Mental health & trying to keep it together

photo by j parker photography

This post is for when you feel like life is getting the best of you.

I ran into a colleague of mine recently while I was working at a coffee shop, and he encouraged me to write this post on mental health – how to keep it together when it feels like you have too many things going on (he’s getting his doctoral degree). I’ve written about that sort of thing before, but I’ve never really written a “how to” post. I certainly don’t have a magic recipe or a button to push to make all of life’s hard things disappear.  But I’m always happy to share my own experiences and give advice, so this post is about what always works for me when I’m feeling way too overloaded. These tips have gotten me through graduate school, juggling several jobs, heartache, loss, and more.

This new school year is already proving to be a challenge for me. I can’t seem to keep my head above water and every day is a constant to-do list that doesn’t even get halfway accomplished. Clubs, department chair, budget, committees, lesson plans and grading – I have never been this behind on grading so early on. On top of that, add a second job, keeping up with this blog, trying to exercise, 2 dogs, friends, family, etc…you get the picture. I’m sure you also have your own list! I really started to feel overwhelmed this week and even as I sit here, I’m trying to squeeze in writing a blog post after school before leaving for my second job at the pub. SO. I am also writing this post as a reminder to myself of the steps I need to take so I can keep my sanity and not completely fall apart.

People frequently ask me how I’m always so positive, happy, upbeat, etc. or tell me that I always seem “put together.” I’ve gotten that comment (compliment!) a lot in my life, and I can guarantee you that I do not always have it together – I’m just really good at faking it ’til I make it! But I do tend to stay pretty positive and I try to look at life’s hardships as a growing process and as problems with solutions, rather than letting them ruin my life. Here are the steps I take when life is really sticking it to me and I feel like I’m about to explode:

1. Take a breath. The cheesiest, most overused cure on the planet – but if people would just take a second and actually breathe in and out a few times, the world would probably definitely be a much better place. Breathing does a few things, and there is a lot of science behind it, but I’ll save that for another time because I know I can get long-winded (see what I did there?). Breathing gives you a few moments between stimulus and response:  The moment something “happens to you” and however you decide to react to it. If you’re taking a few moments to just breathe in and out, you are saving yourself from overreacting, saying something you’ll regret later, breaking something, etc. You have a few seconds to think about how you want to respond. Doing this simple task – breathing – and being aware of it, has literally changed my life and my whole outlook on it.

2. Allow yourself to wallow – but not for long. It is okay to feel overwhelmed and upset. It is okay to feel like life isn’t fair sometimes, or like you don’t deserve “all of this,” whatever “this” is for you. I get it. So take that time to really get a good “Dang, this sucks” moment in for yourself, and then remind yourself that you are done feeling sorry for yourself because you have mountains to move. At some point you have to dust yourself off and start making a plan. You just have to. Otherwise, you’ll get stuck in the dark place, and that is a hard place to pull yourself out of.

3. Distance yourself from whatever you need to. Give yourself space. Remember up there in #1, where I talked about stimulus and response? We often respond too quickly to a situation, a conversation, or a moment of frustration without giving it some time and space for thinking about it. If it’s school, work, social problems, whatever it might be, give yourself some distance. Physically walk away from whatever it is and take a break. Get some air, think about your feelings, all that good stuff. Weigh your options and then respond/act once you’ve been able to process everything. I wrote more about that here.

4. Vent to a non-judgmental ear. Sometimes we just need to get it out. Find that person that can listen to you without reminding you later what you said when you were stressed out. A sounding board that can understand you’re just having a moment and need someone to say, “I hear you,” and not, “I told you so.” Typically in these moments we aren’t looking for advice – we just need to be heard and validated. There is value in that. I believe there is true healing in just getting bad things out of your brain and into the open, whether that’s in writing, talking to friends or family, or even talking to a trained professional.

