2 Little Ways to Breathe Easier this Week

do 1 important thing

Millennials are the generation of self-care. We believe in self-care because we believe that in order to raise to our full potential, we have to take care of ourselves. What a foreign thought. You’ll read self-help and self-care blogs that say lots of things. Drink water first thing in the morning, do a face mask in the evening. Eat healthy. Put down those french fries (NEVER!) You get the gist. But I have a new idea and it involves procrastination.

Implement Little Things Throughout Your Day

In the summers at my job I get half days on Fridays. It’s an amazing morale booster. I can’t believe how I ever do anything working 8-5 M-F during the rest of the three seasons because I get so much done on those half day Fridays. Granted, the first two half days or so I spend lazing on the couch watching Netflix. But then the rest of the summer I ban myself from Netflix and make myself do something productive and I never regret it.

I’m the type of person to get quickly overwhelmed by chores, mess and chaos when there is already a lot going on in my life. I’ve started implementing little things throughout my day to make the rest of my life more enjoyable.

i.e. Making the bed in the morning – I am much more likely to keep a clean bedroom if our bed is already made. Or I will do the dishes right after a meal rather than letting them pile up and doing them at the end of the day. When I let the dishes pile, I get overwhelmed by the amount and procrastinate which creates more dishes. . . and more dishes. . . and more. . . and you know how it goes. Suddenly I’m spending an hour scrubbing oatmeal off yesterday’s breakfast dish and I’m not a happy person.

By implementing these little things that I’m doing throughout my day and throughout my week, I find that I have the brain space and energy to accomplish the bigger tasks.

do 1 important thing

Accomplish the Bigger Tasks

There have been 2 chores on my monthly goal list since January that didn’t get accomplished until this month. I eventually stopped putting them on my to-do list because I was so frustrated that I couldn’t carve out the time to get it done.

Our dining room and office both looked like the Room of Requirement from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. There were wedding gifts (that still) needed to be returned, items that needed to be taken to the local thrift store, etc. It was such an overwhelming venture that I kept putting it off and putting it off until one day I just decided I have to do it. I didn’t try to do both of them at once. Instead, one day in a frenzy, I cleared off our dining room table that hadn’t been used since we got married one night when I realized we needed more eating space. I piled everything that needed to be sorted through and made the room look semi-decent. That allowed me to go back into the room a few days later and knock everything out in 4 Gilmore Girls episodes.

With the dining room cleared, I gained momentum. This weekend I coerced my husband with a few episodes of our favorite TV show and ice cream as a reward to go through paper piles with me in our office. Now all I have to do is go in there on another day and clear out the stuff that needs to go into storage or to the local thrift store. It is a huge task if I try to do it all in one fell swoop, but I break it up by doing one important thing in each day.

Do 1 Important Thing

When I do one important thing, I waltz into the next day feeling relaxed and motivated to do something else. It’s amazing how the momentum keeps going! Rather than stockpile and procrastinate like I tend to do, I’ve noticed that doing one important thing each day gives me the space to breathe. Some days it’s cleaning out an entire room, some days it’s dusting the furniture in the whole house. Other days it’s taking a bubble bath and reading a good book or spending some quiet time journaling.

Whatever your one important thing is, stop procrastinate. Like Shia LeBeouf says, JUST DO IT.

2 Ways to Breathe Easier this Week

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Be Prepared to Fail

Be Prepared to Fail

My summer goal is to make a loaf of bread. Homemade. I’ve been diligently researching the best Pinterest recipes . . . and the easiest. Saturday evening I took my KitchenAid on its maiden voyage and baked my first loaf of  bread. It was an “Easy Crusty French Bread” I found on Pinterest that I will not link for you here because I did the author such a disservice by making the most difficult, crustiest French bread there ever was. It was like a communion cracker.

Like any millennial these days, I walked confidently and in faith that my first bread would not be as terrible as everyone said there first bread making experiences would be. But it was terrible and hilarious and I found that even though I failed, I wasn’t all too disappointed in myself.

I’m somewhat of a perfectionist, and when things spiral out of control, I find that I hold on even more to what I can and do the very best at what I have at hand. I recently had an instance where someone went to my boss to discuss the way I handled something. I was devastated to discover that doing the best I could in an uncontrollable circumstance still left someone unsatisfied. Failing bread is one thing. Failing a person is another. This got me to thinking about all the ways I failed this month.

