If you know me, you know that I am a big fan of gratitude! In our home, we discuss gratitude every evening at dinner, around the table each person (even guests) are asked to share one thing they are grateful for that day! Initially, this was a difficult practice for our kids; however, over time they have gotten the hang of it! They are also the first ones to remind me of the practice when I forget!
The research surrounding the topic supports the benefits also! People are less reactive and negative when they are able to focus on their feelings of gratitude regularly!
Just a few of the benefits of gratitude:
we are able to hold onto positive feelings for longer
we are less pessimistic
we are more able to forgive
we have better overall moods
we experience better health
we feel more connected to others in our lives
Are you willing to build mindfulness of gratitude into your daily life? I have a blank page in my journal that says “I’m so grateful…” for each month. I challenge myself to jot down 3 things each day (big or small) that bring me feelings of gratitude, contentment, pride, joy, happiness, love, etc. As the month goes on, it brings me so much happiness to see the page fill up! Other ways to practice mindfulness of gratitude are to write letters to people about why you appreciate having them in your life (even if you never send it). You can use apps that prompt you to track things that bring you joy and cause you to feel grateful also! Give it a try, it can flip your outlook from negative to content (or positive) in just few days!
I thought I’d share with you all my goals. I am partially sharing this to hold myself accountable and partially sharing to inspire you! It honestly never crossed my mind to share things about my personal goals more often; however, I am currently reading the book “A Year of Less” by Cait Flandres and she shared monthly how she was doing related to financial goals, sobriety, and motivation. I love this!
Workout 4-5 times per week – right now this includes Orange Theory Fitness, Planet Fitness, home workouts via Beach Body and family hikes!
Overpay on my mortgage each month. I do have a stretch goal in mind which would have me pay off my house in approximately 5 years, my realistic goal is 10.
Drink water, drink water, drink water. My goal is 70 ounces per day. The reason is that it helps me feel less physical pain, I have a clearer mind, I have drink less sugary drinks if I am drinking water and drinking water is the catalyst for me eating healthier also!
Read bible study/devotional, journal and pray. I lump these all in together because I find it’s difficult to do all three each day and yet, as they support one another.
Work on one random healthy habit. I change this each month and so far, they have included: washing my face before bed, flossing and using mouthwash, Kegels, meditation.
No alcohol – this is a given. While I have no problem with alcohol overconsumption, I strive to drink very little.
Write or blog each day – well duh! Even though this is something I LOVE to do, I am as likely as the next person to avoid doing productive tasks in lieu of scrolling Tik Tok or watching something on Netflix!
I’ll make more of an effort to post my results each month!
Anxiety has a way of creeping up on you, increasing it’s grasp and intensity as the day goes on. As a mom of three and a human with anxiety issues, I have devised a set of daily rituals that help slow (and sometimes stop) the creep!
Keep a hand written to-do list.
Anxiety tries to convince you to ignore. Ignore tasks, ignore lists, ignore expectations, ignore feelings, etc. The inverse of that concept is to approach. We need to learn to approach that which we are afraid of in order to conquer our day! Anxiety will try to convince you that if you write everything down, you will not be able to handle it; however, I am telling you that writing it down will EASE your stress because it will allow you to see the tasks and forge a path forward!
Create a morning routine that maximizes productivity.
Here’s the deal, you are unlikely to have more motivation and energy later in the day (as we try to convince ourselves will happen). I have found, after many trials and errors, that front loading my chores into the first 90 minutes of the day makes for much smoother sailing. Here’s my morning routine:
7am wake up, be sure their floors are picked up (their responsibility the night before) and put food in front of kids. While they are eating, go start the Roomba upstairs (where the bedrooms are) and get dressed. The Roomba will run for 90 minutes while everything else is happening. Check to see who needs a load of laundry started…seriously, someone will! Start the load of laundry. Pack the lunches and bags for all the humans. While the kids are doing their things (brushing teeth, going potty, running around like crazy people) unload the dishwasher (also enlist their help, even little can put some things away) and reload. Bring Roomba back to it’s base to charge. Set it to run in a different part of the house when I’m gone.
Drink a lot of water.
Pop culture would have you believe that this line should say “drink a lot of coffee”. That is not the case! Drinking things that give you false energy (such as coffee/sugary drinks) will only leave you feeling jittery and cause a crash about 90 minutes after drinking. I generally limit myself to one coffee or caffeinated tea each morning and then switch to water. Water will give you energy and motivation to continue with other healthier habits for the rest of the day. It will also make you have to pee a lot which will force you to get up and move around (which also gives you more energy!)