5. Prioritize. Make lists! Even if making lists isn’t your thing and it doesn’t bring you satisfaction like it does to me (which I can’t even begin to understand), making lists is the number one way to make sure you can accomplish all you need to accomplish – and in the order that it all needs to get done! So you’ve had your time to feel sorry for yourself, and now you have to make a plan on how you’re going to make it through. I usually keep several lists – for to-dos at home/errands, things I need to do at school, a list for the blog, a list for pictures I need to take for the blog, a list of workouts and groceries for the week, etc. You can do this easily on your phone, too. I set a million reminders a day and Siri always comes through for me if I don’t come through for myself. There are tasks that have to get done RIGHT NOW, and things that can always get done later, so put dates or times next to your items. Prioritize and then get to work. Focus on one thing at a time. Then the next thing. Then the next. And let me tell you, life doesn’t stop, so your lists will keep getting longer, but as you start crossing things off, it balances out. Even people who fly by the seat of their pants have to have a plan of attack if things are ever going to get accomplished.

6.  Do not be too proud to ask for help. I cannot stress enough that we are only human. We are not magical superheroes with more than 24 hours in a day or limitless energy and peppiness. If someone asks if you want help with something, or if you want to split something up, and you’re about to seriously go off the deep end, let. Them. Help. You. Give up the control and let someone know you are overloaded. There is no shame in admitting that you have a lot going on and could really use a little help. Then, the next time you’re feeling more on top of things, maybe you can pay it forward and help someone else who’s fighting to keep their head above water. It feels good to know we are needed, so let someone know you need them!

7. Be physically active. This is so key to keeping it together, and it is usually where I fall short, so I get it. You’ve heard the saying, “A tired dog is a good dog?” The same applies for humans! You may not be chewing up your favorite pair of shoes, but without releasing your negative energy, tension, and stress from your day-to-day life, you are going to be bottling up some pretty serious stuff, and when it has no outlet, it starts to leak like poison. No matter what you believe, you can’t deny the scientific proof that exercises releases endorphins. It also helps give you some head space and clear your thoughts. I know – you’re busy. You don’t have time to exercise, you’re too tired to exercise, you’ve got a million other things to do. But I promise you the payoff is so worth it. You can read all about how yoga changed my life here, but I also love to walk my dogs, do tabata circuits, and lift weights! Anything that gets you moving is better than sitting around feeling too overwhelmed to be productive. You will never regret it afterwards.

8. Check in with yourself throughout the day. Something that makes a huge difference for me is being mindful and aware of how I am feeling. That sounds so obvious, but a lot of us don’t stop to think about the why. We just go through the motions without thinking about what’s going on in our bodies or minds. Am I tired? Cranky? Does something just not feel right? Did something happen that made me feel this way? Am I clenching my teeth or wrinkling my forehead or tensing up my shoulders? Throughout the day I have to constantly remind myself to breathe deeply, unclench my teeth, and relax my shoulders. Those are the three biggest ways I can quickly just feel calmer. Make sure you’re checking in on yourself and taking care of your needs.

9. Fake it ’til you make it. My high school students can’t believe that I am “always in such a good mood.” What’s my secret? The secret is I’m not always in a good mood! But I DO believe that moods are contagious, and if you can fake it and put on a good face – even if it’s just to yourself – you can really help frame your mood, your day, and the moods of those around you. I’m not saying you have to act like Little Miss Sunshine, but even little things like not complaining when someone asks how your day is going can make a huge difference. Smile and tell yourself that you can handle this and have this covered, and then remind yourself of that as you start to take one thing at a time.

10. Celebrate. Life is short, and adulting is hard, and if we don’t give ourselves things to look forward to or celebrate our accomplishments, then what’s the point? When you cross a big thing off your list, or when you complete something you’ve been working on for a long time, do something that you enjoy, buy yourself a new something, treat yoself. Make plans with people you love and just go celebrate the fact that we are all making it through somehow. I think that’s something we deserve to celebrate, don’t you?!

Finally, and I think maybe most importantly, is to just be realistic with yourself and know when too much is really too much. Everyone has a different threshold level for how much they can pile on their plate. You have to be able to admit to yourself when your metaphorical food is about to splatter all over the floor. If you are focusing on too many things at once, you can’t do everything well. Sometimes you have to look at what’s really important and let go of one or two other things – even if it is only for now, until you can clear some space in your life. I continue to re-learn this every so often, but at least I’m really good at telling other people what to do 😉

 

I really hope this helps even one person out there who may be feeling overwhelmed like I am right now. We are going to be okay – we have to be! The world keeps on turning and life keeps on going. The sun will rise tomorrow and it is up to us to choose the tone of our days. Today, let’s choose joy.