Be Prepared to Fail

Ways I Failed This Month

I tried to wake surf at the lake. I managed to stand up in the wake, but quickly fell over.

I tried to make bread and it went disastrously.

I went to the grocery store 3 times this weekend and still failed to remember to pick up a couple items.

I failed at a couple of things at work.

I failed baking a lemon blueberry yogurt bread.

 Fear of Failure

I was recently reading Unrivaled by Lisa Brevere. In one of her chapters, she mentions that she wishes she risked more when she was younger. So many opportunities come our way but we are stifled by fear and by fear of failing that we turn back into our comfort zone where it’s cozy and safe.

Good things may happen in our comfort zone, but extravagant things happen in No-Man’s Land. (Wonder Woman reference, anyone?)

As I’m taking this online Jane Austen seminar, I am seeing how much I am out of my league. I get onto these discussion boards with college students and realize that in two years, I’ve already become rusty in my close reading skills. I feel as if I’m typing out fluff while these other students are creating intriguing and thoughtful content. Some days I feel like I am failing. . . and that is okay. We have to let go of our fear of failure.

We have to let go of our fear of failure.

Be Prepared, and Be Proud to Fail

Failing is not something we are generally proud of, but it is something that happens to everyone. For perfectionists, failure is particularly scary because perfectionism is not just a way that we handle things, but it is a part of our identity. It doesn’t help that fail is attached to shame in our society.

It’s good to recognize that you aren’t good at something. And then it is good to continue in that something. And while we continue, we do the best that we can, and if we fail, then we fail.

For instance, I am a shame to English majors and want to be English teachers everywhere because I am horrid at Words with Friends. I would like to blame the tile distribution, but games like Words with Friends, Bananagrams, and Scrabble frustrate me. I can never think of words that earn me more than 10 points. As someone who has studied the English language her entire life, Scrabble is something I should be good at. But I’m not. And my husband beats me into smithereens every. single. time. I used to just ignore my Words with Friends notifications until the timer ran out and I would lose. But this time, I’m playing. And losing. Maybe I’ll get better at it, maybe I wont.

If I succeed, hoorah. But if I continue to fail, well then I’ve learned to fail gracefully.

Rather than hide under the cover of shameful failures, celebrate that you stepped out, were brave, and tried something new. Everyone fails, but the ones who make it are the ones who got up again.

So Tell Me, Readers. . .

What is one thing you tried and failed at?

 

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The Benefits of Joining a Book Club

Benefits of Joining a Book Club

I strongly believe in literature. The best way to pass time is with an iced coffee in the summer/hot latte in the winter, and a great book in your hand. When I was 5, I sat on the couch with my mom – who valiantly homeschooled me for two years before my dad begged her to give up homeschooling and ship my social butterfly self off to a public school – practicing phonics and learning to read. As soon as I started, I was “hooked on phonics.” Ha. Get it? Anyway, I love reading and can spend many an hour submerged in an alternate universe. In fact, I would get in trouble as a child for reading too much. If I was supposed to clean my room, maybe I would clean for a little bit, but then I would get distracted by reading. Whoops.

There was a time or two I legitimately was grounded from reading. Now that I’m an adult and married, I can read all I want – as long as I feed and water my husband daily.

Two years ago, I graduated with a B.A in English with an emphasis in creative writing. It is my lifelong dream to get paid to drink coffee, read, and discuss literature. Ever since I graduated, I wanted to start a book club. So as soon as life settled down (aka I wasn’t wedding planning anymore) I started the book club, A Novel Idea. I can’t take credit for the name; I googled clever titles.

Once a month/once every six weeks, between 6-10 women meet up at a local coffee shop, book in hand, caffeinated, ready to discuss our most recent pick.

I knew I needed intellectual discussion to enlighten my life, and I must say I leave quite invigorated from our book club meetings.

The Benefits of Joining a Book Club

The benefits of a book club are immense.

First of all, you discover new genres you didn’t know you liked.

