miss and why? Or what did you discover you could live without?

2. How insecure are you with your physical looks?
A.I want you to go a week without any make up or hair tools or product. Go about your daily routine, work, grocery, gym. Find natural ways to present yourself, especially if you have a professional job. If you must accentuate your appearance for work, then try to at least go minimal. No adornments, like jewelry, acrylic nails, fake eyelashes. Wear only mascara and a simple pony tail. Men, drop your grooming regimen. Log your feelings. How happy were you? What did you miss and why? Or what did you realize you enjoy about being more bare?
B.If you're trying to lose weight, I challenge you to eat a health conscious, 2000 calories a day, exercise 30 min a day, for a week straight. Don't look at pictures of women with different height, structure, age, and bone density. See a nutritionist about what a realistic BMI is for YOU as an individual. Go to a meeting with other people who want to lose weight. Make short term and long term goals to reach this realistic image, and log your feelings at the end of the week.
Hint. We can't all be Cindy Crawford. The diet industry is one of the most crooked. There is no cure all fitness plan. Every body is a different organism and will function that way. Comparing yourself to other body types will only damage your self esteem. In addition, if you don't need to lose weight and are trying, attend meetings about eating disorders. You may suffer from body dysmorphia.
C. If you're trying to gain weight, repeat step B.
D. If image is everything to you, I challenge you to wear a simple neutral color t shirt and jeans for a week, paired with one pair of shoes. If your work requires you to wear business attire, try the same color pants, shirt, (and tie). Document how people receive you, if it's different, better, worse.  Log your feelings at the end of the week.

3. How relevant is the vehicle you drive to your social status? I challenge you to substitute your car for biking or walking whenever possible. If you have a so called junk car, drive that instead. If you have a grocery within a couple blocks, try going more frequently for less, and walk to and from. If you have to drive to work, try not exceeding the speed limit, make an effort to let people pass you, or lane change in front of you, etc. Monitor your road rage (ha ha)  log your feelings at the end of the week and remember, the majority of the world's population can't afford a car.

4. Do you lack a sense of purpose in life? I challenge you to read the book A Purpose Driven Life, if you're of a Christian based faith. If you're agnostic or atheist, go on a little journey. A physical journey to a place where you feel peaceful and calm, and then take a mental journey into a state of meditation. For both parties: Ask yourself what you really want to get out of life. What do you want to accomplish and achieve? What can you realistically do to succeed in this? Make short term and long term goals. Realize you are the only person who can take you there. You cannot rely on others to make it happen. Log your feelings at the end of the week.

5. Is there something causing you residual pain? If this pain is a person, or an act caused by a person, first make an effort to forgive them as we all make mistakes~ and there's a high chance you're on someone's Shit list too~ Then find means for restitution. If they didn't mean to hurt you, it is up to you to get over it. Holding onto resentment is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to get sick. This is the most difficult. If they did try to hurt you, you must still follow these steps, but you have the right to mistrust and avoid the person until you feel safe. In either case, this week I challenge you to do something nice for the person that hurt you. Buy them a slurpee or leave them treats. Do it! Regardless of how pissed you are. Try to accomplish as much of this as possible within a week. Log your progress.

6. For any other hardship or disappointment or dissatisfaction, I challenge you to do some research on a third world country. I want you to read about their government, their freedoms, their society. Then I want you to pick an organization within this country, whether it be a charity, a school, or a hospital, and donate to it. You can donate clothing, food, money. Log all of this in a journal, and write down your feelings at the end of the week.

7. If you suffer from an addiction, you probably don't know it. If you do, I challenge you to Google an Addiction Recovery program in your city. They are everywhere and everyday at almost every hour. And they're free usually. Attend one. Participate. And interact with the other addicts there. Go home and log your feelings.

It is so hard to acknowledge the fact that we are in charge of our own happiness. Our demeanor is not solidly based on those around us. While they can influence our mood, it is our choice to let it permanently affect us. It is easy to blame others, or look for quick fixes, then it is to uncover the sting and ache of our unhappiness. We would rather compare ourselves to others and hate people for having what we do not, and lusting after what appears to be their joy. Don't be fooled by appearances. It is textbook denial to overtly express exuberance, and paint a picture of a perfect world.

Remember, there is nothing wrong with a positive attitude. It has to start somewhere. But happiness is more than faking it. Take the challenges above and discover more about yourself then you ever knew possible. You may be surprised how many times you are complimented when you go out without makeup, and stylish hair and clothing. You may find inner peace with your body, or even get in better shape with all the biking and walking instead of driving a few blocks to a neighbor's house. You may be surprised at how blessed you are, and find a renewed sense of gratitude when studying countries that have so much less than we do. You may be surprised how unhappy you've been living, and look forward to a fuller life in the days to come!

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