Oh, and if you’re wondering…I didn’t get the post finished before my shift. That’s life! 🙂 

Hustlin’

working at the mill, one of my new favorite places!

Yesterday was officially day one of teacher work days. A day full of meetings and emails with questions that I don’t know the answer to yet, and a classroom that still needs lots of unpacking, organizing, and decorating. I did get to borrow another teacher’s solar eclipse glasses and watch everything outside with Andrew and some other teacher friends, so that was an exciting part of the day!

I feel lucky in that I almost feel like I get two new starts to every year – school starts up in August, which comes with a whole set of “new,” and then again in January I get to experience the real new year with everyone else. It should really be no surprise to you by now that I have a lot of goals and love to run myself into the ground stay busy all the time 🙂 I mentioned that I am taking on some new roles at school this year, but in addition to that, my best friend is getting married in April, I’m staying on one night a week at the pub, I have the blog, and I’m making a promise to myself to commit to a very regular workout routine and really focus on my Weight Watchers tracking. I just need that physical exercise as an outlet for the stress in life! Plus, I’m going to be THIRTY in September and I need to feel thirty, flirty, & thriving!

Every new school year, I set new goals for myself, and this year isn’t any different. I feel like I have so many fun and important things that I want to focus on, and I love the challenge of working hard for something that I can be proud of. Another BIG goal I am setting for myself is to make some really serious financial changes. Pay off my car, some of my debt, save more each month, and track expenses more carefully. In a perfect world, this wouldn’t be something I needed to worry about, but the world isn’t perfect yet! Money is a huge source of stress for me because I don’t care much about it, but you need it, and life is expensive, but you can’t live lavishly if you don’t have a lot of money, and I don’t make a lot but I love what I do, but you have to live a little, and you want to do nice things for people, but you can’t if you don’t budget your money……see what I mean?! So I have to care about it! My new planner has a monthly bill and budget tracker at the end of each month, so I’m going to use it diligently and use my extra money from my weekly shift at the pub to help supplement my teacher salary.

Being an adult is hard, y’all. I know I’m not the first to say it, but MAN.

So anyway, I’ve got some big goals and dreams and things to work toward this year, on top of my regular job and my part-time job. I am so excited to kick off another school year and to get back in a regular groove! Cheers to the year, and to all of my fellow goal-setters and ass-kickers out there (sorry Mom!).

what i’m using to keep track of all my hustlin’ this year, from karma paper company!

So many people who are close to me have big, busy upcoming events – babies, weddings, new jobs, business growth, school, personal goals…I love getting to support all the people I love in their celebrations and achieving their goals! Comment and let me know what plans and goals you’re working on! And look for a post soon on how I try to keep it all together with so many things going on all the time. A colleague asked me for a mental health post, so it’s coming soon to a blog near you 🙂

Classic with a twist // MAXOUThappy

my first-ever blog photoshoot with whitney 🙂

When I started MAXOUThappy, I really wanted to do it the right way. I researched for hours, stalked favorite blogs, read articles about how to blog, how to design, what hosting site to use, etc. All the behind the scenes stuff. I worked for Kate Bryan at thesmallthingsblog last summer as an intern, which was so cool, and I learned a lot about blogging. I took a Skillpop class about blogging basics with Molly Stillman and hope to take another one from her as soon as it’s offered.

I recently met up with Whitney, and we were discussing ideas and thoughts for her photography business and for MAXOUThappy. I mentioned that I never really know what to say when people ask me the inevitable question:  “So what’s your blog about?” I usually just say it’s a lifestyle blog, so it’s a little bit of everything…but I wanted to have a more focused description. I’ve mentioned my “classic with a twist” style before; but what is MAXOUThappy really about?! A fair question. Whitney helped me really narrow my focus into an idea that makes the most sense to me.