Book clubs are a great way to pull you out of your literary comfort zone. While I love a good poet, I’m not one to pick out a collection of poems for a book club. But as some of the ladies in our group were going through finals week, we picked Milk and Honey one month and I found it to be one of our favorite reads. Each of us came armed with a poem and our analysis of it, and I was in awe of how we each picked apart our respective poems.

You see the world through multiple lenses.  

One of my favorite things about getting together in groups is the discussion that lights a fire under our idealogies. Because I come from a liberal arts background, I prefer to learn through engaging in discussion rather than a lecture based atmosphere. An aspect I enjoy about book clubs is that we see something one way, and someone else comes at it from a different perspective. Our personal stories shade the way we view the world, and the way which we view literature. We get to grow and honor each other as we learn to see through someone else’s lense.

Likewise, books open our eyes to see the world a different way. We recently finished Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I absolutely adore her writing style, but even more so, I appreciate that she speaks so vulnerably about something like immigration and the cultural nuances between the American and Non-American Black. As a white lady in the South, if I’m not surrounded by diversity,  I’m not going to know or understand immigration or the cultures associated without opening a book (or a journal article, etc.)

Your vocabulary expands. 

For instance, I can now identify when a Coquette. Of course, I could always identify when a lady was particularly flirty, but if I had not read “Lady Susan” recently, I would not associate “coquette” with a flirt because I didn’t even know the word “coquette” existed until yesterday. Had I not taken the moment to look up this new word, I would have assumed “coquette” was the same as “etiquette” because they sound similar. Thank goodness for smart phones, because now we have a dictionary at the flash of a few typed letters. Back in the olden days, I had to get off my couch, pick up the dictionary and thumb through an actual hard copy of a dictionary.

(I am now envisioning Rory Gilmore’s dismay at the smart phone; no one appreciates the old OED anymore! Remember when her dad tried to buy her the entire Oxford English Dictionary set? I kind of drooled at that scene.)

You form deeper relationships. 

There are friends, and then there are book club friends. When you have traipsed through the emotional roller coaster of an intense 600 page novel, you emerge finding yourself in a deeper community. I loved all the ladies in my book club, but now that we have been together for going on six months, exploring the depths of our society, femininity, and racial tensions through the written word, I am acknowledging a relationship that can only come from sharing a love for literature and discussion of novels and the world around us.

Benefits of Joining a Book Club

I am, of course, feeling slightly romantic as I type because I signed up to audit a Jane Austen seminar for the next month. It will be like a book club on steroids and give me the nostalgia for my collegiate days. I set up in our dining room last night surrounded by notebooks, books, pens, high lighters, and of course potato chips, and coffee, and fell in love with learning all over again (much like I do each time I open a good book.)

I will do my darndest to be consistent with posting in this little corner that I love so much, but if you find that I’ve fallen off the earth, never fear, I’ve fallen into the arms of Mr. Darcy. (Mr. Darcy, consequently, being my super supportive husband who encourages me to chase my dreams and is very appreciative of this course I’m auditing because it means I will be holed up in our dining room, allowing him more FIFA time.)

Until then, I bid you adieu.

Have you ever participated in a book club?
What are your top 3 favorite reads?

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10 Budget Friendly Summer Date Nights

10 Budget Friendly Summer Date Nights

Date nights are one of my favorite things. I am such a quality time girl, and unfortunately, hanging out in groups with a bunch of people doesn’t fill up my quality time tank quite like it should. I’m more of a one on one kinda gal. My dad says I’m high maintenance in the attention category. . . and maybe I am.

As newly weds, we aren’t going to the fanciest restaurant in town to wine and dine, but we do like to do something fun at least once a week – whether that is cooking together, going on a walk, or setting up a legit date night. Today I’m going to share with you a few of my fav budget friendly summer date night ideas!

Hammock Date! 

I’m a huge fan of grabbing my double nested ENO, setting it up by a creek or a river, and snuggling and talking about our day. Or just snuggling and reading a book not saying one word to each other. . .

Picnic in your backyard

OK confession, Pai and I have had many picnics in our backyard because our dining room table was so full of wedding stuff/stuff that needs to go to Goodwill. . . six months into this whole marriage thing. Yup. But cooking dinner together or grabbing takeout and spreading out a picnic blanket in the backyard makes an ordinary meal *romantic*.