Similar to the above tip. We have a tendency to reach for carbs and sugar when our energy is dipping; however, this is sure to increase our sluggishness, fatigue and mood swings throughout the day. Carbs and sugar aren’t banned; however, increasing them isn’t going to help you. When your energy is dipping, try to eat things that are more natural and from the produce section of the grocery store! Fruits and veggies contain so much natural sugar, antioxidants, etc. which is what you need to have sustained energy throughout the day.
Early to Bed.
As I mentioned in the first bullet point, your energy isn’t going to magically increase throughout the day. I strongly suggest you bump your bedtime up! I generally try to get to bed close to 9pm, with 10pm as a deadline. I have learned that going to bed after 10pm is a sure fire way to sabotage my next day.
To be honest, I have not forgotten that I have these books; however, I haven’t read them in a while. When I find an author that speaks to me, I will buy and read everything I can get my hands on by them. It is no secret that I have a passion for reading and writing. It brings me a great sense of peace to settle into a good book, so much so that I can truly block out the whole world when I’m in a good place.
Mitch Albom is one such author. I don’t have his complete set any longer because I am chronically giving his books away to loved ones as gifts! He was originally a sports writer (which shocked me as I am not a “sports person”) and achieved most notoriety for his book, and the subsequent movie adapted from it, Tuesdays With Morrie. Intriguingly that isn’t my favorite book from him. If I was forced to choose, my favorite books of his are The Time Keeper and The Five People You Meet in Heaven. It pains me to say that though because they are all so good! His most recent book, Finding Chika, had me in tears as it is a true account of him falling in love and adopting a little girl from Haiti with a terminal brain tumor. All of his books carry SUCH strong “take home” messages, you cannot read them without learning something about yourself.
I wear many hats and hold many titles, and I am more than them all.
I am more than a mom. I love being a mom and it is one of my most obvious identities; however, for my self worth and growth it cannot be my only identity. I see far too many women who are utterly lost when their children “fly the nest”. I am blessed to have insight that I need to continue to work on being my own person.
I am more than a wife. I love my husband dearly! He is an amazing support to me, a hard worker and a fantastic father. If I let myself be completely identified as a wife, I’ll loose my friend and career focus. I am blessed to have the confidence to encourage him to have friends and a life apart from me and he does the same for me.
I am more than a therapist. I enjoy helping others and enabling growth. I love seeing people heal from unspeakable traumas; however, one cannot pour from an empty cup. I cannot be only a therapist or I would crumble. I have to take care of myself outside of my career.
I am more than an author. I write for my own selfish desire – I write to remind myself of the life lessons I have learned. I cannot be only an author or I would get too wrapped up and obsessed with numbers, sales, followers, etc. My worth does not come from numbers.
I am more than a woman. I refuse to let gender define how you or I see myself. I am stronger and weaker than I look. I do not let gender stop me from going on new adventures and I refuse to define others by their gender and/or sexuality.
I am more than a leader. I may lead teams and function as a leader in my day job; however, to lead, one must also follow. I follow my higher power and seek guidance from scripture. I cannot and do not know what is best in all situations, I humbly accept that I am fallible.
I am more than you think and I am less than you know.
In reflecting on the upcoming holiday of Valentine’s Day (whether or not you believe it’s a valid holiday), I think it’s important to dig a bit deeper and see what we can do to make the entire year as loving as February 14th tends to be? Valentine’s Day has become quite commercialized in America, I doubt anyone would argue that. Under all the glitter and greeting cards there is actually thread of kindness and love rarely seen as prevalently as on that day. I see this between spouses, in dating relationships, between parents and children…even in the workplace. It’s almost as if people use the holiday as a reminder that they can and SHOULD be nice to one another periodically and I am grateful that retailers make it so much easier for people to express it.
Gary Chapman is the author of The Five Love Languages and is a relationship counselor. The Five Love Languages is a guidebook for how to rekindle that appreciation and love you have for those in your life and express it to them in a way that will be picked up on their radar. He has concluded that there are five “languages” that people like to receive love: words, acts, gifts, time, and touch. The problem he seeks to address is that in our relationships, we often express love in the manner we would like to receive it…without realizing that this may not be the language of the receiver. If you are a parent, child, spouse, significant other, boss, and/or employee, I would strongly urge you to read this book or it’s appropriate adaptation and challenge yourself to speak the love language of the receiver!
I encourage you (and your loved ones) to take the Five Love Languages quiz and find out how you best receive love and share your answers. This will allow you both to maximize the communication and receiving of love from others. You can take the quiz here. Give it a try…see what changes take place in your life!