We both went to Meredith College and majored in Family and Consumer Sciences. We met on freshman move-in day and have been partners in crime ever since. I always wanted to teach high school, but I started out as an English major. I ended up switching after my sophomore year and Whitney did, too. Family and Consumer Sciences is what used to be called Home Economics, or “Home Ec.” I’ve caught a lot of flack over the years for going to Meredith, which by the way is a fantastic school, and for changing my major, which by the way is a fantastic major that is little-known and not as widely supported as it should be. A lot of people love to joke about getting your M-R-S degree at Meredith, or that my major is to help me be a better housewife some day. I’d love to tell all those people where they can put their opinions, but instead, I’d really rather help people get it. Family and Consumer Sciences is based on the idea that everything begins in the home and spreads out to the community and beyond. What we can solidify in the home/family and what we can improve on with an individual directly affects the outreach and impact of that individual. We are not people in a vacuum. We are all interconnected and how we live our lives and help others (or not) affects and sparks change in the world. My major is not about cooking and cleaning to be someone’s home maker, although there’s nothing wrong with that job, either. Family and Consumer Sciences is about creating change, addressing global issues, and helping others.

Being able to teach about Parenting and Child Development, Human Services, Foods and Nutrition, Food Science, Interiors, Personal Finance, and Textiles/Apparel gives me such a wide range of topics to be able to help mold the teenagers in my classroom, and hopefully it spreads out beyond them. I realized that the things I write about on the blog tend to trace their way back to one of these areas, and figuring that out really gave me a sense of pride for all the hours I have spent defending and supporting my college major.

So that, along with my “classic with a twist” take on life, is what brings me back here to the blog drawing board week after week…to say “a little bit of everything,” but with this lens of helping others, improving life, talking about real issues from time to time, and throwing in some happy fluff in-between the real talk. It always seems a little silly to think that a post I wrote about lipstick or a new pair of shoes I got is going to help someone, but I guess the idea is just to spread a little joy around, because life has enough blah already. I am a generally happy person and I work on maximizing that happiness to enjoy the life I’ve been given. It’s not realistic to say I’m always happy or that life doesn’t get me down; if you’ve been reading for a while, you know that isn’t true. But I am an optimist and I love to write; I always have. I used to write chapter books as a child, I’ve started a million novels, I wrote my eBook last year, and I have this blog. I’m so interested in words, the meaning of them, and how they can go together in a million different combinations to evoke different feelings. A nerd? Sure. But I’m happy with that. If I can help get anything positive across to anyone, in any small way, I feel so accomplished. When people come out of the woodworks to tell me they read my blog or enjoy it, it truly makes my day. So, happy reading! Now you know what MAXOUThappy is all about. 🙂

a magnet reminder on my fridge 🙂

What you didn’t know you needed

your basic toes in the sand picture 

I looked through some old blog posts recently (it’s hard to believe I’ve been at this thing seriously for two years now!), and what I notice the most when I’m gettin’ in my feels on a blog post is this theme of balance. Taking time for yourself. Saying NO to things so you can say YES to what you really need. I’ve said it a million times:  I overextend myself. I have a tendency to do too much. I need to slow down. I need to take care of myself. It’s there, in a hundred different phrases with a hundred different deliveries (all eloquent and witty, of course, I’m sure).

So this week at the beach with my family is a reminder to myself that this is exactly what I didn’t know I needed. Walking for miles on the beach, collecting sea shell after sea shell, running the dogs until we all can’t breathe and we’re panting and happy. I’m having some adult beverages and a lot of water, going to bed early to get up and meet the sun, and trying to stretch my brain playing Scattergories at night – and giggling when we come up with crazy words and fight for justification.

I know there are beach people and mountain people and indoor people and all kinds of other people, but the beach has always been my happy place. Every year as a kid, my family took a trip to the beach and as an adult, the beach just brings me back to that feeling. The feeling of having nothing you have to do, and being able to enjoy whatever you want with toes in the sand and wind in your hair. As an adult, I have to work a lot harder to be able to not have to do anything for a week…but it’s so worth it once you’re actually sitting in a chair, book in hand, waves rolling out in front of you.

360 degrees of beach watching

hey mom

living their best life, running from waves

We don’t realize how much the stresses of day-to-day life get to us. We walk around tense and tight, with knots in our necks and shoulders because we try to push everything down so we can make it to the next thing. We do need to slow down and take care of ourselves, and even if it isn’t for a week at the beach or any type of vacation at all, we have to intentionally set time aside to breathe and just be. It’s just what we didn’t know we really, really needed.