10 Budget Friendly Summer Date Nights

Stargazing

I always find it suuuper romantic to be out at night under a clear, velvety sky, looking at the scars. Extra points scored if someone thought to bring a yummy drink. Lying all cozy under the stars always leads to great conversations with your lover.

Trip to the Farmer’s Market

We don’t go to the Farmer’s Market enough, but I absolutely love it when I do go! Artisan bread, fresh flowers, herbs, succulents, delicious coffee – what more could you want on a Saturday morning?! Going to the Farmer’s Market with my boo is one of my fav things to do. Plus, I enjoy supporting local farmers.

Snocone Zone

Pai loves ice ceam, I love snocones. There’s a local food truck here that does ahhmazing snocones! First you get your snocone, then they put ice cream on it, then you can pick out a topping (I got pineapple once, and she poured sweet and condensed milk all over that goodness!) It’s pretty delightful. But if slushies aren’t your thing, milkshakes are equally fun.

10 Budget Friendly Summer Date Nights

Lake Day!

Recently we went with a group of people on a Sunday afternoon and rented kayaks for a couple hours. I got nice and light pink, was sore for several days after, but had the time of my life! Kayaking, paddle boarding, white water rafting – anything that gets you outside and moving under the summer sun is a great way to connect with your boo.

Slip-n-Slide

This is another great date idea where you can invite a lot of people to join in. On a super hot day, grab a tarp, find a hill, suds it down and get your bathing suit on because it’s slip-n-slide time. It is sure to be a hilarious and fun time.

Hot Tub Hot Date Night

OK this one may not be feasible for all. But if you don’t have a hot tub but have a friend with one who doesn’t mind you climbing over their fence to hang out in their hot tub late at night, then this could be a fun and giggly date night. Grab your favorite drink and enjoy a steamy evening with your boo (because hot tubs are steamy.)

Make Your Own Beach

When I see everyone else on the Instagram bummin’ it at the beach, I get kinda jealous. Because I want to be on the beach. But when life doesn’t give you a beach, make one yourself. Put a beach front image on your TV, the waves sound on your white noise app, lay out the towels on your living room floor. If it’s hot enough in your house and you close your eyes, you can semi-pretend you’re on the beach.

Camping

Nothing is more romantic than sitting out by a fire, eating hot dogs, roasting s’mores, and then sleeping on the cold, hard ground. While I’m more a fan of “glamping,” I don’t mind roughin’ it for a night with my boo.

Budget Friendly Summer Date Nights

What is your favorite way to spend a date night? 

If you want a gorgeous necklace for your next date night, enter this giveaway!

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5 Ways to Fight Loneliness

5 Ways to Fight Loneliness

I spent Friday getting my nails done with my friend, Saturday with my husband at a nice dinner and at a bonfire with friends, Sunday with my family and grandparents, and Monday with my Zim family and spiritual parents. I celebrated quite the birthday weekend filled with non-stop action, laughter, and a whole lot of cheesin’.

On Tuesday night, after spending quality time with quality girls studying our God, I got into my bathtub and waited for Pai to come home. I was feeling slightly anxious and sad. But why? After some introspection, I pinpointed the feeling of loneliness. But loneliness? That makes no sense. I just spent an entire weekend surrounded by the people I loved and who loved me. I just spent 3-4 hours being vulnerable with ladies who have a common goal as me – to find out who God is. So why, after they left and I was by myself, was I feeling lonely?

I remember being a senior in high school, on my couch with my dad holding me, crying because I hadn’t been invited to something (I honestly don’t even remember) and feeling lonely. I had people to talk to at school, but only my family to hang out with on the weekends. Granted, my family is awesome, but as a teenager, we all desire that acceptance from our peers.

Do we ever outgrow that desire for acceptance? I don’t think so. And I think that striving for that acceptance leaves us lonely at times. I always say, as an ESFJ, I need affirmation. I’ll make a decision and then say, “What do you think?” It drives Pai nuts, which cracks me up. He says, “Just make the decision!” But as an ESFJ, I say, but I need you to affirm this is the right decision!