Now I’m going to finish this post so I can go enjoy the ocean and challenge the sun with SPF 70 applications every two hours. I’ll keep you posted on the winner.

P.S. For a little throwback action, here’s my first post ever!

FriYAY feels + a little about me!

Photo by Whitney at J Parker Photography, tank is old from target

Happy Friyay! I’m off to the beach for a whole week with my family, and Andrew’s coming for the weekend! I am tickled pink. I have worked all summer and haven’t really done anything out of the ordinary, so this vacation has been so exciting to look forward to! I plan to lounge around, do yoga on the beach, walk for miles, read, and work on the blog! Plus I’m sure I’ll get a killer tan pink skin and freckles while I’m there. I asked for some good book recommendations on Facebook and got a few great responses! Now I have a wonderful list of books to download to my Kindle.

I thought I’d use today as a Friday introduction! Most of you know I’m a high school teacher and that I adore my dogs, but maybe you don’t know that I have three tattoos, or that I used to grind my teeth back and forth to the syllables people spoke when I was a kid (weird habit).  I love learning unique and quirky things about people that make them who they are, so I’m laying it all out on the table for you today. I mean we’re all weird, right? It’s fine? I’m fine?

Here we go!

-This one’s not so weird, but I love to read. Not just books. If there are words, I’m excited about them. Directions, research papers, cereal boxes, shampoo bottles, news articles, magazines, road signs. I can’t help myself. I used to be the annoying kid in class who raised her hand every time the teacher wanted someone to read.

-I mentioned grinding my teeth as child. It was the weirdest habit. When people spoke, or if I was watching TV, I would grind my teeth back and forth to every syllable. If my top teeth landed “forward” on someone’s last word, I’d hope to end up “backward” on the next last word. And the game continued until everything felt “even.” Am I weird? I’m weird. I dropped the habit at some point, but still.

-I have a strange thing with balance and things being “even.” I’m not sure if it’s a Libra thing or just a me thing. If one window is rolled down, the other needs to be the same height, if I walk over a crack in the sidewalk with my left foot, I like to walk over the next with my right, etc. This used to cause me a lot of grief as a kid but I’ve learned to live in this crazy world somehow. 😉

-I cannot stand to be poked. I flip out involuntarily – flailing my arms, smacking someone, etc. This goes back to the even thing – it has to be happening on both sides of my body evenly or it just isn’t right. When someone jiggles their leg on one side of me it’s the same thing.

-Tattoos:  I have three of them and they all have longer stories, but here’s the short version. I got my first when I was 18 with my best friend Whitney. It’s a sunshine we always used to doodle and we drew it on our feet with sharpies for weeks before committing. Mine is on my left foot; she has the same one on her other foot. My second one I got with my other best friend since childhood, Lindsay. She got an arrow down her arm, I got a Libra constellation behind my ear. It looks like a kite and I think it’s inaccurate, so there’s that. Third and final is a tattoo on my wrist that you’ve probably seen in a lot of my pictures. My sister has the same one on her other wrist, and it is in memory of our grandparents who passed away. They were so special to our family and they were truly lovebirds till the end, and a great example of what a marriage should be. Every time I see my tattoo I think of them!

-I really love making things with raw ground beef, like meatloaf. I just like the look and texture of it and I like browning it or mixing it in the bowl with my hands to go into the oven. (I’m starting to feel really weird now; TELL ME I’M NOT ALONE).

-Obsessed with lists and planners. I could really go into detail here, but let’s leave it at that.

-I love being busy and don’t usually take a ton of time to myself to relax, so I have to remind myself to do that or “plan” me time/downtime. It’s not that I don’t like relaxing – DUH – but I just love feeling productive and getting things accomplished.

-I can’t watch awkward moments on TV/in movies. I have to cover my eyes and look away like a kid! It pains me for them or something…the actors getting paid millions.

-Absolutely in love with every single dog, not just my own. I love cats and all animals in general, but I can’t imagine a world without dogs. Whenever I see one, I feel like the world becomes a brighter place. I’m the person that follows a zillion dog Instagram accounts.

-I am super intimidated by social media. There is so much of it, so many apps, so many ways to connect. And for blogging, I’m trying really hard to get “good” at all of them, and it is so overwhelming! I’m trying, though. I’m tweeting and Facebooking and Instagram story-ing and Snapchatting and trying to post all the things without being annoying. It is tough out there!

-I won’t set alarms for “regular” times. It has to be a number that feels right. My favorites are :32, :47, :03, :17, and :54.

-Finally, I’m very intrigued by the tiny home movement. I love small spaces and organized living and I think in a tiny house the ways to organize space are so clever. Sometimes I think of donating all my things and living in a tiny house with a big fenced in yard for the dogs and just making it my own. If you haven’t, google it and look at some YouTube videos of tiny houses. There are some incredible ones out there!

I think that’s enough about me for now…let me know if you have any other questions! Thanks to all of you who read my blog. You have no idea how much it means to me!

 

Recipes and Workouts

This week I’m focusing on some healthy recipes and butt-busting workouts. Originally, this blog was going to be mostly fitness and health related…but then things in my life changed drastically and my life just kind of took a different direction. I used to be a bit of a gym rat, which is hard to believe maybe – but I was! When I started practicing yoga a ton, I pretty much completely stopped going to the gym. I love lifting weights and doing all kinds of different training, so I’ve really missed that part of my life. I recently joined Weight Watchers, which has always worked well for me, and I always notice that when I’m eating better, my motivation to work out spikes, too. It all goes hand in hand – this is not new information. So I’m writing it in my planner and speaking it into existence! I really need to be more active again and be a little more proactive on my food planning.

Here are some recipes I’m using this week for my meals:

SpaghettiCarbonara_085_xl
Skinny-Green-Monster-Smoothie-550x751
Weight-Watchers-Chicken-Enchilada-bake-Post1
Skinnytaste-Zucchini-Lasagna-550x827

image sources linked below

Whole Wheat Spaghetti Carbonara – This recipe is SO easy. I made this a few weeks ago when I first re-joined Weight Watchers, and it was a huge hit with both me and Andrew. I had leftovers for lunch the next day, too! Sometimes whole wheat pasta isn’t my favorite, but it’s really great in this recipe and there are only a few ingredients.

Chicken Enchilada Casserole – My sister sent me this recipe and I am excited to try it! It looks pretty simple, and for someone like me who LOVES Mexican food, I think it will be a great substitute! I just won’t be able to have any chips and queso 🙁

Zucchini Lasagna – I made this a long time ago and LOVED it. It takes some time and is a little bit of a labor of love, but if you’re craving something cheesy and delicious, this can’t be beat! And it’s friendly to your waistline, which is a huge perk. I’m so excited to have a meal to really look forward to that feels like a cheat meal, but isn’t!

Green Monster Smoothie – I love this blog because the recipes are all really delicious. And if you’re following Weight Watchers, all of the points are already calculated for you which is a HUGE plus. I love to do this for breakfast, but it would work as a snack, too!

For my workouts this week, I have planned 2 gym workouts, 2 yoga practices, and 1 or 2 walk/jogs with the doggies at the lake. I will probably write up my own gym workouts because that’s something I enjoy doing, but I have followed this blog for a long time and she has all kinds of amazing workouts that are all so different. Great recipes, too! I also have a bunch of different types of workouts pinned on my Sweatin’ Pinterest Board. It’ll be good to get to check all of my workouts off my planner this week! Along with the 17,000+ steps I get at the pub each shift, I’ll be burning lots of calories to earn a real cheat meal. Life is nothing without delicious food sprinkled in.

Wish me luck!

Reality check

photo by the talented samantha leonetti while we were on a yoga retreat in mexico last year

I recently hit a low point. That sounds so dramatic, but we all go through those from time to time, and I think it’s always best to be honest and unashamed of who you are. So there it is. I had a low point and I was worrying and stressed and everything felt like it was going to close in on me if I didn’t fix it immediately. But of course that’s not how life works. We can’t snap our fingers and fix everything. (Can we?!)