Relationships require vulnerability

This is not just an ESFJ thing. It’s a human thing. We all were created with the desire for relationship, and part of being in relationship is being vulnerable, mirroring conversation/feelings, opening yourself up to constructive criticism, and opening yourself up to positive affirmation. Some days it feels like we have opened ourselves up and been left on the operation table. The vulnerability door has been opened, but no positive affirmation has stepped in. It’s in these moments when we start to question ourselves: Am I worth it? Do I have any friends who love me enough? Do I have any friends? 

On being left behind

Some days loneliness doesn’t stem from a lack of affirmation, but instead from a feeling that everyone is moving on without you.

I always felt slightly stressed in elementary school when my best friends were placed in a different class than me. When my friends graduated and went to college before me – stress. As an adult it’s a little different. We’re not in different classes, but we are in different stages of life. Everyone is married and you’re single. Everyone has a baby and you and your spouse do not. Someone achieved their dream job and you are still in the waiting room.

Being in our 20s is like the teenage years of adulthood. We had time as a teen to figure out who we were, and then we hit our 20s and our bodies started changing again, relationship dynamics change, and you find yourself liking things you never thought you would (like broccoli, and salad, and vegetables.) Everyone is in a different stage even though we are all relatively the same age, and it’s hard to measure up.

A disconnect in communication

Another stream of loneliness is feeling like there is a disconnect between our head and our mouth. It can be incredibly lonely to know in your head what you are wanting to say, trying to communicate it through your mouth to someone else, and they are not understanding you. Why do you think there is so much teen angst?

So how do we fight loneliness?

First, we don’t fight loneliness.

Loneliness is a part of life – always has, and always will be. See above: I was feeling lonely even though I spent so much time with all the people I loved. I’m secure in my friendships, but I still feel lonely at times.

Learning to live with loneliness in a healthy way will help us to learn to love ourselves in a different way. When we wallow in loneliness, rather, we wallow in self-pity. And no one wants to hang out in your pity party.

Find something to do when you are feeling lonely. Go for a walk, read poetry, take a bubble bath.

Help someone else feel less lonely.

One day I have this dream of starting a ministry that just goes and hangs out with people in the nursing home. I imagine how lonely they must be – sometimes the only physical touch they receive is the nurse coming to change their bed sheets or help them to the restroom.

I have found that on days when I am feeling lonely, if I do something to get out of my head, I then find I am no longer lonely and immensely blessed.

Write a letter to a loved one, ask a friend out for coffee, check with your elderly neighbor to see if they need help grocery shopping, weeding their garden, etc.

Get off your phone.

How easy it is to be lonely when you are by yourself, in your house, eating ice cream out of the carton and you’re scrolling through Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, and see that everyone is hanging out. Perhaps without you. Let’s reality check for a second: what if those people just put up that picture reminiscing about the weekend while they are in their house, by themselves, eating ice cream out of the carton and scrolling through Instagram. You’ve done it and I’ve done it, too. We’re all guilty of making our lives seem cooler than they actually are.

So get off your phone, and put your nose in a book, or an adult coloring book, or something else that will remove you from the world of social media.

Because that’s what it is. Media. And we all know that the media is slant – even your social media.

Get creative.

They say that Emily Dickinson was a recluse, likely one of the loneliest people. Her art was underappreciated at its time. Maybe you’re the next Emily Dickinson. Loneliness is OK. It gives us a chance to explore ourselves, explore nature, and explore our creativity. I find that my best poetry comes when I am a) all alone b) feelin’ some type of way and c) not feeling like I can express myself to anyone else in a way they would understand.

When you are feeling lonely, grab your pen, grab your paper, and write. Even if you’re not great at writing! Draw – even if you don’t think you can draw! Dance – even if that means you have to Youtube some dance instructional videos!

Know you’re not alone.

The thing about loneliness is that it isolates our experiences. We are feeling lonely, therefore we are alone and no one else in the world ever feels lonely. Except that everyone experiences loneliness. Even Chrissy Tiegen. Accepting that loneliness is a reality in life allows us to take it in stride with the good times, too. Because after all, if we didn’t have the lonely days, we wouldn’t appreciate the full of friendship days as much either.

Have you experienced loneliness?
What is something you do to occupy yourself when you feel lonely?

PS – sometimes if I’m feeling lonely, I like to treat myself. So treat yo’self with an entry to win this opal gemstone lariat!

24 Notes of Encouragement

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