So anyway, I allowed myself to be upset and have a pity party for a day or two, but that’s generally my limit on feeling sorry for myself. I knew I had to make a plan to turn it around. I have always tried to be proactive about solving problems. I know some people have a hard time with that when they’re already feeling overwhelmed or down, but it’s the only way to dig yourself out of a rut. So I made my lists, stretched my brain, got advice from people I trust, and started putting my plan to action. I was taught my whole life that while we can’t control what life throws at us or what comes our way, we can control how we handle it and how we move on. My mom recently reminded me that we can’t keep looking back; we should only glance (quickly) to remind ourselves of what we’ve learned and why we aren’t there anymore.

Here’s a little reality check that surely you already know, but maybe, like me, you need a reminder of:  It doesn’t really matter what the struggle is about. Family issues, friend issues, money, weight, grief & loss, new life changes, jobs, etc. The truth is that everyone struggles. Yes, even the celebrities and fancy bloggers you follow on Instagram with their pink peonies tucked into their designer bags. Even them. We all post the best, most pristine versions of ourselves on social media. Generally only our happiest moments, our favorite things, make their way to the screen, as if to say, “Look at me go! I’m really killing it. Life is good for me, and low points are for people who don’t know how to handle stress.” It’s not necessarily a bad thing that we don’t post all of our negative thoughts or moments online – it’s kind of a fun, easy, make-believe land where everything is funny, lovely, happy, and it takes us to a place where we can escape for a little while. But we can’t forget that life happens. It happens to us, it happens to the people that we love, and it even happens to the people we don’t love or don’t even know. My point is, it is okay to have bad moments and low points. It is okay to feel overwhelmed and stressed and to accept that life is not always fair or happy. Everyone struggles in different ways, and if you were to get right down to it, I truly believe that even people who seem very different can have so much in common. No one has a perfect life, even if their Instagram or Snapchat streams would suggest otherwise. Because life is messy. Sometimes it hurts, kicks you while you’re down, and then hits you with another shitstorm juuuuust to see if you can take one more thing before you crack wide open.

But life is also such a beautiful experience. A tantalizing dance of twists and turns, spinning fast, and then just when you get too dizzy, it slows the music so you can catch your breath for the next round. The space between the highs and lows is what makes us appreciate every golden moment that we get to keep. So we remind ourselves that at some point, the sun will come out again. The chaos and turmoil will lift eventually. We surround ourselves with people who love us whether we are up, down, thin, fat, rich, poor, in a good mood or cranky, because life happens and we need them there when it does. When you focus on what you don’t have rather than what you do have, it really just poisons everything else.

So here’s a reminder to not compare yourself to others, to not get lost in the negative, and to not get mad at yourself for being in a low point. We have all been there. Make a plan about what you can do, thank God for everything you have been blessed with, keep being grateful for the air in your lungs and the love and light in your life, dust yourself off, and start climbing back up the hill to the sunlight…even if your footing isn’t sure and you don’t have a safety harness.

Here is to low points and the people who love us through them 🙂

FriYAY feels!

Finally Friyay!

This week flew by. I was off Monday and Tuesday, and on Monday I worked for hours agonizing over my budget and how I can save and plan better next school year so I won’t need to have a summer job. Reality check. I also made a goal to really focus on being active this week, and I stuck to it! Small victories.

I mentioned my Fourth of July plans earlier this week, but it was such a great time! The food came out perfectly and it was so nice to just relax and kick back a little bit. We didn’t end up going to the baseball game, but it was nice just to stay home and be near the dogs and take it easy!

filet mignon, honey lime ginger grilled scallops (adapted from here), garlic rosemary sweet potatoes, and grilled balsamic brussel sprouts (andrew had brats and burgers like a true american)

I got my hair done last Saturday and I am loving it! It’s always nice to get a little refresher from Jamie at the Parlor. (I’ve been going to her for like 10 years, no joke).

My family is going on a beach vacation in August, which I am so excited about! I am looking at these and these. Also loving this coverup and this coverup that could also double as a cute summer dress!

Finally, I mentioned my best friend’s wedding in this post, and a couple of weeks ago we ordered our bridesmaid skirts and tops for the big day! I absolutely can’t wait to see how everything comes together. When I put on my outfit and imagined everything on the big day, it suddenly became really real to me that this is happening! I’ll be crying like a baby when Whitney walks down the aisle (what else is new?).

That’s all, folks! Happy Friyay!

 

FriYAY feels!

It’s finally,   o f f i c i a l l y   summer! If you’re in the south like me, it has already felt like summer since April, but now we can finally be correct when we say it.

My sister and I planned on doing a free community event Wednesday morning for the summer solstice and international yoga day, but it got rained out and rescheduled. Since we were already up at the butt crack of dawn and dressed, I led us through a yoga class on our balcony while the sun came up. It felt so good; I have totally fallen out of a routine with my yoga and I always notice a difference when I get back into it.

pardon the poor quality selfie

yoga mat + blocks (blocks were a gift)

For summer, I’m focusing on some goals, like I said. Doing more yoga is one of them. Being more active in general, actually.

I’m also trying to make time to read for fun, which I love to do. I started summer off by devouring The Girl on the Train. I know I’m way late to that game, but I finally got around to it. I’m about to start reading All the Missing GirlsI know I’ll be done with that one in a few days, so any book recommendations would be greatly appreciated! I also just got set up for Audible with my Amazon Prime membership, so I can listen to books while I’m driving or at the pool, too.

Speaking of listening to books, I finally jumped on the bandwagon and listened to the S-Town podcasts. I went to see my dad for Father’s Day in Charlotte this past weekend, so I had time to do some listening. I tend to doze off at the wheel if no one is in the car with me, so I needed something to keep my attention. It was so good. It was one of those stories that really leaves you thinking about it for days. When it was finished, I just sat there for a minute, brain whirring and heart stirring (see what I did there? But really). I wish there were more chapters.

Finally, since I’m limiting alcohol due to 1. trying to be healthier and 2. not having money in the summer, I’m fixating on a couple of guilty pleasure libations right now. (As in, literally drank both of these while writing this blog post). I said I never would, but I find myself loving La Croix now. My sister and I found a new flavor that we can’t get enough of:  Blackberry cucumber. So refreshing. We have only been able to find that flavor at Target near us. My other summer must-have is iced coffee. I drink it year-round, but in the summer it’s a given. Of course I can make my own, and sometimes do, but Emily (my sister) and I have been loving the Starbucks Dark Roast Iced Coffee. When I’m not paying a reasonable amount way too much for pre-packaged coffee, I use my french press to brew strong coffee and stick it in the fridge overnight. Yes, I realize I also just wrote a blog post about our new coffee bar. It’s a drug, people, I’m telling you.

i have way too many pictures of food & drinks on my phone

That’s all that’s really new with me! I’m waiting for some sunshine so I can have a pool day and work on my golden tan getting more pink and freckly. It has been rainy and stormy on and off here for a few days now, so I haven’t had a chance.

Enjoy the weekend, and let me hear those book and podcast recommendations!

Happy birthday, Bruno + Oliver!

oliver & bruno

These tiny terrors turn four years old today! I can’t believe it has been four years since I got these little buddies. I truly can’t imagine my life without them.

I introduced everyone to Bruno and Oliver in this post and really nothing has changed since then. Their personalities have stayed the same, and DARE I SAY that Bruno has even calmed down a little! As I type this, they are both snuggled asleep at the foot of my bed. I know they’re dreaming of their loving mother treats and open fields.

In honor of their birthday, my sister and I baked dog treats using the corgi cookie cutter I got this year for Christmas. They came out so cute! The doggies LOVED them. Like, went crazy about them. Here’s the simple recipe. Tips:  Use quite a bit of flour when rolling out the dough! Also, the recipe doesn’t specify whether or not to spray the pan, but we did and the treats didn’t stick!

before baking the treats

the finished product!

is it weird to feed corgis corgi-shaped treats?!

bruno + oliver patiently anxiously waiting

doing their big trick; bruno can’t even

had to take care of my girl nala, too!

These guys deserve to have an exciting birthday, even if they don’t realize why. They have been there for so many important moments of my life. They’ve watched me laugh, cry, and be a brat when I can’t find anything to wear. They’ve lived with me in four different homes and through getting my master’s degree, changing careers, and going back to teaching. They have snuggled up next to me night after night. Most importantly, they’ve never stopped being excited to greet me when I make it home. It’s crazy how much we love our pets; they’re family, too.

Here’s to Bruno and Oliver. Happy fourth birthday to my low-riding, crazy, blonde bundles of joy!